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Uncovering the secret 50-year history of struggle in West Papua

Waging Nonviolence -

by Dale Hess

Embed from Getty Images

Although West Papua is less than 80 miles from Boigu Island, Australia’s northern point, very few Australians know much about it. It is a beautiful land, but it is shrouded in secrecy. Part of the secrecy arises because it is currently under militarily occupation by Indonesia. The Indonesian government has enforced a policy to keep foreign journalists out of West Papua in an effort to prevent stories of human rights abuses, economic exploitation, and lack of health and educational services, which are being experienced by indigenous Papuans, from reaching the outside world. The Indonesian authorities do not want others to know of Papuan struggles to achieve merdeka — a word in the Indonesian and Malay language for independence, liberation, identity, human dignity, self-reliance, material and spiritual satisfaction.

Jason MacLeod, a Quaker educator, organizer and researcher, has written an astounding book — “Merdeka and the Morning Star: Civil Resistance in West Papua” — in which he gives an in-depth analysis of this struggle, the most protracted violent conflict in the Pacific. He writes from both an academic and a practitioner viewpoint. He tells that as a 19-year old he dropped out of university and traveled to Papua New Guinea in search of adventure. In a remote area on the Keram River he collapsed with cerebral malaria, and it was only because of the efforts of two Papuan health workers that his life was spared. This experience led him to a life’s journey of solidarity with the Papuan people. His research is based on 14 years of interviews with over 150 groups and individuals, participant observation and dialogue, and the facilitation of skill-building community workshops on strategic nonviolent action with over 450 Papuan activists. Crucially, it is also informed by current theory of civil resistance.

He begins by relating the historical and political background to the conflict. Belatedly, in 1961, the Dutch created a Papuan national legislature and the Morning Star flag was adopted by the Papuans as their symbol. These events led to an invasion of West Papua by Indonesia, and in 1962 the Kennedy administration brokered the New York Agreement, which gave Indonesia administrative control of West Papua. The Papuans were not involved, nor consulted, in this process. Under the New York Agreement, a referendum for self-determination was to be carried out, but instead of allowing universal adult suffrage, Indonesian authorities handpicked 1,025 participants. Then the military terrorized villagers and executed those who dissented — declaring, at that point, that Papuans were 100 percent in favor of integration with Indonesia. The result was not challenged at the time or later. The Indonesian government interprets their control of West Papua as being sanctioned by the United Nations, while the overwhelming majority of Papuans feel the process was a sham and they have not been given a chance to choose whether or not they wish to be part of Indonesia.

Resolution of the problem is very complex. Aside from the denial of self-determination, the issues of racism, state violence (over 100,000 Papuans are estimated to have been killed), economic exploitation (e.g. large-scale projects like the Freeport-McMoRan/Rio Tinto mine, and logging) and migration (estimated to reduce the Papuan population from 96 percent in 1971 to just 29 percent by 2020) add interactive layers of direct, structural and cultural violence. MacLeod quotes research by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan’s 2011 book Why Civil Resistance Works, showing that nonviolent campaigns are more than twice as effective than violent campaigns in achieving national liberation, democracy and equal rights. But secession struggles against occupation are more difficult, and the chances of fully achieving success for either violent or nonviolent campaigns fall dramatically.

After exploring the dimensions of problem, MacLeod outlines the sources of Indonesian power in West Papua and the strategies employed to maintain state control. This perceptive analysis of the root causes of the conflict, the opponent’s sources of power and their strategies of rule provides essential information to develop civil resistance strategy.

Papuan civil resistance has a long, largely unknown history stretching back to the 1850s. Making these stories known, stories that give a collective identity to Papuans and strengthen civil resistance, was a prime reason why MacLeod wrote this book. He provides a critical analysis of the strategies, as well as the successes and failures of case studies, missed opportunities and the evolution from sporadic protests to unified campaigns. Over time there has been a transition from armed struggle in the mountains or jungles of the interior towards unarmed resistance in urban areas, carried out by younger Papuans. MacLeod provides an analysis of the dynamics, which has led to these shifts, a transition that is still going on.

