Saturday, July 09, 2005

Birmingham city centre evacuated:
"No vehicles are being allowed past the inner ring road into the city centre, and there have also been reports of controlled explosions by police."
Fingers crossed for the Brummies, eh?

Update (23:30): BBC now reporting that 20,000 people have been evacuated.

Update 2: A Brum blog reports calm, just 10 minutes from Broad Street, the heart of the scare - but no updates for a while. Last entry at 22:45 - "no panic really — just disappointed Friday night revellers and disgruntled (but safe) Brummies." Let's hope so.

Scribbles is investigating...

Update 3: West Midlands police statement:
"The bomb disposal squad has carried out 4 controlled explosions on a bus in Corporation Street, near the Square Pegg public house. This turned out to be a false call. The bomb disposal squad are however, still investigating another suspicious package in the Broad Street area.

"We would stress that there is nothing to suggest that this intelligence is connected with the incidents in London."
Sunday update: Scribbles reports back - and check the comments to this post for some interesting rumour and speculation. Seems an odd one, last night...

I can't quite believe it, but some insensitive dickhead seems to be setting off very loud fireworks in North London this evening. I got a bit jumpy there for a moment...

Friday, July 08, 2005

More support from around the world

Earlier this evening I received the following email:

Hello Nosemonkey,

I appreciated your coverage of the bombings, and wondered what I could do. On 9/11 I could give money to the Red Cross, but i don't think that is necessary there. Honestly speaking, right now I would like to do something for the folks in London, and not a charity in Africa, or somewhere else.

What I would most like to do is buy a pint of beer or two for someone in London, but that is easier said than done. Thinking about it, I realized that if i had come across a banner that allowed me to do something like that with paypal or credit card, I would have done so in a heartbeat.

So, I am proposing that you or someone you know in London set up a temporary charity blog that accepts international donations through paypal. Then it disburses the funds collected by randomly choosing London pubs and paying for a pint or two for everyone already inside.

I don't know what bureaucracy might be involved, or exactly how it would work, but I do know that a lot of folks around the world would probably be happy to donate in the next week or so.

I would be happy to donate the first 50 pounds (or is that quid?) (just don't tell my wife), and would be happy to e-mail journalists and bloggers here in the US about this, too.

Anyway, that is what I would like to do. If you or anyone you know can set it up, I will gladly buy some beer for you guys.

I responded thusly:
The only thing I can suggest - and this will sound INCREDIBLY dodgy - is that I've got a paypal link on the blog (currently standing at a grand total of £0.00). I could make a guarantee that I'll pass anything donated on. I know a couple of people in the Metropolitan Police, a few doctors working in London hospitals - it'd seem logical to buy those guys and the paramedics some beers, and the people I know may be able to point me in the right direction.

It will, of course, look incredibly dodgy - and I doubt many people would be too happy passing money to some anonymous blogger on the other side of the world on trust alone. You'd only have my word, after all - and I wouldn't trust some random guy off the internet...
My correspondent has just sent fifty quid via PayPal. I'm amazed - and touched. And I guarantee that I will do everything I can to make sure this gets to the people who deserve it. Beers for the boys in blue.

If anyone else wants to donate, all money will (somehow) be shifted to people who have been directly involved in yesterday's fucked-up events. Just use the PayPal link in the left-hand column.

On behalf of London - cheers.

Saturday update: More donations are coming in - I'm overwhelmed. I am working on ways to distribute this, and to make this whole thing rather more official and trustworthy than it currently appears. In the meantime, cheers again. It's truly appreciated.

Update 2: There is now an official fund set up by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.

I'd trust him (slightly) more than I'd trust me, so if you don't fancy trusting some random anonymous blogger with your cash:

donate online at
or by telephone: 08705 125125
or you can post your donation to:
LBRF c/o Mayor of London, FREEPOST LON18968, Sheffield S98 1ZA.

