"Morning Briefing: October 17, 2011"
Occupy Wall Street has its one-month anniversary today, as protests have spread worldwide and donations to demonstrators in Zuccotti Park have reached $300,000. Over the weekend, hundreds of Americans were arrested while demonstrating in cities as far apart as Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona.
Addressing criticism that they don’t have a clear message, Wall Street protesters are now debating what demands they want to make, or if they want to codify anything at all. The movement’s demands committee held an open forum last week and drafted two major categories: jobs for all and civil rights. At other demonstration sites, websites have been set up to allow protesters to vote on demands.
President Obama has begun splitting up his jobs bill and wants Congress to pass $35 billion for states to keep teachers employed and aid first-responders first. He is currently stumping for his jobs agenda on bus tour visiting North Carolina and Virginia, where he’ll paint congressional Republicans as more interested in protecting “the 1 percent” from paying their fair in taxes than in helping restart the economy.
The deadline is fast approaching for Congress to renew federal unemployment benefits or leave 2 million workers without unemployment insurance in January. Several million more will lose benefits after January if lawmakers cannot strike a deal. Advocates of extension have said they are willing to cover the $44 billion cost this time around.
According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among veterans is far higher than the national average. Veterans who left military service in the last decade have a jobless rate of 11.7 percent versus the nation rate of 9.1 percent. In his jobs plan President Obama offers a tax credit of up to $9,600 for each unemployed veteran a company hires.
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman, ordered an investigation Friday into allegations that some of the nation’s largest lending institutions tacked on illegal attorney fees in home refinancing loans, cheating veterans and taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Human rights activists applauded President Obama’s decision to deploy 100 U.S. troops to Uganda to help regional armies fight the Lord’s Resistance Army. The Enough Project said that if “part of a larger multinational strategy, the deployment of U.S. advisers can help play a catalytic role” in apprehending war criminal Joseph Kony while protecting civilians.
President Obama helped dedicate a new memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. near the National Mall yesterday, saying, “Our work is not done.” “Change has never been quick. Change has never been simple, or without controversy. Change depends on persistence. Change requires determination,” he said.
And finally: Pop star Lady Gaga serenaded former President Clinton at a party for his 65th birthday Saturday night, saying, “Bill, I’m having my first real Marilyn Monroe moment.” “I always wanted to have one,” she said after singing “Happy Birthday.” “And I was hoping that it didn’t involve an accident with some pills and a strand of pearls, so here we are.”