In his last chapter MacLeod offers a framework for nonviolent liberation. He argues that success hinges on increased movement participation, enhanced strategic skillfulness, greater unity, the ability to attract greater support from within Indonesia and also internationally, and taking advantage of political opportunities. He admits the immense difficulty of the task, but affirms that civil resistance has already achieved some notable advances. For example, Papuans launched a widespread and successful campaign to sink plans for a third province; Papuan women market-sellers’ launched a campaign to establish their own marketplace in Jayapura, the capital; and Papuan landowners and environmentalists ousted BHP Billiton and its plans to build a nickel smelter on Gag Island in Raja Ampat, the world’s most diverse marine environment.  In 2007, there was a massive strike by Freeport mine workers, which saw the formation of the first independent trade union in West Papua and brought 40 percent participation —  including highlanders, islanders and migrant workers — to win a 98 percent wage increase for the lowest paid mine workers. Another successful strike in 2011 had 52 percent participation and increased the number of international allies.

Finally, and most recently, MacLeod captures the drama and excitement of events leading up to the 2015 United Liberation Movement of West Papua’s application for membership to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, or MSG [read about this case in a published excerpt]. This action represents the internationalizing of the West Papuan issue, which is exactly what Jakarta was trying to avoid.

“Merdeka and the Morning Star” gives a discerning overview of the current situation in West Papua and provides a vision of the potential of nonviolent civil resistance. It lifts the veil of secrecy of the injustice and violence inflicted on the Papuan people in this troubled land, and allows us to hear their cry for merdeka. But the struggle will be long and difficult, more difficult than bringing down a dictator, because it must be waged in three places simultaneously — within West Papua, within the centers of power and the society of Indonesia, and internationally. It is further complicated by the immense wealth of West Papua, which brings in entrenched interests of the Indonesian government, the Indonesian military and intelligence services, and transnational corporations. The struggle must also confront the underlying issue, which is the basis of occupation: the issue of racism.

MacLeod offers hope to Papuans in their struggle by giving a strategic framework to understand how civil resistance works and what needs to be done to achieve success. It does this by pushing our thinking about the elements of waging nonviolence in secessionist or self-determination contexts; bringing together insights from community organizing and civil resistance mobilizing in the context of an anti-colonial struggle; integrating insights from theories on revolution; and articulating a methodology for participatory action research of civil resistance struggles.

It should also be of help to people waging anti-colonial struggles in places such as Palestine, Tibet, Kanaky, Maohi Nui, Nagaland, Western Sahara and elsewhere. It also encourages outsiders to become involved in the movement and to explore what it might mean to accompany West Papuans and others, living under occupation, in their nonviolent struggle for peace and justice.

Criminalising boycotts will help unethical businesses thrive | Peter Frankental

The Guardian | Protest -

This is not just about protests against Israel – draconian proposals to stop public bodies making ethical decisions allow big business to call the shots

A boycott is a very British form of protest. It is action through inaction. Over the decades, they have been used to express distaste in the behaviour of countless governments, regimes, individuals and companies with great effect. The boycott of apartheid South Africa has a sort of folklore status as having contributed to the demise of a violent, racist system. Many a brand or government – from the Burmese junta to Nestlé – has felt the force of pound power over the years.

It is hardly surprising, then, that speculation about an imminent announcement from the government about the criminalisation of certain kinds of trade boycott by public authorities – including bodies as diverse as the NHS and student unions – has provoked consternation. Such legislation could have enormous consequences on the ability of Britons to wield this power.

Related: Councils and NHS trusts to be blocked from boycotting Israeli products

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'Islam has failed': Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson brings Pegida to the UK – video

The Guardian | Protest -

Tommy Robinson stepped down as leader of the far right English Defence League in 2013. Alongside two former Ukip candidates, he is now setting up the UK arm of Pegida, the pan-European anti-Islam movement. Film-maker Simon Winkler joins Robinson as he prepares for Pegida’s first march in the UK

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Athens: Molotov attack against Zaimi 11 squat in Exarchia

House Occupation News -

In the early hours of Tuesday, February 16th 2016, at around 04:40am, the squatted Polymorphous Action Space of Anarchists Zaimi 11 was attacked by unknown persons with two Molotov cocktails, one of which burst against the front door and the other in the front part of the yard. No material damages were caused, because the fire was promptly quenched by individuals who were present in the squat at the time and reacted immediately.

Attacks that seek to silence squats do not scare us and will not stay unanswered.
We are at war with all kinds of snitches and cannibals.

Individualities from the Polymorphous Action Space of Anarchists Zaimi 11

[Published in Greek on Indymedia-Athens, translated by Contra Info.]

[Dublin] Squat City has been liberated!

House Occupation News -

Spread the word friends. The warehouse will soon be full of words; the garden has begun regrowing community; music and paint about to burst across the city.

At the lower end of Grangegorman and where the block continues along North Brunswick Street, acres of warehouses and yards and houses and space space spaces have been laying vacant far too long, once again. From developers to NAMA to developers to judge’s friends and back to developers for more and more money while people and places rot.

We who need a home have housed ourselves. We who need good work have found it. No pay — no problem. We invite you to join us for fun and struggle. Stay tuned for updates and events — we intend many things — and a brilliant surprise event is in the making to warm up your cold winter hearts for what’s to come.

This new occupation is a direct protest against Judge ‘Justice’ Gilligan, who claimed to legitimise the eviction of the previous residents and all that they built over days and years, days after jailing folk for daring to protest the water charges, all the while living in paid-for privilege and purported power.

And so, of course, thank you to the Resist Grangegorman’s Eviction Facebook page’s admins for giving us the page and for all the inspiration and DIY fixes that survived the attempted purge. Invaluable.

Stop the rot; Squat the lot!

(Reposted from

Germany: Hoax Map Debunks Absurd Rumors About Refugees

Revolution News -

Hoax Map is debunking rumors about refugees The German website Hoax Map is debunking false rumors and fake news stories accusing refugees in Europe of crimes ranging from ridiculous to disturbing in nature. The live map features the location of the reported hoax, a description of the false claim and a link to a report Read More

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European March For Refugee Rights Demands Safe Passage

Revolution News -

On February 27 there will be a European day of action to demand safe passage for refugees instead of closing borders with fences and navy patrols. There will be actions and demonstrations in more than 65 cities in 17 countries. We publish the call for the European Day of Action here (Unedited): “On the 27th of February, European citizens Read More

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#BaftaBlackout protest takes place outside Baftas ceremony – video

The Guardian | Protest -

A small group of demonstrators gather on the fringe of the red carpet at the 2016 Bafta awards at London’s Royal Opera House to protest the lack of diversity in film. The hashtag #BaftaBlackout comes in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, which is in response to the controversy surrounding this year’s all-white Academy award nominations

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My Escape: Videos Recorded By Refugees Themselves

Revolution News -

Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing to Europe in the hope of starting a new life in safety. The German documentary My Escape shares their dramatic and personal stories of escape using photos and videos captured and recorded by the refugees themselves. The stories of escape are dramatic, unique and shocking – stories which Read More

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White Supremacists on Scalia Death: “We’re Screwed”

Revolution News -

Just how terrible was Justice Scalia? Well for one, the left hasn’t been this united since Thatcher died, and the far right seem to be in full on panic mode. A screenshot obtained from White Nationalist website “Stormfront” by our friends at Idavox pretty much sums it up: Meanwhile the rest of us are like… Antonin Read More

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Sweden: Man Shot During Pro-Kurdish Demonstration In Fittja

Revolution News -

On Saturday, the chairman of the Swedish Committee of Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) was shot during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in the Fittja suburb of Stockholm. The 52 year old still has life-threatening injuries. The victim was sitting in a van that accompanied the pro-Kurdish demonstration as a black Audi drove by at high Read More

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Turkey is Attacking YPG to Drag NATO Into Syria’s War

Revolution News -

On Saturday, Turkish forces shelled YPG positions in Syria. The military action took place on the same day that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkish newspapers that Saudi Arabia was sending war planes to the Incirlik airbase in Turkey. After European Union leaders made a deal with Turkish president Erdogan to stop refugees wanting to travel into the European Union, he seems to consider himself Read More

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Air Pollution Kills 5.5 Million Worldwide Annually and Rising

