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01.25.12

Ice and Fire

It's far below zero and they're miles away from the World Economic Forum, but the Occupy movement is more committed than ever.

The Occupy protest in Davos, known as Occupy WEF, has not drawn the same numbers as the original movement in New York's Zuccotti Park, but it's easy to understand why. It has been snowing for days, and at night temperatures in this mountain hamlet plummet far below zero. These hearty protesters have had no choice but to build igloos and yurts to protect them from the elements. A steady fire is burning to keep the protesters warm. Nearly 50 people gathered on Wednesday, but only half of them planned to spend the night. The security at the entrance to Davos is so tight they can’t get anywhere near the congress center, meaning the elite “1 percent” they are protesting against probably have no idea they are even there. Still, Fabien Molina, head of the Swiss Socialist Youth Party, says it’s worth it. “We are here as the 99 percent because we have to stand up to what the one percent are doing,” he says. “You can tell by the agenda inside that even they are second-guessing their chosen path.” 

Indeed, the topic of Wednesday’s opening panels effectively put capitalism on trial.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel officially opened the meeting Wednesday night with what amounted to a mea culpa. “Let us take a moment to reflect on what lessons we have learned from the global financial and economic crisis. Is what we have learned sufficient?” she asked. “There’s still room for improvement.”

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