Unelected technocrats have taken over Italy and Greece as the two countries continue to battle a growing debt crisis. In Italy, former European commissioner Mario Monti has replaced former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who resigned on Saturday. In Greece, Lucas Papademos, a former European Central Bank vice president, has been sworn in as prime minister, replacing George Papandreou. Earlier today, a group of protesters gathered in front of the Greek parliament accusing the new government of working in the interests of bankers. Inspectors from the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union are due to start arriving in Athens today to push Greece to take sweeping austerity measures. In Rome, people sang, danced and opened bottles of champagne on Saturday following Berlusconi’s resignation. An impromptu orchestra near the palace played the Hallelujah chorus from George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” soon after he stepped down.
In news from the Middle East, the Arab League has suspended Syria after President Bashar al-Assad reneged on an offer to stop the violent crackdown on protesters and open a dialogue with the opposition. Over the past seven months, Syrian forces have killed more than 3,500 people — although some estimates are much higher. Syria condemned the Arab League’s decision describing it as an “extremely dangerous step,” but Syrian exiles living in Jordan welcomed the move.
Azar Ghazi: “The Syrian people have waited for this move from the Arab League for a long time. This is the start of the path for victory. We in exile are confident that the Syrian people will win in its peaceful revolution against Bashar and all his aides.”
Seventeen members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard died on Saturday in a massive explosion at an ammunition depot west of Tehran. The dead included General Hasan Moghaddam, a key figure in Iran’s missile program. The explosion destroyed the base which housed Iran’s stockpile of Shahab missiles, a missile capable of reaching Israel. Iran said the explosion occurred while military personnel were transporting munitions, but Time Magazine quotes an unnamed Western intelligence source saying the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, carried out the attack.
The explosion at an ammunition depot west of Tehran occurred just days days after the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency released a report raising new concerns over what it calls “possible military dimensions” to Iran’s nuclear activities. On Sunday, President Obama warned that no options are being taken off the table concerning Iran.
President Barack Obama: “The sanctions have enormous bite and enormous scope. And we’re building off the platform that has already been established. The question is, are there additional measures that we can take? And we’re going to explore every avenue to see if we can solve this issue diplomatically. I have said repeatedly, and I will say it today: We are not taking any options off the table.”
At a Republican presidential debate in South Carolina on Saturday, several contenders accused Obama of being too soft on Iran.
Mitt Romney: “If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if we elect Mitt Romney, if you elect me as the next president, they will not have a nuclear weapon.”
Scott Pelley: “But, sir, let me—you just described where we are today, and that’s what you’re going to have to deal with if you become president. How do you prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon? Is it worth going to war to prevent that?”
Mitt Romney: “Well, it’s worth putting in place crippling sanctions. It’s worth working with the insurgents in the country to encourage regime change in the country. And if all else fails, if after all of the work we’ve done there’s nothing else we can do besides take military action, then of course you take military action. It is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who is rising in the Republican polls, was also asked about Iran.
Newt Gingrich: “I agree entirely with Governor Romney. If, in the end, despite all of those things, the dictatorship persists, you have to take whatever steps are necessary to break its capacity to have a nuclear weapon.”
Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann accused President Obama of abandoning Israel at time when it could become the target of a nuclear war.
Rep. Michele Bachmann: “The table is being set for a worldwide nuclear war against Israel, and if there’s anything that we know, President Obama has been more than willing to stand with Occupy Wall Street, but he hasn’t been willing to stand with Israel. Israel looks at President Obama, and they do not see a friend.”
Republican Rep. Ron Paul offered a different take on dealing with Iran.
Rep. Ron Paul: “I’m afraid what’s going on right now is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq, and you know they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. And it was orchestrated, and it was, to me, a tragedy of what’s happened these last 10 years, the death and destruction, $4 trillion in debt. So, no, it’s not worthwhile going to war. If you do, you get a declaration of war, you fight it, and you win it and get it over with.”
Occupy Oakland protesters are bracing for a morning raid today. Hundreds of protesters have assembled to defend the Occupy Oakland encampment. The fear of eviction comes after a series of requests to vacate were issued from City Hall and local businesses. On Thursday, a 25-year-old man who had spent a few days in the park was attacked and shot to death by two unidentified individuals. The killing exacerbated existing tensions between the encampment and city officials. Oakland has reportedly agreed to pay for up to 1,000 officers to be deployed over the next three days, making it the largest and most expensive police operation in the city in recent memory.
