Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wall Street sit-in goes global Saturday

For an October revolution, dress warm. That's the word going out - politely - on the Web to rally street protests on Saturday around the globe from New Zealand to Alaska via London, Frankfurt, Washington and, of course, New York, where the past month's Occupy Wall Street movement has inspired a worldwide yell of anger at banks and financiers.

How many will show up, let alone stay to camp out to disrupt city centers for days, or months, to come, is anyone's guess. The hundreds at Manhattan's Zuccotti Park were calling for back-up on Friday, fearing imminent eviction. Rome expects tens of thousands at a national protest of more traditional stamp.

Few other police forces expect more than a few thousand to turn out on the day for what is billed as an exercise in social media-spread, Arab Spring-inspired, grassroots democracy with an emphasis on peaceful, homespun debate, as seen among Madrid's "indignados" in June or at the current Wall Street park sit-in.

Blogs and Facebook pages devoted to "October 15" - #O15 on Twitter - abound with exhortations to keep the peace, bring an open mind, a sleeping bag, food and warm clothing; in Britain, "Occupy London Stock Exchange" is at pains to stress it does not plan to actually, well, occupy the stock exchange.

That may turn off those with a taste for the kind of anarchic violence seen in London in August, at anti-capitalism protests of the past decade and at some rallies against spending cuts in Europe this year. But, as Karlin Younger of consultancy Control Risks said: "When there's a protest by an organization that's very grassroots, you can't be sure who will show up."

Concrete demands are few from those who proclaim "We are the 99 percent," other than a general sense that the other 1 percent - the "greedy and corrupt" rich, and especially banks - should pay more, and that elected governments are not listening.

"It's time for us to unite; it's time for them to listen; people of the world, rise up!" proclaims the Web site United for #GlobalChange. "We are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers who do not represent us ... We will peacefully demonstrate, talk and organize until we make it happen."

By doing so peacefully, many hope for a wider political impact, by amplifying the chord their ideas strike with millions of voters in wealthy countries who feel ever more squeezed by the global financial crisis while the rich seem to get richer.

"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 have some 12,000 followers in a few weeks, enthused by Occupy Wall Street. Some 5,000 have posted that they will turn out, though even some activists expect fewer will.

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

Angry at taxpayer bailouts of banks since crisis hit in 2008 and at big bonuses still paid to some who work in them while unemployment blights the lives of many young Britons, he said: "People all over the world, we are saying 'Enough is enough'."

What the remedy would be, Spyro said, was not for him to say but should emerge from public debate - a common theme for those camping out off Wall Street since mid-September, who have stirred up U.S. political debate and, a Reuters poll found, won sympathy from over a third of Americans.

A suggestions log posted at ("This space is ready for YOUR idea for the revolution") range from a mass cutting up of credit cards ("hit the banks where it counts") to "use technology to make education free."

For all such utopianism, the possibility that peaceful mass action, helped by new technologies, can bring real change has been reinforced by the success of Arab uprisings this year.

"I've been waiting for this protest for a long time, since 2008," said Daniel Schreiber, 28, an editor in Berlin. "I was always wondering why people aren't outraged and why nothing has happened and finally, three years later, it's happening."

Quite what is happening, though, is hard to say. The biggest turnouts are expected where local conditions are most acute.

Italian police are preparing for tens of thousands to march in Rome against austerity measures planned by the beleaguered government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Yet in crisis-ravaged Athens, where big protests have seen violence at times of late, a sense of fatigue and futility may limit numbers on Saturday. In Madrid, where thousands of young "indignados," or "angry ones," camped out for weeks, many also feel the movement has run out of steam since the summer.

Germans, where sympathy for southern Europe's debt troubles is patchy, the financial center of Frankfurt, and the European Central Bank in particular, is expected to be a focus of marches calling by the Spanish-inspired Real Democracy Now movement.

Complicating German sentiments, however, a series of small bombs found on trains has stirred memories of the left-wing guerrilla attacks that grew in the 1970s from frustration at a lack of change after the student protests of 1968.


British student protests a year ago were marked by some acts of violence by what authorities say were hard-core anarchists. Days of looting in London in August were put down to motives that mingled political discontent with criminal opportunism.

As an international center of finance, the City of London is key target. But organizers know strong police powers make setting up a Wall Street-style protest camp there far from easy.

"There's quite a bit of fatigue setting in," said one young veteran of last year's protests against higher university fees. "But if it's still going by Monday or Tuesday, I think that will excite students and they will head down. The City is much more the focus of people's anger now, compared to a year ago."

A long Saturday of rallies may start in New Zealand, where the Occupy Auckland Facebook page provides links recommending "suitable clothing ... a sleeping bag, a tent, food" -- but, in a family-friendly spirit, strictly no drugs or alcohol.

Asian authorities and businesses may have less to fear, since most of their economies are still growing strongly.

