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Hong Kong 'umbrella movement' marks first anniversary and vows to fight on

The Guardian | Protest -

Pro-democracy activists say struggle is not over but there is little appetite for renewed occupations in the near future

Activists in Hong Kong have vowed to continue their fight for democracy, one year after clashes between police and student protesters sparked some of the largest demonstrations ever seen in the former British colony.

Hundreds of campaigners descended on Hong Kong’s government headquarters on Monday afternoon to remember the 79-day “umbrella movement” demonstrations that began on 28 September last year.

Related: One year on, Hong Kong democracy activists ask what protest achieved

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I was part of the Cereal Killer cafe protest – here’s why | Will Harvey

The Guardian | Protest -

The point of the protest wasn’t to damage property or to frighten anyone. It was to highlight that gentrification is brutal, and is driving poverty in London

At the weekend I was one of hundreds of demonstrators who took to the streets of Shoreditch in London, in the third incarnation of Class War’s fuck parade, a protest-cum-street-party against gentrification. During the evening some paint and cornflakes were thrown at the Cereal Killer cafe on Brick Lane, which received a lot of attention, while the issues at the heart of the protest – inequality and social cleansing - were largely ignored.

While I sympathise with the workers who had to clean up on Sunday, and am deeply sorry that some children were intimidated by the protest, the petty vandalism that occurred pales in comparison to the brutality of the gentrification that is destroying the lives and demolishing the homes of some of London’s most vulnerable people.

Related: Never mind the hipsters. It’s the property developers who are ruining our cities | Dan Hancox

Related: Shoreditch Cereal Killer Cafe targeted in anti-gentrification protests

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John McDonnell defends public right to protest

The Guardian | Protest -

Shadow chancellor says before party conference speech that non-violent protest is part of democratic tradition

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has argued for the importance to democracy of non-violent protest, in response to criticism of his previous calls for direct action.

“In our democratic tradition in our country we have the ballot box to use, of course, to elect MPs to be our voice and determine our policies. We have the trade union rights to protect us at work,” he said. “In addition to that, if politicians aren’t listening, we’ve always retained the right, over centuries, to get out in the streets and demonstrate.”

Related: Labour conference: John McDonnell says Marx 'has come back into fashion' - Politics live

Related: John McDonnell: ‘It was a difficult appointment … we knew we were going to be hit by a tsunami’

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Shell abandons Alaska Arctic drilling

The Guardian | Protest -

Oil giant’s US president says hugely controversial drilling operations off Alaska will stop for ‘foreseeable future’ as drilling finds little oil and gas

Shell has abandoned its controversial drilling operations in the Alaskan Arctic in the face of mounting opposition.

Related: The new cold war: drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic

Related: Arctic drilling for 'extreme oil' is risky - and letting Shell do the work is reckless | Cindy Shogun

Related: Greenpeace performs Arctic requiem in effort to touch hearts over Shell drilling

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New Social Media Rules & Restrictions for Turkish Students

Revolution News -

Turkish educational system suffers yet another blow; after last year’s signaling of a life style indoctrination by President Erdoğan, this year new rules and regulations update seems to target the students’ future experiences and uses of free speech and questioning capacity. President Erdoğan had said “We have a problem with certain things, still. Thus we Read More

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Shoreditch anti-gentrification protest: the view from inside the Cereal Killer Cafe - video

The Guardian | Protest -

Video footage taken from inside the shop shows the Cereal Killer Cafe coming under attack during an anti-gentrification protest in Shoreditch on Saturday evening. Staff can be heard calling the police and apologising to customers for the disturbance, as protesters throw objects against the cafe’s windows

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Anti-gentrification protesters target Shoreditch's Cereal Killer Cafe - video

The Guardian | Protest -

Demonstrators target several businesses during an anti-gentrification protest in Shoreditch, including the Cereal Killer Cafe and Marsh & Parsons estate agents. Hundreds of people took to the streets of East London on Saturday to protest against unaffordable housing. Demonstrators set fire to a ‘hipster police’ mannequin and held banners calling for a class war

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Shoreditch Cereal Killer Cafe targeted by anti-gentrification protesters

The Guardian | Protest -

Mob throws paint and cereal at east London cafe in attack owners describe as ‘terrifying’

Hundreds of class war protesters attacked a cereal cafe in east London on Saturday night, daubing the word “scum” on the shop window and setting fire to an effigy of a police officer.

