Palestinian activists have established a protest encampment in the E1 Corridor, a piece of land where the Israeli government plans to build new settlements linking Jerusalem with the Ma’ale Adumim settlement bloc. Some 250 activists are now at the tent city, which they have dubbed Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun), and they say they plan to stay for the long-term. The camp was launched last month ago, mainly by Palestinian residents of villages in danger of having their lands "frozen" to accommodate settlement expansions.
Contractors could be illegally dumping radioactive soil, vegetation and water into rivers and open areas near the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Japan's Environment Ministry admitted Jan. 4. The ministry said it will summon senior officials from companies contracted by the Fukushima Office for Environmental Restoration to answer questions on how they manage contaminated waste following claims of illegal dumping in the coastal town of Naraha, the evacuated village of Iitate, and the inland in the city of Tamura. Under a law passed in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, illegal dumping of contaminated substances may be punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of up to ¥10 million. "It is very regrettable if that is true," Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato said of the suspected dumping at his first news conference of 2013. (Kyodo, Jan. 5)
A UC Berkeley research field in the adjoining municipality of Albany that had been planted with winter greens in October by Occupy activists was ploughed under at the order of university authorities Nov. 16. The field, known as the Gill Tract, was occupied on Earth Day, April 22, and dubbed by activists "Occupy the Farm," with a vision of developing it as a community agro-ecology project. Crops planted then were similarly destroyed by UC, and nine arrested in a May 14 raid by UC police. But activists re-took the site in October, holding a punpkin-carving festival and planting the new crops. UC issued a letter upon razing the crops to the Albany city council calling the occupation a "threat to academic freedom." The contrasts a more conciliatory open letter issued in May pledging open "debate and dialogue" about the future of the site. In recent years, the field has largely been off-limits to the public, though local activist groups have repeatedly asked the university to open up the space to community residents. (Berkeley Patch, Nov. 18; Berkeleyside, Nov. 16; UC Berkeley News Center, May 18; Berkeleyside, May 14; IndyBay, April 24)
Hundreds of thousands of indignados—"indignant ones," as econo-protesters call themselves in Spain and Argentina—filled the streets of Buenos Aires and other cities in the South American country Nov. 8 to protest the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The main focal point was the capital's iconic Obelisk Plaza, which was occupied by multitudes beating on pots and pans (cacerlazo), and chanting "We are not afraid!" Protesters opposed rising prices, corruption, and a proposed constitutional reform many fear will allow Fernández to hold onto power indefinitely by ending term limits. By popular consensus, the only banner at the protests was the national flag—to emphasize that it was an action of Argentines and not political parties.
We recently noted the frightening rise of the neo-fascist "Golden Dawn" party in Greece, which actually now holds a parliamentary bloc despite the fact that its leaders (including sitting MPs!) are accused of violent attacks on immigrants. On Sept. 22, Digital Journal reported that these sinister creeps were making an effort to organize the Greek diaspora, launching local chapters in Melbourne, Australia, and in Astoria—the Greek neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. They launched a New York website (now seemingly disabled) that spouted the predictable populist pabulum, e.g.: "Our goals are to promote and support the Golden Dawn's nationalist ideals and vision for Greece among the Greek diaspora. We must resist and overcome the genocidal multi-culturalist, and anti-Hellenic agenda of the New World Order." And they organized an event to collect food and clothing to send back to Greece, ostensibly to aid families thrown out of work in the country's current econo-cataclysm. A photo from the event is online at the website Fuck Yeah Anarchist Banners, with a caption helpfully informing us: "This is NOT an anarchist banner. This is a fascist banner, being hung by organizers from the Golden Dawn neo-fascist party. They are violent, antisocial racists. It is being hung at the Stathakion Cultural Center."
Spanish police in Madrid fired rubber bullets and baton-charged "indignado" protesters holding an "Occupy Congress" action against a new round of announced austerity measures the night of Sept. 25. The clashes broke out as protesters tried to tear down barriers blocking access to the parliament building, where legislators were voting to approve the austerity package. Spanish media reported that at least 20 people arrested and more than a dozen injured. Cleared from the gates of the parliament building, the protesters retreated to nearby Plaza de Neptuno, which they continued to hold for hours, yelling "Shame!" and "Resign!" toward the parliament chambers.
On Sept. 17, the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, some 180 were arrested in Lower Manhattan trying to, once again, occupy Wall Street. As usual, the famous street was cordoned off behind police barricades, with only ID-carrying employees allowed through, so most of the "occupations" were actually on the surrounding blocks. Even converging before dawn was insufficient to avoid this fate. With protesters scattered in clusters throughout the area it was difficult to judge numbers, but mainstream sources (WSJ, Reuters, Al Jazeera) put it at a probably low-balled 1,000. Reporter Colin Moynihan in the New York Times has a video feed from the scene which shows some of the predictable instances of police thuggery, including a rather futile effort to bar journalists from filming the man-handling of protesters. Other such images are online at Gothamist.
The FBI served search warrants at three homes in Portland. Ore. early July 25 as part of an "ongoing violent crime" investigation, according to agency spokesperson Beth Anne Steele. "The warrants are sealed, and I anticipate they will remain sealed," Steele said. Some residents in the area of Northeast Alberta Street were awakened to the sound of a helicopter circling overhead as some 80 agents from the FBI and local Joint Terrorism Task Force raided the homes, using flash grenades according to witnesses. No arrests have been made, but computers and other personal items were confiscated. Grand jury subpoenas were also issued to five individuals in Portland, Olympia, and Seattle. Local media reports suggest the case is related to "Black Bloc" protests in Seattle on May Day of this year. A photo of one of the search warrants was posted on IndyBay, showing that agents were seeking "anti-government or anarchist literature" as well as black clothing, paint and other items. (Oregonian, IndyBay, Green is the New Red, July 25)