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Riot? If I were 20 years younger I would take to the streets

Henry Porter, The Observer (UK)
The riots in Paris and the demonstrations against foreign work forces being used at British oil refineries and a power station seemed to be a presentiment of widespread civil disturbance, especially in this country. We are, after all, only at the beginning of a slump which is predicted by the IMF to hit Britain more seriously than any other developed nation. It will be longer and deeper and we can already see the hardship, the bills accumulating.

… the economic consequences of greed on both sides of the Atlantic … are incalculable. The crime is nearly the equivalent to poisoning of the world’s water supply. If the banking industry and advocates of unregulated market capitalism expect a return to normal service after the slump they are gravely mistaken.

… For the people who are going to pay for the lunatic exuberance of the last decade are not its perpetrators – largely the baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965 – but those born after 1985 and, by the way, several succeeding generations. To put it crudely, my generation has stolen from its children and grandchildren. It is they who will be affected by £20bn per annum shaved off services and for as long as anyone can predict.

… My generation wanted everything – good food, cheap travel, large disposable incomes, luxury and security – and we have had them all, but at a great cost. We knew about climate change a long time ago, yet our government all but ignored it until the Tories made the running. We knew that bankers had not discovered the secret of limitless wealth creation, but we failed to regulate. And now if my children’s generation demonstrates, we will deploy a newly equipped and trained riot police to protect us. You see we have been expecting trouble.
(1 February 2009)

Thousands protest across Russia

Thousands of people have held rallies across Russia protesting against what they describe as the government’s mismanagement of the economy.

The biggest demonstration took place in the eastern city of Vladivostok, where protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

In the capital Moscow, police arrested a number of people at an unauthorised gathering by a radical party.

Meanwhile, government supporters also held their rallies across the country.

Protests on such a large scale were unthinkable just a few months ago as the economy boomed with record high oil prices and as the Kremlin tightened its grip over almost all aspects of society, the BBC’s Richard Galpin in Moscow says.

But now with the economy in deep trouble, there is real fear amongst ordinary people about what the future will hold, he says.

He adds that unemployment is rising rapidly, as are the prices of basic food and utilities.
(1 February 2009)
Just as many politicial-economic systems throughout the world now have a similar character, so the protests have a similar character: resentment against government bailout of financial firms and large corporations, anger at corruption, unemployment and higher prices. -BA

Russia rocked by financial crisis protests (Guardian)
As Economy Sinks, Russians Protest (NY Times)

Greek Farmers Clash With Riot Police

Anthee Carassava, New York Times
Two protesters were injured Monday when Greek riot police clashed with hundreds of farmers from the southern island of Crete who sailed to the Greek port of Pireaus and tried to drive tractors and farm vehicles to the nation’s capital, Athens, to press demands for government financial aid.

The clashes highlighted growing social unrest in Greece. The center-right government of Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis is struggling to restore its credibility after students riots last December. The violence in Greece on Monday follows protests in others parts Europe — most recently in France and Britain — as the global economic crisis bites into jobs and incomes.

…Thousands of farmers have been protesting across Greece since Jan. 20, blockading the country’s main roads and starving the capital of food and medicine as they demand government aid and tax breaks following a harsh winter and a drop in commodity prices.

Most of the blockades eased last week after the government promised a $645 million aid package and Bulgaria’s truckers association vowed to take legal action against Greek authorities for hampering trade.

The Cretan farmers have rejected the package saying it offers too little for their region. Other agricultural groups are keeping a key border crossing with Bulgaria closed, complaining that the government assistance plan provides no long-term solution to their declining income.
(2 February 2009)