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Wednesday
Feb022011

Egpyt Protesters, Mubarak Supporters Clash; Several Killed, Injured

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAIRO) -- Thousands in support of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak invaded Tahrir Square in Cairo Wednesday, meeting with opponents of Mubarak's rule and igniting violent clashes between both sides.

At least 10 people have been killed and hundreds of others injured, according to local news reports.  Most of the violence stemmed from stone throwing, clubs and fist fighting.  Protesters assembled in the square are asking doctors and medical workers to come to the aid of those wounded.

ABC News correspondents on the scene reported thousands of people have converged on the square “as if it is the battle ground.”

“People are afraid,” one correspondent told ABC News Wednesday from Cairo.  “Even some of the protesters in the square -- they’re afraid for the stability of the country and they don’t want to see the country sink into chaos.”

The fresh violence comes on the heels of a call by the Egyptian military to end the demonstrations and “restore normal life” as well as President Hosni Mubarak’s announcement that he would step down and would not seek re-election when elections are held in September.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb022011

Northeast Australia Battered by Cyclone

Photo Courtesy - NOAA via Getty Images(CAIRNS, Australia) -- The northeastern corner of Australia is toughing it out again. This time, it's against a massive cyclone. 

Strong winds and sheets of rains are battering the coastal towns, ripping roofs off buildings and cutting power to thousands.

"We are seeing torrential rain and we are seeing the beginning of some serious wave activity, according to Queensland State Prime Minister, Anna Bligh.

Some of those on the coast haven't gone to shelters and emergency officials predict the sea surge could bring water up to roof levels in the most affected areas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb022011

Yemen President Out in 2013

Photo Courtesy - GAMAL NOMAN/AFP/Getty Images(SANAA, Yemen) -- There are more political ripple effects from the national uprising in Egypt. Jordan's king fired his government amid weeks of public protests on Tuesday and Wednesday, Yemen's president, who has ruled for over 30 years, called an emergency parliamentary meeting to announce his political future is coming to an end. 

Bowing to public protest, Ali Abdullah Saleh has announced he will step down in 2013 and not seek re-election.  Saleh also promised not to put his son in power to succeed him and called on the opposition to enter talks on political reforms.  Some opposition leaders are already rejecting Saleh's calls and questioning his sincerity to leave office. 

Opposition groups are planning to stage mass protests in the Yeminite capital Thursday in a so-called "day of rage" and Saleh's announcement hasn't changed that. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb022011

Egyptian Military Calls for End to Protests; Internet Service Returns

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAIRO) -- The Egyptian army began asking demonstrators Wednesday to return to their homes as more people lined the country's streets for a ninth day of protests.

"Your message has arrived, your demands became known," a military spokesman told protesters on state television.  "You are capable of bringing normal life to Egypt."

The military's call comes just a day after President Hosni Mubarak announced he will stay through the end of his term but will not seek re-election when the ballots open in a few months.  Protesters have gathered in Egypt since last week calling for his ouster.

On Wednesday, thousands in favor of Mubarak took to the streets, approaching Cairo's Tahrir Square, where protesters who oppose the president's rule were gathered.  The military worked to prevent both sides from confronting each other, fearing clashes between the two.

Meanwhile, Internet service began returning to Egypt Wednesday after the government cut it off fearing it would help demonstrators gather for protests.  The government-imposed curfew was also lessened by two hours, starting now at 5 p.m. instead of 3 p.m.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb022011

Japan's National Sport Rocked by Scandal

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Japan's national sport of sumo wrestling faces new allegations of bout-fixing, less than a year after a betting scandal rocked the Japan Sumo Association.

The latest investigation involves 13 wrestlers and stable masters accused of sending text messages to plan out matches.

In a press conference broadcast live on Japanese television Wednesday, Sumo Association chairman Hanaregoma apologized to fans and bowed before cameras.

"We cannot find the words to say sorry to our fans," Hanaregoma said. "I believe these are new allegations, not reports of something that's happened in the past."

The text messages detailing bout-fixing were found on cell phones police confiscated while investigating a sumo gambling ring, the sumo chair said.

National broadcaster NHK reported those messages laid out plans about which wrestler would attack and how the other would fall.

