WASHINGTON - More than five dozen protesters upset about what they call corporate greed and the excessive influence of money in politics were arrested Wednesday after shutting down K Street, home to many influential lobbying firms, in a mass demonstration that snarled midday traffic in Washington.
The arrests came as demonstrators from across the country converged on K Street for a march that encompassed participants from Occupy Wall Street encampments as well as other groups - including unions - sympathetic to their message about income inequality. Most of the arrests were for obstructing a public highway, police said.
March organizers said they expected several thousand people in Washington this week for days of activism, including a Thursday vigil for the jobless. - AP
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A longtime activist for the disputed Kashmir territory who funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to members of Congress admitted Wednesday that he secretly received millions of dollars from Pakistan's spy service in violation of federal law.
Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, 62, of Fairfax, executive director of the Washington-based Kashmiri American Council, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiracy and to impeding the IRS. Fai, a U.S. citizen of Kashmiri origin, admitted using straw donors to receive more than $3.5 million from Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, starting in the 1990s. Fai used that money to fund his council's lobbying efforts with Congress.
But Fai maintained that his lobbying efforts were his own and that his actions and efforts were not dictated by the ISI. After his July arrest, several members of Congress who received contributions from Fai said they would donate the money to charity. Fai is free on bond pending a March 9 sentencing. He faces up to eight years in prison. - AP
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A teacher who accepts a Christmas ham or a $25 gift card from a student is breaking Alabama's ethics law. The possible penalty? Up to a year in jail and a $6,000 fine for the teacher.
The law, which took effect earlier this year, limits what public officials and employees can receive as gifts to a "de minimis" value, but it doesn't define that amount. With most schools about to get out for the holidays, the State Ethics Commission has been flooded with calls about what students can give.
"Our teachers are being forced to make a decision between breaking the law or breaking a child's heart," said Amy O'Neal, an elementary school teacher. The commission said Wednesday that "hams, turkeys, or gift cards with a specific monetary value are not permissible." Items of nominal value, such as homemade cookies and coffee mugs, are acceptable. - AP