Saturday, October 15, 2011

OWS Wants Economic Equality and Real Democracy -- Oh, and Free Tibet

Occupy Wall Street went global early this morning and organizers hope for non-violent demonstrations in 950 cities in 85 countries, not the "more than a thousand countries" claimed by Diane Sawyer of ABC Small World Tonight News. How many cities, countries, and people will actually participate over the weekend is anyone's guess, however.

MSNBC is reporting early Saturday morn -
In Sydney, about 2,000 people, including representatives of Aboriginal groups, communists and trade unionists, protested outside the central Reserve Bank of Australia.

"I think people want real democracy," said Nick Carson, a spokesman for OccupyMelbourne.Org. "They don't want corporate influence over their politicians. They want their politicians to be accountable."

The crowd cheered a speaker who shouted, "We're sick of corporate greed! Big banks, big corporate power standing over us and taking away our rights!"

In Tokyo, where the ongoing nuclear crisis dominates public concerns, about 200 people joined the global protests Saturday.

Under the light drizzle, the participants marched outside the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the tsunami-hit Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, chanting anti-nuclear slogans, while opposing the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade bloc that Japan is considering joining.

"No to nuclear power," the marchers chanted as they held up banners.

In Taiwan, over 100 people gathered at the Taipei 101 skyscraper, home to the stock exchange, chanting "we are Taiwan's 99 percent", saying economic growth had only benefited companies while middle-class salaries barely covered soaring housing, education and healthcare costs.

They found support from a top businessmen, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp Chairman Morris Chang, who told reporters in the northern city of Hsinchu that Taiwan's income gap was a serious issue.

"I've been against the gap between rich and poor," Chang said. "The wealth of the top 1 percent has increased very fast in the past 20, 30 years. 'Occupy Wall Street' is a reaction to that. We have to take the issue seriously..."

In Manila, about 100 members of various groups under the Philippine left-wing alliance, Bayan, marched on the U.S. Embassy Saturday morning to express support for the Occupy Wall Street protests in the United States and to denounce "U.S. imperialism" and U.S.-led wars and aggression.

They carried a large banner that said, "Resist imperialist plunder, state repression and wars of aggression," and another expressing "Solidarity action for Occupy Wall Street."

They also chanted "U.S. troops, out now!" in reference to the presence of hundreds of U.S. soldiers, mostly in the southern Philippines, involved in anti-terrorism training of Filipino troops. One man carried a placard saying "Genuine people's democracy lives in the streets."

In South Korea, activists began gathering on the streets of Seoul.

The Korea Herald newspaper reported that a coalition of 30 local civic groups planned to hold a two-day protest in the main financial district of Yeouido and other parts of the capital.

"The situation is the same in South Korea (as the U.S.), where the financial institutions have speculated to earn high profits in a short time, creating victims," the coalition said in a statement, the Herald reported.

The protesters want compensation for people who lost money in the banking crisis.

Seoul police warned that damaging public facilities, occupying roads and assaulting police officers would not be tolerated, the Herald said.

Protesters in London vowed to occupy the London Stock Exchange Saturday. Nights of rioting rocked the British capital in August after the fatal police shooting of a 29-year-old man.

"We have people from all walks of life joining us every day," said Spyro, one of those behind a Facebook page in London which has grown to some 12,000 followers in a few weeks.

Spyro, a 28-year-old who has a well-paid job and did not want to give his full name, summed up the main target of the global protests as "the financial system."

Rome is girding for major protests by demonstrators known as the "indignati."

Italian TV reports from Milan on Friday showed about 20 young people trying unsuccessfully to enter a building where Goldman Sachs has an office, and spraying red paint on the entrance.

In Germany, where sympathy for southern Europe's debt troubles is patchy, the financial center of Frankfurt and the European Central Bank in particular are expected to be a focus of marches called by the Real Democracy Now movement.

In Canada, protests were planned for Saturday in cities including Montreal and Vancouver. In Toronto, demonstrators plan to gather at Canada's main stock exchange.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he doubted Canadians would be as angry as their neighbors to the south as Canadian banks have not received a U.S.-type bailout.
From CNN -
United for Global Change -- the central site for the international movement -- said 951 cities in 82 countries will take part in the rallies.

In Japan, about 200 people marched through Tokyo carrying various signs, including "No More Nukes and "Free Tibet." The crowd included children jumping and skipping behind the adults.

Australian cities of Melbourne and Sydney joined rallies against "corporate greed" as protesters aligned themselves with the global movement.

"Our protests are to show our solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and also protest various problems -- from indigenous issues in this country to government problems," said Alex Gard, one of the Melbourne organizers. "We know we have it better than the protesters in the States ... but there are still problems in this country."

Organizers urged protesters to bring sleeping bags and other soft items to sleep on.

In South Korea, Arthur Fragoso rallied with a small group outside a bank in Seoul. He said his protest is a solidarity move with the Occupy movement and not a reflection of any discontent against his government.

"We are protesting mostly for economic issues worldwide," he said.

[I]n the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, about two dozen people -- some wearing masks -- gathered near the U.S. Embassy.

"We wanted to show that the American regime, its system of imperialism needs to be destroyed," said Rudi Daman, leader of the International League of Peoples' Struggle.

Protests were planned in other countries, including major cities in Kenya, South Africa, Britain, France, Russia, Mexico and Venezuela.
The impetus for protest was wearing out according to some analysts, especially in the protest's countries of origin - Greece and Spain. The austerity measures have caused despair, slashed wages and pensions, and created hundreds of thousands of unemployed, the momentum for sustained action dwindled. University of Piraeus Professor Mary Bossis told Michel Rose of Reuters, "More people agree with these protests than actually take part. ...There is anger, there is rage ... but what it takes to overturn the current situation is missing."

We can jeer and mock and analyze 'til the cows come home, but we cannot deny that people all over the world are dissatisfied with their lot and are wanting something different; what that "different" should be is still very nebulous. The one idea the disparate groups do agree upon is, "Enough is enough." The demonstrations are far flung and scant in participation, yet there is an undercurrent that may, and probably will, carry society's flotsam for a considerable time, perhaps rendering some fragile countries to tatters.

The ultimate danger inherent in any movement the wishes for revolutionary type change is that they may just end up getting what was wished for and regret it without the do-over option.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

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