The texts also included the amount of payment involved. Hanaregoma acknowledged the authenticity of the e-mails in question, saying the association board had spoken with all but one of the accused.

But he said it was too early to draw any conclusions. The sumo association has launched an investigation, eager to quell concerns.

"There will be severe punishment for wrestlers [involved]," he said. "We don't take this lightly. We see it as a betrayal to fans."

Bout-fixing is the latest in a long list of scandals that have tainted the reputation of Japan's national pastime.

Last week, reports surfaced that three sumo wrestlers were involved in drunken incidents, including a late-night brawl.

Last summer, high-ranking wrestlers were accused of gambling on baseball games.

Several wrestlers were arrested, and sumo's close ties to organized crime exposed, in the investigation.
The scandal forced Japan's national broadcaster NHK to pull live coverage of the Nagoya tournament for the first time in 57 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb012011

Obama to Egyptian Protestors: 'We Hear Your Voices'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News Radio (WASHINGTON) -- President Obama Tuesday told the embattled President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt that the U.S. would stand by his country, but that change had to happen "and it must happen now."

In remarks made at the White House, just hours after Mubarak announced he would not seek election to another term, Obama praised the peaceful demonstrators in Egypt, calling them an "inspiration to people around the world."

"To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear," Obama said Tuesday evening. "We hear your voices."

The White House carefully avoided a firm position on the protests in Egypt for the first several days of demonstrations. But Tuesday it became clear that the president supported a new regime in Egypt.

"An orderly transition must be meaningful," he said. "It must be peaceful and it must happen now."

According to a White House official, Obama spoke to Murabak for about 30 minutes Tuesday. Obama said during his public remarks that Mubarak knew stepping aside after the end of his term was the right thing for his country.

"He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place," he said.

But Mubarak's announcement that he will stay through his term did little to appease protesters calling for his immediate removal. A stoic Mubarak announced that he will ask the new government to speed up elections, which are scheduled to be held in September. He vowed to honor people's demands, to protect the citizens honestly, and end corruption.

Crowds in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, in Cairo cheered loudly as Mubarak made his announcement. But while the mood was jubilant, Mubarak's message wasn't enough for many. Protestors shouted, "Go now! Go! Go!" and, "We will not go. You go, Mubarak."

Demonstrators, now in their eighth straight day of protests, vowed to stay in the square until Mubarak leaves office.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb012011

Kuwait Parliamentary Committee Rejects Ban on Bikinis

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MANAMA, Kuwait) - A committee in Kuwait has ruled that a motion to ban bikinis is unconstitutional, reports GulfNews.com.

The motion would have meant a one-year prison sentence and hefty fine for those caught wearing bikinis, clothes with deep cleavage and other revealing items at beaches.

Members of the Development and Reform Bloc and parliament member Khalid Al Sultan submitted the motion after they say they had noticed women on the beaches were not abiding by public standards of morality.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb012011

Egypt President Mubarak Won't Seek Re-election

Photo Courtesy - MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Egypt's embattled President Hosni Mubarak announced Tuesday that he will stay through his term but will not run when the elections are held in the next few months.

"My first responsibility is to restore the security and stability of the homeland, to achieve a peaceful transition of power in a way that will protect Egypt and Egyptians and that will allow for responsibility to be given to whomever the people elect in the forthcoming elections," Mubarak said in a speech broadcast on state television.

A stoic Mubarak announced that he will ask the new government to speed up elections, which are reportedly scheduled to be held in September. He vowed to fulfill people's demands, to protect the citizens honestly, and end corruption.

Striking a patriotic tone and emphasizing his military background, the 82-year-old, who has held on to power for 30 years, defended his own record and suggested he won't leave the country even when he steps down from power.

Crowds jammed shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, in Cairo and cheered loudly as Mubarak made his announcement. But while the mood was jubilant, Mubarak's message wasn't enough as protestors shouted "Go now! Go! Go!"

Mubarak made his announcement just hours after President Obama's special envoy suggested to Egypt's embattled president that he not run for re-election.

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators streamed into Cairo's central square for the largest day of protests yet, as the Egyptian army, deployed to enforce security and maintain security, avoided any confrontation with the joyous crowds.

