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back to article With net unplugged, Egypt cracks down on journos

On Friday, with Egypt's internet and cell phone blackout showing no signs of lifting, authorities took a new tack in their attempts to quell protests engulfing the nation: cracking down on journalists reporting on the uprising. A CNN crew covering Friday's clashes between security forces and protesters in Cairo reported having …

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Anonymous Coward

With net unplugged, Egypt cracks down on journos

"US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday called on Egyptian authorities to “allow peaceful protests and to reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to cut off communications.”"

Puh-lease, you know behind the scenes they are supporting the Egyptian government all the way. After Israel, the Egyptians get the most aid from the US.

Time for a new internet, free from government/corporate control.

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Boffin

RE: With net unplugged, Egypt cracks down on journos

"....the Egyptians get the most aid from the US....." And that's part of the problem, Mubarak has been getting shedloads of high-tech military gear and training from the US and EU countries. The Egyptian economy is stronger than most Arab countries (and not mainly through tourism), so there has been the money to train their secret police to quite formidable levels. There's also the suspicion that Mubarak is determined to set his son on the throne as his successor, so he's not likely to just fold and run away like al-Abidine Ben Ali did in Tunisia. Mubarak has withstood pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood before, and even Obambi will turn a blind eye when the Brotherhood leaders start disappearing as Egypt is a vital Mid East allie for the US. I predict this will not be as easy a revolution as the Jasmine one, it will be long and bloody and not nearly as certain to succeed. It's a shame because as a country it's a great place with very welcoming people.

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Anonymous Coward

It does make you wonder

We all depend more on the internet for information. The more we come to depend on it, the more he who has control of it has the ultimate power.

In the olden days, the internet was more anarchic and distributed (rather than concentrated into a few main providers that can be easily "turned off") and it would have been more difficult to turn it all off in one concerted effort, there always being some maverick node or other that had a peering arrangement with someone else that would provide a route.

Nowadays, control of the off switch seems to be planned in from the start.

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Boffin

the olden days

In the olden days, you needed a beard and sandals to even know what the Internet was.

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Haven't these press companies...

...heard of Satphones?

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FAIL

Just heard its Vodafone who pulled the plug

They lost my business today !

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Anonymous Coward

Companies taking orders from the government isn't such a bad thing

Arguably better than the reverse system applied in some other countries.

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WTF?

Really !!!

Thats it i will not be renewing my contract with them either !!

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Stop

Hold on

The decision to shutter their internet services was probably not taken lightly, they still have to comply with all local laws and officials, and it's obvious they're taking a hard line. It is disappointing, but I'm not likely to cancel my iPhone contract with my local Vodafone over it.

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WTF?

How is this Vodaphone's fault exactly?

Grow up! if you do business in a country you have to apply by the conditions set by the government on doing so, in this case submitting to their request to cut off the network, its hardly Vodaphone's fault now is it?

If you feel that Vodafone should not do business because of moral disagreements over the way a country is run then that is another matter..

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@ David Ward 1

A good point well made. I would, however, go further.

Boudicca says that "It was Vodafone that pulled the plug" as if she (he? it?) believes that Vodafone alone were responsible for disconnecting Egypt from the interenet. Hardly, Boudy, dear thing. Unleaa of course you believe that Egypt's internet connectivity all runs through Vodafone.

Of course if you operate in a country that is effectively a dictatorship you have little choice in these matters. You may believe in your naive, idealistic, little heart that Vodafone (and others) could defy the government and continue to provide service. You would be horribly wrong. Egypt has become, in effect, a military dictatorship. Defy the government and a company will probably find it's staff and it's property in a whole lot of trouble with the authorities. We're not talking about the sort of trouble they'd get into in the UK, a slap on the wrist and a fine. We're talking about a regime that things nothing of assaulting foreign nationals employed by foreign countries. What do you think might happen to Egyptian nationals employed by Vodafone were they to defy a direct government order?

So, Boudicca, grow up, smell the coffee and start living in the real world.

That Vodafone cut connectivity in Egypt is no reason to boycott them. That they pay a tiny fraction of the taxes they owe in the UK, while smaller companies are sent to the wall by tax demands, now that's a reason not to deal with them.

