Moscow weighs NATO sentiment

MOSCOW, Nov. 30 (UPI) — With Cold War rhetoric resurfacing amid disputes over a European missile shield, a survey of public opinion in Russia indicated a negative opinion of NATO.

A survey of 1,600 respondents from across the country, taken in late October, indicated little direct support for NATO. Most of those who said they viewed NATO as a threat were respondents who also told pollsters they supported the socialist A Just Russia party and those over the age of 60, state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.

The poll was conducted by a state-run pollster. The Russian news agency didn’t identify the polling agency or provide statistical data.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last week said a 2008 war with the former Soviet republic of Georgia stopped NATO’s expansion eastward.

Washington is pushing for a European missile shield on the premise it would be a deterrent to a threat from Iran. That threat was renewed by an assessment from the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran was working on some elements of a nuclear weapon.

Medvedev said Moscow would respond in kind should the United States place a missile shield in his country’s backyard. This week, he helped launch an anti-missile station in the Baltic Sea region of Kaliningrad that he said was mean to counter NATO’s “threats.”

Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said that despite the rhetoric, Washington wasn’t taking a direct adversarial approach to missile defense.

Cyberattack on Canada larger than thought

TORONTO, Nov. 30 (UPI) — A massive computer hacking attack on the Canadian government in the fall of 2010 was much larger than first thought, a computer security firm says.

Early this year, government officials acknowledged the federal Finance Department and Treasury Board, along with a Department of National Defense had been attacked by computers in China.

The departments turned off Internet access for most users in those departments, and they still have limited or no online access, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Meanwhile, Daniel Tobok, chief of the Digital Wyzdom cybersecurity company told the CBC the “very sophisticated and highly targeted” hacking attacks also affected at least seven major law firms in Toronto.

The crux of the attack appears to have been over a possible takeover of the Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, at the time estimated to be worth $38 billion, the CBC said.

The law firms were all involved in sales negotiations, Tobok said.

Australian resource giant BHP Billiton was trying to acquire the company, which Beijing made no secret of opposing. China is one of the biggest importers of potash, used in agricultural fertilizers.

Canada’s Conservative government earlier this year ruled out the sale of the corporation to foreign investors.

DRC vote hailed as ‘successful’

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Despite calls to annul the election results, a consortium of African organizations described elections in Democratic Republic of Congo as largely successful.

A joint declaration from the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and three other organizations welcomed “the successful holding of the elections despite the numerous challenges which the country is confronted with and have note the technical and logistical challenges that over shadowed the holding of the elections.”

DRC had presidential and parliamentary elections Monday, only the second time the country held democratic elections since gaining independence in 1960.

Election observers said voter turnout was high though there were isolated reports of violence. Daniel Ngoy Mulunda, the country’s election commission director, said there was nothing to warrant canceling the results.

“There’s nothing to make us annul these elections, truly nothing, we aren’t even thinking of it,” he was quoted by the BBC as saying.

Four of the 10 challengers to incumbent President Joseph Kabila, including one-time ally Vital Kamerhe, said the vote was rigged in Kabila’s favor.

Nearly 20,000 candidates, including the leader of a militia tied to crimes against humanity, vied for seats in the 500-member Parliament.

The BBC reports results for the presidential election are expected next week. Parliamentary results are expected in January.

Syria revolt saps Assad, civil war looms

AMMAN, Jordan, Nov. 30 (UPI) — The belief is growing that Syria’s beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad has run out of time in his fight for survival against a stubborn 8-month-old uprising.

Reports that Assad is recruiting mercenaries from Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon to support his increasingly isolated regime have fueled fears the country’s approaching civil war between the Sunni majority and the ruling Alawite minority and its allies.

There is even talk of a military coup, with senior officers in the Alawite-dominated military turning against the regime.

“The Arabs are now preparing for regime change,” observed Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. “A coup is one scenario but the spreading of the unrest is another.”

