Assad calls on army to restore stability
ALEPPO, Syria, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad Wednesday called on his military to "give the nation back its stability" as fighting raged on in Aleppo.
Assad's comments came on the 67th anniversary of the founding of the Syrian Arab Army, CNN reported.
"The enemy is among us and is using inside agents to destabilize the country and the security of its citizens," Assad said. "Today, as every day, our people look to you as you defend their honor and dignity and give the nation back its stability and give the people a sense of security and comfort and morale."
Earlier Wednesday, intense fighting carried into its 12th day in Aleppo and included fresh regime bombardments of rebel-held neighborhoods and street clashes in other parts of the nation's commercial capital, as the army sought to press forward with its counteroffensive to retake control of the northern Chicago-size city of about 2.5 million that fell into rebel hands last month, opposition activists and state media said.
Syrian state TV said Tuesday government forces inflicted heavy losses on "terrorist groups" in and around Aleppo. The United Nations said thousands of residents were trapped.
Arafat's widow files suit over his death
NANTERRE, France, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- The widow and daughter of Yasser Arafat started legal action in France over claims the Palestinian leader died of radioactive poisoning.
Lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sur, representing widow Suha Arafat and daughter Zawra Arafat, said the women Tuesday filed a civil suit for murder "against persons unknown" with investigating magistrates in Nanterre, near Paris, Radio France Internationale reported.
Arafat, who died in November 2004 at a military hospital near Paris, was a Palestinian leader, militant, and the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He led the Palestine Liberation Organization, was president of the Palestinian National Authority and leader of the Fatah political party, which he founded in 1959.
Allegations that Arafat was poisoned surfaced in early July month after several media outlets reported on an investigation in which experts said they found high levels of polonium on Arafat's personal items, RFI said.
Poll indicates Obama leads in 3 key states
WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Democrat President Obama leads Republican Mitt Romney in three key states, a Quinnipiac University-CBS News-New York Times poll released Wednesday indicated.
Results indicated Obama holds single-digit leads over the presumptive Republican presidential nominee among likely voters in Ohio and Florida and a double-digit edge in Pennsylvania.
Obama has a 6 percentage-point edge in Ohio, 50 percent to 44 percent, as well as in Florida, where he enjoys a 51 percent to 45 percent bulge, results showed.
In Pennsylvania, Obama led Romney 53 percent to 42 percent.
When asked to assess qualities for a president, Obama was seen more favorably in all three states, and likely voters said they view him as caring about voters' needs and problems, results indicated. Voters said they are split on Romney's business background, with 42 percent saying it would help him create jobs and about 50 percent saying his background was too focused on profits.
Obama's favorable rating is 50 percent or slightly higher in all three states, the poll indicated, while Romney's favorable rating was around 40 percent.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted July 24-30 with 1,177 likely voters in Florida, 1,193 likely voters in Ohio and 1,168 likely voters in Pennsylvania. The margin of error in each state sample is 3 percentage points.
Needle found in Air Canada sandwich
VICTORIA, British Columbia, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- A sewing needle was found concealed in a pre-packaged sandwich served aboard a domestic Air Canada flight this week, the airline has confirmed.
A passenger made the discovery Monday aboard a flight from Victoria, British Columbia, to Toronto, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday.
The airline didn't indicate if the passenger was injured.
Police in British Columbia are investigating, airline spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told the CBC.
He wouldn't disclose the name of the catering company that supplied the plane with pre-packaged food in Victoria, but said Air Canada has numerous suppliers at the various airports it services.
Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating the discovery of sewing needles found in four sandwiches aboard Delta Airlines U.S.-bound flights from Amsterdam in mid-July.
Badminton pairs DQ'd for match-fixing
LONDON, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Eight badminton players were disqualified from the London Olympics Wednesday for trying to throw women's doubles matches, the Badminton World Federation said.
The federation conducted a disciplinary hearing into the accusations that the four two-woman teams, including the Game's top-seeded pair from China, tried to manipulate their matches to affect subsequent contests.
"After a hearing this morning before the BWF's Disciplinary Committee the following pairs were disqualified: Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang [China]; Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari [Indonesia]; Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na [South Korea]; and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung [South Korea]," the Badminton World Federation said in a statement posted on its Web site.
The federation said the Indonesian and South Korean pairs appealed the decision.
The appeal process was ongoing and a final decision pending, the federation said.
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