Daily Archives: 02/02/2011

(Libertarian  Labyrinth)

A slightly belated “Happy 202nd Birthday!” to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. It looks like the AK Press anthology will be out in February, and I have hopes of having the second issue of The Mutualist, “Owning Up,” and Proudhon’s Third Memoir on Property finished up by the Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair. I wish I thought that all those releases were likely to advance the debate about mutualism much beyond its current state—but I’m seriously concerned that more translations means more material to take out of context, and an intensification of the tug-of-war over Proudhon’s place in the anarchist tradition.
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( Around 2,500 police officers were deployed in Berlin today to evict inhabitants of one of the capital city’s last former squats.

The 25 residents of the Liebig 14 tenement block have refused to leave after losing a lengthy legal battle which has become a touchstone for the city’s anti-gentrification movement.

The local Green MP, Hans-Christian Ströbele, said alternative housing projects such as Liebig 14 were one of Berlin’s trademarks and should be protected rather than destroyed.

More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside the building in the former east Berlin district of Friedrichshain. They waved banners, banged wooden spoons on saucepans and shouted at officers from the German Special Forces who had managed to climb onto the roof during the night. On the street, police in full riot gear blocked all access routes.

By 11.45am local time (10.45 GMT) 23 protesters had been arrested, but police had not managed to gain full access.

Demonstrations and publicity stunts are planned across Berlin throughout the day. Already, protesters claim to have paintballed the famous department store KaDeWe, Berlin’s answer to Harrod’s, along with the town hall in the district of Schöneberg, where John F Kennedy gave his”Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963.

The building, which has 25 bedrooms, four kitchens and five bathrooms, was first squatted in 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. After Berlin’s housing board took ownership of the house in 1992, the squatters signed a lease making them the legal residents.

After it was sold to private developers, the lease was passed on to the current occupiers, who range from 19 to 40 years old and hail from around the world. One British resident, a 24-year-old PhD student, gave her name as Sarah.

“We were told we have to leave because the landlord wants to renovate the house and divide it up into expensive flats, which is what has already happened to other alternative housing projects like ours,” she said.

“People with not much money are being forced out of Berlin city centre. This is not just about 25 people losing their home, it’s a protest against the gentrification of the city and ordinary people all over being priced out of their local housing market.”

Sarah refused to say how much rent she paid, but it is widely believed to be a token amount. German media has reported that the rent is still set at 1992 levels, which equates to just €1 (85p) per square metre per month.

The district mayor, Franz Schulz, criticised the eviction. “It is not a good day. We’re losing an important alternative project,” he told Inforadio.

Most of today’s protesters were in their 20s or 30s, but standing by the police line on the south side of Liebigstrasse were an older couple from Munster, who looked on with concern.

“Our daughter is one of the residents,” said the 60-year-old university professor, who did not want to be named.

“She has lived there for 10 years now. We come and visit every month or two. It’s almost like our second home. I know many of her housemates and they are nice, peaceful people. It’s crazy that the city of Berlin is allowing this to happen.”

Berlin police said 2,500 officers were engaged in the operation, “but not all are stationed here; they are spread out all over the city to deal with the planned demonstrations”.

Wednesday 2 February 2011 12.22 GMT
by Helen Pidd in Berlin


( Reporters Without Borders is pleased that Internet access was restored this morning in Egypt after being blocked for five days, but the organization calls for vigilance. According to tests carried out in Egypt by Reporters Without Borders employees, Twitter and Facebook are again accessible, as are theAl Jazeera website, the online newspaper Al Badil and other news websites.

“Censorship is a strategy that is doomed to fail,” Reporters Without Borders said. “People use ways to get around it. Total blocking just exacerbates popular discontent and has serious economic consequences. We urge the authorities not to give in again to the temptation to block the Internet or use any form of filtering in response to political developments in the days to come.”

Reporters Without Borders also condemns the repressive reactions of various governments which, fearing that the demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt could spread to other countries, are censuring reports about these events and are tightening their control of the Internet.

Syria is reportedly trying to reinforce its system of blocking and controlling emails, Facebook and Twitter. Although already blocked, these two social networks are popular in Syria because they can still be accessed by means of censorship circumvention tools. But now the authorities seem determined to prevent Syrian Internet users from discussing the situation in Egypt.

A Syrian law requiring Internet cafés to ask clients to show ID is to be enforced more strictly. The TV station Al-Arabiya’s website, which has been covering the Egyptian protests and condemning censorship, has been rendered inaccessible in Syria. In reprisal, hackers posted this message on the newspaper Bldna’s website: “We will not let the media conceal what is happing in Egypt. Here are some headlines about these events.” Reports about the currents protests followed.