Update 3: Someone's started a T-shirt fundraiser if you want yet another alternative.

Update, 15th July: I'm still working on this. Have just had a phone call from the BBC - they want to film any piss-up as and when it happens, so I'll let you know. I'm hoping for next weekend, assuming I can arrange everything.

Fuck you, terrorist dicks

Want to give the bastards two fingers? Sign up for the protest and declare your solidarity with the victims and defiance of those who did this.

"I will at the earliest opportunity, assemble in London in a public demonstration of respect to the victims of the July 7 atrocity, defiance of the murderers who carried it out and solidarity with the people of London but only if 2,500 other people will too."

- The Sharpener team

We've set a low number to get the ball rolling. But let's make this as big a fuck you as we can.

Alternatively, text pledge solidarity to 60022. The text costs your normal rate, and we'll keep you updated about progress via your mobile.

Saturday update:

We've hit the target, but that was set low. The more the merrier - carry on signing up.

We're also keeping this apolitical. The Stop the War Coalition are also planning a demonstration. We are, and will remain, unaffiliated from any political group.

Our sole message is "up yours, terrorists" and to show support for their victims.

Update 2:

The target has now been increased to 2,500. Time to phone/email a friend.
Let's make this work.

No political point scoring.
Just ordinary citizens showing their defiance and solidarity.

The morning after - messages of support

Jim gets it, as far as I'm concerned:

"I hope and I believe that the attacks on London yesterday will be remembered not for how much they changed Londoners and the world but for how much they didn’t."
We've got over 50 dead, with the toll set to rise (though probably not to three figures - we've been lucky). And the world has been watching and trying to work out our response. Blitz spirit, guys. That simple.

Update: This is also spot on.

Click here for the liveblog timeline.

