Egypt: Division Among the Streets of Alexandria

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ALEXANDRIA, Egypt) -- People in Egypt, who seemed so united when demonstrations began two weeks ago, are beginning to fracture, with many calling for an end to the protests.

In Alexandria, some say they're sick of the protests and want to get back to work.

Aly, a mechanical engineer, told ABC News, "Enough is enough.  They've accomplished what they intended."

Yet others in the same city feel the opposite, and say that if demonstrations cease now, any and all progress made will be wiped out.

Protesters told ABC News if they stop now then all that they've gained will be lost, and the government will backtrack on its promises.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Woman, 75, Breaks Up Jewelry Heist with Handbag

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NORTHAMPTON, England) -- A 75-year-old woman rushed into action Monday when six robbers, with sledgehammers, attempted a smash-and-grab at a jewelry store in Northampton, England. The woman, armed with only her handbag, took on the men, breaking up the robbery and causing them to flee without taking anything.

"At first I thought one of them was being set upon by three others....I was not going to stand by and watch somebody take a beating or worse so I tried to intervene," the grandmother told the Daily Mail. "What concerned me was that too many people just stood around watching as if they were in shock and nobody was doing anything. ... When I got closer to them I realized it was a robbery and then I was even more angry that they felt they could get away with what they were doing in broad daylight."

Some newspapers have given the elderly woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, the nickname Super Granny. Because of her actions no one was injured and one of the robbers was detained by other members of the public at the scene. Police were later able to arrest three men, but are still looking for two other suspects.

Super Granny's remarkable feat was captured on video and uploaded to the Internet, instantly catapulting the private grandmother to international stardom.

"I'm not a hero and it was maybe foolish of me to get involved but somebody had to do something," she told the Daily Mail. "Now I just want to be left in peace. I feel very uncomfortable with all the press and media attention."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Despite Rampant Poverty, Yemen Protests Not Catching on Like Egypt

Photo Courtesy - GAMAL NOMAN/AFP/Getty ImagesReporter's Notebook

(SANA'A, Yemen) -- As we arrived at the airport in Yemen early Tuesday morning, two camouflaged Yemeni fighter jets were taking off on a parallel runway, a reminder that this is a country in constant conflict.

There is a secessionist movement in the south, tribal wars in the north, and a deadly al Qaeda presence that the Obama Administration believes poses one of the greatest threats against the U.S. homeland. It is where, in 2009, the failed Christmas Day bomber, Umar Abdulmutallab, received training and where potentially deadly toner cartridge bombs were loaded onto cargo planes headed for the U.S. in October of last year.

Sana'a is a stunningly beautiful city and one of my favorites to visit. But Yemen is the Arab world's poorest nation where half of its 23 million people live below the poverty line, which means they earn less than $2 a day. Unemployment hovers around 40 percent, and the country is running out of oil and water.

Yet despite conditions far more desperate than in Egypt, the protests that have erupted here over the past several weeks have been largely peaceful and brief. That may well be because the country's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled here for 32 years, learned very important lessons from watching the drama play out with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak.

President Saleh did not wait for the protests to get violent or for the crowds to swell. He almost immediately told the opposition groups that he would not run for re-election in 2013, nor would his son. In addition he made promises to help with economic woes.

It is unclear whether the measures will last. Some of the opposition groups have promised to continue their weekly protests until Saleh steps down. The U.S. is watching closely. Saleh, like Mubarak has been an ally in the war on terror, and received millions of dollars in aid for his efforts.

There may be another reason that the protests have not turned violent. This city has changed since I visited it a year ago. It is nearly ringed by police who regularly check cars for weapons at various checkpoints. The checkpoints are meant to help keep out suicide bombers, but it also makes it very difficult for protesters to arm themselves with anything more than banners.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chechen Militant Claims Credit for Moscow Airport Suicide Bombing

Photo Courtesy - Andrey Smirnov/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- A leading Chechen militant has claimed responsibility for the Jan. 24 suicide bombing of Moscow's Domodedovo airport that killed 36 people and injured scores more.

