Greek anti-austerity protesters clash with police in Athens

ATHENS — Hurling sticks, stones and gasoline bombs, scores of militant youths clashed with police in central Athens on Wednesday, marring an anti-austerity protest and strike that saw hundreds of thousands of workers walk off the job and about 20,000 demonstrators throng the streets of the Greek capital.

The clashes between police and black-clad, self-styled anarchists capped a peaceful protest and 24-hour nationwide strike against looming budget cuts. The violence came a day after a large protest in Spain, which is also facing difficult decisions — and social unrest — over spending cuts brought on by the euro debt crisis.

The turmoil helped send European stocks swooning, with the euro dropping in value against the dollar.

Called by the country’s two biggest labor unions, Greece’s strike action on Wednesday marked the third nationwide protest to cripple the crisis-racked country since the start of the year. It was the first major grass-roots challenge to the strength and unity of the fledgling Greek government, a shaky coalition stitched together from disparate political forces after two divisive elections in May and June.

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At U.N., Obama condemns anti-U.S. protests, calls for patience

During an appearance at the United Nations, President Obama condemned the deadly anti-American protests that tore across the Middle East and North Africa and asked for patience during a "season of progress"UNITED NATIONS -- During an appearance at the United Nations on Tuesday, President Obama condemned the deadly anti-American protests that tore across the Middle East and North Africa and asked for patience during a "season of progress," as he sought to defend his strategy for supporting fledgling democracies across the Arab world.

Speaking before a meeting of the General Assembly, Obama asked world leaders to reject intolerance and violence and to resist the temptation to crack down on dissidents. He touted his support for the shift to democracies in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt and decried government violence against the people of Syria.

"We have taken these positions because we believe that freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture," Obama said. "These are not simply American values or Western values -- they are universal values. And even as there will be huge challenges that come with a transition to democracy,  I am convinced that ultimately government of the people, by the people and for the people is more likely to bring about the stability, prosperity and individual opportunity that serve as a basis for peace in our world."

"True democracy -- real freedom -- is hard work," Obama said.

The protests and riots that rattled cities across the Arab world two weeks ago over an anti-Islam movie produced in California have put the president unexpectedly on his heels, defending his foreign policy six weeks before election day. His annual trip to the U.N. was aimed at providing reassurance to the world on the progress of the "Arab Spring" while also deflecting attacks from a Republican election opponent who has sought to portray the president's policies in the region as weak and confused.

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Fearing violence, Germany closes embassies in some Muslim countries

Germany closed some of its embassies in the Muslim world for fear of protests over the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims"
BERLIN -- Germany joined France and other nations in closing embassies in some Muslim countries on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, in the wake of violence sparked by unflattering depictions of the prophet Muhammad in Western media.

With a German satirical magazine planning its own anti-Islam cover for next week, the Foreign Ministry in Berlin issued a warning to its diplomats in the Middle East and other Muslim areas.

"We have increased safety measures and boosted the number of security personnel in the region," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters Thursday. Although many German embassies in the Muslim world routinely close on Fridays, officials are braced for protests during this week's day of prayer.

Westerwelle said the decision to close individual embassies would be made at short notice depending on their locations. Last week, protesters in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, set the German Embassy ablaze in anger over the amateur anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims."

Earlier this week, the German satirical magazine Titanic said the cover of its October issue, which hits newsstands Sept. 28, would show the wife of former German President Christian Wulff with a Muslim fighter. Bettina Wulff, whose husband was forced to resign seven months ago amid a corruption scandal, has recently published a memoir revealing personal details of her time as first lady.

The forthcoming Titanic issue's cover reads: “West rises up: Bettina Wulff makes film about Muhammad."

Westerwelle said the cover "pours oil on the fire" lit by "Innocence of Muslims," which ignited violent protests across the Muslim world. Earlier this week, France announced that it would close some of its official buildings around the globe Friday over fears of a backlash against satirical cartoons of Muhammad in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

"Freedom of expression does not allow for freedom to insult, offend or vilify other faiths," said Westerwelle. He added that responsibility comes along with freedom.

In several German cities Muslims are planning demonstrations this weekend against "Innocence of Muslims" and its crude portrait of Muhammad. Germany is home to 4 million Muslims. On Friday, 800 people are expected to take to the street in Freiburg, and 1,000 people are expected in Karlsruhe on Saturday, according to city officials quoted in the German daily Die Welt.

In an interview with Spiegel Online, Titanic's editor in chief, Leo Fischer, defended the coming magazine cover, saying that his publication was simply reacting to the news and poking fun at Islam the way it has done before with the pope and other religious leaders.

"I consider the view that European Muslims are nothing more than sword-swinging crazies to be racist," Fischer told Spiegel. "I am relying on their understanding -- and on their indifference."