Another update: Some Arab and Muslim views, just to try and shut up the bigoted, homicidal idiots in my comments sections:
  • Mahmood - his comments section also worth checking out
  • Ibn al Rafidain
  • Beth-Nahrain
  • Muslim responses collected by
  • Mere Islam
  • Sunni Path
  • - "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims of this insane and criminal attack. We hope that the people of Britain see through this and continue good relations with British Muslims and not be affected by the rantings of a few bigots who may use these events to place a wedge between communities."
Some of the messages of support received on this blog from some of the 30,000 visitors it has received in the last 24 hours:
  • "I am sorry for all of you in London. All my thoughts with you." - Scribbles
  • "I love how British people react to a real crisis. I'm so proud." - Katie
  • "I was in the NYC subways on 9/11 as the trains jerked to a stop every 15 seconds. When I finally got to my stop, I was furious that it had taken me so long to get to work...of course, then someone told me that it was okay for me to be late because a jet had just crashed into a building downtown.
    "I know a load of people out there in the world find it fashionable to hate Americans right now, but hopefully some of them will realize our people are not the sum of our foreign policy. I can assure you that millions of us are waking up to the news of the attacks in London, and millions of us wish we could be there to help." - JB
  • "You have our condolences for these barbaric attacks on your citizenry. These monsters have no soul and have no conscience. Blowing up a bus…. They make me sick…" - Soul
  • " Condolences and sympathies from America. Hope you get the bastards who did it and string them up." - TallDave
  • "I am reading this site from Boston, and it is giving me a far better indication of what is happening in London and how people there are coping than any of our television networks... Please know I am sickened by these atrocities, and am praying for the victims of these heinous crimes." - Margaret
  • "Thanks for keeping us informed -- excellent work under difficult circumstances, I'm sure. It was comforting just to have a steady stream of information, knowing it would be improved and refined as more became known. My condolences to any and all." - Cosmo
  • "I'm sure that I can safely say that the vast majority of Americans wish to convey their heartfelt sympathy for the events this morning and stand with England in our prayers and sentiments. Hopefully, we can all work together against these extremists to end their evil." - enemyplanet
  • "We real New Yorkers are with you, just like you backed us up on 9/11. I've contacted my friends at Canary and they're all ok. I'll hoist a few pints for you all this afternoon." - Anonymous
  • " God bless you all in London. I am very proud of the way you seem to be conducting yourselves in the face of such evil...Our prayers and thoughts are with you." - Steve from Cincinnati
  • "im so sorry this happened. it hurts so much. i hope you know that when the s*it hits the fan americans will ALWAYS go to the mat for you. WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!! RIP VICTIMS" - Stephen, Washington, DC
  • "All the rumors remind me of what it was like to be in DC on Sept 11 when every 2 minutes there was another warning of a suspected bomb here, another plane there, suspicious packages outside the state dept etc. Hard to increase the signal to noise ratio in the opening stages. Stay safe. I'm taking your advice and heading out for a smoke. Cheers - MH, Dupont, DC
  • "I am 100 yds from Aldgate and can tell you that the great British reaction has go to the pub. If in doubt, get drunk!" - Mark T
  • " God Bless the UK. Another american" - Anonymous
  • "Canada sends its condolences folks. Good to see that you Brits are taking it in stride and keeping your wits about you. Looks good on ya!" -
  • "If I were there, I'd have a pint and a smoke with you and count it an honor. The British have more backbone than anyone." - Anonymous
  • " My Condolences for the dead, My Best Wishes to all Londoners." - Thomas in Atlanta
  • " Hi, horrible day. Must say thank you for your liveblogging of it all. It has been my primary source all day, especially whilst main news sites slowed down under the pressure.
    I am off home shortly to kiss my kids!" - Lance
  • " This sucks. Condolences and prayers for Londoners. Keep the faith! Thanks for the liveblogging." - Owen in New Orelans
  • " Prayers to you all from America! ... Very impressed by the reaction on the street in London, you Brits are always so collected emotionally. An American of Scottish decent, God Bless you all and may you find your way home to be with your loved ones as soon as possible." - Anonymous
  • "Best wishes to all, and support the war on terror." - Robert, Dallas, TX USA
  • " In the USA our deep sympathy goes out to the British people." - KSM
  • " My condolences to you and your countrymen also." - sidhewlf
  • "Romania stands with you all... and our hearts go out to those who were injured and the families of those who lost loved ones today. Pax" - soj
