How the State Department reaches out to U.S. citizens abroad
Police disperse rioters in Birmingham, England Photo by: Getty Images
August 9th, 2011
06:19 PM ET

How the State Department reaches out to U.S. citizens abroad

As riots sweep several British cities, the U.S. State Department is cautioning Americans in the U.K. to avoid areas of civil unrest, monitor local media reports and not engage in any debates that might turn violent.

The guidance, carried on the website of the U.S. Embassy in London, is part of a well-oiled warning system the State Department has used for decades to alert Americans living or traveling in countries around the world of everything from terrorist threats to hurricanes.

Monday, the State Department issued an updated travel warning on Pakistan, cautioning U.S. citizens that Americans in the country have been "arrested, deported, harassed, and detained" for visa violations and noting that the number of U.S. citizens arrested, detained and prosecuted for overstaying their Pakistani visas "increased markedly across the country."

How does the State Department decide when to issue a travel warning as opposed to simple guidance?

Michelle Bernier-Toth, managing director of the department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services, told CNN, "It's all premised on the 'no-double -standard' policy.

"If we have threat or security information that is specific, credible and noncounterable," she said, "and that we're warning our own personnel about, we have an obligation to share that information with the public so that American citizens residing or traveling abroad can make informed decisions about their activities."

Some people in developing nations have questioned whether the State Department pulls its punches in issuing travel warnings for Western European countries, especially when those warnings might scare off American tourists, creating economic problems for the given country.

"Not at all," Bernier-Toth said. "We issue emergency messages, formerly known as warden messages, around the world. We issued them routinely in Europe, for example," this summer over demonstrations in several cities.

"It has nothing to do with the political situation; it has nothing to do with bilateral relations with the country. Our primary focus is to get information about a security situation to the American public."

Right now, the State Department website includes 35 countries in its list of travel warning countries. Several of them - Syria, Libya and Yemen, for example - have been torn by violence during Arab Spring demonstrations.

Travel warnings are issued, Bernier-Toth explained, when situations in a given country could pose a risk to U.S. citizens living or traveling there. Americans might not be deliberately targeted but they might be caught up in the violence, for example, in drug violence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"We monitor what is going on," she said, "in consultation with security experts in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, with counter-terrorism experts, with embassies and consulates on the ground who have first-hand information."

Travel warnings usually are issued in situations that the State Department considers to be a long-term, chronic threat, such as crime or terrorism. But the U.S. also issues warnings whenever it pulls out U.S. government staff or dependents from a mission abroad, even though the turmoil or crisis might be relatively short-lived

The next level down in the State Department's warning system is travel alerts. They are issued in the case of short-term problems, such as hurricanes or upcoming elections in a country that might turn violent.

Travel alerts have expiration dates, Bernier-Toth said. "As we approach that expiration date we review the situation and say 'What's going on now? Is there something that's continuing?' Or maybe the local government has it under control. We can let it lapse or move that information into the country-specific information."

Country-specific information, she says, is on the department's website and includes every country in the world. "It's our version of the Lonely Planet Guide," she laughed.

Things like what travelers need to know before they set out for a given country: Crime information, road safety, special requirements, unusual criminal penalties, health conditions, entry-exit requirements, dual-nationality information.

To get the word out the State Department uses everything from the latest social network sites to the radio.

"We leave it to our embassies abroad to determine what is the best way, the most efficient way to disseminate information to the American community, given the technological capabilities of that country," Bernier-Toth said.

In London the embassy uses Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites. In other countries U.S. embassies may use e-mail or texting. In some developing nations they may use ham radio - "communicating with missionaries out in the brush," she said.

Issuing warnings and alerts, Bernier-Toth said, can have economic and political implications. We "recognize that the host country may not appreciate whatever the message is," she said.

"Nonetheless, we make sure that the no-double-standard policy is adhered to, explaining to the host government this is not a reflection of our bilateral relationship, this is simply a statement of the security situation as we have assessed it. And as we have determined that we need to put this information out. Our message is our message."

