USA

Illinois again finds itself at center stage in the national death- penalty debate as clemency hearings get under way Tuesday for almost all of the state's 158 inmates scheduled for execution. The New York Times reports that experts on false confessions, torture, mental retardation, and witness identification will testify, and that about 300 lawyers have prepared briefs. Gov. George Ryan (R), who is considering a blanket commutation to life in prison for all of the condemned, stopped executions three years ago after exonerations based on DNA evidence. A legal challenge to the hearings brought by Attorney General Jim Ryan, the Republican nominee for governor, was dismissed last week.

Investigators hunting the increasingly brazen sniper in the Washington area have defended their meager release of information, saying they don't want the killer to know what they know. With the investigation Monday entering its 13th day, police had not revealed any specifics about the shooter. No further incidents were reported over the weekend, but on Friday a father of six was fatally shot as he fueled his car at a gas station near Fredericksburg, Va. He was the 10th victim and the eighth to be killed.

In the largest such recall in US history, Pilgrim's Pride announced it is pulling back 27.4 million pounds of cooked sandwich meat after warnings of possible contamination from the listeria bacteria. The company last week recalled 295,000 pounds of turkey and chicken products, but expanded the recall over the weekend after tests came back positive for a strain of the bacteria. The nationwide recall covers deli meat sold under the company's Wampler Foods brand. The meat was processed at a suburban Philadelphia plant from May 1 through Oct. 11.

Retail gasoline prices jumped almost 3 cents during the past two weeks, the first major spike in six months, the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 filling stations nationwide revealed. The average price for regular unleaded was about $1.49 a gallon. Analyst Trilby Lundberg said continued strong crude-oil prices and higher demand at the pump contributed to the rise. "Fears about the Mideast crisis have kept oil prices high," she said, along with travelers' reluctance to fly.

For the first time in their 41-year history, the Anaheim Angels are on their way to baseball's World Series. Trailing 5-3, they scored 10 runs in the seventh inning of Sunday's deciding game against the Minnesota Twins and went on to a 13-5 win in the American League Championship Series. Below, Angels José Molina (l.) and his brother, Bengie, hold a sign expressing confidence over the team's World Series prospects.

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