The week at a glance...United States

United States


Wall Street protest clash: Downtown Oakland erupted into chaos this week as more than 100 people were arrested during a series of violent confrontations between police and Occupy Oakland protesters. At its peak, the surging crowds reached about 1,000 people, said Oakland’s interim police chief, Howard Jordan, who confirmed that his officers had used beanbag rounds, tear gas, and batons to disperse demonstrators. “The crowd started throwing bottles, paints, beer, eggs at myself and the other officers,” said Officer David Carman. Activists denied police reports of provocation. Kat Brooks, an Occupy Oakland spokeswoman, said the marchers were disciplined and that “there was no damage to property.” The police response, she added, went “beyond what was necessary.” The Occupy Wall Street movement, which began in New York City on Sept. 17, has spread to more than 100 other U.S. cities.

Des Moines

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Cain’s abortion muddle: Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain lost the support of some religious conservatives last week, after stating that the decision to end a pregnancy should rest with the individual. “It ultimately gets down to a choice that the family or that mother has to make,” he said during a CNN interview. The candidate, who was leading in several polls this week, later walked back his comments, telling a Des Moines audience that he opposed abortions, “no exceptions.” But the gaffe may have inflicted serious damage to Cain’s campaign in Iowa, where religious conservatives hold sway over the state’s influential January caucuses. Already, pro-life groups have begun handing out flyers at political events in Iowa, accusing Cain of being pro-choice. “You cannot be both personally against abortion while condoning it,” said rival candidate Rick Santorum, who is also trying to appeal to conservatives in Iowa. “You can’t have it both ways.”

Baton Rouge

Jindal’s re-election rout: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal won a landslide re-election victory last week, garnering nearly 66 percent of the popular vote—the highest total won by a candidate since 1978. Jindal, a 40-year-old Republican, prevailed in all of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, the equivalent of counties in other states. The runner-up, Tara Hollis, a schoolteacher who billed herself as a “proud Democrat,” received just 18 percent of the vote. Analysts said that Jindal’s popularity in his second and final term as governor will make him a force in national politics, despite his disastrous 2009 TV response to President Obama’s address to Congress, the governor’s first major national appearance. “Jindal may be a lame duck in Baton Rouge, but that doesn’t mean his days of positioning himself for the next election are over,” said Stephanie Grace of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Gray Court, S.C.

Perry unveils flat tax: Hoping to revive his flailing campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry this week rolled out an economic plan designed to appeal to conservatives. The centerpiece of Perry’s plan is an optional 20 percent flat income tax. With front-runner Herman Cain’s popular 9-9-9 flat tax clearly in mind, Perry, who dropped to fifth place in this week’s polls, offered taxpayers a plan with more flexibility. Taxpayers could file under the existing system, with its individual rates as high as 35 percent but with traditional deductions and credits. Or they could pay his 20 percent flat tax on income. Perry said his plan would cut taxes “across all income groups” and boost economic growth, but critics responded that the plan would sharply reduce government revenue. “Two things are clear,” said Roberton Williams of the Tax Policy Center. “It will lose lots of revenue, and it will give a big tax cut to the rich.”

Beckley, W.Va.

Mine tragedy trial: Federal prosecutors this week charged the security chief at the coal mine where 29 men died in 2010 with obstructing the government’s investigation and lying about his role in alerting his bosses to the arrival of federal inspectors. Hughie Elbert Stover, who had served as Massey Energy’s security chief at the Upper Big Branch mine since 1999, allegedly ordered thousands of security documents destroyed. His trial is the first criminal case stemming from the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine, the deadliest U.S. mining accident in four decades. In June, Massey was sold to Alpha Natural Resources, but its former chairman said before the sale that he expected more criminal charges to be brought against mine employees. Stover’s attorney, William Wilmoth, called the government’s case “a rush to judgment,” and said “the real villains” remain free.

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Cops charged with gunrunning: Eight current and retired New York City police officers were charged this week with smuggling guns into the city, defying Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign to get illegal weapons off the streets. An FBI informant first gained access to the circle of cops in 2009, when most of them were working in the same station house in Brooklyn. Federal prosecutors say the police initially accepted payment for smuggling what they thought were stolen cigarettes and counterfeit goods, but last year transported weapons, including three M16 rifles and 16 handguns. The complaint says the suspects didn’t realize the guns had been rendered inoperable but did know that many of them had defaced serial numbers, making them untraceable if used in a crime. Bloomberg said that if the charges were confirmed, the officers would have committed “a disgraceful and deplorable betrayal of the public trust.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.