Video monitors recalled after being linked to deaths

Nearly 2 million Summer Infant video baby monitors were recalled Friday after being linked to the strangulation deaths of two infants.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the electrical cords on the monitors can endanger babies if placed too close to their cribs.

According to the commission, a 10-month-old girl from Washington, D.C., died in March when she strangled on the cord of a Summer Infant monitor camera that had been placed on the top of the crib rail. In November, a 6-month-old Conway, S.C., boy strangled in the electrical cord of a baby monitor placed on the changing table attached to his crib.

“I urge all parents and caregivers to put at least 3 feet between any video or audio baby monitor cords and a child in a crib,” Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said.

Summer Infant, based in Woonsocket, R.I., is not offering to replace the products but will offer new on-product warning labels and instructions about monitor placement. The monitors were sold nationwide between 2003 and 2011.

For more information on model numbers, consumers can contact Summer Infant at (800) 426-8627.


Cuba releases one dissident; another stays in protest

Cuba agreed to release two prominent dissidents who have refused for months to accept exile in Spain, but one of the men quickly turned down the offer, telling his wife he would remain in jail until ailing prisoners are free and other demands are met.

The decision to free Hector Maseda and Eduardo Diaz was announced Friday by the Roman Catholic Church, which has spearheaded months of dialogue with President Raul Castro’s government.

Diaz arrived at his home in the western city of Pinar del Rio shortly after the announcement, but Maseda’s wife said her husband opted to stay in his cell — the second dissident to choose jail despite the government’s willingness to free them on parole.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland

Letter from father says twins are ‘resting in peace’

A letter sent to their mother brought out the worst fears in the search for 6-year-old Swiss twins who went missing almost two weeks ago.

“They are resting in peace, they didn’t suffer,” their 43-year-old father wrote, shortly before throwing himself in front of a train.

Swiss police say the search for Alessia and Livia will continue until their fate is known, even as evidence mounts that they won’t be found alive. The father’s letter did not say when or where he killed his children.

“Today we are always searching for Alessia and Livia,” Jean-Christophe Sauterel, spokesman for the Vaud cantonal police, said Friday night.

Matthias Kaspar Schepp wrote the letter to his estranged wife, Irina Lucidi, 44, on Feb. 3. He wrote from Cerignola, Italy, that the girls were dead and that he would kill himself.

That same day, a witness saw him throw himself in front of a moving train at 10:47 p.m. by the Cerignola train station, Sauterel said.

Police confirmed the letter’s contents Friday, three days after it arrived in the mail from Cerignola.


Assange lawyer alleges ‘toxic atmosphere’ for client

A lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accused Sweden’s prime minister Friday of creating what he called a “toxic atmosphere” that made a fair hearing for his client on sexual-abuse allegations impossible.

Attorney Geoffrey Robertson told a London courtroom that recent comments by Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt had turned Assange into “public enemy No. 1” in the Scandinavian nation.

It wasn’t immediately clear which comments Robertson was referring to. Reinfeldt spoke to reporters Tuesday about the Assange case, rejecting criticism of the Swedish justice system by Assange’s lawyers. He did not call Assange a public enemy.

Assange, famous for publishing a massive cache of confidential U.S. military and diplomatic documents, is wanted for questioning in Sweden on sex crimes allegations stemming from a brief visit there last summer. Two women have accused him of sexual abuse. He has denied the allegations and described the sex as consensual.

Legal arguments in the extradition hearing wrapped up Friday. The judge’s decision is expected Feb. 24.