Het belang van sport in de samenleving wordt sterk overgewaardeerd. Dat komt niet alleen tot uiting in de sociale dwang om aan sport te doen vanuit “healthism” (het beoordelen van het geheel aan menselijke gedragingen vanuit gezondheidsperspectief); het goedpraten en financieren van hooliganisme, en het voortdurend bijstaan door gemeentes van bijna failliete voetbalclubs vanwege het zogenaamde “maatschappelijk belang”; maar eerst en vooral in het organiseren van miljarden verslindende, maatschappelijk ontwrichtende megalomane sportfeestjes zoals de Olympische Spelen en het WK voetbal. Sport is goed, dat is een axioma, en daar moet alles voor wijken.
Zo is de stad Londen in aanloop naar de Olympische Spelen dit jaar veranderd in een militaire zone: waar hordes zoemende drones de stad bespieden, en veiligheidscamera’s iedereen in de gaten houden; waar burgerrechten sterk zijn ingeperkt en het recht op demonstratie opgeschort wordt; waar meer militairen (13.500) op de been zijn dan in Afghanistan, en sinds de Tweede Wereldoorlog; waar een vliegdekschip in de Thames afgemeerd ligt en antiraketsystemen de lucht afscannen; waar private security bedrijven in de straten zullen patrouilleren, en biometrische ID-kaarten ingevoerd worden, en gezichtsherkenning, en waar een 80 miljoen pond kostend elektrisch hek van 500,000 volt het “Olympisch gebied” van de rest van de samenleving zal scheiden.
Leuk hè, de Olympische Spelen?
In Nederland willen we om een of andere reden ook een Olympische Spelen. Althans, de politiek. En dat willen ze zelfs zo graag, dat de ambtelijke top van een ministerie en een minister de werkelijke kosten van het evenement wilden verzwijgen voor de Tweede Kamer. Omdat dit afbreuk zou doen aan het draagvlak; het risico bestond dat ‘de Olympische ambitie’ zou worden ‘afgeschoten’. Goh, zou het? De kosten worden voorzichtig ingeschat op 8 miljard; daar kun je heel wat PGB’s, natuurgebieden, sociale werkplaatsen, en openbaar vervoer mee in stand houden. Zonder dat je je land paramilitariseert, en, evenals bij het WK, het primaat van de wetgever overdraagt aan een dubieuze oligarchische organisatie zoals het IOC.
Nee, laten we dit idee snel vergeten, en er nooit meer op terugkomen. Zo belangrijk is sport nou ook weer niet.
Niet alleen lagere ambtenaren, maar ook de hoogste ambtenaar op het ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport (VWS) wilde niet dat de kosten voor het mogelijk binnenhalen van de Olympische Spelen 2028 in een brief aan de Tweede Kamer zouden belanden. Dat blijkt uit een document waar RTL Nieuws vandaag de hand op wist te leggen.
De VWS-ambtenaren wilden de hoogte van het bedrag, 8 miljard euro, niet opnemen in het schrijven omdat dat slecht zou zijn voor het politieke draagvlak. De secretaris-generaal van het ministerie adviseerde om in de brief, die in 2011 werd gestuurd, geen bedragen op te nemen wegens ‘het risico dat de Olympische ambitie wordt afgeschoten’. Lagere ambtenaren zouden eerder al zoiets hebben aangeraden, berichtte RTL maandag.
In 2016 moet een keuze worden gemaakt over de Nederlandse kandidatuur voor de Spelen.
And so the police officer at UC Davis who casually sprayed pepper spray in the face of unarmed, non-violent, sitting protesters, Lt. John Pike, is turned into an Internet meme. So at least this episode of American police state violence is turning into something amusing.
Here’s the original video (watch out, it’s sickening):
Meet Lt. John Pike casually violating people’s civil rights in everyday situations:
More here, here, and here.
So the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg – who happens to be a former Wall Street banker and the 12th most wealthy person in the US – has evicted the nucleus of the Occupy movement from Zucotti Park, where they had been camping for two months. In that process, the NYPD has not shunned violating constitutional rights, including the right to free speech and the right to protest, in addition to preventing the democratic press from doing its job. Books were burned.