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Joke

In with the bad joke

Of course the French journalists were released quickly, I'm sure their first training was how to say "I surrender" in Arabic.

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Flame

youth in revolt

Stupid authoritarian leaders in the region must be peeing their pants realizing half their population is under 25, unemployed, without hope or recourse until recently. Too bad my country the USA peeing its pants to realizing the dictator they bought with billions every year might be vulnerable. Pinochet, Shah of Iran, Sadam early on, Murabak we sure can pick em.

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Black Helicopters

I think the foreign policy logic goes something like:

"Sure they're corrupt murdering bastards, but they're *OUR* corrupt murdering bastards" :-)

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No allies

The other side of that particular coin is that the US has no problem with dropping an "ally" in the shit as soon as the relationship isn't working for America. The US would nuke London in the morning if they thought they could make some money out of it and they sure as hell won't offer Mubarak anything more substantial than a plane ticket to Saudi Arabi if things look bad for their soon to be ex- head of torture. Perhaps they'll let him have Idi Amin's old retirement home and, like him, take his secrets to the grave unmolested by trivialities like courts and trials.

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@Robert Long 1

Quite. What was the US position on Iraq until about twenty years ago?

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Badgers

The revolution...

will not be televised... because the bastards cut off your access.

Now who things the current US scheme for an "internet kill switch: Is a good thing ? Hmmm ? anyone ? Buller ? Anyone?

What happened in Egypt is a clear picture of what can happen. The government gives the order, routers get updated, and AS systems drop off.

This is why there needs to be a open market, with lots of competition. Not the same top 3 or 4 companies running things.

Go Egypt ! Give the bastards hell :D

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Pirate

Viva la revolución

>What happened in Egypt is a clear picture of what can happen. The government gives the order, routers get updated, and AS systems drop off.

>This is why there needs to be a open market, with lots of competition. Not the same top 3 or 4 companies running things.

Even with lots of competition, if the guv sez to null route the country, all the companies must comply. Specially if Mr. Abdul CEO of Pyramids Small ISP Inc. wants his head on its proper place.

The top tiers companies could opt to disobey the law. But I would not expect the traffic flowing for long. There are easier ways to cut off the network from the disobeying ISP, ie cut the fibre-optic line, terminate the telco's licence and seize their property, etc, etc.

There is the need of a truly independent peer-to-peer/mesh network with encryption and plausible deniability as its core values.

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Anonymous Coward

re: There is the need

... of a truly independent peer-to-peer/mesh network with encryption and plausible deniability as its core values.

You said it for me, so I just posted it again. :-)

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or like last weeks outage

break into a shed and steal the router.

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Pint

Well...

One of the hazards of the job I'm afraid. Photojournalism is not always pretty and damned hard work sometimes. You get some tooled up copper in riot gear and all that bollocks about allowing peaceful protest goes up like the molotovs being chucked about, ie. in smoke!

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Need to crack down on these terrorists

>A CNN crew... reported having their camera seized

How tall was the photographer?

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Anonymous Coward

The riots and destruction is unacceptable

I understand a need to protest but the rioting and destruction is unacceptable and has backfired with the military being brought in. Many will die due to poor judgment.

Reporters in combat zones should expect injuries or death. It would be unreasonable not to. You've got enraged people on both sides. Pick your assignments carefully.

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Umm

I haven't got any solid leads for me to put this forward as an absolute statement of fact, but there have been reports that the first major damage to be reported in the west was caused by people acting on government orders in an attempt to discredit the revolutionaries and provide an excuse to bring in the military.

Although I don't believe all the riots were staged, I do think your statement is a little harsh.

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Dialup BBS, AX.25, and more

There is a worldwide BBS network still available (yes in 2011) for those with a modem and a working telephone line. This also offers a bridge to the internet outside of Egypt. I don't know about the ability to make long distance telephone calls from there, but at least the technology is in place for a non-internet digital connection in and out of the country. A dialup line can also connect to an ISP in another country. In addition there is packet radio. Hopefully there are some computer hobbyists and ham operators over there who will rise to the occasion.

