Archive for anarchist protests

Tortuga House Update: Pennsylvania Drops All Charges Against Madison & Wallschlager For Twittering

Posted in Anarchy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2009 by Anarchy Library

g20-twitterist

In the face of a PR nightmare, Pennsylvania authorities have withdrawn all charges against two members of Tortuga accused of using Twitter to aid protesters at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. At a hearing today, instead of oral arguments regarding a defense motion to unseal the secret 18-page affidavit authorizing the arrests of Elliott Madison and Michael Wallschlager at a motel just outside of Pittsburgh, the prosecution immediately moved to withdraw all charges against the two before the defense had a chance to argue its case. Although clear from the beginning that these charges were absurd based on the State’s very own laws, our housemates were incarcerated for 36 hours, had their van towed and belongings confiscated, and one house member was given $30,000 in straight bail.

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Governments across Europe tremble as angry people take to the streets

Posted in Anarchy with tags , , , , , , , on February 2, 2009 by Anarchy Library

Reclaim The Streets

France paralysed by a wave of strike action, the boulevards of Paris resembling a debris-strewn battle. The Hungarian currency sinks to its lowest level ever against the euro, as the unemployment rises. Greek farmers block the road into Bulgaria in protest at low prices for their produce.

It’s a snapshot of a single day – yesterday – in a Europe sinking into the bleakest of times. But while the outlook may be dark in the big wealthy democracies of western Europe, it is in the young, poor, vulnerable states of central and eastern Europe that the trauma of crash, slump and meltdown looks graver.

Exactly 20 years ago, in serial revolutionary rejoicing, they ditched communism to put their faith in a capitalism now in crisis and by which they feel betrayed. The result has been the biggest protests across the former communist bloc since the days of people power.

Europe’s time of troubles is gathering depth and scale. Governments are trembling. Revolt is in the air.
Athens

Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a 15-year-old middle-class boy going to a party in a rough neighbourhood on a December Saturday, was the first fatality of Europe’s season of strife. Shot dead by a policeman, the boy’s killing lit a bonfire of unrest in the city unmatched since the 1970s.

There are many wellsprings of the serial protests rolling across Europe. In Athens, it was students and young people who suddenly mobilised to turn parts of the city into no-go areas. They were sick of the lack of jobs and prospects, the failings of the education system and seized with pessimism over their future.

This week it was the farmers’ turn, rolling their tractors out to block the motorways, main road and border crossings across the Balkans to try to obtain better procurement prices for their produce.
Riga

The old Baltic trading city had seen nothing like it since the happy days of kicking out the Russians and overthrowing communism two decades ago. More than 10,000 people converged on the 13th-century cathedral to show the Latvian government what they thought of its efforts at containing the economic crisis. The peaceful protest morphed into a late-night rampage as a minority headed for the parliament, battled with riot police and trashed parts of the old city. The following day there were similar scenes in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital next door.

After Iceland, Latvia looks like the most vulnerable country to be hammered by the financial and economic crisis. The EU and IMF have already mounted a 7.5bn (6.6bn) rescue plan but the outlook is the worst in Europe.

The biggest bank in the Baltic, Swedbank of Sweden, yesterday predicted a slump this year in Latvia of a whopping 10%, more than double the previous projections. It added that the economy of Estonia would shrink by 7% and of Lithuania by 4.5%.

The Latvian central bank’s governor went on national television this week to pronounce the economy “clinically dead. We have only three or four minutes to resuscitate it”.
Paris

Burned-out cars, masked youths, smashed shop windows, and more than a million striking workers. The scenes from France are familiar, but not so familiar to President Nicolas Sarkozy, confronting the first big wave of industrial unrest of his time in the Elys’e Palace.

Sarkozy has spent most of his time in office trying to fix the world’s problems, with less attention devoted to the home front. From Gaza to Georgia, Russia to Washington, Sarkozy has been a man in a hurry to mediate in trouble spots and grab the credit for peacemaking.

France, meanwhile, is moving into recession and unemployment is going up. The latest jobless figures were to have been released yesterday, but were held back, apparently for fear of inflaming the protests.
Budapest

A balance of payments crisis last autumn, heavy indebtedness and a disastrous budget made Hungary the first European candidate for an international rescue. The $26bn (18bn) IMF-led bail-out shows scant sign of working. Industrial output is at its lowest for 16 years, the national currency – the forint – sank to a record low against the euro yesterday and the government also announced another round of spending cuts yesterday.

So far the streets have been relatively quiet. The Hungarian misery highlights a key difference between eastern and western Europe. While the UK, Germany, France and others plough hundreds of billions into public spending, tax cuts, bank bailouts and guarantees to industry, the east Europeans (plus Iceland and Ireland) are broke, ordering budget cuts, tax rises, and pleading for international help to shore up their economies.