China censored online searching on 28 January, blocking the results of searches using the term “Egypt” on Twitter and the equivalent Chinese microblogging services on and Anyone trying this search term gets this message: “According to the laws in force, the result of your search cannot be communicated.”

The hashtag #jan25, referring to the 25 January demonstrations in Egypt, spread like wildfire on the Chinese Internet. The Communist Party seems more scared than ever of political reforms, democratic demands and “public order disturbances.” Dispatches about Egypt that the official news agency Xinhua had published were reportedly suppressed on 30 January.

The Internet has been disrupted during the past few days in Iran. Yahoo! is reportedly being censored. The Reuters website was hard to access on 30 and 31 January, joining already censored sites such as Facebook, Twitter and the BBC site. When Iranian Internet users try to connect to certain foreign news websites, they are reportedly redirected to official sites.

In Gaza, a group of journalists and bloggers who went to cover and participate in a sit-in in solidarity with Egypt on 31 January were arrested, roughed up by the security forces and were held for several hours.

At the height of the Internet blackout in Egypt, Google and Twitter joined forces to help Egyptians get around the censorship. They set up a series of dedicated phone lines that people can call and leave a voice message which is instantly converted into a Tweet with the keyword #egypt. The numbers are +1 650 419 4196, +39 06 62 20 72 94 and +97 316 199 855.

As Egypt’s fixed-line telephone system has remained operational, Internet Service Providers abroad have invited Egyptians to use a modem to connect to their services. FDN, a French ISP, provided the number +33 1 7289-0150 as a way to get into its service using the password “toto.” The Swedish ISP Telecomix offered a similar solution using the number +46 8 5000-9990 and the password “telecomix.”



Why anonymity is important for ANONYMOUS?

Anonymous feels that a lot of people do not understand and sometimes even resent the fact that ANONYMOUS is just that: anonymous. The argument that pops up time and time again in this context is that free speech and dissent necessarily require accountability, and so it is argued to be contradictory that ANONYMOUS uses anonymity in it’s struggle for – oh irony – the freedom of information. In this article ANONYMOUS hopes to clarify some of these important issues.

With the advent of the internet in general, and network infrastructure and peer-to-peer computing in particular, society – and the way it is organized – has undergone a dramatic change, the consequences of which are not yet completely visible. With this technology has come the first true opportunity to access, share, discuss, and produce information anywhere and anytime, transcending previous boundaries of locality and temporality, as well as certain socio-economic limitations. Moreover, as websites like Wikipedia have made abundantly clear, this technological development has presented us, for the very first time in history, with the possibility to really separate the message from the messenger and judge information impartially. In addition, it gives true meaning to the prevalence of constructive and peer-reviewed collective action over the necessarily limited action of the individual.

What is important here is that the singular individual and his actions become subordinate to the ‘larger’ yet anonymous result of the collective process that is the production of knowledge. It is the nameless collective and the procedures by which it is governed which in the end prevail over the necessarily biased and single-minded individual. Yet, at the same time, the individual’s ability to contribute to this communal process of the production of knowledge has never been greater before. It no longer matters what colour your skin is, what religion you adhere to, where you were born, whether you are male or female, or how much money you make – any one can contribute just as much as he or she wants and will be peer-reviewed on an equal footing, taking into account nothing else but the information he or she conveys. Any single individual can be weak, faulty, frail and prone to failure. But when information is owned by all of us, and anyone is able to collaborate and improve upon it, then we can tap into the collective brilliance of mankind without worrying about who gets credit.

It is not surprising, that all these features and characteristics can also be found within ANONYMOUS – an idea and movement which was truly born out of these new technologies, these new principles of organizing things, these radical new ways of thinking. Even more so than it is the case with Wikipedia, we believe the principle of anonymity lies at the very heart of what ANONYMOUS is. It is in the nature of the meme itself to be anonymous, and it can only be properly used in so far as this aspect of anonymity is adhered to. For it is exactly this being nameless, this lack of positive qualities, which enables anyone to project their own ideas, values and ideals into this open space of possibility that is refered to as ANONYMOUS. And it adds to the concept this tiny yet mesmerizing spark of mystery that enables it to capture the minds and imagination of large and diversified audiences worldwide.

ANONYMOUS also believes ensuring a minimal degree of anonymity is the only way to safeguard an organization from having a leader / a group of leaders, and the personal cultus which usually ensues from this. As this would obviously be detrimental to the existence of the idea ANONYMOUS as such, so we feel it is one of the most important tasks within this endeavour we are undertaking to make sure this can and will not happen.