Tracking across the time zones, through towns large and small ("Occupy Norwich!" reads a website from the picturesque English city), the New York example has also prompted calls for similar occupations in dozens of U.S. cities from Saturday.

In Houston, protesters plan to tap into anger at big oil companies. As the world's day ends, hardy souls will be marching in Fairbanks. "We will be obeying traffic lights," insist the authors of, and they "will be dressed warm."

History suggests such actions are unlikely, of themselves, to change the world. As one anonymous poster at writes, "Fleshing out ideas into living reality has always been the bugbear of radical politics." And while anger at corporate greed is widespread, there are plenty of voters who would agree with the Australian who posted on the OccupySydney site that those marching will be "the lazy, the paranoid, the confused."

But some analysts do see a potential for political change.

Jeff Madrick, a prominent economics writer, speaks warmly of the serious and reasonable debate he found at Zuccotti Park. Revolutions may be rare, but the protests could push lawmakers to act on some of the demands, he said last week: "It may begin to change public opinion enough to give Congress, people in Washington, the courage of their own convictions."

Punjab leads in crimes against women

The Punjab left far behind the other provinces in incidents of violence against women as the highest number of rape cases have been reported in the province, National Assembly was informed on Thursday.

On a calling attention notice moved by MNA Yasmeen Rahman, Advisor to Prime Minister on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar told the house that in year 2010, 2,581 rape cases were reported in Punjab followed by Sindh with 290 and Balochistan 33.

‘No rape case was reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the year under review’, Khokhar said. However hastened to add that this might be due to cultural restrictions in the KPK society of not registering these cases.

Advisor to premier pointed out that Punjab also recorded highest number of murder cases in 2010 as 6,242 murder were reported in the province whereas number of reported murder cases came to 3,290 in Sindh, 2,501 in KPK and Balochistan 54.

Advisor further revealed that cases of abduction and kidnapping for ransom incidents were also highest in the Punjab, however he didn’t provide the data of these crimes.

Khokhar maintained that government is fully cognizant of the situation viz-a-viz the human rights situation but deplored that provinces have failed to play their due role to check the violation of human rights and women rights.

He particularly focused on Punjab, which he blamed of having worst track record of dealing with the human right issues and curb the incidents of violence.

Advisor said that joint efforts are needed to tackle the growing tendencies of militancy when Yasmeen Rahman diverted the attention of the house towards Rawalpindi incident where a brigade of militant people attacked a girl’s school.

Khokhar also identified the flaws in the investigation procedure conducted by Police in these crimes. He also laid National Commission for women Bill 2011 in the house to set up national commission for women.

PML-N govt’s actions bankrupted country in 1999, claims APML

All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) has claimed that PML-N government actions in 1999 drifting the country to a bankruptcy, which compelled Pervez Musharraf to intervene to save the country from complete destruction.
Fawad Chaudhary, APML general secretary made this claim while talking to Musharraf loyalists at party office after chairing a meeting on Wednesday.
He further claimed that Pervez Musharraf restored country’s economy and generated a lot economic activity through his wise and efficient team taking reign of power from PML-N.
Fawad maintained that fragile economy, deteriorating law and order and power outages have become hallmark of PPP-led ruling coalition since Musharraf left his office in 2008.
He alleged that PML-N regime in 1999 was the worst example of civil-dictatorship, which damaged the basic fabric of democratic values in the country. He while saying that German Nazi dictator Hitler also assumed power through public vote alleged that Nawaz Sharif has the same mindset and he led the country in the marsh of crises through his autocratic trends.
APML activists Imran Shamsi, Mubassar Ahmed, Saad Malik, AbdullAh Sardar, Waris Khokar, Jalal Zaidi, Rida Zehra, Shahida Naseer and Arifa Irfan attended the meeting.

Afghan police break up politician's hunger strike

Afghan police have taken a woman politician to hospital and dismantled the tent where she observed a 12-day hunger strike to protest against being disqualified from parliament, officials said Friday.

Semin Barakzai, a 30-year-old mother of three and one of nine MPs expelled from the national assembly over vote-rigging claims, had refused to eat until she is reinstated to her parliamentary seat or her case is re-investigated.

But there had been growing concerns for her health even as a woman MP and four students joined Barakzai in her hunger strike on Wednesday.

"Afghan police forces last night removed the tent of the ousted lawmaker from parliament, Semin Barakzai, to call off her strike," Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai told AFP.

Barakzai was taken to hospital by ambulance late Thursday and was in a stable condition, added the spokesman.

Hunger strikes, particularly by women, are unusual in Afghanistan, a deeply conservative male-dominated society.

Police went into her tent unarmed and asked Barakzai to go to the hospital, before removing the tent "without facing any negative response from Barakzai and her relatives", Stanikzai added.

