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HeadlinesSeptember 20, 2011

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Yemen: 9 Killed as Government Escalates Deadliest Period in Eight-Month-Old Uprising

Sep 20, 2011

At least nine people were killed today in Yemen as government troops shelled a protest camp in the capital of Sana’a. Witnesses say at least three missiles struck the camp just after morning prayers at around 5 a.m. Government snipers have also been shooting protesters from the rooftops. At least 60 people have died in Yemen since Sunday, making it the deadliest period since the anti-government protests began eight months ago. Medical personnel in Sana’a have been overwhelmed trying to care for protesters injured in the government attacks.

Dr. Tareq Noman: “The main problem is we do not have enough hospitals. The five hospitals that we had are full of patients. Operating rooms are also full. The second problem is a decrease in medical supplies and medical disposables carried out to the field hospital. Unfortunately, the government forces prevented medical supplies from reaching the field hospital.”

President Obama Unveils Plan to Cut $3 Trillion from Deficit

Sep 20, 2011

President Barack Obama outlined his plan to slash up to $3 trillion from the deficit over the next decade by revamping the tax code, lowering corporate taxes and instituting a new tax on millionaires. Obama vowed to veto any cuts to Medicare, unless Congress hikes taxes on companies and the wealthy.

President Obama: “I will not support any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans, and I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share. We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable.”

President Obama also called for changes to the nation’s tax code.

President Obama: “Our tax code shouldn’t give an advantage to companies with the best-connected lobbyists, it should give an advantage to companies that invest in the United States of America and create jobs in the United States of America. And we can lower the corporate rate if we get rid of all these special deals. So I am ready, I am eager, to work with Democrats and Republicans to reform the tax code to make it simpler, make it fairer and make America more competitive.”

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Prohibition of Openly Gay Military Servicemembers Expires

Sep 20, 2011

The military’s longstanding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning openly gay and lesbian servicemembers expired just after midnight. Since the policy took effect under then-President Bill Clinton in 1993, more than 13,000 gay and lesbian servicemembers have been expelled from the armed services for revealing their sexual orientation. Shortly after the policy expired, one gay servicemember, Navy Lt. Gary Ross, celebrated by marrying his longtime partner Dan Swezy at a ceremony in Vermont.

Study: 37 Percent of Young Families with Children Were Living in Poverty Last Year

Sep 20, 2011

A new study from Northeastern University has found a record 37 percent of young families with children were living in poverty last year. The report comes just a week after the U.S. Census Bureau revealed the number of people living in poverty last year surged to 46.2 million — one in six Americans — the highest number since the Bureau began tracking such data more than 50 years ago. Northeastern Professor Andrew Sum said, “Young families with children are now six times as likely to be poor as elderly families. This is a major generational change. From a public policy standpoint, we should be very deeply troubled by this.”

Israel Proposes Netanyahu, Abbas Meeting

Sep 20, 2011

In its latest bid to prevent a United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood, Israel is attempting to set up a meeting in New York City this week between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Abbas earlier said he was willing to meet Netanyahu but was determined to push ahead with a bid for U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state. The last round of talks between the Palestinians and Israel broke down a year ago. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States remains opposed to the Palestinian statehood bid.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “We are engaged in extremely intensive, ongoing diplomacy, reaching out to not only the parties but to all of the people who are here for the U.N. General Assembly. And we continue to believe and are pressing the point that the only way to a two-state solution, which is what we support and want to see happen, is through negotiations. And no matter what does or doesn’t happen this week, it will not produce the kind of outcome that everyone is hoping for. So we’re going to stay very much engaged and focused.”

Former Mexican President Sued for War Crimes Stemming from 1997 Massacre

Sep 20, 2011

Former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo is being sued in a Connecticut court for alleged war crimes. The suit focuses on his role in a 1997 massacre in the Chiapas village of Acteal when government-backed paramilitary groups killed 45 people as part of an attempt to quash the Zapatista popular uprising. The lawsuit was filed by 10 relatives of Acteal victims. Zedillo now lives in Connecticut and teaches at Yale University, where he is the director of the Center for the Study of Globalization.

Mexican President Calderón Hints at Drug Legalization

Sep 20, 2011

Mexican President Felipe Calderón turned up pressure on the United States to curb demand for illicit drugs, hinting that legalization of narcotics may be needed to weaken the drug cartels.