  • " My thoughts and prayers are with all Londoners today. Please stay true to your principles and don't let any extremists from anywhere deter you from following your own consciences. Blessed Be," -Heiuan in South Florida
  • "'Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, tot he end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.' ...Our hearts and thoughts are with you." - BlueTexas
  • " Seems London is doing a really admirable job of dealing with this. Best of luck." - washerdreyer
  • " A tragic day for a great nation. All of America mourns your loss." - Tom from Michigan
  • " Thoughts and prayers for all the Britons from here in Chicago. I stand in awe at the calm yet determined resolve you've shown in the face of this hideous disaster. Be proud, stand tall, and don't let these psychos get you down." - R. Morrow, Chicago, Illinois
  • "Hearthfelt condolences from New York. Our thoughts are with the people of London and the UK. We hope for the recovery of those hurt. Shame on the assassins behind this monstrosity." - Anonymous
  • "You've done an excellent job of blogging this today. We've been so worried about y'all - thanks for bringing the news to a regular American family. We (meaning almost every American I know) love you Brits, and respect the essential goodness and steel-reinforced backbone of the British people. I am so sorry that these terrible things happened to you guys today. You have our prayers, and our complete support." - Kelley
  • "well I hope that everyone is alright and that nothing else has happened since.. condolences and tears for those hurt, killed, or bereaved in the UK, and just a short note to urge you guys to stay strong.. whatever you do, don't let them use this sort of tragedy to force you into ID cards or privacy compromises. That would just be disgusting. love from canada," - Julia
  • "'Whither thou goest I will go, and whither thou lodgest I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Even to the end.' From a US country boy to all y'all over there." - Anonymous
  • "I was impressed by how calm and collected the coverage/security services have been to this event. Of course London has been attacked before by cowardly terrorists. I live in Central London and spent the day making sure my mates were alright and telling them who was accounted for. I liveblogged it the entire day to provide for my readers from other parts of the Anglosphere who knew people in London. My thoughts are with those who are injured or lost loved ones.No retreat, No Surrender." - Lagwolf
  • " From Canada - There are no words to properly convey 'I'm so sorry.' Great blog, by the way. I love your attitude, and how you refuse to be cowed by this. I love that you went to the pub :-)" - Jess from Canada
  • " Condolences to all. Too much of ANYTHING is not good." - Dave from US
  • "Please ignore the misguided Americans... They do not make it easy for the rest of us at home or abroad. The majority of us are with you in thought and prayer and like-mindedness. Be safe." - rugdesigner
  • "kudos on the day Nosemonkey, sterling stuff and 100% agreed on your statements re: why us Brits are such splendid chaps. Hopefully the world can learn something from us today." - Paul Davis
  • "Sympathy, Respect, Love. Seattle, WA" - Anonymous
  • "I'm a 20 year old Spanish girl from Madrid and want to express my condolences to you English people and especially to Londoners. Spain and especially my city understands your feelings right now and stands with you all... my heart and the heart of ALL Spanish people is really with the injured people, the families of the lost loved ones and everybody there suffering." - Anonymous
  • "Nosemonkey-Please ignore with dignity some of the rash and over the top comments of my countrymen. Now is not the time for ill considered acts but for an implacable resolve...your spirit cannot be overcome by the heinous acts of a few nihilistic madmen. Your attitude reminds me of one of my favorite speeches-the "We shall never surrender" speech by WC, 06/06/40. We salute you and, rest assured, will stand by you." - Kirby G., Phoenix, AZ
  • " We are so very sorry that this has happened. Please accept our sympathies for your losses." - Mitch
  • "Please disregard stupid comments from "Mike" & other angry-but-clueless posters. Please accept my condolences for those who have perished, the wounded & their families." - Stiiv
  • "My condlensces to all the UK, and to the other dozens of countries who now have their citizens killed and maimed by this cowardly act." - Rick M., Tampa, Florida
  • "Great blog....I work in the City and was also moved by the phlegmatic way people walked home (to Zone 4)...without making a fuss." - Pol
  • "As often, many take any opportunity available to express their political opinions. It is unfortunate that people are unable to control themselves, during such a time as this, as if their hatred of their political opposition stains all aspects of their lives. It seems that they cannot, even when expressing a desire to keep things non-political, keep from typing 'even though' or 'but', ready to express blame or distaste with 'so and so' or 'those people'.