Riot police were called in to defend the Cereal Killer Cafe, in Shoreditch, after it was targeted by a large crowd of anti-gentrification activists carrying pigs’ heads and torches.

Related: The hipster Cereal Killer Cafe owners aren’t the East End’s real enemy | Audrey Gillan

Tonight we were attacked with paint and fire by an angry mob of 200. Riot police are on the scene.

Related: Can the Cereal Killer cafe, which sells only cereal, really make a killing?

Whatever happened in Shoreditch tonight is making my life exceedingly difficult

Anti-gentrification tonight in Shoreditch #FuckParade #classwar

Due to an impromptu demo, Old Street Roundabout is currently blocked. Expect delays on all approaches.

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Watch The Stimulator: Refugee Crisis & Social Media Wars

Revolution News -

Stimulator – This week we look at the dire fuckin situation of people escaping war and abusive governments for the relative safety of the global north. Our featured interview is with Erin Gallagher a journalist with Revolution News, who tells us about “PeñaBots”, fake Twitter accounts that attack free speech in Mexico. On the break Read More

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Pentagon: US Trained Syrian ‘Rebels’ Gave Gear to Al-Qaeda

Revolution News -

The best way to describe U.S. foreign policy is “too little too late,” or even better, “shouldn’t have happened in the first place.” This is probably the worst result of the Pentagon’s poor decision making since the disaster in Mosul, Iraq when ISIS took 2,300 Humvees along with large amounts of weapons and ammunition from the US backed Iraqi army. A $500 Read More

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Mexican Massacres: Retrospective on 50 Years of Murder and Impunity

Revolution News -

At the one year anniversary of the forced disappearance of 43 normalista students from Ayotzinapa and the murder of 6 others in Iguala, we are publishing a retrospective of massacres in Mexico to understand why the Ayotzinapa protests are still raging. Why are protesters still smashing government offices? Why are families still demanding answers? Why Read More

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Slovenia: Pro and Anti Refugee protests in Ljubljana

Revolution News -

Two gatherings took place on Friday in Ljubljana, Slovenia – both pro and anti-refugees. Protesters participating in far right protests demanded from their government to close borders completely and “defend the country from Muslim immigrants as they could change the identity of Slovenia”, while participants of the pro-refugee protest asked for the opening of borders and showing more understanding for Read More

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California Lake Dries Overnight Killing Thousands of Fish

Revolution News -

Thousands of fish lay dead in what used to be Mountain Meadows reservoir also known as Walker Lake, a popular fishing hole just west of Susanville, California. Residents of Lassen County, California, are baffled after an artificial lake dried up, seemingly overnight, leaving thousands of dead fish across 5,800 acres of mud. “Something went haywire,” Read More

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Evidence Indicates West Bank Killing was Extrajudicial Execution – Amnesty

Revolution News -

Evidence obtained by Amnesty International indicates that the killing of Hadeel alHashlamoun by Israeli forces in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, on 22 September 2015 was an extrajudicial execution.  Amnesty – Israeli soldiers shot and mortally wounded 18-year-old Hadeel al-Hashlamoun after they stopped her at a checkpoint in the Old City in Hebron. Pictures Read More

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Delaware Officers Kill Jeremy McDole in His Wheelchair

Revolution News -

Deleware – On Wednesday afternoon, Wilmington police received a 911 call about Jeremy “Bam” McDole, a paralyzed man in a wheelchair with a self-inflicted wound. A witness on the scene shot a cellphone video showing one officer pointing a shotgun or a rifle at McDole in the wheelchair, screaming at him “drop the gun” and Read More

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Radicalisation is too crucial for experts' work to be hijacked for a headline

The Guardian | Protest -

Outrage about the anti-radicalisation kit has centred on the story of ‘Karen’, but the bigger problem is the tendency to play politics with national security

The release of the federal government’s anti-radicalisation awareness kit was first trumpeted on the front page of the Daily Telegraph on Monday.