Insurance Company Files Suit Against Saudi Arabia for Indirectly Funding 9/11

Sep 20, 2011

Another lawsuit has been filed against Saudi Arabia accusing the Saudi kingdom of indirectly funding the 9/11 attacks. The suit was filed in Pennsylvania by a syndicate of the British insurance giant Lloyd’s of London in an attempt to recoup $215 million it paid out on policies related to the attacks. The lawsuit names a number of prominent Saudi charities and banks as well as a leading member of the al-Saud royal family.

Oklahoma: Oil Rig Explodes in 100-Foot Flames

Sep 20, 2011

In Oklahoma, a massive blast occurred last night at an oil drilling rig. Witnesses said flames rose 100 feet high. No one was reported injured, but several homes were evacuated. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the companies responsible for the 2007 San Francisco Bay oil spill have agreed to pay $44 million for the cleanup costs and the damage done to the environment, including the death of thousands of birds.

Chinese Protesters Shut Down Solar Factory Accused of Dumping Toxic Waste

Sep 20, 2011

China has shut down a solar factory following a three-day protest by some 500 villagers who accused the factory operators of dumping toxic waste near their homes. Pollution from the site was also blamed for the deaths of large numbers of fish in a nearby river. Li Ang is a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace.

Li Ang, Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner: “In China, a lot of manufacturers of photovoltaic panels hope to keep their costs down by using relatively out-of-date technology. Doing this is no different to drinking poison when you’re thirsty, as it will greatly harm the future development of photovoltaic technology. But generally, we believe that by using more advanced manufacturing technologies, the pollution can be eliminated.”

Justice Department Accuses Texas Statehouse of Disenfranchising Minority Voters in Redistricting Efforts

Sep 20, 2011

In voting news, the U.S. Department of Justice has accused the Texas Republican-controlled statehouse of violating the Voting Rights Act by adopting congressional and legislative districts for the 2012 election that disenfranchise minority voters. Texas presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry signed off on the redistricting maps earlier this year.

Pennsylvania Considers Controversial Electoral College Voting Changes

Sep 20, 2011

Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania are considering a controversial plan to change how the state awards its electoral votes in an attempt to hurt President Obama’s re-election chances. The plan would award the state’s electoral votes by congressional district instead of giving all of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes to the overall winner. No Republican presidential candidate has won the state since 1988, but many of the congressional districts lean Republican. Some analysts say the plan could backfire for Republicans.

Ralph Nader Leads Recruitment Effort to Challenge President Obama

Sep 20, 2011

Former independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader is leading a new call to recruit liberal candidates to mount a primary challenge against President Obama next year. Nader accused Obama of turning his back on his liberal base and its progressive agenda. Other backers of the effort include Cornel West, Gore Vidal and the singer Michelle Shocked. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Nader said it was “very unlikely” he would run for president again.

Spanish Teacher Strike Shuts Down Hundreds of Schools

Sep 20, 2011

Hundreds of schools in Madrid have shut down due to a two-day strike called by the city’s public secondary school teachers. The teachers are protesting against government plans for a new round of layoffs and longer hours for teachers who keep their jobs. Carmen Guaita is vice president of the teachers union ANPE.

Carmen Guaita, ANPE teachers union vice president: “In one year, Spanish teachers’ wages have been reduced, their pensions have been cut, their pensions have been frozen. The state and regional budgets for education have been reduced by two billion euros.”

Teacher Strike Forces Tacoma, WA Schools to Remain Closed for Sixth Day

Sep 20, 2011

In labor news, a teacher strike in Tacoma, Washington, has forced the city’s schools to remain closed for a sixth day. The teachers have decided to continue the strike despite a court order to return to work. Key issues for the striking teachers include pay, class size and how job transfers are handled.

Occupy Wall Street Protests Persist amid 6 Arrests

Sep 20, 2011

In New York City, hundreds of activists remain camped out in the Financial District for a fourth day as part of an action called “Occupy Wall Street.” Police made six arrests on Monday mostly during an impromptu march on Wall Street. Jason Amadi was one of the protesters arrested.

Jason Amadi, Occupy Wall Street protester: “I was chalking on the sidewalk, when I was surrounded by police officers, and they told me to put my hands behind my back, and they cuffed me, and they took me to the police station. And I was really upset by this. But really what it did was it empowered me to continue to be here, because this is more about our government being taken by the banks and exploiting all of us. This is about our First Amendment rights, our right to assemble, and really just taking back our government for the people.”

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