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July 07, 2005

Comments

I have just heard, on CNN, that there may be 45 dead. Four bombs, three on the Tube and one in a double-decker bus; apparently coordinated. A group that no one has ever heard of, claiming to be an al Qaeda affiliate, has claimed responsibility, but this is unconfirmed; apparently the web site on which the claim was made is one that anyone can post anything to. More when I hear it.

My heart goes out to everyone in London, and in the UK more generally. I hope all our readers there are well; my thoughts are with you. For what little that's worth.

Truly awful.

Red Ken spoke as powerfully as one could this morning.

They are waiting for a press conference from British authorities. I will post on it as it happens.

Truly terrible news. The people of London are in my thoughts and prayers.

my heart goes out to Jesurgislac from this site and all the people of London.

It looks like Bin Laden isn't having any problem meeting his recruitment quotas so we'll see even more of this, especially with our attention and funds going elsewhere. The man and organization who bombed my neighborhood almost 4 years ago is still at large and operating 'successfully', much to my disgust.

I blogged about it on Liberal Street Fighter this morning.

Charles --

Add a link to Norm Geras's blog (he's on my blogroll). He's updating every fifteen to twenty minutes, and doing a fantastic job of it.

Press conference: 8:51, Liverpool St.: 7 confirmed fatalities. 8:56: 21 confirmed fatalities. Next: 5 confirmed fatalities. 9:43: bus explosion; unconfirmed numbers of fatalities.

Police received no warning, and no claims of responsibility from any group.

45 patients with serious or critical injuries. 300 patients with minor injuries.

No info yet that these were anything but conventional explosives; no info on whether they were suicide bombings or not. No info that any arrests made. No people still trapped in Tube.

and no claims of responsibility from any group.

The European Jihad has, I've heard, claimed responsibility. Whether that's true or not, I don't know.

Thanks for your sympathy. Appreciated.

AFAIK - and as yet, I don't know for sure - no one I know was near the bombs. There's a rollcall on livejournal confirming people are safe.

It's not good, though I'm trying to remember that we'll know more by tomorrow. London's been through worse.

Last three comments are from press conference by London emergency and transport services (police, ambulance services, Tube, fire, etc.)

Indonesia,Turkey,Spain,London:al Qaeda still manages one major international attack a year, which is at most all they intended or wanted before 9/11,IIRC. No apparent degradation or deterrence in 5 years.

My heart goes out to Londoners, who deserve better protection than they have gotten. Mr "Mission Accomplished" needs to personally tell every grieving family member that "Osama bin Laden is not important."

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I am just really pissed.

Jes: what I meant to say was (reporting from the press conference): the police have received no claims of responsibility. They have just discussed the web claim; they say that they do not know it to be genuine; they are looking at it, and any other leads that may appear, but are keeping an open mind.

If anyone in London is, for some reason, relying on us for info: underground out for the rest of the day; bus expected back into central London later; reason: all busses and trains need to be checked for explosives.

Just went over to Tacitus and did a double-take - he's within a hundred miles of me. How... unexpected.

From his blog (and how weird to think that I know exactly where he's posting from)

Perhaps the villains' expectation is that the Briton will quail as the Spaniard, reacting to massacre with headlong flight from foreign fields. I think not. About me, I see older Scots with a steely flint in their eyes. The reckoning will come. There is a soul of honor beneath the ribs of death.

Yeah. My reaction, as, dear Tacitus, one of those Scots whom you might well have passed unknowing - we have at least as much sense as the Spaniards. We won't waste resources on a military non-solution. Rather than attack innocents, we'll find the people who are actually responsible.

And yes, I trust that the terrorist attack will not influence British foreign policy one whit: I hope we still withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year.

"The Bloody Seventh"?

Can we all agree that microbranding of tragedies is in poor taste while people are still being rescued? No offense to Josh, but this is hardly the place or time to get cute about such things.

Wilfred: chances are if this was an Al Quaeda attack, it will have been by a group "inspired by" bin Laden, rather than planned and funded by him.