The State Department's warning system is on their website: travel.state.gov

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Erix

    08.18.11 at 3:17 pmMustafaI have so many problems with this utstaiion that i don't even know where to start. Why is Game such an idiot? Why is this even a story? Who calls the police? lol! If game is attached to the story then it's bound to be an smh moment

    April 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  2. rajeev

    http://www.salon.com/news/england/index.html?story=/news/feature/2011/08/12/britains_prime_minister_only_makes_things_worse

    Britain's prime minister only makes things worse

    David Cameron's authoritarian response deliberately misses the root cause of the riots - England's grim future

    To many looking from the outside, the recent unrest in Britain may have come as something of a surprise. Recent months have seen repeated protests, occupations, strikes and huge trade union marches, but street protests with seemingly no rhyme or reason were surely out of the question. With unfortunate timing, one British commentator, Nick Cohen, wrote a piece earlier this month titled "No riots here. Just quiet, ever-deeper misery," arguing that "the wider public remains resigned rather than enraged; indifferent rather than incandescent." The student protests of November and December last year were limited outbursts, no more, many agreed; the establishment consensus was that most people would grumpily carry on even in the face of huge cuts to public services, massive unemployment and more severe austerity measures to come.

    So what did happen in Britain last week? Analysis, or rather refusal to analyze, came thick and fast: This was the work of a mindless criminal underclass, of those who merely wanted expensive new sneakers but didn’t want to pay for them, and so on. The original trigger for the unrest - the fatal shooting of a black man from a deprived part of London - was quickly lost in the storm. Although many have tried to keep the backdrop of serious and long-term police racism and harassment as part of the discussion, reasonable voices have been drowned out in favor of an "act now, think later" approach.

    Of course, riots in Britain are nothing new, despite our attempt to brand ourselves as the eccentric, deferential land of Harry Potter and grandiose Royal Weddings. Over the last week, many have been reminded of the riots that took place in Brixton and Tottenham in the early to mid-1980s. Have things changed much since then? Some of the context is depressingly familiar - police brutality and racist harassment, massive unemployment, child poverty, lack of social mobility and blatant economic inequality. Many have been keen to paint the recent disorder as mere criminality, unrelated to any political issues or demands - except the desire to loot electronic goods. Indeed, over the past 20 years or so, it certainly feels like there has been a moratorium on any alternative narratives or motivations - conspicuous consumption for those that can afford it, massive debt for those who can’t, but above all the imperative to spend for the sake of an increasingly uncertain economy.

    One particular trend that has certainly increased since the unrest of the early 1980s is steady gentrification, and it has had ever-eroding effects on urban life. The inequalities of British cities, where incredibly the rich live side-by-side with the profoundly dispossessed, are the visual marker of a deeper trend: the pushing out from urban environments of anyone without money, anyone who cannot afford to own property, who cannot find a job, or can find only badly paid menial work. When millionaire politicians - many of whom have themselves been found guilty of stealing taxpayers' money to pay for second homes and expensive consumer goods - attack people for theft and criminality, they make it clear once again that there is one rule for the rich and powerful and another for the poor.

    And now - the crackdown. In an emergency session of Parliament, Prime Minister David Cameron declared that "we will do whatever it takes to restore law and order." His proposals were unusually concrete: more police on the street, more arrests and more prosecutions. CCTV footage will be used; no "phony human rights concerns" will stand in the way of publishing photographs of supposed offenders. Face-coverings can be removed by police whenever they feel like it, curfews are an option - "Nothing is off the table," Cameron said. In the run-up to the Olympics next year, the government is "cracking down," just as it has been against students and other protesters in recent months, going so far as to "pre-arrest" many suspected activists in the run-up to the Royal Wedding in April.

    As of Friday morning, around 1,600 people have been arrested, with at least 500 charged, many in makeshift overnight courts. The sentences are incredibly harsh - six months for one student with no previous criminal record for stealing water worth $5.70 (American), four months for an 18-year-old man in Manchester for swearing at the police. The majority of those sentenced so far, according to the Guardian, are "overwhelmingly young, male and unemployed."

    The authoritarian response of the British government to the disturbances is a worrying sign of things to come. The only "context" permitted in the public discourse is the old, regressive idea that families, particularly single mothers, are to blame for "lawlessness." This misplaced moralism is a deliberate attempt to avoid addressing the real causes of the unrest - inequality, poverty, unemployment and a lack of alternative narratives. The immediate future for Britain looks grim: increasing state repression, increased fear and suspicion of the urban poor, increased social divisions along class and racial lines, more blame and punishment and zero understanding. In other words, the very things that created the unrest in the first place.

