In financial news, stocks in Europe are plummeting today after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced he would put Greece’s $179 billion bailout to a popular referendum. Most opinion polls suggest Greek voters will not accept further austerity measures and will reject the bailout package. Analysts predict a “no” vote on the referendum would force Greece to declare bankruptcy and default on its debt. A “no” vote would also likely force Greece to abandon the euro.
Jon Corzine’s brokerage firm MF Global Holdings filed for bankruptcy protection Monday following risky bets on debt issued by Italy, Portugal and Spain. MF Global becomes the largest U.S. casualty of Europe’s debt crisis, and the seventh-largest bankruptcy by assets in U.S. history. On Monday, federal investigators discovered as much as $700 million in customer funds missing from the firm. Corzine is a former U.S. senator and New Jersey governor who once ran Goldman Sachs. MF Global employed 2,870 employees worldwide.
Police in Richmond, Virginia, and Palm Desert, California, have raided encampments of Occupy Wall Street protesters. In Richmond, police arrested nine demonstrators and demolished their camp with bulldozers, scooping tents and other items into dump trucks. In Palm Desert, at least seven Occupy protesters were arrested in an early morning crackdown.
In Tennessee, a federal judge has ordered the state to stop enforcing new rules that restrict demonstrators’ ability to protest. Demonstrators began occupying Legislative Plaza in Nashville on October 9. Just three weeks later, the state enacted new rules, without any public review, eliminating their right to gather after 4:00 p.m. and implementing a 10:00 p.m. curfew.
In Occupy news, wounded Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen reportedly gave a “thumbs-up” to his roommate after being told of the support he has received from Occupy demonstrators around the world. The 24-year-old suffered a cracked skull and brain swelling after Oakland police fired tear gas into a crowd of protesters last Tuesday. His injury led to anti-police brutality marches and vigils around the country. Olsen is still unable to speak and has been communicating to family and friends with a notepad he keeps next to his hospital bed.
The attorney for a U.S. Army soldier accused of leading a so-called “kill team” in Afghanistan has admitted his client cut the fingers off dead Afghan civilians as war trophies. The lawyer claims Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs was not involved in the actual killing of the Afghans, however. Gibbs is one of five soldiers charged with killing three Afghan civilians for sport and has pleaded “not guilty” to 16 criminal charges. Three men within the platoon have pleaded guilty. They have agreed to testify that it was Gibbs’ idea to kill civilians and stage the deaths to make them appear to have been combatants. The men claim that Gibbs harbored a deep hatred for Afghans and would refer to them as “savages.” In March of 2011, photos surfaced of the soldiers posing with the corpses of Afghan civilians they had allegedly just killed.
The Kenyan military is being accused of bombing a camp in Somalia that provides shelter to 1,500 internally displaced households. According to the group Doctors Without Borders, the air raid killed at least five people and wounded 45 others, including 31 children. Kenya confirmed it bombed the camp, but claimed the only casualties were members of the militant group al-Shabab. Kenyan troops invaded Somalia two weeks ago to hunt down al-Shabab fighters.
Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has acknowledged he was accused of sexual harassment while heading the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Cain made the admission after Politico reported two female employees of the association had complained of sexually suggestive comments and gestures by Cain. When Cain first responded to the controversy Monday, he claimed he was not aware if a payout had been made to the women.
Herman Cain, Republican presidential candidate: “I would be delighted to clear the air. Number one: In all of my over 40 years of business experience, running businesses and corporations, I have never sexually harassed anyone. Number two: While at the Restaurant Association, I was accused of sexual harassment—falsely accused, I might add… As far as a settlement, I am unaware of any sort of settlement; I hope it wasn’t for much, because I didn’t do anything. But the fact of the matter is I’m not aware of a settlement that came out of that accusation.”
Later in the day, Cain appeared on PBS NewsHour and acknowledged a settlement was paid out.
Judy Woodruff: “And in terms of the settlement, which was reached by the Restaurant Association, you as the CEO were not aware of that, or you were aware of that?”
Herman Cain: “I was not. I was aware that an agreement was reached. The word 'settlement' versus the word 'agreement,' you know, I’m not sure what they called it.”
In campaign news, a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center has confirmed Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry’s flat tax plan would result in a major tax cut for millionaires — but a tax hike for the poor. Millionaires would receive an average tax cut of nearly $500,000 every year under Perry’s plan. Meanwhile, a family making $20,000 to $30,000 would pay nearly $500 more in taxes.
Longtime followers of Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry have expressed shock over how Perry handled himself on stage this weekend in New Hampshire, joking with the audience, amusing himself at times, and repeatedly using strange mannerisms. Video clips of the speech have been viewed over 150,000 times on YouTube.
Gov. Rick Perry, Republican presidential candidate: “This is such a cool state. I mean, come on, 'Live free or die'? I mean, you know, you gotta love that, right? I come from a state, you know, where they had this little place called the Alamo, and they declared, 'Victory or death.' You know, we’re kinda into those slogans, man. It’s like, 'Live free or die,' 'Victory or death.' Bring it!”
In news from Libya, NATO ended its bombing campaign on Monday. Over the past seven months, NATO aircraft conducted more than 26,500 sorties, including 9,700 strike missions. NATO said it bombed 5,900 military targets inside Libya. Meanwhile, the National Transitional Council has elected Abdul Raheem al-Keeb to be Libya’s interim prime minister. He has spent years in exile outside Libya and helped with the financing of the revolt against Col. Muammar Gaddafi. He received a doctorate in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University.
A California firm that makes internet-blocking equipment has acknowledged that the Syrian government has been using at least 13 of its devices to suppress dissent and block access to the internet despite a U.S. trade embargo. The company, Blue Coat Systems, claims it does not know how its devices got to Syria. Since 2004, the United States has prohibited the export, without a special license, of most U.S. goods and services to Syria. Blue Coat Systems’ technology has also been used by several U.S. allies for censorship and surveillance, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has expressed alarm over the continued disappearance of Syrian journalists and bloggers. At least three journalists and bloggers have disappeared since October 24. Three other journalists were detained on August 4 and have not been heard from since. The blogger Hussein Ghrer disappeared on October 24. Days before his disappearance, he wrote on his blog: “Silence doesn’t serve us after today. We don’t want a country where we get imprisoned for uttering a word. We want a country that embraces and welcomes words.”
Thousands of Egyptians protested on Monday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest the military’s recent detention of prominent blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah on charges of inciting violence and sabotage. El Fattah has said the army had no legitimacy to even interrogate him and said he would only speak to a civilian official. The Egyptian activist Yahiya Wahid took part in Monday’s protest.
Yahiya Wahid, Egyptian activist: “This case shows how unfair the military council is towards the revolutionaries. The council that originally said, 'We are protecting the revolution,' is now throwing them into military jails and trying them in military courts. And the others who have robbed the people and killed them are being tried in front of regular courts and are living in five-star prisons.”
A soon-to-be-released report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that freakish weather disasters are striking more often as a result of global warming. According to the Associated Press, the new IPCC report says scientists are “virtually certain” that the world will have more extreme spells of heat and fewer of cold. Heat waves could peak as much as five degrees hotter by mid-century and even nine degrees hotter by the end of the century.
In other climate news, a prominent skeptic of global warming has admitted that climate change is real and now says that the rising levels of greenhouse gases could have a disastrous impact on the world. Richard Muller, who works at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, said he spent the last two years studying the climate data. He found that the land is 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than in the 1950s. Muller’s change of heart has made headlines in part because of who funds his research. One-quarter of the $600,000 of his research funding came from the right-wing Charles Koch Foundation.