Demonstrators in Oakland, California, appeared to carry out a successful strike of downtown businesses Wednesday, as most merchants and retailers shuttered their doors during a largely peaceful protest.
Unlike prior Occupy Wall Street-style protests in downtown Oakland, no uniformed police officers were visible during the demonstrations as of Wednesday afternoon. Oakland gained national attention during a recent clash between protesters and police, who fired tear gas upon the demonstrators after they allegedly threw objects at officers, police said.
About the only businesses active in downtown Oakland Wednesday were street vendors selling food.
The General Assembly of Occupy Oakland, a loosely defined governing body of the protesters - voted 1,484 to 46 last week to call the general strike, though it is unclear what the group's demands are.
"(W)e invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city," the group's manifesto read. "We liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%."
Protesters at Occupy demonstrations nationwide generally have rallied against what they describe as corporate greed while asserting that the nation's wealthiest 1% hold inordinate sway over the remaining 99% of the population.
Occupy Oakland's call to strike follows a crackdown on protesters October 25. Police unleashed tear gas, and Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull after being struck in the head by what protesters say was a tear gas canister.FULL STORY
Comment of the day:
â€śThe movement is stimulating national discussion on important issues. It is a success â€¦ â€ť â€“ evensteven
Without clear leadership and a specific set of demands, it may be difficult to deem the Occupy Wall Street movement a success. Jeffrey D. Sachs, an expert in economics, visited the Occupy Wall Street crowd in New York's Zuccotti Park early in October and says the key to long-lasting change will include electing officials representative of the 99%.
But many CNN.com readers said the movement is already a success, while others gave the specifics for what an OWS victory might look like. Other readers said OWS is already on the losing end.
PersonOfPallor said, â€śSince they have no tangible objectives, they will fail by definition.â€ť
GeorgeBos95 responded, â€śWill fail? This is an ongoing failure.â€ť
Steve said, â€śActually the objectives are extremely clear to anyone who can read.â€ť
U.S. Citizen said, â€śThere are some specific preliminary objectives and grievances but it is still a work in progress. They weren't organized by corporate reps with money and specific objectives in mind like the Tea Party. Anyone who has half a brain and knows what's going on in this nation knows that their basic purpose is to protest corporate greed and control of our government (both parties).â€ť
Steve said, â€śThe dialogue about who pays what and whether or not it's a fair share is all over the news. That in itself is success, and just the beginning.â€ť
GeorgeBos95 responded, â€śYes, you're right. We have to get the word out that 47 percent of the people currently PAY NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX ... that the top 1 percent pay 40 percent of the tax and the top 10 percent pay 75 percent.
I think the top 10 percent are paying way too much and it's about time the 47 percent got off their butts and started producing like the rest of us. I'm not going to keep pulling the weight for the 47 percent. I'm sick of their whining.â€ť
Bill responded, â€śGeorge. Why don't you factor in state, local, sales and property tax? Those bottom 47 percent pay plenty.â€ť FULL POST
A plane crash that killed members of a Russian professional hockey club happened because a pilot applied brakes during takeoff, the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency reported Wednesday, citing investigators.
Forty-four people, including crew members and dozens of international and Russian players with the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey club, died as a result of the September 7 crash outside Yaroslavl, Russia. A crew member is the sole survivor.
The club, which included several former National Hockey League players, was bound for Minsk, Belarus, where the team was to play the next day.
One of the pilots appears to have inadvertently pressed on a brake pedal while pulling on the control yoke during takeoff, said Alexey Morozov, chairman of Russia's Interstate Aviation Committeeâ€™s technical commission.
Because of the braking, the Yak-42 plane didnâ€™t have enough speed at takeoff, Morozov said, according to RIA-Novosti.
A federal jury convicted Russian businessman Viktor Bout Wednesday on four counts related to a conspiracy to kill Americans, a conspiracy to acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles and of providing material support to a terrorist organization.Â He could face life in prison.
His attorney, Albert Dayan, said Bout would appeal the verdict. Bout had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Widely dubbed "the Merchant of Death," Bout was often referred to by American officials as among the most notorious of global arms traffickers.
Dayan said during the trial that the former Soviet air force officer was not involved in illegal arms sales. He told jurors that federal agents baited Bout into selling the weapons alongside a deal to sell airplanes.
Dayan said his client had been unfairly charged.
Bout was accused of assembling a fleet of cargo planes to traffic military-grade weapons to conflict zones around the world since the 1990s.
According to a federal indictment, he was suspected of creating front companies that used his planes to deliver food and medical supplies, as well as arms.FULL STORY
Comment of the morning:
â€śWhen you have the most prisoners of any other country in the world and the majority of them are nonviolent drug offenders, it's time to make changes.â€ť - whoaaadude
The large disparity between crack and cocaine sentences was largely reduced (from 100-1 to 18-1) last year by the Fair Sentencing Act, which means that thousands of prison inmates convicted of crack cocaine charges will be getting out early. Critics of the sentencing disparity say the old system unfairly penalized African-Americans.