Assad’s regime has been steadily quarantined by Western states. The United States and the European Union have imposed economic sanctions, including an oil embargo, and that’s starting to bite. The economy is the regime’s Achilles’ heel.

Last Sunday, the 22-member Arab League, which for decades has been little more than a toothless talking shop for Arab leaders whose only interest was maintaining themselves in power, woke from its slumbers and overwhelmingly imposed economic sanctions on the Syrian government.

“To date, there has been little protest from Syria’s merchant and business classes in Damascus and Aleppo, with most of the unrest occurring in the industrial and manufacturing cities of Homs and Latakia,” the Middle East Economic Digest observed.

“But if the sanctions start to impact the economy, the middle classes may turn against their leader.”

The unprecedented move by the league underlined how Arab anger is hardening against Assad amid the ongoing political upheavals across the Middle East that have so far toppled four dictators.

Neighboring Turkey, Assad’s ally until the bloodletting began, has been steadily tightening the screws. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shown little appetite for armed intervention but his patience is clearly wearing thin.

On Nov. 11, Erdogan threatened to cut off power supplies to Syria unless Assad ended the bloodshed. That is likely to have a limited impact but it underlined with the growing anger with Syria in Ankara, particularly after Turkish diplomatic missions in Syria were attacked by pro-regime mobs.

Ten days later, Erdogan called for the first time for Assad to step down.

Even Russia and China, which have vetoed U.N. moves to act against Damascus, are tempering their support and dropping hints Assad should go.

In recent weeks, an armed resistance, largely built around a nascent Free Syrian Army made up of thousands of defecting soldiers and with headquarters in Turkey, has emerged to take on the power of the minority-Alawite Muslim regime in Damascus.

But civilians are also reported to be taking up arms to fight the regime’s brutal crackdown on what until recently were largely unarmed protesters, mainly Sunnis, in which by U.N. count more than 3,500 people have been killed.

The weapons are mainly smuggled in from neighboring Lebanon allegedly by the Muslim Brotherhood, an old enemy of the 41-year-old Assad dynasty and the most organized of the opposition groups, and smuggling networks linked to insurrectionary factions.

The regime appears to remain cohesive, with key military units controlled by Alawite officers and the vast security apparatus, the hated Mukhabarat, still loyal to Assad.

Iran, desperate to avoid losing its key Arab ally and its gateway into the Levant and the Mediterranean, has done pretty much everything except provide direct military force to rescue the Damascus regime.

But the Arab League’s unexpected tough action is seen as a pointer toward more robust efforts by outside powers, such as some form of military intervention.

This is unlikely to involve Lebanon, where Hezbollah dominates the government and possesses the strongest military force in the country, and Shiite-dominated Iraq does what Tehran tells it.

But Turkey, Syria’s northern neighbor, and Jordan, which over the years has crossed swords with the Assad dynasty, could well become the springboards for military intervention — although that seems a long shot at this time.

Free Syrian Army attacks on regime targets in Damascus in recent days, although largely symbolic, indicate the still-fragmented opposition is ready to fight.

“Control of the military and international disunity will keep Assad in control in the short term,” MEED concluded. “But the long-term prospects for the Syrian president look bleak.”

U.S.: Blagojevich should get 15-20 years

CHICAGO, Nov. 30 (UPI) — U.S. prosecutors said Wednesday former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich should receive 15 to 20 years in prison for his corruption convictions.

A sentencing memorandum filed by the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago said, “A sentence in the range of 15 to 20 years’ imprisonment would be consistent with sentences imposed in broadly similar cases.”

The former governor is due to be sentenced next Tuesday.

“Blagojevich, unlike other defendants in this case, has been found guilty of multiple criminal acts of extortion, bribery and fraud, covering multiple episodes, as well as lying to government agents in an effort to obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation,” the memo said.