    August 13, 2011 at 11:20 am | Reply
  3. rajeev

    Will Riots In The Streets Lead To Crackdowns On Internet Freedom?

    Because the internet is a form of the public, restrictions on social media could be applied to the streets (and vice versa).

    The government is contemplating tactics against the UK riots that set dangerous precedents.

    In Parliament today, prime minister David Cameron said authorities and the industry were looking at "whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality". Well, at least he did posit it as a question of right and wrong.

    It would be wrong, sir. Who is to say what communication and content should be banned from whom on what platform? On my BlackBerry? My computer? My telephone? My street corner?

    Cameron also said, according to a Guardian tweet, that he would look at asking online services to take down offending photos. Again, who decides that content is offending? If you give authority to government and telco and social companies to censor that, what else can and will they censor?

    Beware, sir. If you take these steps, what separates you from the Saudi government demanding the ability to listen to and restrict its BBM networks? What separates you from Arab tyrannies cutting off social communication via Twitter or from China banning it?

    This regulatory reflex further exposes the danger of British government thinking it can and should regulate media. Beware, my friends. When anyone's speech is not free, no one's speech is free. I refer the honourable gentleman to this. Censorship is not the path to civility. Only speech is.

    There is also debate about tactics to restrict anonymity in public. Cameron wants police to have the authority "in certain circumstances" to require face masks to be removed: instead of a burqa ban, a hoodie ban. One MP in the current debate also suggested rioters be sprayed with indelible ink. In addition, Cameron said that CCTV pictures – and, one assumes, pictures on social networks and the afore-derided BBM – would be used to identity and arrest rioters. I understand the motive and goal to control crime. I don't necessarily oppose the moves, for I argue in Public Parts that what one does in public is public.

    But again, be aware of the precedents these actions would set. Be aware how they could be used under other circumstances. In Public Parts, I compare the use of social media to identity Egyptian secret police from ID photos taken from their liberated headquarters with the use of social media to identity protestors in Iran. A tool used for good can be used for bad.

    The bottom line of these debated tactics would be this: anonymity would be banned in public; it would require that one be public in public.

    Right now, online, we are having many debates about anonymity and identity.

    So now we need to look at how the public street in London compares with the public street on the internet, on Facebook, Twitter, BBM, blogs and newspapers. What government does on the streets it could do on the internet, and vice versa. Each is a form of a public.

    I was just writing a post defending the need for anonymity and pseudonymity online for the use of protestors and whistleblowers and the oppressed and vulnerable. I was also writing to defend social services that try to require real identity as their prerogative to set the tone of their services (rather than discussing that in the context of Facebook or Google+, look at it in the context of, say, LinkedIn, where pseudonymity would rob it of its essential utility and value). I was going to suggest that services such as Google+ find a middle ground where real identity is encouraged – even with verification of true identity as an optional service – but pseudonymity is permitted, with more power given not to the service but to the user to filter people and media and comments on that basis (allow me as a user to, for example, read the comments of people who have the courage to stand behind their words with their names). There is much nuance to be grappled with in these issues and in these new circumstances.

    But now come the UK riots and the debate over what to do about them, raising these same issues in a new context – the street – with a new player: the government. The proper debate, I argue in Public Parts, should be held not in the specifics of these matters but instead as principles.

    Restricting speech cannot be done except in the context of free speech.

    When debating public identity, one must decide what a public is.

    These are not easy issues, any of them, in any of these contexts. So I would urge my British friends to be careful about enabling their government to impose restrictions on the public.

    Alternet.org

    August 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  4. what the hell??