This process is likely to repeat itself elsewhere. In the Netherlands, local politicians of the conservative liberal (and, arguably, banking-aligned) VVD party are demanding the exit of Occupy protesters from public places throughout the country. Public attention has declined. So what’s next for the Occupy movement?
In all honesty, personally, while I am very sympathetic to a vocal social movement addressing the immense wealth and especially political power of global financial institutions, the injustices in that sector (such as exorbitant bonuses, the sale of intransparent financial products, and the power of credit rating agencies to almost topple entire economies), and rising economic inequality, I had become a bit disappointed with the Occupy movement. During my (admittedly short) visit to Occupy Amsterdam, what I saw was a shanty town with a lot of pot smokers and squatters, talking vaguely about the need to discuss, not have any organization, etc.
Of course any movement that starts out from a feeling of discontent needs time to organize and formulate demands, but the point of Occupy seemed to be to disavow any kind of organization or concretization. Again: I very much admire proto-democratic experiments, and disagreed with the choir of commentators who kept blattering from the very beginning that it was unclear what Occupy was about (that’s very clear), but even a die-hard communal hippie has to admit that a certain point, you need organization and representation.
Occupy has historical predecessors way earlier than the Tahrir Square protesters. The early labour union movement in the nineteenth century everywhere started out grass-roots democratically; but during the way, they learned to organize, formulate demands, and still keep an internal democratic process. You need a distinction between principles and concrete demands, for instance; or a distinction between a general assembly and working groups; and people who specialize in tasks they’re good at (like creating leaflets, organizing, negotiating, doing practical stuff, etc.). In that way, you can develop from an inspired, resounding but vague movement to an organization that actually works.
Once again, I completely understand the distaste of Occupy protesters for “standard” kinds of political organizaton, like political parties and trade unions, and wouldn’t want them to develop in that way. But any movement that doesn’t develop further than a general assembly that discusses every tiny little detail doesn’t get very far (the meeting reports of Occupy Amsterdam attest to that). And now, public attention has declined, the authorities have zoomed in and it will probably not take long before the physical manifestion of Occupy on squares around the world disappears.
So what’s next for Occupy? Opinion polls are showing that they have struck a nerve – in the US, but I imagine also elsewhere, economic inequality and financial malpractices are on the agenda, and opposed by a majority of voters. In that sense, Occupy has already been a success. Some people are arguing that the forced removal of protesters from squares may re-ignite the movement (it would have been wiser for the authorities to wait for winter). Others are saying that the Occupiers need to penetrate existing movements and organizations to address their (and our!) concerns.
Personally, I would like a vocal and identifiable Occupy movement to remain in existence, get its act together, and start thinking about ways to reform the system while continuing to exert pressure on the political-financial axis. This could be done by spreading awareness (the big pro of this movement) and keep protesting, even occupying places. After all, the big invention of the Arab Spring was the protesting technique of permanently occupying a place, rather than having your average one-afternoon demonstration. However, it is essential (I think) to develop an organization, first to make sure that encampments aren’t turned into shantytowns, trouble makers are fended off, and violence doesn’t spread; second to develop ideas, demands and rallying points, appoint representatives, and create a more focused media outreach.
Will this happen? Probably not, but I hope so. The Tea Party has shown that you can move from a vague movement to something approaching a working organization. For Occupy as well, it’s probably time to move from subcultural self-expression to a fight for political change.
[The] truth is, Bloomberg might have just done Occupy Wall Street a favor. Next week, temperatures are projected to dip down to the high 30s. Next month, they’re projected to dip into the mid-20s. The month after that, as anyone who has experienced a New York winter know, they’re going to fall even lower.
The occupation of Zuccotti Park was always going to have a tough time enduring for much longer. As the initial excitement wore off and the cold crept in, only the diehards — and those with no place else to go — were likely to remain. The numbers in Zuccotti Park would thin, and so too would the media coverage. And in the event someone died of hypothermia, or there was some other disaster, that coverage could turn. What once looked like a powerful protest could come to be seen as a dangerous frivolity.