“Over the course of a relatively brief period of time, during his machinations surrounding the appointment of a United States senator [replacing President Obama], and the shakedowns of hospital and racetrack executives, the defendant revealed his corrupt, criminal character,” the filing said. “But, as the evidence and Blagojevich’s conduct at his trials established, these were not isolated incidents. They were part and parcel of an approach to public office that defendant adopted from the moment he became governor in 2002. In light of Blagojevich’s extensive corruption of high office, the damage he caused to the integrity of Illinois government, and the need to deter others from similar acts, the government suggests a sentence of 15 to 20 years imprisonment is sufficient but not greater than necessary to comply with [federal law sentencing factors].”

Attorneys for Blagojevich said in September said they’re going to seek probation for the former Illinois governor, who was convicted of 17 counts of corruption.

Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky said his client is a fit candidate for probation.

“The taxpayers never lost a dime. Blagojevich never received a dime,” Sorosky told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Breathing protest denied in Belarus

BARANAVICHY, Belarus, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Authorities in Belarus denied a permit to a man who wanted to stage a 2-hour protest he said he’d wage by breathing deeply.

Belarus was criticized for its sweeping crackdown on dissent. Authorities in the past prohibited a protest that was to include clapping demonstrators and a recent anti-government bike-ride protest.

Now, Mikola Charnavus from the central town of Baranavichy, was denied a permit for planning a breathing protest in front of a monument commemorating Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

Charnavus told RFE/RL he wanted to stage the deep-breathing protest because “protest actions involving bicycle riding, walking in a village, applauding, roaring or mooing are banned in this country.”

A panel of independent experts in a report to the United Nations said Monday that new laws curtailing the right to peaceful protest could worsen the “current climate of fear and intimidation” in Belarus.

Hundreds of opponents to President Alexander Lukashenko were arrested following a crackdown that followed December elections in Belarus.

Meanwhile, RFE/RL notes a court Wednesday sentenced two men to death for an April bombing of a subway in Minsk that killed 15 and left 200 injured.

Belarus is the only European country that has a death penalty.

David Duke arrested in Germany

COLOGNE, Germany, Nov. 30 (UPI) — David Duke, a former Louisiana legislator and leader in the Ku Klux Klan, was arrested in Germany, he confirmed on his Web site.

While not releasing details, the former grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan said he was arrested for a “gross twisting of travel laws,” The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Wednesday.

The incident, Duke’s Web site indicated, involved a private, peaceful gathering of about 100 German citizens “eager to hear my message of heritage and freedom.”

The Huffington Post said his arrest could to be tied to Duke’s expulsion from the Czech Republic in 2009, where he was detained on suspicion of denying the Holocaust, which is a crime in many European countries, including Germany.

A statement by the Cologne police said Duke “was not entitled to stay in Germany” because of a travel ban against him in another European country, the newspaper said.

Duke spent a year in a U.S. prison in 2003 after pleading guilty to tax fraud and using supporters’ donations to pay gambling debts.

Well-dressed protesters crash Romney event

TAMPA, Fla., Nov. 30 (UPI) — Protesters dressed to the nines crashed a Tampa, Fla., fundraiser for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, Occupy Tampa said.

Police said none of the handful of protesters inside the Tampa Museum of Art was arrested Tuesday, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

The well-dressed interlopers read from notes that Wall Street was financing Romney’s campaign “and Occupy Tampa wholeheartedly rejects this.”

Fundraiser organizers said they were uncertain whether Romney heard any of the commotion.

One protester inside the museum, Becky Rubright, said she called fundraiser organizers a few days earlier, saying she wanted to go to the event but couldn’t pay $2,500 to attend, the Times said. She said an organizer told her to come and pay what she could afford, which got her name on the guest list.

Outside the museum, about 75 protesters watched security and police officers rush toward the crashers and escort them out.

Tampa is hosting the Republican National Convention in August.

