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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:57 am 
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:welcome:

Welcome to 2012 !!

OH NO, IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD !!!
WAAAAAAAAAAH !!!
FLEE FLEE...
:o

Anyway, 2012 looks set to continue the global protests started in 2011. But perhaps we will also see some results of these protests in the shape of proper reforms and the bringing to justice of those that are responsible for the mess we are all in - though that seems unlikely.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:38 am 
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Russian protesters arrested in Moscow rally
1 January 2012

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Police officers detain an activist during a protest rally to defend Article 31 of the Russian constitution, which guarantees the right of assembly, in St. Petersburg December 31, 2011. REUTERS-Alexander Demianchuk

(Reuters) - Russian police detained about 60 protesters during an anti-government demonstration on Saturday in Moscow, hours after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered a conciliatory message to the opposition in a televised New Year's Eve address.

Reuters witnesses said they saw police surround and detain protesters who were shouting slogans such as "Putin Must Go!" and "Free the Political Prisoners!."

Police said about 200 people took part in the rally, with 60 detained. Gathering in near-freezing temperatures at a major thoroughfare in the capital, many protesters wore the white ribbon that has become a symbol of the protests.

Putin has faced massive demonstrations following a December 4 parliamentary election that protesters and international observers said was marked by fraud and violations. Despite the mounting pressure, Putin is expected to comfortably win a presidential election in March and return to the Kremlin. "Of course, I want to wish all of our citizens, independent of their political leanings - those who sympathise with the forces of the left, and those on the right, those on top and those below, as you like - I want to wish everyone happiness and prosperity," he said in his address.

He made a passing nod to political tensions but said they were "the inevitable cost of democracy," especially in election time. "At such times, politicians always try to manipulate the voters' feelings, everything is a little shaken up and seething, but that is the inevitable cost of democracy. There's nothing unusual here," he said.

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Police officers detain an activist during a protest rally defending Article 31 of the Russian constitution, which guarantees the right of assembly, in Moscow December 31, 2011. REUTERS-Anton Golubev

Saturday's protest took place at Moscow's Triumfalnaya Square, a traditional rallying point for the opposition that also served as the birthplace of the demonstrations that have swept Russia this month. Police and other law enforcement officers were deployed in the area well before the protest began at 5 p.m., their buses and vans lining the streets surrounding the square.

The protest was organised by the "Strategy 31" movement, which since 2009 has staged rallies to mark the right to peaceful assembly guaranteed in Article 31 of the constitution. They gather on the final day of every month with 31 days. "Strategy 31" rallies do not enjoy official approval, and participants are subject to arrest. Among those detained on Saturday was National Bolshevik Party leader Eduard Limonov, Russian media reported.

Tens of thousands have taken to the streets this month in the biggest opposition demonstrations since Putin rose to power in 1999. The last massive rally was held on December 24. in central Moscow. On Saturday, a separate protest attracted about 100 people in St. Petersburg, with city police reporting about 10 arrests. Russia's Echo Moskvy radio also reported that about 200 people, including Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov, participated in a rally in the Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod that went off without incident.

(Writing by Alfred Kueppers; additional reporting by Mikhail Voskresensky in Moscow and Liza Dobkina in St. Petersburg; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)
Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:35 pm 
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Thousands protest over new Hungarian constitution
2 January 2012
By PABLO GORONDI

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Hungarians protest against Prime Minister Viktor Orban and against the country's new constitution in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) - Tens of thousands of protesters on Monday jeered Hungarian leaders outside a glitzy gala to mark the country's brand new constitution, accusing the government of exerting control over everything from the media, to the economy and religion.

A diverse crowd chanted, whistled and hoisted placards outside the State Opera as Prime Minister Viktor Orban and guests celebrated inside. Many protesters called the premier the "Viktator."

"The prime minister took an oath to defend the constitution, but instead he overthrew it," Laszlo Majtenyi, a former head of the media authority, told the crowd on Andrassy Avenue. "Tonight the Opera is the home of hypocrisy and the street the home of constitutional virtues."

Opposition activists and civil rights groups say Orban and his center-right Fidesz party, which has a two-thirds parliamentary majority, have passed laws eroding the democratic system of checks and balances by increasing political control over the judiciary, the central bank, religious groups and the media. President Pal Schmitt insisted Hungarians could be proud of their new constitution, which he said was long overdue and should have been adopted after the fall of communism. "This constitution was born of a wide consultation, building on national and European values," Schmitt said during the celebration. "Our Basic Law defines the family, order, the home, work and health as the most important, shared scale of values."

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A Hungarian protestor dressed as a prisoner holds a banner during a demonstration against Prime Minister Viktor Orban and against the country's new constitution in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012.

The European Union, the United States and international watchdogs have criticized many of the government's recent moves. Protesters repeatedly shouted "bovli"—"junk" in Hungarian—mocking Hungary's recent credit rating downgrades. Hungary is facing a possible recession in 2012 and has turned to the International Monetary Fund and the European Union for financial aid. But preliminary talks ended prematurely in December after the government went ahead with a new central bank law, despite criticism from the EU that it will diminish the independence of the National Bank of Hungary.

Hungary's constitution was approved in April by Fidesz during an opposition boycott, and went into effect on New Year's Day. While the government said the new basic law completes the transition from communism to democracy that began in 1989, opponents say it entrenches the current government's power and forces a conservative view on the whole country.

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Hungarian police officers guard the building of the State Opera from protestors demonstrating against Prime Minister Viktor Orban and against the country's new constitution in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012.

Human rights groups have expressed concerns about lifetime prison sentences without the possibility for parole for violent crimes and a ban on discrimination that does not specifically mention age or sexual orientation. The law's protection of the life of a fetus from the moment of conception was also seen as clearing the way for a possible future ban or restrictions on abortions.

A group of former anti-communist dissidents said the country's constitutional system is in a "critical situation." "Never since the regime change of 1989, when the communist dictatorship was crushed, has there been such an intense concentration of power in the region as in present-day Hungary," said a statement signed by, among others, writer Gyorgy Konrad, former Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky and Miklos Haraszti, a former media freedom representative at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The protest was peaceful except for a brief scuffle between a few dozen right-wing extremists holding a counter-protest and a group of Socialist Party politicians attending the street rally.

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A man holds up a sign during a protest in central Budapest January 2, 2012. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

Protesters denounced the government of Viktor Orban, with the socialist MSZP, the green-leftist LMP and former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's DK taking part in the rally. Politicians were not allowed to take the stage. Protesters with boards saying "Enough!", "Orban dictatorship", "Orbanistan" chanted anti-Orban slogans as government dignitaries and President Pal Schmitt arrived to the gala event held in the Opera on the same avenue to celebrate the entering into force of the constitution.

"Viktor Orban and his servants turned Hungary from a promising place to the darkest spot in Europe," Socialist parliamentarian Tibor Szanyi said, calling on people to join in "sweeping out the Orban dictatorship".