Moreover, when one supports and fights for freedom and radical transparency, one tends to encounter some rather powerful enemies and vested interests. Scientology’s use of their infamous 1965 “Fair Game Law” or the recent phishing activities of the Tunisian government and the subsequent disappearance of at least two political dissidents in the same country, show once more that the protection of personal information is not just a luxury, but a necessary precaution to defend oneself in the struggle for human rights and dignity. Sad as this may be, it is a present-day reality.

Of course it is true that this anonymity, particularly in combination with the low threshold to ‘join ANONYMOUS’, also brings with it it’s own risks and downsides. There will always be a chance to abuse the meme as a banner or disguise under which one performs malignant actions or just irritating trolling. However, as previously stated, we believe the solution to these issues is to take up our own personal responsibilty and counter these actions with more (constructive) action, or to simply ignore the “trolling” – after all it is an art form all of it’s own, and why shouldn’t we respect that?

On the other hand, this openness and anonymity also gives free play to purported ‘destructive elements’ like ‘Agent Provocateurs’, ‘moles’ and ‘spies’ who want to infiltrate and destabilize ANONYMOUS. We fail to see however, how this would be a ‘disadvantage’. ANONYMOUS is exactly designed to be completely transparent. Anybody can join and look at what we are doing, contribute, or get involved to the extent which he or she chooses. This in fact makes it impossible to ‘infiltrate’ us – either you are or you are not ANONYMOUS, there just is no real third option.

And last but not least: the fact that ANONYMOUS has nothing to hide proves that there is no real contradiction between privacy and transparency. Anonymity may be a prerequisite for ANONYMOUS to function, but this doesn’t interfere in any way with the radical degree of transparency and freedom of information that ANONYMOUS not only strives for, but also sets as a standard for it’s own behaviour.

And remember: YOU ARE ANONYMOUS !

WRITER’s info: This essay was written in collaboration with a score of people, all only known to each other under pseudonyms.


( The conditions of Private Manning’s confinement have been widely reported. Not surprisingly, on January 24, Amnesty International called on US authorities “to alleviate the harsh pre-trial detention conditions of Bradley Manning.”

As we also reported here, Psychologists for Social Responsibility have joined the call for Manning’s humane treatment in an open letter to Robert Gates, which calls upon him “to rectify the inhumane, harmful, and counterproductive treatment of PFC Bradley Manning immediately.”

Amnesty International is now calling on British authorities to intervene on behalf of Private Manning on the basis that Manning may be a British citizen.

In a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press, Amnesty International’s U.K. Director Kate Allen said Manning’s background meant that British officials “should be demanding that the conditions of his detention are in line with international standards.”

Manning is very likely, in fact, a British citizen by law, holding dual UK/US citizenship status. Manning’s status as a UK national was first reported here, where it is pointed out that his mother, Susan Manning, is a UK citizen, having been born in the UK. As was pointed out here, however, things are not so simple in terms of international law.

According to the Master Nationality Rule, discussed in this pdf document (in Section 3.3), “when a dual citizen is in the country of one of his two nationalities, that country has the right to treat that person as if he or she were solely a citizen or national of that country. This includes the right to impose military service obligations, or to require an exit permit to leave.” This seems to clearly entail that the UK is not under any obligation to defend Manning.

However, note that according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London, the British Consulate may intervene in certain cases in which a UK national is imprisoned abroad. According to the FCO, although dual nationality does not guarantee any privileges while a UK citizen is in the other nation of his/her other nationality (in this case, the United States), there is nevertheless the possibility of British intervention.

If you are a dual national traveling in the state of your other nationality we would not normally offer you support or get involved in dealings between you and the authorities of that state. We may make an exception if, having looked at the circumstances of the case, we consider that there is a special humanitarian reason to do so. (My emphasis)

Whether the UK decides to intervene will therefore depend on its interpretation of “humanitarian reasons.” It should be noted, however, that in the case of Guantanamo inmate David Matthew Hicks, who “applied for British citizenship in 2005” while detained without trial, UK citizenship status was not sufficient to warrant any help from UK authorities. In fact, the British government revoked his British citizenship only hours after it had been granted and did so under section 56 of the Immigration, Asylum And Nationality Act 2006, which allows allowing the Home Secretary to “deprive a person of a citizenship status if the Secretary of State is satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good.”

Further interpretive issues arise, then, with regard to the notion of “public good”, which appears broad enough to be deemed logically and legally consistent with any decision made by the UK in the case of Bradley Manning. Pending further analysis, the question seems to rest on purely moral grounds at the moment, given the vagueness and ambiguity plaguing the existing terms.


