Via The Guardian
A senior Greek police officer has claimed that the far-right Golden Dawn party has infiltrated the police at various levels. He has laid the blame on consecutive governments and the leadership of the police force for turning a blind eye to what he describes as “pockets of fascism”.
Speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, the officer said the Greek state had been fully aware of the activities of Golden Dawn for several years, with the National Intelligence Service and other security agencies monitoring it closely. The officer claimed police chiefs had had the opportunity to isolate and remove these small “pockets of fascism” in the force but decided not to. The state, he said, wanted to keep the fascist elements “in reserve” and use them for its own purposes.
The officer said he believed that Golden Dawn members could be used against the Greek left, which has led popular street protests against the government and austerity measures imposed by the EU. He expressed his belief that neo-fascist groups may already have acted as agents provocateurs during demonstrations across the country, to provoke clashes between demonstrators and the police or even between demonstrators themselves.
A spokesman for the Greek police, Christos Manouras, denied the police were using or being used by “any political formation against any other”. Manouras rejected the existence of “pockets of fascism” within the force and said no unlawful behaviour would be tolerated.
He conceded that “individual cases can be found everywhere and at any workplace”. But he added: “It is unfair for the Greek police force to be accused with no evidence that they tolerate or support specific actions or to be identified with certain [political] beliefs … You should note that – in accordance with the constitution and laws of the Greek republic – only illegal acts can be prosecuted and punished. The same does not apply for political positions, even if characterised as ‘extreme’ by the other parties and the overwhelming majority of public opinion.”
Golden Dawn won 6.9% of the vote in elections in June, taking 18 seats in parliament, but a recent opinion poll conducted by research company VPRC suggested the party had doubled its support since then.
Human rights groups have accused the Greek police of being sympathetic to, or acting in collusion with, the group, and earlier this week a report of the Racist Violence Recording Network, a group consisting of 23 NGOs and the UN high commissioner for refugees, highlighted violent incidents in which police and racist violence overlapped.
“These incidents concern duty officers who resort to illegal acts and violent practices while carrying out routine checks,” says the report. “There are also instances where people were brought to police stations, were detained and maltreated for a few hours, as well as cases where legal documents were destroyed during these operations.”
Kostis Papaioannou, former head of the Greek national commission for human rights, said: “On some occasions there is a blurred line between Golden Dawn and the police.” Allegations of collusion resurfaced after anti-fascist protesters told the Guardian they had been “tortured by police” after clashes with Golden Dawn supporters. The minister of public order, Nikos Dendias, has denied the allegations.
The officer who spoke to the Guardian accused the government of abandoning Greek police officers and thus creating the conditions for Golden Dawn to infiltrate the force. “These policemen feel unappreciated and isolated. They are badly paid, they work under the worst conditions and they look for support,” he said, adding that they found it among the neo-Nazi community.
He also called on the ministry of public order to disclose reports of the internal affairs division, which he said showed cases of police brutality. “We should never accept policemen who attack journalists from behind,” he said, referring to an attack on the president of the Greek photojournalists’ union, who was taken to hospital with a brain injury last May.
The press officer of the Hellenic police restated the ministry’s commitment to establishing a special response team to combat racist violence.
Several cases of violent attacks carried out in the presence of Golden Dawn MPs have been reported recently, including the storming of flea markets and an incident in which stones were thrown, and racist abuse hurled, at audience members during the Athens premiere of Terrence McNally’s play Corpus Christi.
Earlier this year, Liana Kanelli, an outspoken Communist party MP, was assaulted during a live TV talkshow by Ilias Kasidiaris, Golden Dawn’s spokesman, in an incident that made headlines around the world.
This week the Greek parliament voted in favour of lifting the immunity of three Golden Dawn MPs who could now face trial for suspected violent attacks and allegedly assisting in a robbery. Among them is Kasidiaris, who has claimed he is the victim of political persecution.
