July 31, 2005
A police interview with one of the failed london bombers seems to bear out the modus operandi discussed in the book “Imperial Hubris”. The book describes how Al Qaeda websites openly ask supporters to post details of possible targets, asking for photographs, maps and anything else. The websites call upon all muslims to contribute in whatever way they can. The authorities obviously have access to everything that is posted, but the sheer volume makes it difficult to follow up.
The interview with Osman Hussain:
“We never had contacts with the Bin Laden organisation. We knew that they existed. We had access to their platforms through the internet, but nothing direct.”
He told investigators the cell was surprised by the 7 July bombs. “We have no link with the Pakistanis,” he said. However, his group took the 7 July carnage as a signal that it should also act.
Of course all this makes it nigh on impossible for the security services. Where there is no hierarchical structure there are no obvious command and control targets.
Reading “Imperial Hubris” i was reminded of CP Snow’s version of the three laws of thermodynamics:
You can’t win.
You can’t break even.
You can’t get out of the game.
Today I happened to have been reading two books. The first “Imperial Hubris” by Anonymous, and the second (to my children) “Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince”.
I realized after 20 pages of the new Potter that He Who Must Not be Named, the Dark One, or Voldemort, is Osama bin laden. Of course he is. Now bridges are being blown up, there are not just mere explosions but the use of giants. The war waged against muggles/infidels. I am not alone in spotting the link.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Voldemort takes up terrorism. The Dark Lord and his Death Eaters—who had gained strength in the earlier installments and have finally arrived in force—use their newfound power to spread fear in familiar ways. They destroy bridges. They murder innocents. They compel children to kill their elders. (They’re also behind a magical and destructive hurricane. Does J.K. Rowling know something we don’t?)
Half-Blood Prince is the first book in the series to hint openly at an awareness of the post-9/11 global political climate. An amusing opening chapter — which, nonetheless, hints at many not-at-all-amusing incidents, particularly considering how closely this book was released to the July 2005 London terrorist bombings — that gets in a clever dig at Tony Blair serves to paint Voldemort as an invisible but omnipresent figure of menace not unlike Osama bin Laden.
One can go a little too far. I stopped this nonsense the second i saw a piece discussing what character Dick Cheney might be.
July 17, 2005
although interested (obviously) in suicide, the posts that come up on my rss feeds relating to murder-suicides i ignore. there are a lot of them. days go by when they are all there are. some guy who’s been dumped by his girlfriend kills her, maybe a kid or two, then turns out his own light. then, of course, you get the big ones, the suicide bombers.
i’ve become steadily more irked by the coverage in the media of the london “suicide bombings”. i have as much at stake as the next guy when it comes to murdering passengers on london transport systems, i travel on it most days, yet the only big deal is that it’s happening here. today at least 60 people died in a suicide bombing in baghdad. yesterday it was 40. And it happens every day.
the speculation is on why some “home grown” would do such a thing. from the times:
The current wave of bombers no longer comes purely from the poor and downtrodden classes seeking a way out of poverty and their desperate lives. It also includes young men and women from the middle classes with a high level of education and a profession.
“We are educated strugglers,” claimed Yunis, a 27-year-old Palestinian graduate I met while he was preparing for a mission. “We are not terrorists and the world should recognise that our acts are not intended to be pure, cold-blooded murder.”
Curiously, he had begun our conversation by talking of his love for art and the paintings of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Picasso before abruptly changing the subject to his impending “martyrdom”.
the parent’s of one bomber have apologised, saying that their son must have been brainwashed. perhaps. equally possible is that he was bored, “crucially bored” as christopher hitchens diagnosed hs thompson, “boredom is a physical threat to some people.”
July 15, 2005
A 12 year old hanged himself from his bunk bed using his school tie after his mother took away his playstation to punish him for getting a detention at school.
In a statement, Mrs Lloyd, a housewife and mother of two other younger children, told the hearing that her partner, who is not Gary’s father, had previously tried unsuccessfully to kill himself.
As a result, Gary’s death in October last year was a “prank that went wrong”, deputy coroner Christopher Welton said.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Welton said Gary had seen suicide as a way to attract attention.
“He’d seen a situation with his mother’s partner that had attracted attention to him after he’d had a bit of a problem,” he said.
“He knew his mother would be coming up soon to find him.”
Tags: suicide, playstation
July 10, 2005
I’ve been in Norwich this weekend. As I wandered around I was aware of something odd going on, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I took the kids to see the Lord Mayor’s Procession. Then I got it. The place is almost completely white. Take a look at the 90% white bangra band (who, incidentally, rocked):
July 9, 2005
So this guy who sought to prove the relation of marijuana to cancer developed a study.
The Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance program provided Tashkin’s team with the names of 1,209 L.A. residents aged 59 or younger with cancer ( 611 lung, 403 oral/pharyngeal, 90 laryngeal, 108 esophageal ). Interviewers collected extensive lifetime histories of marijuana, tobacco, alcohol and other drug use, and data on diet, occupational exposures, family history of cancer, and various “socio-demographic factors.” Exposure to marijuana was measured in joint years ( joints per day x 365 ). Controls were found based on age, gender and neighborhood. Among them, 46% had never used marijuana, 31% had used less than one joint year, 12% had used 10-30 j-yrs, 2% had used 30-60 j-yrs, and 3% had used for more than 60 j-yrs. Tashkin controlled for tobacco use and calculated the relative risk of marijuana use resulting in lung and upper airwaves cancers.
It was found that marijuana use did not lead to higher rates of cancer. No. Quite the reverse.
All the odds ratios turned out to be less than one ( one being equal to the control group’s chances )! Compared with subjects who had used less than one joint year, the estimated odds ratios for lung cancer were .78; for 1-10 j-yrs, .74; for 10-30 j-yrs, .85 for 30-60 j-yrs; and 0.81 for more than 60 j-yrs. The estimated odds ratios for oral/pharyngeal cancers were 0.92 for 1-10 j-yrs; 0.89 for 10-30 j-yrs; 0.81 for 30-60 j-yrs; and 1.0 for more than 60 j-yrs.
“The odds ratios are less than one almost consistently, and in one category that relationship was significant, but I think that it would be difficult to extract from these data the conclusion that marijuana is protective against lung cancer. But that is not an unreasonable hypothesis.”
July 8, 2005
In our occasional series on suicide methodologies i have, to date, deliberately steered clear of one. This is, of course, to strap explosives to yourself and then catch a bus, or maybe a train. Only I’d rather you didn’t.
The BBC are reporting that the bombs today were suicide bombings, and that the bombers were probably home grown. This is not good.
As one islamic comedian said “there aren’t actually 72 virgins waiting for you, there’s just one, she’s 72, and she’s been promised to everybody”.
July 7, 2005
I blame the french. They’ve got form. Think Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour. And it would make sense of Chirac’s comments yesterday.
Ok, maybe not. Whoever they were, it gave me two decent walks today, the first after missing a bomb by 2 minutes. I was impressed by how mellow everyone was. People just got on, smiled, maybe used the disruptions this morning to grab a coffee and talk for an extra few minutes. There was a sense of “Oh, bombs. Yeah, they’re back.” Like it’s the past couple of years that were odd.
This evening I strolled back from the city. It was a beautiful quiet evening. St Paul’s looked great (look no cars):
I walked along Cheapside, one of the oldest roads in the city. I saw things I’ve never noticed before. As I passed beneath St Mary le Bow church the bow bells tolled.
It wasn’t the hour. They went on and on, maybe thirty or forty times. And what does that mean? Let’s ask the nursery rhyme:
“Oranges and lemons,”
Say the bells of St. Clemens.
“You owe me five farthings,”
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.
“When will you pay me?”
Say the bells of Old Bailey.
“When I grow rich,”
Say the bells of Shoreditch.
“When will that be?”
Say the bells of Stepney.
“I do not know,”
Says the great bell at Bow.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
The bank of England looked great (look no cars):
And across London Bridge, with many many others (look no cars):
Thankyou London for a particularly good walk (look no cars).
A new phenomenon, this time around, is SMS.
I got maybe forty messages today to see if I was ok. Which is ok.
They came from all over. So many in fact, that I began to wonder about those that hadn’t reached out.
July 6, 2005
Well, in Scotland the protests have started in earnest. We saw earlier that “I predict a riot“, and some violence has been seen. Of course, there are many clowns in the crowds, peace activists, ageing rock stars, even the odd politician. There’s another free gig on tonight so the numbers will swell once more.
But despite the violence I’ve not noted any police casualties. Oh yes, there was one. A certain George Bush landed a policeman in hospital with “ankle injuries” after running into him with his bike. The president’s hand, we are told, required bandages. I kid you not.
Meanwhile Sir Bob Geldof shared joint honours with Lord Coe and Jaques Chirac for winning London the 2012 olympics. As the French have stated theirs was an “ethical bid”. London, after all, used underhand tactics, like live8 and bad food.
Chirac was extremely courteous in an interview, heartily congratulating London, and pointing out that he will have the chance, very soon, to congratulate Tony Blair in person. Oh to be a fly on the wall.
Tags: live8, 2012
July 3, 2005
I think Live8 was extraordinary. Mr Geldof, if it was he, scripted the show brilliantly. It wasn’t so much a gig as a giant political broadcast you could dance to. Memorable moments were The Who singing “who are you” as the photos of the G8 leaders flashed one by one on the screen, Pink Floyd (including Roger Waters) with Comfortably Numb. Mandela called for “humanity to rise up”, Geldof for everyone to march on Edinburgh. I found myself wondering what was going to happen over the next few days. Then the TV coverage switched to Philadelphia, to The Kaiser Chiefs singing “I Predict a Riot”. We’ll see.