Egyptian president says Muslims must protect embassies; protesters, police clash anew in Cairo
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s president says it’s up to Muslims as part of their Islamic duty to protect embassies and foreign diplomats who are guests in the country.
Mohammad Morsi made the appeal on state TV on Friday, ahead of expected protests across the Muslim world over an anti-Islam film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad.
As he spoke, riot police fired tear gas and clashed with about 100 protesters a few blocks from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Protests in the Egyptian capital have been ongoing since Tuesday, when an angry crowd scaled the embassy’s walls and took down and tore the American flag.
The film ‘‘Innocence of Muslims’’ has prompted violent protests at U.S. Embassies in the Middle East, resulting in the death of the American ambassador and three staff in Libya.
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Autumn surprises buffet presidential campaigns trying to stay on course to Election Day
WASHINGTON (AP) — Septembers shock, Octobers surprise, early Novembers can knock a campaign sideways. In a presidential race’s waning weeks, almost anything can happen — bedlam in the Middle East, financial panic at home, a scandal in the headlines. And as Election Day ticks closer, candidates get less and less time to absorb the blow.
Sometimes the kind of jolt known as an ‘‘October surprise’’ matters in the end. Other times it doesn’t. But every campaign knows enough to worry about what might come.
‘‘A fall general election is a very wild ride,’’ said Steve Schmidt, who managed Sen. John McCain’s campaign and served on George W. Bush’s re-election team. ‘‘It’s a volatile ride. You’re always on guard.’’
Often the unforeseen sweeps in from overseas. This week’s violent protests at U.S. diplomatic outposts and the armed attacks that killed the ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, grabbed a presidential race focused on the domestic economy and spun it around to foreign policy.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney seized on the unrest in Libya, Egypt and then Yemen to criticize President Barack Obama as a weak world leader willing to appease Islamic extremists. Obama portrayed Romney as untested in foreign policy and rushing to politicize a tragedy before fully understanding the facts.
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As crisis flares abroad, Romney finds presidential race focusing on a vulnerability
BOSTON (AP) — With protests at U.S. embassies and four Americans dead, Mitt Romney is suddenly facing a presidential election focused on a foreign policy crisis he gambled wouldn’t happen.
It did — and at a bad time for the GOP hopeful. Momentum in the race is on President Barack Obama’s side and Republicans are fretting over the state of their nominee’s campaign.
To shift the trajectory, Romney’s plan boils down to this: Spend big money on TV and work harder.
It’s unclear how long this round of Middle East unrest will last, and Romney’s aides concede the former businessman may struggle to gain a political advantage should anti-American violence continue deep into the fall.
Untested on the international stage and with limited foreign policy experience, Romney staked his entire rationale for his candidacy on the notion that he can fix the nation’s dour economy given his decades of work in the private sector. He doubled down on that strategy when he chose as his running mate House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman with little international affairs experience.
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Fed goes big with bond-buying plan and is ready to do more as economy remains sluggish
WASHINGTON (AP) — No sooner did the Federal Reserve unveil a bold plan Thursday to juice the U.S. economy than it dangled the prospect of doing even more.
Investors celebrated by sending stock prices jumping.
Economists were less impressed. Many wondered how much the Fed’s action would help.
Chairman Ben Bernanke himself urged everyone to keep expectations in check.
‘‘I personally don’t think that it’s going to solve the problem,’’ Bernanke said at a news conference. ‘‘But I do think it has enough force to help nudge the economy in the right direction.’’
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Salads, apples and whole-wheat new school lunch staples this year; students give mixed grades
ROTTERDAM, N.Y. (AP) — One student complains because his cafeteria no longer serves chicken nuggets. Another gripes that her school lunch just isn’t filling. A third student says he’s happy to eat an extra apple with his lunch, even as he’s noshing on his own sub.
Leaner, greener school lunches served under new federal standards are getting mixed grades from students piling more carrots, more apples and fewer fatty foods on their trays.
‘‘Now they’re kind of forcing all the students to get the vegetables and fruit with their lunch, and they took out chicken nuggets this year, which I’m not too happy about,’’ said Chris Cimino, a senior at Mohonasen High School in upstate New York.
Lunch lines at schools across the country cut through the garden now, under new U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition standards. Mohonasen students selecting pizza sticks this week also had to choose something from the lunch line’s cornucopia of apples, bananas, fresh spinach and grape tomatoes, under the standards. Calorie counts are capped, too.
Most students interviewed in this suburban district near Schenectady seemed to accept the new lunch rules, reactions in line with what federal officials say they’re hearing elsewhere. Still, some active teens complain the meals are too skimpy. And while you can give a kid a whole-wheat pita, you can’t make him like it.
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Closing arguments, possible verdict expected for ex-cop accused of killing Ill. girl in 1957
SYCAMORE, Ill. (AP) — Closing arguments are expected Friday at the trial of a former police officer accused of killing an Illinois school girl in 1957 after kidnapping her as she played in a small-town street, marking one of the oldest cold-case murders to make it to court.