Next to the protesters, a group of neo-Nazis held a counter-demonstration to reclaim the street from what they called "the deadly enemies of Hungarians", triggering some scuffles.

The "Fundamental Law", which renames "the Republic of Hungary" to simply "Hungary", was adopted in April thanks to a two-thirds parliamentary majority that enables Orban's government to change legislation at will.

Source: Breitbart.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:42 pm 
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Protests resume against Peru gold mining project
2 January 2012
By CESAR BARRETO

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A woman waits with her lamb for the start of a protest against the Conga gold and silver mining project in Cajamarca, Peru, Monday Jan. 2, 2012.

CAJAMARCA, Peru (AP) - Demonstrators in Peru resumed their protests on Monday against plans to develop a $4.8 billion gold mine, saying they fear the mine will harm their water supplies.

About 2,000 Peruvians joined the protest march in the northern city of Cajamarca, carrying signs reading "Let's defend our sources of water, now or never." Anti-riot police stood guard during the protest, which ended peacefully. In early December, the government had imposed a state of emergency to restore order after a general strike and clashes with police in which dozens of people were injured.

Protesters fear the Conga mine, which would produce gold and copper as well as silver, will taint their water and affect a major aquifer. The mine is majority owned by U.S.-based Newmont Mining Corp. "I'm sure the population will keep defending its water resources," said Cajamarca state Gov. Gregorio Santos, who has helped lead the protests. He reiterated that the protesters want a new study of the environmental impact of the mine, and are asking the government to facilitate dialogue about the issue.

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Demonstrators shout slogans while marching with a Peruvian national flag during a protest against the Conga gold and silver mining project in Cajamarca, Peru, Monday Jan. 2, 2012.

Cajamarca is one of Peru's most heavily mined regions and many residents mistrust the new project because it is an extension of nearby Yanacocha mine, Latin America's largest gold mine, which is nearing the end of production. It has a history of troubled relations with neighboring farmers, ranchers and city dwellers downstream who claim it has harmed water supplies.

Newmont spokesman Omar Jabara said a thorough study of environmental impacts has already been performed and reviewed by multiple government agencies. He said the company welcomes "the government's effort to re-review" that assessment. Jabara said the public has had ample opportunities to raise any issues about the mine in the past. "Some are using Conga today to advance their political agenda," Jabara said in an emailed statement.

Peru's economy depends heavily on mining, which accounts for 61 percent of its export income.

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Demonstrators shout slogans while marching in a protest against the Conga gold and silver mining project, in Cajamarca, Peru, Monday Jan. 2, 2012.

Source: Breitbart.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 6:06 am 
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Nigerian police fire tear gas to break up fuel protests
3 January 2012

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Nigerians burn tyres in Lagos in protest against the ending of petrol subsidies.

AFP - Nigerian police fired tear gas to disperse a small crowd burning tyres in Lagos and arrested demonstrators in the northern city of Kano on Tuesday as protests continued over soaring fuel prices.

A group of people were burning tyres on a main road on the margins of a protest in the economic capital of Lagos when police fired tear gas, causing them to flee, an AFP correspondent reported. "We will not leave the streets until fuel prices come back to 65 naira," one man who identified himself as Tunde said earlier as he carried a container of fuel to pour over tyres.

There has been widespread opposition to a government move announced Sunday ending fuel subsidies, which has caused petrol prices to more than double in a country where most people live on less than $2 per day. The policy in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer saw petrol prices soar to about 140 naira (0.66 euros, $0.96) per litre from 65 naira.

An earlier protest in Lagos of a couple hundred people included prominent rights activists as well as Seun Kuti, son of the late legendary musician Fela Kuti, a harsh critic of Nigeria's corrupt regimes. Police moved in quickly to prevent a protest in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's north, arresting nine people preparing for a demonstration at a football pitch they renamed "Freedom Square," an organiser said. "The nine of us, the organisers of the sit-in protest, are now being detained at the police metropolitan division," Audu Bulama said by phone before it was seized by police. "As we were gathering, 20 armed policemen came in three vans and dispersed the crowds of about 40."

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Nigerian activists march in Lagos to protest against the removal of petroleum subsidies by the government.

Police did not respond to requests for comment. Separate protests broke out later, including a couple hundred people near the state parliament building in Kano.

In the capital Abuja on Monday police also used tear gas to disperse a protest there. The country's main trade unions are threatening protests in the coming days.

Economists and government officials view removing the subsidy as essential to allow for more spending on the country's woefully inadequate infrastructure and to ease pressure on its foreign reserves. Nigerians however see the subsidy as their only benefit from the nation's oil wealth. The government says more than $8 billion was spent in 2011 on fuel subsidies.

Source: France24.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 6:29 am 
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Indonesians have new symbol for injustice: sandals
3 January 2012
By NINIEK KARMINI

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An Indonesian activist line up pairs of sandals in solidarity for a 15-year-old boy who is being prosecuted for lifting an old pair of sandals in Central Sulawesi province while helping at the office of Indonesian Commission for Child Protection in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesians have found a new symbol for their growing frustration at uneven justice in their young, democratic nation: cheap, worn-out flip-flops.

They have been dropping them off at police stations all over the sprawling archipelago to express outrage over the arrest and trial of a 15-year-old boy for lifting an old pair of white sandals from outside a boarding house used by police in northern Indonesia.

"This is insane," said Titis Anissa, a high school teacher in the capital, Jakarta, noting that government officials found guilty of plundering state coffers get off with a slap on the wrist. "And a young, poor boy takes a pair of $3 sandals? Enough already!"

The boy snatched the shoes while he and several friends headed home from school in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province, in November 2010. He was later interrogated and badly beaten by three officers, and faces up to five years in prison if found guilty—the same sentence given to many terrorists, drug pushers and rapists. He will appear Wednesday before the court in Palu for the second hearing of his trial, which opened last month.

Indonesia has made tremendous strides since the ouster of longtime dictator Suharto just over a decade ago, implementing sweeping reforms that have freed up the media, scrapped oppressive laws and given citizens the right to directly pick their leaders for the first time. But the judicial system remains a weak point. The flip-flop case has captured headlines since the trial began and is one of the most popular trends on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

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Indonesian activists line up pairs of sandals they've received at the office of Indonesian Commission for Child Protection in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, to help protest for a 15-year-old boy who is being prosecuted for lifting an old pair of sandals in Central Sulawesi province.

Thousands have joined in the sandal donation protest. A batch of 1,000 flip-flops will be given to Sgt. Ahmad Rusdi Harahap, owner of the stolen shoes, as "compensation," said campaign organizer Budhi Kurniawan. The boy, not identified by name because of his age, said he found the dirty old flip-flops near a garbage bin outside the boarding house. Six months later, he was summoned by Harahap, who accused him of theft. "At first, I didn't understand what he was talking about," he told The Associated Press. "I'd forgotten all about those sandals. He called a few of his colleagues and they started beating me up, hitting me with a piece of wood," he said. "I fell into a steep trench. My legs were bleeding."

The boy said the officers made him promise to give each a new pair of sandals, but his father, after seeing the cuts and bruises on his son's body, decided to report the men to their superiors.

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Indonesian children carry pairs of sandals to the office of Indonesian Commission for Child Protection in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, to help protest for a 15-year-old boy who is being prosecuted for lifting an old pair of sandals in Central Sulawesi province.

Harahap, who along with the other two officers is facing charges of violating police ethics, responded by taking the teenager to criminal court. It was a move Andreas Harsono, of the New York-based group Human Rights Watch, said was obviously "excessive" and vindictive.

Ayu Laksmi, a Balinese artist, brought 10 pairs of sandals to the National Commission for Child Protection on Tuesday to show her displeasure. "This just goes to show, once again, that our laws discriminate," she said. "It's tough on the poor and weak when it comes to those with money or power."

The teenager is not the first minor to face trial over a small criminal offense. Last year, a 14-year-old boy was brought to court after spending three weeks in a Jakarta prison for allegedly stealing a $1.15 cellphone voucher. Judges finally dropped the charges, arguing the investigation of the case was "defective."

Associated Press writer Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report.
Source: Breitbart.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 8:17 pm 
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The Irish village that said 'no' to austerity

The usually placid people in the Irish hamlet of Ballyhea have been so enraged by the government's austerity measures that they have taken to marching in the streets every Sunday. But has anyone noticed?

by Homa Khaleeli
Thursday 5 January 2012

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Ballyhea villagers march against the bond-holder bailout Photograph: Facebook

As the bus pulls up on the empty road to let me off, the driver smiles at me. "This is rush hour," he jokes. "This is the most exciting thing to happen here all day." If there is one thing people know about Ballyhea, it seems, it's that it is in the middle of nowhere and nothing much happens. The taxi driver who drove me to Cork warned me of its sleepiness, and the woman sitting next to me can't understand why I am here. But the reason is simple: Ballyhea may be quiet, but it's angry.

Residents have started marching in the hamlet – a smattering of farms and a small housing estate, pulled together by a church, petrol pump and school. The demonstration isn't long – starting from the church they walk along the main road, which connects Cork to Limerick, for a little over 10 minutes, turning back when they reach the speed-limit sign. Yet it has happened every Sunday, through rain and sun, with rising then dwindling numbers, for 43 weeks.

The march's organiser, Diarmuid O'Flynn, says he was inspired by the Arab spring, but it's hard to think of a place further from the heat and turmoil of the Middle East than the misty fields of County Cork. Which isn't to say the inhabitants' fury isn't real.

Dubbed the "Celtic tiger" in the 1990s, Ireland is struggling under savage austerity measures. The property boom, fuelled by banks' massive lending and foreign investment, collapsed spectacularly when the financial crises plunged the country into devastating recession in 2008. "Personal wealth has been destroyed, thousands of people are sinking into poverty, emigration has returned and unemployment is far too high," finance minister Michael Noonan admitted in December as he announced £1.4bn in tax and charge rises in a bid to drive down the country's debt from a shocking 10.1% of the country's GDP to 8.6% this year. Unemployment has risen to 14.4%, with those unable to find work leaving the country in droves; next year, the Economic and Social Research Institute predicts, 40,000 people will emigrate.

But the part that has got the blood of the mild Ballyhea marchers boiling is the bond-holder bailout. In 2008, fearing a run on the banks, the country's former finance minister Brian Lenihan agreed to give an unlimited guarantee covering most of the bonds issued by Irish banks. At the time, it seems, he was unaware how much this could cost. The IMF, on the other hand, believed the bondholders should be "burned" and made to pay for their own mistakes, but pressure from the European Central Bank ensured this guarantee was retained. Morgan Kelly, professor of economics at University College, Dublin, has said the true cost of the bank debt could amount to €100bn and warned: "Ireland is facing economic ruin."

Since O'Flynn, a sports reporter at the Irish Examiner, realised the scale of the problem, he has been posting on his blog the ominous amounts the banks must pay out as bonds mature – this month the total will be €3bn. "Where is the money going to come from?" he asks. "Our banks are bust. So it's going to come from us."

Yet while the motives may be close to the Occupy movement, whose anger has swept through the US, UK and now arrived in Ireland (Cork's Occupy camp proudly displays one of Ballyhea's two banners), that's where the comparison ends. While the Occupy camps have been criticised for being too unfocused, and characterised as anti-capitalist, Ballyhea's campaign is determinedly single issue and non partisan. "We are not trying to save the world," O'Flynn tells me. "And it is not about the left and right. It is about right and wrong."

Denis McNamara agrees. Aged 64, he had never been on a march. A farmer and businessman, from one of the parish's well known families, his concrete business felt the full effects when the the construction market collapsed. Yet it is not this that angers him. "I don't object to the fiscal adjustments in the economy; we can't spend more than we earn. What I do totally object to is repaying the bond-holders – who we had no responsibility for. We object to the government, without any consultation with the people, securing the money owed to those people [the bond-holders]."

McNamara agrees many people in the traditionally wealthy "Golden Vale" that Ballyhea sits in are "very conservative". The timing of the march is dictated by the end of mass and attendance numbers by the fixtures of the Gaelic Athletics Association; hurling, a traditional Gaelic ball and stick game, is hugely important in the area and gives the parishes their strong identity. Which is why there are no chants, whistles or drums on the protests. "We are a pretty dignified people," says O'Flynn, "so I thought, 'Have it dignified and quiet'; just the fact we are marching – just let our feet do the talking."

So far the event's biggest controversy was a recent decision to march on a Friday afternoon, to increase the impact. "You can see how quiet it is on a Sunday, sometimes we were only holding up one car," says O'Flynn. But causing a disruption made too many of the protestors feel uncomfortable, and after a few weeks normal times were resumed.

Yet the mild, almost polite, nature of the protest, and the comfortable backgrounds of many of the marchers, does not mean the community has avoided the impact of the recession. O'Flynn points out that until a few years ago his brother and his family all lived in Ballyhea. "He is an engineer in the Philippines now, his son is in Poland and his two daughters are in England – there's no work around here."

Eithne Keating, 55, who has been marching every week since June, lost her job distributing meals on wheels. Her 29-year-old son, a former groundsman, and her husband are also both unemployed. "The banks and big business were the ones making money and now we are the ones paying for it," she says. "It's so hard right now."

O'Flynn says at first he was sure that once people knew of the marches they would take off across the country. Instead, despite a few neighbouring towns starting their own and numbers in Ballyhea swelling to 70, people have lost heart. O'Flynn says the Irish media have more or less ignored them. "People are angry, no doubt about it. On the sidewalk they shout: 'Well done! Good stuff! Keep it going,' and we would say: 'Fall in with us, we are only walking up as far as the church and down to the library.' But no. People almost universally support what I am doing, but they think it is a waste of time. People feel powerless.

