In other news Thursday, the markets around the world got a boost from several upbeat economic reports. The Labor Department said first-time jobless claims fell below 400,000, the lowest level in five weeks. Also, Senate Republicans have blocked another piece of President Obama's jobs plan.
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Stocks around the world rose after Greece scrapped plans for a bailout referendum. A surprise interest rate cut by the European Central Bank also helped. And so did the news that first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the U.S. fell below 400,000 last week.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 208 points to close at 12,044. The Nasdaq rose nearly 58 points to close just under 2,698.
Senate Republicans have blocked another piece of the president's jobs plan. The vote today was on $60 billion to build and repair roads, bridges and rail lines. Democrats said it would create thousands of construction jobs. Republicans opposed paying for it with a tax surcharge on incomes over $1 million. They said it would hit small business owners.
City crews in Oakland, Calif., cleaned up today, after a night of clashes between protesters and police. And organizers of the Occupy Oakland movement disavowed the rioters.
NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels has our report.
The trouble erupted last night when bands of demonstrators threw firebombs and concrete chunks, occupied a building and lit bonfires in the street in downtown Oakland.
Police in riot gear moved in, firing tear gas and arresting dozens of people. Today, protest leaders blamed groups of youths who they said did not represent the larger movement. They said the violence would only fuel criticism of their cause.
In fact, the rioting marred what had been, up until then, a peaceful day of protests, with thousands of people marching without incident.
PABLO PAREDES, protester:
Today was amazing. It was beautiful, you know, after the trauma a couple of weeks ago, where the police just took a military-style operation.
The protests and general strike also stalled maritime activity, as thousands of demonstrators swarmed the Port of Oakland, climbing trucks and scaling a metal structure in the port's rail yard.
Organizers said it was an attempt to stop the flow of capital. The port stopped functioning, and some truck drivers trying to use the port had mixed feelings.
STEPHANIE MILLER, Oakland, Calif.:
You know, I don't know a whole lot about it. I'm just trying to make a living. I'm supporting whatever they're doing, I guess, because they're for America, right? They're for the working people.
Meanwhile, a new rally took place in Washington, D.C., today. Protesters gathered outside the Treasury Department and urged Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to support international efforts for a tax on big banks to aid poor nations. And, in New York, 78 Occupy Wall Street protesters who were arrested in September had their first court appearance in Manhattan.
Meanwhile, in Oakland, demonstrators vowed to continue their occupation, though they gave no indication of how long they will be there.
Operations at the Port of Oakland returned to normal today.
Cyber-attacks by China and Russia have stolen huge amounts of U.S. high-tech research data to fuel economic growth. The Associated Press reported that finding today by U.S. intelligence agencies. The study warned the cyber-attacks now pose a persistent threat to U.S. economic security. U.S. officials have complained for years about cyber-attacks by China. The new findings mark some of the sharpest, most direct criticism yet.
In Syria, activists reported tanks fired on demonstrators today, killing at least 12. It happened in the city of Homs, one day after the government accepted an Arab League plan to end the bloodshed. The plan calls for the regime to withdraw its tanks from cities, stop all of the violence against protesters, and set political prisoners free.
Cubans will soon be able to buy and sell their own property legally. It is the first time that has been allowed since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959.
With today's announcement, makeshift signs on cardboard and cloth banners began popping up across Havana. The new law officially takes effect on Nov. 10. Cuban citizens living in Cuba and permanent residents from other countries will be allowed to own one home in the city and another in the country. Cuban exiles are barred from taking part.
The level of greenhouses gases emitted in 2010 jumped by the biggest amount on record, up 6 percent from the year before. A new report by the U.S. Department of Energy found emissions were worse than the worst-case scenarios outlined just four years ago. Pollution from the United States and China accounted for more than half the increases, and greater manufacturing around the world and travel also were contributors.
Those are some of the day's major stories.