Revolution News -

Michael Brauer – University of British Columbia New research shows that more than 5.5 million people die prematurely every year due to household and outdoor air pollution. More than half of deaths occur in two of the world’s fastest growing economies, China and India. Power plants, industrial manufacturing, vehicle exhaust and burning coal and wood Read More

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Exarchia (Athens): Update regarding the first month of operation of Themistokleous 58 Squat

House Occupation News -

During the previous month, Themistokleous 58 Squat participated in a series of actions/demonstrations:

On January 16th 2016, we took to the streets for the first time with a distinct bloc of nearly 30 individuals at the rear of the demonstration in memory of Shahzad Luqman in the Athens neighbourhood of Petralona. Slogans in various languages were shouted and spray-painted, and an ATM was vandalised along the way. After the demo finished, the sign above the local office’s entrance of the ruling SYRIZA party in Ano Petralona was taken down.

On January 23rd, we participated in the demonstration in solidarity with migrant detainee Sanaa Taleb, which started from Victorias Square, downtown Athens.

Among other slogans, the following were chanted: Common struggles of locals-migrants; let’s expropriate the bourgeoisie’s wealth // Solidarity structures, nuclei of riots, war against the war of those in Power // Alerta, alerta, antipatriota // Listen up you miserable patriots: we will set fire to national borders // Collective kitchens, burnt cop cars, multiform struggles for freedom // January shopping sales are not nearly enough; let’s expropriate en masse // The [national] flag looks nice after it’s burnt // Freedom for those [women] in prison cells // National unity is a trap; we, the excluded ones, have no fatherland // Sanaa, hold strong until freedom, etc.

On January 30th, we participated with a bloc of around 40 individuals (squatters and people in solidarity) in the defense of Victorias Square’s lower left corner, to guarantee that the place would stay untouched by Golden Dawn stabbers. We remained in the square from 18:00 to 23:30. We then left in a coordinated manner, together with the rest of the formations/collectives that participated in the square’s defense and alongside the vast majority of migrants who were present, marching all together to Exarchia. Recognising our co-responsibility for moving a group of nearly 50 undocumented individuals from Victorias Square to Exarchia, an initiative of individuals from the squat entered the premises of the Athens Polytechnic School so that people could stay there overnight without being threatened by Greek police’s thugs in uniform or groups of Nazis that were out on a hunt. The next morning, the approximately 50 migrants left the Polytechnic and returned to Victorias Square.

On February 4th, we took part in a defense group of the Anarchist Black Bloc that participated in the strike demonstration in central Athens. As in all previous instances, the group of squatters and people in solidarity that took to the streets was international and multiracial.

On February 10th, we dropped a banner off the squat in solidarity with the autonomous social centre Klinika in Prague, which was recently attacked by fascists.

On February 11th, a small group of us participated in the demonstration in solidarity with Vancouver Apartman squat with a banner reading: “Squats are a struggle for life.”

Complementary to the aforementioned activity, we declare our solidarity with self-organised structures and projects that have been threatened with repression or hit by the State and/or fascists over the last period.

As far as the building’s operation itself is concerned, the squat’s common-use spaces (assemblies room & kitchen on the ground floor) open at 08:30 daily (except Sundays, when they open at 10:00), and the squat’s doors close strictly at midnight. The house is full for the time being, and we are establishing an effective self-organised communal living. Drug and alcohol use as well as smoking are not allowed inside the squat’s spaces. The specific agreement between all participants in the squat corresponds to our need of being housed in a residential environment free from brawls and safe for all persons involved in the project, regardless of their age. We underline the fact that the squat does not meet the requirements for housing people with serious mobility impairments, mental health issues and substance dependence. The ‘free shop’ on the ground floor (give & take space for exchange of clothing and other items) is open from 12:00 to 20:00 daily. The squat’s open assembly takes place in the ground-floor room every Monday at 20:00, where people in solidarity are able to discuss various topics concerning the squat, participate in the different working groups, and suggest ideas for the improvement of the project’s functioning.

