Saturday, April 25, 2009

Swine flu in Mexico

Jessica, a blogger in Mexico city writes in an email:
The streets in Mexico are empty, nobody wants to go outside and everybody is scared.

The Mexican government says there are just 20 deaths confirmed because of the swine flu, but all of us know that there are a lot more.
Most Mexico City bloggers we are reading seem in agreement on one thing: there is a lot fear. Suggestions have been made that this state of fear may be unwarranted, but this attitude could change quickly if the death toll increases much further.

Jessica Uribe, Vivir Mexico [Spanish]

Dyana, GlobalDyana (Videos)
On Mexico's main route, Paseo de la Refoma, we summarized mask usage, traffic and overall feelings in Mexico City
"Little tense... press report... 2000 cases of pneumonia, hospital workers protesting don't have adequate protection, people moved outside of houses, living on the street."
Irving González, La Paranoia mediático-sanitaria, Con Menta y Sal [Spanish]
This environment created by the media and government capital, through carelessness or intention, continues to worsen. Now, according to official figures, there is already a total of 4 thousand cases of influenza in the country's capital, while the Edomex only recorded 44 cases.

Daniel Hernandez, Monitering the deadly flu epidemic in Mexico, Intersections
Of course, here in Centro, the neighbors and I are re-activating the Survival Brigade. Tonight: a mask-decorating party. Naturally.
Defeña Salerosa, ,Estamos enfermos, Esta Maraña de Contradicciones [Spanish]
Psychosis. Ignorance. Paranoia. And unfortunately some Influenza.

Mexicans at this time we split into several entities. Some believe that this is a government measure to cover-up something, using the emergency as a "smokescreen, " who knows what it could be related to: narco-trafficking threats, stock market scams, etc. There are those who believe that we are certainly coming to a pandemic. Some do not want to leave home and to do so, carrying mask or a scarf (yes, despite it being this fucking hot I saw two! Scarves!).
Jim, Swine flu in Mexico timeline of events, Biosurveillance
"We were the first in the world to report this, despite claims to the contrary by CNN and Fox News"

Mexico: Concern Over Swine Flu Outbreak, Global Voices

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The aftermath of the battle for Bangkok

Controversy seems to be brewing over the government line that no Red Shirts were killed by the Thai army in the Battle for Bangkok.

At a time when local Thai journalists don't seem to be communicating adequately with the Red Shirt faction, foreign journalists and bloggers such as Le Fevre seem poised to break the big stories in post-crackdown Thailand.

John Le Fevre, Monk - I saw Thai army shoot monk and people at Din Daeng, Photo journ

Monday, April 13, 2009

Army crackdown on protesters in Bangkok

Early Monday morning Bangkok time the army moved in against "red shirt" protesters who had taken over stategic points throughout the capital. The Thai media have cited official claims that there were no fatalities during the crackdown: "The government, health officials and the military insisted there were no fatalities among the protesters" reported the Bangkok Post. Media-live bloggers cite foreign news sources that tell a different story For example, AP reported that "Thai soldiers sprayed automatic weapons fire into the air and threw tear gas to clear protesters blocking roads in the capital in the pre-dawn darkness Monday." (photo right: Tamanxzg)