Panetta lifts ban on New Zealand naval ships

In Spain, an amusingly botched fresco is now a moneymaker

French missions abroad on alert after cartoons mock Muslims

-- Renuka Rayasam

Photo: Demonstrators protest the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" outside the German Embassy in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, last week. Credit: Abd Raouf / Associated Press

Pakistan declares Friday a day of protest against anti-Islam film


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan continued to seethe Wednesday over the release in the U.S. of a movie trailer mocking Islam, as legions of protesters rallied in several large cities for a sixth day and the government signaled its own discontent by declaring Friday as a national day “of peaceful protest.”

Officials said the move was meant to show the government's solidarity with the Muslim world and its anger over the film, which depicts the prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and a thug. Friday will be observed as a national holiday, and protests are expected to be held across the country.

“The message we want to convey to the international community by observing Friday as a protest day ... is that we cannot tolerate any kind of blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad,” said Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira.

Though U.S. leaders have denounced the film, Pakistanis have continued to channel their anger toward the American government. Throngs of protesters in Karachi and Lahore in recent days have tried to reach U.S. consulates in those cities.

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French missions abroad on alert after cartoons mock Muslims

French embassies and schools abroad were on alert after a magazine published cartoons mocking Muslims and the prophet Muhammad in the wake of protests around the globe over a controversial anti-Islam film
PARIS -- French embassies and schools abroad were on alert Wednesday after a magazine published cartoons mocking Muslims and the prophet Muhammad in the wake of protests around the globe over a controversial anti-Islam film.

The French Foreign Ministry announced it would close some official buildings and other establishments around the world on Friday, the Muslim prayer day, over fears of a backlash.

Government ministers and religious leaders in Paris called for restraint after the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published the cartoons. The magazine's offices were firebombed last November after it published an edition entitled Charia Hebdo that was "guest edited" by Muhammad.

There is fear that the magazine will anger Muslims at a time when they are already furious over the amateur anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims," which has sparked protests at and retaliatory attacks on American and other Western embassies.

In a statement, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he wished to stress his "disapproval of all excesses and call on everyone to behave responsibly."

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Egypt seeks arrest of Terry Jones, 7 others tied to anti-Islam film

Anti-American protest in Chennai, India

CAIRO -- Egypt’s prosecutor general referred seven Egyptians Christians living in the United States and Florida-based Pastor Terry Jones to court for trial on charges that they offended Islam in connection with an anti-Muslim film that has triggered protests around the globe.

The seven Egyptians -- identified by state media as Morris Sadek, Morkos Aziz Khalil, Fekry Abdelmessieh, Nabil Adib Bassida, Nahed Metwally, Nader Farid Nicola and Elia Bassily, who is also known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula -- were also accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad, inciting sectarian strife in Egypt and threatening the country's independence and peace, according to a state-run news agency.

The prosecutor general requested that the eight defendants be arrested by Interpol and handed over to Egyptian authorities.

The news agency said prosecutors decided to charge the defendants after reviewing accusations that the defendants helped in the production and online promotion of movies defaming Islam and Muhammad.

One of the films, "Innocence of Muslims," has sparked outrage in many nations with large Islamic populations. It portrays Muslims as child molesters and thugs.

Authorities issued arrest warrants against all defendants. No trial date was announced. The charges could result in a death sentence.

Nakoula, who lives in Cerritos, reportedly has denied involvement with "Innocence of Muslims" and has gone into hiding.

Jones, who expressed support for the film, is a pastor of a nondenominational Christian church in Gainesville, Fla. He previously angered Muslims across the world by burning a copy of the Koran.

Egypt’s Coptic Christians have repeatedly distanced themselves from the movie and its producers. Last week, the Maspero Youth Union, a group of Christian activists, joined peaceful protests to denounce the movie, saying it was “provoking and offensive” to Islam as well as the sanctity of religion.


Protesters in India embrace waterlogged tactics

Female suicide bomber kills up to 12 in Afghanistan

Bo Xilai scandal: Wang Lijun on trial for bribe-taking, defection

-- Reem Abdellatif in Cairo

Photo: Muslims burn the U.S. flag and shout anti-American slogans Tuesday in front of the U.S. Embassy in Chennai, India, as protests around the globe continued against the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims." Credit: Associated Press

Protesters in India embrace waterlogged tactics

India protests
NEW DELHI -- There’s never a shortage of creative ways to protest in India, the world’s largest democracy. The tradition stems at least as far back as the 1930 salt march against oppressive taxation led by Mohandas Gandhi that helped bring down the British empire, and Gandhi’s “fasting unto death,” employed effectively to pressure politicians and stem sectarian violence.

