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California gas pipeline explosion, fire injure up to 15 people

A firefighter watches the blaze after a gas line exploded near FresnoBy Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - A construction crew on Friday accidentally ruptured a natural gas transmission line in Fresno, California, sparking an explosion and fire that injured up to 15 people, four of them critically, officials said. The 12-inch (30-cm) pipeline, belonging to Pacific Gas & Electric Corp , was struck by a backhoe near state Highway 99, unleashing a fireball that injured members of the construction team and a jail inmate crew nearby, Fresno Fire Department spokesman Peter Martinez said. One worker in critical condition was flown to hospital by helicopter, and 13 or 14 others were taken to hospitals for evaluation and treatment of injuries after the pipeline was ruptured at about 2:30 p.m., Martinez added. Four of the injured were taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, and two more were taken to the burn unit there, said hospital spokeswoman Mary Lisa Russell, adding that four were in critical condition and two serious.


Email: Affleck asked PBS to not reveal slave-owning ancestor

File-This March 8, 2011, file photo shows actor Ben Affleck testifying before the House Foreign Affairs, Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights Subcommittee hearing in Washington. Affleck requested that the PBS documentary series "Finding Your Roots" not reveal he had a slave-owning ancestor, according to emails published online by whistleblower site WikiLeaks, and the information never appeared on the program. PBS and the host of the show, Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, say they didn’t censor the slave owner details. Instead, more interesting ancestors of the actor emerged and Gates chose to highlight them in the October segment, they said in separate statements posted on the PBS website. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)BOSTON (AP) — Ben Affleck requested that the PBS documentary series "Finding Your Roots" not reveal he had a slave-owning ancestor, according to emails published online by whistleblower site WikiLeaks, and the information never appeared on the program.


India's bidi workers suffer for 1,000-a-day habit

Young Indian labourer packs bidis into colourful conical packets and boxes, at the New Sarkar Bidi Factory in Kannauj, some 200 km south-east of New DelhiZainab Begum Alvi and her band of young helpers hunch over baskets filled with tobacco flakes and dried leaves, trying to roll a thousand dirt-cheap cigarettes a day at the behest of India's powerful bidi barons. "There is no other work than this, so if I don't do it, I can't do anything else," added Alvi, a tiny and gaunt woman from the impoverished northern state of Uttar Pradesh who says she is in her 50s. - 'No link to cancer' - Three lawmakers from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on a parliamentary committee looking into the issue were widely condemned when they cited a lack of evidence that smoking caused cancer as a reason for stalling the measure. "There is no medical evidence that bidis cause cancer," said Shyama Charan Gupta, one of the three lawmakers on the committee and who heads a company that produces one of the industry's best-selling brands.


Fast-moving brush fire forces home evacuations near Los Angeles
(Reuters) - A fast-moving brush fire east of Los Angeles has forced the evacuation of more than 200 homes just hours after it started, fire department officials said on Sunday. The blaze, named the "Highway Fire," was zero percent contained and had spread over 175 acres in Chino Hills, a suburb about 35 miles east of Los Angeles, according to a statement released by the City of Riverside Fire Department.
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