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Other News: Iranian Protesters Clash With Police

November 4, 2009 at 6:17 PM EDT
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In other news, thousands of Iranian protesters clashed with police in the streets of Tehran on the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy takeover, and the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether prosecutors can be sued for damages.

JIM LEHRER: In other news today, authorities in Iran used force to chase thousands of protesters from the streets of the capital. It came as Iran marked the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy takeover.

We have a report narrated by Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: It’s an anniversary when Iranians usually protest against the revolution’s old enemy: America. But these demonstrators are doing the opposite, protesting against their own regime and then running away, with notorious Basij militia, armed with batons and riot shields, in hot pursuit.

The police had warned reformists not to exploit this anniversary, but it didn’t work, so they moved in, hitting this man on the pavement and beating women. One woman is batoned to the ground. A man who tries to intervene is dragged away by the hair. And then a woman takes her life into her own hands.

EYEWITNESS (through translator): There were many injured, ladies who were hit very severely. They even followed people into residential buildings. I saw them forcing locks and breaking glass. The issue has changed. It is not about the election anymore. It is about freedom of expression.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: The protesters fought back by filming what they could. And what they have posted on the Internet contradicts the official version of events.

NEWS ANCHOR: Police dispersed the demonstrators and made several arrests. There are no reports of injury.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: Outside the old U.S. Embassy, there was the traditional revolutionary rally. Thousands of students were bused in and shouted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.”

The opposition marched with a very different battle cry. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, was vilified as a murderer. Pictures of him were torn down, and, extraordinary this, even trampled underfoot. “His leadership is over,” they shouted, and “Down with the dictator,” their target, not the American Embassy, but the Russian one, because Moscow endorsed President Ahmadinejad’s reelection.

So, they chanted “Death to Russia” as well. The reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi did venture out briefly, though he and many others were turned back by tear gas. And another opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, is reportedly banned from leaving his home.

JIM LEHRER: The protesters also appealed for U.S. support. They chanted, “Obama, Obama, you are either with them or with us.”

In Washington, a White House spokesman called for an end to the violence against the demonstrators. At the same time, the president said in a statement, the U.S. seeks better relations with the Iranian government.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether prosecutors who frame defendants can be sued for damages. The justices heard arguments today involving two men in Iowa who served 25 years for a murder they did not commit. Their lawyers argued two prosecutors fabricated evidence and coached witnesses.

The prosecutors have claimed absolute immunity. They warn that allowing suits for damages might unleash a torrent of similar suits nationwide.

A convicted sex offender in Cleveland was ordered held without bond today, after 11 corpses were found at his home since last week. Anthony Sowell appeared in court under heavy security. He faces five charges of aggravated murder and one charge of rape. Investigators continued working at the house today. They plan to tear down interior walls to search for more evidence and possibly more bodies.

Some of the victims had been reported missing years ago, but Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath said, their disappearances had not been ignored.

MICHAEL MCGRATH, CLEVELAND: We try to look at the total scope. And, sometimes, we have individuals that are reported missing every other week, for whatever reason. So, if a person is reported to us missing every other week or 12 or 10 times a year, then, sometimes, we put less credence to that, but we continue to call the family, because 99 percent of our missing persons usually show up within the next 48 to 72 hours.

JIM LEHRER: Most, if not all, of the victims were black women, but the chief denied race was a factor in the way the case was handled.

Interest rates in the U.S. will stay where they are for now. The Federal Reserve announced that decision today. It said economic activity has continued to pick up and the housing market is improving. But it also warned, rising unemployment and the ongoing credit crunch are still big obstacles to a recovery.

The Fed announcement failed to give much of a boost to Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 30 points, to close at 9802. The Nasdaq fell more than a point, to close at 2055.

Also today, New York State sued Intel, the world’s largest maker of computer chips, for antitrust violations. The suit alleged illegal threats and collusion. The company denied the charge.

For the record, Intel is a “NewsHour” underwriter.

The U.S. House has voted to speed up enforcement of new credit card rules. The bill passed today forces credit card companies to comply with new rules on interest rates and fees by December 1. The original date was next February. But several companies had begun raising fees to beat the February deadline. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Lawmakers in California today approved $11 billion to overhaul the state’s aging water system. After years of wrangling, they agreed the money would go for new dams, groundwater cleanup, and water restoration. Governor Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the legislation.

A top U.S. diplomat met today with the opposition leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell was the most senior American official to visit the former Burma in 14 years. Suu Kyi was allowed to meet with him at a hotel, after spending most of the past two decades under house arrest. The Obama administration has appealed for her release.