Deputies won’t evict 103-year-old woman

ATLANTA, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Sheriff’s deputies in Atlanta didn’t carry out an eviction order after discovering they were sent to remove a 103-year-old woman from her home, officials said.

Vita Lee, who is just three weeks short of her 104th birthday, shares a house in Northwest Atlanta with her 83-year-old daughter, WSB-TV, Atlanta, reported.

Fulton County Sheriff’s deputies and a moving company hired by Deutch Bank showed up at Lee’s home Tuesday intending to kick her out.

But after taking a look at Lee and her daughter, they changed their minds, said community activist Michael Langford.

“I saw the sheriffs who came to put them out take off and leave,” Langford said.

Lee’s daughter was so upset by the prospect of eviction that she had to be rushed to the hospital.

Lee told WSB she is hopeful things can be worked out with the bank.

London pulls staff from Iran

LONDON, Nov. 30 (UPI) — London said Wednesday it shut its embassy in Tehran and pulled staff out of Iran in response to attacks on two compounds by Iranian demonstrators.

The British government said student members of the Basij paramilitary organization were behind attacks on two of its embassy compounds Tuesday in Tehran. Tehran said riot police fired tear gas at demonstrators though British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the response was belated.

Hague, in an address to Parliament, said Tuesday’s incident was a major violation of international laws regarding foreign diplomats.

“We have now closed the British Embassy in Tehran,” he said in his address. “We have decided to evacuate all our staff and as of the last few minutes all our U.K.-based staff have now left Iran.”

He added that while London would maintain diplomatic ties to Tehran, the immediate response “cannot be the end of the matter.”

The security breach followed a decision by the Iranian government to downgrade diplomatic ties with London. Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian Parliament, said Tehran had grown weary of London’s adventurist behavior, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reports.

Larijani noted Tehran has, for the past few decades, been unhappy with the British government.

Hague said London was particularly frustrated with Iran’s nuclear program and human rights record.

The U.N. Security Council in response reminded Tehran of its obligations to ensure the protection of foreign diplomats in the country.

No embassy staff members were reported injured during Tuesday’s incident though Tehran said some demonstrators were hurt.

Settlement reached in anthrax death

BOCA RATON, Fla., Nov. 30 (UPI) — The wife of a Florida journalist who died from exposure to anthrax will get a $2.5 million settlement in her long-running lawsuit against U.S. government.

Maureen Stevens sued eight years ago, seeking to hold government officials responsible for the anthrax attacks that killed her husband, Bob Stevens, and four others, and caused serious illness for 17 other people.

“She’s relieved,” her attorney, Richard Schuler, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. “She still misses her husband. It’s been 10 years. She still wears her wedding ring, and she wears his ring around her neck so it is closest to her heart.”

Her wrongful-death lawsuit, which originally sought $50 million in damages, has been creeping toward a settlement for several months, the newspaper said. Papers filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach indicated the settlement was finalized Nov. 23, the newspaper reported.

Bob Stevens, 63, was a photo editor for tabloid publisher American Media Inc. in Boca Raton when he was exposed to the anthrax that was delivered by mail. He died Oct. 5, 2001, several days after being exposed. A co-worker also was exposed but survived after a lengthy illness.

The anthrax discovered at AMI signaled the beginning of the anthrax mail scare. More letters containing anthrax were mailed to New York television networks and a U.S. Senate office building.

Stevens and her attorneys contended a rogue government scientist — or scientists — was responsible for the anthrax attacks. After the July 2008 suicide of Bruce Ivins, an anthrax scientist at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., an FBI investigation named Ivins as the sole perpetrator of the biological attacks.

Gacy victim identified by DNA

CHICAGO, Nov. 30 (UPI) — An unidentified victim of Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy has been given a name thanks to DNA evidence, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.

Dart told the Chicago Sun-Times 19-year-old William George Bundy was among at least 33 people Gacy killed between 1972 and 1978.

Illinois executed Gacy in 1994.