Maria Ridulph’s abduction horrified Sycamore, her close-knit farming community west of Chicago, and unsettled parents nationwide. Even then-President Dwight Eisenhower asked to be kept apprised of a massive search for the 7-year-old girl.
Jack McCullough, who was about 17 at the time and lived a few blocks from Maria’s home, is now on trial for her death. The 72-year-old former Washington state police officer has pleaded not guilty.
The case was reopened just a few years ago after McCullough’s girlfriend in the 1950s contacted police with evidence calling his alibi into question. The Seattle man was arrested July 1, 2011, at a retirement home where he worked as a security guard.
The weeklong bench trial at a courthouse near where the second-grader went missing Dec. 3, 1957, has included testimony about dolls, piggyback rides — and a deathbed accusation from the defendant’s mother that her son committed the crime.
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Sides in Chicago teachers strike cite progress, hint at deal to have kids back in class Monday
CHICAGO (AP) — More than 350,000 students remain out of their classrooms as bargaining to end Chicago’s teachers strike dragged into Friday ahead of an afternoon union gathering where a vote could stamp needed approval on any deal.
Rank-and-file teachers prepared to return to the streets for morning rallies to press the union’s demands that laid-off instructors be given first shot at job openings and for implementation of a teacher evaluation system that is not too heavily weighted on student test results.
Contract talks pushed on for more than 15 hours Thursday with little word of progress until negotiators called it quits close to 1 a.m. Friday. Chicago School Board President David Vitale said the two sides had worked past the contentious evaluations issue, though he didn’t elaborate, and had begun crunching numbers on financial matters.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said the two sides had many ‘‘productive’’ conversations but she declined to describe the talks in detail. She and Vitale said they hope students can be back in class Monday.
‘‘It was a long day. There were some creative ideas passed around, but we still do not have an agreement,’’ Lewis said.
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Villagers talk of roar and darkness as Guatemalan volcano erupts, sparking evacuations
ESCUINTLA, Guatemala (AP) — Villagers and farmers living at the foot of a Guatemalan volcano say they were awoken by a massive roar when the long-simmering Volcan del Fuego exploded with a series of eruptions that darkened the skies and covered the surrounding sugar cane fields with ash.
‘‘It thundered and then it got dark as the ash began falling,’’ said Miriam Curumaco, a 28-year-old homemaker from the village of Morelia who was evacuated along with 16 family members to a makeshift shelter at a nearby elementary school. ‘‘It sounded like a pressure cooker that wouldn’t stop.’’
As the Volcan del Fuego, or Volcano of Fire, spewed rivers of bright orange lava down its flanks on Thursday, authorities ordered more than 33,000 people in 17 nearby communities evacuated. Many of those near the volcano are indigenous Kakchikeles people who live in relatively poor and isolated communities.
Hundreds of cars, trucks and buses, blanketed with charcoal gray ash, drove away from the volcano, which sits about six miles (16 kilometers) southwest of the colonial city of Antigua, toward the Guatemala city. Thick clouds of ash reduced visibility to less than 10 feet in the area of sugar cane fields surrounding the volcano. The elderly, women and children were evacuated in old school buses and ambulances.
But many people refused to leave their homes, said Jose Martinez, who volunteered the bus he uses as a shuttle at the nearby Grupo Pantaleon sugar cane plantation to move people away from the volcano.
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Prince William, wife ’saddened’ over French magazine’s claim of topless photos of Kate
PARIS (AP) — Photos apparently of Prince William’s wife, Kate, sunbathing topless in the south of France were published in a French magazine on Friday, and an aide to the royal couple said they were ‘‘saddened’’ to learn about the images.
The royal family said it was considering legal action for a ‘‘grotesque and totally unjustifiable’’ invasion of privacy in the same country where William’s mother died while fleeing paparazzi.
The photos in Closer, a magazine that’s among a newly popular French genre of gossip tabloids, were blurry and shot from a distance. The publication claimed they were taken on a guesthouse terrace in France where the couple vacationed this month.
They represent the first significant press challenge for Kate and William, whose mother Princess Diana died in a Paris car crash while being chased by photographers. Royal officials, who demanded anonymity in line with palace policy, condemned the decision to publish the images.
‘‘The incident is 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,’’ said a St. James’s Palace official.
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Packers score on fake field goal, force Cutler mistakes in 23-10 victory over Bears
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Four days after starting the season with a demoralizing defeat, Clay Matthews and the Green Bay Packers looked every bit like the team they were expected to be this season.
Maybe even better, at least on defense.
The Packers (1-1) pulled off a perfectly executed trick play, then rattled and robbed Jay Cutler the rest of the way in a 23-10 victory over the division rival Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Thursday night.
The win represented an impressive rebound from a season-opening loss to San Francisco. Had the Packers lost to the Bears, they would have fallen to 0-2, with both losses coming at home.
‘‘Inside the facility, there wasn’t any panic,’’ Aaron Rodgers said. ‘‘Outside, I think people were worried if we lose to Chicago, you’re kind of putting yourself behind the eight ball a little bit. Good win for us. We’re 1-1. Again, it’s one game. We need to get better on offense; defense played incredible.’’