- - Thursday, December 29, 2011

IRAN

Plane records video of U.S. aircraft carrier

TEHRAN | An Iranian surveillance plane has recorded video and photographed a U.S. aircraft carrier during Iran’s ongoing navy drill near a strategic waterway in the Persian Gulf, the official IRNA news agency reported on Thursday.

The report did not provide details, and it was unclear what information the Iranian military could glean from such footage.

State TV showed what appeared to be the reported video, but it was not possible to make out the details of the carrier because the footage was captured from far away.

The Iranian exercise is taking place in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz - the passageway for one-sixth of the world’s oil supply.

SWITZERLAND

Swiss sued over crash linked to Gadhafi in D.C.

GENEVA | The Swiss government faces a $10 million lawsuit over the death of a woman struck by a Swiss Embassy vehicle driven in Washington by a man linked to the family of the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The lawsuit was filed Dec. 22 by National War College law professor Harvey Rishikof. It targets Kamal Mortada, the driver of the sport utility vehicle that hit and killed Mr. Rishikof’s 64-year-old wife, Trudith, and Mr. Mortada’s employer, the Swiss Confederation.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry and the Swiss Embassy in Washington each said Thursday that they had not been formally notified of the lawsuit and would have no comment.

The lawsuit seeks damages of at least $10 million, plus legal costs.

Mr. Rishikof, reached by telephone Thursday, referred questions to his attorney. Emails sent to two lawyers listed on the lawsuit were not immediately returned.

Mr. Rishikof’s wife’s death on Oct. 6, one day before her 65th birthday, made headlines in Switzerland because of the mysterious re-emergence of Mr. Mortada, one of two servants who reported to Geneva police in 2008 that they were beaten by Gadhafi’s son Hannibal and his son’s wife, Aline.

CONGO

Partial results show legislative races close

KINSHASA | Three Cabinet ministers allied to the president have lost their parliament seats, according to partial results from Congo’s legislative elections that show the ruling party running neck and neck with the opposition.

If the trend holds, it could change the political landscape of Congo, which effectively has been under one-man rule since its independence from Belgium in 1960, with a rubber-stamp parliament in recent years.

Congo’s electoral commission also announced Wednesday night that it has restarted the suspended count of legislative ballots in the absence of U.S. and British observers who are supposed to help ensure transparency.

That could further fuel the cases being taken to the commission over the Nov. 28 presidential and legislative balloting that was marred by violence and fraud. Fourteen electoral officers have been arrested on charges of fraud and manipulation of vote counts, the electoral commission said Wednesday.

ARGENTINA

Province bans fiery paper balloons

BUENOS AIRES | An Argentine province is cracking down on a beloved holiday tradition, banning the kinds of paper balloons that wowed audiences of the animated Disney movie “Tangled.”

Argentines have long made a tradition of lighting paraffin wax inside paper balloons each Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The flying fireballs can be seen rising through the night sky.

But what goes up must come down, and in the central province of Cordoba alone, 14 fires were reported this Christmas Eve, most of them blamed on the balloons.

Cordoba Gov. Jose Manuel de la Sota banned the making, sale and use of the balloons Wednesday night. His province has been suffering from drought and is particularly prone to wildfires.

RUSSIA

No radiation threat in fire on nuclear sub

MOSCOW | A massive fire engulfed a Russian nuclear submarine at an Arctic shipyard Thursday, but there has been no radiation leak, or injuries, officials said.

The fire at the Yekaterinburg nuclear submarine occurred while it was in dock for repairs at the Roslyakovo shipyard in the Murmansk region, said Irina Gretskaya, a spokeswoman for the Emergencies Ministry’s branch in the area.

“No one has been hurt and there has been no radiation leak,” she said.

Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told the Associated Press that all weapons had been unloaded from the sub and its reactor had been shut down before the repairs.

Mr. Konashenkov said the fire had started on the wooden scaffolding and then engulfed the submarine’s outer hull.

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