Kanelli characterised Golden Dawn as an “ideological and political pimp” serving “a mission that the system assigned to it”. According to Kanelli, immigrants were just the first victims of the party, which also threatens workers and has attempted to infiltrate unions.
“If an employer wants to blackmail you, he threatens to call Golden Dawn,” said Javed Aslam, a leader of the Pakistani community in Greece.
“Today is October 10th, 2012, and I am ready to go to prison,” announced 24-year-old Leah-Lynn Plante yesterday. By Thursday morning, the Portland activist was in custody and could remain incarcerated in a U.S. federal prison for 18 months, although she has not been charged with a crime.
Along with two others in the Pacific Northwest, Plante was remanded into federal custody for her refusal to provide a grand jury testimony regarding activists in the region. Matt Duran and Kteeo Olejnik were jailed in previous weeks for, like Plante, refusing to cooperate with a grand jury. All three are now being held in U.S. federal prison, not because they are being punished for crime, but, as the National Lawyers Guild’s executive director Heidi Boghosian told me earlier this year, “to coerce cooperation.”
Writing for Truth-Out in August about the Northwest grand juries and those resisting cooperation, I noted that grand juries “are among the blackest boxes in the federal judiciary system.” The closed-door procedures are rare instances in which an individual loses the right to remain silent. As was the case with the Northwest grand juries resistors, the grand jury can grant a subpoenaed individual personal immunity; Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination are therefore protected, but silence is not. In these instances, refusal to speak can be considered civil contempt. Non-cooperators can be jailed for the 18-month length of the grand jury.
“The arbitrary issuing of subpoenas to activists and pressuring them to divulge information about others in secret proceedings extends to arresting them when they decide to resist,” NLG’s Boghosian told me Thursday, commenting that the grand jury subpoena process has a “star chamber quality.”
Lawyers, scholars and activists alike have long complained about the use of federal grand juries as tools for political repression. The case of the Northwest grand jury resistors is now well-known in activist and anarchist circles around the country. As I wrote in August:
The Seattle grand jury subpoenas were served in late July, when the FBI and a Joint Terrorist Task Force conducted a series of raids on activist homes and squats in Portland, Olympia and Seattle with warrants seeking out computers, phones, black clothing and “anarchist literature.” The FBI has stated only that the grand jury pertains to “violent crime,” but it is believed to relate to property damage in Seattle during this year’s May Day protests…
Will Potter, author of “Green Is the New Red,” who has long covered the state persecution of environmental activists and anarchists, noted in a recent interview… “I think what’s most indicative of what’s going on though is that specific call for agents to seize ‘anarchist literature’ as some kind of evidence of potential illegal activity.” He added that the convening of a grand jury is “especially troubling because grand juries have been used historically against social movements as tools of fishing expeditions, and they’re used to seek out information about people’s politics and their political associations.”
Facing a number of months in prison, Plante remained steadfast in her refusal to speak to the grand jury. Aware that she would likely face jail time, given the previous incarceration of two other resistors, Plante gave a public statement the morning of her grand jury hearing Wednesday. She detailed the depression and fear triggered by the threat of jail time, but said, “I never once considered co-operation and never would. It is against everything I believe in. On my right arm I have a tattoo reading ‘strive to survive causing least suffering possible.’ This is something I live by every single day and will continue to live by whether I am in a cage or not.” Plante is being held at the Federal Detention Center Sea Tac in Seattle.
Since news of the Seattle grand jury and its resistors emerged a few months ago, a host of protests, rallies, acts of graffiti and sabotage have taken place across the country to express solidarity with the Northwest anarchists. Large banners have been illegally dropped in cities from New York to Atlanta, while police vehicles and substations have been graffitied and vandalized in Oakland, Calif., San Francisco, Illinois and elsewhere. The Committee Against Political Repression put out a petition to the U.S. attorney, with nearly 400 organizations signed on, stating opposition to the treatment of the subpoenaed activists.