Nick Nostitz, The crushing of the red shirts, New Mandala (3,000 words +, 40+ photos)
I can’t offer a complete picture . . . I had only views of where I went to photograph as things went completely out of control. I am weeks away from being able to somewhat analyze what happened. I have not even read any news article on the events right now, as I want to keep my memories as unfiltered as possible. . . . these are just my limited personal impressions of these terrible days while working almost non-stop with very little sleep or rest. This is what I have seen, experienced and photographed. . . . I just want to give a sense of how things felt on the streets.
Nick's introduction is far too modest. Here are some of the many remarkable insights to be gleaned from Nick's outstanding report, a true masterpiece of there-live blogging, complete with gorgeous photographs:
  • On the crackdown: "As I walked carefully towards the fighting, Red Shirts were running towards me, away from the sound of bursts of automatic rifles. They shouted that the Army was coming. I ran with them, my bullet proof vest, the heat and plain fear slowed me down."
  • On allegations of army killings: "Agitated Red Shirts told me of people having been killed, and dragged by soldiers into lorries. I have no way of verifying this. This was obviously not a situation where I could cross the lines and make polite inquiries."
  • On bad luck: "I realized with panic that my camera has given up. I could not make it work. . . .And that on the only Thai holiday where almost every shop is closed."
  • On being conscripted by the MSM: "Thilo Thielke, the “Spiegel” correspondent, called me, and told me that I should consider myself under assignment."
  • On attacks against the media: "Unfortunately, what many of them [red shirts] do not understand, is that Thai journalists are as divided over the political situation as the general Thai population, and many Thai journalists do not agree with the PAD or government policy. The result of these attacks was that most Thai journalists did not dare anymore to go close to the Red Shirts, and remained with the Army, even as Red Shirt leaders asked the protesters not to attack them. Part of the problem of course is that also many speeches on the stage condemned Thai media for being too partial towards the PAD. This is not too untrue, but unfortunately it results in attacks against the media. Right now only foreign journalists can safely work with Red Shirts. This is a huge problem for the future. Very few foreign journalists are fluent enough in Thai to directly speak in Thai, and too few Red Shirts speak English well enough."
  • On further allegations of killings: "'At about 4 or 5 am I went to Pitsanulok Road at the Nang Loen intersection. There were no sounds of gunshots anymore, and the fighting seemed to have dropped off. I spoke with several Red Shirt guards who told me harrowing tales of the battles, of how they have seen friends dragged away and beaten to death, and how they could not reach the corpses before they were snatched away."
  • On whether the government has been telling the truth: "Red Shirts are convinced that a number of their members have been killed (and I have strong suspicions that they are not too wrong in this assessment, but have no evidence or proof whatsoever). The government has to organise an official and neutral inquiry. And it has to stop lying that only fake bullets were used, and only fired into the air. . . . "
This is just an overview of some of Nick's insights.

Sioen, Roux Sioenroux/Flickr, (15 photos)

Nirmal Ghosh, LIVE: Bangkok skirmish, Straights Times
I'm now in a police box with a policeman monitoring CCTVs. He is in good humour. He says there is no violence elsewhere, but the Reds are burning stuff. He says he disagrees with the army's use of live ammo. One wonders how long it will be before the Reds burn buildings - something some are talking about.

This is the start of an urban-based guerrilla war, with Reds armed with sticks, stones and firebombs. It's hard to see the Democrat Party winning any election after sending the army onto the streets.

John Le Fevre, Battle for Bangkok Photo Special, Photo Journ (70 photos)

Tamanxzg in ECT, Aerial footage of Bangkok clash, Kaatip, คนนางเลิ้งปะทะคนเสื้อแดง (Nanglerng people clash with red shirt people), Kaatip blog (2000 words, 12 photos, links to videos). English translation via google; short translation and brief commentary.

Bangkok Pundit, It begins..., Bangkok Pundit

Fonzi, CNN report on Army Crackdown, Thailand Jumped the Shark

Sunny, Thai Red Shirts Protest Videos April 2009, HaPPi like a HiPPo (videos)

More on the Bangkok Protests:

In the following posts at THERELIVE.COM, I posted longer summaries of the insights I gleaned reading Nick's incredible story, and information about other live-bloggers of the protests:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Protests in Tbilisi, Georgia

A bungled war, and economic problems have led many Georgians to seriously question President Saakashvili's approach to governing Georgia. This week the NY Times reported, "Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the streets of this capital city on Thursday bearing signs and chanting slogans against President Mikheil Saakashvili, who took office five years ago with promises of a progressive, pro-Western government."

Paul Rimple, Protest update, Tbilisi Blues
I had to run home and file my story before the opposition gave the president an ultimatum to step down in 24 hours or else... or else.... or... um... they would... um... protest more.

While the 30,000 or so people that showed up was 70 grand less than the opposition had predicted. . .

What apsny [Georgian news service] didn't report was how Zourabichvili and Nino Burdjanadze the former Speaker of Parliament and leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia, eyed each other coldly on the stage.

