Anonymous Documentary We Are Legion Peels Back Hacktivist Group’s History

By Angela Water | January 22, 2012 | 11:33 am

PARK CITY, Utah — New documentary We Are Legion puts an actual human face on Anonymous, the hacktivist group whose members usually are seen wearing Guy Fawkes masks — if they are seen at all.

Considering Anonymous’ retaliatory acts against websites run by the Department of Justice and the entertainment industry just last week in response to the government takedown of file-sharing site Megaupload, We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists could almost be mistaken for a 93-minute news segment.
But unlike most news segments about the group, the documentary contains genuine moments with actual Anons (some maintain their anonymity in the doc, but others don’t).

“The last two or three days we’ve seen a lot of what Anonymous does,” We Are Legion director Brian Knappenberger said in an interview with Wired.com here Saturday, the morning after the documentary’s premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival. “You know, there was a film about the Weather Underground that came out a few years ago, and that was made 30 years after they were blowing up buildings, and I love that film. But picture making a film like that while they were still blowing up buildings — that’s what I’m talking about.”

We Are Legion might be the first to portray the group’s members as true revolutionaries, and it could serve as a time capsule if the kind of online sit-ins and retaliatory strikes that Anonymous has helped create become the new model for civil disobedience across the globe.

For those who didn’t hear of Anonymous until Occupy Wall Street started up, We Are Legion effectively puts the group’s current incarnation in historical perspective. The documentary traces the roots of early hacker-activist groups like the Cult of the Dead Cow and Electronic Disturbance Theater before jumping into Anonymous’ roots in 4chan.

The documentary goes deep. Speaking with current and former Anonymous participants — as well as Wired writers Ryan Singel and Steven Levy — Knappenberger gives a thorough chronological account of Anonymous’ exploits, up to the group’s current place at the forefront of online disobedience.

Starting with Mercedes Renee Haefer, who was arrested in conjunction with the denial-of-service attacks against online payment service PayPal last July, the documentary talks to Anons and experts about Anonymous’ vendetta against Scientology, defense of WikiLeaks, and support of the actions in Tunisia and Egypt during the Arab Spring.

Slamdance, the underground alternative movie fest that runs during the Sundance Film Festival here each year, seems like the perfect place for We Are Legion‘s primer on Anonymous. The film might have seemed out of place at a glitzy Hollywood-in-the-hills screening.

“It feels right,” Knappenberger said of the premiere. “Slamdance has a kind of undercurrent of revolutionary, counterculture, slightly anarchic vibe that just seemed to fit [the film] right away.”

Knappenberger is looking for distribution for his film so it can be seen by a wider audience. It seems possible that Hollywood backers will shy away from a film about Anonymous after the group’s actions against the Motion Picture Association of America and other entertainment industry power players. But Knappenberger said he isn’t worried.

“I just want to tell the story,” he said, adding that considering Anonymous’ various targets over the years, “Who aren’t I offending?”

He could also take advice from his subject Haefer, who in the film says that what Anonymous ultimately hopes to protect is freedom of speech, regardless of a person’s opinions or background.

Or, as she says simply, “Your opinion matters.”

Anonymous Documentary We Are Legion Peels Back Hacktivist Group's History | Underwire | Wired.com.

Greek Suicide: Austerity Measures In Greece Lead To Elderly Man Killing Self In Syntagma Square

By NICHOLAS PAPHITIS 04/04/12 01:50 PM ET


A Greek Orthodox priest holds a memorial service, at the site where an elderly man fatally shot himself at Athens’ main Syntagma square, on Wednesday, April 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS, Greece — A Greek retiree shot himself dead in the busiest public square in Athens during morning rush hour Wednesday, leaving a note police said linked his suicide with the country’s acute financial woes.

Hours later, more than 1,500 anti-austerity protesters gathered in the square, responding to social media calls for peaceful demonstrations accusing Greek politicians of driving people to despair with harsh cutbacks implemented to secure vital international bailouts.

Limited scuffles broke out between the protesters and riot police, who used a small amount of pepper spray to repel youths throwing bottles of water at them.

The 77-year-old retired pharmacist drew a handgun and shot himself in the head near a subway exit on central Syntagma Square which was crowded with commuters, police said. The square, opposite Greece’s Parliament, is a focal point for public protests.

