Greece, Out Of Tear Gas

ATHENS — Greece, engulfed by civil unrest, is urgently seeking to procure tear gas from neighboring countries. “We have contacted a number of allies for non-lethal equipment,” an official said.

Greece has exhausted its supply of 4,600 tear gas units in 10 days of rioting. Officials termed urgent the Greek request for tear gas and other non-lethal equipment, including stun grenades.

Israeli officials said the government in Athens has requested that Israeli companies send tear gas grenades to help police battle the massive riots in Athens. They said Greece has already exhausted its tear gas supply. Officials said Athens has turned to Israel, Germany and other European Union members for non-lethal, anti-riot equipment. They said Israel has a huge arsenal of tear gas for military and police operations in the West Bank.

Greece and Israel have increased their military and security cooperation over the last five years. The two countries have conducted military exercises as well as counter-insurgency training.

ht2 jews sans frontieres-

In 1946, the U.S. government, headed by Harry Truman, decided that Greece should be be ruled by Nazi collaborators. And so it was, in keeping with the the same U.S. commitment to liberty that we see on display in Iraq, Palestine, Somalia and everywhere else.

A brief background via James

Chronis Polychroniou– The killing on the night of December 6 of a 15-year-old schoolboy by an armed special patrol officer on duty in Exarchia, the bohemian district of downtown Athens and a home base of various self-styled anarchist groups, was the spark that produced the spontaneous and unprecedented in scale student mobilizations and the riots that immediately followed and engulfed in flames part of the city of Athens and many other cities throughout Greece, leaving in their wake a rather conservative society in a state of shock and the political establishment in complete disarray.

What really lies behind the demonstrations is the deep-seated frustration on the part of the nation’s youth over a social system structured in a way that caters almost exclusively to the interests of the rich and powerful, unrestrained anguish over the direction of the country in the hands of a most corrupt and incompetent neoliberal government headed by Prime Minister and New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis (the latest government scandal involves illegal public land swapping with a powerful monastery on Mount Athos, with senior ministers having allegedly pocketed money out of this deal) and whose social agenda consists of dismantling public education and social services and privatizing at the same time major and even profitable public enterprises in the name of neoliberal market efficiency, and unaddressed fears about the future. Other elements are also at work, especially when it comes to assessing the riots which bear distinct elements of hooligan-related violence and are in no way linked to the student movement, but they merely reinforce the conditions of social malaise and decomposition that prevail today in Greece.

For starters, Greece has the highest youth unemployment rate in the European Union, hovering between 28-29 percent, with its young people being dependent on their parents way past their adolescent years. To be sure, it is common in Greece, given the state of the job market and that of wage structures (700 euros is considered to be the average monthly salary for the new generation of the labor force), for young people to live at home with their parents even though they are in their late 20s, 30s or even 40s. So much for one’s self-esteem living in a society that carries to great lengths the illusion that it is a developed Western European society.

The high unemployment youth rate occurs against the background of a family culture which views education as a means of social and economic mobility and with parents willing to make great financial sacrifices in order to help their sons and daughters gain a competitive edge in the job market. Thus, the provision of private educational services in Greece is a booming business while the system of public education lays in ruins and constitutes the social site through which generation after generation of students gets initiated into political activism, which frequently involves converting the school and the university campus into occupied territories for symbolic resistance against the system.

Further, Greece has a grim legacy of state administrative authoritarianism and police brutality which not only haven’t been eradicated but, on the contrary, are recreated, manifested and reconstituted whenever the social conditions are unfavourable to the imposition of unpopular economic and social policies. Civil servants in all agencies, lacking training and professional skills, often display arrogance and a form of power that both alienates and angers the citizenry. This is especially the case with the police force which often resorts to brute force against students, immigrants and various other marginalized elements in Greek society. In the eyes of the youth, the police are regarded as the personification of structural state violence even if in pure technocratic terms the Greek police officers tend to be, more than anything else, untrained, unskilled, and underpaid public officers, moonlighting in order to make ends meet, and, like most civil servants in Greece, devoid of a sense of a duty towards the public interest.

In this surrealistic social and cultural environment, provoking the police is a game of sorts for many of the self-styled anarchists who are largely responsible for the fires and the destruction of property that follows whenever public demonstrations take place. Neofascist groups, which often act as a phalanx of the riot police in clashes with leftist groups, also occupy a central if shadowy role in the dramas that unfold in the streets of Athens, making the capital resemble, at times, a civil war zone.

The ongoing student demonstrations and riots in Greece that have captured public imagination around the world reflect the condition of a country in deep political, social, economic and cultural crisis — a consequence of serious malfunctions in Greek polity and social culture — -and represent only a small segment of public discontent directed towards a corrupt and incompetent group of neoliberal politicos who use power and state resources for personal gain and against a social system which has extinguished hope for the future and relies increasingly now on state violence in order to suppress civil disobedience.

