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News Wrap: Protesters Reject Yemen President’s Offer to Step Down By End of 2011

March 22, 2011 at 5:57 PM EST
In other news Tuesday, the opposition in Yemen rejected an offer by President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down by the end of this year. Saleh refused to step down earlier, despite escalating protests. Hundreds of Syrian protesters marched in the southern city of Daraa for the fifth straight day calling for political reforms.
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TRANSCRIPT

HARI SREENIVASAN: The opposition in Yemen rejected an offer by President Ali Abdullah Saleh today to step down by the end of the year. He refused to go any sooner, despite protests that have escalated since security forces killed more than 40 demonstrators on Friday. Saleh also warned army officers and tribal leaders not to follow top commanders who joined the opposition yesterday.

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH, president of Yemen (through translator): Any dissent within the military institution will negatively affect the whole nation. Those who want to climb to power through coups should know that this is out of question. The homeland will not be stable. There will be a civil war, a bloody war.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Despite that warning, tanks manned by pro- and anti-government troops faced off in the capital city, Sanaa. And tens of thousands of protesters demanded Saleh resign now. They chanted, “The people want the fall of the regime.”

Unrest in Syria spread today. Hundreds of people in the south marched against the government for the fifth straight day. The protests were in Daraa, where troops killed seven protesters over the weekend, and in the town of Nawa near the border with Jordan. Meanwhile, the Syrian government fired the governor of the province that is home to Daraa.

In Egypt, a fire raged through the Interior Ministry building. Flames could be seen rising from the top floors of the complex in central Cairo. An Egyptian security official said police protesting for higher pay had started the blaze. Protesters denied the charge. Instead, they claimed the fire started as ministry workers burned files to destroy evidence of human-rights abuses.

Wall Street cooled off today after a three-day rally. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 18 points to close at 12,018. The Nasdaq fell eight points to close at 2,683. And the price of oil closed just short of $105 a barrel in New York, amid concerns over Libya and other oil states.

A federal judge in New York has thrown out the Google Books settlement. He ruled today that Google’s plans to profit from creating a universal digital library would simply go too far. The settlement between the company and U.S. authors and publishers totaled $125 million. Rival companies, consumer groups and others opposed it. Google has already scanned more than 15 million books for the project.

The federal perjury trial of former baseball star Barry Bonds began today in San Francisco. In opening statements, his lawyer insisted Bonds’ trainer gave him steroids but told him they were flaxseed oil and arthritis cream. The federal prosecutor called the claims ridiculous and unbelievable. Bonds faces charges that he lied about using performance-enhancing drugs.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.