In aggressively clearing them from the park, Bloomberg spared them that fate. Zuccotti Park wasn’t emptied by weather, or the insufficient commitment of protesters. It was cleared by pepper spray and tear gas. It was cleared by police and authority. It was cleared by a billionaire mayor from Wall Street and a request by one of America’s largest commercial real estate developers. It was cleared, in other words, in a way that will temporarily reinvigorate the protesters and give Occupy Wall Street the best possible chance to become whatever it will become next.
The question is what, if anything, comes next for Occupy Wall Street. The movement has already scored some big wins. As this graph by Dylan Byers showed, they have changed the national conversation. Income inequality is now a top-tier issue. Before Occupy Wall Street, it wasn’t.
And perhaps that will be the legacy of Occupy Wall Street. That would certainly be more than most protests achieve. If they are to go further, however, they are going to have to figure out a way to wield power in a more direct and directed form. The movement has always been uncertain on whether it wants to do that, and if it does, how to do it. It requires a willingness to work with the system that is, in certain ways, inimical to the founding of Occupy Wall Street. The good news, if they choose to make that transition, is that they don’t need a park to do it. The bad news is that, in most cases, it requires more hierarchy, clearer leaders, a more obvious agenda.
Back in October, I asked Rich Yeselson, a union researcher and a scholar of social movements, what he thought Occupy Wall Street would need to do to survive and succeed. “Whether they will grow larger and sustain themselves beyond these initial street actions will depend upon four things,” Yeselson said. “The work of skilled organizers; the success of those organizers in getting people, once these events end, to meet over and over and over again; whether or not the movement can promote public policy solutions that are organically linked to the quotidian lives of its supporters; and the ability of liberalism’s infrastructure of intellectuals, writers, artists and professionals to expend an enormous amount of their cultural capital in support of the movement.”
I still think that’s right. So then: Can the post-Zuccotti Park incarnation of Occupy Wall Street furnish skilled organizers who are able to keep the protesters involved, come up with solutions — or at least problems — they’re willing to agree on and fight for, and attract the sort of media attention that they need if they’re going to be able to continue forcing their issues into the national conversation?
The odds are probably against it. The odds are against any social movement, always. But it’s probably likelier under these conditions, where the occupiers were cleared from the park all at once, under sympathetic conditions, and so all of them can agree that this is the moment in which to decide what comes next.
Supporters of the Occupy movement are gearing up for a national day of protest and direct action across America, taking in dozens of events from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles.
Thursday has been declared a day of “solidarity” with the Occupy Wall Street activists in New York after their camp in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park was raided and dismantled by police. But it is also aimed at highlighting several of the movement’s broader aims in terms of income inequality and a desperate need for job creation in America’s floundering economy.
The Occupy movement, which began two months ago with the occupation of Zuccotti Park, has since spread to scores of cities and towns across the country, with varying success. It has often rejuvenated left-leaning political activists but also brought down a heavy police response, frequently at the behest of city mayors.
In recent days, police evictions and crackdowns on protesters in New York, Seattle, Berkeley, Portland and other places have caused widespread condemnation of alleged heavy-handedness by police.
In New York, protesters are planning actions all day in each of the city’s five boroughs. A potential early flashpoint will be a rally planned to begin at 7am that will target Wall Street itself, as the protesters seek to disrupt the operations of the New York Stock Exchange before the ringing of the opening bell that signals the start of trading at 9.30am.
Since the protests began, Wall Street has become a virtual permanent protest zone, ringed by steel fences and heavily policed. Later actions are planned to take place across the city’s subway system, as marchers will enter at 16 different stations and begin protesting.
Finally, the day will end with a rally at Foley Square, near New York’s Town Hall, and then a march to the Brooklyn Bridge, where hundreds of protesters were arrested in a previous headline-grabbing mass action.
Bridges will be the focus of some actions in other cities too. In Boston, Detroit, Washington DC, Portland and Seattle, protesters, some allied with union workers and community groups, will march on high-profile bridges in order to highlight the problem of America’s crumbling and underfunded infrastructure.