The incident jolted public opinion and quickly entered political debate, with the prime minister and the heads of both parties backing Greece’s governing coalition expressing sorrow.

“A pharmacist ought to be able to live comfortably on his pension,” said Vassilis Papadopoulos, a spokesman for the “I won’t pay” group. “So for him to reach the point of suicide out of economic hardship means a lot. It shows how the social fabric is unraveling.”

Greece has relied on international rescue loans since May 2010. To secure them, Athens implemented harsh austerity measures, slashing pensions and salaries while repeatedly raising taxes. But the belt-tightening worsened the recession and led to thousands of job losses that left one in five Greeks unemployed.

“As a Greek, I am truly shocked,” Dimitris Giannopoulos, an Athens doctor, said before the protest. “I am shocked because I see that (the government is) destroying my dignity … and the only thing they care about are bank accounts.”

Police said a handwritten note was found on the retired pharmacist’s body in which he attributed his decision to the debt crisis.

According to a text of the note published by local media, the man said the government had made it impossible for him to survive on the pension he had paid into for 35 years. “I find no other solution than a dignified end before I start searching through the trash for food,” read the note. Police did not confirm whether it was genuine.

Greece has seen an increase in suicides over the past two years of economic hardship, during which the country repeatedly teetered on the brink of bankruptcy.

Police did not release the pharmacist’s name and offered few other details.

By Wednesday evening, dozens of written messages had been pinned to the tree under which the man shot himself, some reading: “It was a murder, not a suicide,” and “Austerity kills.”

Hundreds of protesters made their way across the street from the square to outside Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, chanting: “This was not a suicide, it was a state-perpetrated murder” and “Blood flows and seeks revenge.”

Dozens of riot police stood guard.

Papadopoulos, the protest organizer, said the suicide shows Greeks can take no more austerity.

“This suicide is political in nature and heavy in symbolism. It’s not like a suicide at home,” Papadopoulos said in a telephone interview. “There was a political suicide note, and it happened in front of a clearly political site, Parliament, where the austerity measures are approved.”

Prime Minister Loucas Papademos issued a statement as protesters gathered at the site of the suicide.

“It is tragic for one of our fellow citizens to end his life,” he said. “In these difficult hours for our society we must all – the state and the citizens – support the people among us who are desperate.”

Government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis described the incident as “a human tragedy,” but said it should not become part of the political debate.

“I don’t know the exact circumstances that led that man to his act,” Kapsis said. “I believe we must all remain calm and show respect for the true events, which we do not yet fully know.”

Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the Socialist party, said the suicide “is so overwhelming that it renders any political comment unbecoming and cheap.”

“Let us reflect on the condition of the country and of our society in terms of solidarity and cohesion,” said Venizelos, who served as finance minister for eight months before resigning to lead the Socialists.

Conservative party head Antonis Samaras said the tragedy highlighted the urgency of getting Greece out of the crisis.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first (suicide),” he said. “They have reached record levels.”

_____

Associated Press Television News’ Efty Katsareas contributed.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Greek Suicide: Austerity Measures In Greece Lead To Elderly Man Killing Self In Syntagma Square.

1,500 OWS protesters on the move in NY

Published: 22 March, 2012, 10:36

Occupy Wall Street protestors react as they are told to remove banners and signs from an area of Union Square Park in New York City by police March 21, 2012

Over a thousand Occupy Wall Street protesters have gathered in NY’s Union Square late on Wednesday, activists say. This follows a violent crackdown on protesters earlier in the day which left one woman injured and at least one person arrested.

The fresh OWS march started from Union Square, spilling into the streets of New York, which the city police were hurriedly trying to block. The Union Square subway station was also closed, organizers said in their live feed, in order to prevent more demonstrators joining the rally.

The protests received popular support with people hanging out their windows along the march’s route, banging pots and chanting. Protesters reported taxis honking their horns in a show of solidarity.

About 500 police officers barricaded the square, where occupiers were chanting “No justice? No peace!” Still, there have been no immediate reports of arrests.

Angered by police brutality towards demonstrators, OWS protesters have announced another rally for March 24, calling for supporters to gather at NYC’s Liberty Square.

A large protest rally is also planned for May 1. Organizers are calling on people to skip their work or school and take to the streets to protest against brutal arrests.

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