    "Now is a time to reflect on the good and kind people who were simply making their way about their errands on another day in London, their lives tragically cut short or drastically altered by those who do not value life itself.
    "May those who suffer the most find some sense in the senseless. Blessings to the British people in their time of confusion and need." - A South Carolinian
  • " I can't impress enough how much this horrible event you have endured today affects us as well. Our hearts cry out for some resolution to this insanity. Shit, this whole thing is/has been getting WAY out of hand.You (England) are all on our hearts and minds." - Ret Englishman
  • "You Brits do rule." - Billy Yank
  • "Stuck as I am in Indiana, a Londoner-in-exile, I'll be doing my bit to support the British export industry at this time ... if only I can find a decent pint of beer." - Hulegu
  • "God bless the UK. I'd fly the Union Jack is I had one." - Grendal the Yank
  • " Just waking up to this story (in Japan). To Londoners and the UK: America will stand with you in your grief and your resolve to ensure the safety of your fellow countrymen who love peace." - Jared
  • " Words cannot express how sad I feel for you guys. My heart sank when I heard about this on the radio this morning." - S from California
  • "As someone who lost a brother on 9/11, i woke in tears this morning for all the Londoners who were so greatly hurt, scared, or murdered. The response of the British People today will win the admiration of the world. You have mine along with my deepest condolences. I stand with Great Britain as do many fine Americans. Stay strong and proud." - TJ in Washington, DC
  • "If there is any possible silver lining to this tragedy, it's that the entire world gets a reminder of what Brits are made of.
    "I drove past the British embassy on the way to work this morning, as I do every day. A statue of Winston Churchill stands in front of the embassy, facing Massachusetts Avenue. After seeing the reactions here and elsewhere, it shows just how futile any attempt to bomb Britain into submission will be. Pubs open, the Fiver blathers on about silly football news, and no one gives the scum who did this a chance to celebrate their 'victory'.
    "This gushy, emotional American has learned a great deal from you today, Britain." - Eric S (Washington DC)
  • " Sorrow and grief and rising anger from the heart of N. America." - Anonymous
  • "Speaking for myself and my family, I want to say that our thoughts and prayers will be with our fine British friends in the coming days. We visited England just last year and stayed in a B&B just across from King's Cross station, which makes it all a little more real for me.
    "You made it through the Blitz, you'll make it through this. Just don't give those terrorist bastards the satisfaction of seeing you scared. Show them the same steely resolve that made Goering give up in frustration.
    "Rule, Britannia!" - Sloan, Atlanta, GA
  • " -From France, Condolences, and admiration. I know Londoners will cope,as you did in the past. But those poor people... You're in our mind (yes, even in France...)" - Anonymous
  • "Chirac can laugh at British food; I tend to think it gives one backbone. You survived the Nazis and the IRA, you'll survive this as well, but it's a pity you have to face this new horror. My prayers, sympathy and admiration to a great nation." - Mpav in NYC
  • "Sincere and heartfelt condolences for the innocents and their families. For each and every one of them this is an unspeakable tragedy. God bless and keep them all.
    "A superb article by Tim Worstall on Tech Central Station. Has some excellent quotes from Nosemonkey. Link is here.
    "Spells out the consequences for the perpetrators very well... As I've stated a few times on this blog, I don't know a whole lot about the your customs and politics, but I do know you don't quit or scare very easily. I'll take bets against that fear and panic thing.
    "Good luck to you all..." - Ronnie in New Orleans
  • " My regards and regrets are for London and the victims. Keep it up and don't let those bastards change your ways!" - Jakester
  • "Our prayers are with you today. I only wish there was a local pub around where I could buy a Brit a drink." - Bob
  • " Just to say, thanks. You helped keep me sane at work today." - Robert Jubb
  • "I had never come across this blog before today but I just wanted to thank the person(s) involved in posting all this information, especially when the BBC et al. was getting hammered! Thanks and keep up the good work :)" - Sam
  • "I urge everyone who wishes to remember those who died today in London to also remember those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, for their suffering is no less than ours." - Kevin
  • "Thoughts and Prayers from the US!! I wish I could be there today and work with the RedCross as much as I did when my own country was attacked. Remeber not to punish those around you. The world contains fanatics, but is not full of them. Be strong for your families and your country!" - Anonymous, Georgia, USA
  • " Just wanted to send thoughts and condolences to the British citizens from Canada.." - aurora borealis
  • "America and all free people stand with Britain today, just as Britain did with us in our times of sorrow. there are many nations enduring the war against terrror. every person who dies was a father or a brother, husband, mother, sister, wife someone who was loved and will be missed. that is a universal truth, grief and saddness have no special language or skin tone... I will drink a pint of Guiness, salute the British, and quietly share your sorrow." - Anonymous
  • "What a horrible tragedy for such a great people. In my travels, the people of London always treated me with decency and friendliness. My heart goes out to all of you.
    "The murderers may have mistaken the civility of the Brits for weakness. Hitler made the same stupid error. The world saw then that Brits have steel backbones, and I'm sure we'll see it again." - Sad American in Massachusetts
  • " God save Britain." - Tom, Indiana, USA
  • "I just had to say, that you and your fellow countrymen should be proud. These (well, for lack of a better phrase...) lowlives have not kept you from holding your head high!
    "I'm so sorry that Great Britain has had to suffer this kind of terrorism on your own soil. We in the US are praying for all of you because we know that this kind of tragedy affects an entire country, not just the families of those who are lost. Please just know that we are with you today, and always!" - Molly
  • "I'm just another American sending my respects and condolences. Please don't be angry at us for sounding militaristic... We respect you so much (don't have the words, sorry)" - Brian Walker, San Diego California
  • " Our prayers are with all of you. We called our daughter today. She's in Paris with her fiance. She was in tears. She had proposed to her fiance in London a few months ago because she thought it was the greatest city "across the pond", and believe me, she's seen'em all. She sends her best wishes to all." - Jerry from Boston
  • "Just want to say thanks for your coverage.. I am in Australia but Have friends and family in London. Australians have been very impressed by the way average londonders as well as Blair have reacted. No nationalitic bullshit (take note, America), but calm actions and that fantastic british humour. Well done." - Amber
  • " My heart goes out to all who lost their lives, and their families. My prayers are with them." - Anonymous

