Security forces in Egypt have killed at least 35 protesters in Cairo and other Egyptian cities over the past three days during protests against military rule. More than 1,700 have been injured. The violence began on Saturday when police moved in to break up a sit-in in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Egyptian protester: “We need civilian rule. We need a president that we are all agreed on. We need a constitution before the elections that will get rid of the remnants of the previous regime and spectrum of political Islam which is implementing certain agendas.”
The attack on the protesters comes just a week before Egypt’s first free parliamentary elections in decades.
Hundreds of Ethiopian troops backed by tanks and heavy artillery have invaded Somalia. The move by Ethiopia comes just five weeks after Kenya launched its own invasion. Both countries say their target is the Somali militant group al-Shabab. In 2006, Ethiopia launched a larger invasion of Somalia, ousting the moderate Islamic Courts Union, a move that led to the rise of the more militant al-Shabab group. The New York Times reports the Obama administration appears split on the new Ethiopian invasion. Some diplomats in the U.S. State Department are strongly against the move, while the Pentagon and the CIA seem to support it.
The University of California, Davis, has announced it has placed two police officers on administrative leave after they were videotaped pepper-spraying a group of student protesters. The students were peacefully sitting down cross-legged with their arms locked when the officers began pepper-spraying them at close range. The students were protesting the dismantling of the “Occupy UC Davis” encampment that was set up in the school’s quad area.
Robert Hass, the former poet laureate of the United States, has revealed that police recently beat him and his wife during an Occupy protest at the University of California, Berkeley. The 70-year-old Hass says his wife was shoved in the chest and knocked down by an officer shortly after speaking to a young officer about the importance of nonviolence. Moments later, an officer whacked Hass hard in the ribs twice and once across the forearm. Video from the protest shows the beatings occurred shortly after Hass urged police officers not to hurt the students
Robert Hass, UC Berkeley professor of poetry and poetics: “Use your head! Use your head! There’s no reason to hurt these people. There is no reason to hurt these people. Use your head! Nobody there wants to hurt you. They’re not going to hurt you.”
Robert Hass is a professor of poetry and poetics at UC Berkeley. He served as poet laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997. He was awarded the 2007 National Book Award and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize.
Prominent figures from the civil rights movement lent their support to the Occupy movement over the weekend. The group of independent leaders known as the Council of Elders visited occupations in California and New York to discuss a number of issues including poverty, mass incarceration and what they describe as a culture of war. United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta addressed occupiers in Los Angeles.
Dolores Huerta, United Farm Workers co-founder: “Yes, we’ve got to occupy Wall Street. You know, Wall Street, we’ve got to do that. But we’ve also got to occupy the school board, right? And we’ve got to occupy the city council, right? And we’ve got to occupy the Congress, right? Because this is where the decisions are made, where our money is going to go, whether it’s going to go to schools or it’s going to go to jails, right? Whether it’s going to go for more tax loopholes for the corporate world or we’re going to have more money for health services. So we have a big job to do, and it’s coming from the bottom. We know that all the changes that have been made, like in the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the peace movement, the LGBT movement, have come from the bottom. So, thank you very much. You’re leading the way. And we are very blessed to be here with you. Thank you very much. Sí, se puede — we can do it.”
A newly leaked memo reveals a high-powered Washington lobbying firm has offered to help key members of the banking community undermine the Occupy Wall Street movement. According to MSNBC, the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford sent the memo to the American Bankers Association and offered to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” for a fee of $850,000. The memo advises the ABA to take the movement seriously, writing: “It may be easy to dismiss OWS as a ragtag group of protesters but they have demonstrated that they should be treated more like an organized competitor who is very nimble and capable of working the media, coordinating third party support and engaging office holders to do their bidding. To counter that, we have to do the same.” The memo goes on to warn the ABA that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and suggests the financial industry focus its energy on specific races that would lead to Republican elections. The ABA has confirmed that it received the memo, but says it chose not to act on the advice in any way. Two of the memo’s authors, partners Sam Geduldig and Jay Cranford, previously worked for Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
Fighters in Libya have captured one of Muammar Gaddafi’s most prominent sons, as well as the deposed leader’s former intelligence chief, Abdullah Senussi, who was taken into custody on Sunday. Senussi’s capture came one day after fighters in the town of Zintan took Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam into custody. While both men are wanted by the International Criminal Court, leaders in Zintan have refused to release Gaddafi’s son until a new government is established and working court system is put in place. They maintain that their prisoner must be tried in Libya.
Anti-government fighters in Syria launched rocket-propelled grenades at the ruling Ba’ath Party headquarters in the capital city of Damascus over the weekend. The attack is seen by many as a sign of a new chapter in the nation’s eight-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Opposition forces say the strike was a response to the government’s failure to comply with an Arab League peace plan, under which it agreed to free tens of thousands of political prisoners and withdraw its troops from the streets. A deadline for the peace deal passed on Saturday amid continued violence, with reports that at least 17 people were killed. President Assad’s government has been accused of killing more than 3,500 of its own citizens while committing a number of human rights abuses. Over the weekend, Assad defended the use of violence by his forces.
Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president: “Talking about the killing, you have to ask who killed the 800 officers and soldiers and policemen in the street. So we’re not talking about the most peaceful demonstrations, we are talking about militants. Whenever you have militants, you have killing. So the role of the government is to fight those militants in order to restore the stability and to protect the civilians, not by leaving them to do what they want to do and talk about killing. This is our job, and that’s what we are doing now.”
Israel has forced the closing of a radio station operated by Palestinian and Israeli peace activists. The “All for Peace” station was shut down even though it had a broadcast license from the Palestinian Authority. Critics say the closing of the radio station is part of a broader attack on liberal institutions in Israel.
The Republican and Democratic leaders of the so-called “supercommittee” are set to declare defeat after three months of talks failed to bridge deep divides over taxes and spending. The supercommittee’s inability to reach a deal will trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over 10 years to military and domestic programs, starting in 2013. Democrats have blamed Republicans for their unwillingness to yield on a no-new-taxes pledge. Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the co-chairwoman of the supercommittee, appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
Patty Murray, supercommittee co-chairwoman: “As long as we have some Republican lawmakers who feel more enthralled with a pledge they took to a Republican lobbyist than they do to a pledge to the country to solve the problems, this is going to be hard to do.”
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee is planning to sign a bill this week to slash pensions promised to retired and current state workers. The changes will impact 66,000 active and retired public workers. Local labor leader J. Michael Downey criticized the move, saying, “Today our elected officials have unwisely chosen to steal the retirement security of Rhode Island’s public employees.” Downey is president of Rhode Island Council 94, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Environmentalists are declaring victory after the Delaware River Basin Commission indefinitely postponed a vote scheduled for today to approve the natural gas drilling technique known as fracking in the river’s watershed. The proposed rules would have allowed for some 20,000 gas wells to be developed in the watershed. The vote was put off after the state of Delaware said it would join New York in opposing the draft rules to allow for fracking. The Commission is made up of representatives from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Environmentalists are still planning to hold a protest today in Trenton, New Jersey, where the commission will be meeting.
In Brazil, an indigenous leader in southern Brazil was assassinated on Friday by 40 masked gunmen. The 59-year-old Nisio Gomes was killed just weeks after his tribe returned to their ancestral land after being evicted by cattle ranchers. Brazil’s human rights secretary condemned the murder as “part of systematic violence against indigenous people in the region.”