Morning Briefing: October 11, 2011

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that the Occupy Wall Street protesters can stay indefinitely as long as they abide by the law, “marking his strongest statement to date” on city support for the protests. “The bottom line is — people want to express themselves. And as long as they obey the laws, we’ll allow them to,” he said.

Wall Street protesters are planning a “Millionaires March” to the homes of some of New York’s wealthiest residents this afternoon. Between 400 and 800 protesters are expected to leave their base in Manhattan and march to the uptown homes of JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, and billionaire businessman David Koch, among others.

A new report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations finds that the 2004 repatriation tax holiday was a “failed tax policy” that cost the U.S. $3.3 billion over 10 years and “led to U.S. companies directing more funds offshore.” As conservatives want another repatriation tax holiday, committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) concluded “there is no evidence” that such holidays “put Americans to work.”

Three dozen states have pursued laws requiring those on welfare to pass drug tests, and several states have already passed such laws. Twelve states have also attempted to tie drug tests to unemployment benefits, and others are considering making drug tests a requirement for food stamps, despite the fact that the constitutionality of such laws is highly questionable.

A U.N. report found that suspected Taliban fighters were beaten and tortured at some Afghan-run detention centers, even after the U.S. and others have spent billions to train the Afghan security forces. The abuse was not a result of an Afghan government policy, but mostly individual actions, according to the report. In response to the report, NATO has stopped sending prisoners to those centers.

Despite the sagging economy and persistent unemployment, Senate Republicans are poised to kill President Obama’s jobs bill today, as it faces a critical test in the upper chamber. Republicans (falsely) claim the 2009 stimulus package was an expensive failure and say the current plan is just like it.

Joe the Plumber is planning a run for Congress, filing paperwork last week stating his intention to run as a Republican candidate in Ohio’s 9th Congressional District. The unlicensed ex-plumber rose to fame during the 2008 presidential campaign when he challenged then-Sen. Obama over his plan to raise taxes on those who earn more than $250,000 a year.

Democrats in Wisconsin are revving up their efforts to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R) over his anti-union law. Democrats say recall petitions would begin circulating Nov. 15, giving proponents until Jan. 13 to get 540,208 signatures. An election could be held as early as the spring.

Bucking the national trend of states loosening gun laws, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill outlawing the public display of handguns. Brown said he signed the bill at the urging of law enforcement officials, and the law will take effect on Jan. 1. It is one of several bills Brown has signed to step up gun control in California.

And finally: Legendary actor and singer Harry Belafonte slammed presidential candidate Herman Cain as a “bad apple” yesterday for the Republican’s comments on African Americans being brainwashed and saying that racism is essentially solved. “Because he happened to have had good fortune, because he happened to have had a moment when he broke through – the moment someone blinked – does not make him the authority on the plight of people of color,” Belafonte said.

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