Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A cause with 100,00 faces

With the Flood Wall Street protests filling the news and Twitter feeds today it seems like a timely moment to reflect on climate movements through time.  Reclaim the Streets, Climate Camp and Occupy were the three big ones that happened in my lifetime.  I suspect that these urban invasions of green-painted, animistic protestors dancing to drums all owe their existence to London's Stop the City protests (1980s) and before that, the Reclaiming movement (1970s) and possibly even the Peasants' Revolt of 1381.

All were omnibus movements that brought together countless small, grassroots groups and individual activists from the countryside and suburbs, and took to the big city streets to confront the real sources of pollution and corruption head-on, in its faceless inner-city fortresses. 

In the extract below, you can read what the scene was like at one such demonstration in London in June 1999.  Called J18 it was part of an international day of action aimed at ending environmental, financial and social breakdown, similar to the international day of protest last Sunday that aimed to send a message to the UN Climate Conference happening in New York City today.

But first, here are some great images taken from famous pavement-stomping marches around the world... 
Climate Camp staged a never-ending sit-in in.  London 2009

Reclaim the Streets 1995: demonstrators bought this car & trashed it

Idle No More (above/below) marched on Canadian capitals in 2013

Solstice demonstration by Reclaiming movement in San Francisco

Seattle's N30 protest against the WTO in 1999

Stop the City in London 1983.

The story is taken from my new novel Vote Tekno Party - and you can read more of it by following this link!
Occupy protestor in NYC in 2011

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Berlin's Urban Monsters - A Virtual Tour

You may not realize this, but the human residents of Berlin don't just share the city with rats, wasps, sparrows and dogs. They also share it with a raft of fantastic and frightening creatures; quasi-mythical beings that lurk on secluded walls throughout the city. Born out of the primordial soup of artistic imagination, they silently broadcast sinister visions to the world without any input from it. Though they're made of the same stuff as other street art, they creep up on the viewer or shock him in a way that ordinary grafitti does not. They are the city's urban monsters.
Berlin's most famous urban monster, Molecule Man, is a metallic colossus that juts out of the Spree near An den Treptowers bridge, like a knife pinpointing the spot where art breaches the mundane surface of the city.
Yesterday, I found out that the area around An den Treptowers is a veritable wildlife sanctuary for other forms of urban monster too. While walking along the water below it, I spotted several deformed creations creeping along the abandoned shell of an old park WC.
Next to it, a small shed was wrapped in Gothic line drawings:
As I kept walking I came across a red-faced troll waiting under An den Treptowers bridge ...
...and a two-headed troll guarding the rail bridge.
It wasn't long before I realized there were urban monsters all around me. If you were just passing through, you would never know that there are monsters living on the flipside of the bridge's blank facade. They have to hide from their natural predators: grafitti removers, builders and city planners.

I have come across other manifestations of Berlin's subconscious since coming here. There was the abstract crane in Landsberger Allee...
...plus this complex mural in Friedrichshain...
...neither of which still exists today. The area around An den Treptowers seems to have been a safe haven for urban monsters for some time, if the age and complexity of its works is anything to go by. But that time may almost be up. When I was there yesterday, the air was full of the clanging and crashing of construction work which was taking place all around these buildings. If you look closely at the building below...
...which has had most of its facade stripped away for demolition / renovation purposes, you can see the sad remains of yet another painting in the centre.
This maimed urban monster is a stark example of what happens to art that finds itself in the path of people with more money than imagination.

It's possible that new urban monsters will be born and flourish on the new buildings but once the old works are destroyed, the gene pool of the previous art generation will be lost forever. A city which wipes out the old to make way for the new without connecting the two things can't hope to evolve. It can change but it can't evolve. I think that city planners the world over confuse the meanings of those two words.

Any act of creation deserves respect. If the city is a mechanical entity - like a body - then street art is the voice of the spirit at its helm. The phrase 'soulless metropolis' isn't just a figure of speech, it's a distinct possibility in any culture that doesn't treat its art with proper respect. A city without creative outlets is one where people only exist to serve the city's needs: efficiency, development and profit. Ironically, urban monsters are one of the things that can save a city from becoming a nightmare to live in.