Despite curfews, road closures and canceled train and bus service, people of all ages and genders gathered in Tahrir Square, beginning Monday night, to once again call for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb012011

Lahore Shooting: Pakistan Refuses to Release Accused US Official

Photo Courtesy - Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images(LAHORE, Pakistan) -- Pakistani officials said Tuesday they are refusing to release the American official, identified by the U.S. only as "a diplomat," involved in a deadly shooting in Lahore, Pakistan, despite U.S. demands.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik echoed the position of several high level Pakistani officials when he told reporters Tuesday that the case against the American -- identified by Pakistani officials, court documents and a source close to the man in custody as Raymond Davis -- would go before a Pakistani court.

Lahore's High Court asked the Pakistani government to place Davis on the "exit control list," which would bar him from leaving the country, an official told ABC News.

Without identifying Davis, the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, issued a call for the release of "a U.S. diplomat unlawfully detained" over the weekend, stating he was working for the U.S. government in Islamabad in a diplomatic capacity and was carrying a diplomatic passport when he fought off two would-be robbers last week.

A source close to Davis said he works as a "technical adviser." His military record shows experience in the U.S. Special Forces and, according to public documents, he currently owns Hyperion Protective Consultants, LLC, which provides clients with "loss and risk management professionals."

Two men were killed in the shooting as well as another man who was reportedly struck by a vehicle that was racing to Davis' aid. In addition to not identifying the American official, the State Department has declined to say precisely in what capacity he was working for the government -- beyond as a diplomat -- or why he was apparently armed at the time of the incident.

A trial will determine whether the killing was intentional, accidental or in self-defense, Pakistani officials said last week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb012011

Changing Scene in Cairo: 'People Were Clearly Terrified'

Photo Courtesy - ABC NewsREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK
By CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, ABC News


(CAIRO) -- We woke up this morning wondering whether the million-person demonstrations that the protest leaders had called for today would materialize.

The first thing I ran into on my way to the Square was something I hadn't seen before. A small crowd of about 150 people demonstrating for Mubarak in front of the Foreign Ministry on the Nile River.

The atmosphere was much different from Liberation Square. Here, people were clearly terrified.

These were the regime supporters afraid of losing everything: the president they've known for 30 years, afraid of the chaos they feared their country would fall into.

I was jostled and pinned to the wall. So urgent was their fear and their need to tell me how much they loved Mubarak, they got so close I could feel their breath on my face.

Just a few hundred yards away, at the next bridge over the Nile, protesters were beginning to stream into Liberation Square. This was about 10 a.m. Cairenes are notorious for staying up well into the night and getting a late jump on the day. These days, staying out late into the night means ignoring the government imposed curfew -- and they are doing it.

When we got to the outskirts of the square we found the military lining the protesters up, letting them in after checking IDs. They were being helped by the protesters themselves who had organized into volunteer groups to assist with the security. Just as in airports around the world, women were in one line, men in another.

I asked the person checking me what she was looking for. She said "bombs, knives."

Once inside the square we were astonished once again to find that this is more like a block party than an angry demonstration. People holding signs, people who wanted to talk, to tell us their hopes and their dreams.

After all these days, I finally asked one of the protesters -- who like so many speaks beautiful English -- "didn't Mubarak do anything good for you?"

I was moved to hear this man say, "Yes, he did. He saved our country and did good things for many, many years. But he stayed too long and became obsessed with power. That is his tragic story."

And then, like young people all over the world, he said to me, "This is about our honor and our dignity."

As the day wore on and the television cameras overhead showed the biggest crowds we've seen in a whole week of protests, it was impossible for us to count how many were there. But every time we turned around the protesters wanted us to tell people outside of Egypt that they numbered "1 million, 2 million, even 5 million." All this because they were angry with their own state television which they said had been broadcasting that they were only 20,000.

As darkness fell, groups were singing songs and vendors were selling colorful balloons -- a sign of celebration here in Egypt.

This feels like momentum building to a critical point. It feels, even, like a tipping point. But I don't know how it's going to end.

And, of course, the looming question here is: If Mubarak leaves, what comes next?

I asked many people today: "But who are your leaders?"

People were confused about that.

Many people came up to me and asked if I had any inside information to share with them about what the end of this story would look like.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio