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Posts Tagged ‘Protests’

Bahrain/Libya Update

Firedoglake- By: David Dayen

Monday February 21, 2011 7:50 am

Let’s play a little catchup on the two most deadly flashpoints in the Arab uprising right now. In Bahrain, scene of a dastardly attack on protesters while they slept in Pearl Square, the attempt at repression backfired almost immediately. The Shiite al-Wafiq movement left the Parliament and demanded the resignation of the government. Protests grew in size. Sen. Patrick Leahy called for the application of a law he wrote to deny aid to Bahrain for violating human rights. And the protesters took back the square, with police and the Army withdrawing.

The latest is that the government is being pressured to negotiate:

Bahrain’s Sunni Muslim ruling family came under increased pressure to open in-depth negotiations with the Shiite-led opposition, as protesters erected more tents on the capital’s Pearl Square.

Dozens of workers also joined the protesters, and more than 1,000 medics marched on the square to demand the resignation of the health minister, whom they accused of slowing aid to protesters during a deadly police crackdown.

After nightfall, an AFP correspondent reported thousands more people converging on the roundabout, which has been the focal point of demonstrations that have rocked the small but strategic Gulf kingdom since February 14.

The opposition has also called a large protest for Tuesday afternoon in the hope that tens of thousands of people will converge on Pearl Square, according to the INAA, Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group.

Crown Prince Salman, the heir to the throne in Bahrain, is supposed to be leading reconciliation talks. Bahrain has a Sunni minority in power over a Shiite majority, with predictable results. This is a really good backgrounder from Foreign Policy. In an epic example of bad timing, the State Department praised Bahrain just a few months ago for its movement toward democracy.

Then there’s Libya, where it’s hard to really get a full picture, with most foreign media unable to enter the country. We know there has been a massacre; the extent is not well known. Moammar Gadhafi’s son went on state-run television and vowed to “fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet.” He gave a long, rambling address, blaming Islamists for the provocation, saying that the country was on the brink of civil war, which threatened their oil output and risked colonization by an invading force, summoning up images of Iraq. Protesters have apparently taken control of Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city, and were clashing with police in the capital of Tripoli.

The latest can be found at Al Jazeera’s live blog. Foreign service personnel and even the minister of security have resigned their posts. Protests have become widespread throughout the country. This is the town of Misurata:

MORE HERE

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Quran Burning CANCELED: Dove World Outreach’s Terry Jones Drops Offending ‘Stunt’

AP / Huffington Post First Posted: 09- 9-10 05:06 PM   |   Updated: 09- 9-10 05:55 PM

The leader of a small Florida church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy says he is canceling plans to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11.

Pastor Terry Jones claimed Thursday that he decided to cancel his protest because the leader of a planned Islamic Center near Ground Zero has agreed to move its controversial location.

However, Imam Rauf, the leader of the proposed center did not make a deal and has never talked to Pastor Terry Jones, Park51 officials tell Huffington Post, adding that they are open to all solutions and that the proposed Islamic cultural center is open to dialogue and reconciliation with the community in lower Manhattan.

Jones’ plans to burn Islam’s holiest text Saturday sparked an international outcry.

President Barack Obama, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan and several Christian leaders had urged Jones to reconsider his plans. They said his actions would endanger U.S. soldiers and provide a strong recruitment tool for Islamic extremists. Jones’ protest also drew criticism from religious and political leaders from across the Muslim world.

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By Yasmin Qureshi, ZNet, June 12, 2010

I had wanted to go to Kashmir ever since I visited Palestine in 2007. There are many similarities in the nature of the occupation as well as the struggles, both being nearly 63 years old. One difference is that while Israel is seen as an external occupying force in Palestine, the Kashmir issue is considered an ‘internal’ matter or a conflict between Pakistan and India and the voice of Kashmiris is often lost. As a result there are fewer international organizations monitoring the region and little information about the extent and impact of the occupation gets out.

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By sudhan

Powerful enemies are attempting to unseat the ‘superjudge’ who tried to bring the death squads of Franco’s dictatorship to book

Giles Tremlett in  Madrid, The Observer/UK, April 25, 2010
Spanish judge Baltazar Garzon participat

The Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who dared to investigate the atrocities of the Franco dictatorship. Photograph: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images

The crowd gathered outside Madrid’s national court was loud and angry. “The world has been turned upside down,” they cried. “The fascists are judging the judge!” Some carried photographs of long-dead relatives, killed by rightwing death squads in Spain‘s brutal civil war in the 1930s. Others bore placards bearing the name of the hero they wanted to save, the controversial “superjudge” Baltasar Garzón.

Pedro Romero de Castilla carried a picture of his grandfather, Wenceslao – a former stationmaster taken away from his home in the western city of Mérida and shot by a death squad at the service of Generalísimo Francisco Franco‘s rightwing military rebels 74 years ago. The family have never found his body.

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Thousands protest sheriff’s immigration efforts

Via Raw Story- By The Associated Press
Saturday, January 16th, 2010 — 10:31 pm

PHOENIX (AP) — Ten thousand immigrant rights advocates marched in front of a county jail in Phoenix Saturday in a protest that was aimed at Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration efforts and was marked by a clash between a small group of protesters and police officers.

Organizers say the protest was meant to show officials in Washington that Arpaio shouldn’t handle immigration enforcement, and that Congress and the Obama administration need to come up with a way for immigrant workers to come to the country legally.

