Posts Tagged ‘police’

UK interior minister robbed by moped rider, pledges police action

June 17, 2018

Britain’s interior minister, Sajid Javid, said on Sunday that his phone had been stolen by moped-riding thieves several months ago and that he was seeking changes to police rules to help tackle the growing problem.

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FILE PHOTO – Britain’s Secretary of State for the Home Department, Sajid Javid, makes a speech outlining an overhaul of UK counter-terror strategy in central London, Britain, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Moped robbery, where attackers surprise pedestrians and grab phones and bags, is one of several violent crimes in London that have attracted national attention. Earlier this year, a spate of stabbings briefly pushed London’s murder rate ahead of New York’s.

In an interview with the Sun on Sunday newspaper, Javid said he was robbed outside London’s Euston station as he went to make a phone call. The incident happened before he took up his job in charge of domestic security.

“It happened in a flash. I was walking out of Euston station and reached for my phone to call a taxi… before I knew what was happening, it had gone. They just rode up, grabbed it and zoomed off,” he said.

Javid, seen by some as a potential challenger to Prime Minister Theresa May, was appointed in April after a scandal over the treatment of legal migrants led to the resignation of his predecessor.

Javid said that while overall crime levels were down, he would make tackling rising knife crime and serious violence a priority. He wants to change rules which prevent police from chasing suspects on mopeds if they are not wearing helmets.

Reporting by William James, editing by Larry King




American Civil Liberties Union urges Amazon to stop marketing a powerful facial recognition tool to police

May 22, 2018

ACLU says an Amazon facial recognition tool being marketed to police violated human rights….

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The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy activists are asking Amazon to stop marketing a powerful facial recognition tool to police, saying law enforcement agencies could use the technology to “easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone.”

The tool, called Rekognition, is already being used by at least one agency — the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon — to check photographs of unidentified suspects against a database of mug shots from the county jail, which is a common use of such technology around the country.

But privacy advocates have been concerned about expanding the use of facial recognition to body cameras worn by officers or safety and traffic cameras that monitor public areas, allowing police to identify and track people in real time.

The tech giant’s entry into the market could vastly accelerate such developments, the privacy advocates fear, with potentially dire consequences for minorities who are already arrested at disproportionate rates, immigrants who may be in the country illegally or political protesters.

“People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government,” the groups wrote in a letter to Amazon on Tuesday. “Facial recognition in American communities threatens this freedom.”

Amazon released Rekognition in late 2016, and the sheriff’s office in Washington County, west of Portland, became one of its first law enforcement agency customers. A year later, deputies were using it about 20 times per day — for example, to identify burglary suspects in store surveillance footage. Last month, the agency adopted policies governing its use, noting that officers in the field can use real-time face recognition to identify suspects who are unwilling or unable to provide their own ID, or if someone’s life is in danger.

“We are not mass-collecting. We are not putting a camera out on a street corner,” said Deputy Jeff Talbot, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “We want our local community to be aware of what we’re doing, how we’re using it to solve crimes — what it is and, just as importantly, what it is not.”

It cost the sheriff’s office just $400 to load 305,000 booking photos into the system and $6 per month in fees to continue the service, according to an email obtained by the ACLU under a public records request.

Amazon Web Services did not answer emailed questions about how many law enforcement agencies are using Rekognition, but in a written statement the company said it requires all of its customers to comply with the law and to be responsible in the use of its products.

The statement said some agencies have used the program to find abducted people, and amusement parks have used it to find lost children. British broadcaster Sky News used Rekognition to help viewers identify celebrities at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last weekend.

Last year, the Orlando, Florida, Police Department announced it would begin a pilot program relying on Amazon’s technology to “use existing City resources to provide real-time detection and notification of persons-of-interest, further increasing public safety.”

Orlando has a network of public safety cameras, and in a presentation posted to YouTube this month , Ranju Das, who leads Amazon Rekognition, said Amazon would receive feeds from the cameras, search them against photos of people being sought by law enforcement and notify police of any hits.

“It’s about recognizing people, it’s about tracking people, and then it’s about doing this in real time, so that the law enforcement officers … can be then alerted in real time to events that are happening,” he said.

The Orlando Police Department declined to make anyone available for an interview about the program, but said in an email to The Associated Press that the department “is not using the technology in an investigative capacity or in any public spaces at this time.”

