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In Brief | Nation & World 11-18-12

Crave a Twinkie? Price is going up fast online

SAN FRANCISCO — Twinkies are being sold on the Internet like exquisite delicacies.

Hours after Twinkie-maker Hostess announced its plans to close its doors forever, people flocked to stores to fill their shopping baskets with boxes of the cream-filled sponge cakes and their sibling snacks — Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and Zingers.

Late Friday and Saturday, the opportunists took to eBay and Craigslist. They began marketing their hoard to whimsical collectors and junk-food lovers for hundreds — and in some cases — thousands of dollars. That’s a fat profit margin, when you consider the retail price for a box of 10 Twinkies is roughly $5.

Greg Edmonds of Sherman, Texas, is among those who believe Twinkies are worth more now that Hostess Brands Inc. has closed its bakeries. He lost his job as a sales representative eight months ago, so he is hoping to make some money feeding the appetites of Twinkie fans and connoisseurs.

After spending a couple hours driving around to stores Friday, Edmonds wound up with 16 boxes of Twinkies and Ding Dongs. He started selling them Saturday on eBay, advertising three boxes for a hefty price of $300.

Coast Guard ends search for 2 after oil rig fire

NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard on Saturday evening called off its search for two workers missing after a fire broke out on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, sending an ominous black plume of smoke into the air reminiscent of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that transformed the oil industry and life along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash told The Associated Press the search was ended at about 5:25 p.m. CST.

Coast Guard officials said in a news release Saturday that helicopters were searching for the missing workers from the air, while a cutter searched the sea.

The blaze, which started Friday while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line, severely burned at least four workers. Their burns were not as extensive as initially reported, said Leslie Hoffman, a spokeswoman for Black Elk Energy, which owned the platform.

Officials at Baton Rouge General Medical Center said Saturday that two men remained in critical condition, while two men remained in serious condition. All four, who are being treated in a burn unit, are employees of oilfield contractor Grand Isle Shipyard and are from the Philippines. The hospital said it and Grand Isle Shipyard are trying to reach the men’s families in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, officials said no oil was leaking from the charred platform, a relief for Gulf Coast residents still weary two years after the BP oil spill illustrated the risk that offshore drilling poses to the region’s ecosystem and economy.

N.M. coyote hunt plan sparks public outcry

A New Mexico gun store owner’s plan to hold a competitive two-day coyote hunt this weekend has been blasted by critics and generated protests from as far away as Europe.

Store owner Mark Chavez says teams of one or two hunters have two days to shoot and kill as many coyotes as possible on private land in New Mexico. Winners get a choice of a Browning Maxus 12-gauge shotgun or two AR-15 semiautomatic rifles from his Gunhawk Firearms shop in the town of Los Lunas. A taxidermist will salvage any pelts and hides for clothing.

“I’ll even give the furs to the homeless if they need it,” Chavez told the Associated Press.

The uproar has been so fierce that Chavez has received at least one death threat. An online petition against the event has generated tens of thousands of signatures. One protester has vowed to dress like a coyote to trick hunters into accidentally shooting a human. Activists have also rallied outside the gun store waving signs denouncing the event as cruel and “bloodthirsty.”

The argument over the event has moved onto the gun store’s website. One critic called the event “a slaughtering rampage that has no place in the modern world.” A defender countered: “I will be in the contest and I support your business. Hang in there, ignore the busy bodies sticking their noses in everybody’s business.”

There are an estimated 300,000 coyotes in New Mexico. The creatures are blamed for thousands of deaths of calves annually and aren’t protected under federal or state laws. Chavez says the hunt will include 60 teams that will hunt on land owned by willing ranchers.

In bold move, France welcomes Syria ambassador

PARIS — France on Saturday welcomed a member of the Syrian opposition as the country’s ambassador, a bold bid to confer legitimacy on the week-old opposition coalition and encourage other Western nations to follow suit.

The new envoy, Mounzir Makhous, appeared before the press after talks at France’s presidential palace between President Francois Hollande and the head of the newly formed Syrian opposition coalition.

By wire sources