Median Age Of Canadians Rises To 39.9

OTTAWA, Sept. 28 (UPI) — The median age for Canadians this year has edged up to 39.9 years, a gain of 0.2 years in the past 12 months, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.

The annual demographic snapshot was done July 1 and showed the number of people aged 65 years or older was up 0.3 percent to 4,973,400, or 14.4 percent of Canada’s population of 34.4 million.

“The main factors explaining the aging of the Canadian population are fertility rates persistently below the generation replacement level of 2.1 children per woman and an increasing life expectancy,” StatsCan said. “The proportion of seniors will grow more rapidly in the coming years as the first generation of baby boomers is now reaching the age of 65.”

The youngest population in Canada was in the northeastern territory of Nunavut, where the median age was 24.8 years, with 31.5 percent of the population under the age of 15, the report said.

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest median age at 43.8 years and the median age in the other Atlantic provinces was also above the national average.

Ukraine Seeks Seven Years For Tymoshenko

KIEV, Ukraine, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Ukrainian prosecutors say they’re seeking seven years in prison for Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on trial in Kiev for alleged abuse of power.

Tymoshenko is accused of abusing her office by signing a 2009 natural gas deal with Russia that cost the government $195 million in damages.

Prosecutors say Tymoshenko should also be required to pay restitution, RIA Novosti reported.

Her defense attorneys say they’re confident she will be acquitted.

“Considering that we believe that Tymoshenko did not commit any crime, even if the prosecution had asked for a one-year suspended sentence, this would have been too much,” defense attorney Oleksandr Plakhotniuk told Interfax-Ukraine after Tuesday’s hearing. “We view the indictment itself and naturally the sentence that the prosecutors asked for as unlawful.”

Radio Free Europe said the European Union and the United States have suggested the case against Tymoshenko be dropped.

Western Pressure On Syria ‘intolerable’

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Calls by Western leaders for the Syrian president to step down are “intolerable” expressions of colonialism, a Venezuelan official said.

Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said in a briefing to reporters this week that Syrian President Bashar Assad “needs to step down.”

The United Nations estimates that around 3,000 people have died at the hands of Syrian security forces since the uprising against Assad began in mid March. Toner said that some members of the opposition are resorting to violence as an act of self-preservation.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro Moros told the U.N. General Assembly that Damascus was a likely a potential victim of “colonial wars.”

“It is intolerable that the powers of the world intend to claim for themselves the right to direct the lawful rulers to resign immediately,” he said. “This was the case in Libya and they want to proceed in the same way in Syria.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during meetings with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said it was time for the bloodshed to end.

“The secretary-general reiterated his call for an end to violence and for a genuine process to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the people for comprehensive political change,” a readout of the meeting from Ban’s office stated.

Seven Years For Tymoshenko?

KIEV, Ukraine, Sept. 28 (UPI) — A Ukrainian prosecutor said former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko should be jailed for seven years on corruption charges and pay $195 million in damages.

Tymoshenko is on trial for corruption charges stemming for a gas deal she helped broker in 2009. The deal ended a Russian blockade on gas deliveries while she was prime minister.

The current government says the deal damaged the battered Ukrainian economy.

Prosecutor Liliya Frolova called for jail time, a $195 million fine and a ban on Tymoshenko holding a position in the public sector for three years after her release.

“We urge to sentence Yulia Tymoshenko to seven-year imprisonment,” the prosecutor was quoted by Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

Many of Tymoshenko’s Western allies have claimed the charges against her are politically motivated.

Tymoshenko on her Web site quotes Elmar Brok, a German member of the European Parliament, as saying the case against the Ukrainian leader is being tried under criminal codes “from the days of (Soviet Premier Joseph) Stalin.”

Recall Of Ground Beef Products Announced

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Kansas-based Tyson Foods is recalling about 131,000 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli, U.S. government officials said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said it was informed of cases of E. coli illnesses in Ohio’s Butler County, and tests of leftover ground beef from the patients’ home proved positive for E. coli, a USDA release said Wednesday.

