ANTI-US PROTESTS IN THE MIDEAST
U.S. diplomatic missions are on high alert and braced for protests after Friday prayers in the Muslim world, sparked by the American-made video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.
Demonstrations continue for a fourth straight day in Cairo, with protesters throwing rocks and gasoline bombs near the U.S. Embassy and police firing tear gas. ABC’s Lama HASAN and Matt McGARRY report from Tahrir square that a large crowd has gathered, with police guarding the approach road to the nearby embassy. The Muslim Brotherhood has reiterated its call for demonstrations against the video, but at the same time have urged demonstrators to protest outside their individual mosques rather than march to Tahrir Square. Islamist groups and others had called for a peaceful “million-man march” in the city, but a number withdrew those calls on Friday. Egypt’s president Mohammad Morsi has appealed on TV for Muslims to protect embassies and foreign diplomats.
Elsewhere in the region, security forces have used batons and water cannon in the streets near the U.S. Embassy in Yemen. There are reports that hundreds of protesters have gathered near the diplomatic compound, carrying placards and shouting slogans. ABC’s Luis MARTINEZ at the Pentagon confirms reports that the U.S. is sending a contingent of Marines to Yemen to protect the embassy there. In Jerusalem, police have clashed with youths on the Temple Mount. ABC’s Alex MARQUARDT in Beirut says that a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli has been set alight by protesters. Security forces have moved in to quash the demonstration. Perhaps tellingly, Muhammad LILA reports from Kabul that so far there are no reports of any protests or gatherings after Friday prayers in Kabul and Islamabad.
POPE ARRIVES IN LEBANON
The pontiff has arrived in Beirut at the start of a three day trip to Lebanon. Even before the ongoing violent protests in the region, Benedict’s visit was shaping up to be one of the most challenging of his papacy. He’s flown into a region where Christians feel threatened by the rise of political Islam, and a small country menaced by a bloody civil war in neighboring Syria that has begun to spill over the border. It’s Benedict’s first visit to the Middle East since the Arab Spring. ABC’s Phoebe NATANSON reported earlier from the papal plane that the pope has dismissed concerns for his safety and said ‘nobody advised me not to go on trip.’ He said “fundamentalism is a falsification of religion’” and that ‘the Arab spring was positive,” but that “religious diversity can be endangered in a revolution.” On the war in Syria, he said “We must do all we can to stop the violence and make it possible for all to stay”.
WILLIAM AND KATE “FURIOUS” OVER TOPLESS PHOTOS
St James’s Palace has issued a very strongly worded statement in response to the publication of topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge by a French magazine, calling it ”grotesque and totally unjustifiable” and “reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to The Duke and Duchess for being so.” BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt says: “Royal officials say they accept the photos are genuine and the couple are furious.” The long lens snaps were taken during a recent private holiday in France. The royal couple were told about the magazine’s plan to publish the photos during breakfast in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on their tour of South East Asia. Britain’s Press Association reports that the Duke and Duchess looked grim-faced as they walked through the city’s airport ahead of their flight to Borneo for the next leg of their tour. ABC’s Bob WOODRUFF has filed on the story from Malaysia.
LIBYA: FEARS OF FURTHER ATTACKS
ABC’s Jeffrey KOFMAN in Tripoli reports that at least one person believed to be involved in the attack killed the US ambassador earlier this week on the US Consulate has been arrested, according to the Libyan government, and there are reports that as many as four people have been detained. A pro-U.S. demonstration is expected tonight in Benghazi. So far no group has claimed responsibility for the killings of the US officials. As the New York Times and others have reported, armed Salafist groups are becoming more active in eastern Libya, threatening the country’s stability.
“BERNANKE BOUNCE” : GLOBAL STOCKS RALLY AFTER QE3
ABC’s Richard DAVIES says that financial markets are on fire after the Fed’s announcement of a sweeping stimulus to boost the economy and the jobs market: “Overseas stock averages moved higher after the Dow Jones index rose more than 200 points. The central bank’s move was more far reaching and dramatic than many Fed watchers expected.”
KENYA POLICE FOIL TERRORIST ATTACK
Bazi KANANI in Nairobi reports that police in Kenya have arrested two men and seized a cache of weapons and explosives including four suicide vests in an overnight raid on an apartment in Nairobi. A senior police official told reporters at Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper they believe the men were in the final stages of planning a terrorist attack most likely aimed at crowded areas such as shopping malls, bus stops, or churches. They believe the Somali-born suspects are tied to the Al Qaeda-linked militant group Al Shabab which has repeatedly threatened to attack Kenyans in retaliation for the country’s military incursion into Somalia.
DAY 13: STILL NO SIGN FROM XI JINPING
ABC’s Gloria RIVIERA in Beijing is still on Xi Jinping watch. It’s now day 13 without a single sighting or mention of China’s heir apparent by officials, asides from condolences expressed on his behalf on the passing of an official.
JAPAN TO PHASE OUT NUCLEAR POWER BY 2030
The Japanese government has said it intends to abandon nuclear power by 2030. Akiko FUJITA reports on a dramatic shift in policy: “While Prime Minister Noda has long advocated reducing Japan’s reliance on nuclear, the energy policy announced today is significant, considering Japan was the third largest producer for nuclear energy in the world, prior to the Fukushima disaster. The government estimates the country will need to spend an additional $40 billion a year on fuel imports. It’s a huge victory for the hundreds of thousands of anti-nuclear activists who have been camped outside the Parliamentary building since March, demanding a change to Japan’s energy policy.”
GIANT RATS SAVING LIVES IN AFRICA
The BBC has this report that Giant African pouched rats are being used in Africa to locate landmines and help diagnose tuberculosis because of their acute sense of smell. Some of the animals – which are trained by Apopo, a nonprofit social venture – have been used to search for explosives in Mozambique, a country littered with landmines after decades of civil war.