Of course, the story of neoliberal measures and social discontent is not unique to Greece. In the context of the current global economic crisis, one should not be surprised to see similar developments elsewhere, including other parts of Europe. So to paraphrase the catch title about Greece’s mayhem in a recent issue of The Economist, “beware. . . . of the youth bearing petrol bombs.”

And if you haven’t already, always worth seeing Costa Gavras’ brilliant film Z

Home Office Criteria So Wide It Effectively Bans Photography

Via Liberty & Solidarity. The British Journal of Photography has this answer to the NUJ from the Home Office-

The Home Office has written to the National Union of Journalists, outlining cases when photography may be legally limited. BJP reports.

In a letter dated 03 December, which BJP saw, Vernon Coaker, the Minister for Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing, has written to the National Union of Journalists to inform it of measures that have taken since their meeting on 05 November.

The meeting was arranged after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith shocked photographers by appearing to condone increasing police restrictions, despite confirming there is no legal framework to prevent them shooting in public.

In the letter, the Minister has confirmed that photography can be limited in public places in special circumstances. The letter reads: ‘This may be on the grounds of national security or there may be situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations or inflame an already tense situation or raise security considerations. Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace or to avoid a public order situation or for the person’s own safety and welfare or for the safety and welfare of others’.

The broad definition could allow police officers to legally prevent photographers, including press photographers, to document events such as protests or any kind of incident.

It can be used to create the scenario that any police officer can tell you to stop taking pics -of anything- when you reasonably object that will become a breach of the peace thus the guidelines justify you being stopped. This already happens a lot, it’s like a sleazy version of pre-crime, provoke a person with an instruction and unless totally obedient the response then creates the grounds to further harass or arrest them and they know most people have neither the time or money to argue it in court. It is a very ancient police tactic.

Apart from that the guidelines as a whole provide the police with such wide grounds on which to stop photography it effectively bans it on the word of any copper whether for journalist or citizen. What we need now is a set of rights for photography as leaving it in the Home Office’s hands and the on the spot judgement of police is giving us this authoritarian lockdown when perversely the government and security services have more cameras and legal provisions to spy on us than ever. As such this is just one more aspect of the rising inequality throughout our society and the corresponding increase in social control by government to keep a lid on it. Neoliberalism heading inexorably towards its authoritarian end stage. Recession, repression, regression.

Al Zaidi- Beaten, Hidden, Jailed

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mahmoud Othman, an Iraqi member of parliament, said it had been argued that keeping an Iraqi journalist in jail while debating immunity for foreign forces in Iraq was unjust.

Muntather al-Zaidi did not appear in court today, instead the judge visited him in his cell which basically means they beat the ever living shit our of him and they can’t let anyone see. Bush and his gang say they have ‘moved on’ I’m sure they have, they are confident he is being tortured so don’t have to worry about it. If they hold no hard feelings and this is a wonderful free speaking democracy this would not be happening, and if they truly believed in those things they would be ensuring his welfare and a brief hearing to determine a breach of the peace and a small fine to save face. They are not. Just like other war pimping hacks (The Times), they take the incident as proof of success in Iraq while ignoring the treatment of the man who provided this media moment because it negates all their talking points.

It is also demonstrating the war-on-terror ™ for what it really is, a new brand name for old authoritarianism to help new global corporatism, we’ll all be obedient little drones before they are done-

Bangalore,Dec17 (PTI) An employee of a company here who reportedly lauded the Iraqi journalist for hurling his shoes at President George Bush, landed in trouble as he is being questioned by police. Jameel, working in Motor Industry Corporation now taken over by BOSCH, was taken in for questioning yesterday after his colleagues complained that his comments supporting the journalist, Muntazer al-Zaidi, raised suspicion.

“He has not been taken into custody. We are asking him some questions,” said Gopal Hosur, Joint Commissioner, Crime.

“There are no charges against him as of now. We are interrogating him to remove possibility of any doubt,” he said.

Sign Free Muntather

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Good Riddance

So Gordon announces British troops are withdrawing from Iraq, but note the stay behind military ‘advisers’ and of course no one talks about the mercs-

At a press conference, Mr Brown said: “We have agreed today that the mission will end no later than 31 May next year. “Our troops will be coming home within the next two months [after that].”

Mr Maliki confirmed that the agreement included a provision for the Iraqi government to request an extension of the British military presence. However, both leaders indicated it was not expected to be used.

But take the shiny spin off and look at it this way-

British Forces will leave Iraq by the end of next July under a humiliating proposal that lumps the once-valued deployment with five smaller contingents, including those of Romania, El Salvador and Estonia.

