Obama insistent on consumer post

WASHINGTON - President Obama isn't backing down from demanding that Republicans confirm his pick to head a new consumer watchdog office, saying GOP lawmakers are depriving middle-class Americans of better protection against the kind of deceptive business practices that contributed to the financial meltdown.

Every day that the country must wait for a director of the Consumer Financial Protection Board "is another day that dishonest businesses can target and take advantage of students, seniors, and service members," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address.

Senate Republicans last week blocked Obama's appointment of Richard Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, to lead an agency they said had been given too much power and too little accountability.

Without a director, the office designed to shield consumers from the excesses behind the 2008 financial crisis is unable to operate at full strength. - AP

Reid blasts critics of NRC chairman

WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) defended Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko on Saturday, calling criticism from four other NRC commissioners "a politically motivated witch-hunt."

Reid's defense of Jaczko, one of his former aides, went far beyond statements of praise and included a sharp critique of the four NRC commissioners - including two Democrats.

"It is sad to see those who would place the interests of a single industry over the safety of the American people wage a politically motivated witch-hunt against a man with a proven track record of ensuring that nuclear power is produced as safely and responsibly as possible," Reid's office said in a statement.

The four NRC commissioners said in a letter to the White House they had "grave concerns" about Jaczko. They said his bullying style was "causing serious damage" to the commission and creating a "chilled work environment at the NRC." The letter was written Oct. 13 but was made public late Friday.

- AP

Boston clears out Occupy tent camp

BOSTON - Police swept through Dewey Square early Saturday, tearing down tents at the Occupy Boston encampment and arresting dozens of protesters, bringing a peaceful end to the 10-week demonstration.

Officers began moving into the encampment about 5 a.m. to "ensure compliance with the trespassing law," police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said. The city had set a deadline for midnight Thursday for the protesters to abandon the site, but police took no action until early Saturday, making Boston the latest city where officials have moved to oust protesters.

As police moved in, about two dozen demonstrators linked arms and sat in nonviolent protest and officers soon began arresting them. The protesters were "very accommodating" to the officers, Driscoll said. Forty-six people were arrested on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct, police said. No injuries were reported. - AP