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Monday, February 10, 2014

Bosnians Share Images of Fresh Protests

As my colleague Alison Smale reports from Sarajevo, antigovernment protesters returned to the streets in Bosnia on Monday, driven by anger at a dysfunctional political system’s inability to address an economic crisis.

Just as they did last week, Bosnians shared firsthand accounts and images of the protests on social networks as they unfolded.

Supporters of the protest movement also pushed back against attempts to discredit the demonstrations, arguing that police brutality had inflamed passions last week before government offices were sacked. The Belgrade-based Bosnian blogger Vladan Đukanović pointed to one video clip posted on YouTube, said to show that the chaos in Sarajevo on Friday began only after the police had pushed peaceful protesters down the bank of the river that runs through the city.

Video said to show Bosnian protesters being forced over an embankment in Sarajevo on Friday.

Angered by the police response, over the weekend protesters demanded the release of demonstrators who had been detained and even encouraged officers to take their side.

Video of one tearful young woman, urging the police to stand with the protesters on Sunday in Sarajevo, was quickly viewed more than 20,000 times on YouTube.

A young woman pleaded with police officers to join the protesters in Sarajevo on Sunday.

One Sarajevan graduate photographed by Marin Versic, an Al Jazeera producer, demonstrated the frustration many educated young people feel at the lack of economic opportunity by standing with his diploma in a box on the street on Monday, collecting money for a second degree, calling the first one useless.

A Bosnian blogger living in Britain added English subtitles to viral video of a senior citizen whose televised rant against the politicians seemed to capture the mood of many supporters of the antigovernment protests.

Video of a Bosnian man venting his anger at the political class that has ruled the country for two decades since the Dayton Accords ended the war but cemented an unwieldy political system that divides the country along ethnic lines.

Outside the capital, the demonstrations, partly organized online, reportedly spread from cities to smaller towns across the Muslim-Croat federation that makes up about half the country.

Although the protests were concentrated in areas of the country under Muslim and Croat control, the demonstrators again waved banners with slogans denouncing the ethnic nationalist politics that divided Bosnia into three parts when the Dayton Accords were signed, ending the brutal civil war in 1995.

As Dobrila Govedarica of the Open Society explained, the wave of protests was ignited last week in Tuzla, Bosnia’s second largest city, once the industrial powerhouse of the former Yugoslavia, where “some 10,000 unemployed workers took to the streets to demand that the local government investigate privatizations they said had lined the pockets of profiteers and destroyed their livelihoods and the companies themselves.”

Among the troubled firms was the Konjuh furniture factory. This once proud company in many ways tells the story of Bosnia-Herzegovinaâ€"and Yugoslavia, the former communist federation of six republics.

Founded in 1885 by enterprising businessmen from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the company thrived. Under Tito, the company employed 5,300 employees and sold high-quality wood furnishings to customers on five continents. By December 2013, the company employed just 400 workers, some of whom were on hunger strike.

Demonstrators who planned to take to the streets in Republika Srpska, the part of the country still under Bosnian Serb rule, reportedly faced intimidation and even counter-demonstrations.

Srećko Šekeljić, a founder of The Balkanist magazine, reported from a small solidarity protest in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, where demonstrators expressing support for their neighbors across the ethnic divide, were heckled by nationalists.

Journalist Dies From Blast at Rio Protest

Health officials in Rio de Janeiro announced on Monday that Santiago Andrade, a Brazilian cameraman who had been wounded by an explosive device while covering clashes between protesters and the police, was “clinically brain-dead,” the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported.

Mr. Andrade had been in a coma since Thursday night, when he underwent emergency neurosurgery after being struck in the head by the blast.

A São Paulo journalist, Kety Shapazian, reported on Twitter that a young protester was arrested over the weekend, having been caught on video passing the flare that struck Mr. Andrade to another man just before the incident.

Although the protester initially said he had handed the flare to a complete stranger, his lawyer said on Monday that his client would identify the other man in return for a reduced charge.

Georgia Governor Promises State Is Better Prepared for Coming Storm

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued a state of emergency Monday for an upcoming winter storm.

After harsh criticism for the slow response to the ice and snow that paralyzed the Atlanta metropolitan area for days last month, Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia issued a state of emergency on Monday, a day before a winter storm was expected to hit.

“We are not looking back, we are looking forward,” Governor Deal said as he canceled schools and urged people to stay off the roads in about a third of the state as weather officials projected a significant ice storm moving into the area Tuesday. “We want to make sure that we are as prepared as possible.”

Meanwhile, more than 13,000 Philadelphia Electric Company customers, mostly in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, were still without power on Monday, six days after an ice storm downed hundreds of power lines and trees in what officials said was the second-worst storm in the utility’s history, after only Hurricane Sandy.

Ben Armstrong, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Electric Company, said that Chester County, Pa., was the hardest hit part of the region, with 5,500 customers still without service on Monday. About 3,500 others in Montgomery County and 2,000 in Bucks County were also without power.

A map from the utility shows area by area where power is out.

County emergency management officials were urging people to go to warming centers and shelters set up by the American Red Cross, with temperatures expected to fall another eight degrees tonight.

