NEW YORK — Police arrested several Occupy Wall Street protesters on Friday after they embarked on an impromptu victory march through lower Manhattan following the cancellation of a plan to clean the privately owned park where they have been camped for 28 days.
Protesters had seen the planned cleanup as a ploy to evict them from Zuccotti Park, even though park owner Brookfield Office Properties said it wanted to move people only temporarily so it could scrub the plaza. But it also said that when protesters returned, they no longer could have tents, sleeping bags or tarps.
As protesters’ numbers swelled Thursday night, Brookfield was flooded with phone calls from local elected officials who support the protest, warning it to cancel the cleaning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a radio interview.
After the change in plans became known, about 250 chanting, sign-waving protesters marched peacefully to City Hall. Police spokesman Paul Browne said an estimated eight to 10 people were arrested at a second, impromptu march deeper into the financial district.
Watchdog: Air traffic controller errors soaring
WASHINGTON — Errors by air traffic controllers in the vicinity of airports as well as incidents in which there was an unauthorized plane, vehicle or person on a runway have increased sharply, a government watchdog said in a report released Thursday.
Mistakes by controllers working at radar facilities that handle approaches and departures within about 30 miles of an airport that cause planes to fly too close together nearly doubled over three years ending in March, the Government Accountability Office report said.
Separately, runway incursions at airports with control towers increased from 11 incidents per million takeoffs and landings in the 2004 federal budget year to 18 incidents per million takeoffs and landings in the 2010 federal budget year. Most large and medium-sized airports have control towers. “Runway incursions” can involve anything that’s not supposed to be on a runway, from a stray baggage cart to a plane that makes a wrong turn while taxiing.
The Federal Aviation Administration attributed the increases in controller errors to better error reporting.
US sends troops to Uganda to help fight Lord’s Resistance Army
WASHINGTON — President Obama is deploying about 100 special operations troops to Africa to help target the leadership of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a notorious rebel group that has been entrenched in a stalemate with the government of Uganda for more than two decades.
In a letter notifying Congress on Friday, Obama said the first small team of U.S. “combat-equipped” advisers arrived in Uganda on Wednesday.
Over the next month, the remaining U.S. troops will be sent to surrounding countries, including South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Congo.
The goal of the U.S. mission is to assist regional African forces in removing Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and other commanders of the group “from the battlefield,” the letter says.
Low-lying Thai capital braces for weekend flooding
BANGKOK — Residents of Bangkok braced for possible weekend flooding as the runoff from high water that devastated parts of central Thailand flowed toward the low-lying metropolis, where many downtown buildings were fortified with walls of sandbags.
While the government sought to reassure Bangkok’s 9 million people that the capital would be spared, it also sent sometimes confusing messages that raised anxieties and sent residents on shopping sprees to stockpile food, medicine and other essentials.
The worst floods in a half-century have submerged entire towns across Thailand’s central plains, devastating rice crops and halting hundreds of factories. Some 8.2 million people in 61 of Thailand’s 77 provinces have been affected by the flooding, which has killed 283 people since July.