Lisa Sullivan, October 8, 2012
A few days before the elections, a friend from the states wrote me: “Hi Lisa, all the main stream media down here has Chavez losing and ready to die. Can you give me a more accurate update on the elections?”
My inbox began to fill up with similar inquiries, many from people who I had met when leading delegations here to Venezuela, my home of 27 years. They were confused, wondering why Chavez was going to lose, die, or steal the elections, or all of the above. Those were, after all, the only stories to be found, countered by that of the great white hope in the form of a young, skinny opponent (the adjectives repeated ad nausea by the media describe opposition candidate Capriles).
Where, my friends asked, was all that enthusiasm and spirit they had seen here, the one that had transformed this nation into the least unequal spot in all of Latin America, where free university education, health care and cheap food led to Venezuelans rating themselves as the happiest people on the continent? Had Venezuelans suddenly dropped the most significant political project in Latin America of the past 50 years to suddenly opt for skinniness and youth?
Even NPR set the stage for Venezuelan elections to a backdrop of doom and gloom, as friends notified me in a rush, listening to the Diane Rehm show. For busy and exhausted US citizens just trying to survive via the longest work hours on the planet, they only had time for small sound bites about Venezuela, or any global issue. And these sound bites painted a picture of Venezuela in shades of grey, kind of like those last tottering days of the Soviet empire. Into this scene, rides – or jogs – the youthful skinny Mr. Good to finally chase out the old (age 58) and solidly built Mr. Bad, according to Ms. Rehm and company.
How, then, then to explain yesterday’s street scenes? The ones showing colorfully attired and jubilant Venezuelans standing patiently in huge lines at polling centers, sharing laughs and empanadas with fellow line-mates, indifferent of political loyalties. On the cameras, everyone looked so happy in those long lines, certainly that must mean that they were all voting against Chavez, that evil cancer-ridden old chunky socialist dictator.
But even worse, how to explain the RESULTS? How to explain how this cruel “strongman” had won robustly with more than 54% of the vote, 10% more than his opponent. Or, that there was a record 81% voter turnout? Well, it must be ……….fraud. That was the other scenario the mainstream media had constantly dangled. But wait, in a few minutes the opposition candidate was on televions himself, accepting defeat, acknowledging the decision of the Venezuelan people and absolute legitimacy of the electoral system. Wasn’t it only Jimmy Carter who was allowed an occasional sound bite that spoke positively about the Venezuelan electoral system (the very best of the dozens his Carter Center has monitored). Wait, this just isn’t going as planned.
So, why? Well, without delving into the messy deep part of that question (think: Iraq and weapons of mass destruction), maybe let’s just touch on some of the easier reasons. In spite of the fact that there were 12,000 journalists in Venezuela covering the elections last night, only a handful of them seemed to venture far from their 5-star hotels to take a look around the barrios and small rural towns where most Venezuelans actually live. Like I do. Perhaps if they poked around there for a half hour or so, they might discover what’s behind all this love for this madman.
How about, for a start, free health care, and right in your local community? Well, if you don’t believe those red-shirted socialist Venezuelans occasionally shown on tv pumping their fists at rallies, try listening to a gringa. A few weeks ago, I returned to Venezuela after a long set of travels interspersed with minor surgery. By the time my flight touched ground at the Maiquetia airport, my head was pounding and my vision blurring.
The next morning my companero Ledys took me to the local government health post, or, CDI, similar to those found in almost every Venezuelan community. As I stumbled in, the waters parted and soon I was on a gurney with young Cuban and Venezuelan doctors patiently asking me many questions and examining me. Realizing I was having a reaction to the pain medication that I took for the first time on the plane, I was sent home with new meds and a smile, never interchanging a single id or form of any payment. Within a few hours I was helping friends dig a vegetable garden. What a contrast to the series of medical appointments I had just undergone in the US, where the first words at a doctor’s office were never “good morning” but, “your insurance card and id”.
