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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 4:14 pm 
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Sex protest outside UK parliament over porn 'censorship'
December 12, 2014

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A man dressed as Father Christmas poses for photographs as demonstrators prepare to take part in a mass "face-sitting protest" outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on December 12, 2014 (AFP Photo/Leon Neal)

London (AFP) - Campaigners in favour of hardcore pornography staged an unusual "face-sitting" protest outside the British parliament on Friday against new rules banning a series of extreme sex acts from online videos.

Around 20 fully-clothed couples simulated sex on the lawn in Parliament Square, with women in black leather boots sitting astride the men's faces. They were protesting an amendment to the Communications Act requiring video-on-demand online pornography to follow tougher rules, already laid out by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) for DVDs sold in shops.

Spanking, caning, penetration by any object "associated with violence", physical or verbal abuse, physical restraint and female ejaculation were among the acts to be banned from online productions. Strangulation, face-sitting and fisting were also banned, with the BBFC deeming them "life-endangering". "While the measures won't stop people from watching whatever genre of porn they desire, as video shot abroad can still be viewed, they do impose severe restrictions on content created in the UK, and appear to make no distinction between consensual and non-consensual practices between adults," said the Facebook page of the protest organisers.

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Demonstrators take part in a mass "face-sitting protest" outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on December 12, 2014, as they protest against changes to pornography regulations (AFP Photo/Leon Neal)

"Adult performers are going to be affected by this," said Charlotte Rose, a former professional dominatrix who organised the protest. She said it would "push more people into poverty". "What the government is doing is taking our personal liberties away without our permissions," she said. A woman named Mistress Absolute said the law was inhibiting her "sexual freedom". "This is a gateway to other laws being snuck in," she said.

A spokesman for the government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the legislation provided the same level of protection to the online world that already exists for the high street sales of DVDs. "In a converging media world these provisions must be coherent and the BBFC classification regime is a tried and tested system of what content is regarded as harmful for minors," he said.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 5:43 pm 
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Thousands of Italians protest economic reforms
Italian unions shut down basic services, march in 50 cities against govt economic reforms
December 12, 2014

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A student wearing a Santa's costumes is pushed away by a policemen during a protest in Milan, Italy, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

MILAN (AP) -- Tens of thousands of union workers marched through more than 50 Italian cities on Friday to protest government economic reforms that they say erode their rights.

Non-union, anti-government protesters clashed with police in some cities, including Milan, where students dressed as Santa Claus jumped the fence at a regional government office building and threw bottles and other objects. Police dispersed that protest with tear gas; authorities said 11 officers were injured.

The general strike, which shut down basic services across Italy, is one of the largest by two of the nation's most powerful union groups against a center-left government, which had traditionally cozied up to unions. The strike created a patchwork of chaos as trains, buses, schools, ports and other services closed down.

Premier Matteo Renzi said the right to strike must be protected but insisted his tougher line is necessary to return the economy to growth and create jobs. "The future belongs not to those who are afraid but those who have the courage and the desire to change," Renzi told a business forum in Istanbul.

In a sign of discord within his own Democratic Party, some of its members joined the marches. Stefano Fassina, a former deputy economics minister, told Sky TG24 said it was important that someone from the party marched alongside the workers. Susanna Camusso, the leader of CGIL, Italy's largest union, led a protest march in the northern city of Turin, headquarters of carmaker Fiat and a symbolic city for the nation's shrinking industrial might. She said changes need to be made "with and not against the people."

The unions are protesting spending cuts and labor market reforms that will make it easier for companies to fire workers that Renzi has passed in a bid to attract foreign investment.

Source: Yahoo! AP.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:13 am 
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Sex workers protest violence in London
December 17, 2014

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A protester holds a placard during a candle-lit vigil to mark the international day to end violence against sex workers, organised by the English Collective of Prostitutes, in London, December 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Justin Tallis)

London (AFP) - Prostitutes held a candlelit vigil in London on Wednesday to mark the international day to end violence against sex workers.

Organised by the English Collective of Prostitutes, the protesters held signs such as "Criminalisation makes sex workers vulnerable to rape, decriminalise now!"

Another held a colourful home-made placard reading "sex work is work!"

Holding candles, the crowd held gathered in Soho, traditionally a London red light district. The protest was to "demand an end to criminalisation, stigma and poverty which makes us vulnerable to all forms of violence and exploitation," the campaign group said in a statement.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:23 pm 
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Belgium national strike slows transport, business to a crawl
15 December 2014
By Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl

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Day of strike action - © EPA

Brussels (dpa) - A national strike was crippling Belgium on Monday, with flights grounded, trains at a standstill and businesses across the country blocked by picket lines.

