As Italian pensioners prepare to cop the brunt of bank foolhardiness, one minister has found it all too much. Italy’s welfare minister, Elsa Fornero, was delivering news of cuts to pensions at a press conference announcing a $30 billion austerity program when – on the cusp of uttering the word ‘sacrifice’ – she began to weep, cutting the press conference short. Fornero is part of a team of technocrats who deposed Italy’s democratically elected government to discipline Italian government spending. The move was part of a plan devised primarily by France and Germany to save the common European currency and, by extension, major French and German banks. These banks hold much of the debt held by southern European governments in crisis, such as Greece and Italy.
Pensioners being impoverished to pay for bankers' mistakes is precisely the kind of paradox that has triggered Occupy protests around the globe. There’s been a glut of excellent coverage of the debate, which we’ve visited a few times. Since then, we’ve enjoyed The New Yorker’s profile of Kalle Lasn and Micah White, two key figures behind Adbusters magazine and the Occupy movement, while Business Week profiled another key occupier, anarchist anthropologist David Graeber.
Two giants of the comic book world are publicly feuding over Occupy. Sin City creator Frank Miller has dubbed the movement “garbage” while Alan Moore, of V for Vendetta fame, sees it as “just ordinary people reclaiming rights which should always have been theirs”. The Guy Fawkes-like masks he devised with artist David Lloyd for the Vendetta series have been co-opted by Occupy protesters and Anonymous hackers alike – and Moore doesn’t mind a bit. “It turns protests into performances,” he recently told The Guardian. “The mask is very operatic; it creates a sense of romance and drama.”
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury has tied himself in knots trying to devise a theological argument for ending the Occupy London protest, which is encamped on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of London’s financial district. In an article published in the Radio Times, Rowan Williams has written that Jesus wouldn’t necessarily have been on the side of the Occupy protesters. The Australian reports that Williams answers the question, ‘What would Jesus do?’ with, “He would first of all be there: sharing the risks, asking the long and hard questions. Not just taking sides but steadily changing the entire atmosphere by the questions he asks of everybody involved, rich and poor, capitalist and protester and cleric.” So Williams' Jesus – the same Jesus who mumbled some gobbledegook about camels and needles – is a Jesus who doesn’t take a fixed position on wealth inequality but instead asks lots of people lots of interesting questions. Perhaps then a modern-day Jesus would be a journalist rather than a carpenter, in which case he would be joining a long line of media pundits who suffer from a Messiah complex.
This is precisely not the kind of journalist that Amanda Hoh describes in her report on The Age’s website on citizen journalism in Egypt. Mostafa Bahgat is a young Egyptian videographer whose footage takes realism to new extremes. Warning: this footage is not for the feint of heart, nor for anyone who believes journalism should always represent both sides of an issue.
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