"I worked in Libya for three years and I know that what people were doing in Benghazi, well, they were taking their life into their hands. So, I say to the people here: 'You are not going to be shot, or gassed. You are not going to be torn apart – you just have to go out and walk.'"

It's an attitude that has been noted across the country. Despite the drastic cuts, house repossessions and job losses, there have been none of the explosive, violent protests of Greece. A year ago there was a march of 100,000 people in Dublin, but since then protests have been muted – leading commentators to ask why the Irish are taking it so quietly. Many say it's because they know it's payback for living beyond their means during the boom. But O'Flynn dismisses this.

"Around here people didn't go mad. This propaganda that we all partied through the good times is complete bullshit." Instead he blames the lack of civil disobedience on "bystander syndrome". "The more witnesses you have to a crime the less likely people are to intervene – I think that's what happening. This is the biggest bank robbery in history. The difference is it's the banks robbing us."

McNamara says many people are worried about being seen protesting, fearing it may affect their jobs, or their ability to borrow money from the banks. And both men agree that many Irish people just feel too despairing to believe they can make a difference.

The day I join them a cold rain is beginning to fall. Some weeks ago as numbers dropped, the Ballyhea marchers decided to join with the demonstration they sparked in neighbouring Charleville and alternate their protest location. There are only around 30 marchers when I meet them outside Charleville church, but it's a cheerful, determined group.

Warehouse manager Pat Maloney, 45, started the Charleville marches and is out today with his 12-year-old son, Alex. "I thought I would check out the Ballyhea march and I realised it makes sense. It's not our debt. I was never given any money from the banks when things were going well, but now they want us to pay their debts? People here are marching to save local hospitals, and police stations, but they should make the connection."

Frances O'Brien, 73, has been marching since the first day, and says she will continue because she is so worried for her grandchildren's future. As the march starts down the high street, the demonstrators chat quietly about local sport and shopping. The shops are shut and the streets are quiet apart from people hurrying to mass, but a car toots as it goes by and a lorry is forced to slow to a crawl by the cluster of protestors.

Outside the church, Thomas Nelligan is collecting money for a youth group. He says he wouldn't consider joining a march on a Sunday morning. "A lot of people might agree with the issue but they wouldn't walk. I think a lot of people are angry, but don't like to show their feelings or be singled out ... it's just not Irish."

Accounting student Barry McCarthy, 19, thinks it is a waste of time. He too is angry with the banks, but the march is too local to make a difference and is just a nuisance, he insists. Yet as the Ballyhea marchers disperse, dismantling their two signs, they refuse to give into lethargy and despair. "You definitely go through some terrible lows," says O'Flynn. "I thought a lot of these people were coming down because I was asking. So, I said to the group: 'Should we just pack it in?' But, 'No, no,' [they said]; they were determined."

Instead, he says, they will continue to quietly register their anger, for the weeks and months to come. "At this stage it's not about how many – it's about how long."

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:04 pm 
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Hungary's 'Viktator' faces tide of protest at home and abroad

Viktor Orbán's increasingly authoritarian regime has brought thousands on to the streets in protest, with new political movements and even hunger strikes in progress

by Helen Pidd in Budapest
Friday 6 January 2012

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The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, spoke at the opening of an exhibition in Budapest on Monday, while thousands of people demonstrated against him outside. Photograph: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

Surrounded by half-drunk flasks of tea and bundled up in three pairs of trousers apiece, the hunger strikers entered their 26th night of protest outside the Hungarian state broadcaster on Wednesday evening. Temperatures were hovering around freezing and icy rain had started to spit. But it had been much worse, said Balazs Nagy Navarro. "At least they have turned the music off now," he said, pointing to a sandbox suspended from an upstairs window.

Inside the box was a speaker that for "five or six days solid" around Christmas had blasted Jingle Bells at top volume. It wasn't the only eviction tactic. Behind the glass of the MTVA reception area were reflectors that had been used to try to dazzle the protesters outside and prevent photographers from getting a good picture when private security guards came – and failed – to clear the camp.

"This is Guantánamo stuff," said Nagy Navarro, 44, who lost his job as a foreign news producer at MTV1 on 27 December. He had worked at the station, the equivalent of BBC1, since 1992, and was a well-known trade union leader. But had been unceremoniously fired, he said, for starting the strike on 10 December. He and a colleague, reporter Aranka Szávuly (also booted out on 27 December), decided to protest at what he sees as the "widespread manipulation of broadcasts on state TV and radio in Hungary" since the nationalist-conservative Fidesz government swept to power in April 2010, winning a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

They and the other hunger strikers, surviving on tea and clear soup, are not the only ones rising up against Fidesz and its increasingly autocratic leader, prime minister Viktor Orbán – a 48-year-old Oxford-educated lawyer with five children and a passion for football, who has done an ideological U-turn since making his name as a dissident railing against the communist regime in the dying days of the cold war.

On Monday at least 30,000 and as many as 70,000 people (estimates vary) gathered outside the neo-Renaissance opera house in Budapest in one of the biggest protests in Hungary in years. They were voicing their anger at the radical new constitution, which was being toasted inside at a gala hosted by Orbán.

While the masses loudly decried the "Viktator!" outside, the luminaries sitting in the gold-lined auditorium listened to a speech from the Fidesz-loyal president, Pál Schmitt. In it, he made not one reference to the street protest that had made it so hard for all the chauffeur-driven cars to arrive on time.

Later, after Orbán had left by the back door, one protester, 30-year-old András Istvánffy, said the demonstration had clearly shaken the prime minister. "Orbán is a product of political marketing who has made a name for himself by being fearless and always confronting his detractors. There are other politicians you'd expect to take the back door, but not Orbán," he said. "Something has changed."

Péter Krekó, research director at the Budapest-based Political Capital thinktank, agreed. "Until now, the government has brushed off all criticism by saying, 'We won our two-thirds majority in democratic elections; we have a mandate from the Hungarian people.' But with tens of thousands protesting on the streets and polls showing support for Fidesz has halved, this no longer rings true."

'Hunger revolts'

Some excited commentators have suggested a Mubarak-style ousting is in the offing. But few in Budapest agree: Fidesz is too centralised and its MPs, handpicked by Orbán, have too much to lose to start a backbench revolt. What many people believe, however, is that if the Hungarian forint keeps plunging to record lows and Orbán refuses to make policy concessions in return for a much-needed international credit line, things could get nasty.

Benedek Jávor, an MP from the fledgling green party Politics Can Be Different (LMP), predicts "hunger revolts" from the poorest Hungarians, particularly the disadvantaged rural Roma, if Hungary rejects outside help and the government continues to marginalise the most vulnerable members of society. János Samu, a macroanalyst at Concorde, said it was "politically very damaging for Orbán when people see the forint fall daily while the market interest rate of Hungary's borrowing costs increases".