The Sydney tabloid reported that Michael Keenan, the justice minister, had briefed state education ministers on the kit, which would be made available to teachers “amid growing concerns about the rise in the number of home-grown teen terrorists”.

Related: Radicalisation kit links green activism and 'alternative music' to extremism

Related: Anti-radicalisation kit never meant for use in schools, says key author

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Jailed for a Traffic Ticket – Watched as He Died in Cell

Revolution News -

Detroit – 32-year-old David Stojcevski was jailed 30 days for failing to pay a $772 traffic fine. David suffered 17 of those days with drug withdrawal and died on suicide watch in full view of a surveillance camera and guards who made no apparent effort to help or treat him until he stopped moving after Read More

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Burned Alive: The Dawabsheh Family’s Struggle for Justice

Revolution News -

Guest post and images by Sedina Sabanovic Imagine if headlines came in reporting an 18-month-old American boy by the name of James Smith has been a victim of an arson attack after terrorists set fire to his family home. Immediately burning him to death and later killing both parents due to injuries sustained, while four-year-old brother Read More

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Watch CitizenFour – Oscar Winning Documentary on Edward Snowden

Revolution News -

CITIZENFOUR not only shows you the dangers of governmental surveillance it makes you feel them. After seeing the film, you will never think the same way about your phone, email, credit card, web browser, or profile, ever again. CITIZENFOUR is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Read More

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An anti-street harassment group confronts an epidemic in Egypt

Waging Nonviolence -

by Mariam Elba

Volunteers of Alexandria: As Safe As Before pose for a photo in Saad Zaghloul Square in Alexandr. (Facebook / Alexandria: As Safe As Before)

“It was the first time in my life I underwent such an experience,” said Abdullah Adel, recalling the time he stopped a group of young men from harassing a young woman walking the downtown streets of Alexandria, Egypt by himself.

At first, the group of four young men, aged between 13 and 19, tried to walk past him, but Adel got in front of them before they were able to reach the young woman. “They tried to grab me by my T-shirt,” he said. But after introducing himself, asking their names, and striking up a conversation, they calmed down. Adel then tried to make them realize the gravity of what they were about to do, asking “What if that woman was one of your friends? What if she was one of your family?” But the question that affected them most was “What if you were the victim? How would you feel if you were afraid to go out even just to have fun?”

The group listened as Adel tried to put them in that woman’s shoes. Then, one of them asked, “Don’t you see the way that girl was dressed? You’re not turned on by that?” He responded by saying, “Do you think they wear tight pants because they want to be harassed?” The group was silent.

Adel told them about the legal consequences — a minimum six-month jail sentence and fine (about $638) would have been very possible if they continued pursuing and harassing the woman.

Eventually, they were convinced. “They wanted to take a picture with me,” Adel said, smiling at his success.

This is the kind of work that anti-street harassment group Alexandria: As Safe As Before has been doing since it first began patrolling the highly-trafficked public spaces in Alexandria last July, while the Eid al-Fitr holiday was in full swing.

Sexual harassment in Egypt continues to plague public spaces throughout the country. Women and girls have reported being harassed everywhere from public transportation to universities to streets within their own neighborhoods. According to the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights, 83 percent of women have reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment. Meanwhile, the U.N. states that as much as 99 percent have experienced harassment. The issue is typically at its worst during public and national holidays, especially during Eid, when youth typically go out with friends and public spaces become more crowded than usual.

Alexandria: As Safe As Before is run by Karim Mahrous, an activist who has been working with initiatives to eliminate street harassment in Alexandria since 2007. He began his efforts when he founded a multi-city initiative called Welad el Balad, or “Children of the Country.” The name is a reference to a film released that year, which portrayed harassment favorably — as something one of the main female characters enjoyed. The men who participated in the act were seen as doing something cool, and masculine.

This was the precise cultural perception that Mahrous wanted to target. “We have a very strange culture,” he said. When harassment happens, victim blaming is common. So he decided to take the name and make it their own. “You must treat the victim as a victim, not anything else,” Mahrous said. “This name means it’s something originally in our principles, it’s something originally in our society.”