The following is a list of needs we have at the moment:

Technical matters/reparations: Paints, pallets/wood products, donations for plumbing works

Kitchens: Mini fridges, mini ovens, cooking gas bottles, forks/spoons/knives, plates, cups/drinking glasses

Food: Olive oil (priority need), pantry staples (rice, pasta, legumes), milk, vegetables and fruit

Cleaning supplies: Detergents, soaps, toilet paper

Gardening supplies: Soil, seeds, pots & saucers

General needs: Heaters, craft materials/stationery, sewing machine.

In closing we would like to thank everyone who have factually supported the project so far. The struggle continues, until the total destruction of the States and their borders.

Themistokleous 58 Squat
th58 [at] riseup [dot] net

NYC activists celebrate guilty verdict in Akai Gurley case, plan to keep pressure on NYPD

Waging Nonviolence -

by Ashoka Jegroo

Akai Gurley’s aunt speaks to a crowd outside the NYPD’s headquarters on Friday after the conviction of officer Peter Liang. (WNV / Ashoka Jegroo)

One day after an officer was convicted for manslaughter in the 2014 death of a Brooklyn man, dozens of people gathered outside the New York City Police Department’s headquarters to celebrate the verdict and show support for the victim’s family.

“Did you ever think that we would get to a place where we could have a rally and be in a happy place?” asked organizer Kerbie Joseph of the ANSWER coalition. “Since I’ve been marching… it’s been a place of dread and frustration.”

On February 11, a jury declared Officer Peter Liang guilty of second-degree manslaughter and official misconduct in the killing of 28-year-old Akai Gurley in the stairwell of Brooklyn’s Louis H. Pink Houses on November 20, 2014. Liang and his partner, Officer Shaun Landau, had been conducting a “vertical patrol,” where police patrol building stairwells starting from the roof downward, in the dimly-lit stairwell of the building. Liang had his gun in hand, a supposedly common police practice, when Gurley and his girlfriend entered the stairwell. Officer Liang was then startled and let off a shot that ricocheted off the wall and hit Gurley, who made it from the seventh floor — where he entered the stairwell — to the fifth floor before collapsing.

Prosecutors say that neither officer called in for an ambulance and that Liang was more concerned with saving his job than with helping Gurley. Officer Landau even admitted to snatching the phone out of Liang’s hand as he tried to call the sergeant. Although they are supposed to be trained to do so, neither Officer Liang nor Officer Landau performed CPR on Gurley, claiming in court that they were not properly trained and that the NYPD had helped them cheat on the CPR-certification test. Liang’s lawyers claim that he was busy crying and in a state of shock and was thus in no condition to perform CPR.

“It’s going to be pretty clear he broke down and was crying in the hallway,” Defense Attorney Robert Brown told DNAInfo. “Not necessarily the best physical and mental condition to perform CPR on someone.”

The jury didn’t see it that way and took two days to decide on the guilty verdict. Liang and his partner, Officer Landau, were also officially terminated from their jobs after the verdict came out. The next day, outside of the NYPD’s headquarters at One Police Plaza, supporters of the Gurley family gathered for a rally to celebrate the verdict. Organizers and Gurley’s family thanked all the activists in New York City who demonstrated for the last year and helped keep Gurley’s case on people’s minds.

“I really feel like without you, there’s no way that we would’ve gotten the verdict that we did,” Gurley’s cousin Mesha Joseph told a crowd of activists at the rally.

Ever since Gurley’s death, his name has been chanted at multiple protests and demonstrations along with the various other victims of the NYPD, and many actions were dedicated solely to remembering him. Protesters have been a common sight outside the courthouse, in Grand Central Station, and on the streets. Many of the more dedicated activists and groups have become close with the Gurley family, providing various kinds of support.

“I want to thank everyone from the Grand Central crew NYC Shut It Down, People’s Power [Assemblies], Malcolm X Grassroots [Movement], everybody,” said Gurley’s aunt Hertencia “Aunt T” Peterson at the rally. “There’s so many, and I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

This coalition of grassroots groups all contributed to keeping Gurley’s name from being forgotten and were thanked multiple times by the family for their work.

“I know for a fact that protesting and all of the noise that we’ve made played a role [in the verdict],” said Kim Ortiz of NYC Shut It Down. “You know things like this get swept under the rug. Cops on videotape get non-indictments. So absolutely the pressure that we’ve kept up, our endurance, our persistence, and our straight up militancy have definitely played a role in this verdict and also nationwide.”

