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Brutal police crackdown on protesters in Sao Paolo

Diego sez, "Protestors - mainly students - are taking the streets of Sao Paulo. The problem: the government just raised the bus fare from R$3 to R$3,20. The protests are getting a really violent reception from the police. You can see a video of the police action. The problem isn't the 20 cents. I think the real problem is that we are having so many issues of inflation, very high taxes, corruption - 2014 World Cup stadiums being built with public money, costing about $1 billion each pop - so future looks really bleak here. Everything seems to be boiling after this 20 cents. If you ask me, Brazilians are getting tired of being treated as clowns. Tonight (6/13), there's going to be a new protest. People won't stop until they get what they want. Hopefully, with some international attention, Sao Paulo's police may stop hitting students with their batons and tear gas."

Why are the protesters in Gezi Park?

Zeynep Tufekci, a Turkish-American Princeton/UNC sociologist who studies social movements and the Internet is presently in Istanbul's Gezi Park at the protests. She follows up on her earlier piece on the "social media style of protest" with a long and thoughtful look at what the protesters on the ground in Gezi Park are doing and why they're doing it:

After talking to the park protesters for days here is a very quick compilation of the main complaints and reasons people say brought them to the park:

1- Protesters say that they are worried about Erdogan’s growing authoritarian style of governance. “He thinks we don’t count.” “He never listens to anyone else.” “Why are they trying to pass laws about how I live? What’s it to him?”

Erdogan’s AKP party won the last election (its third) and is admittedly popular with many sectors of society, including some who are now in the Park have voted for him. It has accomplished many good things for the country through a program of reform and development. Any comparisons with Mubarak and pre-Tahrir 2011 Egypt are misplaced and ignorant. The country is polarized; it is not ruled by an unelected autocrat.

However, due to the electoral system which punishes small parties (with a 10% barrier for entrance to the parliament) and a spectacularly incompetent opposition, AKP has almost two-thirds of the deputies in the parliament with about 50% of the vote. Due to this set up, they can pass almost any law they want. People said to me “he rules like he has 90%.”

So, that seems to be the heart of the issue. People have a variety of grievances, but concentrate mostly about overreach and “majoritarian authoritarianism.” For example, Erdogan recently announced that they would be building a third bridge over the Bosphorus strait. Many people felt that the plan was not discussed at all with the public and concerns about environmental impact ignored. Then, he announced that they had decided the bridge would be named “Yavuz Sultan Selim”–an Ottoman king (“padisah”) famous for a massacre of Alevi (Turkey’s alawites) populations. Unsurprisingly, Alevis who compromise a significant portion of the Turkish population were gravely offended. In the predominantly “GAzi” (not Gezi) neighborhood, people have been marching every night since the Taksim protests began. Last night, they blocked the main TEM highway for a while before voluntarily dispersing.

Read on for an excellent on-the-ground view of the mood of the protesters, some important observations on censorship, and a sickening look at the police violence directed against the protesters.

What do #occupygezi Protesters Want? My Observations from Gezi Park

Photos from #OccupyGezi

In case you've forgotten it amidst the Prism and Greek broadcaster shut-down stories, here's a reminder that the police are still engaged in a brutal crackdown on protesters across Turkey, courtesy of the Occupy Gezi Pics Tumblr:

"Taksim rainbow, Tuesday evening."

Read the rest

Greek government shuts down state broadcaster, police force journalists out of the building

Michael sez, "The Greek government forcibly shut down transmissions of all TV and radio stations operated by the state-owned broadcaster ERT, with police ejecting journalists and other employees who were occupying the buildings."

A few hours ago, the Greek government announced that state television and radio channels would be silenced at midnight. No public debate, no debate in Parliament, no warning. Nothing. ERT, the Greek version of the BBC, will simply fold its tent and steal into the night. As probably the only Greek commentator to have been blacklisted by ERT over the past two years, I feel I have the moral authority to cry out against ERT’s passing. To shout from the rooftops that its murder by our troika-led government is a crime against public media that all civilised people, the world over, should rise up against.

ERT (Greek state tv-radio) is dead: A blacklisted person’s lament

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Gas-mask dervish: #occupygezi


Mathilda sez, "In this photo by Twitter user @joeman24, a gas-mask wearing Dervish dances in front of protesters in Turkey."

