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Growing Protest Repels Troops in Cairo

David D. Kirkpatrick and Liam Stack, New York Times
CAIRO — Egypt’s interim military rulers battled a reinvigorated protest movement calling for its ouster Sunday, as thousands of demonstrators forced troops to retreat from Tahrir Square for a second night in a row.

Many compared the breadth and intensity of the new fight for the square — the iconic heart of the Egyptian revolt and the Arab Spring — to the early days of the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak, only this time the target of the protesters’ ire was the ruling military council and its leader, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

The military-led government’s attempts to beat back or squash the protests appeared to only redouble their strength. After using tear gas, rubber bullets and birdshot to beat back a day of continuous attacks on the headquarters of the Interior Ministry, hundreds of soldiers and security police in riot gear stormed the square from several directions at once about 5 p.m., raining down rocks and tear gas as they drove thousands of demonstrators out before them.

But after less than half an hour they had retreated, having succeeded only in burning down a few tents in the middle of the square. And after another half an hour, the crowd of protesters had more than doubled, packing the square as ever more demonstrators marched in from all directions, chanting for the end of military rule.
(20 November 2011)

Mellower Occupy Movement Grows in the Suburbs

Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle via Common Dreams
Gerri Field stood with hundreds of protesters in front of Tiffany’s in Walnut Creek this week, railing against economic injustice at the top of her lungs and drawing approving honks from passing cars with her sign, “Heal America, Tax Wall Street.”

For two sunny midday hours, the crowd did its best to “occupy” the busiest intersection in town, Mount Diablo Boulevard and North Main Street, singing “This Land Is Your Land” and denouncing corporate greed and the ultrarich 1 percent.

Then it was time for lunch. Time to put the signs away.

No thrown bottles at police. No tear gas or cops in sight. And certainly no tents.

“Camping? My idea of camping is a room in the Hyatt,” said Field, a 50-year-old schoolteacher. “That’s not what my protest is about.”

In the suburbs, the Occupy movement has a whole different flavor.

And there is, unbeknownst to many, a lot of occupying being done beyond big city borders. At least 30 Occupy movements exist from Santa Cruz north through Alameda and Concord to Vacaville, Napa and Santa Rosa.

The message is the same as in the big cities. But most of those movements, with a few notable exceptions such as Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa, don’t involve tents, and even there the method is mellower – more upscale, less rageful, cleaner.
(20 November 2011)
Also at Common Dreams.

Occupy PressThink: Tim Pool

Jay Rosen, PressThink
Recently, Alexis Madrigal, the technology editor of The Atlantic and pretty much the smartest young journalist ’round these parts, re-described occupy Wall Street as an API, or Application Programming Interface. #

What he meant is that one of the distinctive features of the movement is its “open” design. “From the beginning, the occupation was meant to take on a life of its own. Organizers and occupiers alike have not tried to maintain control of the message or methodology for spreading ideas or occupations. Anyone who wants to support Occupy Wall Street can just do something, trusting they’ll be able to connect to the movement. Hence OccupyHistory and hundreds of like sites.”

How is Occupy Wall Street “like” an API? Madrigal explains:

API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface. APIs allow data to be pulled from an online source in a structured way. So, Twitter has an API that lets app developers create software that can display your Twitter feed in ways that the company itself did not develop. Developers make a call to that API to “GET statuses/home timeline” and Twitter sends back “the 20 most recent statuses” for a user.

What an API does, in essence, is make it easy for the information a service contains to be integrated with the wider Internet. So, to make the metaphor here clear, Occupy Wall Street today can be seen like the early days of Nearly everyone accessed Twitter information through clients developed by people outside the Twitter HQ. These co-developers made Twitter vastly more useful by adding their own ideas to the basic functionality of the social network. These developers don’t have to take in all of OWS data or use all of the strategies developed at OWS. Instead, they can choose the most useful information streams for their own individual applications (i.e. occupations, memes, websites, essays, policy papers).