While ordinary Hungarians worry most about what will happen to that mortgage they took out in Swiss francs, for many foreign observers the new constitution is the source of most anguish. It came into effect on 1 January, and, combined with at least 350 laws that have been rushed through during Fidesz's 20 months in power, has, say critics, all but removed checks and balances to the power of the government and ruling party. The independence of the central bank has been compromised and Fidesz loyalists now head powerful councils overseeing the media, the judiciary and budget. There have been crackdowns on Roma rights, and funds for education and social care have been shredded, campaigners say.

Some of the world's most powerful people and institutions have also had enough. On Thursday, a spokesman for the European Union confirmed that without a promise from Hungary that some laws would be changed or repealed, neither the EU nor the International Monetary Fund would even discuss giving it the multibillion-euro bailout even Orbán knows it needs (though he calls it an "insurance contract"). EU lawyers are going through the latest legislation with a fine-tooth comb and will soon pronounce on whether it is incompatible with European law.

But, said the European commission spokesman Olivier Bailly, "independence of the national central bank is for us a crucial element of the financial stability" that the EU wants the Hungarian government to ensure before talks can begin. The IMF broke off talks before Christmas when the Hungarians refused to amend a law to the IMF's satisfaction. The law allowed the government to appoint its own deputy to the central bank's board as well as requiring the board to submit its agenda to the government. It has since been passed.

Orbán, in typical defiance, insisted Hungary could walk its own path and needn't be beholden to anyone. But after economists started talking about what would happen if the loan did not come through (bank runs, interest rate hikes, hyperinflation, possible bankruptcy) – and media started reporting that hordes of Hungarians were crossing the border to Austria with their handbags full of money – it was announced that a Hungarian delegation would make an "informal" visit to the IMF in Washington on 11 January.

Economists believe Orbán has no choice but to promise to repeal laws in return for the €15-50bn he needs to borrow to repay an earlier loan the IMF granted last time the country was bailed out, in 2008. The Hungarian government is now having enormous problems borrowing money after two ratings agencies declared its bonds to be "trash" at the end of last year. Couple that with the fact that the value of the forint is falling off a cliff, and you have the makings of a particularly toxic crisis.

The list of big names going public with their concerns is getting longer. Hillary Clinton has written to Orbán to raise concerns. So has the European commission president, José Manuel Barroso. On Friday the US ambassador in Budapest appeared on Hungarian state radio to express her "disappointment" that the Hungarian government had refused to consider any of America's concerns over the past few months. On Tuesday the French foreign minister, Alain Juppé went public with France's dim view on the Hungarian situation.

LMP's Javór said Orbán had made a "really big mistake" by drawing attention to himself at the Euro crisis summit in Brussels on 8 December. "By threatening to veto the rescue package, he forced Merkel, Sarkozy and Barroso to take notice of him. All had been aware for some time that there were problems in Hungary but they were too busy with the euro crisis to do much about it. When Orbán threatened to veto the salvation of the euro, the other leaders were like 'we cannot leave this guy'. From our point of view, we are pleased he did it."

'Limits to activism'

Watching from the sidelines as all this unfolds are members of the political opposition. All complain of a feeling of impotence. Javór of LMP, which won 7.48% of the vote and 16 seats in the 2010 national election, said he had failed to make any real impact inside the parliament, despite tabling 200 amendments and, along with his colleagues, speaking more regularly in the debating chamber than almost any other politician.

"It's incredibly frustrating. I, like my colleagues, have a background in activism, and when we formed the party in 2009 it was because we realised that there are certain limits to activism and thought that in order to effect change you need to be in parliament," he said. "We were optimistic when we took our seats. Now we are questioning whether being there is the best way to spend our energy." Earlier this week one of his colleagues, Virág Kaufer, resigned as an MP, saying she thought she could be more useful outside parliament.

On 23 December, Kaufer, Javór and other opposition colleagues chained themselves to the gates of parliament, a grand gothic building on the banks of the Danube. Forty-three people were arrested, including 15 LMP politicians. It was a desperate bid to express frustration with Fidesz's "systematic dismantling of democracy", said Javór. But as an attention-seeking tactic, it worked. "The protest was covered all over the media nationally and internationally. It was a turning point."

As the protests grow, young Hungarians are starting to explore alternatives to the established political parties. Upstairs at Budapest pub The Seagull on Thursday night, a group calling itself One Million for the Freedom of the Press (Milla for short) was plotting its next move. Since being formed on Facebook by veteran political activist Péter Juhász in December 2010, the collective has grown to 95,000 Facebook members and in October mobilised between 50,000 and 100,000 people for a demonstration against the new media laws – all paid for by 1.7m forints (around £5,000 at the then exchange rate) of donations pledged on the social networking site.

Their goals are big, said Juhász. "The last polls said 55-60% of Hungarians are so disillusioned with politics that they would not vote for any political party if there were an election tomorrow. What we want to do is create the conditions where new faces can come through as future leaders."

One practical step they are taking is the launch of a new media platform "to represent ideas and issues not represented in the mainstream", said Juhász. He believes the portal will have the budget to do heavy-hitting journalistic investigations. A Swiss pro-media organisation has already pledged €50,000 in support, he said.

Another initiative is the election of the "alternative president of Hungary", a Facebook-initiated talent contest to find new political voices who can represent the country better – or at least differently – than the real president. Adam Schönberger, one of the organisers, said: "We want to offer an alternative for the future, to find someone who can speak out about the hidden issues the media avoids." The new president will have an office as well as advisers, said Schönberger, who hopes protest movements in other countries will copy the model.

András Istvánffy has formed a political party called The Fourth Republic (4k! for short) – the name is apt, he said, "because the third one ended on 1 January", a reference to the new constitution changing the country's name from the Republic of Hungary to simply Hungary. 4K! Sees itself as a leftwing alternative to the Socialist party, which alienated Hungarians so badly that Fidesz was able to win its super-majority in 2010.

Istvánffy wants to see an end to Orbán's regime – or, as he puts it, "his illogical, incoherent dictatorship". But not too soon. "We're not registering as a political party until May and we need time to organise ourselves."

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:02 pm 
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Occupy 2012: Firmly disorganized, driven by dreams
By Laird Harrison and Michelle Nichols
9 January 2012

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Protesters, one in a Guy Fawkes mask, affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement, protest around Duarte Square in New York December 17, 2011. REUTERS-Eduardo Munoz

(Reuters) - It's been a long, cold winter already for Occupy Wall Street, the protest movement that burst onto the scene in September to focus national attention on income inequality and the perceived greed of the rich and powerful.

Police have cleared the signature "Occupy" encampments in New York, Los Angeles, Oakland and other major cities. Cold weather, and perhaps protest fatigue, have weakened the handful of camps that remain around the country. The lack of a coherent set of demands has made it difficult for the young movement to affect policy or otherwise score victories that might keep recruits coming.

But the movement has clearly influenced the national political conversation, with even President Barack Obama echoing some of its themes in calling for a "fair shot" and "fair share" for all. Now, as Occupy heads into 2012, participants in the leaderless movement are developing a range of new strategies and tactics to keep what they view as the injustices of the economic system in the spotlight.