“The purpose of a pilot program such as this, is to address any concerns that arise as the new technology is tested,” the statement said. “Any use of the system will be in accordance with current and applicable law. We are always looking for new solutions to further our ability to keep the residents and visitors of Orlando safe.”

The letter to Amazon followed public records requests from ACLU chapters in California, Oregon and Florida. More than two dozen organizations signed it, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Human Rights Watch.

Clare Garvie, an associate at the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University Law Center, said part of the problem with real-time face recognition is its potential impact on free-speech rights.

While police might be able to videotape public demonstrations, face recognition is not merely an extension of photography but a biometric measurement — more akin to police walking through a demonstration and demanding identification from everyone there.

Amazon’s technology isn’t that different from what face recognition companies are already selling to law enforcement agencies. But its vast reach and its interest in recruiting more police departments to take part raise concerns, she said.

“This raises very real questions about the ability to remain anonymous in public spaces,” Garvie said.


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Philippines: Goverment Turns Tourist Area Boracay Into Police and Military Training Site During Clean-Up To Improve Business With China

May 1, 2018

Philippines: President Duterte’s controversial closure and rehabilitation of Boracay remains controversial. Word has leaked out that Chinese businessmen want to build a casino there. If this was in Duterte’s thinking, we just don’t know. But we do know the closure of the popular tourist site has cost thousands of Filipinos their jobs. Below is a letter to the editor complaining about an army of police officers President Duterte sent to Boracay to Keep The Peace:

Image result for Boracay, photos

Dear Editor:

The deployment of over 600 police and 200 military personnel to Boracay to enforce President Duterte’s controversial closure and rehabilitation order is overkill.

Since when did bullets and bombs become cleaning agents for coliform, or conservation tools for flying foxes, sea turtles, and coral reefs?

Ironically, this is done under the pretext of “providing security and peace” and “making tourists feel safe.”

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Members of the Special Weapons and Tactics group simulate an assault during a security drill on Boracay

In reality, a fact-finding solidarity mission held by our affiliated local organizations last April 18-20 found that police threatened residents that they will turn Boracay into a “new Marawi.”

What the island needs instead are environmental specialists who could study the ecological situation and properly implement the rehabilitation of the island.

The coliform outbreak, coral reef bleaching, and habitat loss of important flora and fauna cannot be driven away by riot drills and live-fire exercises.

The people have suffered enough already from the loss of their livelihood (at least 36,000 lost jobs) and neglect by the government. Locals have been forced to flee the island by the hundreds.

Now they are threatened by virtual “martial law,” with restriction on movement and even suppression of media coverage.

Why is Mr. Duterte not deploying these armed forces instead to West Philippine Sea, Philippine Rise, and other areas where our national patrimony and sovereignty are being blatantly undermined?

Boracay needs scientists, engineers, development planners, social workers, and community organizers, not hundreds of troops and police.

These armed personnel must be pulled out of the island immediately.

LEON DULCE, national coordinator, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment,

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Philippines: Top Former Law Enforcement Officer in custody after raid on metamphetamine lab — “Breaking Bad” quagmire — News publisher killed to keep lab secret

March 29, 2018


The Scene of the Crime Operatives conducts an inventory of the materials and equipment used in the manufacture of shabu in the clandestine drug lab discovered in Barangay Palta, Virac, Catanduanes. Bicol Standard

Ex-NBI director tagged in Catanduanes mega shabu lab surrenders to NBI

Kristine Joy Patag ( – March 28, 2018 – 4:20pm

MANILA, Philippines — The former National Bureau of Investigations acting director charged in connection with the mega shabu laboratory in Catanduanes has surrendered to authorities, the NBI said on Wednesday.

NBI Spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin, in a press conference, said that Augusto Eric Isidoro “voluntarily surrendered to the NBI on the account of a warrant issued against him for violations of Republic Act 9165.”

Isidoro, former NBI acting director for Region 7, has a pending arrest warrant from the Virac, Catanduanes Regional Trial Court Branch 43.

Isidoro and eight others are facing drug charges in connection with the police-led aid of the “mega shabu lab” on Nov. 26, 2016.

Believed to be the owner of property where the laboratory was constructed is a certain Sarah Sarmiento and leased by Angelica Balmadrid, who is allegedly the common-law wife of Isidoro.