But the next day Ledys and I were back at the CDI, albeit in opposite roles. This time is was he with the pain, a raging one, in his lower right abdomen. Ledys was certain that the “socialist” arepas we had eaten the previous day had laid havoc to his gut, as he gulped several down, taking advantage of their rock bottom price. The doctors thought otherwise, especially after doing emergency lab work. The next thing I knew, the same social worker who had helped us the previous day was strolling him by wheelchair into an ambulance and sending me off with a kiss and assurance that we were in capable hands. Within minutes, we arrived at a four-story brand new building in the heart of Petare, one of the most populous and poorest sectors of the country, but I felt that I was back in Washington, in a state-of-the-art hospital.
But no, this was definitely Venezuela, as I discerned when no id was requested, the only information requested being name and age of patient. By late evening, orderlies called me to the hospital ward where I found Ledys looking happy and pain free after three hours of surgery to rid him of his appendix and hernia (they threw in the second surgery since he was already opened up.) Two days later we were sent home, with meds and follow up instruction. Total bill: $0.
If free health care isn’t enough reason to explain Venezuela’s election results, maybe you can look to the faces of the young people who were jumping up and down last night in front of the presidential palace. For some odd reason, they just didn’t buy the charm of that young skinny candidate, in spite of the fact that he even wore his lucky shoes yesterday (the press just loved that touch). Maybe the reason for their unadulterated joy was the lack of two words in their vocabulary: student loans.
I found that out when recently I hosted a dialogue been university students from the US and Venezuela at a cultural center that Ledys and I started in the sprawling barrios of Barquisimeto. When I saw the quizzical look on the faces of the Venezuelans as I attempted to translate the term student loans – which the US students were explaining were their main stumbling block to a hopeful future – I realized it wasn’t a question of translation, but of opposing realities. When we began to build this center twenty years ago, we only had two young at the center who had made it to college. Now, among this group of 15 Venezuelan musicians, all between ages 17-20, and all hailing from these barrios, every single one of them was studying at the university. Tuition was free and some even had scholarships to cover food and transportation. Student loans?
As Ledys and I anxiously awaiting the results last night I was getting text messages from my comadre Erika, a young mother of six, and my neighbor. Erika treats every recent election (and there have been many of them, over 10 in the past decade or so) as a matter of life and death, waiting anxiously with heart-in-hand outside the one polling station in our little town, the one school building there. When I arrived in this community 15 years ago, the school was just a grade school. In the past ten years, it has doubled in size, and now also functions as a high school by day, on weekends as a free government university, and evenings, as one of the tens of thousands of “mission” schools, run by the government.
Erika grew up having to pick coffee instead of going to school. Three years ago she got her grade school degree from the mission school, and is now well on her way to a high school degree. She is thinking of what to study at the university level, maybe social work. She often repeats to me: “”comadre, notice how Chavez always says, WE the poor. He is one of us”.
Erika lives in a hand fashioned home of bahereque (waddle and daub) like mine, snuggled in a small community at the end of the town. More than half of the thirty or so homes in our neighborhood are brand new, sporting the before unheard-of indoor bathrooms and kitchens, all tiled in a lovely sea green. Erika was part of the community council that helped with the census that determined which families most needed the new homes (mostly, those that squished several nuclear families together under one roof). Others had more need as she acknowledged, so she helped with the process, but remained with her old home.
Funds for 16 homes were dispersed by the government, but the community council managed the funds well enough to build 17 homes. The instant that the election results were announced Erika called me with joy and tears in her voice: “comadre, we won!”.