CNN.com readers were divided about the reduction: Some said crack-related crime did not fit the time, while others said the drug often leads to other more dangerous behavior and believe the reduction sends the wrong message.
turbosub said, â€śThe bottom line is: People are going to use drugs whether it's legal or not. Addicts don't need jail time. They need help beating their addictions. The crimes and violence that come along with drug prohibition would go away if the government allowed and taxed it. Read the news. In Portugal, they decriminalized drugs, and there's 50% less drug use than there was before. Let's use this money for helping addicts, not throwing them to rot.â€ť
America314 said, â€śHey, if they don't hurt anyone what's the point of jailing people for something they do to their own body? Prisons are overcrowded as it is.â€ť FULL POST
Syria has agreed to end its crackdown on anti-government demonstrations, pull troops from the streets and release prisoners jailed during months of protests, the Arab League announced Wednesday.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government also agreed to allow international journalists into the country and launch a "national dialogue" in two weeks, Arab League ministers announced after a meeting in Cairo. The regional organization has also agreed to fund an observer mission in Syria as part of the plan, ministers said.
The Arab League had made a proposal along these lines during a meeting between league officials and Syria's foreign minister on Sunday in Doha, Qatar.
The Arab League declaration came amid reports of nearly two dozen more deaths in the Syrian province of Homs on Wednesday. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 21 people were killed, including eight shot to death by security forces and pro-government gunmen in the city of Homs.
Eleven others were killed in the town of Kfarhala/Al Hula after they were attacked in the factory where they worked by armed men coming from villages that support the Syrian regime, the organization said. CNN cannot independently verify the reports because the Syrian government has limited access to international news organizations.
More than 3,000 people have died in Syria since unrest broke out in mid-March, according to the United Nations.FULL STORY
New Hampshire will hold the nation's first presidential primary next year, on January 10, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Garner announced Wednesday.
The move ends week of tense maneuvering and negotiations with leaders in other states to ensure New Hampshire complied with state law, which says its primary must be the nation's first in an election cycle, and that there must be seven days between its primary and similar contests such as a caucus.
Iowa's caucus date on January 3, and the Nevada GOP's intention to have its caucuses on January 14, had New Hampshire considering putting its primary in December. But Nevada Republicans bowed to pressure and set their new caucus date for February 4.
New Hampshire's January 10 primary will be a week after the Iowa caucus and 11 days before South Carolina's primary on January 21.
The new primary date is more than a month earlier than New Hampshire's original date in mid-February. The primary calendar was thrown into flux when Florida moved its contest to January 31.FULL STORY
Greece's cabinet voted Wednesday to support Prime Minister George Papandreou's call for a referendum as soon as possible on the latest bailout plan, as Europe's stock markets watched anxiously to see what might happen next.
The vote was unanimous, though some of the ministers expressed criticism prior to casting their votes, CNN affiliate Mega Channel reported.
The cabinet vote came hours before German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and senior figures from the International Monetary Fund and European Union were to meet Wednesday with Greek officials at an emergency meeting in Cannes, France, ahead of the G-20 summit.FULL STORY
The offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo burned early Wednesday morning, the day it was due to publish an issue with a cover appearing to make fun of Islamic law.
The cover has a bearded and turbaned cartoon figure of the Prophet Mohammed saying "100 lashes if you're not dying of laughter."
The magazine's publication director said the fire was caused by a Molotov cocktail.
The executive, identified on CNN affiliate BFM-TV as "Charb," expressed outrage at the attack.
The United Nations secretary-general and the president of the U.N. General Assembly arrived in Tripoli, Libya, on Wednesday, according to a U.N. statement.
Ban Ki-moon and Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar, General Assembly president, will meet with members of Libya's National Transitional Council and others, the statement said. The two will also meet with reporters.
Ban will travel to Cannes, France, Wednesday night, according to the U.N. More details on Ban and Al-Nasser's visit will be provided later Wednesday, the statement said.FULL STORY
WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange lost a court battle to stay in the United Kingdom Wednesday and will be extradited to Sweden to face questioning over sex charges, a court ruled.
Appeals court judges Lord Justice John Thomas and Justice Duncan Ouseley rejected all four of the arguments Assange's defense team used to fight the extradition.
They will hold another hearing later this month to determine whether he can appeal.
Assange, who has been under house arrest for nearly a year while waiting to find out the results, said Wednesday he will now consider his next steps.FULL STORY
CNN.com Live is your home for gavel-to-gavel coverage of Dr. Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial.Â Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for Thursday.
Today's programming highlights...
10:40 am ET - Herman Cain briefing - GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain may address the sexual harassment allegations against him when he speaks with reporters in Alexandria, Virginia.