Police in Portland, Oregon, encountered an estimated 1,000 Occupy protesters Sunday afternoon in an attempt to shut down their weeks-old encampment. Nearly a dozen law enforcement agencies dispatched more than 300 officers for the eviction after Mayor Sam Adams ordered the camp shut down. More than 50 arrests were made.
In New York City, Occupy demonstrators held a Veterans Day march through Lower Manhattan on Friday. The march ended at Civic Center Park, where a number of musicians, including Joan Baez, performed.
Joan Baez, musician: “Let’s drink. Let’s drink to the lowly of birth, spare a thought for the rag-taggy people. Let’s drink to the salt of the earth. Let’s drink to the hard-working people. Let’s drink to the salt of the earth.”
Numerous veterans spoke out against war and declared their support for Occupy Wall Street. Iraq War veteran, Sgt. Shamar Thomas, described the conditions veterans face when they return from service overseas.
Shamar Thomas, Iraq war veteran: “To come home to a nation where they don’t have a job automatically set up, to where, you know, they have Marines getting $1,900 to fight in a war, when congressmen and politicians are making six figures, it just shows how much respect this country has for the veterans. And we should be doing a lot more.”
In other Occupy Wall Street news, police departments around the country conducted a number of arrests over the weekend. In St. Louis, Missouri, authorities arrested 27 people who had set up camp at a downtown plaza. In Salt Lake City, Utah, 15 people were arrested. In Denver, Colorado, police arrested a half dozen protesters and removed items such as mattresses, cooking grills and tents from a city sidewalk. In California, San Francisco police claim two officers were attacked by a pair of protesters in separate incidents, resulting in injuries to the officers. Neither of the alleged assailants were apprehended. In Albany, New York, roughly two dozen demonstrators were arrested by state troopers after breaking an 11 p.m. curfew at Lafayette Park, a piece of state-owned property.
In other Occupy news, Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen has released his first public statement since being shot in the head by a police projectile during an Occupy Oakland protest nearly three weeks ago. Olsen has been released from the hospital but is still struggling to speak. A photo has also been released showing Scott Olsen smiling with a neck brace on and a scar on his forehead. In the message, Olsen wrote, “I’m feeling a lot better, with a long road in front of me. After my freedom of speech was quite literally taken from me, my speech is coming back but I’ve got a lot of work to do with rehab.” Olsen went on to write, “Thank you for all of your support, it has meant the world to me. You’ll be hearing more from me in the near future and soon enough we’ll see you in our streets!”
In Brazil, 3,000 troops backed by helicopters and armored vehicles invaded Rio de Janeiro’s largest slum on Sunday in a security operation ahead of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics two years later. The raid of the hillside favela began at 4 a.m. The troops encountered no resistance. The authorities had announced their plans days in advance.
Sudan is being accused of bombing a refugee camp in the newly formed nation of South Sudan, killing at least 12 people. The bomb hit a region where more than 20,000 refugees live. Growing violence along the border between the two nations has forced Oxfam to withdraw aid workers from the area. Hervé Ladsous is the chief of U.N. peacekeeping in the region.
Hervé Ladsous, U.N. peacekeeping chief: “On the 9th of November, UNMISS was informed by government of South Sudan officials that up to nine bombs had been dropped in the areas of Bew Quaffa and Yafta in Maban County, Upper Nile state—that is to say, very near the border with Blue Nile state. The areas are gathering points for tens of thousands of refugees from the fighting in Blue Nile state. Humanitarian partners reported approximately 55,000 people, including refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons, are currently on the move as a result of the bombing.”
A new study has found 17.3 percent of adults over the age of 25 in the United States have no health insurance — up nearly three percentage points over the past three years.
Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of President George W. Bush’s executive order to form military commissions to try prisoners captured in the war on terror. One of the strongest critics of the military tribunal has become retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Moe Davis, a former chief prosecutor for the Guantánamo tribunals. Davis recently said, “I think we’ve botched this so bad that we’re past the point of redemption.” Attorney Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights compared Bush’s executive order to a coup d’état. Ratner said, “Under that order the president gave himself the authority to direct the capture of any non-citizen anywhere in the world allegedly involved in international terrorism, and detain that person indefinitely without access to the remedy of habeas corpus.” Despite widespread criticism of the tribunal system, President Obama has backed the use of the tribunals to try prisoners at Guantánamo. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was arraigned last week in the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole off the coast of Yemen.