The recall covers ground beef chubs sold under the Kroger brand, Butcher’s Brand, and under a generic label, all carrying a “BEST BEFORE OR FREEZE BY” date of “SEP 12 2011″ and the establishment number “245D” printed on the package seams.

The FSIS strongly encourages consumers to check their freezers and immediately discard any product subject to this recall.

E. coli can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure.

The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to risk, the USDA said.

Russia Mulls Resumption Of Hemp Growing

MOSCOW, Sept. 28 (UPI) — A proposal to resume the cultivation of industrial hemp would cost Russia about $315 million, the head of the country’s Federal Drug Control Service said.

Russia’s State Anti-drug Committee is to decide whether to allow the planting of hemp as a source of oil, food, fibers, housing and industrial materials, which is currently prohibited in Russia, RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

“We have already assessed the costs, they stand at approximately ten billion rubles ($135 million),” FDCS head Viktor Ivanov said.

The funds could be raised “without cutting other important [budget] expenditures,” he said.

Russia, which was the world’s leading producer of hemp until planting was outlawed in 1961, is currently one of the world’s biggest importers of hemp fibers and oil.

Russia is estimated to have at least 2.5 million acres of illegal cannabis, planted mainly in the Far East and Black Sea regions.

A revival of planting of non-narcotic varieties of hemp for industrial usage would help “to create new jobs and reduce social tensions in the regions, which are abundant with illegal wild cannabis,” the FDCS said.

Khartoum States Commitment To Peace

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 28 (UPI) — The Sudanese government is committed to settling its border issues with the newly independent South Sudan, the foreign minister told the U.N. General Assembly.

South Sudan became an independent nation in July. Its independence was part of a 2005 peace agreement that ended the country’s bloody civil war. Ongoing disputes over oil revenue and border skirmishes, however, threaten to undermine the peace.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti told the U.N. General Assembly that Khartoum recognized South Sudan’s independence for the sake of peace. In the era of globalization, he said, it didn’t mean a “final divorce.”

Khartoum, he added, was committed to settling all of the problems related to the 2005 peace agreement, especially the border and oil revenue issues.

The Sudanese government has deflected criticism of skirmishes in Blue Nile and South Kordofan state along the border with South Sudan. Independent monitors expressed concern that much of the regional violence along the border was ethnically motivated.

The minister added that he expected U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to give special credit to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for his work toward peace in the region. His actions, the minister said, were those of peace and not deserving of accusations from the International Criminal Court.

Bashir is wanted by the ICC for alleged crimes against humanity committed since 2003 in Darfur.

For-profit National College Of Kentucky Subject Of Lawsuit

FRANKFORT, Ky., Sept. 28 (UPI) — Kentucky’s attorney general has filed suit against another for-profit college accusing the institution of lying about its success in placing graduates in jobs.

The lawsuit against National College of Kentucky, Inc., is the third suit Kentucky Atty Gen. Jack Conway has filed as part of a continuing investigation of for-profit learning institutions, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal reported.

“National College is putting its bottom line before the hopes and dreams of students who are trying to better their lives,” Conway told a Tuesday news conference. “The reality is that more and more students are leaving for-profit schools with high debt loads and without the high-paying jobs they were promised.”

National College of Kentucky, Inc. has some 5,000 students at campuses in Louisville, Lexington, Danville, Florence, Richmond and Pikeville, Ky.

Conway said in December National College posted information saying that 96 percent of the graduates from its Louisville campus were successful in finding employment.

However, the school reported a 60 percent success rate to the accrediting agency.

“It’s just this type of misrepresentation that leads students to sign up for an education that oftentimes costs too much and doesn’t put them in their chosen field.

Chilean Student Protesters Agree To Talks

SANTIAGO, Chile, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Student organizers have agreed to discuss education reform with the government of Chile after months of strikes and demonstrations, officials said.