It looks like those urban monsters are here for a limited time only, so if you want to view them in their natural habitat, do it soon!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Swapping one warzone for another: the refugee rights movement in Berlin

"Politicians do not just want to evict buildings like the school in Ohlauer Straße or the house we squatted. In our opinion they want to evict movements, they want to evict the possibility of free decision making and self-organization. They are sneaking out of their responsibility on the cost of marginalized people." Indymedia

August 27, 2014: Oranienplatz, Kreuzberg.

They all had different skin colours, and different accents.  But whether they were fat or thin, short or tall, young or old, they all shared a certain calm, resigned strength.  Their eyes, too, shared an intelligent gleam that had been dulled to a persistent, smouldering glow.   

A few words with any of them reassured me that these people - refugees, mostly male - had not come to Germany just for fun.  Their absolute certainty in their reasons for fleeing their homelands didn’t even need to be expressed in words; it just sort of emanated from every pore.  It was just a matter of fact.

I looked around Oranienplatz.  It was almost entirely encircled with police.  Close to a hundred officers of the law were circling, hovering at a safe distance, eyeing the mixed group of 30 or 40 activists and refugees who were clustered around a bowed-but-unbeaten info stand located near the center of the platz.  With tight jaws and grim faces, the police seemed to be on high alert: constantly, inconspicuously maneuvering themselves to cover every angle of Oranientplatz, like members of the SWAT team on field operations.  They were mostly male, too, but hulking and towering over the rest of us, padded in black, armoured uniforms.The kind of uniforms that they’d normally put on to face down stone-throwing rioters.   Many were staring at us with open expressions of contempt and disgust; some looked like they could barely stand the sight of us and yearned to erase us from view.

As I watched, a group of eight or nine police suddenly splintered off from their ranks and marched toward a group of black men sitting inconspicuously in the grass, off to one side of the square.  Six-foot tall officers surrounded a painfully-thin man with Somali features who was sitting on a low metal fence.  They waded through his friends and started hustling him to his feet with brute force.  The Somali man was almost a foot shorter than the officers and made no attempt to get away; he didn't even try to move.  His face crumpled with despair and physical pain, though, as one gorilla-like cop locked each of his arms in the crook of their elbows, with biceps tightly flexed. It looked like his arms might snap in half, they were so thin. He was frog-marched in this humiliating fashion toward the road that cuts through Oranienplatz.  On the other side of it sat a flotilla of parked riot vans.  The cops were moving so briskly that the refugee was lifted up off of his feet, clamped between these hardened, robotic beings that seemed like they were made of flexed brawn.   

He didn’t make a sound as he was dragged away and vanished into a van. 

“This is a police state," cried an older activist at them as they passed, looking visibly shaken.  A blonde-haired, muscle bound cop standing near the street laughed.

“Welcome to it!” he jeered.  

I ask one of the organizers of the Oranienplatz protest - a show of solidarity with 108 recently- rejected Berlin refugees - what was going on.  Had that Somali man just been arrested?  She was a nervy young woman with long dreads, her hair shaved at the sides.

 “They have a list of the people who are to be deported,” she said.   “They recognize them from and pull them out.  They have pictures beside the names.”

“What happens to them then?”

She shrugged.  “They take him in the van and tell him what will happen if he does not leave the country.”

Apparently, one of the refugees was held in a van, a kind of mobile intimidation chamber, for eight hours yesterday.   Presumably he was beig browbeaten the entire time by military-style police, threatening him to leave or else.  No one really knows, though.  Everything that happens to Berlin’s refugees happens in isolation, without witnesses or accountability, by design.   Is this Germany's idea of transparency?  If so, then it should consider painting the glass dome on the Bundestag black. 

August 26, 2014: Gurtelstrasse, Friedrichshain.

