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Friday, April 3, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
G20: Did police containment cause more trouble than it prevented?
The controversial 'kettling' tactics employed at yesterday's London demonstrations left many peaceful demonstrators trapped, as Duncan Campbell explains
Protesters who had wanted to demonstrate against the British banking system and capitalism in general, but who had also wanted to protest about climate change or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan elsewhere in the capital, were hemmed in.
Officers forming a wall of fluorescent yellow told those who wanted to leave the area and were puzzled that they could not: "Don't ask us, ask the gaffer."
The area became a public lavatory as people unable to move away used the entrances to Bank underground station as a urinal.
This is a strategy called the "kettle", which sees protesters herded into an area and kept there for hours. Its stated aim is to contain a protest in a small area so it does not spread.
It was justified by the former assistant commissioner (special operations) at the Met, Andy Hayman, in an article in the Times earlier this week.
"Tactics to herd the crowd into a pen ... have been criticised before, yet the police will not want groups spilintering away from the crowd," he wrote.
The containment was backed up at the Bank, first with mounted police and then with police dogs. As people were eventually allowed to leave at about 8pm, they were funnelled out down a narrow exit with a police officer grabbing them by the arm as though they were under arrest, again regardless of age or demeanour.
One officer, asked why people were not allowed to leave under their own steam, replied: "They might fall over."
People were then asked for their name and address and required to have a photograph taken. They are not obliged to do so under the law, but those who refused were put back in the pen.
The aim of the day's protests had been "to participate in a carnival party at the Bank of England, support all events demonstrating against G20 and overthrow capitalism".
The first objective was, to a great degree, achieved. There was street theatre and music, dancing and rolling of joints. The Duke of Wellington, mounted on his horse, was able to fulfill what one imagines was a lifetime's ambition and carry an anarchist flag. There were protesters in police uniforms and blue lipstick wearing "vigilance committee" badges.
The second aim was not possible for many people because they were not allowed to leave to join other protests. The downfall of capitalism may have to wait, although it seems to be doing a perfectly reasonable job of self-destruction.
As for more obvious signs of destruction, the Royal Bank of Scotland had its windows smashed. Why no one had thought to board up a building with the RBS sign on it, as many other outfits had been boarded up, is unclear.
As for the violent clashes that led to cracked heads and limbs, how much was inevitable and how much avoidable? Certainly, the police had to put up with much abuse and missiles, although these were mainly plastic bottles and sprayed beer and cider. Some demonstrators were bent on aggro but, then again, so were some of the officers on Queen Victoria Street.
For hours, demonstrators had been trying to leave – to go home, to pick up their children, to watch the England v Ukraine match on television were some of the reasons given to police as people, some in tears, asked to be allowed to go but were forbidden from doing so. The chants accompanying the last two violent clashes with police, when bottles were thrown, were: "Let us out!"
Nearly eight years ago, on May Day 2001, a similar "kettle" operation was imposed in Oxford Circus for around seven hours. This led to a lengthy civil action, brought against the commissioner of the Met by one of those detained. In January this year, the law lords finally upheld the right of the police in this case to carry out such containment.
The upshot of the ruling and the police's application of their "kettle" formula is that people thinking about embarking on demonstrations in the future may have to decide whether they want to be effectively locked up for eight hours without food or water and, when leaving, to be photographed and identified.
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Ain't this just great !
First Cleveland, now Columbus.
The TVNewsday and TVB/Television Broadcast trade websites report that Columbus is now the second Ohio TV market where two different newsrooms will "pool" news footage of events such as press conferences or other planned events.
The players in Central Ohio dipping into the News Sharing Pool? Media General NBC affiliate WCMH/4, and Sinclair ABC affiliate WSYX/6-Fox affiliate WTTE/28.
Quoting TVNewsday's report:
The stations' assignment desks have built a back channel to communicate with each other and a workflow to schedule shoots.
According to WCMH, "content sharing between stations has been done for years through pool type situations and now the NBC, ABC and Fox affiliates in Columbus will work together to share resources. Instead of sending two crews to shoot the same press conferences, for example, the stations will send one crew allowing more efficient use of other station crews."
The first such news sharing agreement in Ohio, of course, is the one recently announced in Cleveland...where crews will be shared between Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 and Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19-MyNetwork affiliate WUAB/43...
Ohio Media Watch
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World leaders are poised to agree a $1 trillion (£683 billion)
rescue fund for the global economy at today’s G20 summit in London.
The money will be used to help struggling economies and is intended to help boost the global economy and trade.
The agreement is expected to form the centerpiece of the G20 communique set to be unveiled by Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, and other world leaders today.
However, critics will claim that the agreement has proved less ground-breaking and historic than the Prime Minister had hoped. Leaders have failed to agree on plans for a new globally-coordinated fiscal stimulus package.
Proposals for radical reform of the global regulation of the financial system have also been watered down.
However, as revealed by The Daily Telegraph, a new global crackdown on pay and bonuses for bankers is to be announced. Hedge funds which are considered a potential threat to the stability of markets will also be regulated in future.
Under the global rescue package, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expected to be given an extra $500 billion (£341 billion) which will be lent to countries whose economies run into trouble. The IMF may also be given permission to begin selling its gold reserves.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Secret US Forces Carried Out Assassinations in a Dozen Counties
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh created a stir earlier this month when he said the Bush administration ran an “executive assassination ring” that reported directly to Vice President Dick Cheney. “Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or to the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving,” Hersh said. Seymour Hersh joins us to explain. [includes rush transcript]
When a student tests positive for an STD, Ohio State alerts the student's sexual partners. But the university has not yet adopted one of many new electronic communication systems used across the country, such as inSPOT.org, to improve this communication.