Student representatives met for more than 10 hours on Tuesday to discuss whether to talk to the government after Chilean President Sebastian Pinera rejected the protesters’ demands, La Tercera reported Wednesday.

The students agreed to talk after Chilean Education Minister Felipe Bulnes vowed to address their requests.

Student groups have asked the government to increase funding for public education and to freeze education bills in the Chilean Congress. The government has offered some changes and increased funding.

The students said their protests, including a national stoppage on Thursday, would continue.

Demonstrations for education reform started in April when thousands of students took to the streets across Chile.

National Frat Kappa Alpha Order Sues Former Local Chapter

AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 28 (UPI) — A University of Texas fraternity in Austin engaged in hazing and hired exotic dancers to recruit new members, a lawsuit filed in a state court alleged.

The national administrative office of the Kappa Alpha Order filed the lawsuit last week against its former local chapter, which left the national organization after it was suspended in June and is known as Texas Omicron, the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday.

A spokesman for the local chapter and its alumni said adult entertainers were hired, but said the national office proffered no evidence to back the hazing allegations. The spokesman, local lawyer and alumnus Robby Alden, said alumni members have cautioned students against sponsoring adult entertainment and the students said they wouldn’t sponsor similar shows again.

The lawsuit indicated the national KA office issued a one-year suspension to the local branch June 29 after an investigation uncovered violations of the fraternity’s laws and policies, the (Austin, Tex.) American-Statesman said.

“Despite prior efforts to rehabilitate and reform the culture of this chapter … the chapter continued to engage in hazing as well as these other serious risk management violations,” the national organization said in a release.

In its lawsuit, the national Kappa Alpha Order demanded Texas Omicron surrender revenue, dues and accounts collected before July 22, as well as furnishings, artwork and equipment in the fraternity house. The suit said the property, which the headquarters estimated was worth more than $200,000, should be kept in trust for use by a future local KA chapter.

Fire Bomber Misses Swedish Pleasure Boat

MALMO, Sweden, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Police in the Swedish city of Malmo said they are searching for the person who tried to firebomb the pleasure boat Prins Bernhard Tuesday night.

Witnesses told police they saw someone throw a firebomb at the vessel and then run away, the Swedish news agency TT reported.

The bomb missed the boat and landed instead on an outside ramp, starting a small fire but causing little damage.

Police said it was the second attack this year on the Prins Bernhard.

Tuesday night’s incident is the latest in a long list of explosions at restaurants in Malmo.

Yemen Points Fingers During U.N. Speech

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 28 (UPI) — The Yemeni foreign minister told U.N. delegates that opposition figures and violence were at the heart of the country’s ongoing political woes.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned to Sanaa last week after spending more than three months in Saudi Arabia recovering from wounds suffered during a June attack on his presidential compound. He called for early elections but didn’t announce his resignation despite facing pressure to do so for much of the year.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told the U.N. General Assembly that opposition figures were getting in the way of democratic change through elections in his country.

He added that Saleh had offered compromises to the opposition as far back as 2006, which he said led to parliamentary election delays.

The Gulf Cooperation Council had brokered a deal that called on Saleh to resign in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

The GCC secretary-general left Yemen last week without a deal. Saleh, in a speech last weekend, called on Yemenis to “head toward the ballot boxes.”

Qirbi, in his address, called for a seamless transition of power that would allow for reconciliation and reconstruction without violating the country’s democratic principles.

Beirut Opposition Lauds Hariri Tribunal

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Sept. 28 (UPI) — A tribunal investigating the 2005 slaying of Rafik Hariri is the “cornerstone” for peace in Lebanon, the opposition March 14 alliance said in a statement.

The U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon is investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri, a former prime minister. This summer, it named four members of Hezbollah as the likely perpetrators of the assassination.

The March 14 alliance, which led the previous Lebanese government under Saad Hariri, the slain prime minister’s son, said the tribunal was vital for the country.

“The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is the cornerstone for Lebanon’s civil peace and the rise of a state capable of implementing the law equally among all citizens,” it said in a statement published by Lebanese news outlet Naharnet.