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London tube explosions

So, what's this "bang" on the tube all about then? Anyone got any clearer idea than "either a bomb or a big crash"? And does this count as Sod's Law, coming the day after the Olympics announcement?

Update: BBC now reports "reports of an explosion", and says Transport for London are saying it's thanks to a power failure. Hmmm... "walking wounded" caused by a power failure?

Fuck: Explosions at Aldgate, Edgware Road, King's Cross, Old Street and Russell Square.

Unconfirmed rumours of 30 dead.

Piss - Russell Square may have been on a bus.

10:05am - Right - I'm calling this - terrorist attack. Sky News seems to be the only site working. I'm trawling for eyewitnesses.

"I saw lots of people running up a road and then saw the top of a bus destroyed," one eyewitness told Sky News.

LBC News radio is still reporting "power surges", but also advising "get away from the City, but don't use public transport".

10:15 - Eyewitness reports of "half the bus in the air" at Russell Square. BBC news site down. Radio still confused.

10:20 - FTSE dropping 3%, Pound dropping vs. the dollar. Reports of "at least one explosive device on the Underground". If you have TV access, ITV have rolling coverage, apparently.

10:24 - Scotland Yard confirm bus explosion on Tavistock Place nr Russell Square, and "multiple" explosions across London. Bus system shut down as well now. This is major.

10:26 - Rumours of two more bus explosions, plus suspect packages in litter bins.

10:33 - my mate who works in the City didn't go to work today, so no confirmation yet on rumours that they're evacuating the Square Mile.

10:36 - Reuters is down. Just before it went was reporting large areas of London being cordoned off. Apparently Sky News' helicopter is being prevented from filming over Russell Square. Helicopters everywhere though. More reports of "three busses".

More advice to "get out of the area", but no indication of where "the area" is - it seems to be the whole of Zone One (where I am).

10:40 - Sky has more on the Bus "ripped in two", plus

Bradley Anderson told Sky News that he was involved in the Edgware Road incident on a Circle line train.

He said: "We just left Paddington station. About 15 seconds later there was some kind of explosion and we collided with another train.

"We were heading into the station when there was some kind of explosion or something.

"Everything went black and we collided into some kind of oncoming train.

"There was debris all over the trains. They evacuated us."
10:42 - Trains into London all halted. Marble Arch intersection (one of the busiest in central London for those who don't know) has been closed. Roads being shut everywhere. Still no real news on casualties. No confirmation on anything other than the bus blast from official sources yet.

10:46 - bus was apparently a southbound 205, from Euston (big mainline/tube intersection) - "packed" with people evacuated from the tube. Reports of bodies at Edgeware Road.