"There is a soul of honor beneath the ribs of death."

Trevino's steely resolve is so firm and upright. Made the blood rise, did it? So much quick excitement in reaction to scenes of civilian carnage makes me all moist in admiration.

"The Bloody Seventh"? Oh, for crying out loud. Tasteless.

I forbid myself from reading right-wing sites today. Charles' post has been pretty informative, but if I bear witness to one instance of the inevitable Republican attempts to exploit this for Bush's political gain, I'm going to shred them and the consequences will not be pretty.

Jes, first thing I did when I sat down this morning was send you email, but I'm glad to see this was unnecessary and you and yours are okay.

Edward:

I find Trevino/Tacitus' writings to be gripping, particularly from international venues, despite my political disagreements with him.

He's somewhere between William Manchester and Bono, however, in the self-dramatization he brings to events: the individual observor swept up in world-changing cataclysms.

It's an acquired taste, not that I don't appreciate Manchester and U2.

Oddly, now, too, he's the Zelig of terror attacks. Who is this guy?

Trying to write in the aftermath of horror is awful: you want to somehow convey the sheer dreadfulness of it, without cheapening anything by turning into a Hallmark card. How Tacitus chose to strike this balance, and the adequacy of his prose style to the occasion, doesn't seem particularly important just now. Your mileage may vary, of course.

I think Tac should test his theory about steely British spines.

I think he should remind them about the "terrorist flypaper" theory, and thank them for being the latest proxy target.

How does that go, again?

"We're fighting them in Iraq/Madrid/London so we don't have to fight them here at home"?

Things are kind of rolling on here - I live about about 1/2 mile from Russell Square and 3/4 from Kings Cross, work literally across the road from Tavistock Square where the bus explosion was (but I'm working from home today) - I suspect many people have absconded from work as the pub benches are fairly full. Many people likely can't get to where they need to in any case. BBC is being a bit coy about numbers, for a long time only gave the figure of 2 dead; now it is clear the final figure will be much higher.

I have to say, as a person of Catalan heritage, and lifelong Londoner, it impresses me that today of all days someone would seek to twist some sort of knife towards my gut. Thanks Tacitus.

I'm a Londoner. Please don't call this the Bloody Seventh. This isn't a film or some schlocky thriller novel.

Hilzoy: How Tacitus chose to strike this balance, and the adequacy of his prose style to the occasion, doesn't seem particularly important just now.

Not in the larger scale of things, no. I wouldn't have bothered checking his blog if Charles hadn't posted the link. It's just a tiny added irritant, like the smirk on Bush's face as Blair spoke from Gleneagles about the attack.

Jon,

I agree that Tacitus is an excellent writer (I note so frequently). And his account is gripping. It's really the tacky branding of the event while the rescue is still underway that strikes me as insincere.

I am very glad and reliefed that you are ok Jes. I had a few friends in London who are fine too, thankfully.

Horrific is the only word that comes to mind. My heart goes out to all the victims and their relatives.

I'm a Londoner. Please don't call this the Bloody Seventh. This isn't a film or some schlocky thriller novel.

And Alex, of course.

Jes, James, and everyone else in the UK: glad you're all OK. Again, our thoughts are with you.

Hmm, apologies for the double post. Might be the comm lines here. Anyway, the point was worth making twice. I haven't heard back from everyone I know who lives or works in the affected areas. I'd rather people waited a bit before sensationalising this or using it to prop up their own arguments.

Good words from Ken Livingstone (Mayor of London) here.

And how did my posts appear in reverse order? Very strange. But unimportant.

Can I suggest that we focus less on the terms used to describe the tragedy than the tragedy itself? There'll be time for hashing it out (and the inevitable recriminations) later; for now, let's not lose sight of the fact that we're all human beings here, and we're all coping with this as best we can.

Friend of mine in London, who's a bit shaken, but otherwise OK, says that the pubs are packed and "earliest suggestions (not entirely serious) were to blame the French..."

God, I love London.