(via eagainst) More than a million protesters flooded into central Cairo, turning Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital, into a sea of humanity as massive protests against President Hosni Mubarak swept across Middle East’s most populous nation. Packed shoulder to shoulder in and around the famed Tahrir Square, the mass of people on Tuesday held aloft posters denouncing the president, and chanted slogans “Go Mubarak Go” and “Leave! Leave! Leave!”

Similar demonstrations calling on Mubarak to step down were also witnessed across other cities, including Sinai, Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura, Damnhour, Arish, Tanta and El-Mahalla el-Kubra. Tens of thousands marched in Alexandria while the number of those protesting in Sinai was estimated to be around 250,000.

Tuesday’s protests were by far the biggest since street demonstrations broke out against Mubarak’s rule last week. “The crowd is very diverse – young, old, religious, men, women – and growing by the minute,” Al Jazeera’s online producer said from Tahrir Square. “They’re chanting the same slogans they’ve been chanting all week. Someone actually hung an effigy of Mubarak from a streetlight.” Organisers had called for a march by a million people on the day, but the turnout surpassed all expectations. Soldiers deployed at the square did nothing to stop the crowds from entering. Read more…



Dear Prime Minister
The world notes again your comments on Julian Assange reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, February 2nd 2011.

It is pleasing that you would welcome him back to Australia but your statement that the government cannot do anything to assist him in that regard is not strictly correct and springs from a factual error in you saying “They are charges and they’ve got to be worked through proper process.” Prime Minister, in brief these are the relevant facts and applicable law:

1) Mr Assange has not ever been charged by Sweden or anybody else.
2) The Swedish authorities have initiated an extradition process which is contrary to the European Arrest Warrant (“EAW”) system in that they want him back in Sweden for the purposes of investigation, not explicitly to charge him.
3) The EAW is a fast track extradition process between EU member states brought into effect to allow decisions to be made between EU judicial systems, not between politicians.

The European arrest warrant is a judicial decision issued by a Member State with a view to the arrest and surrender by another Member State of a requested person, for the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution or executing a custodial sentence or detention order.

Note Prime Minister, that UK explanatory document above extracted from EAW law says criminal prosecution, not criminal investigation, and you may recall that in Australian law, and in many other parts of the world, police can only hold a suspect for a limited time (eg NSW four hours plus time-outs) for the purposes of investigation only.

Extradition for the stated purpose of investigation only is not only an abuse of the EAW system, it is also an abuse of Mr Assange’s human rights and brings in an arguable political dimension to the prosecution itself, contrary to the EAW’s legal prohibitions.

You will also note the political dimensions of prosecutorial forum shopping in Mr Assange’s case: what one Swedish prosecutor dropped, another was pursuaded to reopen by a Swedish politician, Mr Claes Borgström.

Sweden’s prosecutor Ms Ny, according to Mr Assange’s counsel, has apparently indicated that her intention is to hold Mr Assange in Sweden for the purposes of investigation, incommunicado, which means no bail allowed and Mr Assange would be without access to visitors legal or otherwise: this apparently is a matter of her own stated policy in sexual allegation matters.

This is an intended breach of Mr Assanges’s human rights, should he be extradited, on top of another, the original breach of Swedish law, of their prosecutors releasing/confirming his name and the allegations to the Swedish media in 2010.

Prime Minister, when an Australian national’s human rights are being trampled upon abroad, citizens expect our government to say or do something about it. It is not simply a matter of letting another nation’s legal processes continue when clearly they are abusive.

It is likewise no longer a matter of pandering to the interests of the USA and allowing Australian citizens to be tortured as was Mamdouh Habib, by the recently promoted Vice President of Egypt no less, a matter that on legal suit by Mr Habib it is noted that the Australian government settled out of court recently with Commonwealth taxpayers money.

While Sweden is by no means North Korea, would the Australian government keep silent on abuse of human rights, of an Australian citizen, prepetrated by the latter?

Lastly, Prime Minister, you drew a distinction between the “moral force” of whistleblowing and indicated that Wikileaks was “not about making a moral case.”

Wikileaks supporters would invite you Prime Minister, for example, to view the video “Collateral Murder” and consider whether or not Wikileaks was making a moral case against prima facie war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.

We urge you Prime Minister to make the appropriate complaints to the Swedish government of their prosecutorial abusive treatment of Julian Assange, contrary to Swedish and European Human Rights law.

Yours Faithfully
Peter H Kemp
Solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW.