Monthly Archives: April 2011

(UCBerkeleyEvents) Host Harry Kreisler welcomes writer and journalist Tariq Ali for a discussion of Pakistan and it relations with the United States. He places the present crisis in its historical context exploring the origins of the Pakistani state, the failure to forge a national identity, the inability and unwillingness of Pakistani leaders to address the country’s poverty and inequality, and the role of the military in the country’s spiral toward violence and disunity. In this context, Tariq Ali highlights the significance of the U.S. relationship throughout Pakistan’s history and he analyzes current US policy and it implications for stability in the region.


( Protest groups claim Facebook has taken down dozens of pages in a purge of activists’ accounts

Activists are claiming that dozens of politically linked Facebook accounts have been removed or suspended by the company in the last 12 hours.

The list of suspended pages include those for the anti cuts group UK Uncut, and pages that were created by students during last December’s university occupations.

A list posted on the UCL occupation blog site says the Goldsmiths Fights Back, Slade Occupation, Open Brikbeck, and Tower Hamlet Greens pages as no longer functioning.

It is not yet known how many websites have been affected in total or why they are not working. Facebook is currently looking into the issue.

Guy Aitchison, 26, an administrator for one of the non-functioning pages said, “I woke up this morning to find that a lot of the groups we’d been using for anti-cuts activity had disappeared. The timing of it seems suspicious given a general political crackdown because of the royal wedding.”

“It seems that dozens of other groups have also been affected, including some of the local UK Uncut groups.”

Earlier, it was reported that the Metropolitan police had invoked special powers to deter anarchists in central London ahead of the royal wedding.

Police threw a section 60 cordon around the whole of the royal wedding zone on Friday morning to respond to anarchists masking up at a small gathering in Soho Square in central London.

The section 60 order allows police officers to stop and search anyone without discretion. The police also imposed section 60a, which gives them the power to remove masks and balaclavas from anyone within the area.

Scotland Yard said the decision was made after individuals were seen putting on masks in Soho Square where a group of anarchists had gathered.

The Guardian is awaiting a comment from Facebook.


( After the raids on squats and social centres in London this morning [see here] ahead of the Royal wedding, and Brighton earlier in the week, the police this evening have arrested at least three people we know of as a precaution against trouble at tomorrow’s royal wedding. Chris Knight, the outspoken and eccentric academic who has been providing the press with much of the coverage against the royal wedding, [see here] is one along with two others.

Another, known affectionately as The Executioner because of his habit of wearing a full executioners costume on anti-monarchist demonstrations, was arrested for apparently ‘conspiracy to cause a breach of the peace’. Given that breach of the peace is a situation rather than a criminal act, it will be hard for the police to justify detaining someone in prison for the duration of the royal wedding on such a basis.

Breach of the peace has been defined in law as needing to be ‘imminent’ to legally justify holding someone against their will. As far as we are aware no-one has been charged with a criminal act.

The raids this morning of several squatted social centres around London provided no evidence that anything was being planned by any anarchists for the royal wedding. The pre-emptive arrests tonight of known individuals seems to be the second phase of a political policing operation to ensure the ceremony passes off without opposition.


( Sony’s Playstation Network, its online service for Playstation 3 and its Playstation Portable consoles, suffered from a major outage today; which is on going as of this writting. According to Son’ys blog, the interruption in service may last into the long weekend – for at least another “full day or two”. Sony released a statement through its EU blog, saying that the network outage may be a result of “targeted behaviour by an outside party”, brining in the possibility of cyberattacks. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the message has since been removed.

While it could be the case that other Anons have acted by themselves AnonOps wa not related to this incident and takes no responsiblity for it. A more likely explination is that Sony is taking advantage of Anonymous’ previous ill-will towards the company to distract users from the fact the outage is accutally an internal problem with the companies servers.


Sony is incompetent.


(Democracy Now!) Military officials have announced alleged whistleblower U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, who is suspected of leaking classified U.S. documents to WikiLeaks, has been cleared to be held as a medium security prisoner at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he was just transferred. Up until last week, Manning was held in 23-hour a day solitary confinement at a Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia. His treatment at Quantico was condemned by Amnesty International and led to a probe by a torture expert at the United Nations. We speak to legal blogger and constitutional law attorney Glenn Greenwald, who revealed in December that Manning was being subjected to detention conditions likely to inflict long-term psychological injuries.

Watch it here:

(Huffington Post) Has Wisconsin finally come to Arizona?

In an extraordinary uprising at the Tucson Unified School District board meeting last night, Ethnic Studies/Mexican American Studies (MAS) students chained themselves to the board members chairs and derailed the introduction of a controversial resolutionthat would have terminated their acclaimed program’s core curriculum accreditation.

“Just like the people of Wisconsin took a stand and said ‘enough is enough’, the youth of Tucson are standing up and letting it be known that they are fed up with these attacks on their education and on their future,” said Sal Baldenegro, Jr., a TUSD Ethnic Studies alum and member of the Southern Arizona Unity Coalition. “They have been under relentless assault by Tom Horne, John Huppenthal, and by the Arizona State Legislature, and they have had enough.”

Popular Tucson blogger and activist David Abie Morales called it a “field trip for civics and democracy in action.”

“Nobody was listening to us, especially the board,” said MAS high school student and UNIDOS activist Lisette Cota. “We were fed up. It may have been drastic but the only way was to chain ourselves to the boards’ chairs.”

While hundreds of supporters packed the district meeting room in a celebratory fashion, nine MAS students and UNIDOS activists defied security officers and literally took over the board members’ places minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin.

“I’m very moved by their passion and commitment to maintain these courses and curriculum,” said MAS teacher Sally Rusk. “They’re brilliant. This is not a one-time event. It looks like they’re not going to stop until they have an impact on this decision.”

Read more:

( Ministry of Defence colleges trained military personnel loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

The British government has defended its training programme for foreign military leaders after it emerged that it had educated several Syrian officers at Ministry of Defence colleges. Three officers from the Syrian armed forces were trained in Britain from 2005 to 2010, and a further two were enrolled in 2003 at Sandhurst, the army officer training college in Surrey, and at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. The data was released following a freedom of information request by the Guardian.

News of Britain’s role training officers loyal to Syria‘s president, Bashar al-Assad, came after allegations his regime’s forces have killed at least 450 civilians in a violent attempt to suppress the uprising. They have reportedly used tanks, snipers and armoured vehicles to crush the opposition movement.

The Syrian officers trained by the MoD were among hundreds from Middle Eastern countries whose governments pay for them to attend Britain’s world-renowned officer training colleges each year. It trained 104 Bahraini officers over the same period, seven from Libya, three from Tunisia and 56 from Yemen, according to MoD figures.

Asked about why Britain has been training Syrian troops, a spokeswoman for the defence department said she could not talk about individual cases but claimed no training would be given if it would lead to human rights abuses. “The British military provide places on our flagship courses, such as officer training at Sandhurst, to develop a nation’s future military leaders and instil the same values of accountability and commitment to the rule of law that underpin our own armed forces,” she said. “All overseas requests for defence training are considered on a case-by-case basis and it would not be provided if we thought such training would lead to human rights abuses. Indeed, providing training to the same high standards used by UK armed forces helps to save lives and raise awareness of human rights.”

Meanwhile, Lord Bell, the chairman of Chime, the London public relations company that includes Bell Pottinger, told on Wednesday how he acted for Syria’s first lady, Asma al-Assad, in 2007 and 2008 at the beginning of a public relations drive to place her at the forefront of Syria’s international image, which culminated earlier this year in a sympathetic Vogue article that branded her “a rose in the desert”.

“She wanted to set up a first lady’s office rather like Laura Bush and Queen Rania of Jordan,” Bell said.

“At the time she didn’t want to appear in fashion magazines and she wanted to be taken seriously. She was interested in pitching for Damascus to become a city of culture and we set up an office and communications structure for her, did speech writing and set up interviews with serious media.”

by Robert Booth and Ben Quinn


( If you sometimes find yourself needing an open wireless network in order to check your email from a car, a street corner, or a park, you may have noticed that they’re getting harder to find.
Stories like the one over the weekend about a bunch of police breaking down an innocent man’s door because he happened to leave his network open, as well as general fears about slow networks and online privacy, are convincing many people to password-lock their WiFi routers.

The gradual disappearance of open wireless networks is a tragedy of the commons, with a confusing twist of privacy and security debate. This essay explains why the progressive locking of wireless networks is harmful — for convenience, for privacy and for efficient use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

We will need a political and technological “Open Wireless Movement” to reverse the degradation of this indispensable component of the Internet’s infrastructure. Part of the task will simply be reminding people that opening their WiFi is the socially responsible thing to do, and explaining that individuals who choose to do so can enjoy the same legal protections against liability as any other Internet access provider.1 Individuals, including Bruce Schneier and Cory Doctorow, have laid some of the groundwork. It’s time to spead the message far and wide.

But an Open Wireless Movement will also need to do technical work: we need to build new technologies to ensure that people have an easy way to share a portion of their bandwidth without affecting the performance of their own network connections while at the same time ensuring that there is absolutely no privacy downside to running an open wireless network. Read More

(Spiegel) The Hungarian village of Gyöngyöspata has once again become home to violence between right-wing radicals and its Roma populace. Dozens of extremists marched into the town on Wednesday, one day after provoking brawls with the Roma who live there. It is the continuation of a trend.

Just a harmless excursion. That is how the Hungarian government sought to portray the evacuation of some 270 Roma residents of Gyöngyöspata over Easter. The group — two-thirds of the 450 Roma who live there — had left the village due to a planned training exercise for the right-wing extremist group Vederö, an exercise ultimately prevented by the police.

 But on Tuesday evening, right-wing Hungarian radicals struck again. According to the news service MTI, three people were injured in fights between right-wing radicals and Roma in the village. Seven people were arrested.

 On Wednesday morning, dozens of right-wing extremists flooded the village, according to a statement released on Facebook by a group sympathetic to the country’s Roma population. Large numbers of police likewise arrived in the village. Around 100 Roma left the village on Wednesday, MTI reported.

What caused the fights on Tuesday evening remains unclear. Right-wing radicals are said to have thrown stones at a Roma house in the village. Members of Vederö are thought to have been involved in the brawls on Tuesday, but members of the right-wing group Betyarsereg are also thought to have participated. The group sent “reinforcements” to Gyöngyöspata on Wednesday.

Erik Selymes of the Hungarian Red Cross said that the Easter trip had been organized at the request of the Roma and Hungarian government spokesman Peter Szijjarto called reports of an evacuation a “bald-faced lie.”

Right-Wing Militants

But Gyöngyöspata, a town of 2,800 residents located northwest of Budapest, has for weeks been the focal point of conflict between right-wing militants and Roma. A resident of the village told Reuters last week that he sent his wife and children to Budapest to avoid confrontation with the right-wing vigilantes.

In March, the uniformed right-wing radical group Szebb Jövöert marched through the village several times, striking fear into the hearts of the Roma who live there. The group is openly supported by the right-wing party Jobbik, which is represented in the Hungarian parliament after having received 17 percent of the vote in elections a year ago. Opposition to the Roma in Hungary was a major plank in the party’s campaign platform.

Several other villages with large numbers of Roma residents have likewise seen right-wing marches — protests, the groups say, which are meant to highlight “gypsy criminality.” In the small town of Hajdúhadháza, where members of Szebb Jövöert have been “patrolling” for weeks, five right-wing radicals were arrested 10 days ago for disturbing the peace. They were released just two days later. Gergely Rubi, a Jobbik member of parliament, said the group would continue its marches to “improve public order and security,” the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine reported.

‘Afraid to Go Out’

 A separate Jobbik parliamentarian, János Volner, said the group is merely responding to the wishes of the populace and has “already caught several criminals red-handed and turned them over to the police,” young Roma among them. Dénes Csáfordi, the mayor of Hajdúhadháza, has accused the group of creating an environment of fear in which Roma children “are afraid to go out on the street.”

 In Budapest, human rights groups are planning a demonstration on Wednesday evening in solidarity with the Roma. Former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said that in Hungary “there is no Roma problem, rather there is a Nazi problem.”

Hungary holds the rotating European Union presidency until the end of June. The Hungarian government has been repeatedly criticized by its European partners for its authoritarian leanings and for its alleged censorship of the media.

cgh — with wire reports