Dart’s office began an effort in October to use DNA technology to put names to eight unidentified victims whose bodies were exhumed earlier this year.

Bundy’s sister Laura O’Leary and brother Robert Bundy submitted DNA samples that allowed the University of North Texas to link one of the unidentified bodies to William Bundy.

O’Leary said her family will hold a memorial service for her brother next year.

“Today is a terribly sad day for my family,” she said. “But it is also a day that provides closure.”

Vote sets up clash on terrorism detainees

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) — The U.S. Senate, ignoring a veto threat by President Obama, may move forward on legislation to require certain terrorism suspects be held by the military.

The Senate Tuesday defeated an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would have shelved the detainee provisions until a study could be conducted, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The defense bill is critical legislation that includes a range of Pentagon policy, sets troop pay and funding levels for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and commits to weapons systems and other military contracts. If the Senate approves the defense bill, it would be merged with a House-passed version that also drew a veto threat.

“The least we can do is take our time, be diligent and hear from those who will be affected by these new, significant changes in how we interrogate and prosecute terrorists,” Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., the amendment’s sponsor, said on the Senate floor before the bipartisan 60-38 defeat.

In a message to Congress earlier this month, the White House said, “After a decade of settled jurisprudence on detention authority, Congress must be careful not to open a whole new series of legal questions that will distract from our efforts to protect the country.”

Supporters said the detainee language — which would grant an administration greater authority to use military custody instead of civilian law enforcement and courts — merely codifies the government’s ability to detain terrorism suspects, as it has done since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Civil libertarians said the provisions would give the government far-reaching power to patrol U.S. streets and detain U.S. citizens indefinitely.

More than 200 amendments await the bill, and the Senate is expected to work through some of them this week.

Lawyer admits client stabbed Navy wife

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Nov. 30 (UPI) — A Georgia man accused of killing a Florida woman he met on Craigslist lost control when he learned she was a Navy wife with two children, his lawyer said.

Assistant Public Defender Michael Bateh told jurors David Kelsey Sparre admits having sex with Tiara Pool and then killing her but it wasn’t premeditated, The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union reported Wednesday.

Bateh said his client just “snapped” when he found out who Pool really was after the two had sex.

Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda said the prosecution will prove that Pool’s death was a case of premeditated, felony murder.

She was stabbed at least 89 times with the largest knife in her kitchen, he said.

Pool’s husband, Michael Pool, testified Tuesday that he was deployed aboard the USS The Sullivans at the time of his wife’s killing. Their two sons were out of town with family.

Sparre’s public defenders can succeed in making a case for second-degree murder, the finding would keep the Waynesville, Ga., man off Florida’s death row, observers said.

N.C. urges right-to-work for convention

RALEIGH, N.C., Nov. 30 (UPI) — North Carolina lawmakers are moving to require the Democrats to consider non-union, in-state companies for contracts for its national convention in Charlotte.

The North Carolina House Tuesday night passed a non-binding resolution asking the Democratic National Committee to give its business to North Carolina companies whether they are union shops or not.

“I think it’s only fitting that Tar Heel workers at least have the opportunity to benefit,” said sate Rep. David Lewis, the Republican sponsor of the bill.

The (Raleigh, N.C.) News and Observer said Wednesday the DNC has so far awarded three contracts to six companies for work connected to the convention. Only one company is considered a unionized firm.

The lone union company was hired to do printing work. The newspaper said the owner of a company that lost in the bidding publicly complained it was his non-union status that cost him the job.

Democrats called Lewis’ resolution a waste of time, but Lewis said he was just looking out for state businesses and their employees. “It may astonish you — it’s not about politics, it’s about jobs,” he said.

Molson brewery accident burns 4

MONTREAL, Nov. 30 (UPI) — An acid spill at the Molson Coors brewery in Montreal burned two workers and two firefighters early Wednesday, fire officials said.