    Well well, all this is happening in the UK! This started when a young man was killed by the police, the youths got upset and riots broke out,they tossed stones at windows as they set fire to some buildings and cars! A bit of recent history, about six (6) months ago in a far away land called "Libya", people got upset and started rioting as well, but in libya, AK-47s were udes instead of stones, and the rest is history...no fly zone, monies and arms to the rioters, and so on and so forth...smells like double stadard to me.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:14 am | Reply
  5. rajeev

    Rich Executives Spend Millions For Bodyguards To Guard Them From Populist Anger

    Meet World Protection Group Inc.'s private bodyguards, the latest trend in corporate spending.

    he Primary, tall and flinty with a graying goatee, has decided he's in the mood for shopping, a development that's got David Perez all worked up. I'm sitting with Perez in a Chevy Silverado in downtown Santa Monica. A fit ex-Marine, Perez is in charge of the Primary's six-man protection detail. For 20 minutes, we've been waiting around in a grocery store parking lot, but now the Primary has parked his Porsche 911 Carrera at a shopping strip nearly a mile away. Though Perez already has three "countersurveillance" experts on the scene, he's antsy to join them. His client has a stalker, whom one of the team members had spotted earlier. The Silverado crawls through glacial traffic. "You're driving like an old lady!" Perez barks. "Catch the green!"

    Perez and his partner Mike Gomez, a bodyguard resembling The Sopranos' Silvio, finally track down their client at a Barnes & Noble. Two of the countersurveillance guys go back to scouting for menaces, while Perez and Gomez, both of whom are trained sharpshooters and martial-arts experts, step in as the Primary's "close protection" team. Shoppers stare at the entourage, straining to recognize someone famous.

    The men form a barrier around their client as he stops to watch a street-magic act, browses racks at Armani Exchange, wanders in and out of a Hooters and past a Gap. And that's when everything goes haywire. The stalker sprints around a corner, trailed by one of the countersurveillance guys. He lunges at the entourage. Gomez wraps the Primary in his beefy arms and yanks him away. The other agent intercepts the assailant mid-lunge and pins him against the wall with his elbows. "He's out of play," says the Primary. The agent and the stalker untangle their arms and laugh.

    The entire scenario was a training drill staged by the World Protection Group Inc., an executive protection company with offices in Beverly Hills, New York, and Mexico City. The man playing the Primary, not a real CEO but a former Secret Service agent and narc, asked that I not use his name because, he says, he often works undercover in Mexico. Earlier that morning, he had lectured a group of trainees—WPG employees and freelancers shelling out $575 for the session—about the wide, wide world of corporate security: "You are going to find yourself in places six months or a year from now that you never thought you would get to," he said. On a screen behind him, a well-dressed couple strolled from a Learjet to a Jaguar, framed by a neon sunset.

    There are no reliable numbers on the growth of executive protection (EP), but the experts I spoke with say it has expanded at a rapid clip since the 1980s, with dozens of new players breaking into the game. That happens to be the same period during which the top 1 percent of US earners nearly tripled their annual income (PDF). More than a few of them, it seems, have felt compelled to hire men with guns.

    I sat down with Kent Moyer, WPG's founder and CEO, in his cramped office. Moyer is trim, balding, and middle-aged. He got into private security back in the early '90s, serving a five-year stint as a bodyguard for Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion. "I could write a book on just the things that I saw," he told me, "but I get paid not to write that book." He was hired, he says, because he could knock heads; he'd placed fourth in the International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-do Federation championship and later trained with Steven Seagal in aikido. For a while, he played B-movie villains, like a neo-Nazi in 1994's Femme Fontaine: Killer Babe for the CIA.

    Moyer quickly learned that protecting Hef was less a matter of brawn than of discreet surveillance and detailed planning. By the early aughts he'd launched WPG, with a top Hollywood talent agency as his first client. The collapse of the World Trade Center towers proved a boon for executive protection; soon after, WPG began landing corporate clients, and sales shot up by 40 to 50 percent.

    Like most security professionals, Moyer won't name his clients. About 20 percent are celebrities and entertainers, he says, while the rest are wealthy individuals and corporate executives. The firm has protected senators, congressmen, former secretaries of state, and members of the Saudi royal family. As the business grew, Moyer took some time off to attend Wharton's Advanced Management Program. Executive protection "is about more than sending an off-duty cop out with a gun," he explains. "If it came to any kind of semi-organized attack, those guys would get dead real quick, because they don't have any kind of game plan."

    In 2009, EP firms discovered a powerful marketing tool in the outrage over bank bailouts. "There has never been this kind of populist anger before," Eden Mendel, director of security consulting at Kroll, a risk advisory firm, told the Financial Times. "When executives are revealed on television with bonuses they become a target." Nearly 80 percent of executives polled by the American Society for Industrial Security agreed that "the need for security has increased in the current economic climate," with "general increases in crime" and "employee layoffs" cited as the biggest threats. Executive protection firms like WPG, 360 Group International Inc., and the Steele Foundation reported revenue spikes of 30 to 50 percent in 2009, despite the recession. "Our business gets better as the economy gets worse," Moyer told me.