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@Ole Juul

I wouldn't bet on international landline phone calls still being possible when a government decides to cut comms. For one, a lot of telco traffic is over IP, so cutting IP traffic kills two birds with one stone, and I doubt that the Ministry for Free Speech would overlook the possibility of conventional copper carrying subversive messages out of the country.

Ham radio (including packet radio) would be the least affected channel, by my guess.

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Black Helicopters

indeed

I was watching various news channels Friday night and one said the egyptians were using "old fashioned" techniques to access the internet, then said they were using dial-up. Having finally ditched dial-up myself in 2005, I wondered about their choice of words and my choices of technology.

It certainly is likely that the government there has squashed this as well...

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Or sat phones?

This event demonstrates why cellular phone over satellites maybe is not so dumb idea after all. Cannot be disrupted, unless the country where the satellite operator lives gets really hostile.

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They actually are using the phone system

Soon after I wrote that I discovered that the phones are actually being used. SMS is turned off which makes it a little more difficult for people to organize, but I have been following a twitter feed of up to date reports from various places there. You can find it here: http://twitter.com/#!/Jan25voices

This is a very narrow channel, but there are pictures being posted on web pages and blogs too. Of course not a lot of pictures are being sent, but many people there have video and still images on their phone and when the net opens up again we will, no doubt, see an unprecedented deluge of material.

The Egypt communications wiki is here:

http://werebuild.eu/wiki/Egypt/Main_Page

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Anonymous Coward

Dial Up?

Dial up is harder to block as it's possible to use dial up access to a foreign number. Potentially expensive, not very fast but it's still a connection.

The only way the authorities could block this would be to block international dialling.

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Anonymous Coward

Compression

Plenty of ways to block, the easiest would just be to turn on compression (digital or even analog) for international calls. Voice still goes through but for useless for data (ie at ridiculously low baud rates)

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Surely a new market...

...for Sat Phone connected DSLRs and Video cameras, with instant auto upload back to base, for the Journos of the world press then?

Of course, that won't help when the Jackbooted thugs pretending to be law enforcement smash the equipment up...

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Go

Worldwide crap leaders infestation alert.

I find it quite remarkable how much governments can take the piss before people give in and kick ass? It's +1 for humans I guess - change afoot judging by the angry crowds!

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I was hoping for something better...

Some EG ISP's are notorious for not aggregating hundreds of /24,s, so I was hopeful the drop in advertised routes was just an improvement; sadly, not the case!

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Terminator

Who decides?

I spent some time in Egypt about 10 years ago, and away from the tourist drags found the people to be amongst the most friendly, optimistic and hospitable I've ever met.

While I think I understand the reason for the need to have these technologies switchable, I don't understand why they are still "off" when evidence is emerging that this isn't preventing an act of terrorism, but masking an attempt by a government to hide it's actions from the world, while desperately clinging on to power.

Could it be that the Egyptian people's preference for government doesn't suit "The West"?

Please enlighten me, otherwise I'll have to assume that the small guy has once again been beaten down by the Great and Good (AKA "Those-who-know-whats-good-for-us").

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Unhappy

Who switched off the Internet?

Are you saying that their Internet was disconnected by the operators outside the country, not by the operators inside the country.

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Big Brother

Well...

While I like to see populations taking their destinies in their hands and dictators having their arses kicked as much as the next man, I'm a bit divided in relation to the happenings over there in the Middle East right now. It's sort of a realpolitik thing, which is usually kinda disgusting but it is pragmatic. And of course each society is a bit different and it's hard to generalize, but if we don't take hints from history, why study it at all?

The problem is what I call the "Saddam paradox": bad with him, but who knows what will take his place? It could be much worse. And when you have large masses of angry young guys (most of them with very low education levels) running around, they can be very susceptible to radical elements and their righteous discourses. In Egypt's case, the Muslim Brotherhood. What would Egypt turn into after they took power -- which they quite likely would, in case of free and democratic elections there, given their popularity? And in another example, isn't the indicated new prime minister of Lebanon a Hamas guy? The paradox is the democratic choosing of leaders who are bent on destroying democratic principles as soon as they are in power.

I'm afraid this is a somewhat paternalistic way of seeing the issue, but screw it... I don't want even more terror supporting/war mongering organizations taking hold of governments, thank you very much.

