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.

New concerns about airport body scanners

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Nov. 30 (UPI) — The head of a Florida commuter group suggests anyone who flies several times a week may want to avoid airport body scanners in the wake of a cancer report.

European authorities banned the machines earlier this month after studies linked them to a small number of cancer cases, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Wednesday.

Steve Landes, director of the South Florida Airline Commuters Association, said frequent fliers might want to avoid the scanners.

“Let’s put it this way: I would have to be a fool to say I wouldn’t have any concerns,” Landes said.

The scanners use low-level radiation to detect dangerous items on passengers.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has declined comment on the Nov. 14 decision by the European Commission to ban the machines at all airports in Europe.

The ban was ordered after a PBS Newshour/ProPublica report said that research suggests anywhere from six to 100 U.S. airline passengers each year could get cancer from the scanners.

New theories in New York murders case

NEW YORK, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Police in New York no longer think 10 bodies found on a Long Island beach were the work of multiple killers, an official said.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer told NBC New York investigators now believe the homicides were committed by a single person and most of them occurred last year.

Dormer said investigators have also “debunked” an earlier theory that the killer worked in law enforcement.

“It’s not unusual for people to be very familiar with how police conduct investigations, and how criminals try to evade capture,” he said during a phone interview Tuesday.

The remains of eight women, a male, and a female toddler were found dumped across a stretch of Ocean Parkway between Dec. 11 and April 11.

Dormer also said he doesn’t think the case of missing sex worker Shannan Gilbert is connected to the killings.

“We believe that it’s just coincidence that she went missing in Oak Beach and the bodies were found on Gilgo Beach, which is right across Ocean Parkway and farther west,” Dormer said. “The M.O. is completely different, the scenario is completely different.”

Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo in ICC detention

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo arrived at the International Criminal Court’s detention center Wednesday to face charges of crimes against humanity.

The detention of Gbagbo, 66, at the ICC’s detention center at The Hague, Netherlands, marks the first time a former head of state was taken into the court’s custody, the ICC said in a release.

In October, the ICC prosecutor opened an investigation into the post-election violence that rocked the Ivory Coast at the beginning of this year. After the presidential election Nov. 28, 2010, Gbagbo refused to concede power to Alassane Ouattara, the recognized winner. Four months of violence followed, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths.

Gbagbo, who has been under house arrest since being taken into custody, is accused of “murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhuman acts,” an ICC statement said.

“It is exactly a year since the presidential election that led to one of the worst episodes of violence [Ivory Coast] has ever known, with ordinary Ivorians suffering immensely, and crimes allegedly committed by both parties,” ICC lead prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement Tuesday.

Ocampo said his office collected evidence that the violence resulted from a “deliberate policy” to attack civilians, with both parties to the election involved. He said he expected to bring more cases before the court.

Gbagbo will make his appearance before Pre-Trial Chamber III next week when he will be told of his rights and the charges against him.

More arrests in Italian mafia probe

MILAN, Italy, Nov. 30 (UPI) — A magistrate and a politician were among 10 people arrested in Italy Wednesday as part of a probe into the expansion of the Calabrian mafia, authorities said.

Magistrate Vincenzo Giuseppe Giglio, head of the crime prevention department of the Reggio Calabria court, was apprehended on suspicion of providing information about police activity to the mafia, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported.

Also arrested was Calabrian Regional Councillor Francesco Morelli, a member of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party.

Police said Morelli was the link between the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia and national police circles.

Ndrangheta is considered the most powerful mafia in Italy due to its hold on the European cocaine trade.

In March, 41 suspected ‘Ndrangheta members were arrested in Calabria, the northern Italian cities of Turin and Genoa, Germany, Canada and Australia.

Italian police said the Calabrian mafia has replicated its operational units in northern Italy and abroad.

Chinese to execute Filipino

MANILA, Philippines, Nov. 30 (UPI) — China’s Supreme People’s Court upheld the death sentence of a Filipino man convicted of drug trafficking, the Philippine government said Wednesday.

A statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs said the death sentence the man received for smuggling heroin into China three years ago would be carried out Dec. 8, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has sent a letter of appeal to Chinese Premier Hu Jintao requesting that the man’s sentence be commuted to life imprisonment.

The prisoner’s name was not released.

Review: Gingrich pushed ideas and clients

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Republican U.S. presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich and his staff say Gingrich doesn’t lobby but a New York Times review indicates he performed similar services.

A review of his activities shows how he used his influence to work on behalf of clients with skin in the game of shaping government policy, notably healthcare, the review released Wednesday indicated.