Here are some ways the Occupy movement is trying to evolve:

OCCUPY THE ELECTION

Occupy has been likened to the conservative Tea Party movement, which emerged in 2009 and helped elect dozens of Republicans. But many in the Occupy movement specifically reject electoral politics, which they see as hopelessly tainted by money. Relationships with labor unions, the natural allies of Occupy when it comes to electoral politics, have been a mixed bag, with some unions, notably National Nurses United, strongly backing the protesters while others have kept their distance.

In the current election cycles, it appears the main Occupy activities will be rallies, sit-ins, and heckling candidates on the stump. During the Iowa caucus campaign, a handful of occupiers interrupted speeches by Obama and by Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. Small groups also targeted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as he campaigned for Gingrich's rival Mitt Romney, and stuck Romney himself, who got rich as a private equity investor, with the moniker "Mr. One Percent." New Hampshire campaign events have similarly been a target of small groups of protesters.

OCCUPY THE ECONOMY

The Occupy movement blames the banks for the worst U.S. recession in decades. And one of its more successful initiatives has been a campaign urging consumers to move their money from the commercial banks to not-for-profit credit unions; in a little over a month, credit unions pulled in hundreds of thousands of new customers. Bank of America also scrapped a widely criticized $5 monthly fee for debit cards, which the Occupy movement claimed as a victory. Occupy San Francisco is planning a big demonstration in that city's Financial District on Jan 20.

Some groups of protesters are trying to come up with alternative banking systems. Others are pushing for legislation. Protesters in Oakland and San Francisco have carried placards calling for a return to the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which separated investment banking and commercial banking. Occupy the SEC, a committee of Occupy Wall Street, is calling for tough implementation of the so-called Volcker Rule, which would bar U.S. banks from using depositor's funds for speculative investments.

On the West Coast, demonstrators have twice picketed at ports, shutting down shipping terminals for up to 24 hours. But truckers, stevedores and longshoremen who refused to cross picket lines lost pay, raising the question of whom the action was helping, or hurting. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union publicly opposed the December 12 action that aimed to shut down ports, while the International Brotherhood of Teamsters took a neutral stance.

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'Occupy' protesters demonstrate outside the location where Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at a Hispanic Town Hall Meeting at a restaurant in Manchester, New Hampshire January 8, 2012. REUTERS-Eric Thayer

Judging from the history of social movements, Occupy's relationship with labor unions, as well as students, could ultimately be the key to its influence, says Robert Cohen, a professor of history and social studies at New York University. "It has to be large-scale to continue to demonstrate force," he said. "It has to bring together more allied groups. And someone has to push this into specific policies."

OCCUPY HOUSING

In December protesters launched Occupy Our Homes, a bid to take back foreclosed homes. Occupiers took up residence in a home in Oakland, California and one in Brooklyn, New York, that day, demanding that lenders renegotiate mortgages for the homeowners. National Occupy Our Homes organizer Matt Browner Hamlin said protesters had set a goal of over 100 such "actions" around the country in the next few months.

The Atlanta group is already claiming victory; Occupy Atlanta member Tom Franzen says it forced JPMorgan Chase to offer more generous terms to homeowner Birgitte Walker, who ran into financial difficulties after being honorably discharged from the Army. Chase acknowledges that it modified Walker's loan, but spokesperson Nancy Norris said protesters had nothing to do with it. "We had been working with her for a year," she said.

Elsewhere, the Occupy Our Homes movement has run into stiff resistance. Just before New Year's Eve, police arrested squatters in an Oakland home they were holding "as collateral." It was the second time police had driven Oakland occupiers from a private residence, suggesting that squatting in homes may be just as challenging as camping in parks.

OCCUPY CYBERSPACE

The Occupy movement has been driven by social media, and activists are now moving to build on their successful use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with new tools and technology. The group rolled out StudioOccupy.org, which allows protesters to easily share and edit videos and other multimedia presentations online. Occupydream.org aims to collect a million "statements of dreams" in advance of a march on Washington timed for Martin Luther King's birthday on January 16.

Some protesters have also begun to use "Vibe," an application for iPhones, iPads and Android that allows the user to send messages that are only visible to other users, and not to police or other outsiders. Vibe messages are anonymous, and users can control how far they are broadcast (from 150 feet to worldwide) and for how long (the messages disappear after a set time period ranging from 15 minutes to 30 days, leaving no trail).

The use of such technology enables the movement to mobilize and organize efficiently without a top-down hierarchy. Social movements in the past required a leader to put out orders to lieutenants who passed them along to the foot soldiers, but now any individual can call a protest at any time, with the crowd deciding on the spur of the moment whose call to action deserves attention.

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Signs are seen at the 'Occupy' camp in Manchester, New Hampshire January 8, 2012. REUTERS-Eric Thayer

OCCUPY REAL SPACE

Police raids on the big metropolitan camps created the appearance that all occupy camps were evicted. But tent communities have quietly persisted.

While no official count exists, Firedoglake, a news website sympathetic to the movement, counted 65 tent communities in the United States that were expected to last through the winter. Perhaps the most visible, an Occupy DC camp in Washington's McPherson Square, a couple of blocks from the White House, has weatherized its tents and obtained winter sleeping bags.

Other occupiers have moved indoors. Occupy Wall Street is renting office space in lower Manhattan, and Occupy Atlanta is in the top floor of a homeless shelter. Evicted campers have not all abandoned their former spaces either: on New Year's Eve, hundreds of people gathered at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, where the largest Occupy camp once stood, and 68 were arrested when they tried to remove police barricades.

Questions about physical space have stimulated a debate within the movement. Some argue that camps are essential as bases for operations, as dramatic symbols or as model egalitarian communities. Others say housekeeping and organizational challenges in the camps have drained the group's energy away from more effective tactics for social change. But most predicted that spring would find a new blooming of tent communities around the country.

OCCUPY CULTURE

The protesters' slogan "We are the 99 percent," which refers to a view that the richest 1 percent have a virtual monopoly on money, power and influence, has struck a chord across the country, and the movement's rhetoric has quickly become a part of popular culture. Occupy this, occupy that -- there are few examples of a single word jumping so quickly from the middle pages of the dictionary to the forefront of public conversation. Chants like "Whose streets? Our streets" and "banks got bailed out, we got sold out" were suddenly as familiar as snatches of Bob Dylan songs were to a previous generation of protesters.

But Occupy protesters have a much more ambitious cultural agenda. In the way they have organized their movement, by welcoming everyone, eschewing hierarchy, and allowing a voice to whoever shows up, they hope to set an example for the rest of society.

(Reporting Laird Harrison and Michelle Nichols; Additional reporting by Peter Henderson and Malathi Nayak; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Christopher Wilson)
Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:07 am 
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Sergei Udaltsov

Moscow rally shows leftist strategy against Putin
9 January 2012
By LYNN BERRY

MOSCOW (AP) - Leftist opposition leaders drew about 200 activists to a Moscow rally on Monday and reached out to blue-collar workers to try to expand the protest movement against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov told the crowd on a snowy square that only by staying united can they hope to pose a serious challenge to Putin, who is aiming to win a third presidential term in March.