Mr. Armstrong said 850,000 customers had lost power from Hurricane Sandy. With last week’s ice storm, he said, 715,000 customers lost power. Nearly 6,000 utility workers from around the country were in Pennsylvania trying to bring power back on line.

He said that PECO hoped to restore power to all customers within the next day. With Hurricane Sandy, the last customer was restored on the eighth day, he said.

In Georgia, Governor Deal urged people: “Please use your own best judgment. Do not put yourself or your family in jeopardy.”

During the storm on Jan. 28, thousands of people were stranded, from motorists stuck on ice-covered clogged interstate highways to elementary school students who slept overnight on gym mats. Some people abandoned their cars and spent the night in local supermarkets and Home Depot stores.

“We are making every effort to be prepare for this event,” Mr. Deal said.

Alarm and Anger Over Britain’s Lack of Preparation Flood Social Media and the Web

Flooded railroad tracks in Somerset in Southwest England Feb. 8 in this video recorded by Britain’s Network Rail.

Video and other images shared online highlighted just how dire the flooding has become in England. Rivers are bursting their banks, railroad tracks are swamped and thousands of people have been stranded by flooding, particularly in southern England, over the past month.

My colleague Katrin Bennhold, who has been tracking the rising floods over the past week and the official response, has reported it was the wettest January on record, and Dorset and Somerset counties have been among the worst hit.

Britain’s Network Rail, which owns and operates the rail infrastructure, posted footage on its website of the floodwaters from the 37-mile-long River Parrett submerging the tracks at Bridgewater in Somerset.

But as Ms. Bennhold wrote on Monday, the political tide is rising, too, as flood warnings are moving up the Thames closer to London.

Thousands of residents along the 215-mile Thames, the longest river in England, have been told to prepare for significant flooding as some areas were evacuated. The Thames Barrier, designed to protect London from a North Sea surge, was shut on Sunday to protect properties along the river from flooding.

Officials are trading charges about who to blame for Britain’s lack of preparedness for the ongoing flood crisis. Efforts to address the problems are being circulated on Twitter.

Prime Minister David Cameron began a tour of affected areas in Portland, Dorset.

On his Twitter account, @David_Cameron, Mr. Cameron posted a series of images showing him in meetings with emergency workers â€" but critics have accused him of reducing such staffing.

The Thames Valley law enforcement authorities kept residents informed of the dangers of the rising waters, while the government’s Environment Agency shared images showing efforts to barricade residential areas to keep them from being inundated.

But citizens and local residents voiced alarm and frustration in social media and online. Channel 4 News released a series of videos on Monday showing residents bemoaning the lack of practical advice as to what to do as they watched the water levels creep higher. Some took to boats and sandbags.

One Walton resident along the Thames said the Environment Agency website told residents there was a flood warning but gave “no real idea as to what is going to happen.”

Channel 4 News interviewed a Walton resident on Feb. 10 Channel 4 News footage of Walton-on-Thames, now “Walton-under-Thames.” One resident along the Thames in Berkshire and Surrey said pontoons were overwhelmed and there was nine inches of water in the building where he works. Channel 4 News interviewed residents along the Thames who said water had risen about 14 inches in 24 hours, as they surveyed an area where houses had been evacuated.

Residents denounced the lack of official response in some areas, and suggested on social media that class and politics were factors in how emergency help was being dispatched.

Fatima Manji, a reporter for Channel 4 News, said on her Twitter account that some residents in Berkshire had complained that the animal rescuers were the only help they had been offered.

Follow Christine Hauser on Twitter @christineNYT.

Olympic Torch-Bearer Apologizes for Racist Obama Tweet

Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak, two of Russia's most decorated athletes, lit the Olympic caldron to open the Sochi Games on Friday.Alberto Pizzoli/Agence France-Presse â€" Getty Images Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak, two of Russia’s most decorated athletes, lit the Olympic caldron to open the Sochi Games on Friday.

A legendary Russian ice skater who helped light the Olympic caldron to open the Sochi Games on Friday apologized on Monday for a racist photomontage of President Obama and a banana posted on her personal Twitter account five months ago.

Writing on the same Twitter account on Monday, the retired athlete, Irina Rodnina, who now represents President Vladimir V. Putin’s party in Parliament, claimed that her account had been hacked.

However, as the Russian journalist Evgeny Feldman noted, Ms. Rodnina had initially defended her right to share the image of the American president and his wife â€" which she said had been sent to her by someone in the United States â€" writing, “Freedom of speech is freedom of speech! Answer for your own hang-ups yourselves!”

As the Russian state news agency R.I.A. Novosti reported in September, the United States Embassy in Moscow and the American ambassador, Michael McFaul, criticized Ms. Rodnina at the time for sharing the Photoshopped image.

Ms. Rodnina’s daughter is the Russian-American journalist Alyona Minkovski, a former employee of the Kremlin-owned satellite channel RT who now works for HuffPost Live. In a message posted on her Twitter account on Saturday, she defended her mother in words that seemed to suggest that the “insensitive” tweet was not, in fact, the work of a hacker.