When the January 25 revolution started in 2011, the street harassment epidemic became even more visible with police having no presence on the streets. It was that summer that Welad el Balad had first launched an initiative in Alexandria to patrol the streets, and stop as many incidents of harassment as possible. This was when things took off for the group, and branches in several other cities throughout Egypt developed. They essentially replaced the police in their efforts to prevent as much street harassment as possible.

Mahrous’ method of dealing with street harassment differs greatly from tactics other groups have used. Another prominent group called “Harass the Harasser,” has volunteers that catch harassers in the act and publicly shame them by spray-painting “I’m a harasser” on their clothes. “We cannot use violence against violence,” Mahrous said.

However, since July 2013 — when then-General, now-President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi became the de facto ruler of Egypt — there have been more serious efforts from the government to eliminate sexual harassment, as the sexual harassment epidemic drew international attention. The sexual harassment law, which was passed in June 2014, instituted the jail sentence and fine. Recently, more female police officers have been deployed in the busiest areas across the country in order to address the problem.

Welad el Balad dispersed, but was reborn as Alexandria: As Safe As Before — except this time, they partnered with the local government in Alexandria to carry out their work. Dozens of volunteers were recruited with the help of the governor’s office, and now the volunteers are accompanied by police officers when carrying out their work.

The group’s emphasis on nonviolence appealed to many of the volunteers. “Our motto is: nonviolence, nonviolence, nonviolence. It is essential,” said Bahgat Osama, a college student who volunteers with the organization.

All volunteers undergo screening and an intensive four-day training program, which includes how to observe a potential instance of harassment, role-playing and memorizing the legal rights of a harassment victim, as well as the minimum and maximum punishments for a harasser.

A volunteer of Alexandria: As Safe As Before speaks with a group of young men on street harassment. (WNV / Abdullah Abdel)

Volunteers are split up based on gender, with the men dispersed to spot potential cases of harassment, and the women distributing information to girls and families about victims’ rights and encouraging them to report any case of assault to the police.

Their efforts in patrolling public areas this past July in Alexandria was widely covered by the press — even the local government took notice, something unheard of in the country. The governor of Alexandria, Hany El Mesiry, invited members of the group to city hall and commended their work, promising to help them in their future endeavors. It is not yet clear whether that promise will materialize.

Mahrous claims that during the three-day holiday, when they were patrolling the streets, only five incidents of harassment took place, a number far lower than what may typically happen during Eid. “There was no group harassment at all,” he said, calling it the most dangerous kind of harassment, as it encourages bystanders to join in harassing the victim.

At the same time, it has been increasingly difficult for grassroots initiatives to form and carry out work in public. Since the enactment of the protest law in November 2013, which forbids any kind of political gathering in public unless a group has government permission, political and social public gatherings have been largely avoided.

In spite of these restrictions, initiatives to eliminate or raise awareness on sexual harassment have continued to pop-up and make a presence in public spaces. Artistic initiatives such as ‘ard el shara,’ have established the first student-led informative conference on the harassment epidemic. Another project called BuSSy, or “Look Here,” holds regular performances in formal venues, as well as the Cairo metro, in which actors relay real stories of victims who suffered sexual harassment and perpetrators who admitted to harassing other women, showing how their families are impacted.

Despite Eid al-Adha celebrations beginning on Thursday, Alexandria: As Safe As Before has yet to receive a permit to continue its work in public, even though it has a partnership with the government of Alexandria. “We took more than three months to start a new event license,” Mahrous said. “I don’t know why they are not cooperating.”

Nevertheless, Mahrous has a much larger vision for the organization. “We hope to work every Friday, and we hope to start a program in schools and universities,” that educate students on sexism and harassment.

Since he began working on anti-street harassment activism, Mahrous has noticed a gradual change in the public discourse on the issue. “People realize there are consequences now,” he said. The harasser realizes “it’s not an easy game” and “more victims now think to take action against their abuser” by reporting their cases to the police.

As of now, however, even as they wait for a permit, volunteers are ready to continue their work in the streets. Mahrous believes that in order for street harassment to truly be eliminated, we have to make it an integral part of public discourse. Talking about the epidemic needs to happen in the media. “Our social discourse shapes social behavior,” he explained. “How can we make these views go from macro to micro? We can’t give chances for any abuser to get away with his crime. Victims need to be treated as victims, not anything else.”