    The protection boom shows no sign of abating, despite a weaker-than-expected feedstock of anarchy—violent crime in the United States is at its lowest level in decades. Workplace violence, too, remains in a steady decline, says Eugene Ferraro, founder of a security consultancy called Business Controls Inc., which manages workplace-safety hotlines for 23,000 clients. "An executive who has ever really been confronted and their life threatened? That's kind of hard to find," he adds.

    So why have top execs (and/or their boards) become such security nuts? One factor involves the need to do business in the developing world—WPG claims it can provide services in 70 countries—but that doesn't explain the domestic demand. Ferraro chalks it up to paranoia. "I get the calls," he says. "They say, 'Oh my God, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal, the sky is falling!'" The tendency of business leaders to "think over the horizon and anticipate problems" is causing them to act like they're in Mexico City or Baghdad, Ferraro says. Besides, why not play it safe when shareholders are picking up the tab? Since 2006, when publicly traded companies began disclosing corporate perks, spending on CEO security has increased an average of 15 percent a year. (Michael Dell's compensation package, for instance, includes $1.2 million for security.)

    Another big part of EP's appeal might simply be executive convenience. Protection firms claim that they can save executives an average of 90 minutes a day by conducting "advances" of venues, having cars and elevators waiting, and thwarting unwanted advances from employees, media—whomever. "The neat thing is that we've worked all this stuff out for you," Moyer says. "You don't have to worry about it." If the Primary needs his Starbucks fix, he's likely to sit in a locked car checking email while his protector fetches a Grande.

    Moyer prides himself on allowing the hoi polloi to vent their frustrations after being refused an audience with the client. "Even if you are not going to let them meet with your principal, I sit down and talk to them," he says. "That is sometimes all people need." But occasionally it can be hard to know whom to admit into a client's inner orbit. While on the job not long ago, Gomez moved to stiff-arm a thuggish-looking man—it was Jeff Zucker, then president of NBC Universal.

    At WPG's training day, Gomez got a second chance to test his power of discernment. Back on Santa Monica's crowded Third Street Promenade, the Primary didn't seem to recognize a smiling man who approached, claiming to know him. Gomez raised his arms to keep the man away, but it was just a diversion. From another part of the crowd, two attackers hurled themselves at the Primary. The agents sprang to meet them with palm jabs and elbow thrusts. Sunglasses were smashed, a cellphone was sent clattering, and bodies hit the pavement as shoppers gawked. Then the men got up and shook hands—the Primary was untouched.

    Off to one side, a frail street person was taking it all in. "Hey guys," he beckoned to the pumped-up team members as they headed off to grab lunch. "Can I get you to give a dollar to save the hungry people of Los Angeles?"

    Alternet.org

    August 11, 2011 at 9:40 am | Reply
  6. rajeev

    Violence spreads beyond London
    For 5 days now hordes of people have been looting and rioting in protest of the killing of an unarmed man, Mark Duggan. Many are concerned about the security of London and fear that the local authorities won't be able to control these mobs. Now the London riots have sparked other riots in other parts of the country. According to some reports the murder of Duggan was just a catalyst to a culture of other underlined issues. Michael Ruppert, founder of the Collapse Network, gives us his insight on what's going on in London.
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-ZXOOvpxsY&w=640&h=360]

    August 10, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  7. rajeev

    I’m huddled in the front room with some shell-shocked friends, watching my city burn. The BBC is interchanging footage of blazing cars and running street battles in Hackney, of police horses lining up in Lewisham, of roiling infernos that were once shops and houses in Croydon and in Peckham. Britain is a tinderbox, and on Friday, somebody lit a match. How the hell did this happen? And what are we going to do now?

