Sunday, January 25, 2015

Did the Arab Spring miss important steps in Egypt?

"In short, at a time that could have made a critical difference, the revolutionaries did not realize the need to take initiative. As the protests to fulfill the democratic demand for presidential elections drew nearer, it was only a small group of revolutionaries that were dubious about the outcome. The rest merely made various public calls against military intervention when they should have focused on holding the main umbrella group, the National Salvation Front, to that anti-intervention principle as a condition, and established protocols to be followed if that intervention happened. That was their only leverage.
This is not to say the revolutionaries had control over, or were responsible for, the protests in any effective manner. Had the revolutionaries been silent at home on June 30, the size and the outcome of the protests would have been same, drawn from the broader, anti-Brotherhood segments of the population. Here, effective power, and the 'power of responsibility to provide alternatives' diverge – and it is the latter we must now examine."

 I'm reading Havel: a Life about the Czech president Vaclav Havel.  After communism fell in 1989, there was a power vacuum.  But there was also a group of people who had stood up to the communist government, who were well respected by most Czechs, and who were willing to form a new government from scratch. Somehow it worked, in a messy sort of way.
   Looking back on the Arab Spring, it seems to me that the revolution had one main goal, get rid of Mubarak.  There wasn't really much planning past that that I, from an extremely long distance away, could see.  Short-term thinking might be a problem inherent in collective action. I'll have to think about that.

And here's another overview;

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

protesting = terrorism? Come on NYPD

"'When I see counterterrorism folks amongst protesters, it sends me a message that I'm the enemy, and that they are trying to keep other New Yorkers safe from those protesting for their civil rights," said Sarsour. "It vilifies the people who are being peaceful and asking for something they should already have, asking for things like ending of police brutality.'

The police wearing the counterterrorism jackets at protests are perhaps the most palpable sign of the agency's transformation since 2001. Before 9/11 the NYPD had no counterterrorism bureau and the Intelligence Division focused its resources on gang activity. After the September 11 attacks, however, billions of dollars were poured into the department to counter the threat of terrorism, as a 2011 60 Minutesreport showed. Critics of the NYPD's post-9/11 turn have been arguing that practices devoted to fighting terrorism have violated the Constitution.
Now, they say, the NYPD is unleashing its counterterrorism tools on activists against police brutality, conflating legitimate protest with the threat of terrorism."

Good grief. I'm assuming that this is happening because all those cops assigned to counter terrorism have to do SOMETHING, but this is counterproductive on so many levels.  Mainly, it sends the message that protests are scary, dangerous things, and that those who are practicing their first amendment rights might actually be criminals.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"Impossible" seeks to have people help each other, one year old

"What is impossible?
A global community who help each other out. People share their time, skills and objects.

Build valuable profiles —
impossible gives you a place to record your acts of kindness (complementing your LinkedIn/Facebook profiles). We reckon it’s easier getting a job or a partner or a friend if people know how kind you are.

Thanks currency -
impossible users earn Thanks when they give to one another, a social currency that can be used with some impossible partners.

Is Impossible a business or a charity?
Impossible is a social business which means that no private dividends are allowed, and 100% of profit goes back into Impossible."

This has been going for a year and I just found out about it.  Lily Cole started it.  Seems to have a good reputation.