Between Syria, Turkey and the G8, it's hard to keep track of popular resistance to oligarchy and corruption, but please don't forget São Paulo, where the police are treating public anti-corruption demonstrations with all the bedwetting cowardice of a tinpot dictatorship. Here's Feridos no protesto em São Paulo, a multilingual tumblr devoted to covering the protests, and above, an excellent video from Change Brazil explaining what's at stake.
Poiu is in Turkey; he writes: " Since yesterday evening, everything has worsened. Unfortunately it is not really covered by local media, the consequence of that being that it gets a lot less international attention than it should. People are gassed here non stop, in all central Istanbul areas. Tens of thousands of people are out in the streets. The only two channels who cover the street events are ULUSAL KANAL CANLI YAYINI and artı bir tv. You should check them out just to get an idea of the scale and the drama."
Meanwhile, there's a lot of astounding stuff in the Occupy Gezi Pics Tumblr.
From Sao Paulo, where the the cops are violently attacking protesters, a video of a cop smashing his own police-car window, presumably to blame it on the protesters later.
And here's a glimpse of the Sao Paulo police's advanced media strategy.
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."
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.
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.
Mathilda sez, "In this photo by Twitter user @joeman24, a gas-mask wearing Dervish dances in front of protesters in Turkey."
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.
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.
(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).
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!)
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.
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.
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.More here at Piran Café blog.
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.
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.
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!)
Evan from Fight for the Future, "The open internet is in danger. In just a few weeks, governments from around the world are getting together, and they could decide the future of our internet. Watch the video to find out why a government-dominated agency as old as the telegraph is trying to get its hands on the net we love. Then take action by using the platform to contact your government and tell them to stand up for an open internet."
There’s a meeting between the world’s governments in a just a few weeks, and it could very well decide the future of the internet through a binding international treaty. It’s called the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), and it’s being organized by a government-controlled UN agency called the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
If some proposals at WCIT are approved, decisions about the internet would be made by a top-down, old-school government-centric agency behind closed doors. Some proposals allow for access to be cut off more easily, threaten privacy, legitimize monitoring and blocking online traffic. Others seek to impose new fees for accessing content, not to mention slowing down connection speeds. If the delicate balance of the internet is upset, it could have grave consequences for businesses and human rights.
When I myself was a protesting student, I remember vividly remembered the cold warning in the text by Pier Paolo Pasolini. He reminded us youngsters that the police we faced in the streets were also someone's children, that not all young people were fortunate enough to be in colleges rather than wearing uniforms, and that we should join all together against the general oppressor, the system, capitalism, the corporations, name it…
That was then, and this is now, and while the students and policemen still have the same interests, they are still on the opposite sides of the barricade. Austerity has driven Italy to its knees. Day by day the future of Italy's young people is vaporizing, and now the streets are flooded by torrential rains, to boot. Italian cities rocked by earthquakes might as well settle for witchcraft, rather than find responsible and competent government officials who can rescue the nation's casualties. Read the rest
Read the rest
Dave sez, "The National Opt Out and Film Week, a new campaign designed to expose the abusive policies of the TSA, is set to launch during Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel times of the year -- and the TSA might not be able to stop it."
Supporters of Opt Out and Film Week are encouraged to film TSA activities at their local airport -- even if they are not flying -- and upload the videos to Youtube and other sites. According to the TSA website, filming TSA agents and security checkpoints is not illegal, as long as it does not interfere with security procedures....
... "The reasoning behind a National Opt-Out Week is this: If the TSA decides to shut down its scanners in response to the protest, as it allegedly did in 2010, activists would have ample opportunity to document the action over a period of a week," Elliott wrote in an article for the Huffington Post. "TSA critics would then have more than enough evidence to prove that these scans and pat-downs are a false choice and do practically nothing to improve our safety."
Here's a Reuters video from July showing young Chilean protesters cosplaying superheroes and video-game characters in front of the Chilean government in an all-singing, all-dancing, choreographed amazeballs of a demonstration. The students are protesting against cuts to the education system.
Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have been sent to regions known for hosting Russia's harshest hard-labor camps, places that once served as Soviet gulags. The 24 and 22 year old mothers -- who performed a song protesting the Russian Orthodox Church's connection to the Putin regime in a cathedral -- have been sentenced to two years of hard labor. Though the regions to which they've been dispatched is known, no one -- not even their families -- has been allowed to know exactly which prison-camps they are incarcerated in. The Guardian's Miriam Elder reports from Moscow:
"These are the harshest camps of all the possible choices," the band said via its Twitter account on Monday.
...Confusion reigned on Monday as relatives and lawyers tried to assess exactly where the women were sent. Both Perm and Mordovia host several prison camps, some of which comprised the Soviet-era gulag system. Prison authorities declined to comment on the women's whereabouts.
Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova had petitioned to serve their sentences in Moscow, arguing that they wanted to be close to their children. Alyokhina has a five-year-old son named Filipp, while Tolokonnikova has a four-year-old daughter named Gera.