Neither Barakzai nor her relatives were immediately reachable for comment.

She and eight other members of the Wolesi Jirga were kicked out by the Independent Election Commission last August in an attempt to resolve nearly a year of disputes over widespread graft in September 2010 parliamentary polls.

The powerful council of Afghanistan's Islamic clerics issued a fatwa saying that rejecting food was against Islam.

Fazil Ahmad Manawi, the head of the Independent Election Commission also called on Barakzai to end the hunger strike, saying the body was not authorised to return her to the parliament.

Occupy Wall St protests spread to Asia Pacific

Wall Street protesters thwart eviction attempt

Anti-Wall Street protesters exulted Friday after beating back a plan to clear them from the park they have occupied for the past month, saying the victory will embolden the movement across the U.S. and beyond.

"We are going to piggy-back off the success of today, and it's going to be bigger than we ever imagined," said protester Daniel Zetah.

The showdown in New York came as tensions were rising in several U.S. cities over the spreading protests, with several arrests and scattered clashes between demonstrators and police.

The owners of Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan had announced plans to temporarily evict the hundreds of protesters at 7 a.m. Friday so that the grounds could be power-washed. But the protesters feared it was a pretext to break up the demonstration, and they vowed to stand their ground, raising the prospect of clashes with police.

Just minutes before the appointed hour, the word came down that the park's owners, Brookfield Office Properties, had postponed the cleanup. A boisterous cheer went up among the demonstrators, whose numbers had swelled to about 2,000 before daybreak in response to a call for help in fending off the police.

In a statement, Brookfield said it decided to delay the cleaning "for a short period of time" at the request of "a number of local political leaders." It gave no details.

State Sen. Daniel Squadron, a Democrat who represents lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, said he had conversations late into the night urging Brookfield's CEO to wait.

"The stakeholders must come together to find a solution that respects the protesters' fundamental rights, while addressing the legitimate quality-of-life concerns in this growing residential neighborhood," Squadron said in a statement.

Brookfield said it would negotiate with protesters about how the park may be used. But it was unclear when those discussions would occur.

Over the past month, the protest against corporate greed and economic inequality has spread to cities across the U.S. and around the world. Several demonstrations are planned this weekend in the U.S., Canada and Europe, as well as in Asia and Africa.

In Denver, police in riot gear herded hundreds of protesters away from the Colorado state Capitol early Friday, arresting about two dozen people and dismantling their encampment. In Trenton, N.J., protesters were ordered to remove tents near a war memorial. San Diego police used pepper spray to break up a human chain formed around a tent by anti-Wall Street demonstrators.

In New York City, police arrested 15 people, including protesters who obstructed traffic by standing or sitting in the street and others who turned over trash baskets and hurled bottles. A deputy inspector was sprayed in the face with an unknown liquid.

In one case, an observer with the National Lawyers Guild who was marching with the group refused to move off the street for police, and the tip of his foot was run over by an officer's scooter. He fell to the ground screaming and writhing and kicked over the scooter before police flipped him over and arrested him.

And a video posted online showed a police officer punching a protester in the side of the head on a crowded street. Police said the altercation occurred after the man tried to elbow the officer in the face and other people in the crowd jumped on the officer, who was sprayed with a liquid coming from the man's direction. Police said the man, who escaped and was wanted for attempted assault on an officer, later said in an online interview he's HIV positive and the officer should be tested medically.

A man who identified himself as the protester, Felix Rivera-Pitre, said in a statement posted online that he didn't provoke the officer. "I was just doing what everyone else was doing in the march," he said. "It felt like he was taking his frustrations out on me."

Organizers in Des Moines, Iowa, accepted an offer Friday night from the mayor to move from the state Capitol where they were prohibited from staying overnight to a city park blocks away, averting a possible showdown.

Though the park in New York is privately owned, it is required to be open to the public 24 hours per day.

Brookfield, a publicly traded real estate firm, had announced plans to power-wash the plaza section by section over 12 hours and then allow the protesters to return. But it said it would begin enforcing the park's rules against tents, tarps and sleeping bags, complaining the grounds had become unsanitary and unsafe.

The New York Police Department had said it would make arrests if Brookfield requested it and laws were broken.

As the morning deadline drew near, some protesters rushed to scrub and sweep the park and pick up trash in hopes of preventing a crackdown.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose girlfriend is on Brookfield's board of directors, said his staff was under strict orders not to pressure the company one way or the other. He noted that Brookfield can still go ahead with the cleanup at some point.

"My understanding is that Brookfield got lots of calls from many elected officials threatening them and saying, ... 'We're going to make your life more difficult,'" he said on his weekly radio show.

In Philadelphia, protester Matt Monk, a freelance writer, was cheered by the news out of New York.

"That means at the very least, the powers-that-be, wherever they are, know that they have to contend with us in a less heavy-handed way," he said.