I spent the night outside of a hostel in Gurtelstrasse where 64 refugees were moved a couple of months ago, after being evicted from the abandoned school they'd occupied in Kreuzberg’s Ohlauer Strasse.  They'd squatted the abandoned school as part of an ongoing protest against the German refugee system.  Activists call this system the lager.  Lager is the German word for a basement or storage room.  It’s an apt term for the policy, which sees refugees confined to a single neighbourhood and residence, under close watch - not unlike inmates in a compound.  
While they’re waiting for their cases to be decided, refugees in the lager are subject to a curfew and must show their I.D. every time that they go in and out of their residence. Apparently, they're not even allowed to have guests visit them.  They have no right to work or move freely in the country and few chances to socialize.  Basically, they exist in a state of suspended animation for up to six months, where only the bare minimum of basic human needs stand a chance of being fulfilled.  The need to integrate and acclimatize, to learn the language, to socialize, to be productive?  They aren't included on the list. 

Out of sight is out of mind.

After they were evicted from the school, there was a brutal and un-photogenic standoff.  It made it into the mainstream media, despite an attempted blackout; police denied the press any access to the school and its occupants.  Despite the fact that nearly a thousand (that's right, a thousand) armoured police were present at the eviction of Ohlauer Strasse, they failed to evict the refugees, in large part due to public pressure to let them stay.  One hundred and eight of the refugees remained at the end of the standoff, and those were offered a settlement by the Berlin Senate: they got free accommodation in two hostels in Friedrichshain and Mariensfelde and an allowance of three hundred Euros per month to live on, while their asylum cases were being evaluated.   

It seemed like baby steps were being made towards meeting the refugee's demands, and they were finally being treated like human beings.  

Then, on Monday, the agreement was suddenly and inexplicably broken.  Scores of armoured police turned up in force at the hostels where the refugees now live, and they were told that their applications had been rejected en masse.  They were to be evicted on Tuesday, the following day.  According to one activist who I spoke to in Gurtelstrasse, the police were carrying deportation orders for some of the refugees when they arrived.   

The  eviction of Gurtelstrasse and the Mariensfelde hostel appear to violate the Ministry of the Interior's own guidelines for handling deportations.   The Bundesministerium’s website states: 'Asylum seekers are notified of the decision in writing and given information on legal remedy.'  There’s no mention of same-day evictions being executed by armoured police carrying deportation orders.   It seemed like this was a stealth attack, calculated to get the refugees as far away from the public consciousness as possible, as quickly as possible, without any opportunity for the decision to be appealed or the tactics questioned.  

The activists that I spoke to were understandably suspicious.  One of them told me  that asylum cases are never assessed that quickly, so something must have been done wrong.   There have been other unethical moves by the Ministry of the Interior, too: a number of refugees have been threatened with deportation before the minimum six-month period of temporary asylum has passed. According to the site Contra Info, quite a few applications have also been rejected without even being assessed.  Trust in the system’s fairness is at an all-time low.  Both the activists and the refugees that I spoke to seem to feel that these applications were turned down, not because they didn't meet the necessary criteria, but because the refugees have put city officials on the spot and embarrassed them with their protest movement.  They see the evictions as an act of revenge... and the behavior of the police at Oranienplatz did suggest a sense of resentment and hostility toward the refugees.  

Photographer catches snaps of would-be deportees, to be passed on to the police
The people I've spoken to in the last couple of days have all been unanimous in their belief that the refugees’ mistreatment by German authorities all boils down to one thing: the colour of their skin.  They may have a point.  During my years in Berlin, I've seen the police handling all kinds of difficult situations: hustling an aggressive, mentally ill homeless person  off of  a train; containing unruly groups of city drunks; clearing Skalitzer Strasse after an outbreak of violence on Mayday.   In all those situations, they seemed to follow a standard protocol: they approached the (white) offender from a cautious distance and informed him what he was doing wrong or what  they were going to do if he did not stop.   After repeated warnings, they escorted the offender away with minimal physical contact and force.  But when it comes to the refugees of Oranienplatz, those boundaries don't even seem to exist.   They are denied formalities; denied personal boundaries, and their emotional and mental boundaries are treated like they don't even exist.