The austerity and the soaring costs of repaying bank loans and mortgages taken out in hard foreign currencies (euro, yen and dollar) are fuelling the misery.
Kiev

The east European upheavals of 1989 hit Ukraine late, maturing into the Orange Revolution on the streets of Kiev only five years ago. The fresh start promised by President Viktor Yushchenko has, though, dissolved into messy, corrupt, and brutal political infighting, with the economy, growing strongly a few years ago, going into freefall.

Three weeks of gas wars with Russia this month ended in defeat and will cost Ukraine dearly. The national currency, at less than half the value of six months ago, is akin to the fate of Iceland’s wrecked krona. Ukrainians have been buying dollars by the billion. In November the IMF waded in with the first payments in a $16bn rescue package.

The vicious power struggles between Yushchenko and the prime minister, Yuliya Tymoshenko, are consuming the ruling elite’s energy, paralysing government and leaving the economy dysfunctional. Russia is doing its best to keep things that way.
Reykjavik

Proud of its status as one of the world’s most developed, most productive and most equal societies, Iceland is in the throes of what is, by its staid standards, a revolution.

Riot police in Reykjavik, the coolest of capitals. Building bonfires in front of the world’s oldest parliament. The yoghurt flying at the free market men who have run the country for decades and brought it to its knees.

An openly gay prime minister takes over today as head of a caretaker government. The neocon right has been ditched. The hard left Greens are, at least for the moment, the most popular party in the small Arctic state with a population the size of Bradford.

The IMF’s bailout teams have moved in with $11bn. The national currency, the krona, appears to be finished. Iceland is a test case of how one of the most successful societies on the globe suddenly failed.

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Anarchists of the World Unite – In Cyberspace

Posted in Anarchy with tags , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2009 by Anarchy Library

Every scholar of 20th-century history can tell you about the Communist International – usually called Comintern, and strictly speaking the third in a series of four global fraternities whose aim was to pursue the class struggle all over the world. —- Is it possible to imagine an Anarchist International, a trans-national version of the inchoate but impassioned demonstrations that have ravaged Greece this month? (Perhaps because it is easier to say what Greece’s malcontents are against than what they are for, the word “anarchist” is an accepted catch-all term for the anti-establishment rebels who form the hard core of the Athenian protesters.) —- By definition, anarchy is harder to propagate than rigid Leninism. Whatever is spreading from Athens, it is not a clear program for a better world.

The malcontents of Greece include ideological class warriors, nostalgists for the protests against the junta of 1967-74 and people (including drug dealers and bank robbers) with a grudge against the police.

Relations between police and the counter-culture have worsened recently; the police are accused (rightly) of bullying migrants, the bohemians of dallying with terrorism. A messy scene, with no obvious message.

But the psychological impulse behind the Greek protests – a sense of rage against all authority, which came to a head after a 15-year-old boy was killed by a police bullet – can now be transmitted almost instantaneously, in ways that would make the Bolsheviks very jealous.

These days, images (moving as well as still) spread faster than words; and images, of course, transcend language barriers.

E-communications are now a familiar feature in pro-democracy protests against dictators. Equally fast-moving, say specialists, is the role of technology in what might be called “undemocratic protests”: violent acts in prosperous, networked societies.

This became obvious during the French riots of 2005, when teenagers posted blogs that urged people to “burn the cops” – and made massive use of text messages to co-ordinate the protests.

The youths who trashed Budapest in 2006 relied on blogs to enlist supporters, and to distribute an audio recording of the prime minister admitting government corruption.

Already, the Greek riots are prompting talk of a new era of networked protest. The volume of online content they have inspired is remarkable. Photos and videos of the chaos, often shot with cell phones, were posted online almost in real time.

Twitter, a service for exchanging short messages, has brimmed with live reports from the streets of Athens, most of them in Greek but a few in English.

A tribute to the slain teenager – a clip of photos with music from a popular rock band – appeared on YouTube shortly after his death; more than 160,000 people have seen it.

A similar tribute group on Facebook has attracted more than 130,000 members, generating thousands of messages and offering links to more than 1,900 related items: images of the protests, cartoons and leaflets.

A memorial was erected in Second Life, a popular virtual environment, giving its users a glimpse of real-life material from the riots. Many other online techniques – such as maps detailing police deployments and routes of the demonstrations – came of age in Athens.

And as thousands of photos and videos hit non-Greek blogs and forums, small protests were triggered in many European cities, including Istanbul and Madrid. Some 32 people were arrested in Copenhagen.

The spread of sympathy protests over what began as a local Greek issue has big implications for the more formal anti-globalization movement. That movement has ignored the idea of spontaneous but networked protest, and instead focused on taking large crowds to set-piece events like summits.

Such methods look outdated now. Governments are not the only things that networked “anarchy” threatens.

– From A-Infos