It is the fourth Monday in a row that work stoppages have been held in Belgium to protest labour and social measures pledged by the new government of Prime Minister Charles Michel. The small European country is home to EU institutions and the NATO military alliance.

Belgian trade unions say they are against austerity, for instance opposing plans to introduce pension reforms and end the automatic indexation of salaries. But Michel has argued that reforms are necessary to create more jobs and provide social services. "We are here to say that we want a social Europe and not dumping," Bruno Antoine of the CSC union told the Belga news agency, as his members worked to hamper traffic on the E411 highway in the south of the country.

Roadblocks were also being erected in the capital Brussels to snag vehicle traffic there. "This is not the end of the social conflict in Belgium," predicted fellow CSC representative Dominique Wilkin. Other unions have also threatened to continue with strikes in January if their demands are not met. The Zaventem international airport in Brussels was paralyzed on Monday, with all flights cancelled and the Belgian airspace shut down. Some 600 flights were affected, Belga wrote.

No public transport was available in Brussels and no trains were running on the Belgian network, which has important international connections to neighbouring Germany, France and Britain. Rail disruptions are also expected on Tuesday, after signal cables were set on fire in Brussels. The railway workers' CGSP union denied any involvement and denounced the incident as "sabotage," telling Belga that it "discredits today's legitimate [labour] action."

The strike was also affecting hospitals in the country and international companies such as Audi, Ikea, Coca-Cola and ArcelorMittal, according to Belga.

Source: dpa.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 5:46 pm 
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Xenophobia mushrooms in shadow of Berlin tower blocks
By Jean-Michel Hauteville
December 21, 2014

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People hold a banner reading 'We have had enough of it, no to an accomodation' during a demonstration against the construction of residential units for asylum seekers and refugees in Berlin's Marzahn-Hellersdorf district on November 22, 2014 (AFP Photo/Odd Andersen)

Berlin (AFP) - There's little to break the monotony of communist-era apartment blocks stretching across Marzahn-Hellersdorf, an east Berlin satellite district that has gained national notoriety for a spate of anti-foreigner protests.

Week after week, hundreds of residents here have angrily rallied against plans for a new centre to house refugees seeking asylum on a stretch of parkland now ringed by cyclone fence and watched by security guards.

As Germany confronts a rise in far-right populism, with "anti-Islamisation" marches drawing thousands in the eastern city of Dresden, this bland corner of the sprawling capital, a district home to almost 300,000 people, has become another flashpoint of resentment and xenophobia.

"I have nothing against foreigners, I've been around them all my life," said Fritz Siebke, 91, enjoying a Christmas season banquet of meat rolls, potato dumplings and gravy with fellow German pensioners at a district community centre. "But since we've accepted refugees into Marzahn-Hellersdorf, things have changed in the neighbourhood. My gardening tools were stolen from right outside my house. In the past, that wouldn't have happened." Christa Timm -- a fellow retiree who has lived here "for half a century," since the days when a Marxist-Leninist regime was in charge -- grumbled that "it would have been good if the authorities had informed us properly."

At first glance little has changed in Marzahn since the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago -- the few splashes of colour amid the prefab walls of 1970s-era architecture are mostly discount supermarkets and the yellow trams leading to the city. With one in five residents unemployed and the area suffering neglect, the drab district is a world away from Berlin's more cosmopolitan and diverse centre -- and, analysts say, fertile ground for the far-right protests.

Rise in asylum-seekers

"Just look at the decay of our roads, our schools," argued Manfred Rouhs, head of the far-right "Pro Deutschland" (For Germany) party, which has helped organise protests venting anger at the entire political class, as well as the mainstream media. "It's normal that people demand their problems be addressed before they host economic refugees," he told AFP in his office, seated before a black-red-gold German flag and a poster calling for "more education and less immigration".

Marzahn district mayor Stefan Komoss, a centre-left Social Democrat, said he understood the concerns of many residents, but argued that "if we had to wait for budget surpluses before we dealt with the asylum issue, we wouldn't be doing anything at all." He insisted his local administration had used "all the available channels of information" to gain acceptance for the new asylum centre. "Those who still complain of not being informed are merely saying, in a roundabout way, that they are against the arrival of refugees in their neighbourhood."