I confess, I also felt tears stream down my face. I was holding my computer to the television screen so that my daughter back in Virginia could see the results via skype at the moment they were announced. Her tears joined mine. She remembers all too well growing up in the pre-Bolivarian Venezuela. The one where her friends in the barrio could barely scrape enough to eat, where some had parents who died of lack of health care, where none ever dreamed of going to college. That’s the Venezuela before, the one that the mainstream press never bothers to mention, the Venezuela that led Latin America for the deepest plunge into poverty in the 15 years preceding Chavez. The Venezuela directed by the IMF and World Bank, two of the main buddies the lucky-shoed candidate promised to usher in again.
After the results, the television screens turned to the scene outside the presidential palace. Did the US mainstream press bother to show that scene? It was utterly electric. Seas of red-shirted Venezuelans had been waiting for hours for results, and now the moment was theirs as Chavez stepped out onto “the balcony of the people”. As crowd and president intoned the national anthem together the look of sheer joy on the faces of so many Venezuelans, a nation that saw my children grow and flourish and learn to become caring people in love with justice, I let my own tears flow.
“Chavez is the people” is the phrase heard over and over here. To those back in the states, how could you possibly understand, there is no real coverage of what happens in Venezuela in the mainsteam media. But to watch that scene, that utter connection, you would also sense that each of these people felt that who they are was being uplifted at that moment : their absolutely dignity, their unalienable right to healthcare, education, housing, food and above all, a sense that they have the power to determine the direction of their own country All of this was lifted as high as the stars last night.
The electricity built as Chavez held high above the crowd the sword of Simon Bolivar. The one mismatch for me and Chavez has always been his military persona, and as a life-time peace activist, the image of a sword isn’t exactly what does it for me, even one gleaming like this in gold and diamonds. But the chant of the crowd as he raised the sword is one that I have heard over and over again in my recent travels to the length and breadth of this Latin America, a continent that I have lived in and loved for the past 35 years: “alerta, alerta, alerta que camina, la espada de Bolivar por America Latina” (Alert: The sword of Bolivar is walking throughout Latin America.)
As Chavez held up the sword, he and the crowd swayed as they spoke and cheered that real independence was finally coming to Latin America, a continent increasingly configuring itself as one: UNASUR, ALBA, CELAC, all variations of Bolivar’s dream. The independence that Bolivar won from Spain, via a sword, was now being won again, from a colonizer that took over no sooner than Spaniards had departed: my country.
But this time the sword was indicative of a new form of battle: democracy. The massive enthusiastic and peaceful turnout at Venezuelan polls yesterday is the real story of Venezuelan elections. The fact that deep social change is happening in Venezuela and throughout Latin America, via a ballot box and not bullets, is what I celebrate.
In my travels as Latin America coordinator for the School of the Americas Watch, I have heard too many stories of atrocities, murders, rapes, disappearances, torture at the hands of dictators that we in the US trained and supported. And I don’t just mean in the 60’s and 70’s. I mean in the 2010’s, like in Honduras, where human rights leaders, peasants and journalists are being murdered right now, today, because of our support for an illegal coup to unseat a president who dared to invite his population to dream the dreams of dignity that flowed in the streets last night, the dreams of Morazan, Central America’s Bolivar.
One final note. There are actually lots of journalists who do take the time to seek out and write about the real story. They are not to be found in the mainstream press, but they can be found in organizations such as CEPR, the Real News, Venezuelanalysis, the Americas Program, Upside Down World, and many many more. My saludos to them this morning, how we need you and thank you for rolling up your sleeves, with meager or no budgets, and working late into the night to report the truth. From Venezuela, from the heart of the Bolivarian dream for Latin America, gracias!
We’ve all seen them in movies; those highly futuristic and versatile computer graphics that kind of come out of nowhere – apparently unattached to any type of object – and appearing to float in the air as if by magic. For those of you that have seen the dystopian future flick, The Hunger Games, you might recall the high-tech computer room through which staff at The Capitol exerted ruthless control over The Games’ participants? Although the creation and telepathic transportation of a super carnivorous tiger is not yet possible in the real world, as it is in the film, it does appears that transparent computers are indeed very much on the horizon.