Lebanese leaders in the government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati stressed support for the tribunal, though March 14 said it would be better if Beirut handed suspects over to tribunal authorities.

Lebanese authorities in their August update to the tribunal said they weren’t able to apprehend any of the suspects named by the tribunal.

Hezbollah leaders said the case is part of an Israeli ploy to discredit the Shiite resistance. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, addressing the U.N. General Assembly last week, said Beirut “has always been committed” to respecting the tribunal.

GOP Students Hold Diversity Bake Sale

BERKELEY, Calif., Sept. 28 (UPI) — An “increase diversity bake sale” sponsored by college Republicans at the University of California drew hundreds of students to Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza.

Under the bake sale’s satirical pricing structure whites were charged $2 for the same baked goods that minorities and women could purchase for much less, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The event was timed to counteract a phone bank supporting legislation on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk allowing the UC and Cal State University systems to consider ethnicity in admission decisions.

Current California law prohibits affirmative action in public university admissions.

The GOP bake sale was intended to spark a discussion among students about race and gender in admission to California’s public colleges and universities.

“This has created the dialogue we wanted,” said Shawn Lewis, president of the Berkeley College Republicans. “Berkeley is the home of the free speech movement. We want to be sure that it doesn’t become the capital of political correctness.”

Mexican Teachers Strike Against Violence

ACAPULCO, Mexico, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Mexican teachers are striking against rampant crime after some educators have reported being extorted, kidnapped and intimidated by local gangs, officials said.

About 7,000 teachers marched up the main tourist strip Tuesday in the coastal Mexican city of Acapulco with banners demanding security from government officials, El Universal reported.

Several anonymous death threats have been sent to teachers by criminal gangs demanding over half their salaries.

Teachers have refused to return to classrooms until the government does something to protect them.

More than a hundred schools have been shut down in the once-popular tourist resort since August, when public school resumed across Mexico.

Drug cartels have been fighting for control of Acapulco over the last two years by extorting professionals and local business owners to fund the drug organizations.

Al-Qaida To Iran: 9/11 Theory ‘ridiculous’

SANAA, Yemen, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Al-Qaida has told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to drop the “ridiculous” theory the U.S. government carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

ABC News reports the message came in an article in the latest issue of al-Qaida’s English-language magazine Inspire.

“The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its President Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al-Qaida was behind 9/11 but rather, the U.S. government,” the article states “So we may ask the question: Why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?”

The article claims Iran views itself as a rival to al-Qaida in terms of anti-Americanism and says Iran was jealous of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

“For [Iran], al-Qaida was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world,” the article reads. “Al-Qaida … succeeded in what Iran couldn’t. Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories.”

In another article in the magazine, allegedly written by Osama bin Laden before he was killed the U.S. Navy SEALs in May, the al-Qaida founder tells followers not to allow American soldiers to “become great in your eyes.”

Ahmadinejad continues to claim the United States was behind the terror attacks and did so during a speech at the U.N. General Assembly last week, prompting walkouts by the U.S. delegation and several others.

Supercommittee Super Secret About Meetings

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (UPI) — The bicameral, bipartisan congressional committee tasked with reducing the U.S. deficit has met in secret and its members are mum, observers said.

A dozen lawmakers must slash at least $1.2 trillion from the nation’s deficit over the next decade, spending time behind closed doors and revealing nearly nothing about the proceedings, Politico reported Tuesday.

“I don’t want to discuss what we discussed,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said after leaving a meeting of the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee Tuesday, the second day the panel met.

None of the members discussed the proceedings as they left. Asked whether the committee was adhering to the promise of transparency, Kerry said members were “living up to the commitment of getting the job done for the American people.”

“Some” of the meetings would be open, Kerry said, while “some will not.”

The committee’s co-leaders also weren’t forthcoming, Politico said.

So what do the chairmen have to say?

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said only the panel had a “very productive day” and wasn’t going to reveal “any of the details.”