Grouping Britain with contingents such as Estonia, which has only 36 soldiers in Iraq, and El Salvador, with a mere 200, is a far cry from the start of the invasion when British Forces were second in importance only to those of the US.

That July includes those two months that now Iraq are not even reckoning on allowing, so The Times patriotic wounded pride aside…good we are -mostly- leaving, coalition of the shilling over. No word on reparations and of course this slinking home is spun by the government as a great victory where our brave boys made Iraq such a better place. So much so they can’t wait to kick them out. Oh yes and Ben Griffin? Still gagged, so no truth about our role in torture yet. Funny he didn’t get a look in at The Sun’s military award Imperio-patrio-pornography (in conjunction with the MOD, truth to power, fourth estate an’ all that… Gordon *Hearts* Rupert)

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Not Racist, But…

A high-ranking Metropolitan Police officer is starting a claim of racial discrimination against the force. Met Commander Ali Dizaei claims ex-Met commissioner Sir Ian Blair and chief executive Catherine Crawford colluded to suspend him from duty.

Mr Dizaei was suspended by the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) in September accused of misconduct. He has denied any misconduct. The MPA said it awaited official notification of Mr Dizaei’s actions. A Metropolitan Black Police Association (MBPA) spokeswoman said papers would be served at the Employment Tribunal Office in central London on Wednesday.

MBPA chairman Alfred John said: “The Metropolitan Police Authority will have difficulty explaining how an officer, who according to very senior police officers performs exceptionally well in his job, has been suspended from duty when white senior officers subject to more serious complaints remain on duty and are, in fact, promoted.”

An Independent Police Complaints Commission report into alleged misconduct by Mr Dizaei, in relation to the arrest of a man at a London restaurant, has been handed to the Crown Prosecution Service. Other inquiries are understood to concern the alleged misuse of a corporate credit card and claims that Mr Dizaei advised a defence lawyer in the case of a woman involved in a road traffic accident.

But Mr Dizaei claims one of the reasons he was suspended was to prevent him representing Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who last month agreed an out-of-court settlement in a race claim against the Met.

Meanwhile in an entirely unrelated story…

The father of 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell, denied a birthday cake with the child’s full name on it by one New Jersey supermarket, is asking for a little tolerance. Heath Campbell and his wife, Deborah, are upset not only with the decision made by the Greenwich ShopRite, but with an outpouring of angry Internet postings in response to a local newspaper article over the weekend on their flare-up over frosting.

The Campbells’ other two children also have unusual names: JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell turns 2 in a few months and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell will be 1 in April. Heath Campbell said he named his son after Adolf Hitler because he liked the name and because “no one else in the world would have that name.” He sounded surprised by all the controversy the dispute had generated.

The Campbells ultimately got their cake decorated at a Wal-Mart in Pennsylvania, Deborah Campbell said. About 12 people attended the birthday party on Sunday, including several children who were of mixed race, according to Heath Campbell. “If we’re so racist, then why would I have them come into my home?” he asked.

Campbell said his ancestors are German and that he has lived his entire life in Hunterdon County. On Tuesday he wore a pair of black boots he said were worn by a German soldier during World War II. He said he was raised not to avoid people of other races but not to mix with them socially or romantically. But he said he would try to raise his children differently.

“Say he grows up and hangs out with black people. That’s fine, I don’t really care,” he said. “That’s his choice.”

Gosh “several children who were of mixed race”, what a total non-racist… and y’know ignore the names, the Nazi boots and the thing about interracial mixing, because he said he’s going to “try“.

Pretending not to be a racist wanker- FAIL! And that’s my choice.

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Protest The Treatment of Muntadar Al-Zaidi

Via Dave.

Media Workers Against the War, and the International Federation of Journalists have called for the immediate release of Muntadar Al-Zaidi, the journalist who hurled his shoes at George Bush in protest at his bloody occupation. Al-Zaidi has not been seen since he was arrested. The BBC reports he has been severely beaten.

The swift incarceration of this journalist contrasts sharply with the treatment of war criminals Bush and Blair. Their decision to go to war in 2003 has led to the deaths of up to a million Iraqi civilians.

Muntadar Zaidi’s life is now in great danger. Not even his family know his whereabouts. We must speak out for the right of Iraqis to protest this criminal occupation.

Supported by Media Workers Against the War, Iraqi Democrats Against the Occupation and Stop the War Coalition. All welcome, please forward widely.

Time and Place
Date: 19 December 2008
Time: 13:00 – 14:00
Location: US Embassy
Street: Grosvenor Square
Town/City: London, United Kingdom

Update: Also in Manchester, 1pm on Sat in front of the BBC.