Flag burning at Occupy protest rekindles debate

Posted Jan. 30, 2012, at 8:33 p.m.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Many in the crowd outside Oakland City Hall shouted “Burn it! Burn it!” as masked protesters readied to set fire to an American flag. That’s when a woman emerged from the scrum, screaming for them to stop, that it would hurt the cause.

Moments later, the flames began, and suddenly the Occupy movement was back in the spotlight, this time for an act of protest that has long divided the nation and now the movement itself.

The images of the flag-burning went viral in the hours after Saturday’s demonstrations on Oakland’s streets, with Occupy supporters denouncing the act as unpatriotic and a black mark on the movement. Others called it justified.

The flag-burning, however, raised questions about whether the act will tarnish a movement of largely peaceful protests and alienate people who agree with its message against corporate excess and economic inequality.

Dentist who used paper clips gets year in jail

FALL RIVER, Mass. — A former Massachusetts dentist was sentenced to one year in jail Monday for using paper clips instead of stainless steel posts in root canals.

Dr. Michael Clair, 53, pleaded guilty earlier this month to a list of charges, including assault and battery, defrauding Medicaid of $130,000, illegally prescribing medications and witness intimidation.

Prosecutors said Clair sometimes used sections of paper clips when performing root canals in an effort to save money. Some of his patients reported infections and other problems.

Brenda Almeida said her teenage son’s tooth turned black and had to be removed after Clair performed a root canal on him in 2005. She said Clair also performed shoddy dental work on her other two children.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said Clair billed the Medicaid program for the costs of stainless steel posts and submitted false claims using other dentists’ provider numbers.

Clair’s license to practice dentistry was suspended in Massachusetts in 2006. He now lives in Crofton, Md.

Ill. nuclear reactor loses power, venting steam

BYRON, Ill. — Officials at a northern Illinois nuclear power plant believe a failed piece of equipment at a switchyard caused it to shut down.

Unit 2 at Byron Generating Station shut down around 10:18 a.m. Monday after losing power. Generators began supplying power to the plant. Operators began releasing steam to reduce pressure, though not from within the nuclear reactor.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has declared it an “unusual event,” the lowest of its four emergency classifications.

Officials say the steam contains low levels of tritium, a radioactive for of hydrogen.

The plant is about 95 miles northwest of Chicago.

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