Many of Liang’s supporters insist that, while white officers often get away with killing civilians, Liang was convicted because he is Chinese. Liang’s mother spoke out about this the day after the verdict at a press conference in Brooklyn along with other supporters of Liang and his family.

“If the cop was white, he would have not been convicted,” Adele Chen, a friend of Liang, told NY1. “Because there are so many cases where the cops are white and they have not been convicted for the crimes. So why is this one Asian being convicted for what he has accidentally done?”

Activist groups like CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, an Asian-American group that has been supporting the Gurley family and advocating for Liang’s conviction from the beginning, insist that while Liang’s race may have played a role in his conviction, justice requires that he, as well as white officers, be held accountable when they kill people.

“I hear it, and I feel for them,’’ Cathy Dang, executive director of CAAAV, told the New York Times. “I understand that they feel like he is a scapegoat, but at the end of the day a life was stolen from a family, and Officer Liang is part of a system that does it to many other people, and we can’t keep giving police officers impunity.”

Liang is set to be sentenced on April 14 and faces up to 15 years in prison. The activists who helped bring about his conviction, however, say they will continue onto other cases where cops have gotten away with murder, and hopefully make sure that officers of all races are held accountable.

“Our black and brown bodies are still dropping at the hands of law enforcement, so we need to keep pursuing every single case of injustice,” Ortiz said. “We need to make sure that every single case gets accountability and get justice for these families because it’s not just Akai Gurley.”

#LetThemStay protest takes to Sydney harbour in fight for 267 asylum seekers

The Guardian | Protest -

Demonstrators hang banner across two boats as part of action to stop Turnbull government sending babies and families back to Nauru and Manus Island

Protesters hung a banner across two boats in Sydney harbour on Sunday, asking the Australian government to let 267 asylum seekers facing removal to offshore detention stay in Australia.

Related: Refugee advocates to hold #LetThemStay protests in Brisbane in support of 'Baby Asha'

Protesters from @GetUp @amnestyOz @ActionAid_aus and @Greenpeace hold a banner #LetThemStay in Syd Harbour @SBSNews

#LetThemStay #LadyCilento

Abseiling protesters: Very heavy city-bound traffic on the Eastern Fwy now

#Bondi now 37 cots for 37 Australian born babies that @MalcolmTurnbullMP intends 2 return 2 #Nauru #LetThemStay

#LetThemStay #bondibeach right now ❤️

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German-led NATO Operation Will Deport Refugees Back To Turkey

Revolution News -

NATO has launched naval patrols in the Aegean sea between Turkey and Greece to stop the influx of refugees into the European Union (EU).  NATO warships will return refugees to Turkey as an ultimatum against Greece. The NATO operation is German led, and began just days after German chancellor Angela Merkel met Turkish president Erdogan in Ankara. The mission has been agreed Read More

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Anaheim Demands Justice for Gustavo Najera, Murdered by APD

Revolution News -

Friday night, the Anaheim Community Coalition held a protest against the murder of Gustavo Najera, the latest victim of the brutal Anaheim Police Department. The protest was scheduled for 5:30 PM, but went well into the night after police shut down all of Harbor Blvd. The first police encounter involved a lone cop sent out Read More

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Will Self leads London protest against ‘corporate takeover’ of public space

The Guardian | Protest -

Author warns of ‘threat to national psyche’ as campaigners rally outside City Hall to protest at corporate takeover of streets and squares

The spiritual wellbeing of our cities is being eroded by the creeping corporatisation and privatisation of its public spaces, the author Will Self has warned.

Addressing the first “public space intervention“ to protest against the fact that sizeable chunks of London are falling into corporate hands, Self said the trend was having a deleterious impact on the capital’s residents.

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Greek Farmers Battle Police on First of Two Day Action

Revolution News -

#Greece: angry farmers clash with riot police outside the Agriculture Ministry in downtown #Athens. … — th anonymous (@ori_no_co) February 12, 2016 Thousands of Greek farmers descended on Athens on Friday in protest of austerity measures that propose an increase in social security contributions almost threefold, a reduction in pension payments and doubling of Read More

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