A gas-mask wearing Whirling Dervish shows support for protesters in #Turkey

OccupyGezi: the People's Bulldozer



Two photos from the OccupyGeziPics Tumblr show the "people's bulldozer" in action -- apparently a mechanical digger commandeered off a building site by protesters in Besiktas (one of my Twitter followers reports a rumor that it was a youth gang, and not portesters, though of course, youth gangs may be protesting too), and used to attack police barricades.

Roundup of #occupygezi

Mathilda writes,

Throughout the weekend, protests have erupted in Turkey in response to the brutal pacification of a peaceful sit-in in Istanbul. Over 1,700 people have been arested and there are multiple unconfirmed reports of people dying. The Prime Minister is blaming the entire protest on the social menace known as Twitter, which seems to be the only way for protesters to communicate (hashtag #occupygezi), as Turkish media networks seem to keep mum on the whole affair, and cell phone providers are pressured by the government to block communications.

Meanwhile, the police are using tear gas, batons and rubber bullets to pacify the growing unrest. Amnesty International claims at least two protesters died so far, and Twitter is abuzz with reports of the police firing at defenseless people and demolishing shops to get at the protesters trying to hide inside.

Turkish Spring: Taksim Gezi Park protests in Istanbul


(Estimated 40,000 people cross the Bosphorous Bridge to join the protests/OccupyGeziPics)
Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul is alive with protest at this moment. The action began on May 28, when environmentalists protested plans to remove the park and replace it with a mall, and were met with a brutal police crackdown. Since then thousands have taken to the streets in Istanbul and other Turkish cities (though there's a media blackout on the protests, and poor Internet penetration in Turkey, which means the news is slow to reach other parts of the country).

Read the rest

Independent midwives to march in London today to protest impending shutdown of indie midwifery

There are apparently no insurers in the UK willing to extend cover to independent midwives, and so independent midwives and their clients operate in an insurance-free zone, which is risky, but it was apparently a risk everyone was willing to take. However, a new EU regulation mandates that midwives operate with insurance, and once that regulation is implemented locally, it will end the practice of independent midwifery in the UK unless there's some drastic action to create an insurance policy to which independent midwives may subscribe.

We had our daughter at home with an NHS midwife, and it was wonderful. Not everyone is lucky enough to live in the cachement of a hospital with midwives who'll help mothers deliver at home (especially now as NHS budgets are being slashed to ribbons across the country). If this rule comes to pass in the UK without any insurance fix, having a baby safely at home will become effectively illegal for families across the country.

A silent protest is scheduled for today at the House of Commons:

This campaign continues with a Silent Protest and march in Westminster on Monday 25 March, from 11am, to lobby Government to protect women's right to choose their maternity care and find a solution to the issues raised by an EU Directive.

Independent Midwives are registered midwives who have chosen to work outside the NHS to be able to offer continuous care and support to women who choose it. This is the kind of autonomous midwifery that you see in the hugely popular programme “Call the Midwife”. Nowadays it is mostly only independent midwives who are able to provide what David Cameron once called “gold standard care”. Due to staff shortages and budgetary pressures very few NHS Trusts are able to provide this kind of care.

Sally Randle is an independent midwife in Bristol, offering local women an alternative to NHS care. Sally says, “I was lucky enough to practise this way in the NHS in London, but local maternity services did not provide this way of working. I decided to become an independent midwife so I could continue this rewarding work. I love my job; I don't even mind getting up in the night to go out to a birth because I know the family well and feel privileged to be involved in this amazing time in their lives”.

I can't figure out why insurers can't sort this out. The actuarial data set is robust and well-established. The potential liability, though high, is calculable. If you can get insurance to juggle machetes in Covent Garden (high potential liability, small data set, massive individual variation), why the hell can't indie midwives get cover?

Silent Protest and March (Thanks, William!)

Berlin activists create CCTV-smashing street game

Activists in Berlin have created a game called Camover where they move through public spaces in disguise, smashing CCTV cameras, recording the act and uploading it to YouTube for points.

The rules of Camover are simple: mobilise a crew and think of a name that starts with "command", "brigade" or "cell", followed by the moniker of a historical figure (Van der Lubbe, a Dutch bricklayer convicted of setting fire to the Reichstag in 1933, is one name being used). Then destroy as many CCTV cameras as you can. Concealing your identity, while not essential, is recommended. Finally, video your trail of destruction and post it on the game's website – although even keeping track of the homepage can be a challenge in itself, as it is continually being shut down.