Co-chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, left through a side door and avoided the media, Politico said.

So far, the committee has conducted four private meetings and two public meetings.

Slaying Suspect Says She’s A Vampire

PARKER, Fla., Sept. 28 (UPI) — A suspect arrested in the slaying of a Florida teen has told police she believes she is a vampire.

Stephanie Pistey’s statement confirms the suspicion of authorities in Parker, Fla. that the July killing of 16-year-old Jacob Hendershot may have involved an alleged cult, WBBH-TV, Fort Myers, Fla., reported.

Investigators charge a group of Pistey’s friends lured Hendershot to a house in Parker, killed him and then dumped his body in a concrete enclosure.

Five people, including Pistey, have been charged with homicide or accessory to homicide.

Pistey was arrested on accessory charges.

“I believe that I’m a vampire and part werewolf,” Pistey, 18, told police.

She denied drinking Hendershot’s blood but said she has drunk the blood of her fiance and co-defendant William Chase, 25.

Police initially believed Hendershot was beaten to death because Pistey accused him of raping her, WETVJ-TV, Miami, reported.

Court Upholds Protesters’ Sentences

MANAMA, Bahrain, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Protesters convicted of plotting to overthrow the government of the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain will not have their convictions overturned, a court ruled.

Bahrain’s National Safety Court of Appeals has upheld the guilty verdicts against 21 people along with the sentences they received, Gulf News reported Wednesday.

The defendants were charged with a number of counts including establishing and managing terror groups in an effort to topple Bahrain’s royal regime and change its constitution.

Other charges involved inciting public hatred and contempt, disseminating false information and inciting non-compliance with the law.

Nine of the 21 defendants were sentenced to life in prison while 13 others received prison sentences ranging from one year to 15 years.

Iran Sends Cruise Missiles To Its Navy

TEHRAN, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Cruise missiles with a range of 124 miles were delivered to the Iranian navy to bolster the country’s national defense, the military said.

The Iranian Defense Ministry said it supplied “large numbers” of anti-ship cruise missiles to the Iranian navy and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the semiofficial Fars News Agency reports.

Iranian military officials noted, during a ceremony commemorating the delivery, that the cruise missiles were manufactured domestically.

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi, the Mehr News Agency in Iran reported, said his country was working on a radar system to counter incoming cruise missile threats. An anti-missile system, he added, is being designed with the aim of retargeting enemy missiles.

Tehran had wanted Russia’s S-300 missile defense system to protect its nuclear installations from a possible aerial attack by the Israelis, who bombed an Iraqi nuclear facility in the 1980s.

A 2005 contract signed by Moscow and Tehran outlined terms of the sale of the S-300 missile defense system. The missile system boasts a range of around 100 miles and can engage several targets at once.

However, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed an executive order last year prohibiting the sale of military equipment to Iran.

Gadhafi Near Southern Border, TNC Says

TRIPOLI, Libya, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Moammar Gadhafi is being protected by a local tribe near the border with Niger and Algeria, an official in the Libyan transitional government said.

Col. Abdul Basit, a military spokesman for the ruling Transitional National Council, told CNN that Gadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam is in Sirte, one of the last strongholds of the Gadhafi regime.

Gadhafi’s grip on power came to an end in late August when rebel fighters captured Tripoli, leading to new leadership under the TNC.

Basit told CNN the TNC had information suggesting Gadhafi was being protected by tribal loyalists near Libya’s southwestern border.

“We have reliable information that Gadhafi is protected by the Tuareg tribe located between Niger, Algeria, and Ghadames town in Libya,” he said.

The tribe was used by Gadhafi in the past to support national forces and was suspected of helping regime loyalists get out of the country.

Gadhafi and members of his inner circle are wanted by the International Criminal Court investigating alleged war crimes committed since the uprising began in February.

Human Rights Watch notes that a grave site near Tripoli allegedly contains the bodies of some 1,200 prisoners massacred at Abu Salim prison in 1996.