Update as of 0800 Eastern Time:
Bottom Line Up Front:
3. Al Qaeda
From CNN (Pakistan):
The death toll from the earthquake in southwestern Pakistan will likely rise to more than 300, local officials say.
Provincial government minister Zamrak Khan told The Associated Press that 215 deaths had been confirmed, but said Friday that officials were receiving reports of more deaths from remote areas and that the toll would likely top 300.
The quake rendered between 10,000 and 15,000 people homeless when it struck a remote area of Balochistan province early Wednesday, said Asar ul Haq of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Many residents are reluctant to return home, afraid their houses might collapse, he said.
The death toll was tallied based on bodies that had been recovered and buried by Thursday, said Mohammad Dawud of the District Police Office in the hardest-hit Ziarat district. A quake-induced landslide there buried dozens of homes.
The main quake struck just after 4 a.m., about 35 miles (60 km) north-northeast of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. It was followed by a 6.2-magnitude aftershock about 12 hours later, and dozens of smaller ones, according to the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colorado.
From CNN (Syria):
Thousands of people demonstrated Thursday in the Syrian capital to protest a U.S. airstrike last weekend that Damascus says killed eight civilians, according to reports from Syria.
The U.S. military has not confirmed the attack, but officials have said U.S. gunships conducted a "successful" strike on Sunday in Syria, killing Abu Ghadiya, the top facilitator of al Qaeda foreign fighters into Iraq, and several members of his network.
The United States, anticipating the government-stoked protests, closed its embassy in Damascus Thursday because of security concerns. Syrian riot police were out in force to control the crowd.
Some of the demonstrators carried signs harshly critical of the United States, with such messages as "America is the sponsor of destruction and wars" and "We will not submit to terrorism," according to scenes shown on Syrian state television.
From Fox News (Al Qaeda):
An Internet video posting of an Al Qaeda leader shows the commander calling for President Bush and the Republicans to be "humiliated," Reuters reports.
"O God, humiliate Bush and his party, O Lord of the Worlds, degrade and defy him," Abu Yahya al-Libi said at the end of a sermon.
The remarks from the commander, believed to be living in Afghanistan or Pakistan, are the first from a top Al Qaeda leader referring to the U.S. presidential election.
Libi called for God's wrath to be brought against Bush and likened him to past tyrants in history, Reuters reported.
In 2004, Usama bin Laden used his first video in more than a year to tell Americans "Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands and each state which does not harm our security will remain safe."
God Bless America and Happy Halloween to everyone.
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