Appearing in a 16-minute video released on the Internet, Doku Umarov claims the "martyr operation" was carried out on his orders.

In the video, Umarov says the Muslims of the Caucasus were at war with the Russian "occupation" and says the attacks will continue, according to Kavkaz Center, a Chechen news outlet that posted the video statement from Umarov.

While the Chechen's claim of responsibility has not been verified, a senior U.S. official told ABC News Umarov's past claims of responsibility gave him credibility. "We would not be surprised to learn that he is in fact behind the [airport] attack," the official said.

The bombing targeted the arrivals area of the Domodedovo airport at 4:40 p.m. Moscow time Jan. 24.  In addition to the 36 dead, another 130 were injured in what investigators called a suicide bombing at the country's busiest airport.

Initial reports published by Russia's state news agency RIA said witnesses had seen two suicide bombers carry out the attack.  Later reports pointed to a single attacker.  On Twitter, one purported eyewitness, Ilya Likhtenfeld, said the bomb was on a man standing in a crowd near a cafe.

Video taken inside the airport apparently minutes after the bombing shows the blast area full of smoke, with luggage scattered around the ground.  Several bodies, prone and unmoving on the ground, are also visible.

No hard evidence has emerged yet to link the Domodedovo bombing to any specific terrorist group, but, according to former White House counter-terror adviser and ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, it fits the pattern of a persistent Chechen campaign of violence.

"This is part of a pattern where the Chechen rebel group attacks in Moscow or in Russia -- a major attack about every two years," Clarke told ABC News following the bombing.  "They've attacked in the Metro, they've attacked in schools, they've attacked in apartment buildings.  This is a regular pattern."

Suicide bombers, often female, from Chechnya or Dagestan and sometimes known as "black widows," have carried out many attacks on Russian targets in the past decade, including the simultaneous bombings of two planes mid-flight that killed 90 people in the summer of 2004 and a Moscow Metro bombing that killed 10 a week later.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Egypt: Pyramids, Tourist Attractions Closed; Economy Suffering

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(GIZA, Egypt) -- As protests continue for a third week in Egypt, tourism has come to a standstill in the country, leaving a gaping hole in the country's economy.

Popular tourist attractions like the ancient pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx have been closed off to people since the protests began for security reasons.  For many, like Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass, it is the first time in memory that these attractions have been blocked off from the public.

"I don't remember that this site was ever closed," Hawass said.

As a result, Egypt's economy, which depends heavily on tourism, is taking a toll.  It is estimated that one million tourists have fled Cairo since the protests began on Jan. 25.

"All the people who live around here, they depend on the lives of tourists," Hawass said.  "If there is no tourism, there is no food for the people."

Hawass said he hopes to reopen the tourist attractions in the next couple of days.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Human Rights Group Claims Nearly 300 Killed in Egyptian Protests

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The number of people killed in Egypt since anti-government protests started two weeks ago has been grossly under-reported, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

While the media has mainly focused on the events in Cairo, Human Rights Watch claims that 297 people have died around the country as the result of violence that occurred between opposition forces and those seeking to keep President Hosni Mubarak in power.

The group says its figures are based on visits to hospitals in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez since protesters took to the streets to demand Mubarak's ouster.  One researcher said he expected that the death toll will rise.

Media reports about fatalities resulting from clashes between pro and anti-Mubarak forces have been sketchy at best, while the Egyptian Health Ministry has not released any official casualty numbers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Belgian Passengers Stage Protest over Baggage Fees

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Passengers traveling aboard Ryanair flight 8175 apparently had had enough with airline fees. So much so that 100 of them, on a flight from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands to Brussels, Belgium, had to be removed from the airplane by Spanish police over the weekend.