Sophia Ebralidze, Sunday protests small, even after Saturday night vandalism, Radiobedniereba

Natalie Nozadze, Late night attack inflames tensions between government and protesters, NATALIE5N'S BLOG

Sherqqizi's blog, Second attack on Why? Public Movement Friday Night, Sherqqizi's blog
The activities of “Why?” Public movement were started by seven activists secretly. The organization began to spread banners, stickers in the street at nights. [THERELIVE: see this post] But three weeks ago they held press-conference in an underground in Freedom Square and began to open activity. They thinks that this action means to go out from darkness to freedom. The movement has 160 members from Tbilisi and 20 from Batumi.
Georgian protester gives outlook on protests, Experiences and News

I starting chatting with Jejelava about two weeks ago and since then we have spent time talking about Georgian society.

“The media, parliament, court everything belongs to Saakashvili and his group,” Jejelava wrote in a Skype message. “And, Georgian society wants to stop them.”

Twitter updates: #tbilisi.

Timeline and background
Caucus Reports, GIPA Journalism School
Tbilisi protest timeline, JOTMAN.COM
Opposition rally attendances wane, Ultimatum passes, Opposition protests, Global Voices posts by Onnik Krikorian

State of Emergency in Bangkok

The NY Times reported: "Thousands of anti-government demonstrators defied a state of emergency on Sunday, gathering in large crowds in Bangkok one day after they forced the cancellation of a 16-nation Asian summit meeting."

Nick Nostitz, The crushing of the red shirts, New Mandala (3,000 words +, 40+ photos)
  • On the scene of the attack on the Prime Minister's vehicle: "In the car were two men stuck, the driver and Democrat Secretary-General Nipon Prombhand. Red Shirt guards surrounded the car, trying to hold the angry crowd back. After taking some images, I pushed a few too aggressive Red Shirts away, and shouted at them that they should not behave like animals. . . ."

Bangkok Bugle, Bangkok's State of Emergency, Pictures from the Streets, Bangkok Bugle (text, 3 photos)
. . . one group of "red shirts" who had taken control of two armored vehicles decided it was a good idea to immobilize them and park them at one of the city's busiest intersections. The mood was light and almost carnival. . . .

Bangkok Pundit, State of Emergency: Live Blog, Bangkok Pundit

More on the Bangkok Protests:

In the following posts at THERELIVE.COM, I posted longer summaries of the insights I gleaned reading Nick's incredible story, and information about other live-bloggers of the protests:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Red shirts protest in Pattaya, site of ASEAN summit

The ASEAN summit meeting in Pattaya was indefinitely postponed -- and a state of emergency declared for Chonburi province of Thailand -- after "red shirt" demonstrators occupied the hotel at the Thai beach resort in which the leaders were scheduled to stay.

Opponents of the Thai government had staged massive demonstrations in Bangkok this week urging the ouster of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Nick Nostitz, The crushing of the red shirts, New Mandala (3,000 words +, 40+ photos); see also Comment #173.
  • On "Blue Shirts" in Pattaya: "One blue pickup truck with Blue Shirts sitting in the open back appeared transporting wooden clubs. I took photos. The Blue Shirts objected, but I did not care. . . . I recognized some Blue Shirts as PAD guards, and they also remembered me from the Government House occupation. Others of the Blue Shirts very much looked like soldiers (I was told later on that they were Navy personnel from Satthahip)."
  • On the storming of the Pattaya hotel where ASEAN leaders were to assemble: "Suddenly Red Shirts walked into the grounds directly in front of the Hotel doors. Army and police appeared to be lost for an answer. . . . One large glass window suddenly broke, and Red Shirts stood inside the Hotel. I was completely astounded, and let myself be carried with the flow of protesters who streamed into the hotel like an overflowing river." (Some of Nick's best pictures show protesters march inside the hotel while staff watch ).

Bangkok Pundit, Pattaya Clash, Bangkok Pundit

Sunny, Thai Red Shirts Protest Videos April 2009, HaPPi like a HiPPo (videos)

More on the Bangkok Protests:

In the following posts at THERELIVE.COM, I posted longer summaries of the insights I gleaned reading Nick's incredible story, and information about other live-bloggers of the protests:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Red Shirt protests in Bangkok of April 8-10

The NY Times describes the protest that began in the Thai capital on 8 April: "In an attempt to show the continued strength of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, tens of thousands of his supporters massed in central Bangkok on Wednesday and demanded the resignation of the government." Blogger/journalist Newley reports that the crowd of protesters was estimated to have numbered 60,000 to 100,000.

