Occupy Wall Street protest drawing celebrity power

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US actor Alec Baldwin, pictured here on 6 October, 2011, was the latest celebrity to visit the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, and he urged them to find some goals. Photo - France 24

Popular US actor Alec Baldwin is the latest celebrity to visit the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, where he urged protesters to find some goals.

“OWS needs to coalesce around some legislative policy. The ‘occupy’ strategy may be an effective one. But what can each entity agree on?” the “30-Rock” star asked on his Twitter page, soon after his two-hour long visit to Manhattan.

Baldwin’s support comes the same night when feminist author and activist Naomi Wolf was taken into police custody during protests outside Skylight Studio in Manhattan.

The developments points to the continuous popularity and support the movement is receiving since the beginning. In the past actress Susan Sarandon and music mogul Russell Simmons have expressed their solidarity via Twitter while filmmaker Michael Moore has met with the protesters.

However, the movement also gathered criticism from politicians who have characterised it as counterproductive, jumbled and misguided. Former Godfather’s Pizza executive Herman Cain did not back off from his earlier criticism of the movement. “I still stand by my statement and here’s why,” Cain said. “They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they’re directing their anger at the wrong place. Wall Street didn’t put in failed economic policies. They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration.”

Texas Rep. Ron Paul had a different view of the protests. He said: “I think Mr. Cain has blamed the victims.” He added, “There’s a lot of people that are victims of this business cycle. We can’t blame the victims. I’d go to Washington as well as Wall Street.”

Others have given their support and said the protesters are voicing legitimate and widespread frustrations regarding the current economic and political situation.

President Obama, who has been a target of the protestors, said in an interview with ABC News that his vision for the US economic system is best suited to resolve protesters concerns. He said, I understand the frustrations being expressed in those protests. In some ways, theyre not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party. Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions arent looking out for them, the US President said.

Obama acknowledged that the frustration is directed at him because of the administrations failure to create employment opportunities and economic growth. Obama also expressed solidarity with the protesters and promised to redouble his commitment to achieving what he described as a more egalitarian society. The most important thing we can do right now is those of us in leadership letting people know that we understand their struggles and we are on their side, and that we want to set up a system in which hard work, responsibility, doing what youre supposed to do, is rewarded.

US President Barack Obama, has tried to channel many of the grievances of Occupy Wall Street movement in a series of recent hard-edged speeches around the country, blamingeconomic inequity, tax breaks to the wealthy and measures taken by corporations and banks that help them profit from hidden consumer fees.

Ironically, the president also oversaw a bailout of these very banks, appointed Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary, who is viewed by the protesters as a shill for Wall Street and spearheaded reforms of the financial industry that Occupy Wall Street movement labels as shameful and conducive to corporate excesses and greed.

Theres a lot of discontent with Obamas policies, said Kevin Zeese, an organizer of the protest, which drew about 500 people. Obama is out of touch. Hes busy going around the country raising $1 billion to run for re-election.

Sources: CNN, NY Times

(By Suneethi Raja; Additional reporting and editing by Moign Khawaja)

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