An unknown yarn-bomber has taken to the streets of Edinburgh with a political message, opposing the tramway expansion underway there. Yarnivore Rose says, "Actual political speech in yarnbomb form, rather than 'mere' decoration! BRING IT!"
More from The Scotsman:
Grant McKeenan, who owns the Copymade Shop on West Maitland Street and who has started his own anti-tram poster campaign, said he thought the protest was “excellent”, adding: “Anything speaking out against the trams is good in my book, and clearly someone’s gone to a lot of trouble.”
Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader confirmed that the council had removed the colourful protest.
“When unofficial banners are put up it’s normally the process that they are removed, in case they come loose and flap into the face of a pedestrian or into the path of a cyclist.
“It did look like nice crochet work though, someone had clearly spent a lot of time on it.”
The city council added that the blanket was still in their possession if the owner wished to claim it, no questions asked.
(Image: a downsized, cropped thumbnail of "The embroidered tram work protest which was attached to the fence on Princes Street," a photo by Mary Gordon)
The Guerrilla Grafters are a group of rogue artists who roam San Francisco, covertly grafting fruit-tree branches onto ornamental trees to create a municipal free lunch. John Robb calls it "resilient disobedience."
How can you improve the productivity of your community even if the officials are against it?
One way is through resilient disobedience. For example, there’s a group of gardeners in San Francisco that are spreading organic graffiti across the city. How? By grafting branches from fruit trees onto ornamental trees that have been planted along sidewalks and in parks.
They are using a very simple tongue in groove splice that’s held together with annotated electrical tape. Good luck to them.
UK fair tax/anti-cuts activists crashed the Key Haven Publications' Practical Tax Planning conference in Oxford, where Dave Hartnett, the outgoing top UK taxation bureaucrat, was giving the final speech of his career. Hartnett was responsible for widely criticized blunders that forgave billions in tax liability owed by Vodaphone and Goldman Sachs. Posing as representatives of Goldman Sachs and Vodaphone, they entered the hall during Hartnett's after-dinner speech to present "The Golden Handshake Award for Lifetime Achievement in Corporate Tax Planning." After a few moments' confusion, the conference organisers twigged to what was going on, and began to say some of the weirdest, most stagey-sound posh=weirdo utterances heard this side of a Mr Burns impersonator's night at a cabaret:
"Everybody, these people are trespassers and intruders. This is a [garbled] to trespass, and you will go sir, you will depart immediately, before we set the dogs on you."
[Protesters leave, singing, "For he's a jolly good fellow, and so say Goldman Sachs"].
"Go! You're trespassing. You're trespassing scum! Go!"
All in a posh accent that could cut glass.
Arrested. Twittering from police van— mollycrabapple (@mollycrabapple) September 17, 2012
Earlier today, artist Molly Crabapple was one of a number of people arrested at events marking the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York. By various estimates, more than a hundred people have been arrested there today. Crabapple tweeted from the police van. Over the past year, she has produced a wide array of work related to #OWS, including portraits, street-art templates, and illustrations for coverage in The Nation and other publications.
Just in case you had any doubts about how much of a security risk your mobile phone presents, have a read of Jacob Appelbaum's interview with N+. Jake's with both the Tor and Wikileaks projects, and has been detained and scrutinized to a fare-thee-well.
Appelbaum: Cell phones are tracking devices that make phone calls. It’s sad, but it’s true. Which means software solutions don’t always matter. You can have a secure set of tools on your phone, but it doesn’t change the fact that your phone tracks everywhere you go. And the police can potentially push updates onto your phone that backdoor it and allow it to be turned into a microphone remotely, and do other stuff like that. The police can identify everybody at a protest by bringing in a device called an IMSI catcher. It’s a fake cell phone tower that can be built for 1500 bucks. And once nearby, everybody’s cell phones will automatically jump onto the tower, and if the phone’s unique identifier is exposed, all the police have to do is go to the phone company and ask for their information.
Resnick: So phones are tracking devices. They can also be used for surreptitious recording. Would taking the battery out disable this capability?
Appelbaum: Maybe. But iPhones, for instance, don’t have a removable battery; they power off via the power button. So if I wrote a backdoor for the iPhone, it would play an animation that looked just like a black screen. And then when you pressed the button to turn it back on it would pretend to boot. Just play two videos.
Resnick: And how easy is it to create something like to that?
Appelbaum: There are weaponized toolkits sold by companies like FinFisher that enable breaking into BlackBerries, Android phones, iPhones, Symbian devices and other platforms. And with a single click, say, the police can own a person, and take over her phone.
You may be saying here, "Huh, I'm sure glad that I'm not doing anything that would get me targeted by US spooks!" Think again. First, there's the possibility that you'll be incorrectly identified as a bad guy, like Maher Arar< who got a multi-year dose of Syrian torture when the security apparatus experienced a really bad case of mistaken identity.