Police in Boston raided the “Occupy Boston” encampment early this morning, arresting about 100 peaceful protesters in the latest crackdown on protests linked to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Some 200 police officers, including many in riot gear, approached the protest site at about 1:30 a.m. this morning. Police began making arrests after giving protesters two minutes to disperse. One Vietnam War veteran said he was knocked to the ground during the arrest operation. Organizers of Occupy Boston said the police arrested a legal observer from the National Lawyers Guild and four medics who were attempting to care for protesters injured in the police raid. The arrests came hours after thousands of people marched in one of the largest protests organized by Occupy Boston.
Student protester, Harvard University: “I’m extremely angry that Wall Street is taking over Main Street America. It’s absolutely ridiculous that a company as large as GE pays no taxes. There are 99 percent of us, people without healthcare, without jobs. This is ridiculous.”
In Illinois, thousands took to the streets of Chicago in a solidarity protest with Occupy Wall Street. A coalition called “Stand Up Chicago” organized the march to protest the Futures Industry Association and the American Mortgage Bankers Association. Police arrested 26 demonstrators, many wearing Chicago Teachers Union T-shirts, who linked arms and sat down chanting, “Save our schools! Save our homes!”
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested Monday protesters at Occupy Wall Street could stay indefinitely. He told reporters, “The bottom line is, people want to express themselves, and as long as they obey the laws, we’ll allow them to.” Today is day 25 of the protest encampment in Lower Manhattan. It also looks like protests may continue indefinitely in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Park Police has agreed to extend a permit to allow the October 2011/Stop the Machine protest to continue in Washington’s Freedom Plaza near the White House for the next four months. Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink, said she plans to protest until there is a change.
Medea Benjamin, Code Pink co-founder: “We are here to stay. We are here just like we were here yesterday and the day before yesterday and the day before that. It really doesn’t matter to us that our permit has run out. We feel like this is a public square, we are the public, and we are occupying this square, so we will stay here.”
In economic news, a new study by the Congressional Budget Office has found President Obama’s jobs bill could be fully paid for by a proposed new tax on millionaires. The study said a proposed 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires would raise nearly $453 billion over 10 years, more than enough to pay for the $447 billion jobs bill.
A new United Nations report details widespread and systematic torture at sites run by the U.S.-backed Afghan intelligence services and Afghan national police. While the report does not assess whether American officials have known about the abuse, it does raise serious questions about whether the United States is benefiting from information obtained from torture victims. Made possible by interviews with more than 300 prisoners over the last year, the report could set in motion American laws banning the United States from providing assistance to military units it suspects of torture, just as the United States is in process of transferring power to the Afghan authorities. The U.N. report includes allegations of Afghan security officials hanging prisoners from hooks, beating them with cables, and twisting their genitals until they pass out. The Afghan government denies these accusations but concedes that the nation’s detention system does suffer from some “deficiencies.”
In Egypt, tens of thousands of Egyptians marched Monday in a massive funeral procession for 17 Christian protesters killed in a Cairo protest. Chants of “down with military rule” interrupted the prayers, as mourners accused the military of bearing primary responsibility for the violence which led to the deaths of 26 people on Sunday. Some 500 people were injured. It was the worst violence in Egypt since former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted seven months ago. Abouna Basilious, a Coptic priest in Cairo, said the military crackdown was not justified.
Abouna Basilious, Coptic priest: “People went [to the protest], and they had not even begun their demonstration, and they were attacked right away. Also, if we suppose, just for the sake of argument, that they uttered something or even threw stones, for example, does that mean that armored personnel carriers and tanks should run people over and that a young man should be crushed so that his head is split open?”
Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Moussa condemned the violence.
Amr Moussa, Egyptian presidential candidate: “This time we are on the brink of a major clash, not just in Maspero (Egypt TV building), but also in other places in Egypt. Therefore, many of us see that democracy is the solution, it is the cure; not immediate decisions that are taken with no one knowing anything about it.”
In news from Egypt, Maikel Nabil Sanad has entered his 50th day of a hunger strike. The 25-year-old blogger is serving a three-year prison sentence for allegedly spreading false information about the army’s behavior during the popular uprising earlier this year.
New evidence suggests that the U.S. Army biologist the U.S. government has long blamed for the deadly anthrax attacks in 2001 may have been innocent of the allegations. A collaborative investigation by PBS Frontline, McClatchy and ProPublica has raised serious doubts about the government’s case against Bruce Ivins. Ivins was an elite government scientist at a bio-defense research lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Ivins committed suicide soon after learning the U.S. Department of Justice was about to file criminal charges against him for the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others, crippling the national mail service. He had been part of a team that helped the government investigate the attacks and won the Pentagon’s highest civilian award in 2003. Documents gathered through the investigation reveal for the first time Ivins made at least three spore samples available to authorities at the time he was being investigated, contradicting the government’s argument that he tried to hide his guilt by submitting a false single set of samples in 2002. According to Ivins’ attorney, the discovery debunks the claim that the biologist was trying to cover his tracks. Investigators who worked on the case now doubt whether a court would be able to convict Ivins based on the new information that has come to light.
Democratic leaders in Wisconsin announced Monday they plan to launch an effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker beginning on November 15. Democrats will need to collect just more than 540,000 signatures by January 13 in order to force a recall vote. Some 200,000 people have already pledged to sign recall petitions. Meanwhile, the Capital Times of Madison is reporting Walker has taken steps to take control of the Government Accountability Board, which oversees Wisconsin elections. Critics say such a move could give Walker power to veto any recall rule from the board that he does not like.
In environmental news, the oil leak off the coast of New Zealand is now being described as the country’s worst-ever maritime environmental disaster. Last week, a cargo ship hit a reef, causing a lengthy oil slick. On Monday, the oil leak increased fivefold as rough weather jostled the ship.
The Burmese military-backed government has announced it plans to release more than 6,300 prisoners today. The government described it as a form of humanitarian amnesty for prisoners who are old, disabled, unwell or who had shown good “moral behavior.” It is not known how many of Burma’s 2,000 political prisoners would be released. The move comes six months after former army officer Thein Sein became president, heading a military-backed government.
The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz is reporting the United Nations human rights office has urged Israel to stop Jewish settlers from attacking Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. Rupert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva that Israel has a legal obligation “to protect Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory.” Colville said that the wave of attacks occurring since September must be properly investigated and victims compensated. Meanwhile, Palestinian officials say two more members of the U.N. Security Council—Nigeria and Bosnia—have committed to support the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations. If true, this will mean that the United States will be forced to use its veto power to block the measure.
The leading Republican presidential candidates are heading to New Hampshire today for their seventh televised debate. The debate is the first since business executive Herman Cain unexpectedly soared in the polls. The latest polling from New Hampshire indicates Cain is running second behind Mitt Romney. New Hampshire will host the nation’s first primary in about three months.
Part of tonight’s debate will likely focus on Mitt Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts. NBC News has just revealed that newly obtained White House records provide fresh details on how senior Obama administration officials used Romney’s landmark healthcare law in Massachusetts as a model for the new federal law. The records show that senior White House officials had a dozen meetings in 2009 with three of Romney’s own healthcare advisers and experts who helped shape the healthcare reform law signed by Romney in 2006. One of those meetings, on July 20, 2009, was in the Oval Office and presided over by President Obama, the records show. Romney has forcefully defended the Massachusetts law he signed but has called for the repeal of what he has called “Obamacare.”
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