All this said, I don't think "we" (the "Westerners" and friends) should mess with what's going on in Egypt -- let them sort it out, because imposed solutions have a knack of making things worse (as the Brits, French, USAians etc. should have noticed by now given the past and current mêlées they've caused). But I'm sure hoping for a more gradual change to better, more democratic and tolerant regimes in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East. Evolution, not revolution, usually gets the job done better -- or at least with less heads laving their necks all around and the future resentments that type of thing curiously bring.

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Boffin

RE: Well...

Shrillary's latest announcement includes the revealing call for an "orderly transition", which means the Obambi administration has turned its back on Mubarak. Clinton may have jumped the gun a bit though, as the Egyptian army is still showing very little signs of desertion to the protestors. Should Mubarak now manage to hold sway it will be interesting to see how Obambi and co can backpedal into his goodbooks. I'm told the Whitehouse is already twitching over the return of exiled Islamists to Tunisia.

As regards the Lebanon, that is directly the result of Western meddling, particularly by the French. The country is an artificial state created from the remains of the French Empire post WW2, and the complex power-sharing structure was based on the relative sizes of the ethnic groups of the day. It would have been better by far if it had been carved up into mini-countries for each ethnic group rather than vainly believing that they could work together. The most interesting group from a political point of view are the minority Druze, whom have managed to remain relatively secure through a number of political partnerships of convenience.

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Grenade

The Nelsons

1:1:1 in this context is "One man, One vote, One time". We all know it's going to happen should they be "elected", they make no secret of such things.

Egypt is the only country in the ME at peace with Israel. The US supports Egypt amongst other reasons, for this fact. A new "militant islamic" regime in Cairo would not be a good thing, not good at all. Not that I think Mubarak is a nice guy or anything, but ....

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Except....

Except, of course, for Jordan.

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Black Helicopters

Hillary misspeaks again* What is wrong with that broad/babe?

"US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday called on Egyptian authorities to “allow peaceful protests and to reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to cut off communications.”"

White bitch squawk with forked tongue, Kemo Sabe ...... http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pmEcQMwprIo

* http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1582795/Hillary-Clintons-Bosnia-sniper-story-exposed.html

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Malware is still finding connectivity in Egypt.

Our findings show that despite the dramatic decrease in connectivity, there is still a trickle of packets coming out of Egypt. Sadly it is fraud-based malware looking to connect to a command and control abroad.

Have a look:

http://www.unveillance.com/latest-news/malware-activity-from-the-country-of-egypt/

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Anonymous Coward

Like cockroaches...

being the only things to survive a nuclear attack (according to popular legend) ?

"Life will find a way" is that the right quote?

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Pint

They've got it easy

The Egyptian police are quite restrained.

In Iraq journalists are murdered just for the crime of carrying a camera that happened to look like an RPG to a hilly-billy chopper pilot. At least the BBC guy just got beaten up.

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Aljazeera

And yet, I watched hours and hours of the protests LIVE on the net with Aljazeera online (English)

They seem to be getting TV/Cable signal out, at least from their office windows....

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Alert

History repeats and there's little to be celebrating about

Yes Mubarak is a corrupt dictator, and Egypt, like many other totalitarian arab countries is devoid of many freedoms, we take for granted like freedom of speech, democracy, equal rights for women (though regrettably not yet for G&Ls). The average Egyptian lives on $2/day, and official unemployment figures at 10% (not including the uncounted chronically unemployed, adding them would bring the number to 34%). In that sense, despite the tragedy of a daily growing body count (already over 100, and 1000s injured), a change would be a welcome change.

Unfortunately, as we've seen in Iran (Ayatollahs), and Afghanistan (Taliban), or Gaza (Hamas), or recently Lebanon (Hizbollah assassinating the prior democratically elected PM and getting rewarded for it), such changes often end up with more radical and fundamentalist forces in power, fleeing of the intelligentsia, deterioration of economic conditions at best, or full sharia law with arm-amputations for theft and execution of women for adultery, at worst. Will the life of the common man in Egypt be better with the Muslim Brotherhood in the coalition? I have my doubts.

BTW: Kuwait just handed out $5000 per citizen to keep them from harboring similar thoughts. What would those Shaikhs have done without all that Oil?

