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macon.com Midday Update: CDC: 756 ill from salmonella-tainted tomatoes; oil reaches $142 on view dollar will keep falling; troopers plan crackdown on I-85

Federal health officials have documented more illnesses that are connected to eating salmonella-tainted tomatoes. As of Thursday, the government had counted 756 confirmed illnesses.

That's roughly 200 more illnesses than health officials had counted a week ago, in what has become the nation's largest-ever outbreak of salmonella from tomatoes.

Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the rise in cases is due mostly to state laboratories finishing backlogs of tests, not lots of new infections.

Investigation have not determined where the tainted tomatoes were grown.

The government urges consumers nationwide to avoid raw red plum, red Roma or red round tomatoes unless they were grown in specific states or countries.

Check FDA's Web site - http://www.fda.gov - for an updated list. Also safe are grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached.

No deaths have been attributed to the outbreak.

– Associated Press

Oil reaches $142 on view dollar will keep falling

Oil futures climbed briefly to a new record above $142 a barrel Friday on expectations that the weakening dollar, a major factor in crude's stratospheric rise, will extend its decline and add to oil's appeal.

Retail gas prices inched lower overnight, but are likely to resume their own trek into record territory now that oil futures have broken out of the trading range where they had been for nearly 3 weeks.

Light, sweet crude for August delivery rose as high as $142.26 a barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange before pulling back to trade up $1.46 at $141.10. On Thursday, the contract shot past $140 and rose more than $5 to a new settlement record.

Oil rose Thursday in part on comments by OPEC officials; the organization's president predicted prices will rise further, and a top Libyan oil official suggested his nation may cut production.

Meanwhile, traders were coming around to the belief that the dollar, whose long decline has contributed greatly to oil's dramatic advance this year, will continue to weaken.

The market now expects that the Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise interest rates until much later than many analysts have forecast; since higher rates tend to strengthen the dollar, traders are anticipating that it will continue to fall and, consequently, that investors will turn to commodities including oil as a hedge against inflation.

– Associated Press

Troopers plan crackdown on I-85

South Carolina state troopers plan to join officers in neighboring states in a crackdown on dangerous driving on Interstate 85.

The effort is part of a larger increased traffic enforcement effort during summer, when the Highway Patrol says deaths on the roads traditionally rise.

Georgia and North Carolina troopers are joining South Carolina in the crackdown on aggressive drivers on I-85.

South Carolina troopers are calling their annual summer traffic campaign 100 Days of Summer HEAT, which stand for Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic. It runs from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.

– Associated Press

WHAT'S COMING UP ON MACON.COM

– Bibb County commissioners are set to approve their budget today. We'll look at the highlights.

– Nonpartisan qualifying for November races ends Friday. We'll give you a roudup of who qualified.

VISIT US AGAIN SOON

We invite you to check out our Web site again this weekend for the Midday Update. Monday through Friday, Online Editor Beth MacFadyen will bring you timely information about what Telegraph staffers are working on, plus news we think you need to know immediately. Send feedback to bmacfadyen@macon.com

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