One of the things that led up to Margaret Thatcher's resignation as Britain's prime minister was the imposition of a poll tax on every adult in the U.K.: a crude per-head charge just for existing. Londoners rioted on 31 March 1990, with hundreds hurt and 339 arrests made. Trafalgar Square was wrecked, police charged the crowds on horseback only to be forced back, and shops throughout the west end were looted.
It's a world away from the experience of black people in America and contemporary protests here, but interesting all the same because of what's different and what's the same. The rioters included many people with large family sizes (a head tax!), people with limited incomes but too well-off to escape the tax. It was a hard-to-define segment on the margins of prosperity, working white people rubbing shoulders with immigrant Muslims and well-off Catholics. All sharing the burden of those targeted by the law.
The police lied through their teeth about their incompetent tactics and excessive use of force and, in an age before ubiquitous video recording devices, enjoyed largely servile coverage in the press. But almost all those arrested were ultimately acquitted, suggesting the police had fabricated or inflated charges.
Thatcher was gone within months, the poll tax proved hard to collect, and her replacement won re-election after promising to abolish it entirely, then did so. Read the rest
There's a lot of overlap between the friends of mine who are fervent video game enthusiasts, and those who are the most belligerent anarcho-syndicalists / anarcho-communists / other Revolutionary Leftist sects — and they have all been singing the praises of "Tonight We Riot," the video game that even Variety calls, "an unapologetically political, socialist game about worker liberation in the face of overpowering capitalism." The official description reads:
A revolutionary crowd-based retro brawler
In a dystopia where wealthy capitalists control elections, media, and the lives of working people, we’re faced with two choices -- accept it or fight for something better.
Tonight We Riot doesn’t have just one hero. Instead, you play as a movement of people whose well-being determines the success of your revolution.
Essentially, it's a retro 8-bit throwback to games like "Streets of Rage," he game is the brainchild of Pixel Pushers Union 512, a worker-owned video game cooperative out of Texas. Except instead of controlling one character with a melee weapon and a limited life, you get a chance to control the entire rioting crowd as they work together to lob molotov cocktails at the bootlicking mechs sent by the evil capitalist overlords determined to quash their solidarity.
I'm not much of a gamer myself, but I might have some free time on my hands soon with this quarantine, and this looks pretty damn delightful to me. You can check it out on Nintendo eShop, Itch.io, Steam, or Good Old Games. Read the rest
“Rioters roamed the streets with iron rods and wooden sticks, demanding to know whether people were Hindus or Muslims. Mosques were damaged and shops were set ablaze”
A gentleman was arrested in Portsmouth, England after punching a police horse during a riot following a soccer game. He apparently was angry that Portsmouth lost to Southampton. It isn't clear why he blamed the horse though. From The Telegraph:
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In the footage of the aftermath of the first match in seven years between bitter rivals Southampton and Portsmouth, the supporter then attempts to run from the horse, but his path is blocked as he ends up in the arms of a group of police officers with riot shields.
Hampshire Constabulary said a 52-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty and attempted criminal damage. He was later released but remains under investigation.
The Facebook-fueled anti-government protests in Paris, which began three weeks ago, starting off with a protest against high fuel taxes, look like something out of an intense apocalyptic movie. I'd only read about the "yellow jacket" protests and riots – the worst in 50 years – but did not realize the extent of violence that has taken over the Champs Élysées and surrounding neighborhoods. According to the BBC, "Tourist sites in Paris are to close on Saturday amid fears of further street violence."
Across France, 89,000 police officers will be on duty and armoured vehicles will be deployed in the capital, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced.
Paris police have urged shops and restaurants on the Champs-Elysees to shut and some museums will also be closed.
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Last week, Nicaraguan president and dictator-in-training Daniel Ortega had the gall to declare that the violence and protests that have plagued his nation since April had come to an end. His nation's doing just fine! At the time that this bullshit dribbled out of his cakehole, protests against government corruption, cronyism and the government’s slow role into fascism were still ongoing. To date, approximately 300 people have died as elements of Nicaragua’s police and paramilitaries loyal to Ortega have attempted to put a bloody end to the growing voice of dissent and disgust for his administration.
Not everyone in the South American country wants a piece of this action.
According to Al Jazeera, upwards of 23,000 Nicaraguan citizens have fled to neighboring Costa Rica, seeking refugee status, due to the escalating violence surrounding the demand that Ortega step down from power and his refusal to do so.
From Al Jazeera:
William Spindler, UNHCR spokesman, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that an average of 200 asylum applications are being lodged every day in Costa Rica.
"Besides the 8,000 who have filed asylum claims, and the 15,000 who are waiting to do so, thousands more have arrived in Costa Rica but have not yet contacted authorities there," added Splinter.
Panama, Mexico and the United States also saw a rise in claims by Nicaraguans in the first half of this year, but the numbers in these countries are still in the low hundreds, according to the UNHCR.
Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which share a border, have bickered over land rights and environmental issues for years. Read the rest
France is in turmoil. Heavy discounts of Nutella have resulted in "scenes of violence" at supermarkets as shoppers vie to obtain as much of the chocolate and hazelnut spread as possible.
"They are like animals. A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, another had a bloody hand," one customer told French media. A member of staff at one Intermarché shop in central France told the regional newspaper Le Progrès: "We were trying to get in between the customers but they were pushing us."
Ferrero, manufacturers of the delicious spread, said it had no part in the supermarket's decision to discount Nutella and that it "regretted Thursday's violence."
Read the rest
"Run them down" seems to be the tweet that got another prominent right-wing personality turfed out of Twitter. Motoring Tip: it's the police that get to kill without consequence, not you. Even if it makes you angry to see black people rioting, and super-angry when they're in the way of a real American's car. Yes, even then!