Others charged in the case are:

  • Xian Xian Wang
  • Pido Bonito
  • Paolo Uy
  • Jayson Gonzales Uy
  • Lorenzo Flores Piñera II, alias Lawrence, Kidot
  • Paolo Wee Palisoc
  • Phung Yuan Estorco
  • Sheng Wang

Seized in the shabu laboratory are 22.509 kilograms of crystallized metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu and 359.75 kg of Ephedrine, both dangerous drugs. Chemicals and equipment for the manufacture of illegal drugs were also confiscated during the search.

READ: House to probe mega shabu lab in Catanduanes

Lavin said that Isidoro is currently in the custody of the NBI. The bureau is waiting for the court to issue a commitment order for his transfer of detention.

Court transfer request

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II also asked the Supreme Court to transfer the case to a Makati or Quezon City court.

In a four-page letter addressed to Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, Aguirre asked the SC to allow the transfer of hearing to a court in Makati or Quezon City.

The justice chief cited the motion for inhibition filed by state prosecutors handling the case.

In the said motion, state prosecutors noted that when the police arrived at the warehouse on Nov. 26, 2016, they saw Presiding Judge Lelu Contreras with the wife of Isidoro.

“With due respect, the foregoing circumstances fosters a strong belief on the part of the prosecution that the Presiding Judge cannot handle this case with the required cold neutrality of an impartial judge and places in grave doubt the integrity of her eventual disposition,” the prosecutors said in their motion.

Aguirre, in his letter to Carpio, also cited the supposed “politically connections” of some of the accused.

“The transfer of the venue will also insulate the proceedings from influence or threats from any groups affiliated with the accused,” the justice chief added.


See also:

Politicians, NBI chief charged in Catanduanes shabu drug trade

Chicago’s deal with ACLU, Black Lives Matter changes political calculus for police reform

March 26, 2018

The Chicago Tribune

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On Tuesday, with public attention fixed on a primary election, attorneys filed a document in federal court detailing an agreement few had anticipated — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration had signed off on allowing groups including Black Lives Matter Chicago to consult on and seek to enforce a court agreement that will govern reforms in the troubled Chicago Police Department.

That was an about-face for an administration that previously had argued to dismiss litigation from those same groups seeking change in the police force. The city instead has been hammering out a court-backed slate of changes — known as a consent decree — with the office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who also sued the city to force change.

Now, the activists and advocacy groups will share influence in the process with city and state officials. Some of those activist groups take positions unlikely to appeal to the local political elite; Black Lives Matter Chicago, for example, advocates for de-funding the police and criminally prosecuting Emanuel, among others, in the alleged “cover-ups of the murders” of people by police.

While the news may have come as a surprise, the benefits of the deal to each party are clear — as are the risks the participants would have faced without the agreement.

For the city, the deal means that groups including the NAACP and ACLU of Illinois, and their army of lawyers, will suspend their lawsuits and join the negotiating process. If those lawsuits had continued, they might have dragged on through the 2019 mayoral election. Emanuel is seeking a third term and could face challengers who might seek to capitalize on some voters’ dissatisfaction with the police.

For the activists and advocacy groups, the agreement gives them influence they might not have won through their lawsuits. Their litigation could have failed, preventing them from forcing change in an agency that the U.S. Department of Justice found to be prone to misconduct and excessive force, often against minorities

The agreement, however, comes with political risks of its own, and it was immediately unpopular with some in law enforcement. A statement from Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham said the agreement would “go nowhere” without the support of rank-and-file cops. The FOP is in contract negotiations with the city, and Graham said police would “never give up (their) collective bargaining rights.”

Second City Cop, a blog catering to law enforcement, derided the agreement as a plan to “give terrorists a seat at the table.”

In a statement, Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey said the city “entered into these agreements to provide a formal process for these groups to share input and have productive conversations regarding the consent decree negotiations.”

“The agreements also suspend the ongoing litigation in the two pending cases and allow us to instead focus our time and resources on finalizing the consent decree with the Illinois attorney general and reforming the Chicago Police Department,” he wrote.

McCaffrey said the city had “offered the same process” to the police unions, though no similar arrangements had been reached.

FOP spokesman Martin Preib did not respond to a request for further comment beyond Graham’s statement.

The “memorandum of agreement” filed Tuesday codifies a deal between Madigan’s office, city officials and the plaintiffs from the two lawsuits, which include well-known organizations such as the ACLU of Illinois and Chicago Urban League, along with lesser known groups. Those groups had filed lawsuits complaining of police brutality and unfair treatment of African-Americans, Latinos and the mentally ill and disabled.

