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Occupy movement prepares for Democratic Convention

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hay and grass seed cover the bare spots on the lawn in front of the stately old City Hall where Occupy Charlotte’s camp held its ground for nearly four months. The occupiers are gone now and the protest movement quieted after arrests, a new anti-camping ordinance and, to a degree, the group’s own missteps along the way.

But as the grass begins to take root, so does a resilient Occupy Charlotte. A small group still meets regularly in the city, participating in targeted protests and planning ahead for some critical dates already circled on the calendar: May 9, when the annual Bank of America shareholders meeting is held in Charlotte, and, more important, Sept. 3, when the Democratic National Convention comes to town.

Every four years the political conventions become magnets for mass protests, but this year the Occupy movement has added an unpredictable element to the mix. In Charlotte, the movement has already shown its clout by turning out hundreds of protesters in October to demonstrate against Bank of America and a resulting encampment on the lawn in front of City Hall.

—Viv Bernstein, The New York Times

Norwegian who killed 77 says
he shared in loss

OSLO, Norway — Anders Behring Breivik, the self-described anti-Islamic militant who admitted killing 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage last summer, sought Monday to include himself among the victims, telling a court that he was able to undertake the “gruesome” murders of scores of youths because they were “necessary” and telling bereaved families that he, too, had paid a high price.

Describing how he stalked and executed teenagers attending a political youth camp on the wooded island of Utoya, Breivik, 33, said: “I have never experienced anything so gruesome. It was probably even more horrendous for those I was hunting. But it was necessary. Yes, it was necessary. The July 22 operation was necessary.”

“When people say they have lost their most beloved, I also lost my entire family, I lost my friends,” he also said. “It was my choice. I sacrificed them, but I lost my entire family and friends on 22 July. I lost everything. So to a certain extent, I understand.”

Monday was the last scheduled day of testimony from Breivik, who maintains that he acted out of a dedication to fight political acceptance of the “Islamic colonization of Norway.” The court will now begin to hear from witnesses of the shootings on Utoya, which left 69 people dead, and a bomb blast in central Oslo that killed eight more people.

—Mark Lewis, The New York Times

Mexican immigration to US slowed dramatically, report says

Mexican immigration to the United States, the largest wave of migrants from a single country in the nation’s history, has slowed to a halt after four decades of surging growth and may be declining, according to a report released Monday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

In what the report called a “notable reversal of the historic pattern,” the number of Mexicans leaving rose sharply in the five years after 2005, while the new flow of migrants coming from Mexico into the United States fell steeply.

For the first time in at least two decades, the population of illegal immigrants from Mexico living in this country was significantly decreased, according to the report. In 2011, about 6.1 million Mexicans were living here illegally, down from a peak of nearly seven million in 2007, it said.

“We really haven’t seen anything like this in the last 30 or 40 years,” said Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, who co-wrote the report with D’Vera Cohn and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera.

The center is a nonpartisan research organization in Washington that does not advocate for policy positions.

Overall, the report said, about 58 percent of an estimated 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the United States are from Mexico.

—Julia Preston, The New York Times

Financial outlook dims for
social security

WASHINGTON — The financial health of the Social Security system deteriorated in the past year, while the outlook for Medicare stabilized somewhat, the government said Monday.

The annual report by the trustees for the two federal retirement programs estimated that the Social Security trust funds would be exhausted in 2033, three years earlier than the trustees projected a year ago.

But they left unchanged their estimate that Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund would be exhausted in 2024. That is the same date that was projected a year ago and is five years earlier than was projected two years ago.

The central message of the new report remains the same: The two entitlement programs are unsustainable without structural changes that have so far eluded Congress and the administration.

The two public trustees warned that unless Congress enacts changes, “it will become increasingly difficult to avoid adverse effects on current beneficiaries, those close to retirement and low-income beneficiaries.” There are six trustees: three cabinet officers, the Social Security commissioner and the two public representatives.

Another trustee, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, acknowledging that the new assessments are “somewhat more pessimistic,” said that the funds are adequate “for years to come. But what these reports also reinforce is that we must take steps to keep these programs whole for the future.”

The estimates, a perennial source of political ammunition in the debate over debt, taxation, and spending on entitlement programs, come as Republicans and Democrats are blaming each other for the perilous straits of the retirement programs.

—John H. Cushman Jr. and Robert Pear, The New York Times