The passengers became disruptive and refused to comply with crew instructions after a number of their group was assessed a "gate bag fee," according to a statement posted online by Ryanair. The fee applies to bags that exceed certain weight and size limitations and runs 35 Euros (about $47.50) per bag.

The Irish-based low-cost carrier says, "Lanzarote police required the entire aircraft to be offloaded, each passenger identified," adding, "Following further disruptive behavior, the police required for security reasons that this entire group be refused travel."

BBC News identified the group as Belgian students, adding that approximately 70 of the students were still stuck in Lanzarote Sunday night.

Ryanair said it would re-accommodate some of the group. However, the airline added that "any individuals who engaged in disruptive behavior or refused to follow crew instructions will not be allowed to fly." The incident resulted in a three-hour delay for the remaining passengers.

Ryanair lists over 20 fees on its website, starting at four Euros for priority boarding access. The carrier charges 40 Euros to re-issue a lost or misplaced boarding pass, a fee that has generated some controversy. According to a BBC News report, a judge in Spain has ruled that fee illegal.

On its website Ryanair defends the practice.

The practice took off in 2007 when cash-strapped carriers turned to fees to offset rising fuel prices. Now, passengers flying on an airline in the U.S. can encounter any number of airline fees from a pre-boarding fee to a charge for extra leg room.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Super Bowl Losing Team Merchandise Headed to Those in Need

Photo Courtesy - Al Bello/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- As the Green Bay Packers celebrated their victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV Sunday night, they were handed championship t-shirts and hats commemorating their win.  But what happened to the other pile of t-shirts and hats -- the ones made in advance of the game should the Steelers have won?

As it is has done for over 15 years, the NFL donated the merchandise to the relief organization World Vision, which will distribute the apparel to those in need in impoverished communities around the world.  This year, Super Bowl Champion Steelers shirts will be shipped to Zambia, Romania, Armenia and Nicaragua.

"The NFL is pleased to once again work with World Vision to ensure that usable Super Bowl apparel does not get thrown out, especially when there are so many around the globe who have never had a brand-new item of clothing in their lives," said David Krichavsky, NFL director of community affairs.

The NFL has also donated losing team merchandise from the AFC and NFC Championship games to the organization.

In years past, World Vision has distributed the merchandise to countries like Indonesia and El Salvador, and last year, it handed out the gear to those in Haiti affected by a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Will a Huge Asteroid Collide with Earth in 2036?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Russian scientists claim the Earth may cease to exist as we know it in 2036 when, as they predict, an asteroid is expected to collide with our planet.

The scientists say Apophis, an asteroid measuring more than two football fields in length, will hit Earth on April 13, 2036.

One NASA scientist says the possibility exists that Apophis could hit Earth on the predicted date but he says the chances are about one in 250,000.

Back in 2004, NASA researchers speculated that the asteroid might strike the planet in 2029 but have since discounted the possibility of that happening.

Just in case, they'll be studying Apophis when it makes a relatively close appearance to Earth in late 2012 and early 2013 to decide what course of action will be needed if the Russian projection is accurate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


South Sudan Set to Become World's Newest Country

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JOHANNESBURG, South Africa) --  The streets of South Sudan's capital Juba were filled with people dancing with joy over the official announcement Monday that the proposed nation's independence referendum has passed, with more than 98 percent of southerners voting to secede.

In Khartoum, Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir and South Sudan President Salva Kiir were together as the official results were announced. Earlier, Bashir repeated that the Khartoum government will accept and support the results.

"Today we received these results and we accept and welcome these results because they represent the will of the southern people," Bashir said on state television.

The Obama administration also welcomed the results and congratulated both parties on a largely considered fair and peaceful vote.

"I am therefore pleased to announce the intention of the United States to formally recognize Southern Sudan as a sovereign, independent state in July 2011," President Obama said in a statement.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement that the United States would begin the process to remove Sudan from the state-sponsored terror list, a list that has resulted in the country being under strict economic sanctions for over a decade.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio