Morning Briefing: October 3, 2011

New York City police arrested 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge this weekend for obstructing traffic. Protesters, who chanted, “We are not criminals” and “Let us go,” allege that the police “tricked, trapped and then arrested them” after guiding them onto the roadway.

A new study out today from the Brennan Center for Justice analyzing the slew of GOP-backed laws that restrict voting rights concludes that they “could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.” More than a dozen GOP-controlled states have passed laws to restrict voting, which the Center’s president calls “the most significant rollback in voting rights in decades.”

Salary and benefit growth for American workers has stagnated, dampening economic growth. The high unemployment rate has undercut workers’ ability to negotiate for higher earnings, leading to lower wages, which depresses consumer spending, causing further problems for the recovery.

Newly released emails appear to show that the U.S. State Department has been collaborating with oil pipeline giant TransCanada to win approval for a controversial expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline. Critics point to emails from American diplomats praising TransCanada lobbyists after Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) came out in favor the expansion, for example.


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Sunday that Israel’s intransigence in the peace process is leaving it dangerously isolated in the global community. “The question you have to ask is: ‘Is it enough to maintain a military edge if you are isolating yourself in the diplomatic arena?’” he said.

At the Human Rights Campaign’s annual dinner Saturday night, President Obama blasted the GOP presidential candidates who did not speak out against the audience booing a gay soldier at a GOP debate last month. “You want to be Commander-in-Chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States,” Obama said.

GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) missed every single House vote in September and 58 percent of the votes since July 1, including votes to reauthorize national security programs. Bachmann’s spokeswoman said that, by running, she “is serving not only her constituents, but countless more Americans.”

New financial reports reveal that it pays to be a professional Tea Party activist. Politico reports that the five biggest groups — Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, Leadership Institute, and Tea Party Express — raised $79 million last year, a 61 percent increase from 2009. Meanwhile, local tea party groups are struggling to raise cash — a disparity that highlights the faux “grassroots” claims of the corporate-backed movement.

After much political controversy, NPR appointed the longtime head of Sesame Workshop Gary Knell as its new CEO. The network has been operating without a CEO for months since ousted former CEO Vivian Schiller left in the wake of a conservative video sting operation.


And finally: GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain cut his teeth running Burger King and Godfather’s pizza, which he thinks is just he experience needed to be president. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a pizza problem. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a burger problem. A problem is a problem is a problem,” Cain told TMZ.

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