Occupy Wall Street Just Part of Global Anxiety
Senior Editor, CNBC
The 'Occupy Wall Street' protests in the U.S. have gained momentum andgotten their share of media coverage in recent days. But economic unrest continues in other parts of the world,as citizens take to the streets to protest what they see as unfair government policies, stemming mostly from the 2008 recession.
Here's a look at the most current events at a time of continuing economic uncertainty around the globe.
Starting on Sept. 17 at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan's Financial District with about 1,500 people, the 'Occupy Wall Street' protests have spread across the U.S.
Cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Boston have seen some sort of protests, and sometimes clashes with police.
Now, Lower Manhattan has hundreds of people sleeping in tents, organizing rallies and marches and getting constant media coverage.
For the most part, what the protesters want is to end the 'inequity' of what they say is special treatment for Wall Street banks and corporations at the expense of the average person.
The movement has attracted its share of off-message participants, with those calling for a free college education for all, and outlawing all credit agencies,and it's unclear who the leaders are—but there seems to be no attempt to end the protests for now. Many 'Occupy' groups say they are making plans to keep protesting through the coming winter months.
Dubbed the "next Greece" because of government spending cuts stemming from the 2008 recession, hundreds of Irish have taken to Dublin and set up camp in front of the Central Bank of Ireland. With banners saying, "Occupy Dublin", and inspired by events in the U.S., the protesters are railing against proposed austerity measures like cuts in health care, pensions, and the bailing out of Irish banks by the government.
The country continues to see protests in the streets over austerity plans. Greece is fighting through a deep recession and a mountain of public debt expected to reach 162 percent of GDP this year.
Greek tax inspectors will go on strike next weekto protest against planned wage and pension cuts. This is a threat to revenue collection efforts that are already falling behind budget targets imposed by international lenders.
Much of Greece is expected to be shut down by a general strike on Oct. 19.
London is going to have its own 'Occupy" protests gearing up this coming weekend.
Earlier this month, some 30,000 people took to the streets of Manchester on Oct. 2, to protest against austerity cuts to public services and pensions. Manchester was the host for the ruling Conservative party's annual conference for 2011. Protesters as varied as students and retirees carried banners reading “Unite and Fight.”
In a message to demonstrators, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the previous government had lied to the population about the state of the country’s economy.
Several British cities have seen protests in the thousands during the last few months against the government's austerity measures. In August, more than 2,700 people were arrested after destruction and looting spread from the capital to other cities in Great Britain.
Three years after the financial collapse brought down Iceland's banking system, protesters are still angry over government austerity measures. Some 4,000 people turned out in front of the parliament building last weekend to throw eggs and yogurt at the country's prime minister.
The protesters included fathers and mothers who say they are unable to pay off their mountains of debt since Iceland became the first European country to effectively go bankrupt, in October 2008. They claim most bailout money went to banks instead of ordinary citizens.
Many middle-class homeowners have been taking to the streets across the country in the last few months, and the protests continue.
A 77-year-old retired doctor recently stripped naked on the steps of the local courthouse over the demolition of her property in a booming Shanghai neighborhood to make room for new high rises.
Other protesters around the country, like farmers, want a stop to confiscation of their land or to get better compensation for lost property. People are also protesting for cleaner air and water and safer food. Truck drivers and taxi drivers say they want relief from soaring fuel prices.
Many of the new protesters are said to be homeowners or middle-class professionals, and protests have taken place in places like Beijing and other major cities along with some in the countryside. The seaport of Dalian saw 20,000 protestors.
Protests there have been a weekly occurrence according to reports. College students have been protesting against higher tuition costs. Many are on strike against the rising costs, refusing to attend classes. The costs are part of austerity measures by the government.
Students and teachers by the hundreds have taken to the streets of Buenos Aires in protest against the government's move to privatize the country's education system. Many teachers participated in a 24-hour strike last week and organized a massive rally in the capital city, saying privatization would hurt the country's young people.
Hundreds of mine workers at a Freeport-owned and operated mine in the West Papua area have been protesting low wages. Police opened fire on the protesters this past Monday, killing one man. Local Papuan miners receive $1.50 per hour in wages.
Dozens more are reported dead in ongoing protests throughout the country against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.The U.N. says that some 2,900 people have been killed after seven months of protests.
Adding to the country's problems are unilateral U.S. and European Union economic sanctionswhich appear to be hurting Syria's economy. More sanctions against the Syrian government are reportedly to come in the next few weeks.