One of the refugees who I spoke to at Oplatz (I’ll call him 'Thomas' to protect his identity) told me that he came to Germany to escape from a vendetta campaign against his family, back in his homeland.  The country that he came from was not technically at war, but it has been recognized as being impoverished, underdeveloped and politically unstable.  Blood feuds can carry on there, generation after generation, with impunity.  After seeing his father and a friend murdered in the same night by a rival family, Thomas fled.  He eventually ended up in Germany. 

Blood feuds are much more common in destabilized nations.  So is the murder of young boys who come from the ‘wrong’ faction.  

“They take the baby boys by the feet and swing their heads against a tree to smash it,” he said, graphically.   When I asked him how many babies he'd seen killed this way, he shook his head mournfully and said, "Too many."

I suppose that goes a long way towards explaining the disproportionately high number of men on the run from homelands that are going through any kind of civil strife.   Thomas explained that in his village, women usually stayed behind because they were not targeted for revenge killings in blood feuds.  That's not to say that the women have an easier life -  they just aren't in such immediate danger of being killed.

Stories like this explain why the refugees I met at Gurtelstrasse and Oranienplatz all share a kind of dogged pacifism.  As Thomas said, “I didn't come here to make trouble [...] but I don’t want to go back and be caught up in a fight.  Then I might get caught up in a fight and kill someone and then, their family will kill me too. I just want to live.”  But instead of helping people like Thomas escape the bullies a Germany has taken to bullying them in its own turn.   

One does get a sense that what's happening here is not the routine assessment and administration of refugees, or an orderly dispersal of people who’ve been deemed ‘safe’ to return  to their homelands.  One gets the sense that a campaign of terror and intimidation is  being allowed to go continue just because it can.  Refugees in Berlin are treated like their being here is due to some sort of failing on their part.  To me, and any other compassionate person who drops into Oraneinplatz today, it’s obvious that the only failure is on the part of the German administration for treating them that way.   

I asked one activist what the average Berliner could do to help these refugees.  His humble reply: "Just come here and witness, have a look at what is going on."  It seemed like a humble request at the time, but now I understand why.  The German activists involved in this movement are being run ragged as they try to just be there for these refugees as they are isolated and picked off and moved around, shifted like so many props on a stage, under the direction of the German government.  By just simply being there, these activists are able to prevent the worst abuses happening because it turns the spotlight on the short cuts being taken by the authorities, instead of letting them go on behind the scenes.  

On Wednesday afternoon, there were only enough 'witnesses' like me there to catch the overflow of helplessness from the refugees and suffer alongside them; it will take hundreds more of us to actually repel it. So I'd urge any one reading this to go down to Oranienplatz and, if nothing else, make a visual statement of support that drowns out the officials’ condemnation and contempt.  It seems like the only way that this situation is going to change.   

Find more actions using the hashtag #oplatz on Twitter 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

No Future (or, How To Succeed in A Dystopian Workplace)

This isn't the cover for my book... it's an artwork by David Holtek of creativedisease.com

The story below is taken from my new book 'Vote Tekno Party'.  And yes, that is the same book that I spent the last seven months working on instead of blogging!

Vote Tekno Party is a collection of stories written from the point of view of Selene, a 24 year-old expat living in late-nineties London.  She is pushing herself to live what she considers to be a totally independent, DIY lifestyle.  Throughout the book (which mostly takes place in squats, underground clubs, illegal parties and riots) she keeps on running into unexpected obstacles to that goal.

In this chapter, Selene gets fired for drawing and daydreaming while at her desk job instead of "pretending" to work, like all of her colleagues seem to be doing.  I wrote it to show the reader how out of touch Selene's expectations are with what's going on around her.  While I was writing it, though, I started to think about the difference between what people 'expect' to happen and what they think is 'meant to be'.  Good example: almost all of the artists, musicians and writers that I know 'expect' to make very little money, even though they mostly believe that's not the way that things are 'meant to be'.  Where does expectation become acceptance?

Read on to find out how Selene's answers that question, and feel free to share your own experiences and viewpoints after reading it!