Nick Nostitz, The crushing of the red shirts, New Mandala (3,000 words +, 40+ photos)
  • On the police: "Most officers I asked, expressed their support for the Red Shirts, a very common statement was: “I am neutral, but my heart is red.” Many of these officers also said that their families are with the protesters. Some even changed into Red Shirts after their shift ended. . ."
  • On former Thai PM Thaksin: "April 27 Thaksin Shinawatra had his first live video link to the protesters. . . .No more fluffy . . . . This was a radical attack at Privy Council president General Prem Tinsulanonda, and other members of the Privy Council, for orchestrating the 2006 military coup."
  • On Red Shirt identity: "Not just upcountry people attended, but increasingly large numbers of middle class Bangkokians too."
  • On the relative size of a Red Shirts' protest: 8 April march on Prem's house "was the biggest mass protest I have seen during the last 3 and a half years of political turmoil in Thailand, dwarfing every single PAD protest march."
  • On a protest at night: "The atmosphere was amazing, and very intense. I photographed a group of mostly young people who had a small cart with a music system, playing heavy bass laden tunes, dancing wildly, reminding me of African tribal dances. Water was splashed around."

Ratpup, Red shirts: he who dares, Rodders, he who dares.., Ratpup
Only when I tried grabbing a taxi after this workout did I realise how much of an idiot I had been. I was wearing a yellow running shirt. And I was trying to get back to my apartment in the heart of red shirt land!

John Le Fevre, Battle for Bangkok photo special, Photo Journ
These photos were shot at the pro-democracy protest at and around Government House in Bangkok on April 8, 2009. They are presented in the order of taking. . . .

Newley Purnell, Thailand protests: Video and images from yesterday’s demonstration, Newley (text, video, photos)
While the overall mood was pro-Thaksin, some people told me they were there to demand democracy, not necessarily to support the exiled PM. Signs read “We want democracy,” “Return the power to the people” and “Where’s the justice?” Many people wore shirts that read “Truth today: it’s time for change in Thailand.”

The Nation State, An Hour with the Red Shirts at Victory Monument, The Nation State (photos, text)

Andrew Walker (editor), Closing the Streets at Victory Monument, New Mandala (photos, text)

Srithanonchai, Red shirts on the march, New Mandala (text, 12 photos)

The UDD protest was like a “monarchy-free zone.” I did not see any pictures or symbols relating to it as a motivational resource (nor as a point of attack) [...] some protestors carried the national flag. They stood in attention when the national anthem was played, ending it with “Chaiyo, chaiyo, chaiyo!” [...] their attack on the “bureaucracy” indicates that the Establishment’s ideology of “Nation, Religion, Monarchy” does not carry any much weight any longer with protesting up-country people (most of them obviously not poor peasants) [...] More immediately, as one protestor pointed out to me, they wanted Abhisit to resign, because he had come to power by using the wrong means. Shortly before he told me this, I heard the speaker on stage setting a 24-hours ultimatum for Abhisit and Prem to resign.

Cheeseong on Flickr and more at Shutter Asia (12+ photos)

Bangkok Pundit, D-Day : Semi-live blog of the UDD Rally, Bangkok PunditFurther reading:
In the following posts at THERELIVE.COM, I posted longer summaries of the insights I gleaned reading Nick's incredible story, and information about other live-bloggers of the protests:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

London G20 summit

Demonstration bloggers

Large demonstrations took place London the week of the summit. Some brave bloggers risked being assaulted by the police to bring us the truth about the London protests. Our reports survey who was there live-blogging the demonstrations:

Put People First Rally in London
London G20 protests of April 1
Demonstrations during April 2 London G20 summit

The G20 Voice Bloggers

G20 Voice, the brainchild of Oxfam's Karin Brisby, arranged for 50 bloggers to attend the G20 summit in London on 2 April 2009. These 50 bloggers were truly "there live," having been granted the same access to the event as accredited members of the mainstream media.

