Silence on Chavez — Bolivian President Evo Morales made a lightning trip this weekend to Havana where ally Hugo Chavez is convalescing after cancer surgery, but was mostly silent Monday on the details of his trip or even whether he met with the ailing Venezuelan leader. The secrecy surrounding his visit was sure to add to the uncertainty surrounding Chavez's condition, despite reassurances Monday from Venezuelan officials that the president was slowly improving. The Venezuelan leader has not been seen or heard from since his Dec. 11 surgery.
Christmas Eve Mass — Pope Benedict XVI, delivering his annual Christmas Eve message in a voice that sometimes seemed to waver, called on the faithful to make room for God in their thoughts and busy, technology-filled lives. During a Christmas Eve Mass on Monday for more than 10,000 people in St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict also prayed for peace in the Middle East and called for an end to violence in Syria.
FBI investigated 'Occupy' — The FBI used counterterrorism agents to investigate the Occupy Wall Street movement, including its communications and planning, according to newly disclosed agency records. The records show that as early as September 2011, an agent from a counterterrorism task force in New York notified officials of two landmarks in Lower Manhattan “that their building was identified as a point of interest for the Occupy Wall Street." That was around the time that activists set up a camp in Zuccotti Park, spawning a protest movement across the United States that focused the nation's attention on issues of income inequality.
Seattle-area shooting — A 30-year-old Seattle man was killed and another man wounded in a shooting at a crowded suburban bar early Monday, police said. Police issued an arrest warrant Monday evening for a 19-year-old man in connection with the shooting. The shooting broke out just after 1 a.m. at Munchbar at Bellevue Square, an upscale shopping center about 10 miles east of Seattle.
Indiana arson — Three people charged with murder and arson for causing an Indianapolis house explosion were jailed without bail after a court hearing Monday. A Marion County judge entered not-guilty pleas for the defendants — Monserrate Shirley; her boyfriend, Mark Leonard; and his brother Bob Leonard — who were arrested Friday. They were accused of tampering with Shirley's gas fireplace to fill her residence with gas and using the microwave to spark the Nov. 10 blast, which killed two neighbors and damaged surrounding homes. Investigators believe the three defendants were trying to collect insurance money on the house.
New Delhi lockdown — New Delhi authorities shut down the heart of the capital for a second day, snarling traffic and disrupting the commute of thousands of workers a day before the Christmas holiday. Monday's lockdown followed weekend clashes between the police and thousands of demonstrators who urged administrators to make the city safer for women, after the gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student this month shocked the nation. Six suspects have been arrested. The police said they sealed off major arteries of the city, including several metro stations, to prevent crowds from engaging in violent protests, citing a law that bars people from gathering.
Syria crisis — Lakhdar Brahimi, the special envoy seeking an end to the Syria crisis, met with President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Monday as new signs emerged that Assad's grip on power was weakening and that Russia, his most important foreign backer, was moving forward with efforts to evacuate Russian diplomats and other expatriates. One member of Syria's political opposition who said he had spoken with Brahimi's aides said the envoy had advocated a plan for a negotiated solution first proposed in June. Mohamed Sarmini said the proposal would temporarily leave Assad in power but create a transitional government that would theoretically remove Assad from power later.
Elder Bush hospitalized — Former President George H.W. Bush will spend Christmas with his wife and other family members in a Houston hospital after developing a fever and weakness following a monthlong, bronchitis-like cough, his spokesman said Monday. A hospital spokesman had said the 88-year-old ex-president would be released in time to spend the holiday at home, but that changed after Bush developed a fever. “He's had a few setbacks. Late last week, he had a few low-energy days followed by a low-grade fever," Jim McGrath, Bush's spokesman in Houston, told The Associated Press. “Doctors still say they are cautiously optimistic, but every time they get over one thing, another thing pops up."
— From wire reports