From: "Macdonald Stainsby" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject: [R-G] World Economic Forum to Open This Week
AP. 27 January 2002. World Economic Forum to Open This Week in New York.
NEW YORK -- When the World Economic Forum opens this week, the largest
gathering of political and business leaders since Sept. 11 will address
a world newly beset by insecurity, conflict and recession.
The economic talks are being held in New York instead of the quiet Swiss
ski resort of Davos, where the forum has been held for 31 years.
Normally little is decided by forum attendees, who swap business ideas,
hobnob and party.
But as the annual meeting starts Thursday, its 3,000 global leaders - as
well as the anti-globalization, anti-war and other protesters on the
streets - are seeking relevance in a world profoundly altered by the
terror attacks on New York and Washington.
Since then, the world has slipped into recession, tolerance for
terrorism has plunged and trust in business has been shaken by the
collapse of U.S. energy giant Enron.
In early November, organizers moved the conference from Davos to the
Waldorf-Astoria hotel partly to "show solidarity with New York in the
wake of Sept. 11," forum spokesman Charles McLean said.
Forum organizers threw off former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay, a regular
participant, as his company collapsed amid allegations it cooked its
books and bought political influence.
Nonbusiness groups like Amnesty International want to build support for
an agenda that tries to balance human rights with the crackdown on
Greenpeace decided to boycott the event after it was barred from a panel
on the automotive industry, which it has accused of dragging feet on
cutting emissions harmful to the environment.
President Bush won't attend because of scheduling conflicts, but up to
eight Cabinet members are coming, including Secretary of State Colin
Powell, said McLean, the forum spokesman.
Afghanistan leader Hamid Karzai is set to give opening remarks Thursday.
While the five-day forum includes dozens of panels, workshops and
speeches, many discussions among business and government leaders occur
behind the scenes, in coffee shops and bars away from the public eye.
It's such behind-the-scenes networking that riles opponents of global
capitalism, who plan marches to bring to the fore their contentions that
cozy economic institutions are widening the gap between rich and poor.
"The WEF is a living symbol of political and business leaders scratching
each others' backs, proclaiming that they're meeting to solve the
world's problems while in reality they're looking for ways to enrich
each other," said Eric Laursen of Another World is Possible, a coalition
of anti-globalization groups that plans a march to the Waldorf-Astoria
in the city's first mass demonstration since Sept. 11.
Drawing from 40,000 police officers, New York authorities are ready to
use crowd control tactics on unruly demonstrators honed during practice
sessions earlier this month at Shea Stadium.
In the contradiction lies the hope.
P.O. Box 66
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