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Paying the Troll Toll

Corporate Puppets -  from Eurekastreet
I don't know if it's just because Saturn is transiting Scorpio but recently, I've been experiencing a growing sense of unease about the Internet.  I'm not talking about the simple suspicion that it isn't as benevolent as it paints itself to be, but an active concern that it may actually be damaging the mental health of people who are using it. Part of this can be put down to my own natural state of paranoia.  The internet is so benign, so effortless and ever-present that there has to be something wrong with it, right?  If it's too good to be true then it probably is, and so on.

Then, I stumbled upon some research indicating that Facebook can be physiologically addictive; and then I learned that its designers are seemingly aware of that addictive potential and use it to their advantage, regardless of the psychological problems they may be creating.  And then the NSA scandal broke.  More recently, there has been a deluge of threatening comments sent to female writers and politicians which has led to me to look deeper into the phenomenon of right-wing trolling on the net.    While the people recently charged with threatening to rape and murder female public figures were tweeting their own views, I suspect that they felt encouraged to do so in part because there is so much right-wing trolling on the internet.

Most of you will be familiar with the existence of trolls - yes, those horrid people who continuously spout abusive, right-wing views on forums and comment threads.  Until recently, I think I assumed that they were all backwoods yahoos with unformed, uninformed opinions.  Their comments tend to be riddled with spelling mistakes, bad grammar and profanity.  They tend to be vehement promoters of false 'facts', disproven research and phoney statistics.  Very little of the information posted by trolls on the net would stand up to the scrutiny of a drunken pub debate, let alone a court of law.  And yet they seem to have vast amounts of conviction, and time, to push their dumbed-down views on us from points all across the web, creating and discarding an endless number of fresh aliases on an endless number of forums and comment boards; waging war on moderators who seem to have their hands full deleting their streams of abuse.  It's almost like being a troll is a full-time job.  Or like they're getting paid by the post.  This may be closer to the truth than you realise.

In 2011, the Guardian's George Monbiot wrote that he'd been contacted by a whistleblower who said he was, "part of a commercial team employed to infest internet forums and comment threads on behalf of corporate clients, promoting their causes and arguing with anyone who opposed them."  Sound familiar?  It will do, if you've ever participated in an internet forum.  This particular whistleblower told Monbiot that he posed as up to 70 different individuals at a time... which probably helps to explain why different trolls' posts are often nearly identical in tone and content.  Bear in mind that this whistleblower was just one employee, from one company providing 'social media management' services to corporate clients. Doubtless there are many, many more out there.

The practice of paying people to post supportive comments for a specific interest group online is said to have originated in China in 2004, where such posters are known as the '50 cent party'.  As the name suggests, these posters are paid 50 Chinese cents for every pro-government or counter-dissident post that they write.  In 2009, Datamation.com wrote that: "China’s 50 Cent Army is everybody's business.  With 300,000 people, you can see how the CCP could easily determine what makes it onto the front page of Digg, and what gets shouted down. They could use Wikipedia, YouTube and Slashdot as their most powerful tools of global propaganda."

That's true if China is the only country that hires right-wing commentators, but it isn't.  Throw in the U.S.A., Russia, Canada and Israel - to name but a few of the countries whose governments have hired 'online supporters' in recent times - and the potential to skew public perceptions becomes overwhelming.  In 2011 it was revealed that the U.S. military's Central Command, or Centcom, had signed a contract with a company known as NTrepid to 'manage online personas' for its staff.  NTrepid's software would enable every serviceman and woman to create and use up to 10 fake online aliases worldwide.  The Guardian reported that:  'The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations "without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries".'

Presumably, the phrase 'sophisticated adversaries' is used here to refer to anybody with an intelligent counter-argument, or an awareness of insidious propaganda machines!  Centcom, predictably, has stated that it cannot reveal what these fake online personas are being used for.  They say it's classified.  In these post-NSA times, that is not a word that inspires confidence.

NTrepid has also run surveillance to keep tabs on anarchist organizations in the past and, as the PrivacySos website points, out that, "The DoD is therefore paying a company that monitors the internet use of anarchists and radicals in the United States to actively interfere with and inject pro-military propaganda into online conversations about politics."  How that is any different from China's 50 cent party?  Although Centcom claims that its online tool will not be used in English-speaking countries, one is invited to view that claim through a skeptical lens too.

