Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Flaming Protesters

Sydney Indymedia is reporting on new millimeter wave technology:
The Active Denial system operates at about 100GHz, and what scientists discovered a few decades ago was that millimeter wave energy at about 100GHz is absorbed about a third of a millimeter into the human skin, and so it doesn't penetrate the body, but what happens is that this energy is perceived by the body as heat. The nerve endings perceive a near instantaneous increase in heat and in fact the effect is kind of like opening up a supercharged oven and feeling this heat all over your body.

Now what the body does when it experiences this is undergo something called the "flee effect"--the body just wants to get away from it; it wants to flee. When the person moves away from the millimeter waves that are causing this effect, the effect goes away, so what the military is doing now, it is investigating using this Active Denial effect as a way to what they call "assess intent."

The idea is that, as a crowd starts to descend upon an embassy, let's say, that at first you have loudspeakers broadcasting "stay away," and then when the crowd gets closer and closer, that you can expose the crowd very selectively to this Active Denial effect. If the people turn and run away, then you know that they perhaps didn't have the intent to storm the embassy, but if they turn around and start to come back again and then you again expose them to millimeter waves, then the intent is surely one that they want to take over the embassy.
Storming an embassy, is not what I would consider "protest". That didn't stop the Indymedia post having the ominous headline of "Future of Crowd Control: Burning protesters".

Burning protesters are in fact nothing new:

Elsewhere on Sydney Indymedia comes a report of a student protest in Sydney's City Centre:

A contingent of protesters from Sydney University marched down George Street at about about 1.30pm, meeting a similar contingent of students from the University of Technology, Sydney. There was also a significant union presence, esepcially from the CFMEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Enginering Union). The march was spirited, with students chanting “workers and students united will never be defeated” and singing “solidarity forever – the union makes us strong.”

There were no incidents, but police did provide officers to surround about 20 chanting students who were counter-demonstrating, holding pro-Liberal and pro-VSU placards. On marching through Sydney’s CBD and returning to Central, about 50-100 students sat down – the plan that was originally put in place by student organisers.

There was a heavy police response, leading to about 5 arrests, against a background of barking police dogs. An AAP report says that one student fell to the ground as a result of the police intervention, her head colliding with the ground. I saw several students crying after walking away form where police had intervened.
Boo hoo. Cue accusations of police brutality.

Other repoting tells a different story:
Sydney Daily Telegraph Twenty-four students protesting against the Federal Government's higher education policy have been arrested during a sit-in at one of Sydney's busiest intersections.

The protesters sat down in the middle of the intersection at Railway Square, near Central Station and refused to move.
The Police claim:
“I would like to congratulate the vast majority of the protestors on their conduct after they complied with police however it is disappointing when a small group of people defied a number of official police directions to move from their sitting which was unreasonably obstructing George Street, Sydney.

“At this time Operation Support Group Police formed up to move the protestors off the roadway however 24 people refused to move and were arrested. It was at this time that I gave the order for protestors to be arrested and the Public Order and Riot Squad made 24 arrests. All but one of these people have been issued with infringement notices for the offences of disobey reasonable direction and obstruct traffic.

“A 20-year-old woman was charged with disobey reasonable direction, obstruct traffic, hinder police and resist arrest after a violent confrontation with officers.
Presumably this was the student who "fell to the ground".

It seems fairly straightforward. Students, determined to execute a Corrie-esque act of protest, block a major traffic intersection. The police asked them to move and they refused. The Police physically removed them... The bastards!

Maybe the protesters should have taken their chances playing chicken with oncoming traffic instead.

Update: Aussie Megablogger Tim Blair has more noting that Australian National Union of Students makes for a classy acronym. Comments suggested the protesters be made one with the roadway. Romeo Mike's shares some thoughts as well, including the failure of the ABC - mainstream media. It's a shame that despite its claim, and an obvious need, Indymedia doesn't come close to competing with the MSM.

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