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Big Brother

The cynic in me

couldn't help but be amused when listening to radio broadcasts of Ms Clinton trying to cut it both ways with regard to events in Egypt the other night - but not to worry, behind the scenes the US is pitching for some nice general or other «reliable» person to restore «order and stability» in that great «ally». The small portion of me not yet lost to cynicism feels for the Egyptian people - and the rest of the people in North Africa - who are likely to get the royal - or should that be «presidential» ? - screw over once again. Hope I'm wrong !...

Henri

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Big Brother

Meanwhile in UK...

Although what's about to happen in Egypt probably wont be very nice we must remember that similar things happen in our "liberal western democracies". Just a few weeks ago, our very own police force attacked a disabled student protester (get this, half a dozen police officers dragged him out of his wheel chair, hitting him and dragged him across the floor...he had Celebral Palsy!!! ). His crime was to be involved with a student protest. I watched his TV interview on the BBC morning News where the newsman kept cutting him off everytime he tried to say something controversial. I didn't see it on the evening news and it all got brushed under the carpet.

We in UK are a long way from being a brutal dictatorship but it looks like we've made a start. I haven't heard anything from the police on this one but I hope they had a better excuse then "I vos only obeying zee orders". If they can do this to a wheelchair-bound kid with celebral palsy then what would they be prepared to do to the rest of us if we step out of line?

The footage that I saw reminded me of another clip I once saw on TV. It was of an old lady being dragged along the road by her hair by a police officer or paramiltary type. But that was another time and another place (Germany 1938, Kristallnacht). Wedge, thin end, anyone?

As for Egypt, the attack on the museum looked a bit staged. Any looters would likely go for the shiny stuff and not the relatively worthless mummified cats and pottery that was left strategically lying around for the cameras to see.

As for the internet being cut off, well it just shows what a powerful tool it can be. However, be careful, if you say anything controversial on it then there WILL be people taking notes...Big Brother IS watching. Mind you, if you're doing nothing wrong you've got nothing to fear (unless you're a cripple in a wheelchair...).

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Stop

RE: Meanwhile in UK...

The Suckerometer just went off the scale! If you can't see this as a totally planned slur on the Police then you must be more than a bit naive!

".....our very own police force attacked a disabled student protester...." And I'm sure there wasn't a plan along the lines of get a disabled activist, ensure he is disobeying the Police order to move on when part of a demonstartion that has left the agreed route and is in breach of their licence, and then make sure you have another activist ready to video the resulting "Police burtality" when said disabled activist provokes the Police action. Throughout the video, it is very clear that Mr McIntyre did not attempt to move when asked and did not make the job of his removal any easier.

".....he had Celebral Palsy!!! ...." What, it's been cured? He is still suffering from a disability going by his interview, but he does seem lucid enough to have realised physical disability does not make you immune to the laws of the land. Or are you suggesting we should let off murderers that limp, or muggers that have a lisp? Bit telling that Mr McIntyre has decided not to make a complaint after he realised the Police had their own video of the event.

"....half a dozen police officers dragged him out of his wheel chair....." He refused to move, locked his wheelchair wheels and left them no option but to remove him from the roadway (he was obstructing it, therefore also presenting a danger to himself). But I'm sure whatever version of events was spoonfed to you was completely unbiased in relating the events - not!

Amusingly, the request I hear most often from physically less able people is that they want to be treated just the same as their colleagues, so Mr McIntyre seems to have got exactly what he wanted.

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...back in UK

So er, he was turfed into the gutter for his own protection was he? Makes yer proud!

I can now sleep safely in my bed at night in the full knowledge that disabled wheelchair users who are, let's face it, a menace to society, will be dealt with in the most robust manner. They represent a clear and present danger to the very fabric of our society (and to themselves).

Locked his wheels did he? The devious sod! Plod outwitted again.

Maybe it was all a setup, maybe someone will profit from the resulting propaganda but what's our country coming to when the disabled are dealt with so severely? I can't think of a single scenario where I would do the same as those brave boys. Shame on them and shame on this country that didn't react with the outrage that it should have done.

I mean, seriously. WTF? Sorry to go on but WTF?!!!

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