As is always the case with these things, it's not clear if the ban is permanent, whether it was for that specific tweet or for other reasons Twitter won't disclose, whether Reynolds thought he was being funny, or exactly how sustained the footstamping will be from white supremacists.
(Apart from the predictable, if plainly stupid belief that it's OK to run over "thugs", they're saying that "run them down" means something other than "hit people with your car". For them, the tragedy of speechcropping on Twitter is that Twitter gets to decide what it means.)
UPDATE: Reynolds is back. His account was suspended until he agreed to delete the Tweet, he reports:
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Vintage video of the Sunset Strip teen riot of November 12, 1966.
A UK judge has ordered the BBC not to broadcast a documentary about England's August 2011 riots, reports The Guardian. The judge also banned the BBC and media from disclosing the court in which the censorship order was made; the judge's name; or the details or nature of the order.
The documentary features actors reading from interviews with rioters, but it's not clear exactly what was deemed worthy of censorship. The BBC "strongly objects" to the ruling and plans to appeal. Read the rest
Writing in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, China Mieville blazingly describes two Londons: an exuberant, organic place that has been lived and built over and remade, bursting with energy and vitality; and a fearful, banker-driven collection of megaprojects and guard labour, where billions of pounds can be found to surround the Olympics with snipers and legions of police, but nothing can be found for the library on the corner, where the center of town is being purged of anyone but the super-rich, and where rioting has nothing to do with stop-and-search powers and poverty, and is the result of mere "pure criminality."
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The Olympics are slated to cost taxpayers $14.7 billion. In this time of “austerity,” youth clubs and libraries are being shut down as expendable fripperies; this expenditure, though, is not negotiable. The uprisen young of London, participants in extraordinary riots that shook the country last summer, do the math. “Because you want to host the Olympics, yeah,” one participant told researchers, “so your country can look better and be there, we should suffer.”
This is a city where buoyed-up audiences yell advice to young boxers in Bethnal Green’s York Hall, where tidal crowds of football fans commune in raucous rude chants, where fans adopt local heroes to receive Olympic cheers. It’s not sport that troubles those troubled by the city’s priorities.
Mike Marqusee, writer and activist, has been an East London local and a sports fan for decades. American by birth, he nonetheless not only understands and loves cricket, of all things, but even wrote a book about it.
UK prime minister David Cameron (who is reported to have rioted himself and then fled police while at university) has proposed a regime of state censorship for social media to prevent people from passing on messages that incite violence. This proposal has been warmly received by Chinese state media and bureaucrats, who are glad to see that Western governments are finally coming around to their style of management.
The British Government’s wariness of the Internet and Blackberry Messenger – symbols of freedom of speech – is a forced reaction, which might upset the Western world. Meanwhile, the open discussion of containment of the Internet in Britain has given rise to a new opportunity for the whole world. Media in the US and Britain used to criticize developing countries for curbing freedom of speech. Britain’s new attitude will help appease the quarrels between East and West over the future management of the Internet.
As for China, advocates of an unlimited development of the Internet should think twice about their original ideas.
On the Internet, there is no lack of posts and articles that incite public violence. They will cause tremendous damage once they are tweeted without control. At that time, all governments will have no other choice but to close down these websites and arrest those agitators.
Riots lead to rethink of Internet freedom
(Image: General Chu Teh, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from thomasfisherlibrary's photostream and David Cameron - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) Read the rest
Jim from the UK Open Rights Group sez, "David Cameron is trying to gain new powers to close social media and mobile messaging when there's 'trouble': he's also thinking about new snooping powers. We need to stop these plans before they get going."
The Government is focusing on entirely the wrong problem in trying to increase their powers to ban, block or monitor people's communications. Social networks like Twitter are used for a huge array of positive purposes such as warnings of danger and organising clean up projects. Blanket surveillance measures of private communications or increased powers to mine users data would undermine people's freedom to communicate in very damaging ways, and would in no way address the problems at hand. Making laws in haste, with limited analysis and information, to deal with an exceptional problem is likely to create unbalanced laws and abuses of our rights.
Save our social media! Stop cut offs and close downs
(Image: Riot Police, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from zoonabar's photostream) Read the rest
Joe from Forbidden Planet sez, "A couple of our comics stores in Manchester and Birmingham got damaged during the awful riots this week (what sort of numpty attacks their local comics store?!) - luckily they didn't get into the stores, it was just the frontage took some bruises and staff are all fine. One of our colleagues at our much loved Nostalgia & Comics store in Birmingham, David, sent us this photo which just seemed to sum things up rather nicely."
…. and this about sums it all up…..
(Thanks, Joe!) Read the rest
A bit of unsourced net.wit: the new London Olympics 2012 logo.
Update: Here's the original, from PureEvil. Read the rest
The official blog of Research in Motion was hacked today by Team Poison. The Canadian company had earlier promised to help British authorities track down BlackBerry users suspected of involvement in the local unrest. From AFP:
"If you do assist the police by giving them chat logs, GPS locations, customer information and access to peoples' BlackBerry Messengers, you will regret it," said the post.
The message went on to say a hacked database containing the names, addresses and phone numbers of RIM employees would be made public and "passed onto rioters" if RIM did not comply.
"Do you really want a bunch of angry youths on your employees doorsteps?" it warned. "Think about it."
RIM officials in Britain offered Monday to assist authorities "in any way possible."
I doubt this will be much help to anyone worried by RIM's presumed eagerness to hand over its secure messaging system for state inspection.
CNN reports that there are further demands to completely shut down the network.
Some London public officials have asked RIM to shut down BlackBerry Messenger temporarily to stem further unrest. A representative for RIM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
What next? Facebook and Twitter? Read the rest