In fact, many of the world’s top technology companies are already hard at work developing what are being hailed as the display screens of the future. Transparent, flexible materials and interfaces are the next big thing, and here are some of the main developments that could be set to take the communication, entertainment and gaming industries by storm.
One company that is leading the field in the development of transparent display screens is Hewlett Packard. This year, it was successful in obtaining a US patent for its new, completely transparent screen technology. The company claims its new system would create transparent screens that would enable users to see both the graphics of the computer and the backdrop of the scenery behind the device. Hewlett Packard will achieve this through using light reflective slats in order to display images produced by a computer onto a transparent screen, also allowing light from behind the screen to penetrate through.
The electronics giant cites possible uses for its transparent screens, including showing navigation data on car windscreens. This could potentially revolutionise in-car infotainment systems. It would certainly be an exciting prospect… A satellite navigation system that automatically transpired itself onto your windscreen could have all kinds of benefits. In fact, it could well mean that insurance premiums would go down rather than up; negating the need for the traditionally distracting and interactive satellite navigation devices could be an appealing safety feature that could decrease the risk of road accidents.
Fujitsu is another company that is developing new display screen technology. It is currently working with Japanese mobile network provider, DoCoMo, to produce a prototype Smartphone that has a doubled-sized transparent LED screen. The new Smartphone has touch sensors on both sides of its screen, and can be touched and activated simultaneously. This creates progressive, multi-touch technology that could completely overhaul the way we use these devices.
Samsung is also a contender in the race to produce the next generation of display screens. Its YOUM LED displays use transparent film instead of glass to create a flexible and unbreakable screen. The new bendy material is also considerably thinner and lighter than traditional, non-flexible LED displays. The South Korean electronics company has said it is on schedule to release its first flexible YOUM device by 2014.
LG is going a step further. The electronics company is currently researching the development of a 60 inch transparent screen that can also be bent. Flexible and transparent LED screens have previously only been possible in devices measuring up to a few inches across. However, LG wants to be the first manufacturer to take this technology to new, larger levels. If the company is successful, this could signify the start of a major technology revolution; it is currently investigating possible uses for large flexible LED screens, including shopping windows, bus station overlays and large advertising billboards.
An important material in the quest for bendy screens is a new invention called Willow Glass. Developed by a specialist glass manufacturer in the USA, Willow Glass is just 0.05 mm thick – a significant reduction when compared with the current 0.2 mm display screens. This wafer thin and flexible glass can literally be bent and wrapped around an object. The possibilities for Willow Glass are seemingly endless; it is already being tipped as a replacement for the glass used in mobile devices, suggesting that we may soon see wafer thin and bendy mobile phones.
One thing is for sure, flexible and transparent glass has the potential to overhaul many consumer industries. Glass innovation is a huge business and we are sure to see an influx of weird and wonderful bendy phones and TVs once the technology has been well and truly cracked.
Eve Landers is a freelance writer who works on behalf of a number of tech sites, as well as having a keen interest in the auto industry. She covers anything and everything, from the advancements in passenger technology to the pitfalls of modified car insurance
First things first. Happy Bastille Day!
After a wonderful few months working full time for wonderhowto.com running the Mad Science World, I have scaled back to half time to give Revolt Lab the attention it deserves. I will still be writing two articles a week for Mad Science all of which will be reproduced here for you pleasure!
Solidarity to our brothers and sisters in struggle around the world.
A special shout out to my Boston comrades who are staging a fare strike on the MBTA allowing passengers to travel for free in response to recent fare hikes. Banks get paid off the backs of riders who can’t afford to get to school and work. End the wars, tax the rich, free the T!
Here is a sneak peek of the bomb diffusing robot I made. Instructions on the build coming soon.
Remember that the struggle is constant and anything can be used as a weapon if you have the knowledge.
Good to see you Comrades!