It was unclear why the court filing was made on primary election day, though releasing important information while the media and public are distracted is a common tactic among local political officials hoping to bury news. The agreement was announced in a press release from the ACLU of Illinois.

The agreement holds that the activists and advocacy groups will explain their grievances to representatives from the city and attorney general’s office and make proposals for the consent decree, and attorneys from the parties will meet to discuss the proposals and negotiate over them. Once a consent decree is written, the plaintiffs will get to see the document and give feedback.

The implementation of a consent decree is typically overseen by an appointed monitor, and the agreement holds that the yet-to-be-selected monitor who presides over Chicago’s consent decree will meet quarterly with the plaintiffs apart from the city and attorney general’s office.

The city and attorney general’s office also agreed not to contest the plaintiffs’ standing to seek court enforcement of the decree if the city fails to comply with it.

The plaintiffs, meanwhile, agreed to stay their lawsuits. One of the lawsuits includes the allegations of several individual plaintiffs, and their claims seeking money damages will not be stayed.

Sheila Bedi, a Northwestern University Law School professor and attorney who helped lead one of the lawsuits, said the agreement gives the activist groups real influence over changes to the Police Department.

“We can use the power of the federal court to try to ensure that the consent decree is really robust,” she said.

The agreement is the latest consequence of the political controversy sparked in late 2015 by the court-mandated release of video of white police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. The video touched off street protests fueled by long-standing complaints about the police, particularly among African-Americans and Latinos, and Emanuel weathered calls for his resignation.

Emanuel at first resisted the idea of a Justice Department investigation but reversed himself as it gained momentum among other political officials. The resulting investigation wrapped up in January 2017 with a report describing a broken Police Department in which poorly trained cops have engaged in brutality and misconduct with little to fear from either their supervisors or a largely toothless disciplinary system.

In the last days of an Obama administration that often sought to enforce reform in local police agencies, Emanuel supported a court-enforced consent decree to govern changes in Chicago. But he backed off after the Trump administration came into office and expressed opposition to consent decrees. Emanuel said he could bring meaningful reform to the department through an out-of-court agreement with the Trump administration involving a monitor.

Then, in August 2017, Madigan sued the city to force a consent decree, and Emanuel said he would negotiate toward one. Black Lives Matter Chicago and other groups had sued months before to force changes in the department; the ACLU of Illinois and other organizations sued in October 2017 to force reforms in the way police deal with the mentally ill and disabled.

The Emanuel administration started working with the attorney general’s office while moving for the dismissal of the other lawsuits. Judges had not ruled on those motions before Tuesday’s agreement.

The agreement holds that if the consent decree is not filed by Sept. 1 or entered by a judge by New Year’s Day 2019, the plaintiffs can move to lift the stays on their lawsuits. Those deadlines have extra meaning, given that Madigan is not seeking another term and will leave office in January 2019.

Many cities have been through the process of court-enforced police reform, but the new agreement in Chicago is unusual in that community groups and advocacy organizations are having their role formally recognized in a court document before the consent decree is finalized, said Christy Lopez, a former Justice Department lawyer who helped lead the investigations in Chicago and other cities.

Still, community groups and activists were involved with the reform cycles in other cities, said Lopez, who described the negotiation process between politically disparate parties as both difficult and rewarding.

“It’s very challenging, and there are reasons they haven’t come together in the past,” she said. “What you have to do, obviously, is find the areas in which they can agree, and really focus on those.”

Twitter @dhinkel


Protests erupt in Pakistan over rape and murder of 7-year-old girl

January 12, 2018
© Asif Hassan, AFP | Women protest against sex crimes in Pakistan on January 11, 2018.

Video by Ellen GAINSFORD


Latest update : 2018-01-12

Protests broke out across Pakistan on Thursday after the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl in a district south of Lahore, due to public anger at what is seen as the authorities’ failure to investigate such cases.

It is the 12th such murder in the town of Kasur in a year, and has raised concern that a serial killer may be on the loose.

Two people were killed on Wednesday when police fired at angry protesters in Kasur, and a local resident said schools, offices, and markets remained shut in the town on Thursday.

Demonstrations were held in all cities between Faisalabad in the northeast down to Pakistan‘s southern metropolis of Karachi.