East Germany withered under the punishing, spying gaze of the Stasi, whose surveillance was always couched in the language of "public protection" and "crime solving." Today, the CCTVs used by commercial firms are an extension of government surveillance, because their footage can be seized, often in secret, in the name of "fighting terror" and similar rubrics.

Game to destroy CCTV cameras: vandalism or valid protest?

One-armed man arrested in Belarus for clapping


The headline says it all: after the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko passed a law making it illegal to clap (because dissidents began using applause as a form of protest), his cops began rounding up and arresting people who applauded, or stood near people who were applauding, or thought about applauding...

Anyway, once it became clear that clapping was dissent, clappers were rounded up. And like all thuggish regimes this one was not too particular about who it arrested. That included Konstantin Kaplin, who said he was convicted of "applauding in public" despite fairly conclusive evidence of innocence: he's only got one arm. "The judge read out the charges [and] the police affirmed that I was applauding," said the one-armed man. "The judge looked ashamed of herself," he said, but imposed the fine anyway.

A journalist was also quoted as saying that a deaf-mute had been charged with "shouting antigovernment slogans," but there was no independent confirmation of that.

One-Armed Man Arrested for Clapping [Lowering the Bar]

(Image: APPLAUSE, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from princesstheater's photostream)

Demonstrations in Ljubljana: Carnations, Neo-Nazis and a Water Cannon

Bob at Piran Café blog in Slovenia shares this photograph in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool. On his blog, he explains:
This [photograph of a policeman behind a riot shield] was taken at about 6 pm last night, shortly after protesters were giving carnations to police officers stationed in front of Parliament. About four hours later police used a water cannon in Slovenia for the first time.

I’m sick as a dog and didn’t stay in the chill and drizzle for very long, so this is a rundown based mostly on local press accounts of what was, somewhat astonishingly, the second demonstration in a week here in Slovenia to turn violent.

Upwards of 10,000 people gathered in Ljubljana yesterday, one of seven Slovenian cities where hastily organized demonstrations took place to protest what’s perceived as widespread fraud and corruption, austerity measures, and the economic reform policies of the center-right government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa.

More here at Piran Café blog.

Protesting dairy farmers hose down EuroParl and cops with milk

Dairy farmers protesting in Brussels sprayed thousands of litres of milk on the European Parliament and its police cadre. Shown here, a small thumbnail of a remarkable photo by John Thys for AFP/Getty Images. Click through for the full image, on the Telegraph's site.

Dairy farmers spray milk at the European Parliament in Brussels

Five reasons to opt out of TSA pornoscanners this weekend

Marilyn sez, "Chris Elliott gives 5 good reasons to participate in the Opt Out protest against the TSA's full-body scanners over this Thanksgiving weekend and so far, 65 percent of the people reading his column on Huffington Post say they will take part (including me)."

1. They're not adequately tested and could be dangerous. Unfortunately, the scanners you'll be asked to walk through haven't been properly tested. The latest independent evaluations are actually based on data provided by the TSA. The government wants us to trust it, but it won't give us a reason. That's unacceptable.

2. They're easily foiled. It's not difficult to sneak a weapon through a full-body scanner, according to several reports. The career criminals who might want to do us harm have figured out how to get around the scanners already.

3. They're too expensive. At a quarter of a million bucks a pop, the scanners are a huge waste of taxpayer money. To use one, or to allow one to be used on you, is is an endorsement of an iffy technology. It also lines the pockets of undeserving security contractors, say critics...

5 Reasons I'm Opting Out Of The TSA's Scanners (And You Should Too) (Thanks, Marilyn!)

Call Congress to support the short-lived, excellent copyright reform memo

Michael from Public Knowledge sez, "Members of Congress need to know that their constituents support the sensible-yet-extraordinary copyright reform memo put out by the Republican Study Committee Friday night. For many members, a memo like this will help them formulate their first opinions about what "reasonable" copyright reform looks like. Members will only take the memo seriously if their constituents take it seriously. We're asking people to call their Representatives today to show how important this issue is to them. If their representatives are Republicans, tell them to support the memo. If their representatives are Democrats, tell them to reach across the aisle to work together on bipartisan reform." Cory