Wilfred: chances are if this was an Al Quaeda attack, it will have been by a group "inspired by" bin Laden, rather than planned and funded by him.

I'm not in the UK and know nothing about the bombings except what I'm hearing on the BBC so I'll comment on this:

the Briton will quail as the Spaniard

Why does Trevino always sound like a sixth-former in an amateur Shakespeare production?

Livingstone's remarks today are moving precisely because they aren't truculent, idle threats, or pompous self-dramatizing, but promises to keep and defend what the terrorists wish to destroy most, a free and diverse society.

"I know that you do fear you may fail in your long term objective: to destroy our free society. And I will show you why you will fail. In the days that follow, look at our airports, look at our seaports and look at our railways."

"Nothing you do, however many of us you kill will stop that life ... where freedom is strong and people can live in harmony ... whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.”

(I've heard his entire remarks, but haven't found a complete transcript yet. If anyone can point me to one, I'd be delighted.)

x-post: Thanks, James Casey.

Al-Queda is blip on the vast history of Britain!

Amen, Anarch. And amen to pretty much all of what hilzoy's said, so far. The time for the making-wrong of people we merely don't like isn't quite ripe, yet.

This is awful beyond my capacity for expressing, which is pretty much why I haven't said anything.

Livingston's a giant!

could we maybe not do a flame war, or anything resembling it, this morning?

I like Daniel Davies' response.

London, Madrid, New York--these places are the living antithesis of everything Al Qaeda stands for and believes, the living proof that they are wrong. It's not a question of whether you vote for Aznar or Zapatero, Bush or Kerry, Blair or Michael Howard or Charles Kennedy. It's the fact that while a few people I know briefly thought of moving from Manhattan--all but one minor acquaintance changed their mind, and most of the people I know there didn't even consider it.
Osama bin Laden and Muhammad Atta have proved themselves capable of murdering New Yorkers and Madrilenos and Londoners (though this may not have been centrally planned and may not have been Al Qaeda at all, we don't know for sure.) But they can't kill these cities. They won't. They haven't even managed to put a serious dent in New York City's real estate prices, for God's sake. Nor did they do anything but increase turnout in the Spanish election.

London's the only city I've ever been to (I actually stayed a few blocks from one of the blasts, between Kings Cross and Russell Square) that I thought could match New York. It's survived worse murderers than bin Laden and worse days than this, and it is the height of arrogance for us to hand them either certificates of merit or demerits for their resolve. There is just no question at all: al Qaeda won't be able to kill or break London (how perfectly does Edward's post prove that?); I just hope they killed as few Londoners possible.

James and Jes, I hope you hear from everyone you know soon.

And Spain!

Still waiting to hear about my friends, but so glad to hear that our ObWi folks are okay.

I hate that we automatically think of political consequences at a time like this, even though we regret it a moment later.

The thing to do, I think, is to accept that they will occur, but let them pass by un-spoken or written about -- and refocus on those who need our help and prayers right now.

Perhaps the villains' expectation is that the Briton will quail as the Spaniard, reacting to massacre with headlong flight from foreign fields.

Am I the only one who thinks this is the cheapest of cheap shots? Can we not take just one day off from "staying on message" and mourn?

This is the most complete version I have found of Livingstone's statement:

"I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.

"It is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other.

"This was a cowardly attack, which has resulted in injury and loss of life. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been injured, or lost loved ones. I want to thank the emergency services for the way they have responded.

"Following the al-Qaeda attacks on September 11th in America we conducted a series of exercises in London in order to be prepared for just such an attack. One of the exercises undertaken by the government, my office and the emergency and security services was based on the possibility of multiple explosions on the transport system during the Friday rush hour.

"The plan that came out of that exercise is being executed today, with remarkable efficiency and courage, and I praise those staff who are involved.

"I'd like to thank Londoners for the calm way in which they have responded to this cowardly attack and echo the advice of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair - do everything possible to assist the police and take the advice of the police about getting home today.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a terrorist attack. We did hope in the first few minutes after hearing about the events on the Underground that it might simply be a maintenance tragedy. That was not the case.