In Lahore, the provincial capital of the state where Kasur is located, protesters blocked a major road connecting the two, causing traffic between them to be suspended.

Police recovered the body of Zainab Ansari from a garbage dumpster in Kasur on Tuesday, four days after she was reported missing.

The chief minister of Punjab province, Shahbaz Sharif visited Ansari’s parents to assure them that the perpetrators would be apprehended soon, a provincial government spokesman said.

“(Sharif) has announced Rs 10 million ($90,000) for anyone giving information about the kidnapper,” Punjab government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan told Reuters. He said it could not be ruled out that the murders involved a serial killer.

A police official speaking on condition of anonymity said two of Ansari’s relatives had been interrogated and 26 locals are currently in custody and being questioned. He added that police are waiting for forensic evidence to be collected and analysed.

Ansari’s family doubts justice will be done.

“We don’t have any expectations from police, as we gave proof to police including the CCTV footage, but they could do nothing,” her uncle Hafiz Muhammad Adnan told Reuters.

Adnan said the kidnapper waited to dump the body after search parties took a break after four days of looking.

“It appears as if the kidnapper is a local who developed familiarity with Zainab to take her along, probably telling her that he would take her to her parents,” he said.

A number of police officials have been transferred out of the region for failing to investigate complaints of missing children since 2015, when authorities uncovered what they said was a paedophile ring linked to a prominent local family.

At least two people have been convicted in connection with that case, in which authorities say hundreds of children in the district were abused.



Pakistani father of slain girl blames police for slow action

January 11, 2018

People attend a funeral of a Pakistani girl who was raped and killed, in Kasur, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Pakistani police said a mob angered over the recent rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl has attacked a police station in eastern Punjab province, triggering clashes that left at least two people dead and several injured. (AP/Qazi Mehmood)
LAHORE, Pakistan: The father of an 8-year-old Pakistani girl whose rape and killing shocked the nation accused the police on Thursday of being slow to respond when his daughter went missing in eastern Punjab province.
The father, Anees Ansari, who was on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia with his wife at the time of his daughter’s disappearance, spoke after meeting with the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Sharif traveled to the city of Kasur to visit the family hours after Ansari returned home from Saudi Arabia to attend his daughter’s funeral Wednesday.
The girl, Zainab Ansari, disappeared last week while going to a nearby home for Qur’anic studies and her body was found in a Kasur waste-yard on Tuesday.
Her murder sparked clashes Wednesday between angry Kasur residents and police after protesters enraged over her death attacked a police station in the city. Two people were killed and three others were wounded in the clashes.
Sharif, who had assured Zainab’s father that justice would be done, also fired Kasur’s police chief over negligence in the case, according to a Punjab government statement Thursday. Three police officers were arrested for opening fire at the mob instead of into the air during Wednesday’s clashes.
Zainab’s killing, which has drawn wide public outcry, prompted dozens of civil society activists to rally on Thursday in the city of Lahore. A similar rally took place Wednesday in the port city of Karachi.
Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and champion for female education, tweeted Wednesday she was “heartbroken” about Zainab’s tragic fate and demanded action against the killer.

The Regime (Almost) Always Wins — Why Iran style uprisings don’t work.

January 7, 2018

The Jerusalem Post

 JANUARY 6, 2018 01:49
Amin Neda

Amin Neda at a “free Iran” rally in Jerusalem on January 2, 2018.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

They mostly begin the same way, with some spark or even spontaneous protests and rioting. They also tend to end the same way. Media blackouts. Police, army and security services flooding the streets.

And then they are put down, sometimes after battles and killing, and sometimes with beatings and arrests. Then they fizzle out as the people await their next chance.

The protests that began in Iran in late December swept across a dozen major cities and into towns and villages. They included minority groups, such as Kurds and Arabs, as well as the majority Persian population. They included Sunnis and Shi’ites. It was not a narrow sectarian or political uprising, but one underpinned by a variety of grievances from living under decades of authoritarian theocratic rule.

Many protests were angry about economic problems, accusing the regime of sending men to die in foreign wars while neglecting people at home.

In early January the government moved towards a harsh crackdown both online and using the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. They accused the protesters of being supported by foreign agents, pointing fingers at the US and Israel, and they accused the people of sedition, even while regime mouthpieces such as foreign minister Javad Zarif claimed the people had a right to protest.

