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Sept. 14, 2012 at 12:06 PM
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Anti-U.S. protests expand to Afghanistan

CAIRO, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Anti-American protesters, sparked by a U.S.-made film denigrating the Prophet Muhammad, demonstrated near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for a fourth day Friday.

Witnesses said protesters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the U.S. Embassy and police tried to disperse the crowd by firing tear gas, The New York Times reported.

Protests over the film broke out in Afghanistan for the first time Friday, CNN reported, with hundreds of demonstrators in Nangarhar province chanting "Death to America" and "We condemn the film" as a U.S. flag was burned. No other violence was reported.

In the film "Innocence of Muslims," the Prophet Muhammad is portrayed as a bisexual, alcohol-imbibing, power-hungry sham.

The protests also spread to other countries' embassies, including the German and British embassies in Khartoum, Sudan, CNN reported. At the German Embassy, demonstrators replaced the German flag with an Islamist banner.

Security personnel were in place at U.S. diplomatic posts throughout the Middle East, an unidentified senior Obama administration official told CNN.

State media reported more than 220 people had been injured in clashes since Tuesday, the day U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

New U.N.-Arab League envoy heads to Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The new U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria said he would "spare no effort" to help end the devastating civil war engulfing the Middle Eastern country.

The United Nations said Lakhdar Brahimi, who replaced Kofi Annan as the international community's envoy to the violence-torn country, conducted "candid and comprehensive" talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem in Damascus, CNN reported Friday.

"Mr. Brahimi emphasized that, as he said before, he would spare no effort to help find a solution to the crisis," the U.N. statement read. "His only masters in this endeavor were the Syrian people, whose welfare and security were his prime concern."

Brahimi, who once was an Algerian foreign minister and U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, planned to meet Syrian President Bashar Assad and opposition leaders and other groups Friday.

The United Nations said more than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since fighting broke out March 2011.

Pope's Lebanon visit clouded by Syria woes

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Lebanon Friday where he encountered a country that has grown ever more divided by the conflict in neighboring Syria.

While he is expected to talk about the violence during his three-day visit, the pope is not expected to make any political statement, the BBC reported.

It's the first papal trip to the country in 15 years. Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, came in 1997.

The pope chose Lebanon for his Middle East trip "because he considers this country a joining point between Christians and Muslims," Maronite Patriarch of Antioch Beshara Rai told reporters before the pope's arrival.

Lebanon has the Middle East's largest percentage of Christians, accounting for nearly 40 percent of Lebanon's 4 million people.

Maronite Catholics are the largest sect, representing about 20 percent of the population. They trace their heritage back to the 4th century.

Consumer prices rose in August

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The Consumer Price Index rose 0.6 percent July to August on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Department of Commerce said Friday.

After spending most of the summer stagnant, prices posted the largest increase since June 2009.

On a 12-month basis prices rose 1.7 percent, which is less than the 2 percent target the Federal Reserve has set as a red flag indicating prices are rising too fast.

Still, to put the recent movement in perspective, prices were unchanged in three of the four previous months and down 0.3 percent in May.

The Fed also keeps a close eye on price movement with food and energy items excluded.

Core prices, as they are called, rose 1.9 percent in August.

The department said 80 percent of the overall increase was accounted for by gasoline, which rose 9 percent, while the food index rose 0.2 percent with major food group indexes mixed.

While pushed by one item, gasoline, prices increased in several other categories, including shelter, medical care, personal care, new vehicles and recreation.

Prices declined for used cars, clothing, household furnishings and airline fares.

Obama has lead over Romney in swing states

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Polls show President Barack Obama is leading Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by as much as 7 points in four swing states.

Obama is leading Romney in Ohio, Florida, Virginia and New Hampshire, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The president's largest lead is in Ohio where 50 percent to 43 percent of likely voters said they would vote for Obama over Romney, a poll by NBC/Wall St. Journal/Marist University indicated. The poll also showed Obama led Romney 49 percent to 43 percent among likely voters in Florida and 49 percent to 44 percent in Virgina.

A poll by WMUR-TV, Manchester, N.H., found Obama led Romney 45 percent to 40 percent in that state.

In other swing states, Obama has a slight lead over Romney, except for in North Carolina, where the two are tied in the polls, the Los Angeles Times said.

The polls were conducted in the days following the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention last week.

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