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WORLD NEWS IN BRIEF: Protest held outside Egypt's presidential palace

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 | 7:47 p.m. CST

Here are today's top stories from The Associated Press.

Tens of thousands protest outside Egypt's presidential palace; police fire tear gas

CAIRO — A protest by at least 100,000 Egyptians outside the presidential palace in Cairo turned violent on Tuesday as tensions grew over Islamist President Mohammed Morsi's seizure of nearly unrestricted powers and a draft constitution hurriedly adopted by his allies.

Crowds around the capital and in the coastal city of Alexandria were still swelling several hours after nightfall. The large turnout signaled sustained momentum for the opposition, which brought out at least 200,000 protesters to Cairo's Tahrir Square a week ago and a comparable number Friday. They are demanding Morsi rescind decrees that placed him above judicial oversight.

In a brief outburst, police fired tear gas to stop protesters approaching the palace in the capital's Heliopolis district. Morsi was in the palace conducting business as usual while the protesters gathered outside. But he left for home through a back door when the crowds "grew bigger," according to a presidential official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The official said Morsi left on the advice of security officials at the palace and to head off "possible dangers" and to calm protesters. Morsi's spokesman, however, said the president left the palace at the end of his work schedule through the door he routinely uses.

The violence erupted when protesters pushed aside a barricade topped with barbed wire several hundred yards from the palace walls. Police fired tear gas, and then retreated. With that barricade removed, protesters moved closer to the palace's walls, with police apparently choosing not to try and push the crowds back.

Fighting, death tolls surge as rebels push fight against regime to Syrian capital of Damascus

BEIRUT — Syria's civil war is closing in on President Bashar Assad's seat of power in Damascus, Syria, with clashes between government forces and rebels flaring around the city Tuesday, raising fears the capital will become the next major battlefield in the 20-month-old conflict.

Numerous reports emerged of at least a dozen people killed near the ancient city and elsewhere, and the regime said nine students and a teacher died from rebel mortar fire on a school. The state news agency originally said 30 people had been killed in the attack.

While many of the mostly poor, Sunni Muslim suburbs ringing Damascus have long been opposition hotbeds, fighting has intensified in the area in recent weeks as rebels press a battle they hope will finish Assad's regime.

"The push to take Damascus is a real one, and intense pressure to take control of the city is part of a major strategic shift by rebel commanders," said Mustafa Alani of the Geneva-based Gulf Research Center. "They have realized that without bringing the fight to Damascus, the regime will not collapse."

The increased pressure has raised worries that Assad or his forces will resort to desperate measures, perhaps striking neighbors Turkey or Israel, or using chemical weapons.

Girl with leukemia missing after mom removes her from Phoenix hospital

PHOENIX — Authorities in Arizona are looking for an 11-year-old girl with leukemia who is at risk of a deadly infection after her parents inexplicably took her out of a Phoenix hospital last week.

The girl, Emily, had been receiving chemotherapy at Phoenix Children's Hospital for about a month, Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos said Monday.

An infection forced doctors to amputate her right arm. The girl's mother removed a tube that delivered medication to the girl's heart, changed her clothes and walked her out of the hospital Wednesday night.

"If she contracts an infection, it really could just be a matter of days that could result in the young girl's death," Martos said. "It's pretty serious."

Authorities had been stymied by health privacy laws that kept them from releasing the parents' names, but police said Monday that U.S. Border Patrol stopped the girl's father, Luis Bracamontes, 46, as he crossed into Arizona from Mexico during the weekend.

Palestinian war crimes case against Israel would face many obstacles

JERUSALEM — Days after winning upgraded status at the U.N., the Palestinians are threatening to join the world's first permanent war crimes court and pursue charges against the Israelis.

Although the Palestinians say that any decision is still a long ways off, the mere threat has unnerved Israel. But pressing a case might not be so simple and could potentially leave the Palestinians themselves vulnerable to prosecution.

Since winning recognition as a nonmember observer state in the U.N. General Assembly last week, the Palestinians believe they now qualify for membership in the International Court of Justice.

In opposing the Palestinian bid at the U.N., Israel repeatedly cited Palestinian threats to turn to the international court to prosecute Israeli officials for a variety of alleged crimes, ranging from actions by the Israeli military to Israel's construction of Jewish settlements on occupied land.

While Israel does not recognize the court's jurisdiction and believes its actions do not violate international law, officials are concerned legal action could embarrass Israel, make it difficult for Israeli officials to travel overseas or portray the country as a pariah state. A war crimes conviction can include fines and maximum penalties of life in prison.

Detectives questioning suspect in death of subway rider shoved onto tracks

NEW YORK — New York City police are questioning a suspect in the death of a subway rider who was shoved onto the tracks.

New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne says investigators recovered security video showing a man fitting the description of the assailant working with street vendors near Rockefeller Center.

Police went there Tuesday and took him into custody.

Ki-Suck Han of Queens died shortly after being hit by a train Monday at the Times Square subway station.

Police say he tried to climb a few feet to safety, but was trapped between the train and the platform's edge.

Netflix wins rights to show Disney movies shortly after theatrical runs

SAN FRANCISCO — Netflix's video subscription service has trumped pay-TV channels and grabbed the rights to show Disney movies shortly after they finish their runs in theaters.

The multi-year licensing agreement announced Tuesday represents a breakthrough for Netflix as it tries to add more recent movies to a popular service that streams video over high-speed Internet connections.

Netflix will have exclusive U.S. rights to offer the first-run movies through its streaming service during the period normally reserved for premium TV networks such as HBO, Starz and Showtime. That period starts about seven months after movies leave theaters. The exclusivity does not extend to DVDs, a service Netflix is trying to phase out.

It's the first time that one of Hollywood's major studios has sold the coveted rights to Netflix Inc., instead of a premium TV network. DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. licensed the pay-TV rights to its movies to Netflix last year under a deal that begins in 2013, but those movies don't wield the same box-office appeal as Disney, whose stable includes Pixar Animation and Marvel.


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