The practice of 'astroturfing' (creating fake grassroots groups to make a fringe cause appear more popular than it is) has also entered the online world, where it's become virtually untraceable.  In 2010, Canada's CBC News reported that the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade had hired a Toronto-based company called Social Media Group, "to help counter some information put forward by the anti-sealing movement."  There doesn't appear to be any record of what this hired help got up to online.  Were they clearly identified as government employees?  Were they abusive?  Did they cite misleading studies or facts?   Why do I get the feeling all that information's probably 'classified', too?

The biggest problem with these hired commentators is that they are in a prime position to skew public opinion in favour of groups which already wield a great deal of influence - people who have lots of money or some other form of control over the masses.  If these groups are also using 50 cent parties to 'influence' the public opinion, then they are crossing a line into mind control.  Governments do not exist to influence our opinions after all, but to represent them.  Just as corporations do not exist to tell us what we want, but to listen and provide for it.

If you regularly read any forum that discusses left-wing issues, you have probably witnessed how quickly a troll's reactionary tirade can shut down intelligent debate on any subject.  Regular internet users know how to recognise and avoid trolls but for the casual users - those who go online just to read an article or two - the mass of vitriol out there can be disturbing.  I wonder how many casual internet users come away from their computer feeling that intolerance is the new norm.  And yet it isn't - at least some of that online vitriol is being manufactured by the powers-that-be.  You have to wonder what their endgame is in doing so.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

195 Mare Street: Un-gentrifying Hackney

The days of Hackney being the 'most squatted borough in London' may be in the past now, but that doesn't mean that the odd occupation can't still be carried off when needed. In the case of 195 Mare Street, the 'need' they are responding to is that of offering a community meeting space, with services that locals whose presence predates the gentrification, can actually afford. Since the government is currently refusing to keep up its end of the "public taxes=public services" equation, centers like 195 Mare Street really need your support and probably your hands-on help too. Why not drop in and see what they can offer you & vice versa?

The centers blurb (from Indymedia):

"A new squatted social space has been created in Hackney - 195 Mare St. The space aims to be an active and inspiring hub for local individuals and community groups.

The current projects being are working on are a language school, bicycle workshop, library, free shop, screenings, hack lab and a vegan cafe. There will also be workshops and info nights. Everything will be either free or for donations.
However, there is scope for so much more. If you have any ideas or projects that would suit the space please get in touch.

There are many ways to get involved, and people are very welcome to contribute.

If you are able to donate materials, the following would be very useful:

building / decorating tools and equipment
kitchen equipment (especially cookers and large pots)
computer parts
bike parts
clothing for the free shop
books for library
art equipment

Please email us of feel free to drop by between the hours of 3-6pm on Sun - Tues and Thurs.

The 11th October will be our official opening night, with live music and other entertainment. Well worth a visit!


Monday, 9 September 2013

An Alienated Generation?

The press has a lot to say about Generation Y's lack of workplace and social skills. But the real question is: do they have what it takes to deal with an alien invasion? Read on to find out...

Image courtesy of the Nuclear Hipster App page
Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Helicopter parents.  Delusions of grandeur.  Hyper-materialism.  What do all these phrases have in common?  Apparently, they are all features of "Generation Y" - which is what the generation that was born between 1980 and 2000 A.D. is now being called.  Previously it was known as "Generation X" and "The Millenial Generation".  (No wonder these kids can't stay focused on anything for very long... the people that named them aren't exactly setting an example.)   

Anyways, the business world seems to be taking issue with this generation of well-bred, too-poised miscreants; specifically, with its unrealistically-high expectations.  Generation Y is said to take criticism badly and to expect great rewards (e.g. positive feedback and annual raises) for its average work performance.  It's hard to blame them - Generation Y, that is, not the managers that are lining up to run them down in surveys.  Generation Y has grown up in a society which shamelessly forks over 99% of its profits to the 1% that least deserves it.  So when Generation Y-ers don't get the same treatment as those wasters in upper management from Day 1, it's no wonder they tend to move on to a different job in a hurry. Again, how is this unlike an industrial magnate who walks away from the countries he's ruined and runs for government?

