Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Explodes 

Tony Blair is talking as if he believes it was anti-globalization people who set off the bombs this morning in London. It seems too soon to call. There have been strangely few casualties reported: 2 dead so far despite the fact that one person "said his friend had seen 'the bus ripped open like a can of sardines and bodies everywhere'". Eyewitness accounts here.

We can hope that the surprising calm in the city reported by a BBC manager on NPR is indicative of a lack of damage, rather than shock. My heart goes out to them.

UPDATE: Local NPR station WHYY is saying latest reports from ITN are that 50 are dead, hundreds injured, though ITN's site hasn't caught up, evidently.

In PA, NJ, DC and NY (and probably elsewhere) the law is bearing down on transportation centers to be ready for any potential attacks, a hint of which I got this a.m when disembarking from my commuter train in downtown Philly only to be met by a clutch of dark-clad cops in unfamiliar uniforms, who watched us as we passed by.

BBC World Service reported that a "jihadist website" claimed responsibility, but then had Mideast expert on who raised doubts as to the authenticity of the source.

Bush is babbling his usual buzzwords.

UPDATE: Excerpts from Ken Livingstone's statement here:
"I wish to speak through you directly, to those who came to London to claim lives, nothing you do, how many of us you kill will stop that flight to our cities where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another, whatever you do, how many you kill, you will fail."

UPDATE: That flypaper theory isn't looking so good now, is it? And, what is it, $200 billion and counting? Expensive flypaper. And thank God only conventional weapons were used. Feeling safer now?—Lambert

UPDATE: Figures on the deaths have been revised downward to 33, with the caveat that they are expected to rise as information comes in. In the meantime, the received wisdom is quickly congealing around al-Qaida or something like them as the source of these attacks, partly based on the similarity to the Madrid bombings. Personally, I'm waiting to pass judgement, simply because everything at this point is simply guesswork. What is definite, though, is that the transportation situation in London is a horror, with the entire subway network shut down, one of the rails, and all the buses in central city. (Anyone who has ever lived or spent time there knows what this means.) The story on this from BBC makes it sound as though bomb scares are continuing to stream in, complicating matters further.---Riggsveda

UPDATE: More than 1000 injured so far. Transit is gearing back up--buses starting to run, rails back on with continuous disruptions. They currently anticipate having the Tube back up tomorrow.---Riggsveda

UPDATE: Finally, after being shut out all morning, I got through to Reuters, which is noting that Chertoff has ordered an orange ("high") alert for U.S. trains and subways. Oh, goody, an interesting ride home. In Philly, SEPTA has put extra security on at the stations. And Bush has instructed Homeland Security to be "extra vigilant". I feel better now.---Riggsveda

UPDATE: Latest figures indicate 37 dead. People are amazingly calm there, and holding up with bravery and mutual kindness, despite some horrendous injuries.

A lot of world leaders, including Blair, are making assumptions as to who did this and what motivation they had. It's estimated that at least 24 people had to have been involved to carry it out. Since none of us can say one way or the other, and recalling the quickness with which people were ready to lay the blame for the Oklahoma bombing at the foot of Muslims, I think it might be a good idea to retain a healthy skepticism about all possible scenarios, at least for now. It could indeed be some mutation of al-Qaida, or it could just as well be some obscure group of nobodies bent on some strange mission no one ever heard of before. What's certain is that there is so much anger, hurt, and horror seeking an outlet--any outlet--that it's important to ensure such a release doesn't end up causing more pain and horror. Or, as I wrote elsewhere, let's hope that crazy assholes in and out of government office can refrain from witch hunts and panicked and/or exploitative law-making (in spite of all previous evidence that renders such hopes unlikely).---Riggsveda

UPDATE The BBC has a map of where the explosions occurred:
Damn, Russell Square, right near where I stayed the last time I was in London, and where Virgina Woolf (nee Stephens) lived. Fuckheads. —Lambert.

UPDATE: It chills me when people say the targets of a terrorist attack deserve what they get. The truth is that violence in response to injustice always creates a spiral of endless retaliation that lives on through generations and, even when it appears to have been put to rest, has a tendency to re-surface much later (see Yugoslavia). Nothing feels quite as good as a good grudge.

No matter what the history, no matter how understandable, no matter whose ancestors and predecessors did however much dirt, there can never, never, never be a reason to kill people one doesn't know for a principle one may think is sacrosanct.

And I don't want to hear that old serenade about how there are no "innocents" and how so-and-so have blood on their hands and sins of the fathers, blah, blah, blah. People have been justifying their most ghastly crimes throughout the millenia using one high-talk bullshit principle or other, whether it was based on theology, philosophy, or political theory. None of it matters. Living things matter. And until we start placing living things above intellectual masturbation, we'll keep picking these old scabs, re-opening these old wounds, and bleeding all over each other like mutual Aztec sacrifices. And not one goddamned thing will ever change.---Riggsveda

UPDATE: So now it begins---
"I say, first Declare War on Syria with our Coalition (Brits, Japanese, Baltic Nations, Israel, Australia) with a tactical approach to moving into Iran."
"Muslims everywhere, this is what your religion has brought to this world: murder, torture, honor killings, kidnappings, bombings, rape, medievalism and mayhem.
You must be so proud of your crusade to bring mankind back to your century, the 7th."
"If you were Blair, what would you do?
My suggestion: 1000 bombers from all non Islamic countries would fly over Mecca. Drop leaflets saying 'next time...'.
And then the next time, well that's war, isn't it?"
Oh, enough, you get the idea. Conservative bloggers like Michelle Malkin are babbling paranoid scenarios about the left blaming Israel for trying to subversively start a war, but it looks to me as though it's the right that's spoiling for one. Now that so many of them are already busy in Iraq, I wonder where they'll find more poor and minority kids to fight one?---Riggsveda

UPDATE Even though the flypaper theory is now inoperative, here's a theory that's coming true: The blowback from Iraq is going to be a lot worse than the blowback from Afghanistan I (which produced AQ, if you recall).

Although the Afghan war against the Soviets was largely fought on a rural battlefield, the CIA report said, Iraq is providing extremists with more comprehensive skills including training in operations devised for populated urban areas.

Say, does a coordinated attack on London's mass transit system sound like an "operation devised for [a] populated urban area"? The blowback from Iraq is already happening, isn't it?—Lambert

UPDATE I really have to apologize. Sometimes my zeal runs away from me, and I say things that just aren't fair to the weasels apologists advocates of the Iraq war. Take the flypaper theory. The whole idea is to fight the terrorists, but not on American soil, so Americans don't get killed. And the fact that the latest bombing took place in London doesn't disprove the theory at all: In fact it proves it! After all, the attack still wasn't on American soil, was it? And a tip of the Ol' Corrente Hat goes to whoever finds me a winger blog that makes that argument, but without irony.—Lambert

FINAL UPDATE FROM RIGGSVEDA: Death toll is up to 38, but probably won't stay there, and the hunt is on for the killers, who are now believed to be al-Qaida or al-Qaidaesque. It's been a heartsickening day. I understand the anger and bitterness being expressed here and elsewhere, but I don't have the heart to deal with it anymore. Hold the people you love close tonight, and be grateful for every moment you get with them--they're all that matter in the end, and you don't know how much more time you may get.

From Gandhi, but the contexts are mine---

For those on the right who believe only war will succeed in spreading freedom:
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"
For those on the left who believe violence may be the only solution for the disenfranchised of the world:
"Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary."

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
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