Several times a day somewhere in India, roads, highways and byways are blocked over one issue or another, ranging from power blackouts and land grabs to farm prices and ethnic separatism. One highway blockage in northeast Manipur state last year carried on for 92 days.  

Other arguably less subtle forms of protests in recent years meant to spotlight corruption, inflation, education policy and military crackdowns include self-immolation, women stripping in front of army barracks, slapping senior officials on live television and throwing shoes at politicians -- considered a grave insult in parts of Asia and the Middle East. Then there was the rather imaginative, if short-lived, idea of handing out “zero rupee” notes to crooked officials in order to stem bribery.

In recent days, demonstrators have opened a new front: water. The move started in late August in the central state of Madhya Pradesh when villagers opposed to a dam stood in a reservoir for 17 days. Their drive for building a smaller structure and receiving compensation for lost land turned the sight of their disembodied heads into a fixture in news photos.

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Egyptian protesters haul down flag at U.S. Embassy in Cairo

CAIRO -- More than a dozen Egyptian protesters, angry over what they called an anti-Muslim video, scaled the outer wall of the fortress-like U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday and took down an American flag.

In its place, they raised a black flag that read: "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet" before Egyptian security forces sought to tame the crowd.

As night fell, protesters continued to gather outside the embassy in one of the biggest demonstrations  there since the fall of Hosni Mubarak's regime early last year. Security forces surrounded the compound to prevent protesters from again storming the facility, though some demonstrators remained on the wall, waving the black flag.

PHOTOS: Protesters haul down flag at U.S. Embassy in Cairo

As many as 2,000 demonstrators had rallied outside the embassy earlier in the day to protest video footage posted on  YouTube that demonstrators said had been made by Egyptian Coptic immigrants in the United States.

A segment of the low-budget video refers to Muhammad and his followers as "child lovers." In one part of the preview, the actor portraying the Islamic prophet tells his followers to take children through their battles for their pleasure. It also shows the prophet speaking to a Muslim donkey, asking him if he loves women.

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Mexico's next president names transition team

This post has been updated and corrected. see the notes below for details.

TransitionteamMEXICO CITY -- Outlines of the next government of Mexico began to emerge Tuesday when President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto named a transition team packed with advisors from his inner circle and members of his controversial governorship of Mexico's most populous state.

In a brief appearance before reporters amid tight security at a Mexico City hotel, Peña Nieto named 39 men and seven women to usher in his presidency, which takes office on Dec. 1. The inauguration will mark the return of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for seven decades until being ousted in 2000.

An electoral tribunal on Friday unanimously voted to confirm Peña Nieto's victory in the July 1 election, rejecting a string of challenges primarily from the leftist candidate who came in second, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The top job on the transition team went to Luis Videgaray, who managed Peña Nieto's campaign and is considered one of his closest confidantes. The MIT-educated economist served in finance-related jobs in Peña Nieto's administration as governor of the state of Mexico from 2005 to 2011.

The part of the team handling security and related issues  will be headed by Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, former PRI governor of the state of Hidalgo.

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Mexico's PRI to be declared winner of presidential election

MEXICO CITY -- Finally, Enrique Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for seven decades, on Friday were on the brink of being declared the formal winners of July's presidential election, following a court ruling that rejected a raft of complaints about the vote.

Mexico's highest electoral tribunal on Thursday night dismissed claims brought primarily by leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that accused the PRI of buying votes and colluding with the country's major broadcaster to obtain biased pro-Peña Nieto coverage.

In rejecting the complaints because of what it described as insufficient evidence, the tribunal validated the results of the July 1 vote, which gave Peña Nieto an advantage of 6.6 percentage points over Lopez Obrador.

On Friday, Lopez Obrador reacted defiantly, saying he could not accept the judgment of a court "hostage" to the "corrupt forces destroying Mexico."

"The elections were not clean, free or authentic," he said in a morning meeting with journalists. He declared there would be "no truce," that he would not recognize power obtained through vote-buying, and that he would gather his supporters to the Zocalo, Mexico City's massive central square, on Sept. 9 to protest.

His comments were reminiscent of 2006, when Lopez Obrador lost the presidential election by the tiniest of margins. Protests then paralyzed the city and roiled the nation for months.

PRI officials, meanwhile, were celebrating the court's decision, which they said "legitimized" the party's victory. Groups of students and others protested outside the court's offices; El Universal has video here.


The fall and rise of Mexico's PRI

Mexico's Enrique Peña Nieto, man of mystery

Seeking justice for Mexico state's female victims

-- Tracy Wilkinson

Photo: Protesters shout slogans outside offices of Mexican Electoral Tribunal where the court on Thursday was rejecting complaints filed against the July 1 presidential vote. Credit: Yuri Cortez / AFP / Getty Images 


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