A few social commentators are wringing their hands and asking what Gen Y's fickle tendencies bode for the future of our society.  That may be a scarier prospect.  When you extrapolate this generation's high expectations, perfectionism and non-committal tendencies into purely social realms (e.g. those where there is no possibility of world domination and/or obscene wealth accumulation) then the desire to snicker sadistically at their managers fades a little.  Imagine what life might be like in the year 2040, when these "narcissistic  gadget-junkies" are running the show.  What would their reaction be to a calamitous emergency?  How would they react, say, if aliens invaded the Earth and started eating people alive? 

I can just imagine how the diary of a Gen Y prime minister facing such a crisis would read....

Day 1: Just got back from a meeting with the alien invaders.  They are saying they will only give us peace if we allow them to consume 1 million of our healthiest young citizens per year.  WTF.  If we lose that many teens and twenty-somethings per year we'll run out of pop musicians, reality TV stars and models in, what, five to ten years?  This invasion has got to stop!

Day 2: The aliens have ignored our parents' efforts to make them leave us alone (WTF).  So we have been forced to launch a Facebook campaign against them (Facebook/Causes/Stop Invading Us You Awful Aliens).  

One of those old-timer MPs protested our course of action, saying, 'What will we do if the aliens aren't on Facebook?'  He was so smug about it!  So we all blocked him and formed a Facebook group to make jokes about his hair.  That'll show him.  EVERYBODY is on Facebook!

Day 4: Alien invaders have responded to our Facebook campaign by blasting Facebook's headquarters with a laser and devouring Mark Zuckerberg's flambeed remains.  We have all gone home early today to mourn the loss of our friends... friend LISTS, I mean (same difference, I guess).  

I really hope my entire Cabinet doesn't resign in the face of this setback, like it did when we received that rude email last year...

Day 5:  Great news - half my Cabinet is still on board!  And we've struck back at the aliens!  We posted like, a DOZEN links to videos of the alien-Facebook attack on Twitter.  Now the people can see what is happening, they can rise against up the enemy!

Day 6: Good news: the Twitter videos went viral.  Not-so-good news: the people have risen up against each other! Not the aliens!  (Major WTF)  They're looting each others shops, stealing each other's necessities and beating and maiming each other to secure the remaining shelters.  Like, can't they just go and live with their parents if they need food and shelter?  And aren't they embarrassed to be caught on camera acting all... desperate?

Day 7:  After this stressful week, I think we were all in need of a retreat... but we soldiered through.  After an exhausting five-and-a-half-minute emergency session, we finally came up with a solution for the uprising.  We will send some celebs out in the streets to plead with the angry mobs.  If someone really fit and popular tells them they're ruining the city's image, the mob will back down.  I know it.  

By the time we'd hatched the plan it had already gone four p.m., though, so we all had to go home for the weekend. We'll be sending those celebs out first thing Monday morning, though.  Aliens, watch out!  

Day 10: The celebs went out this morning and only one made it back (so far).  I watched the carnage on the CCTV live feed and kept waiting for the credits to roll; it was so realistic, like something on TV.  

The celeb spokespeople tried every means of reconciliation they knew: offering the mob autographs, guest slots on Big Brother, even hugs!  Then things got a bit heated and a couple of celebs told the mob that they were a bunch of haters, and said that blood-spattered hair and torn clothes was not a good look (so last year, too).  Well, I guess they paid the ultimate price for losing their cool: they won't look much better than the mob when the air-limousine brings them back.  

 Day 17: After taking a week off from the civil unrest/alien invasion situation for mental trauma, we are back in session.  Our first order of business was putting a 24-hour curfew in place.  Next, we tried to contact the military so it could enforce the curfew.  We couldn't reach anybody at the military H.Q. at first but then I sent Mum round in her car to scout the place out.  She learned from the janitor that the Military personnel had all left - they decided to switch careers because keeping the peace is just way too stressful now.  I can't really blame them.  

