World Peace Update
I am sorry to report this, but if last week most of the stuff in this column was about people causing trouble because they'd been having too much fun, this week it's back to being just because people hate things. I imagine that, sadly, last week was a total one-off – unless immigrant bashing, temple burning and ravenous Syrian slaughter are the kind of things that you wanna throw a party in honour of, in which case we'll be over with a crate of cold beers, and another filled with semtex, to blow the shit out of your face.
If not, let's deal with the hangover like real men and surreally unwimpish women, rip open a pack of Alka-Seltzer, cover ourselves with the wet towels we've been sleeping under since our lovers left us and get this over with.
Spain's anti-austerity Indignados took back to the streets of Madrid last Tuesday, in a protest dubbed 25-S: Occupy Congress. What this basically meant was that a few thousand people surrounded the Spanish parliament with peaceful intentions until the police waded in with batons and rubber bullets. But you can read all about that here.
What we haven't told you yet, is that as all the police brutality made its way into newspaper headlines the next day, thousands of workers went on strike in Spain's long-troublesome wantaway Basque region, Bilbao. The cops there probably did not find time to read the news that day, because they deemed it a good idea to break up those guys up with volley after volley of rubber bullets – see the video above.
As these demos show, public reaction to the austerity measures that Mariano Rajoy's regime is bringing in is fiercely negative, and not without reason: As more and more Spanish regions ask the central government for bailouts, the more likely the scenario of the central government asking for a bailout from Europe becomes.
What's that? Did someone say austerity? Greece had another eventful week, headlined by the National Strike that took place last Wednesday and the protests and subsequent tear gas use that ensued. But this is hardly news.
What I'd really like to talk about are the citizens of the northern town of Drama (no kidding), who got pretty upset when about 150 illegal immigrants were moved to an old army-base-turned-immigrant-detention-camp this past weekend. So, on Monday, members of a fringe, semi-nationalist, local organisation decided to storm the place by cutting the wired fence. When the police tried to push them back with tear gas, one guy thought it would be a good idea to fetch his SHOTGUN (!) and start blasting it towards the police before a saner member of the public wrestled it off him. Greece, you never cease to amaze me.
Oi Bangladesh, the whole "getting angry over religion" thing is like, so two weeks ago. The furore there wasn't over that anti-Muslim film, but something even more innocuous; A Facebook photo.
From what I hear, a Buddhist boy living close to the Burmese border was tagged in a photo of a burning Quran and pretty quickly the all-familiar red mist descended on the local Muslim population, who promptly went on a rampage, burning down ten Buddhist temples and around 40 homes. I've done some fraping in my time, but this is some next level shit.
News from the world's favourite civil war has been dominated by a series of deadly bombings carried out by the rebel Free Syrian Army against regime targets. On Friday a car bomb was detonated outside the Ministry of Defence outside Damascus, killing four guards and setting the whole building ablaze. In terms of relative casualties the attack was minor, but it still must be a point of concern for the regime that the FSA can hit such high-profile targets with such ease.
The second, deadlier attack took place at a military officers' club situated right at the centre of regime-controlled Aleppo this morning and claimed the lives of 27 people. The explosions in Aleppo come amid a push by the FSA to wrestle back control of areas held by regime troops. So far, we haven't seen much territory change hands and that is only furthering the bloody stalemate.
Among the continuous bloodletting, a video of kidnapped American journalist Austin Tice, who has been missing (and presumed captured by regime forces) for two months, emerged on Monday. The video shows Tice being forced to recite Islamic prayer by what appear to be a group of jihadis, though many believe his captors are regime forces posing as jihadis, so as to prove they are fighting "gangs of terrorists" and not revolutionaries. Experts point to the clothing of his captors, the video production and the fact that the video shows none of Tice's captors' faces, as signifiers that the video is staged.
Joseph Holliday from the Washington Institute is quoted as saying in the Washington Post: "It’s like a caricature of a jihadi group, it looks like someone went on the internet, watched pictures of Afghan Mujaheddin, then copied them." Atop the regime's other incompetencies now perches their inabillity to dress up like generic terrorists. Tice's whereabouts are still unknown.
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