Pittsburgh steels for G20 protests

Activists promised an angry welcome for leaders of the G20 economies when they arrive in Pittsburgh on Thursday, with anarchist factions threatening to march on the summit venue.

“The city has bought a thousand canisters of tear gas. That is something people are concerned about, like what to do if they are gassed,” said Noah Williams, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh G20 Resistance Project. The group’s unauthorised march, called in open defiance of the authorities, could result in an explosive situation, said Michael Healey, a civil rights lawyer representing 14 environmental activists who were arrested Wednesday. “What i fear at the march is overreaction by the authorities and overreaction by some of the younger protesters. It is a toxic mix,” added Healey.

Pittsburghers gathered in a park on a split of land between two rivers for a concert and rally on Wednesday evening were optimistic the city would not be rocked by the violence that has disrupted such gatherings in the past. The most notorious occasion in North America was at the 1999 World Trade Organisation meeting in Seatle, when anarchists in a 40,000-strong crowd fought running battles with the police.

The most recent G20 summit in London also witnessed violence and British police were criticised after footage filmed during the demonstration showed an officer beating a bystander who later died.” We were all nervous about it,” said 86-year-old Jan Moravec, an environmental activist at the rally in Pittsburgh’s Point State Park. “It is all we have heard about for the past month. When we get through Friday night and we see all the world leaders heading off in their helicopters, we will heave a sigh of relief,” he added.

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Piquet could return to F1 : Hamilton

World champion Lewis Hamilton believes the disgraced Nelson Piquet Jr could return to Formula One despite his part in the Singapore race-fix scandal.

On the orders of Renault, the Brazilian deliberately crashed his car during the sport’s inaugural night race last year, opening the door for teammate Fernando Alonso to win. The scandal led to the downfall of team principal Flavio Briatore and chief engineer Pat Symonds, but as the “whistle blower”, Piquet, who was sacked by Renault in July, was given immunity. Despite his reputation being in ruins, the 24-year old has apologised and made it clear that he wants to return to the grid.

Hamilton said it could happen. “He is a good driver and he has a great career, so who knows?” said the Brit. “For sure, there are opportunities for him in the future and i can only wish him the best.”

Hamilton has had his own share of bad publicity, but he added that he could not understand how Piquet was feeling right now. “Not really, because i have never gone through what he is going through,” he said. “But he is still very young and he is experienced and he will take it in his stride.”

Meanwhile, any hope Hamilton had of defending his title has vanished with a difficult first half of the year when MacLaren was not competitive. Since then he has picked up points, including a win at Hungary, and said he would always push 100 percent for victory. “I think it is just a part of my character and who i am,” he said. “I have just always had it, in whatever i have done, especially when it is competing. I have always had this something inside of me that i want to win. And it just keeps me going.”

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