Gotta go... I've got to email this group referral-letter out to our ex-military personnel before the end of the day.
Day 22: The alien invader's army has stepped in and is now keeping peace for us.  They say they don't want all their prey killing each other off.  I guess I can't blame them but it still kind of hurts my feelings (they were so rude about it).

Day 25: The aliens do seem to be much better at this keeping-the-peace stuff than we are.  I think we should leave them to it.  It's the sort of work that is best left to ugly people... or whatever they are. We don't have to see them under all the visors and armour.
Day 27: Some people are saying that the aliens are so good at keeping the peace, they should be put in charge of the planet.  WTF.  And who is leading them, but that cranky MP we blocked?!  (I can't remember his name anymore, without Facebook to remind me... SO annoying). We passed a bill denying the aliens a right to stand for election though, so, problem solved.  We also designed an ad campaign warning people not to vote for any aliens.  Take that!  Now we just have to wait for the eleccy to come back on so we can run it (I sent all the power station staff on a paid retreat this week to thank them for their hard work.)

Day 30: The aliens have shut down the Parliament and are converting it into an abattoir. I've really had enough of this job now - a whole 30 days and no word of promotion from anyone.  So first thing tomorrow, Mum's going to get us a spaceship to outer space and look for another planet to live on. I don't know who ever asked NASA to send out all those stupid satellite signals and tip off the aliens to our existence but it wasn't ME.  Why should I clean up the mess? 

Day 31: Bad news.  Turns out that the richest 1% people on the planet flew all the spaceships away about four weeks ago.  They've gone to find a new planet... without us!  SO not fair.  But I guess it's my fault for not aiming high enough in my career.  I should never have settled for being a lowly Prime Minister. 

Day 39: We have resumed negotiating with the aliens now. Our proposals are as follows: They can eat 1 million of us BUT ONLY IF they keep the streets clean, the eleccy running, the shops, pubs, bars, clubs and galleries and gourmet fast food joints open. Government and military would be nice too, but not essential. 

Day 40: The aliens totally rejected our terms so now we've gone underground to the sewage system. Gross, right?  But we discovered the aliens can't reach us here.  While we were watching videos of them on Youtube (and posting insults about their clothes, lol) we noticed that they seemed scared of manholes.  Actually it was that cranky MP who noticed it, but I'm still not friending him cause Facebook's gone (that's an upside).  After some trial and error, he and I discovered that the aliens don't like the sewers because they have super sensitive noses.  I have a sensitive nose too though, so that  needs to be taken into consideration, no matter what the cranky MP says about our 'odds of survival'.  I happen to think surviving in a sewer is very odd, thank you very much!

Day 73: The aliens are all starving. But there's some good news!  They have turned the eleccy back on so we have Internet now!  

Day 74: Better news!  The aliens sent us a Tweet today - they have agreed to ALL our proposals. They'll only take 1 million peeps a year and they'll keep all the shops and stuff open. We've won! 

Day 75: We are back above ground again.  Everything is almost back to normal except for the part where we are being eaten alive. But nothing good ever comes without a price - that's what my business management teacher used to say. He taught us skills for life, that man. 

Day 77: The shops haven't reopened though because the aliens are renovating them.  And the net's gone down again. I was a bit worried when I found out that the aliens had started filling in the sewer tunnels, too, but apparently they are just trying to save us some money on the maintenance budget.  How nice!   

It's easy enough to mock people 10 or 20 years younger than oneself as being inexperienced and naive.  Too easy.  When they reach the same age as the people dissing them, though, they will probably be a lot harder to make fun of because they won't be young and naive anymore.  Older people have just had more time to realize that the rules they learned as kids are not all "hard n' fast" rules.

Ironically, the rule that 'Generation Y' seems to have all learned best is that all rewards can be bought for the right price, and that image is everything - which probably explains the rise in materialistic, narcissistic tendencies among them.  They didn't learn that rule from Mum and Dad's confidence-instilling parenting strategies, though.  They learned it from the ad campaigns designed by the very same companies that are whining about their poor work ethic, today.

Poetic justice?