Katye Miller, wellness coordinator for the OSU Student Wellness Center, said the health department's Disease Intervention Specialist, or DIS, works with students who test positive for certain STDs to list and contact all sexual partners.
"They do a very good job of following up with clients and will call, e-mail, go to a house, etc. to find a person to recommend testing," Miller said in an e-mail. The Wellness Center is mandated by the state to use this system.
"We have always had to use this service in the Student Wellness Center as we are an Ohio Department of Health (ODH) testing site," she said.
The Wilce Student Health Center uses the same system.
"If it's something that we have to report to the health department, then the health department actually follows up on partner tracking," said Roger Miller, Preventative Medicine Physician for Student Health Services at Ohio State. "The only partner notification that we participate in is what the city health department does." Most of the time, the process is anonymous.
In 2004, a nonprofit organization, Internet Sexuality Information Services Inc., developed the Web site inSPOT.org to combat the spread of sexually transmitted infections. The online notification system has become a popular means of alerting sexual partners through e-cards of possible exposure to disease. Senders can select from a variety of e-cards, add a personal message and choose whether or not to send the message anonymously.
"I think this system is terrific," Miller said. "The thing I like the most about it is that as a recipient of one of those notices, you're automatically directed to where you can go for care."
Currently, 10 states and nine cities are registered with the site. For the registered states and cities, the Web site provides information about nearby testing and treatment centers.
For those who wish to send an e-card to someone not living in one of the geographical areas featured, inSPOT.org recommends including a personal message with information about local places to get tested.
The site also contains general information about transmission and prevention.
"There was a lot of good educational material there," Miller said. "It looked pretty well done."
Staff members at the Student Health Center have considered a system involving electronic communication but found that the task had many pitfalls.
"As soon as you put something out that's related to health, unless there are all the appropriate disclaimers and things with it, it gets a little bit difficult," Miller said. "It's probably something that the City of Columbus or the Columbus Public Health Department would have to take up."
But Miller said an electronic system such as inSPOT.org would benefit both clinics and patients.
"It allows [clinics] to focus more on actually evaluating and treating the people that need it rather than spending time on the phone trying to track down people that may or may not ever come in for care," he said.
From a patient's perspective, he said, "sometimes there are occasions where all you know about someone is their e-mail address. If that's the case, then it gives you an avenue to warn them."
After hearing about inSPOT.org and exploring the Web site, Miller said he would consider informing students of this resource.
"One drawback to this type of program if you do it for a whole community is obviously you're going to lose people who don't have Internet connections," he said. "But for the college health population â€¦ everybody has access to it."
One concern he expressed was potential abuse of the site's anonymity. "The fact that people don't have to be identified means that you could probably do some really nasty stuff to somebody you don't like," he said.
According to the site, such misuse is prohibited. Those responsible for malicious behavior face "immediate and permanent suspension from the site."
In seeking medical attention, inSPOT.org urges e-card recipients to "use their own good judgment."
To create an inSPOT for Columbus or Ohio, a replication fee is required. As government agencies cope with dwindling funds, implementation of the system might depend on the amount of money involved in the transaction.
The first step toward getting Columbus to join the inSPOT community, Miller said, would be to get a group of students to express interest in the system to the Columbus Public Health Department.
"If it's not too costly," he said, "it might be something that they would respond to."
Krista Henneck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, March 30, 2009
The Wichita Eagle
March 30, 2009
Next year, Kansans will vote whether to change the state constitution to guarantee individual gun rights.
“It is the law of the land today in every state. They (supporters) would like to make sure it stays that way in Kansas,” said Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, an Independence Republican.
Supporters of a resolution that passed the House and Senate say the move is needed in case the U.S. Supreme Court ever decides that the Second Amendment does not protect individual gun ownership. In 2008, the court ruled that the Bill of Rights covers an individual’s right to own firearms.
Before that Supreme Court decision, some lower courts had ruled that the intent of the Second Amendment was to tie the right of gun possession to militia service, such as a state National Guard unit, rather than an individual’s right to own a gun.
Scott Vogel, spokesman for Freedom States Alliance, called the fear that the courts or the current presidential administration might take away people’s guns “a phantom issue” and said lawmakers would have been better off focusing on more pressing issues.
Activist and Journalist Luke Rudowski Arrested For Asking Bloomberg A Question Plan Countersuit
Released We Are Change members tell of
“inhumane, insane surreal” experience
March 30, 2009
Luke Rudkowski Framed in “Classic Set-up”
Anthony Verias, who accompanied Rudkowski, told Alex they were victims of a “classic set-up.” Verias was assaulted and brought into an office where he was subjected to intimidation and harassment by hotel security and Bloomberg’s plainclothes “goons,” as Anthony described them.
Luke said fellow WeAreChange activist Manny Valencia was assaulted as he taped Rudkowski’s arrest and his camera was confiscated.
Rudkowski said conditions at Manhattan Central Booking are deplorable. He said the holding cells were overcrowded with overflowing toilets and infested with cockroaches. Corrections officers told Rudkowski because his case is political his files would be lost and his court appearance delayed.
The police would not return WeAreChange cameras and video footage because they consider it evidence in a criminal case. Luke was told he would have to go through the District Attorney and his lawyers to get the footage and equipment returned. Police told Rudkowski the videotapes may be erased.
Rudkowski said police were generally supportive and helpful even though the police did not offer vouchers for WeAreChange equipment and videotapes. Rudkowski asked for the vouchers.
Luke faces a trial in two months on a charge of criminal trespass.
Rudkowski, Manny Valencia, and Anthony Verias will appear later this evening on the Infowarrior show with Jason Bermas.
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