    In the scramble to comprehend the riots, every single commentator has opened with a ritual condemnation of the violence, as if it were in any doubt that arson, muggings and lootings are ugly occurrences. That much should be obvious to anyone who watched Croydon burn down on the BBC. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, called the disorder 'mindless, mindless'. Nick Clegg denounced it as 'needless, opportunistic theft and violence'. Speaking from his Tuscan holiday villa, Prime Minister David Cameron – who has finally decided to return home to take charge – declared simply that the social unrest searing through the poorest boroughs in the country was "utterly unacceptable." The violence on the streets is being dismissed as ‘pure criminality,’ as the work of a ‘violent minority’, as ‘opportunism.’ This is madly insufficient. It is no way to talk about viral civil unrest. Angry young people with nothing to do and little to lose are turning on their own communities, and they cannot be stopped, and they know it. In one of the greatest cities in the world, society is ripping itself apart.

    Violence is rarely mindless. The politics of a burning building, a smashed-in shop or a young man shot by police may be obscured even to those who lit the rags or fired the gun, but the politics are there. Unquestionably there is far, far more to these riots than the death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting sparked off the unrest on Saturday, when two police cars were set alight after a five-hour vigil at Tottenham police station. A peaceful protest over the death of a man at police hands, in a community where locals have been given every reason to mistrust the forces of law and order, is one sort of political statement. Raiding shops for technology and trainers that cost ten times as much as the benefits you’re no longer entitled to is another. A co-ordinated, viral wave of civil unrest across the poorest boroughs of Britain, with young people coming from across the capital and the country to battle the police, is another.

    Months of conjecture will follow these riots. Already, the internet is teeming with racist vitriol and wild speculation. The truth is that very few people know why this is happening. They don’t know, because they were not watching these communities. Nobody has been watching Tottenham since the television cameras drifted away after the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985. Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news. In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

    "Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

    "Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

    Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere ‘’’

    There are communities all over the country that nobody paid attention to unless there had recently been a riot or a murdered child. Well, they’re paying attention now.

    Social order and the rule of law have broken down entirely. The city has been brought to a standstill; it is not safe to go out onto the streets. The looting and arson attacks have spread to at least fifty different areas across the UK, including dozens in London, and communities are now turning on each other, with the Guardian reporting on rival gangs forming battle lines. It has become clear to the disenfranchised young people of Britain, who feel that they have no stake in society and nothing to lose, that they can do what they like, and the police are utterly unable to stop them. That is what riots are all about.

    Riots are about power, and they are about catharsis. They are not about poor parenting, or youth services being cut, or any of the other snap explanations that media pundits have been trotting out: structural inequalities, as a friend of mine remarked today, are not solved by a few pool tables. People riot because it makes them feel powerful, even if only for a night. People riot because they have spent their whole lives being told that they are good for nothing, and they realise that together they can do anything – literally, anything at all. People to whom respect has never been shown riot because they feel they have little reason to show respect themselves, and it spreads like fire on a warm summer night. And now people have lost their homes, and the country is tearing itself apart.

    No one expected this. The so-called leaders who have taken three solid days to return from their foreign holidays to a country in flames did not anticipate this. The people running Britain had absolutely no clue how desperate things had become. They thought that after thirty years of soaring inequality, in the middle of a recession, they could take away the last little things that gave people hope, the benefits, the jobs, the possibility of higher education, the support structures, and nothing would happen. They were wrong. And now my city is burning, and it will continue to burn until we stop the blanket condemnations and blind conjecture and try to understand just what has brought viral civil unrest to Britain. Let me give you a hint: it ain’t Twitter.

    Now is the time when we make our choices. Now is the time when we decide whether to descend into hate, or to put prejudice aside and work together. Now is the time when we decide what sort of country it is that we want to live in. Follow the #riotcleanup hashtag on Twitter. And take care of one another.

    Alternet

    August 10, 2011 at 10:11 am | Reply
  8. rajeev

    London Burns as Riots Spread
    It's the 4th night of riots in London and what started off as a peaceful vigil on Saturday in Tottenham for the death of Mark Duggan, who it now turns out, had been killed with one shot by police, and had not fired first according to ballistic test results. Social media is already becoming a central issue....as rioters first organized through Blackberry Messenger, were encouraged on Twitter, and now even Google Facial recognition technology will be used to identify those whose pictures have been posted online. New Statesman's Laurie Penny reports from on the ground.
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4O_C-42DYg&w=640&h=360]

    August 10, 2011 at 8:07 am | Reply

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