"I have been able to stay in touch through the very excellent communications that were established for the eventuality that I might be out of the city at the time of a terrorist attack and they have worked with remarkable effectiveness. I will be in continual contact until I am back in London.

"I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I'm proud to be the mayor of that city.

"Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to take life.

"I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to take others - that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you why you will fail.

"In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.

"They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves.

"They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don't want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail."

Perhaps the villains' expectation is that the Briton will quail as the Spaniard, reacting to massacre with headlong flight from foreign fields.

Am I the only one who thinks this is the cheapest of cheap shots? Can we not take just one day off from "staying on message" and mourn?

Thanks, Katherine. That's the first full transcript of what Livingstone said that I've seen.

Good old Red Ken.

Livingstone: bang-on. Thank you, Katherine.

Excellent speech by Livingstone.

This is from a post at TPMcafe, which came in for much criticism in a post here the other day by myself and others. If you want to get political about this atrocity, I think this is the way to go:

Here is a note to me this morning from my old friend Mick Cox, professor at the London School of Economics. I think he gets it right.

"The consensus seems to be that the London bombing was co-ordinated to coincide with the G8 meeting in Scotland. So if one of the objectives of the terrorists was to focus attention on themselves - whoever they might be - they have at one stroke done a major disservice to those many millions in Africa suffering from poverty and equal damage to those who were hoping to push a reluctant Bush towards accepting the need for firmer action on global warming.

Thus, as always, terrorism serves to divert attention away from real world problems and what can be done about them, to how best the state can be strengthened to prevent further terrorist attacks in the future. The cause of human progress has yet again been dealt a cruel blow.

Best LJ post I've seen today on the dubject:

"if the Luftwaffe couldn't bring the city to its knees, these pathetic penny-ante cowards certainly won't."
-John Kovalic

"Perhaps the villains' expectation is that the Briton will quail as the Spaniard, reacting to massacre with headlong flight from foreign fields.

Am I the only one who thinks this is the cheapest of cheap shots? Can we not take just one day off from 'staying on message' and mourn?"

I also find this prose improper -- its the inevitable consequence of the deliberate polarization of the terrorism issue by the Bush administration. The immediate reactions from the partisans is how to spin this for partisan purposes -- the terrorism issue is now one for political opportunism.

Compare this reaction to the typical reaction worldwide post 9/11, which was to set aside differences and gather together to face the evil in unison.

The Livingston remarks are inspiring and stand in sharp contrast.

Can we have maybe an entire day without the endless jockeying for the moral high ground? I'd even go for an extended moment of silence. Please, I'm begging you. Think of it as an extended moment of, you know, filtering of your internal conversation through something more sound-deadening than speaker grillcloth. Maybe something like decorum.

With apologies to those who may be contending with the London attacks in a more immediate sense...

At some point I hope we grapple with the fact that human suffering like today's in London is horribly similar to events that happen far more frequently in Iraq and other far-flung places.

Setting aside all the political origins of that reality for the day, my wish (one which I am not particularly optimistic about) is that the current suffering would not only firm resolve, but also increase the capacity of a few hearts in the West to appreciate the shared human cost of violence. We are more sensitive to today's news for a variety of reasons. Our reaction highlights how much we've grown accustomed and desensitized to the fact that civilians elsewhere are targeted every day by these same types of ruthless attackers.

Jes,

Is there an online phone directory for London?

Slarti--Can we have maybe an entire day without the endless jockeying for the moral high ground?

Seconded.

Slart, we can't have a second without the pols and commentariat playing King-of-the-moral-hill. But we ourselves can refuse to play.

Edward: Is there an online phone directory for London?

Not to my knowledge. But if there's someone you need to get in touch with, for heaven's sake, e-mail me with details and I will do my best.

All I can say.

Slarti: thirded.

I should also say that I have found all the footage I've seen of the response of Londoners truly impressive, and moving.