In addition to demanding free elections and political reforms, he said the protesters should defend the rights of workers and demand stronger social protection for Russia's poor. The activists, some of whom waved red Communist flags, dislike some of the liberal and pro-business leaders at the forefront of the opposition. Other speakers urged the activists to visit factories around the country and persuade workers to join a mass protest on Feb. 4. Most of the tens of thousands of Russians who attended protests in December after a disputed election were middle-class professionals.

The demonstrations, the biggest Russia has seen in two decades, reflected outrage over a Dec. 4 parliamentary election in which the vote was manipulated to boost the results for Putin's party. Putin, who served as president from 2000 to 2008, is expected to win the March vote, due to the absence of a strong challenger and the Kremlin's tight hold over the electoral system.

Udaltsov, a 34-year-old rising star in the protest movement, said a splintered opposition would allow Putin to take revenge against his opponents after the election. "The month I was in jail may turn out to be a bed of roses for me and many others," he said. "If we are divided it might happen very quickly."

Udaltsov spent most of December in custody on charges related to past street protests. By his own count, he was detained about 30 times last year and jailed for a total of 2 1/2 months. His persistence in the face of broad police pressure has earned him new respect from the broader opposition movement. He warned the government against using force against the protesters, whose rallies in December were peaceful. "We who have already declared the peaceful nature of our demands, the peaceful nature of our activities, at the same time should be clear in warning the authorities: If they spill blood, this would be a signal to the whole society for a rebellion, and I don't think they will be able to escape responsibility in this case," Udaltsov said.

Source: Breitbart.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:54 pm 
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Nigeria fuel protests: two killed and dozens wounded as police open fire

Police use live ammunition and teargas to disperse crowds taking part in national strike in protest against fuel subsidy cuts

by Monica Mark
Monday 9 January 2012

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A man blows into a vuvuzela as others shout and gesture next to a bonfire on Ikorodu Road in Lagos during a protest against soaring petrol prices. Photograph: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Two people were killed and swaths of Nigeria ground to a halt on Monday as thousands of protesters took to the streets at the start of an indefinite strike against soaring fuel prices. According to reports, one person was killed in the commercial hub of Lagos and another in the northern city of Kano, while dozens more were wounded as strikes spread out across the country. Police used live ammunition and teargas in attempts to disperse the crowds.

The usually packed markets and business district of Lagos, with its population of 11 million, emptied out. On the long stretches of highway that span the city's lagoons, only rare police headlamps pierced the rush-hour fog. Not everywhere was deserted. Burning tyres lit the way to rallies across the city where thousands massed in protest at the government's decision to remove state subsidies on fuel as the new year began. That sent fuel prices in Africa's largest oil-producing country to about 65p a litre, and trade unions urged more than 2 million members to stage an indefinite strike that threatens to paralyse the country.

While much of the anger focused on the timing and manner of the subsidy removal, announced without warning barely a week after a string of attacks by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram, some analysts said it was a deliberate – and risky – gamble.

"It deflects attention from the Boko Haram violence and unites Nigerians, Muslims and Christians, against what is the lesser evil. But it means the president is battling on many fronts: radical militants and millions of Nigerians at the same time," said activist Shehu Sani.

In a small Lagos park, Seun Kuti, the son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, addressed thousands, many waving branches and sporting T-shirts with the slogan "Remove corruption, not subsidy". "Does the government think we are mumu [fools?]" he asked a cheering crowd, mixing pidgin English and Yoruba. "Food cost go rise, housing cost go rise, meanwhile ordinary Nigerian's salary no go rise."

Every previous government's attempt to remove the subsidy, which funnels a quarter of the £15.5bn annual government budget to a well-connected cartel of fuel importers, has floundered amid mass protests. Many see the subsidy as a rare opportunity to share in the nation's oil riches, whose 2m barrels per day industry has failed to lift the vast majority of citizens out of extreme poverty. In 2003, there were eight days of strikes when the government attempted to increase fuel prices.

Flanked by union leaders and Nigerian film stars and musicians, Kuti said the strikes would last until the government erased corruption. "There must be no compromise this time. When it comes to doing something that inflicts pain on ordinary Nigerians, the president is quick to do it. But members of his own cabinet have been indicted for corruption, yet they are rewarded by promotions in the government," he said.

A Lagos lawyer, Yewande Aina, 29, said this was her first anti-government demonstration. "Normally we are afraid of the police. But we have to take a stand this time – before they removed the subsidy, they should have consulted us if it's in our interests."

With an economic agenda to renew Nigeria's crumbling infrastructure and haul Africa's largest country into middle-income status, President Goodluck Jonathan appears determined to see through the cuts – even facing down opposition within his government. He faces an uphill battle convincing citizens as decades of top-level mismanagement and corruption have left the country incapable of refining its own fuel. "Is it because the president has a PhD in zoology he wants to treat us like animals? The only way thousands of us could have come into the streets is because we are not happy with what our government is offering us," said Umar Afolabi in the northern town of Kaduna.

The country's stability appeared menaced as the president claimed some government and security officials were secretly backing Boko Haram. The shadowy organisation claimed responsibility for Nigeria's first suicide bombing, which killed 24 people in the UN building in the capital, Abuja, in August and has killed at least 30 in the last week. A wave of attacks that began with four church bombings on Christmas Day threatens to push Nigeria to the brink of sectarian civil conflict.

In the north, where several states are under a state of emergency after sectarian attacks, witnesses said one person died of gunshot wounds after demonstrators clashed with police in Kano. In Abuja, protesters chanted at dozens of police to "arrest Goodluck", but the crowds began to thin out in the midday sun.

"Many people are not quarrelling with the fact the subsidy isn't affordable or sustainable," former presidential economic adviser Bismarke Rewane said. "But we're already dealing with a looming sectarian crisis. On top of that, you're asking people to go through pain and sacrifice. So the real issue in contention is that there is no track record of credibility from this or the previous administration."

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:47 am 
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Burning roadblocks at 2nd day of Nigeria strike
10 January 2012
By JON GAMBRELL

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The ever-busy district of Oshodi in Lagos, Nigeria is deserted during a protest following the removal of a fuel subsidy by the Government Monday, Jan. 9, 2012.

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - Angry youths erected a burning roadblock outside luxury enclaves in Nigeria's commercial capital Tuesday as a paralyzing national strike over fuel prices and government corruption entered its second day.

The flaming tires and debris sent thick, dark smoke over part of Ikoyi Island, home to diplomats and many of the oil-rich nation's wealthy elite. It also signaled the danger of spiraling violence as protests continue in the country of more than 160 million people. Police shot at least three protesters to death on Monday.