Fire department spokesman Francis Leduc said the accident happened after midnight during equipment maintenance, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

“While they were cleaning the machine, the machine stopped and some acid they were using was spilled on them,” Leduc told the broadcaster.

One of the victims was burned over more than 50 percent of his body, but the second worker’s injuries were not immediately reported.

Both were taken to a hospital burn trauma unit, The (Montreal) Gazette reported.

Two firefighters also received minor burns and were treated at the scene, the reports said.

The fire department’s hazardous materials team was on the scene for hours and the provincial workplace health and safety board was investigating the accident, the CBC said.

Molson Inc. merged with the Adolph Coors Co. in Denver in 2005 and combined are the world’s fifth-largest brewery by volume.

Labor Relations Vote Could Be Held Up By Lone Republican

The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) vote to move forward on a contentious union election rule could end up resting on the shoulders of the lone Republican member, The Hill reported.

Brian Hayes, the lone Republican, threatened to resign or withhold his participation after the NLRB began to push forward on the rule. His vocal denial of the vote and possible lack of attendance has led many to question whether the organization has the power to move forward with the proposed regulation, according to the news outlet.

The Hill reported that the union election proposal has sparked an outcry from business groups, which argue that it would leave companies little time to give notice to their workers about a possible move to unionization.

Former NLRB officials have both supported and denounced Hayes’ decision, but Peter Schaumber, a former chairman, noted that his participation would be necessary if the board was to move forward.

“It is not unusual for a member to withhold a vote until a written majority decision circulates, to see the words and the reasoning,” Schaumber said in a statement.

Fox News reported that many Republicans have denounced the recent actions of the NLRB, as several leaders have seen the labor board as a vehicle for passing pro-union decisions for the White House.

Somalia facing deeper crises

GENEVA, Switzerland, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Chronic insecurity is getting in the way of humanitarian aid in Somalia, where a simmering insurgency is leading to mass displacements, a U.N. official said.

“In Mogadishu, we noted a profound change in the root causes driving forced displacement,” Andrej Mahecic, spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement. “While drought accounted for the vast majority of displacement in the Somali capital during the first three quarters of the year, as of October we have seen 8,300 people displaced by conflict and just 500 displaced as a result of drought.”

Much of the Horn of Africa is lingering in drought though recent reports suggest higher rainfall is bringing some relief as the La Nina weather pattern develops.

Hundreds of people, Mahecic added, were fleeing their homes to find food assistance elsewhere in Somalia.

Terrorist group al-Shabaab, which controls parts of Somalia, announced it put a ban on humanitarian assistance from reaching parts of south central Somalia.

Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said that decision put 250,000 people at risk.

“The only purpose of the humanitarian organizations working in Somalia is to save lives,” he said in a statement.

Gender gap widens on Cain’s favorables

PRINCETON, N.J., Nov. 30 (UPI) — The gender gap among Republicans concerning U.S. presidential candidate Herman Gain has widened, Gallup reported Wednesday.

Fifty-eight percent of Republican men said they have a favorable view of Cain and 26 percent said they had an unfavorable view for a net favorable rating of plus-32, poll results indicated. Among Republican women, 42 percent said they view Cain favorably and 34 percent held an unfavorable view for a net favorable rating of plus-8.

Gallup said the data were collected the day before Cain responded to a Georgia woman’s claim that they engaged in a long-term extramarital affair. That report followed a series of sexual harassment allegations against the Georgia businessman. News reports Tuesday indicated he was reconsidering his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

Cain’s standing also took a hit after he stumbled through a response on the situation in Libya, raising questions about his grasp on foreign policy issues. The Princeton, N.J., polling agency said his Positive Intensity Score has tumbled from 34 in early October to 9. Also, Gallup’s latest poll on candidate preferences indicated Cain fell behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as the favored candidates.

Results are based on nationwide telephone interviews conducted with 1,415 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents as part of Gallup Daily tracking Nov. 14-27. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.