Since he left Capitol Hill in 1999, Gingrich has arranged meetings between executives and officials, and included pitches for his clients in his presentations to lawmakers, the Times said.

Gingrich and his aides repeatedly said he is not a registered lobbyist, he never took a position for money and corporations contracted with him because of the potency of his ideas.

“You have somebody who knows what he believes in, he can effectively communicate it and he’s successful in doing it,” said his spokesman, R.C. Hammond.

But even as it appears he wasn’t involved in negotiating legislative language, Gingrich and his staff performed many of the same functions registered lobbyists do, the Times said. The newspaper said it reviewed an unsecured archived version of a restricted area of his Center for Health Transformation’s Web site, finding examples of presentations that offered specific services of Gingrich’s clients and executives from some of those companies sitting on panel discussions.

Randy Evans, a lawyer who has represented Gingrich since his days as House speaker, said none of Gingrich’s clients paid him to adopt a position he didn’t have already.

“That matters a lot,” Evans said, “because there was never a point where we identified a client’s position first and decided, ‘OK, that’s where we’re going.’ His vision always came first.”

Paul Branagan, who was president of Millennium Plastics when it hired Gingrich for $7,500 a month plus stock options, told the Times, “He made it very clear to us that he does not lobby, but that he could direct us to the right places in Washington and elsewhere.”

19 drop out of police discrimination suit

WASHINGTION, D.C., Nov. 30 (UPI) — A court in the District of Columbia has granted a motion to voluntarily dismiss 19 plaintiffs from a decade-old discrimination suit against U.S. Capitol Police.

The move by the U.S. District Court leaves 285 plaintiffs in a case that has dragged on for years as it focused on the plaintiffs’ standing rather than the merit of their claims, Roll Call reported Wednesday.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2001 with now-retired Capitol Police Lt. Sharon Blackmon-Malloy as the lead plaintiff. It argued that more than 200 black officers were denied promotions, retaliated against, unfairly disciplined or fired because of their race.

Blackmon-Malloy said she did not see the voluntary withdrawal of the 19 plaintiffs as a setback.

“It has always been our hope that everyone would remain in the proposed class action lawsuit,” she told Roll Call. “However, we support the plaintiffs who have elected to be dismissed from the case.”

A hearing on the case is expected before the end of December or early next year.

Challenge to same-sex marriage survives

NEW YORK, Nov. 30 (UPI) — A lawsuit challenging the way the legislature approved New York’s Marriage Equity Act will be allowed to proceed, a state judge has ruled.

Acting Justice Robert B. Wiggins of the State Supreme Court said it is possible the Republican majority in the State Senate violated New York’s open meetings law when it discussed whether to bring the same-sex marriage bill to a vote, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The state of New York sought dismissal of the suit filed by the conservative group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms.

Their lawsuit charged several of the meetings on the legislation, including ones involving Gov. Mario Cuomo and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, should have been subject to the open meetings law.

Wiggins wrote it is ironic the state’s brief “spews sanctimonious verbiage on the separation of powers” yet “arm-twisting by the Executive on the Legislative permeates the entire process.”

The lawsuit asks the court to overturn the marriage law and nullify any weddings that were performed under it.

Iran developing missile capabilites

JERUSALEM, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Iran is developing advanced cruise missiles that could carry non-conventional warheads, Arieh Herzog, a top Israel Defense Ministry official, warned.

Speaking at the annual International Aerospace Conference in Jerusalem Wednesday, Herzog, director of the ministry’s Homa Missile Defense Agency, said Iran will have cruise missiles that could potentially carry a warhead within several years, The Jerusalem Post said.

Herzog said Israel’s missile defense capabilities are keeping pace with developments in Iran, the Post said.

Former military intelligence head Amos Yadlin said Iran has enough material for four or five atom bombs, and once they are developed, will reach nuclear capability within 1 1/2 years, Yedioth Aharonoth said Wednesday.

Yadlin said the recent round of sanctions following the publication of the International Atomic Energy Agency report are not harsh enough to halt Iran’s nuclear drive.

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan warned if Israel attacks Iran, a regional war would be inevitable, with Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and possibly Syria launching massive missile attacks on Israel, Haaretz said. Dagan made his prediction in a clip from an interview broadcast on Channel 2 Tuesday. He said such a war would take a heavy toll in terms of loss of life and would paralyze life in Israel, the paper said.

Biden: New relationship for U.S. and Iraq

BAGHDAD, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Vice President Joe Biden said in Baghdad Tuesday the drawdown of U.S. forces will mark a new phase in the relationship between the United States and Iraq.

