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Other News: Fresh Protests Erupt in Iranian Cities

December 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

JIM LEHRER: That’s all ahead, but now the day’s other news, as reported by the newest member of our team, Hari Sreenivasan. He comes to us from CBS News, among other journalistic places. He’s in our newsroom now. Welcome, Hari.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Thanks, Jim. It’s good to be here.

Thousands of anti-government protesters clashed with security forces in Iran’s capital today. Protests erupted in other Iranian cities as well. There was no word on arrests, but Web sites reported, at least one person was wounded. We have a report narrated by Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: They burned a picture of the republic’s founder, its supreme leader, and then the president — Iran’s protest movement back on the streets today, its anger at the regime apparently as fierce as ever.

“Death to the dictator,” these students in Tehran shouted as they waved Iranian flags with a symbol of the revolution, the word “Allah” missing from the center. At one university, they knocked down the gates. And, at another, they sat in the street, calling Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, a criminal and a murderer. International news agencies have been told to stay inside for 48 hours. And, in the past few days, Iran’s Internet connection has slowed to a trickle. But that hasn’t stopped protesters from exporting pictures from their mobile phones to the outside world.

This was Mashhad in northeast Iran. The fact that the protesters have no single leader or manifesto is making it that much harder to stop them.

EYEWITNESS (through translator): The people were warned not to come out, but they have overcome their fear. People feel they can do something. And they don’t want to give up what they have started.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: In Tehran, the Revolutionary Guards’ much-feared militia were filmed patrolling on waves of motorbikes, and eyewitnesses said they had used electrical truncheons and stun guns to break up the crowds, though state media covering this pro-government march appeared short on detail on the day’s events.

IRANIAN NEWS ANCHOR: Meanwhile, a number of anti-government protesters attempted to hijack the occasion to hold rallies in Tehran. Their efforts were foiled by the presence of security forces, which are deployed in several parts of the capital.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: There was no sign today of leading opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi, but, though his movements are restricted, he issued a statement yesterday.

“They are asking us to forget about the election results,” he said. “But even if you silence all the universities, what are you going to do about the society itself?”

HARI SREENIVASAN: Hundreds of students also marched through Somalia’s capital today. The rally in Mogadishu was the first known demonstration against Islamic militants, who control much of the country. It came four days after a suicide bomber attacked a university graduation ceremony. That explosion killed 24 people, including three government ministers. The Somali government warned today, suicide bombers plan to disguise themselves as army generals and target the presidential palace, airport, and seaport.

Elections in Iraq may be pushed back a month or more. The vote was originally scheduled for mid-January, but, today, the country’s electoral commission recommended a 45-day delay, to February 27, at the earliest. It is subject to approval by the Iraqi Presidential Council. The Iraqi parliament finally adopted the law authorizing the election over the weekend.

In Washington, the chairman of the Federal Reserve cautioned, it’s too soon to tell if the recovery will take hold. Ben Bernanke said in a speech, the economy is still struggling, with a weak job market and tight credit.

BEN BERNANKE, chairman, Federal Reserve: Though we have begun to see some improvement in economic activity, we still have some way to go before we can be assured that the recovery will be self-sustaining. Also at issue is whether the recovery will be strong enough to create the large numbers of jobs that will be needed to materially bring down the unemployment rate. Economic forecasts are subject to great uncertainty, but my best guess at this point is that we will continue to see modest growth next year, sufficient to bring down the unemployment rate, but at a pace slower than we would like.

HARI SREENIVASAN: On Wall Street, Bernanke’s words helped dampen enthusiasm for another rally. The Dow Jones industrial average gained just one point, to close at 10390. The Nasdaq fell more than four points, to close at 2189.

President Obama confirmed the government’s bank rescue program, the TARP, will cost much less than expected. It was widely reported the Obama administration plans to slash the $700 billion price tag by $200 billion. But the president stopped short of saying whether he will direct the unused funds to stimulate job growth. He plans to address that issue in a speech tomorrow.

The U.S. Supreme Court today scrutinized a major law on corporate fraud. The Sarbanes-Oxley statute was enacted in 2002, after the Enron, WorldCom, and other accounting scandals. The issue before the court today was whether an oversight board created by the law violates the constitution’s separation of powers.

And U.S. cancer rates are falling. The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and others reported the findings today. Diagnoses for all kinds of cancer fell an average of nearly 1 percent a year from 1999 to 2006. The overall death rate fell 1.6 percent a year. The decline was driven mainly by decreases in lung, prostate, breast and colorectal cancers.

And this was Pearl Harbor Day, marking 68 years since the Japanese attack that brought the U.S. into World War II. It came as researchers have confirmed finding a wreckage from a long-lost Japanese midget submarine used in the raid. The discovery was part of an underwater expedition led by PBS science series “NOVA.” It found three sections of debris south of Pearl Harbor 1,000 feet below the surface. The documentary airs January 5.

Those are some of the day’s headlines. I will be back at the end of the broadcast with a look at what you will find on the brand-new PBS NewsHour Web site — but, for now, back to Gwen.