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Week after week, hundreds of residents have angrily rallied against plans for a new centre to house refugees seeking asylum on a stretch of parkland now ringed by cyclone fence and watched by security guards (AFP Photo/Odd Andersen)

His district, like hundreds of others across Germany, has in recent years converted old schools and other public buildings into shelters to accommodate a rising number of asylum seekers, whose number is expected to top 200,000 nationwide this year. They have come from war-torn and poverty-stricken Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan as well as African and Balkan countries, making the country Europe's top destination for people seeking a safe haven.

Marzahn-Hellersdorf has seen protests since August 2013, when far-right agitators used social media and the streets to whip up sentiment against a new refugee centre planned in an abandoned school building.

Manipulated by far-right

The fear of foreigners here is explained by both "a serious lack of education" and by history, argued sociologist Nivedita Prasad of Hellersdorf Technical University. "East Germans only started to meet foreigners in the 1990s," the early years of reunified Germany," she said. "But, above all, the people of Marzahn allowed themselves to be manipulated by the far-right," Prasad added. "It took some time to realise that behind the alleged popular initiatives and events organised by so-called 'concerned citizens', there were actually local organisers from the NPD, the main neo-Nazi party in the country."

While the district is known for the flare-up of racist sentiment, not everyone in Marzahn opposes refugees. The protests have usually been met with, and often dwarfed by, anti-fascist counterdemonstrations. At the Hellersdorf school building, nearby residents have delivered clothes and toys for children. And once the first centre opened, "local residents realised that the refugees were not trouble-makers, and their fears were allayed," said Komoss, the district mayor.

Back in the Marzahn community centre, deputy director Joachim Adam said he believes Germany, one of the world's biggest arms exporters, has a duty "to welcome those fleeing from conflict." For next year he plans a project to build bridges between the locals and their new neighbours when, he enthused, "Syrian women will come and give cooking lessons at our place."

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 5:49 pm 
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17,500 Germans Gather to Sing Christmas Carols Against Islamisation
by Oliver Lane
23 December 2014

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Reuters / Hannibal Hanschke

The German PEGIDA movement held its largest meeting yet last night to protest what they call the ‘Islamisation of the Western World’, despite stiff opposition from all sections of Germany’s elite including politicians, media, and the arts.

PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West) has grown rapidly since its inception in October, a peaceful ‘strolling’ movement opposing the exceptional violence seen in street battles between Salafist Muslims and ethnic Kurds seen in many German cities this year and enormous immigration. Now on it’s tenth ‘evening stroll’, it has grown from a couple of hundred people, to 15,000 last week, to more than 17,500 last night.

In addition to the hundreds of banners with slogans such as ‘Against Hatred, Violence, and the Quran’, ‘Against Religious Fanaticism’, and ‘No Sharia in Europe’, the thousands attending brought song sheets which had been distributed online and sang favourite Christmas carols.

Despite the essentially ordinary character of many of the people taking to the streets for the peaceful strolls, and the admission by senior government and police figures that a great many of those joining in are families bringing their children, the organisation has come in for stiff criticism and rejection by the heights of the German elite.

Chancellor Merkel has suggested the leadership of PEGIDA have an ulterior motive, despite their focus on non-violent protest and apolitical principles. She even went as far to warn people thinking of going on the weekly stroll to “watch out that they are not instrumentalised by the organisers”. The SPD, Germany’s Labour-party equivalent have gone as far as calling PEGIDA “Nazis in pinstripes”.

This is despite a report by the German police that there are significantly more known troublemakers in the counter-protest movements, than in PEGIDA itself.

It is not only German politics which is putting its weight behind the counter-PEGIDA movement. Apparently dismayed that 17,500 people had turned out in bad weather to sing Christian carols, the Protestant Bishop of Dresden said PEGIDA were trying “to exploit a Christian symbol and a Christian tradition” for political ends.

Germany’s art elite also showed their disapproval last night. The directors of Dresden’s Bavarian State Opera house, outside which the protests take place turned off the lights on the building, cloaking it in darkness during the stroll. Colossal 50-foot banners were draped in front of the building reading “humanity, respect, and diversity”.

No plans have yet been announced by PEGIDA for their next march.

Source: Breitbart.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:17 pm 
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2014 Pitchforks

It seems there were less protests around the world in 2014 than during 2013. Maybe people gave up and got tired of protesting about things, maybe the world became a better place, or maybe protests were fewer but more severe.

It seems that while the -Western- world is slowly coming out of their self-induced financial crisis, the geopolitical, and thus the global financial landscape has also shifted.

The great hope of an Arab Spring towards better governance across the Middle East has instead turned into a more extreme form of Islam with its roots and branches now extending into the muslim communities inside the Western heartland.

2015 started with just such an event; the killing of the Charlie Hebdo workers in Paris. It doesn't forebode well.

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