HARI SREENIVASAN: Questions swirled again today about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The Associated Press reported a State Department document listed 230 security incidents in Libya in the 12 months ending last July.
Then, last month, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed when gunmen a.ttacked the consulate. FBI teams have had only limited access to the site, but Attorney General Eric Holder today praised the Libyan government’s response.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: It’s a challenging environment in which to operate, but I think we have done pretty well, given the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and we have found ourselves able to move about and do the things that we have wanted to do,because of the assistance we have gotten from the Libyan government, as well as from some of our other allies
HARI SREENIVASAN: A U.S. House committee holds a hearing tomorrow on the consulate attack.
In Pakistan, a Taliban gunman shot and wounded a 14-year-old activist known for promoting girls’ education. Malala Yousafzai was hit in the head and neck during the attack in the Swat Valley region. Doctors said the wounds were not life-threatening. Yousafzai spoke out on girls’ education at a U.N. children’s assembly last year. The Taliban called her work — quote — “an obscenity” in a statement claiming responsibility for the attack.
One out of every eight people on Earth is going hungry, according to a U.N. report today. That comes to 870 million people, but it’s far below the figure of one billion announced in 2009. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization blamed flawed methodology and poor data for the earlier number, and it said the number of hungry people has been declining steadily in the past two decades.
Athens, Greece, erupted in angry protests today against the visiting chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. Germany is the leading contributor to the Greek bailout, but at a price that’s embittered many Greeks.
We have a report from James Mates of Independent Television News.
JAMES MATES: At the airport, the welcome was warm, the protocol followed to the letter. But this was no routine visit from the head of one E.U. government to another.
Angela Merkel is hated here, widely blamed for inflicting a depression on the Greek economy with her demands for endless austerity. The scene in the center of Athens could hardly be more different; 20,000 or more demonstrators packed the square outside parliament, some determined that the television images of this visit would reflect the widespread anger.
Kept well away from Chancellor Merkel and from the German Embassy, riot police quickly became the target.
The police have been much more restrained than you would expect. Normally, by now, this square would be full of tear gas. There are clearly orders to try and keep a lid on this.
And a few minutes later, we discovered why, as Chancellor Merkel and the Greek prime minister walked from one meeting to another through deserted streets just a few hundred yards away. Tear gas in the air would have made her walkabout impossible.
ANGELA MERKEL, German Chancellor (through translator): This is an exceptionally difficult time for Greece. It’s going to require stamina and a long effort, but I’m confident that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I would wish to see Greece remain a member of the Eurozone.
JAMES MATES: She had brought with her nothing for the Greeks but encouraging words.
What she will take away are images that show what damage this euro crisis is doing to dreams of European unity, swastika flags being burnt, men dressed as Nazi officers being driven through central Athens. Rather than building a new Europe, this is bringing back terrible memories of the old.
HARI SREENIVASAN: France also saw large nationwide protests today, the first since Socialist President Francois Hollande took office. French unemployment is at its highest since 1999.
Wall Street gave ground today on new fears that the global economy is weakening. The International Monetary Fund reported overnight that the downturn is spreading. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 110 points to close at 13,473. The Nasdaq fell 47 points to close at 3,065.
An American scientist will share this year’s Nobel Prize in physics for groundbreaking work in observing particles at the quantum level. American David Wineland works at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado in Boulder. He was honored along with a French scientist, Serge Haroche of Paris. Their separate research has led to the creation of extremely precise clocks. It’s also paved the way to build new super-fast computers.
For the first time in history, fewer than half of all Americans consider themselves to be Protestant. That’s according to a new Pew study on religion in the U.S. Protestants historically made up a majority of the country. Now they account for 48 percent of the population. And one-fifth of adults in the survey had no religious affiliation.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.