Sokari Ekine, (Nigerian social justice activist)
Lloyd Davis, Perfect Path (new media expert)
Daudi Were, (Kenyan blogger)
We are under-represented at these summits because we are increasingly irrelevant. On the global scene African countries have very little influence, even less power and no force at all (except against other African countries).

Jessica Uribe, and Jessicauribe (Mexico's #1 metroblog blogger)Ignacio Escolar, (journalist, Spain's top political blog)
The summit of the G20 is like an onion. Obama is at the core, the great white hope, the only politician with the popularity and international credit enough to lead a world that is falling...

Ahmed Al-Omran, (Human rights in Saudi Arabia)

Michael Bear Kleinman, Humanitarain Relief Blog for (humanitarian)

Dave Walker, Church Times Blog (cartoonist)

Duncan Green, From Poverty to Change (Oxfam)
Institutional winners and losers: The big winner, apart from the G20 itself, is the IMF, which has received a massive increase in funding and therefore influence. This is bittersweet. . .
Simon Berry, ColaLife (activist for corporate social responsibility)

Daniel Kaufmann, The Kaufman Post (governance and corruption expert)
In actuality, the most tangible result of the London Summit is the empowerment of the IMF as a global financial supervisor, stabilizer, and aid provider, through a revamped mandate and a vastly larger resource base. There is a tinge of irony in this, since historically the IMF and the U.S. Treasury Department were inextricably linked to the Washington Consensus.
Monsterrat Nicolas, Curvas Politicas (Washington DC based columnist for La Nacion)

Virginia Simons, (activism)

Alex Evans, Global Dashboard (CIC fellow, NYU)
Rowan Davies, (leading voice at Britain's #1 social network)
Todd Lucier, Climate Cafe (Canada, collaborated with Al Gore)
Diana Vogtel, 350.0rg

Swati Sahi, Swati-Owasa, OneWorld South Asia
While IMF appears to be the biggest winner, I am interested in the $100 billion that would be lent to poorest countries. Wonder if the Indian PM has something to say about it in his briefing in a little while. I think I will go pay him a visit.
Rodrigo Alvares, Nova Corja, (uncovers corruption in Brazil)
Kady O’Malley, (Canadian politics; blogs for a newsweekly)
Vikki Chowney, and (Digital media guru)
Faik Uyanik, Faik Uyanik (BBC Turkish section)

Cheryl Contee (aka Jill Tubman), (top African-American blog)
Sam Graham-Felsen, Blue State Digital blog (ran Obama campaign blog)
Anthony Painter, (author)
Dhamaka, (photographer)
Jotman, (editor, THERELIVE)Richard Murphy, Tax Research UK (offshore tax havens guru)
I. . . challenged Gordon Brown to say if he saw the measures announced as the end of the end of the attack on tax havens or the beginning of the end of tax havens. In the process I asked him to confirm that tax avoidance as well as evasion would be addressed and to confirm developing countries would benefit from change.
With the publication of the Maunday Thursday letters by Downing Street, coming in the wake of the G20 communiqué, I think the debate on tax havens has changed for good. . . .
James Simmonds, G20 Blog (youngest G20 blogger)
If I were to sum up my feelings about this event I would say that world leaders need to use the children of the world as assets and recognise that their education will be beneficial for any developing economy. When I spoke to Douglas Alexander earlier today he agreed that investing in education is one of the "smartest" things a country could do. What I want to know is how the agreement reached today will enable poorer countries to do that. That’s not really clear at the moment but I hope we will find out soon.
  • What a Day
  • Power to the people
  • Insider, me?
  • Introducing 1800 journalists, a camera crew and a 14 year old
  • Interview with Douglas Alexander
  • What happens in London certainly will not stay in London
  • What am I supposed to think
  • First impressions are important

Lani C. Villanueva, White Band

Sunball, DFID youth reporters

Joe, DFID youth reporters

- The BBC live-blogged a good timeline of the day's events.
- What's new with the G20 bloggers? Visit Simon's pageflakes page.

Photos: by Jotman.