The Occupy Wall Street movement celebrated its one-year anniversary on Monday with actions in New York City and other cities across the country. In Manhattan, protesters tried to block access to the New York Stock Exchange by erecting a “People’s Wall.”
Amanda Montgomery: “Today is Occupy Wall Street’s birthday, and we are celebrating. We are rising above all the corruption and police brutality that could happen, has happened already.”
Eeo Stubblefield: “I, myself, had never, in all my 57 years, seen anything like Zuccotti Park, and I personally had been waiting for 10 years for something to — something. And I had no idea that the kids — I had no idea that the kids were going to rise up like that, and I’m so proud of them.”
Overall, more than 150 people were arrested, including half a dozen journalists. Monday’s actions saw a lower turnout than expected, with around 1,000 people taking part in the protests, far lower than the numbers seen last fall.
A federal judge has denied Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s effort to forcefully end the city’s week-long teacher strike ahead of a vote by the union later today. Emanuel had sought a court order declaring the strike illegal. But on Monday, a circuit court judge said he will not consider the request until after union delegates decide on whether to proceed with the strike at a meeting set for tonight. In a statement, the Chicago Teachers Union blasted Emanuel’s effort, calling it “a vindictive act.”
The Obama administration has filed an emergency appeal of a federal judge’s decision last week to block a controversial statute that gave the government the power to carry out indefinite detention. Judge Katherine Forrest ruled against a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, authorizing the imprisonment of anyone deemed a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial. A group of journalists, scholars and political activists had brought the case, arguing the provision was so broad it could easily infringe on freedom of speech. In a court filing on Monday, the government argued Judge Forrest’s ruling could go beyond the statute itself to curb the indefinite provisions contained in the legislation authorizing the so-called post-9/11 “War on Terror,” potentially jeopardizing the imprisonment of foreigners in Afghanistan without charge.
The White House has quietly announced young immigrants able to remain in the United States as part of a recent immigration reprieve will not be eligible for health insurance under the new federal healthcare law. The new immigration program grants temporary legal status to live and work in the country to undocumented people who meet certain conditions, including being under 31 as of June 15. But in a ruling late last month, the White House said the federal healthcare law excludes undocumented immigrants because they still fall outside the definition of a “lawfully present” resident. In a separate statement, the administration also explicitly decreed that young immigrants covered by the reprieve will not be eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Immigrant rights groups have denounced the decision, calling it reactionary and inhumane.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has sparked what could be the biggest political firestorm facing his campaign to date. In a newly unearthed recording released by the magazine Mother Jones, Romney tells a crowd of donors that he thinks 47 percent of Americans are “dependent” on government and see themselves as “victims.”
Mitt Romney: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they’re entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it, that that’s — it’s entitlement, and the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And that — I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48 — he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so, my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center.”
The Obama campaign immediately pounced on Romney’s remarks, saying: “It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.” At a hastily arranged news conference last night, Romney said although his words were not “elegantly stated,” he stood by their substance.
Mitt Romney: “Well, you know, it’s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I’m speaking off the cuff in response to a question, and I’m sure I could state it more clearly and in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that. And so, I’ll — I’m sure I’ll point that out as time goes on. But we don’t even have the question, given the snippet there, nor the full response, and I hope the person who has the video would put out the full — the full material. Of course, I want to help all Americans, all Americans, have a bright and prosperous future, and I’m convinced that the president’s approach has not done that and will not do that.”
In comments that have received less attention, Mitt Romney is also heard on the original tape joking to his audience that he would have a better chance this election had he been born a Latino.
Mitt Romney: “My heritage — my dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico. And had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. And he lived there for a number of years. And, I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”
Just hours before those comments came to light on Tuesday, Romney spoke in Los Angeles to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in a bid to woo Latino voters.
The Obama administration has filed a challenge at the World Trade Organization accusing China of unfairly subsidizing its auto and auto-parts industries. Announcing the move during a campaign stop in Ohio, President Obama took a shot at Republican rival Mitt Romney.
President Obama: “He made money investing in companies that uprooted from here and went to China — pioneers. Now, Ohio, you can’t stand up to China when all you’ve done is sent them our jobs. Today, my administration is launching a new action against China, this one against illegal subsidies that encourage companies to ship auto part manufacturing jobs overseas. These are subsidies that directly harm working men and women on the assembly lines in Ohio and Michigan and across the Midwest.”
At least 12 people have been killed, including nine foreigners, in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. A militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it revenge for the anti-Islam film that has sparked anger in Muslim countries worldwide. On Monday, demonstrations against the film continued to flare, with new protests reported in Indonesia, Pakistan, Lebanon and Iran.
The U.S.-led NATO occupation in Afghanistan, meanwhile, says it has scaled back operations with members of the Afghan forces in a bid to reduce attacks on coalition troops. At least 51 foreign soldiers, most of them Americans, have been killed in attacks carried out by Afghan police and soldiers so far this year. On Monday, NATO spokesperson Günter Katz also confirmed up to eight civilians were killed in a U.S. air strike on a village in eastern Afghanistan.
Günter Katz: “I can confirm that a number of Afghan civilians were unintentionally killed or injured during the mission, which was undertaken solely with the intent of countering known insurgents. ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] takes full responsibility for this tragedy.”
The United Nations has confirmed August was the deadliest month so far in Syria’s 18-month-long armed conflict between President Bashar al-Assad and armed rebels. U.N. Special Coordinator Robert Serry said the toll continues to grow, with no signs of slowing down.
Robert Serry: “The month of August registered the highest number of casualties thus far, and this toll is growing. More than two-and-a-half million people, including refugees from Palestine and Iraq, now need assistance and protection inside Syria. As conditions deteriorate, we see dangerous implications for Syria’s neighbors.”
The oil giant Shell has announced it will delay oil drilling in the Alaskan Arctic until at least next summer, after suffering damage to a spill containment dome during a test. Shell began the drilling earlier this month over the objections of indigenous and environmental groups who say the project would both take advantage of and contribute to the problem of receding sea ice.
Pennsylvania’s Board of Pardons has denied clemency to a death row convict convicted of murdering his sexual abuser. Terrance “Terry” Williams is scheduled to be executed next month for the 1984 murder of Amos Norwood. Norwood had sexually abused Williams over a number of years up until the night before Williams took revenge by ending Norwood’s life. Advocates of child sexual abuse victims had urged leniency for Williams because jurors were not informed of all the facts, including that Williams had been sexually abused by other men. Williams is now asking a state court to issue a stay of execution.