Teen sentenced to 40 years in prison

MIAMI, Nov. 30 (UPI) — A Florida teenager convicted of fatally stabbing a high school classmate must serve a 40-year prison term plus 10 years probation, a judge has ruled.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dava Tunis called the death of Juan Carlos Rivera, 17, “an enormous and senseless tragedy,” The Miami Herald reported Wednesday.

Rivera and Andy Rodriguez, got into a brawl in September 2009 after bumping each other in a hallway at Coral Gables High School.

Rodriguez, armed with a knife, stabbed Rivera five times including a fatal blow to his heart, prosecutors said.

“Two families are forever torn apart and changed,” Judge Tunis said in passing sentence on Rodriguez, 19.

Ankara says Syria at the end of the road

ANKARA, Turkey, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Turkey can no longer sit in silence as atrocities continue in neighboring Syria, the Turkish foreign minister said in announcing unilateral sanctions.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday announced the government would end military assistance to Syria in an effort to persuade Damascus to end its crackdown on the opposition.

“Until a legitimate government, which is at peace with its people, is in charge in Syria, the mechanism of the high level strategic cooperation council has been suspended,” he was quoted by Turkish daily newspaper Today’s Zaman as saying.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, the foreign minister added, has come “to the end of the road.”

A report backed by the United Nations highlighted potential crimes against humanity in Syria, including the alleged rape, torture and killing of children at the hands of Syrian security forces.

The U.N. Security Council has been unable to act because of opposition from China and Russia, two veto-wielding members.

Davutoglu said Ankara would institute economic sanctions on members of the Syrian regime and several of its backers, however.

The United Nations estimates at least 3,500 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria since the uprising began March.

“Every bullet fired, every bombed mosque has eliminated the legitimacy of the Syrian leadership and has widened the gap between us,” Davutoglu said. “Syria has squandered the last chance that it was given.”

Tymoshenko too ill for trial

KIEV, Ukraine, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Yulia Tymoshenko, due to declining health, probably won’t attend a court session in Ukraine appealing her prison sentence, a supporter said.

Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison term after being convicted of abusing her authority when, as prime minister in 2009, she helped broker a gas deal with Russian energy company Gazprom. That deal returned gas supplies to Ukraine but the current government claims it ruined an economy battered by recession.

A Ukrainian court of appeals is to hear the case Thursday in Kiev.

A colleague, however, said the former prime minister likely won’t attend because of poor health.

“Yulia Tymoshenko is unlikely to participate in the court hearing because, unfortunately, her health is deteriorating quickly,” Oleksandr Turchynov, deputy head of the opposition the All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland” party was quoted by her Web site as saying.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych ordered Tymoshenko transferred to a pretrial detention center’s “European-standard” medical ward earlier this week.

Doctors during Tymoshenko’s most recent checkup were unable to pinpoint the cause of her ailments though her lawyers have said she’s unable to get out bed.

Her Western supporters say the charges against her are politically motivated. She lost a bruising 2010 campaign for president to Yanukovych.

Accuser: Cain wouldn’t be good president

NEW YORK, Nov. 30 (UPI) — The Georgia woman who said she had an affair with GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain said she doesn’t think he would make a good president.

Ginger White told ABC News in an interview Wednesday it is her opinion the former Godfather’s Pizza chief isn’t suited to be the nation’s chief executive.

“I honestly do not think that he is, in my opinion, would make a good president as far as I’m concerned,” White, 46, said.

When asked whether he should end his campaign, she said, “That’s something that he has to look himself in the mirror and ask himself.”

Cain has denied White’s allegation the two had an on-and-off relationship for 13 or 14 years.

White described the relationship as a “very casual affair” and said it began when she was single.

She said she received money from Cain the past 2 1/2 years but it was not “sex for cash.” She said she had financial difficulties.

White showed ABC News phone records she says show text messages she exchanged with Cain.