The three-mile walk that started in a west Phoenix park ended by afternoon at the Durango Jail Complex, a collection of five jails, where officials played music, including a record by singer Linda Ronstadt, to drown out noise made by protesters. Ronstadt took part in Saturday’s protest.

Protesters chanted “Joe must go” as they approached the jail complex. One person carried a sign that said “We are human” and bore a picture of a lawman with a wolf’s face. A family of five wore T-shirts saying “Who would Jesus deport?”

For his part, Arpaio said he wasn’t bothered by the protesters and that they should be directing their frustrations at Congress because it has the power to change America’s immigration laws.

MORE HERE

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Over the weekend, I took a rainy walk down Wall Street and through the financial district in lower Manhattan. As I navigated my way across the busy intersections and between the arrays of decorative sidewalk bollards, I noticed something really strange.

No protesters.

None, despite the fact that within that very space, the near destruction of the world economy was detonated, igniting one of the deepest recessions in American history and accompanied by 500,000 job losses every month.

Not only was the district free of protesters, but I spotted a gaggle of grinning tourists merrily gathered on and around the famous “Charging Bull” statue. One woman was having her picture taken while crouched down and cupping the bull’s gigantic watermelon-sized brass testicles. Actually, you could say that there was at least one tea bagger downtown. But, you know, the wrong kind.

As I marveled at the incongruous serenity of the financial district, I couldn’t help but to wonder if all of this talk about massive job losses and a near-meltdown was an elaborate hoax, or whether Americans by-in-large simply don’t give a rip, choosing instead to continue on their merry way, acquiescing to a failed system rather than lashing out against the horrors of deregulatory Reaganomics, and, consequently, taking action against the real killers. In other words, while political participation appears to be cresting a wave, there’s still a considerable level of apathy about demanding accountability from the crooks who nearly screwed us all.

This apathy is especially evident in the health care crisis.

(more…)

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Police Use Painful New Weapon on G20 Protesters

By Allison Kilkenny, True/Slant. Posted September 28, 2009.

This technology has been deployed in Iraq as an “anti-insurgent weapon” — it could easily be used as a torture tool.

Pittsburgh police demonstrated the latest in crowd control techniques on protesters when they used “sound cannons” to blast the ears of citizens near the G-20 meeting of world economic leaders. City officials said this was the first time such sound blasters, also known as “sound weapons,” were used publicly.

Lavonnie Bickerstaff of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police uses benign language like “sound amplifiers,” and “long-range acoustic device” to explain the new weapons in an attempt to sanitize what is essentially a painful weapon that leaves no visible marks on its victims. The mob utilized a similar tactic on snitches when they would beat everywhere except the face. If victims have no outward bruises to show, the world is less likely to believe their stories of assault and harassment.

Unlike aerosol hand-grenades, pepper spray, and rubber bullets (all traditional methods of protest suppression also used at the G-20 protests,) the damage from sound cannons is entirely internal, and can only be preserved on video, but even then, the deafening noise cannot be fully appreciated unless one hears it in person.

(Footage of the sound cannons in action can be seen/heard below. It’s clear from these videos that the extremely loud, high-pitched noise causes pain.)

The “long range acoustic device (LRAD)” is designed for long-range communication and acts as an “unmistakable warning,” according to the American Technology Corporation (ATC,) which develops the instruments. “The LRAD basically is the ability to communicate clearly from 300 meters to 3 kilometers” (nearly 2 miles), said Robert Putnam of American Technology’s media and investor relations during an interview with MSNBC. “It’s a focused output. What distinguishes it from other communications tools out there is its ability to be heard clearly and intelligibly at a distance, unlike bullhorns.”

Except, police aren’t trying to send a distress call to allies 2 miles away. They’re literally blasting this extreme decibel of noise directly into the ears of protesters (or any unwitting citizens) standing mere feet from the cannons. Depending on the mode of LRAD, it can blast a maximum sound of 145 to 151 decibels — equal to a gunshot — within a 3-foot (one meter) range, according to ATC. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that permanent hearing loss can result from sounds at about 110 to 120 decibels in short bursts or even just 75 decibels if exposure lasts for long periods.

But there is a volume knob, Putnam notes, so its output can be less than max, purportedly to give us comfort in the knowledge that deafening citizens is left to the discretion of power-hungry police. On the decibel scale, an increase of 10 (say, from 70 to 80) means that a sound is 10 times more intense. Normal traffic noise can reach 85 decibels, reports MSNBC, but these sound cannons cannot be compared to standing beside a busy New York City road.

The BBC reported in 2005 that the “shrill sound of an LRAD at its loudest sounds something like a domestic smoke alarm, ATC says, but at 150 decibels, it is the aural equivalent to standing 30m away from a roaring jet engine and can cause major hearing damage if misused.”

This technology has been deployed in Iraq as an “anti-insurgent weapon,” and the sonic weaponry is also being used on protesters in Honduras. Seattle Weekly reports that this weapon could easily be used as a torture tool if one doesn’t already think this is its only use.

Sonic weaponry is now being deployed domestically to put a chill on free speech. We’re told this is the “humane” way to deal with protesters, but it’s really just a convenient way to suppress citizens without the messy aftereffects of having to explain bullet holes to reporters. A bunch of protesters complaining about ruptured ear drums doesn’t make for dramatic news.

Footage of the sound cannons in action:

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SOURCE

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