Biden told Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that the new partnership will include a robust security relationship based on whatever Iraq decides, the White House reported.

The vice president made the remarks at Iraq’s governmental palace prior to a meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee.

“This is marking a new beginning of a relationship that will not only benefit the United States and Iraq, I believe will benefit the region and, in turn, the world,” Biden said.

He said Iraq has suffered over the past decade, first from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and then from being “victimized by terror.”

“Few nations have gone through what you’ve gone through,” Biden said. “But now Iraq is poised to join the community of nations who are the great contributors of the world.”

Maliki told Biden Iraq is now capable of protecting its own internal security but added that U.S. forces will play a training role in the future.

He said he hope U.S. companies would come to Iraq with the same force that U.S. troops did.

Doctors seek Hinckley’s eventual release

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) — The man who tried to kill U.S. President Reagan is seeking release from a hospital where he’s been held since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

A federal judge in Washington is to begin a week-and-a-half of hearings Wednesday on whether John Hinckley Jr. should eventually be released from St. Elizabeth Hospital where he has been a patient since his 1982 trial ended, CNN reported.

Doctors at the federal mental facility in Washington petitioned the court for approval to grant Hinckley, now 56, convalescent leave if a series of extended visits to his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Va., are successful.

In a court hearing two years ago, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman noted hospital doctors’ testimony that Hinckley’s mental problems were in remission. The court has granted Hinckley greater freedoms during his incarceration.

In its response to the doctors’ petition, the government said Hinckley was “a man capable of great violence,” arguing concerns remain “that this violence may be repeated.”

The hospital petition was filed under seal and unavailable to the public. However, the government said in response the motion proposes eight visits of 17-24 days each to Hinckley’s mother’s home, CNN reported.

After the home visits, the hospital wants “the sole discretion to place Hinckley on convalescent leave” without court review, the government said.

One of Hinckley’s bullets wounded Reagan, who was rushed to a hospital for surgery. Hinckley’s assassination attempt March 30, 1981, also wounded a police officer, a Secret Service agent and Press Secretary James Brady.

On the day he shot Reagan, Hinckley left a letter to actress Jodie Foster in his hotel room. Hinckley was infatuated with Foster after seeing her portray a child prostitute in the movie, “Taxi Driver.”

Cable operators block BBC news channel

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Pakistan’s cable television operators, protesting a BBC documentary on the Taliban, began taking its World News program off the air, the broadcaster said.

The blocking of the international television news channel came after the BBC aired its documentary “Secret Pakistan,” which had questioned Pakistan’s commitment to fighting Taliban militancy, the report said.

Similar blocking action was threatened against other foreign channels airing “anti-Pakistan” programs.

A BBC spokesman urged speedy reinstatement of the World News program, saying: “We condemn any action that threatens our editorial independence and prevents audiences from accessing our impartial international news service.”

The BBC said the documentary, quoting U.S. intelligence officials, had said some in Pakistan were playing a double game of acting as an ally in public, while secretly training and arming the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The latest development comes in the wake of Pakistan’s continuing reaction against last week’s NATO airstrike near the border with Afghanistan in which 24 Pakistani soldiers died.

The Express Tribune reported the All Pakistan Cable Operators Association has also asked Pakistani regulators to revoke BBC’s “landing rights.”

Separately, the Nation quoted the operator group’s president as saying his members want to send a message to international channels that if they do not stop propaganda against Pakistan, they would be forced to stop their transmissions.

Report says Iranian nuke site damaged

TEHRAN, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Updated satellite images Wednesday show a key Iranian nuclear facility in Isfahan suffered damage in an explosion.

The Times of London quoted unnamed Israeli intelligence officials who based their conclusions on satellite images showing smoke billowing from the direction of the plant, Haaretz said Wednesday.

The British daily quoted Israeli sources as saying there was “no doubt” Monday’s explosion damaged the nuclear facility. The anonymous sources ruled out the possibility an accident caused the blast.

The Isfahan plant went into operation in 2004 taking uranium from mines and producing gas used to feed the centrifuges that enrich uranium, Haaretz reported. The Isfahan facility feeds the country’s main nuclear enrichment plant in Natanz.

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency first reported the explosion Monday afternoon but later retracted the story. The agency said an explosion was heard at 2:40 p.m., local time and quoted Mohammed Mehdi Ismaili, the deputy governor, as saying it was heard across the city.

Later, however, Ismaili told the official news agency IRNA reports of an explosion were baseless and fabricated