THIS HAS happened before. A survey of similar types of protests against authoritarian regimes illustrates that they almost always fail. Until 1989 there were a series of unsuccessful mass protests against Soviet-style rule in Eastern Europe.

On June 16, 1953, East German construction workers began a protest over a pay cut.

Within a day it had spread to an estimated 700 places throughout the country. The Soviet Union and local police responded with violence, crushing the protests, and killed at least 55 people.

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 began among students and intellectuals supporting democracy. The uprising spread after 20,000 protested on October 23. The Soviets vacillated on what to do, but eventually sent tanks and the army to crush the Hungarian revolt a week and a half after it had begun. Thousands were killed and more than 20,000 put on trial.

As in Hungary, although with a much smaller death toll, attempts at liberalizing Czechoslovakia were crushed by a military invasion in 1968. In Poland the shipyard strikes in 1980 led by Lech Walesa led to a massive warning strike in 1981 that involved around 12 million people. Protests and resistance continued through 1982. Yet it would take another seven years to replace the government.

Similarly in South Africa under apartheid, numerous mass protests were met with violence that resulted in their dispersion. The Sharpeville pass law protests in 1960 ended when police killed 69 of the thousands who turned out. In June 1976 more than 20,000 joined protests in Soweto. Police responded by killing 176.

In the Middle East not only Iran has seen mass protests over the years. In Algeria in 2010 protests erupted spontaneously around the country over the cost of living. Facebook and Twitter access was suspended by the government to stop information from spreading, and police were sent in to quell the disturbances, arresting 1,000.

Several were killed.

In Bahrain in February 2011, thousands came out to protest hoping to emulate the Arab spring protests in Tunisia. Eventually more than 100,000 participated. To stop their spread the government instituted a curfew and invited neighboring allies to intervene. Eventually around 100 people were killed and 1,000 arrested. Bahrain hasn’t seen a major protest since. Similarly in 1982 in Hama, Syria, and in 1991 in Iraq the Ba’athist governments crushed uprisings, killing thousands.

Protests can topple governments, but they rarely do. In China in 1989 protesters took to Tiananmen Square, calling for democracy. After a month and a half the army went in and cleared the square. Two hundred people were killed. In Thailand during the massive protests by the “red shirts” between March and May 2010 resulted in a massive crackdown that led to the deaths of 91 people. At the “Mother of all Marches” in Venezuela last April, several million turned out to protest a shattered economy and authoritarian government. Several protesters were killed and 500 arrested. The government is still in power.

WHEN DO protests succeed? They tend to succeed when power structures within the government decide that it is worthwhile to side with the protesters for their own reasons. Sometimes this is due to fear, often it is due to a pragmatic decision to remove one head of state and replace him with another.

In 2011 in Tunisia and Egypt the military helped to usher the dictators from office. In 2017 Robert Mugabe, one of the longest-reigning dictators in Africa, was removed by his own army. In contrast, Zimbabwe’s Morgan Tsvangirai, who came from the trade unions, was never able to unseat the government using democratic means.

There are exceptions. Ukraine’s pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych fled office in 2014 after months facing a massive uprising.

However, his leaving office precipitated civil conflict that still rages. In many cases mass protests that are successful have led to civil unrest. This was the case in the 1990s conflict in Algeria as well as for the Syrian civil war.

There is rarely a path to power for protesters when a regime is willing to use violence to suppress them. If the protesters are not willing to use violence in return, if they do not have a centralized structure with a leader and are not armed, they have no way to seize power. If they can continue the unrest, especially if they can do so by striking at industry by mobilizing workers, they may encourage the army or other politicians to replace the government. But that only results in a change of the faces in power, and not a change in the nature of the state.

History has shown that although states can change and revolutions do take place, their chances at success are rare. Nevertheless, most regimes of the type that Iran embodies fall eventually.


French PM calls for ‘great judicial severity’ after New Year’s attack on police

January 3, 2018


© Thomas Samson, AFP | Members of the Alliance Police Nationale union gather for a protest outside the police station of Champigny-sur-Marne on January 2, 2018, two days after a policewoman was beaten after clashes erupted on New Year’s Eve.

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2018-01-03

France’s prime minister is pushing for the perpetrators of a New Year’s Eve attack on two police officers – captured in a video that went viral on social media – to be punished with “great judicial severity”.

Édouard Philippe made the comments Wednesday on TV station France 2 after the assault in Champigny-sur-Marne brought nationwide attention.