Jes...check your email.

e

Bob Mcmanus,Catsy,Jesurgislac. On the "Bin Laden not important"comment. Thanks for the info,I didn't know Bin Laden personally planted the bombs,I thought it was an organization,one that would exist with or without Bin Laden. I trust your pissed remark is directed at the murderers,the real murderers not Bush. Catsy,sorry to see only one party is exploiting this for political gain,[how exactly]. When will the Democrats ever speak out,or bear witness as you dramatically put it. Jesurgislac, I was watching the Blair comments and missed the Bush smirk,didn't even catch a smile. Maybe Bush should copy Howard Dean's facial expressions. On Trevino/Tacitus, I suppose it's tacky to express anger and resolve at a moment like this when we should all be talking about root causes,imperialism,and inevitably,coming together. What can you do,not everybody wears the same shoe size either.

we can't have a second without the pols and commentariat playing King-of-the-moral-hill

Of course. But by "we" I meant "we-uns".

I haven't actually seen any coverage, being at work and all, but what I've read has been...words once again evade me. I swear, I'm so reluctant to be misunderstood that I can scarcely communicate anything at all.

I have a friend in London who lived right across the street from one of the blasts. Her commentary to this point, aside from accounting for friends in the area has been to be impressed by the expertise with which the London Emergency Services have dealt with the issue, even with the top flight terrorism team in Scotland. As a resident of Oklahoma, let me just say good on' ya Londoners and may God be with you as well. My prayers are with you.

Take a timeout, johnt

Please?

i request that johnt be banned for the day for his contemptible comment.

Slarti: I swear, I'm so reluctant to be misunderstood that I can scarcely communicate anything at all.

Truce, Slarti. I promise to assume you mean well no matter what you say, okay? Unless you say "let's bomb someone!!" because I'm feeling a little twitchy about that. ;-)

Have a cup of tea. *brews fresh pot* Anyone else? Milk? Sugar?

That comment is bad, it doesn't strike me as banning bad .

milk and sugar...and a few McVittie's please

A nice cup of tea and a sit down - that's what we all need. And biscuits. And cake.

Remember, you need to warm the pot first and make tea with boiling water.

Moe's got his Union Jack up. If you do go over and comment, show some decorum, please. Eventually Moe might be coaxed to eat out of our hands.

Truce, Slarti.

Done! But I wasn't being twitchy around you; more being twitchy that every byte emitted by my keyboard seemed fundamentally wrong and inappropriate (or simply woefully inadequate), and was consequently sucked back in by the backspace key.

PG Tips and Jaffa Cakes for me, thank you. Followed by a quick nip into the Frog 'n Firkin for a jar or two. *chuckles to self* silly language

But I wasn't being twitchy around you

Well, that's a relief.

Honestly, so far today I have only told one person to shut the hell up, and that was a newbie over at LSF who was posting at length and without any humanity at all, it seemed to me.

Nothing seems adequate, I know. This is why the British impulse is to make tea. When all else fails, a comforting brew-up is the solution. To everything including your back teeth, if it's made strong enough.

Well, if we can't ban him, can I at least call him a contemptible arsehole?

Fair's fair, after all.

How about we all just ignore Johnt and he gets no tea and no biscuits?

And, it must be said that the power of a cup of tea to make everything seem a lot better is one of those mysteries which Modern Science has yet to fully unravel. It's undoubtedly the secret of our success as a nation.

Moe's got his Union Jack up. If you do go over and comment, show some decorum, please. Eventually Moe might be coaxed to eat out of our hands.

Did I miss a memo or something? How come no-one's mentioned that Moe was blogging again?

Different Moe, I suspect, no?

OMG...it's MOE!!! OUR MOE!!!

Of course, he seems rather serious about the "no politics" bit.

Slarti, how long have you known about this and not told us?

Of course, he seems rather serious about the "no politics" bit.

S'okay, I have a seriously geeky side curled up behind the left-wing facade.

Regarding the tragedy today in London, may I refer you to this Pont cartoon from a different crisis?

