World in Brief
Turkish prime minister says intercepted plane was carrying ammunition to Syria
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Escalating tensions with Russia, Turkey defended its forced landing of a Syrian passenger jet en route from Moscow to Damascus, saying Thursday it was carrying Russian ammunition and military equipment destined for the Syrian Defense Ministry.
Syria branded the incident piracy and Russia called the search illegal, saying it endangered the lives of Russian citizens aboard the plane.
The accusation by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan contradicted denials by both Russia and Syria that anything illegal had been aboard the Airbus A320 that was intercepted over Turkish airspace late Wednesday.
"Equipment and ammunitions that were being sent from a Russian agency ... to the Syrian Defense Ministry," were confiscated from the jetliner, Erdogan told reporters in Ankara. "Their examination is continuing and the necessary (action) will follow."
He did not provide details, but Turkish media said the seized cargo included missile parts as well as radio receivers, antennas and other military communications equipment.
Targeting MS-13: U.S. takes unprecedented financial action against ultra-violent street gang
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration declared the ultra-violent street gang MS-13 to be an international criminal group on Thursday, an unprecedented crackdown targeting the finances of the sprawling U.S. and Central American gang infamous for hacking and stabbing victims with machetes.
The Treasury Department formally designated MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, a transnational criminal organization. The aim is to freeze it out of the U.S. financial system and seize what are estimated to be millions of dollars in criminal profits from drug and human smuggling and other crimes committed in this country.
The gang was founded by immigrants fleeing El Salvador’s civil war more than two decades ago. Its founders took lessons learned from that brutal conflict to the streets of Los Angeles and built a reputation as one of the most ruthless and sophisticated street gangs, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jason Shatarsky.
With as many as 10,000 members in 46 states, the gang has expanded far beyond its initial roots. Members are accused of major crimes including murder, kidnapping, prostitution, drug smuggling and human trafficking.
The group established itself in Los Angeles before spreading across the U.S., said Shatarsky, an MS-13 expert assigned to ICE’s national gang unit. The group’s violence -- using a machete to hack a victim to death or shooting someone in the head in broad daylight, for instance -- surprised authorities and even rival gangs.
21 arrested in NYC, accused of selling pills via Craigslist ads
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Craigslist ad offered black-market Percocet pills for sale but warned potential customers: "No LE please." Meaning: No law enforcement.
Like that made a difference.
The 40-year-old man accused of placing the ad was among 21 people arrested in an attempt by the New York Police Department to make an example out of some of the smallest of small-time drug dealers: students, young professionals and others who clean out the medicine cabinet and then are brazen enough -- and foolish enough -- to offer the pills for up to $20 a pop over the Internet.
"Whether the drug deal occurs on the street corner or on the Internet, it’s a crime," Bridget Brennan, special narcotics prosecutor for New York City, said Thursday in a statement announcing the arrests.
Undercover narcotics investigators answered the ads and ended up buying handfuls of powerful prescription painkillers and other pills for a few hundred dollars, typically in broad daylight and in public settings such as coffee shops, Penn Station or Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.
NYC health officials, rabbis clash over circumcision ritual
NEW YORK (AP) -- A group of rabbis are clashing with New York City health officials over the safety of an ancient circumcision ritual.
Three rabbis and three Jewish groups asked a federal court Thursday to block enforcement of a new regulation requiring written parental consent for a rite called "metzitzah b’peh," in Hebrew, which city health experts said can spread infection and has killed two children since 2004.
During the ritual, the person performing the circumcision attempts to cleanse the wound by sucking blood from the cut and spitting it aside.
The saliva contact puts the infant at increased risk of getting herpes simplex, a virus that is carried harmlessly by a large majority of adults but that can be deadly in newborns.
New York City’s Health Department said it has documented 11 cases of the infection since 2000 among children believed to have undergone the ritual. Ten required hospitalization. Two developed brain damage. Two died.
Police: Search continues for missing Colorado girl after body found in field
WESTMINSTER, Colo. (AP) -- Colorado police looking for a 10-year-old girl who disappeared on her walk to school have found a body in a park, but are not saying whether it is linked to the case and noted Thursday that officers are still searching for her.
The discovery of the body is the latest turn in the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway that has seen police look for clues in a reported sighting in a car with Colorado plates in Maine and a Wyoming abduction. The FBI said Thursday that abduction was unrelated.
Police spokesman Trevor Materasso said the body "is not intact," and that has slowed the work of identification. Materasso said no other information would be released until Friday, and he left a brief midday news conference without answering any questions.
Police earlier declined to say whether the body was that of a child.
The body was found late Wednesday at Pattridge Park in park in the Denver suburb of Arvada, about seven miles from where Jessica disappeared in the nearby suburb of Westminster on Oct. 5.
CDC tracks down most people at risk from tainted steroid shots; outbreak kills 14
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal health officials have tracked down 12,000 of the roughly 14,000 people who may have received contaminated steroid shots in the nation’s growing meningitis outbreak, warning Thursday that patients will need to keep watch for symptoms of the deadly infection for months.
"We know that we are not out of the woods yet," Dr. J. Todd Weber of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said as the death toll reached 14.
Of the 170 people sickened in the outbreak, all but one have a rare fungal form of meningitis after receiving suspect steroid shots for back pain, the CDC said. The other case is an ankle infection discovered in Michigan; steroid shots also can be given to treat aching knees, shoulders or other joints.
Fungus has been found in at least 50 vials of an injectable steroid medication made at a specialty compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts, investigators said. Health authorities haven’t yet said how they think the medication was contaminated, but they have ruled out other suspects -- other products used in administering the shots -- and the focus continues to be on that pharmacy, the New England Compounding Center.
Compounding pharmacies traditionally supply products that aren’t commercially available, unlike the steroid at issue in the outbreak. And Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said it appears the company violated state law governing those pharmacies, which aren’t supposed to do large-scale production like a drug manufacturer. Instead, they’re supposed to produce medication for patient-specific prescriptions, she said.
Jason and Molly Mesnick from ABC’s ‘The Bachelor’ expecting first child
NEW YORK (AP) -- One of the few couples from ABC’s "The Bachelor" franchise to marry is now expecting their first child. Jason and Molly Malaney Mesnick’s baby is due in March.
People.com first reported the news. Thirty-six-year-old Jason Mesnick confirmed the report on Twitter saying, ‘WAHOOOOOOOO!!! Molly is going to be a MOM and TY a BIG BROTHER!" Mesnick’s son Ty is from a previous marriage.
Twenty-eight-year-old Molly Mesnick also took to Twitter saying they were excited "about the pint size peanut on the way."
The couple met on the 13th season of "The Bachelor." Molly was actually the runner-up to the winner Melissa Rycroft. Mesnick proposed to Rycroft but ended up breaking up later, saying he still had feelings for Molly. The two married in February 2010.