… That’s all background to this letter I got. It’s a perfect example of… “Anyone who wants to support Occupy Wall Street can just do something.” The letter tells of an adventure in citizen journalism unfolding around Occupy Wall Street. Chris Fornof explains it as well as I could, so I am going to shut up and let you listen to him.

Tim Pool.

Something very special is happening here.

Basically he’s a protester-turned-reporter with a cell phone who is doing some very uniquely awesome things with his streaming ustream coverage. He’s been doing 20-hour live reporting marathons, but what’s extremely powerful is the feedback loop that he has with his viewers (numbering in the 15k+ live, 100k+ daily).

There’s a unique symbiosis happening. Being a livestream he acts as “eyes and ears” for the viewers. Literally. People will tell him to move the camera somewhere and he’ll do it. They’ll ask for interviews with someone, and Tim will go over and do so (taking extensive feedback, questions, and commentary from the channel viewers). The viewers will ask him questions and he won’t rest until he gets them their answers. There is no delay or time to press. It’s instant. And it’s awesome.

(20 November 2011)
Links at original.

Occupy Maine and decentralization
Ann Peluso, Energy Bulletin
There was a flaw in the #OWS encampment that is a rarely noticed flaw in our system: it was a large, centralized structure. 5500 books were sitting there easy to be raided, as well as lots of people and lots of other infrastructure. They were easy pickings because they were so tightly centralized. Most of the raided encampments were large and centralized, but Centralization Central, NYC, was the most so. It had to go and was easy to do. And didn’t it cause a shock! No leaders? Yes there were – it was Liberty Park in NYC, #OWS itself. The head was chopped off, so authorities think. They think they won. They didn’t. The rest of us, the most of us, are still here.

Decentralization of the Occupy movement is as important as the decentralization of any other piece of our infrastructure. If the #OWS crowd popped up in small groups around NYC, they would be easier to raid individually, but not much worth it. If one goes down, there are sites still available to regroup and relocate. Many sites in distant areas would take more raid work than one large, tightly enclosed area. If nothing else, the combined circumferences of many small sites would be much larger than the areas enclosed, so they would take more personnel to enclose fewer people at any one time. Good communications could combine dispersed occupiers for various marches and individual protest demonstrations. Seriously, we need to be in little, flexible, creative bunches everywhere, not in one giant lump.

Here in the back woods of Maine we have 4 sites, as far as I know. There is a small site in Portland [just passed safety inspection, I think], tiny ones in Augusta and in Bangor [rumors of attempted raid as I write], and who-knows-what “Up the County” in the charming potato country of Aroostook County, I think in Presque Isle near the little wee college. As an aside, I love their logo: “99% – Occupy Ar%st%k”. Poor ole sophisticated Portland can’t even come up with a logo, and The County had theirs from the beginning. Anyway, we are some kind of strange mixture of centralized & decentralized here. The police seem to be working with us, probably because they are our neighbors. Same with fire departments and medical personnel. The State of Maine is a small town of well mixed communities. We have to work hard to get along with each other as it is. Neighbors hold us accountable.

Portland, Augusta, and Bangor have grouped for several demonstrations. I’m not sure about far-away Aroostook, but I assume they are exchanging resources with some Canadian neighbors as they always do. If you look on a map of the US, Aroostook is what looks like the tip of the thumb that sticks up into Eastern Canada. It contains a unique international community somewhat isolated from both countries, one state, and two provinces. They used to say of elections, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation.” I think, today, as Aroostook goes, so goes the world, but only if there are zillions of little creative Aroostooks popping up everywhere. Centralization Central, NYC, is not where necessary changes will be made.

Marshall MacLuhan commented in _Understanding Media_ that, if you could ask a fish what was the dominant feature of its environment, it would not say water. It doesn’t notice water because it doesn’t know anything else. Water is everywhere. I would say that centralization is to Americans as the water is to fish: what we can’t see because there isn’t anything else. Decentralization is, just, well, it isn’t.
(21 November 2011)
Ann Peluso from Maine is a long-time contributor to Energy Bulletin. -BA