Nation, World Briefs: Greenpeace scales Mount Rushmore

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Environmentalists using park service rock anchors scaled Mount Rushmore on Wednesday and unfurled a banner along President Abraham Lincoln’s face challenging America’s leaders to stop global warming. Eleven people were charged with trespassing and the misdemeanor crime of climbing on Mount Rushmore National Monument, a U.S. Attorney said. The environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement that three of its members hung the banner on Mount Rushmore while other activists blocked access to the site.

Massachusetts: Cement woes

Two former managers of a Big Dig contractor pleaded guilty Wednesday to being part of a conspiracy to deliver substandard concrete to the massive highway project. Six former managers of Aggregate Industries NE Inc. were indicted in 2006 on charges they falsified records to hide the inferior quality of more than 5,000 truckloads of concrete. They were accused of recycling concrete that was too old or already rejected by inspectors and in some cases double-billing for the loads.

Nevada: Ensign affair details

The sex scandal engulfing Sen. John Ensign deepened Wednesday after his former mistress’s husband revealed new details about the relationship, saying the Nevada Republican paid the woman more than $25,000 in severance when she stopped working for him. Doug Hampton also provided a letter that he claimed was an apology from Ensign to Cindy Hampton, a former treasurer for the senator. “I used you for my own pleasure,” the letter reads, later adding. “Plain and simple it was a sin.”

Connecticut: Grave theft

Authorities investigating the theft of a 2-year-old girl’s body from a cemetery said Wednesday that evidence at the crime scene points to a possible ritual. A Stamford Police captain said investigators are looking at the crime “as a ritualistic sort of thing.” He cited beliefs such as Santeria, a Caribbean blend of West African beliefs and Catholicism, or Palo Mayombe, a religion originally from the Congo region of Africa and brought to the Americas by slaves. “A lot of things point to it,” he said without elaborating.

New Jersey: Death by chocolate

Authorities said a man has died after falling into a vat of melted chocolate in a processing plant. The Camden County prosecutor’s office identified the victim as 29-year-old Vincent Smith of Camden. He was a temporary worker at the Cocoa Services Inc. plant. The accident happened Wednesday morning as Smith was loading chocolate into a vat where it’s melted and mixed before being shipped elsewhere to be made into candy. He was hit and fatally injured by the agitator that mixes the chocolate.

Canada: AWOL soldier ruling

The first woman soldier to flee the U.S. military for Canada to avoid the Iraq war on Wednesday appealed the findings of a report that led to her deportation order. Lawyers for Kimberly Rivera, 27, argued a Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration report did not adequately measure the potential risks the war resister could face if she were returned to the U.S. before a Canadian court ordered her to be deported earlier this year. Rivera’s lawyer argued in federal court that her client would more likely face a court martial and jail time instead of an administrative discharge because of her opposition to the war.

Somalia: Pirates take ship

Somali pirates seized a Turkish ship with 23 crew on Wednesday and are being shadowed by a Turkish warship in the Gulf of Aden, a shipping official said. The pirates first surrounded the Horizon-1 in speed boats and then boarded the ship, which is carrying sulfate from Saudi Arabia to Jordan, Istanbul-based Horizon Shipping reported.

India: Home brew kills 43

Tainted home-brewed liquor that poor workers living in slums drank over the weekend has left at least 43 dead, police said Wednesday. Another 23 were battling for their lives in hospitals in Ahmadabad Gujarat state, state police said. Deaths from drinking illegally brewed alcohol are common in India, where few people can afford licensed liquor. Known locally as desi daru, illicit liquor is often spiked with pesticides or chemicals to increase its potency. Most of the deaths occurred in hospitals where the victims were brought after they drank the liquor Sunday, police said.

From Herald news services

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