The range of activities across America spans a spectrum from the dramatic to the small-scale, including teach-ins, rallies and direct actions aimed at banks and corporations. In Portland, Oregon, protesters plan to target a city bridge and then try to organise flashmobs to go to local banks. In Detroit, protesters are marching from their camp downtown to the city’s municipal centre, where they aim to highlight the brutal impact of government cuts on ordinary citizens.
Wow. I wish we’d see more of these passionate defences of the notion of the public good. Private enterprise and economic individualism is all fine and good; but it will not work without any sort of polity, some sort of public framework, that ensures collective goods.
A good, populist counterpoint against current-day Republicans taking the notion of individual responsibility to extremes.
The person speaking here, by the way, is Elizabeth Warren. From Wikipedia:
Elizabeth Warren (born Elizabeth Herring; June 22, 1949) is an American attorney, law professor, and United States Senate candidate. She served as Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She is also the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she has taught contract law, bankruptcy, and commercial law. In the wake of the 2008-2011 financial crisis, she became the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the U.S. banking bailout (formally known as the Troubled Assets Relief Program). She long advocated for the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010. As the special advisor she worked on implementation of the CFPB.
Hampshire police release ‘lettuce’ e-fit of suspect
Police have admitted having technical issues after releasing an e-fit of a burglary suspect which looks like a man wearing a lettuce.
Officers released the image after a distraction burglary in which £60 was stolen from an elderly woman in Stockbridge, Hampshire.
But the picture appeared to show the man with a lettuce on his head.
Police said they were waiting for a software upgrade to improve the quality of hair in future e-fits.
A spokesperson said that “while the hair on this image may not be of the best quality, it takes nothing from the overall clarity of the facial features”.
He added: “It would therefore be wrong to withhold the release of the e-fit just based on this technical issue.
“We would never release an e-fit a victim disagreed or was unhappy with and in this instance the victim fully supported the publication of this image.”
The suspect had asked the woman for money for gardening work but stole £60 from her handbag
He is described as white, between 40 and 45, about 5ft 8ins, with a round clean shaven face, large round eyes and with wavy blonde or greying hair.
A Victim Support spokesperson said: “Victims or witnesses to a crime quite rightly want and expect the criminal justice system to try and bring someone to justice.
“People put their trust in the system and the software and expect results, which would explain why people might be baffled by the picture.
“But it wouldn’t be fair to criticise the force if what they have done is produced the best possible image from the facilities and description available to them.”
If this doesn’t scare you… The Guardian:
Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the ”routine” monitoring of antisocial motorists, protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.
The arms manufacturer BAE Systems, which produces a range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for war zones, is adapting the military-style planes for a consortium of government agencies led by Kent police.
Documents from the South Coast Partnership, a Home Office-backed project in which Kent police and others are developing a national drone plan with BAE, have been obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.
They reveal the partnership intends to begin using the drones in time for the 2012 Olympics. They also indicate that police claims that the technology will be used for maritime surveillance fall well short of their intended use – which could span a range of police activity – and that officers have talked about selling the surveillance data to private companies. A prototype drone equipped with high-powered cameras and sensors is set to take to the skies for test flights later this year.
The Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates UK airspace, has been told by BAE and Kent police that civilian UAVs would “greatly extend” the government’s surveillance capacity and “revolutionise policing”. The CAA is currently reluctant to license UAVs in normal airspace because of the risk of collisions with other aircraft, but adequate “sense and avoid” systems for drones are only a few years away.
And from another article in The Guardian, an unmanned surveillance drone has already been used to arrest a 16-year car thief – illegally.
For Merseyside police, the “eye in the sky” arrest was a landmark moment in policing history. The force had managed to track down and apprehend a teenager who had fled from a presumed stolen Renault Clio, senior officers revealed, by using a remote-controlled flying robot equipped with thermal imaging cameras.
But the attempt to claim credit for the UK’s first arrest using a surveillance drone backfired tonight after it emerged the force itself could face prosecution because officers flew the surveillance aircraft without permission – a criminal offence.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which regulates UK airspace, confirmed it was investigating Merseyside police over the apparently unauthorised use of its drone to pursue the 16-year-old after he fled from a suspected stolen car in Bootle. It is one of three UK forces using the drones.