BY Wire Reports
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
12/04/12 at 2:45 AM
Beirut: Fighting near Damascus forces plane to turn back
Fighting between rebels and government forces raged near the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday, forcing an inbound commercial jet to turn back while the U.N. said it was withdrawing staff because of deteriorating security conditions.
Lebanese security officials said Jihad Makdissi, a polished Foreign Ministry spokesman known for defending the regime of President Bashar Assad in fluent English, flew from Beirut to London. But it was not immediately clear whether he had defected.
The fighting over the past few weeks in and around Damascus has been the most serious in the capital since July, when rebels captured several neighborhoods before a swift government counteroffensive swept them out.
The spike in violence recently is concentrated in the ring of mostly poor suburbs around Damascus but often bleeds into the capital itself as rebels bring their fight closer to Assad's seat of power.
Tehran, Iran: Official says blogger in custody was beaten
Iran's state prosecutor has confirmed for the first time that a blogger who died in police custody last month had been beaten.
Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi told reporters Monday that an investigation into the death of Sattar Beheshti has found that he was beaten from the day of his arrest.
Ejehi said the beatings were not the cause of death, which most likely came from physical or psychological shock.
The confirmation comes two days after Iran's police fired the head of the Tehran cybercrimes unit over the case.
According to Iranian officials, Beheshti was detained Oct. 30 for alleged "cybercrimes" and was imprisoned and interrogated the next day. Beheshti died Nov. 3, and wounds were found on his body.
Seoul, South Korea: Flights rerouted to avoid N. Korea rocket debris
South Korea said Monday that it plans to reroute passenger flights over the Yellow Sea to avoid possible collisions with debris from a long-range rocket that North Korea plans to launch this month.
The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said it made the decision after learning that North Korea had informed China and Singapore of the flight path and other details of the launch.
North Korea told those nations the rocket would be launched in the morning and its debris would fall into the Yellow Sea and in waters east of the Philippines.
The International Maritime Organization said Monday that North Korea had informed it that it planned to launch a satellite between Dec. 10-22 during the hours of 7 a.m and noon.
Washington: U.S. says use of chemical weapons would cross line
The White House says it is increasingly concerned that the beleaguered regime in Syria might be considering use of chemical weapons against its own people and warned that doing so would "cross a red line."
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that U.S. officials are closely monitoring Syria's proliferation of sensitive materials and facilities, as opposition to the Syrian government grows.
Carney said President Barack Obama believes that any use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would "cross a red line" for the U.S.
A senior U.S. defense official said Monday that U.S. and allied intelligence have detected Syrian movement of chemical weapons components in recent days.
Concord, N.H.: Worker pleads not guilty to infecting patients
A traveling hospital worker accused of stealing drugs and infecting patients with hepatitis C through contaminated syringes pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court on Monday.
David Kwiatkowski, whom prosecutors describe as a "serial infector," was indicted last week on multiple charges of tampering with a consumer product and illegally obtaining drugs.
Until May, Kwiatkowski worked as a cardiac technologist at Exeter Hospital, where 32 patients were diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries. Before that, he worked as a traveling technologist in 18 hospitals in seven states, moving from job to job despite having been fired twice over allegations of drug use and theft.
Exiled Tibetans shout slogans during a protest rally to express solidarity with Tibetans who have self-immolated and to appeal for immediate international intervention in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday. ALTAF QADRI / Associated Press