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M1: First Arrests And Meditation In Washington, DC

by Dada Maheshvarananda

Yesterday morning traffic stopped for 45 minutes in front of the World Bank building when activists parked a rented van in front of the building, stood on top and with a loudspeaker began detailing the exploitation that the institution is doing. Two activists chained themselves to the vehicle's axles, thus preventing police from removing the vehicle until they could bring powerful tools to cut them free.

Beka Economopolous, with, John Passacantando, executive director of Ozone Action, and Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth were arrested for leading a protest rally from the top of the van that included 70 other activists. Two more were arrested for trying to scale the building and unfurl a protest banner.

This action was a preview of a week of protests and demonstrations against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund that will intensify on Sunday, April 16 and Monday, April 17 during the annual meetings of both economic institutions that include the central bank heads of 25 countries.

Hundreds of protesters are arriving daily from every part of the country, Canada and Europe to participate. Thousands more are expected this weekend. In addition to a legal, permitted demonstration on the National Mall on Sunday morning at 11AM, direct action protesters will begin at 6:00AM from three different parks to try their best to stop the global economic meetings from happening.

Their tactics are fluid: "affinity groups" and "flying squads" will fan out, each with different designated sections of the city aiming towards the location of the two targetted buildings. Observers with mobile phones and bicycle couriers will constantly relay information as to where the police are stationed and which streets are open.

The police have invested a million dollars in riot equipment. They have also prepared a sports stadium to handle very large numbers of protesters who may be arrested.

There is tremendous excitement amongst the activists. "Seeds for Life" is a group of volunteers who are cooking free food for everyone. Dozens of huge puppets are being prepared to educate the public and create a festive atmosphere of a street celebration during the direct action protests.

A preemptive victory was won by Global Exchange, one of nearly four hundred organizations endorsing the protests. To end growing protest demonstrations and boycott, Starbucks, the most popular chain of coffee restaurants in the U.S., has agreed to sell only "fair trade" coffee. Sealed by the nonprofit organization TransFair USA, the coffee is certified that it is grown under safe working conditions and sold directly to retailers. In this way middlemen, who charge up to 80 percent of the retail price, are avoided and fair prices are paid to the actual farmers and cooperatives.

To help keep the activists' bodies and minds together, Proutist Universal has offered free classes twice a day in "Yoga and Meditation for Activists". Punks, college students, older ex-hippies and NGO workers do simple stretching and sing a universal mantra, "Baba Nam Kevalam".

Dada, a monk working in Brazil, leads the sessions. He tells the participants, "The mainstream press is trying to marginalize you and your actions by describing you as hopelessly idealistic young people who don't think deeply about things. But just the opposite is true: instead of blindly following the consumer society, you have come here because of your beliefs and your values and your hope that together we can change the world.

"In the struggle to end exploitation and create a better world for everyone, we also need to find peace within. Meditation and yoga are ancient practices to develop all your potentials: physical, mental and spiritual. These workshops are to make you better activists, in control of your emotions and your mind, and thus better able to direct your energy for positive social change."

Dada Maheshvarananda Email:

NB New Zealand Action in solidarity with the Washington D.C. Mobilisation Protest against the IMF and World Bank. Street theatre in Trafalgar Street, Nelson commencing mid-day on Tuesday 18th April starting from Wakatu Sq. and going up Trafalgar St.

It is intended to have a structure with "FAT CATS" at the top being supported by the "IMF and World Bank" and carried by "SLAVES".

Further information: Bruce Dyer: 03 548 7284 Joe Rificci: 03 546 6871

"i thought of all my friends and the great interconnecting web of contact however lightly or loosely woven and had an image of us all in a kind of free-fall display like that put on by sky-divers, forming a human snowflake drifting down to earth - a pattern of relationships and aroha rather than of cold and crystals - float softly friends, the earth is before us , our fears are behind us, and we share the journey go in peace. love from adie" PROUT is a practical socio-economic philosophy that balances the material, the intellectual and the spiritual. For more about PROUT: or ===================================================================

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