Tuesday October 2, 2012

Syrian minister accuses U.S.,
allies of stoking ‘terrorism’

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- The Syrian foreign minister accused the U.S. and its allies of stoking "terrorism" in his country, delivering an uncompromising message before the United Nations on Monday as fighting spread in a centerpiece of Syria’s cultural heritage, the historic Old City of Aleppo.

Elsewhere in the country, a government air raid on a northern town killed at least 21 people, activists said.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting, Walid al-Moallem denounced countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey for supporting the opposition, and also lashed out at calls in Washington and in Arab and European capitals for President Bashar Assad to step down.

"This terrorism which is externally supported is accompanied by unprecedented media provocation based on igniting religious extremism sponsored by well-known states in the region," he said, an apparent allusion to an anti-Islam film produced in the U.S. that has sparked protests throughout the Muslim world.

He invited the opposition to "work together to stop the shedding of Syrian blood" and said that a Syrian-led dialogue could produce a "more pluralistic and democratic" country.

Peanut butter recall linked to salmonella includes major retailers

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A recall of peanut butter and other nut products has some of the country’s largest grocery stores pulling store-brand products off their shelves.

New Mexico-based Sunland Inc. has expanded its recall of peanut butter and almond butter to include cashew butters, tahini and blanched and roasted peanut products. The company, which sells its nuts and nut butters to large groceries and other food distributors around the country, recalled products under multiple brand names last month after salmonella illnesses were linked to Trader Joe’s Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter, one of the brands it manufactures.

In addition to Trader Joe’s, the recall includes some nut butters and nut products sold at Whole Foods Market, Target, Safeway, Fresh & Easy, Harry and David, Sprouts, Heinen’s, Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, Giant Food of Landover, Md. and several other stores. Some of those retailers used Sunland ingredients in items they prepared and packaged themselves.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there are now 30 salmonella illnesses in 19 states that can be traced to the Trader Joe’s peanut butter. No other foods have been linked to the illnesses, but Sunland recalled other products manufactured on the same equipment as the Trader Joe’s product.

Some of the brand names included in the recall are Target’s Archer Farms, Safeway’s Open Nature, Earth Balance, Fresh & Easy, Late July, Heinen’s, Joseph’s, Natural Value, Naturally More, Peanut Power Butter, Serious Food, Snaclite Power, Sprouts Farmers Market, Sprouts, Sunland and Dogsbutter.

10,000 voices: Iran workers’ petition shows rising economic worries as sanctions bite

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- For weeks, a manifesto complaining about Iran’s stumbling economy circulated in secret among factories and workshops. Organizers asked for signatures and the pages began to fill up.

In the end, some 10,000 names were attached to the petition addressed to Iran’s labor minister in one of the most wide-reaching public outcries over the state of the country’s economy, which has received a double pounding from tightening Western sanctions and alleged mismanagement by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.

The rare protest document suggests growing anxiety among Iran’s vast and potentially powerful working class as the ruling system struggles with the latest sanctions, which have targeted critical oil exports and blackballed Iran from international banking networks.

It also appears to reinforce the U.S. and European assertions that the economic squeeze is bringing increasing pressures on Iranian authorities. President Barack Obama and others argue that sanctions and diplomacy are the best way to wring concessions over Iran’s nuclear program.

While Iran’s leadership still has broad-based public support in the nuclear standoff with the West, the petition and sporadic street demonstrations over the slumping economy suggest a growing distinction between the national pride of nuclear technology and the economic hardships from Tehran’s defiance.

Sheriff: At least 20 injured when big rig hits train in California

HANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- At least 20 passengers suffered minor to moderate injuries Monday when a big rig truck collided with a southbound Amtrak train in California’s Central Valley, authorities said.

The crash occurred when the driver of the big rig that was carrying cotton trash failed to yield and hit the train, pushing at least one passenger car off the tracks south of Hanford, authorities said.

The injuries were described as bumps, bruises, scrapes and possibly broken bones by Kings County Assistant Sheriff Dave Putnam.

The crash occurred at a crossing that was equipped with control gates, Putnam said.

The train carrying about 169 passengers and four crew members was on its way from Oakland to Bakersfield, according to Amtrak. It had four rail cars and a locomotive.

Overnight activities for dementia patients allow caregivers to get some much-needed sleep

NEW YORK (AP) -- Just after 10 p.m., when most people their age are going to sleep, a group of elderly folks suffering from dementia are just getting started, dancing and shaking tambourines and maracas in a raucous version of "La Bamba."

"It’s a party," says an 81-year-old woman, among dozens of patients brought to a Bronx nursing home every night for a structured series of singalongs, crafts and therapy sessions that lasts until dawn.

The program, which appears to be rare, is kind of a "night camp" for dementia victims who don’t sleep at night or tend to wake up agitated or become frightened or disoriented by the fall of darkness.

It’s meant to provide care and activity -- lots of activity -- to fill the wee hours for people with Alzheimer’s and similar diseases who live at home. And it’s meant to provide their caregivers -- usually a son or daughter -- with a treasured night’s sleep.

"Without this program, my father would be lost, and I would be crazy," said Robert Garcia, whose 82-year-old father, Felix, is in the program at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale called ElderServe at Night. "He doesn’t sleep. At night he’s wide awake, and he needs activity."