Activists across Egypt held strikes and demonstrations Saturday to mark the first anniversary of President Hosni Mubarak's ouster, but the turnout was modest.
The day of civil disobedience was called to demand that the ruling military council hand over power to civilian authority. But the strikes seemed to cause little disruption and only a few protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Also Saturday, Egyptian police arrested an Australian journalist and at least one other person in the city of Mahalla on accusations of trying to pay people to encourage them to participate in the protests.
The latest move against foreigners came the same day as the top U.S. general met with Egypt's military rulers in Cairo amid tensions over an investigation into alleged illegal foreign funding of non-governmental organizations.
Egypt has brought criminal charges against 43 local and foreign activists, including 19 Americans. The foreign groups are accused of interfering in Egyptian affairs. The issue has prompted calls in Washington to cut $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid to Egypt.
Egypt's military rulers have promised to stage a presidential election by June to complete a democratic transition to civilian rule. The ruling military also held a phased parliamentary election that led to last month's formation of a new assembly dominated by Islamist parties.
(( Title: US BUNKER-BUSTER BOMB
HEAD: US Lawmakers Approve Pentagon Request to Improve Bunker-Buster Bomb
PUBLISHED AT: Saturday, February 11, 2012 11:55:18 AM
TYPE: CN ))
U.S. lawmakers have approved a Pentagon request for more than $81 million in funding to make improvements to a massive bomb designed to penetrate deeply-buried enemy facilities.
News reports say defense appropriators in Congress agreed to the request earlier this week, a month after Iran announced it would begin uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow facility, which is beneath a mountain near the Shi'ite holy city of Qom. Pentagon officials have described the request as "urgent" and say the money is needed to fix issues identified in initial testing.
Some observers believe the bomb is designed for a possible attack on Iranian facilities, but officials will not directly make that connection.
The weapon is officially called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, but is known informally as a "bunker-buster" bomb. It weighs more than 13 metric tons - so heavy that only one can be carried on the most capable U.S. bomber aircraft. The bomb is said to be designed to penetrate up to 60 meters of rock or concrete before exploding. The Wall Street Journal reports that the $81 million in improvements will allow the bomb to penetrate greater depths.
The U.S. Air Force worked on the weapon with the Boeing company, and the U.S. has so far invested in developing about 20 of them.
President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address last month that the United States is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. He said he will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.
Iran denies it is working to develop nuclear weapons, and says its nuclear activities are peaceful.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.