Pont did a regular cartoon for Punch in the 1930's that illustrated the British character. My favorite (which sadly I cannot locate on the web) was a group of serene card-player on a ship, up to their chests in water as the ship sinks. Titled something like "Calm in the face of crisis."

Jes: How about we all just ignore Johnt and he gets no tea and no biscuits?

Can he at least have some Celestial Drops. I mean this doesn't seem at all fair, just because his genetically caused sexual repression causes him to utter the above...

London DJ's still introduce me to American music.

It was a London Raver who taught me..."You can take the boy out of the rave, but you can't take the rave out of the boy."

Slarti - nevermind, since yesterday, right?

Good find.

This is why the British impulse is to make tea.

This is just one of the many qualities British that I find endearing: when the world's on fire, do a few extra deep-knee bends. And God forbid a few cannonballs whizzing through the mains'l distracts one from tea.

Slarti, how long have you known about this and not told us?

About 17 hours.

Dears, it wasn't I who politicized this thing,do try and remember that. You may,if your strength holds out,scroll up and observe some remarks that under the circumstances could be regarded as tasteless. You dishes it out and you gots to take it. I can,can you? Francis/etc. I demand that you be locked up in your room without your rubber ducky and dessert. So there!

Odd. Wonder what might have necessitated a decorumectomy?

johnt: please stop. It doesn't matter who started what. This is not the time.

Odd. Wonder what might have necessitated a decorumectomy?

Indeed. Went back and read the thread, and didn't find the alleged trigger. What gives, Johnt?

jeez, johnt, doncha think that you could not act like a six year old while the death count is still rising?

I would like to second my previous seconding of Slarti's proposal.

On a day like this, they're all still mostly talking about Tacitus. Ha. Losers.

Don't forget to wipe up after yourself, Josh.

Here's something interesting:

"Among the targets in the worst attack on London since World War II was the Edgware Road station, located in the heart of wealthy, assimilated Arab London. Middle Easterners of a variety of religions and South Asian Muslims are a substantial minority of the population in London, and the Edgware Road area is the pre-eminent Arab neighborhood in the city, with a fantastic variety of Lebanese coffee shops, Saudi grocery stores, and Persian restaurants. Some even call it "Little Lebanon," though the residents and shop clients come from all over the Middle East and North Africa, and the area especially attracts a young, hip crowd that compares it to Amman or Dubai. Edgware Road is Arab London's main street."

(cite)

And while I know that I have no right to tell anyone what to say, I would ask people just not to respond to anyone who perpetuates the (to me horrible) politicization of this. (And if it's horrible to me, a total outsider, imagine how it must feel to the people of London, who should be our main concern) Again, just me asking. Thanks.

I'm sure I'm not making the mess, Phillip. How pathetically typical that this would be what's fixated on here. Anyway, back to the hate tacitus hate bad hate show.

Or, if you have a lick of sense, you'll listen to Hilzoy.

Red Ken for PM!

(Is that too political?)

Fer cryin' out loud.

I realize that Tac's a great writer and, at times, a great provoker, but when did this day or this blog become the time and place to replay TacWars XVII?

If you have a comment for Tac, post it at an appropriate place -- e.g., his diary at Redstate. If you want to express support for our UK friends (glad to hear you're safe, Jes) or have some insightful comment on Charles' post, well, then, you've come to the right place.

The name is spelled with one "l," smart guy. I realize that referring to people by their full first names fulfills your need to condescend -- and far be it from me to deny so simple a man so simple a gift -- but I'd appreciate you spelling my name correctly. Thanks.

The mess refers to the seed you undoubtedly spilled after seeing yourself being discussed once again by people you profess to dislike so much. And being so moved by it that you felt compelled to comment.

. . . if you have a lick of sense, you'll listen to Hilzoy

Yes, well, if I had just dropped into to call a bunch of people I claim not to care much about "losers," I'd be a little more circumspect about who I offered advice to and what kind I offered, but, hey, motes and beams, right?

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