Former Lebanon, Syria officials may face death
A military court investigative judge on Wednesday charged a former government information minister and a high-ranking accomplice in the Syrian military with conspiracy to kill Lebanese political and religious leaders and foment sectarian strife, recommending the death penalty for both. The announcement about Michel Samaha and Brig. Gen. Ali Mamlouk came amid increased sectarian tensions in Lebanon that are tied to the nearly 2-year-old conflict in neighboring Syria. The government's handling of the politically sensitive case has its own risks of aggravating sectarian tensions.
Before Rome trip, cardinals deposed
Two cardinals who will soon be in Rome to participate in the conclave that will elect a successor to resigning Pope Benedict XVI are being deposed in sex abuse cases. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, was deposed Wednesday about cases against Roman Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which he led from 2002 until 2009. Cardinal Roger Mahony, the retired archbishop of Los Angeles, is to be questioned Saturday in another case. He has been under fire since the court-ordered release last month of 12,000 pages of church files revealing his role in shielding accused priests from the law.
Rights group cites 'crisis' of missing
Nearly 150 people and possibly hundreds more have disappeared at the hands of Mexico's police and military during the drug war with little or no investigation of the cases, a human rights group said Wednesday as it called on the new government to account for the missing. Human Rights Watch said Mexico has "the most severe crisis of enforced disappearances in Latin America in decades." The group found many cases of witnesses reporting people were abducted or last seen with the military or the police and were never seen again.
Iran said to start nuke site upgrade
In a disheartening signal to world powers at upcoming Iran talks, Tehran has started installing high-tech machines at its main uranium enrichment site that are capable of accelerating production of reactor fuel and the core of nuclear warheads, the Associated Press reported that diplomats said Wednesday.
BP civil settlement remains elusive
The Justice Department and the five Gulf Coast states affected by a massive oil spill nearly three years ago have indicated they would like to settle their environmental and economic claims with BP PLC ahead of a trial next week. But they haven't been able to agree on terms despite months of negotiations. They failed to reach agreement at a meeting late last week, the Associated Press reported.