The attackers have not yet been identified and authorities have launched an inquiry.

Dozens of angry police officers have taken part in demonstrations in several cities across France since the attack, demanding justice for the targeted officers and greater protection from the government.

French right-wing on warpath after New Year’s Eve attack on police -sur-Marne  via @RFI_English

New Year’s Eve attack on police sparks outcry in France

The French government has promised tough action after a violent attack on police officers outside a party on the outskirts of Paris on New Year’s Eve.

Police officers had been called to clear a crowd of 300 or 400 people attempting to see in 2018 at a warehouse party in Champigny-sur-Marne.

They fired tear gas after “a group of particularly violent individuals laid into the police,” local security chief Jean-Yves Oses said, with revellers beating and kicking two officers.

Videos of the policewoman writhing on the floor as she is kicked by the crowd, as well as revellers flipping over a car, have gone viral on social media.

Two people were detained on suspicion of vandalism, but no one has been arrested for attacking the police. Macron vowed that the culprits would be “found and punished”.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)


Houston Police Arrest Armed Man In High-Rise Hotel New Year’s Eve Venue In What Could Have Been Las Vegas-Style Shooting

December 31, 2017
© AFP | Houston police were called to deal with a “drunk, belligerent suspect” 


Police in Houston, Texas said Sunday they had arrested a belligerent man in possession of a number of guns at a high-rise hotel where a major New Year’s celebration is planned.

The arrest, coming as cities across the country and around the world were preparing New Year’s Eve celebrations, sparked fears of a repeat of the Oct. 31 mass shooting from a hotel room in Las Vegas, Nevada, that left 58 killed and hundreds wounded.

Houston police said they had yet to determine whether the man had any ill intent. They have yet to release his identity.

Police Lieutenant Gordon Macintosh said police were called to the Hyatt Regency Hotel shortly after midnight to deal with a “drunk, belligerent suspect.”

The first officers to respond had to call for backup when the man refused to comply with their orders, Macintosh said in a video interview carried on the Houston Chronicle website.

When police escorted the man back to his room, they found “several guns,” Macintosh said. Other news media described these as including an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a handgun, as well as a large quantity of ammunition.

The suspect was arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon as well as for trespassing, Macintosh said. But he said the man was so intoxicated that police were not immediately able to interview him.

The Hyatt says its New Year’s Eve party spans four floors, featuring live performances and the dropping of 50,000 balloons at midnight. A hotel employee said the party was still on despite the “disturbance.”

The Oct. 31 shooting from a high-rise hotel in Las Vegas by a heavily armed 64-year-old man, who killed himself as police closed in, was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

Police in other cities have said they are taking extraordinary security measures around the year-end celebrations, most prominently at Times Square in New York, where police said they would deploy rooftop observers and counter-snipers in more buildings than usual, as well as patrolling hotels.


Intoxicated man found with small arsenal on top floor of Hyatt Regency downtown, police say

By Megan Kennedy – Content Editor

HOUSTON – A man has been arrested on multiple charges after police located a small arsenal of guns on the top floor of the Hyatt Regency on Louisiana Street downtown, Houston police said.

Police at the hotel called for backup around 1:30 a.m. Sunday after they attempted to arrest the man for being intoxicated and trespassing. When help arrived, police noticed ammunition laying around the man’s hotel room, Lt. Gordon Macintosh with Houston police said.


The man was arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon and trespassing. When investigators looked into his room further, they located an AR-15, a shotgun, a handgun and lots of ammunition, Macintosh said.

The Hyatt is preparing its own New Years Eve celebration at the hotel with a 50,000 balloon drop at the stroke of midnight, its website said.

The man’s white Chevrolet Silverado was located and towed to be searched and examined, Macintosh said.

Police are waiting to interview the man until he has sobered up, Macintosh said.

Situation from this morning at downtown hotel is contained. No specific threats to @HoustonTX@houstonpolice will be heavily deployed throughout the city to include SWAT react teams. Proud of officers & Hyatt. As always be vigilant & report suspicious a activity to authorities.

Investigators are working to learn more about this incident.

The Hyatt Regency Houston has released the following statement:

The safety and security of our guests and colleagues is our top priority, and consistent with the hotel’s prepared security plans, heightened measures are in place on New Year’s Eve. We are fully cooperating with authorities on an investigation, and further questions should be directed to the Houston Police Department.