"This is oligarchy, this is not a democracy!" shouted Danjuma Mohammed, as he stood before the fire holding rocks in his hands. "We are no longer afraid of you! We are ready for war!"

The strike started Monday by labor unions upset over high fuel prices in Africa's most populous nation. Gas prices have risen from $1.70 per gallon (45 cents per liter) to at least $3.50 per gallon (94 cents per liter) since the subsidy on fuel ended Jan. 1 at the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan's administration. That spurred a spike in food and transportation prices across a country where most live on less than $2 a day.

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Samuel Egbujon, a protester who claims he was shot by a policeman during protest against the ending of a government fuel subsidy on Jan. 1, receives treatment at county hospital in Ogba Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, Jan. 9, 2012.

More than 10,000 people attended one rally in Lagos as the strike started Monday, while tens of thousands more marched in streets across the country. Activists also wore shirts bearing symbols for a loose-knit group called "Occupy Nigeria," inspired by those near Wall Street in New York.

Anger also extended to government corruption in Nigeria, a nation beset by politicians and military rulers who have stolen billions of dollars in oil revenues over the years. Protesters also said they want a stronger government response to ongoing violence in Nigeria by a radical Muslim sect that, according to an Associated Press count, killed at least 510 people last year alone.

While most businesses remained closed Monday and Tuesday, some flights continued to leave Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Oil production also apparently continued in Nigeria, which produces about 2.4 million barrels of oil a day and remains a top crude supplier to the U.S. However, the unions representing oil workers have promised to also strike.

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Abubakare Alimi, a protester who claims he was shot by a policeman, during protest against the ending of a government fuel subsidy on Jan. 1 receives treatment at county hospital in Ogba Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, Jan. 9, 2012.

It is unclear how long the strike will last. The unions have said described it as indefinite, saying they'll stop only if the government restores the fuel subsidies. Jonathan insists that the subsidies be removed to save the country about $8 billion a year, money he says will go toward badly needed road and public projects.

Those protesting Tuesday morning on Ikoyi Island said they no longer believe in the government, shouting: "They will kill us and we will kill them!" A convoy of police escorting a member of the country's elite arrived, with officers loudly loading their Kalashnikov rifles in an attempt to drive the protesters away. Officers put out part of the flaming blockade with an extinguisher, but drove off, leaving the protesters behind.

Another convoy of unarmed officers arrived. They pleaded with protesters for calm but instead they threw stones as the officers put out the flames.

Source: Breitbart.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:11 am 
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Nigeria strike unites classes in populist anger
12 January 2012
By JON GAMBRELL

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Angry youth protest at Lekki road on the third day of nation wide strike following the removal of a fuel subsidy by the government in Lagos, Nigeria, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012.

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - The protest first drew Nigerians who live hand-to-trash, scavenging through mountains of garbage to make a living.

Now, long lines of cars and expensive motorcycles are parking near a demonstration that is drawing more than 10,000 people angry about life in Africa's most populous nation. The nationwide strike first began over gasoline prices more than doubling, but now it encompasses criticism of all Nigeria's failings. People shout to anyone that will listen about the country's cratered roads, dilapidated schools and the government corruption that leaves politicians wealthy and the people largely poor in the oil-rich nation.

Protesters say they want a permanent change in Nigeria, a move away from leaders who send their families abroad for schooling and medical checkups while the rest subsist on less than $2 a day. "They want to cut us off," said Anthony Abang, a 32-year-old unemployed man who helped close down a Lagos highway. "They want to kill our future."

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Angry youths protest on the third day of nationwide strike following the removal of a fuel subsidy by the government in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012.

President Goodluck Jonathan removed subsidies on Jan. 1 that had kept gasoline prices low for more than two decades. Overnight, prices at the pump more than doubled, from $1.70 per gallon (45 cents per liter) to at least $3.50 per gallon (94 cents per liter). The costs of food and transportation also doubled. Jonathan insists the move was necessary to save the country an estimated $8 billion a year, which he promises will go toward badly needed road and public projects. But Nigerians marching through the streets in all parts of the country have seen government promises go unfulfilled before while politicians got richer by stealing funds from planned public work projects. Many Nigerians don't even have electricity and clean drinking water.

That anger has seen some protesters confront police, set burning roadblocks and attack government offices. At least 10 people have been killed. On Wednesday in Minna, the capital of the central Niger state, youths attacked the governor's house, forcing him to flee by helicopter. A mob also killed a police officer.

Attorney General Mohammed Bello Adoke has warned that the government "will not hesitate to bring to bear the full weight of the law" against violent protesters. He also said the strike by major labor unions violates a court injuction. "Continuing disregard of that order is (dangerous) to the public interest as it constitutes an open invitation to anarchy," Adoke said in a statement Tuesday. Adoke also told public workers the government will implement a "no work, no pay" policy for those who join the strike. However, public workers already go weeks without pay in Nigeria at times because of corruption and mismanagement.

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Angry youths protest at Lekki road on the third day of nation wide strike following the removal of a fuel subsidy by the government in Lagos, Nigeria, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012.

In Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital of 15 million, several hundred protesters on Wednesday took over a major highway leading to the islands where the wealthy live. One protester carried a signed that read: "We are ready for the civil war."

Fears about violence were heightened as the leader of a radical Islamist sect challenged the authority of Nigeria's president in an online video. The video by Imam Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the sect known as Boko Haram, will aggravate religious and ethnic tensions in this nation of more than 160 million.

Unrest could affect oil production in Nigeria, which pumps about 2.4 million barrels of oil a day and is a top crude supplier to the U.S. Babatunde Ogun, president of one major union representing oil workers, said Wednesday his group plans to escalate the strike. "It means in the short term, there will be no export of (natural) gas. There will be no power," Ogun said. "Everything will be at a standstill."

Associated Press writers Ibrahim Garba in Kano, Nigeria; Yinka Ibukun in Lagos, Nigeria and Bashir Adigun in Abuja, Nigeria contributed to this report.
Source: Breitbart.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:40 pm 
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HK stockbrokers protest plan to trim lunch break
12 January 2012

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Hong Kong stockbrokers hold placards outside the Exchange Square in Hong Kong Thursday, Jan 12, 2012.

HONG KONG (AP) - Several hundred Hong Kong stockbrokers have marched to the city's stock exchange to protest plans to trim their lunch break between morning and afternoon trading sessions to an hour.

The stockbrokers carried placards Thursday denouncing the plan to shorten the break by 30 minutes. Rally leaders handed a letter of protest to exchange officials. The shorter lunch break is set to take effect in March and is the second phase of a plan to extend trading hours. Last year it was cut to 90 minutes from two hours.

Stock exchange officials say they need to bring trading hours in line with international rivals. But brokers say they need the time to meet with clients and attend IPO presentations.

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CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd, Charles Li, right, and Hong Kong Stock Exchange Chairman Ronald Arculli, left, receive a letter from protesters outside the Exchange Square in Hong Kong Thursday, Jan 12, 2012.

Source: Breitbart.

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