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Obama can expect a week of protests ahead of G-20

British bankers won’t wear ties as groups threaten violence ahead of the economic summit in London.

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"We are organizing a public assembly in a public place," says Michael Rainsbro, a student studying for a doctoral degree in Belfast, Northern Ireland, who is part of the "G-20 Meltdown" events.

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"What we are saying is threatening to a few bankers. It's about what we are saying, not what we are doing," Mr. Rainsbro said. "We want to say 'no' to the Bank of England, which has been a cornerstone of the UK economy and has presided over AIG-style bonuses for years and years."


Wednesday's events are being widely billed as the return of the anticapitalist movement which made its world debut on the streets of Seattle in 1999, when violent riots erupted as the city hosted the World Trade Organization's Ministerial Conference.

Since then, their agenda has been eclipsed by fears over terrorists following the Sept. 11 attacks in the US.

Now, however, the anticapitalist groups are back and, say they are better able to organize thanks to advances in technology, such as Twitter.

Their ranks include British and European "direct action" groups, whose targets in the past have included nuclear power stations and airports. Skilled at avoiding police surveillance, many are said to have prepared for this week's actions at mini-summits, where participants removed the batteries from their cell phones in order to avoid monitoring by the authorities.

The most radical members say they will settle for nothing less than the complete reorganization of society, regarding the election of President Barack Obama as little more than window dressing.

"We have pretty much decided to ignore him," adds Rainsbro. "There are two Obamas, the one in people's minds and the actual guy, who is as conservative as [President Bill] Clinton."

But if one asks the much larger, patchwork quilt of protest groups on the streets Saturday, the US president still appears to engender a sense of hope.

"We are more optimistic than we have been in the past," says Ashok Sinha, director of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, an umbrella organization that includes groups such as Greenpeace and claims to speak for a combined support base of 11 million people.

"Bush has gone and we know that Obama is going to be there, as well as people like Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd," Mr. Sinha says. "They are putting hundreds of billions of dollars into fixing the global economy and we need a slice of that to be able to move away from fossil fuels to create a low-carbon economy.... I am optimistic they will realize that there will never be another chance like this to invest in low-carbon economies.

"I just hope that whatever happens, the G-20 listens to what people are saying."