10:47 - People being stretchered off at Aldgate.

10:49 - Home Secretary Charles "Safety Elephant" Clarke speaking at Downing Street. He has nothing of use to add. Surprise, surprise. Sounds worried, though.

10:51 - Upper Woburn Place bus bomb as well, apparently. This is all over. London Ambulance Service getting overloaded - all units concentrating on explosions. Web straining...

10:53 - "Scores reported dead". Aldgate "pretty grim" according to a mate of a mate - loads of smoke. Here's how it looks (via Sky):

10:55 - Metropolitan Police say they'd tell us more if they knew what the hell was going on. Tony Blair to address the nation shortly. I'm rather glad I cycled to work today...

Unconfirmed reports of "a number" of dead at Russell Square.

10:59 - my overlords have just realised the office is half empty and are trying to find out where everyone is. On the ball here...

11:02 - BBC World Service is back up

British Telecom are apparently going to shut down all phone lines soon, so I may go offline without warning.

Controlled explosions apparently expected at Russell Square soon.

11:04 - reports of a bus explosion at South Kensington. Three minutes' walk away. Nice.

11:08 - Blair expected within half an hour from Gleneagles. THAT'll help. Cheers Tone.

Haven't seen a bus go by in half an hour or more. Everyone walking and looking a tad worried.

11:10 - eyewitness confirmation from a friend - the entire top of the bus in Russell Square has been ripped off. Packed with people evacuated from Euston. Cunning, abject bastards.

11:12 - Hearing rumours of Brighton and Swindon stations being hit as well. they've gone to the provinces. Fuck.

11:15 - The Guardian also liveblogging

11:17 -

11:18 - America's waking up to the news

11:25 - The BBC have eyewitness stories: "The doors opened and as everyone was starting to get off, I saw a few lights starting to flicker overhead and then there was an explosion on the opposite side to me, just behind the train that had just pulled in."

Now reports of 90 "casualties" from Aldgate East alone. Mostly stretchers, no idea how many dead.

11:32 - Photos. Reports of the army being deployed all over now. Quiet in Chelsea at the moment - bar the reports of a bomb on a bus up the road. Didn't hear anything, but South Ken cordoned off apparently.

11:49 - just popped out for a fag. Busses are still running where I am after all. Rather them than me... Two bombs on my route home, so I guess I'm stuck here for a while. Internet still up. Comments section seems to be having updates as well if it cuts out.

11:51 - reports of "many" people with limbs missing arriving at hospitals.

11:53 - At King's Cross, scene of one of the worst Underground disasters ever back in the late 1980s, people were using umbrellas to smash windows of the trains. 95 casualties and one confirmed fatality being reported from Aldgate East now.

11:58 - Email from an Israeli friend (Gaza strip) saying "Fuck". Which says something... Blair expected in the next couple of minutes.

12:01 - 2 confirmed deaths now, via the Met Police. Certain to rise. Could be worse than Madrid.

12:02 - Blair - "It's reasonably clear that there has been a series of terrorist attacks in London. It is my intention to leave the G8 to talk to police and emergency services personnel face to face... The G8 leaders will continue in my absence... Each of the countries around that table have some experience of terrorism... They all share our complete resolution for the defeat of terrorism. It is particularly barbaric that this has happened on the day people are meeting to try and help the problem of poverty in Africa... Just as it is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack... it is reasonably clear it has been timed to coincide with the opening of the G8... It is important, however, that the terrorists realise our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause the death and destruction of innocent people and impose their extremism on the world. It is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we have here in this country and in other civilised countries around the world."

Looked and sounded shaken. Not surprising really.

12:06 - we may be getting moved away from the windows here shortly, as there's a bus route outside, so I may be away from the computer. Will warn if so.

12:10 - via a Red Cross worker in the comments: "We have already deployed 10 ambulances in response to a request from the London Ambulance Service and another 14 are on standby across South Eastern Territory. Updates will be posted on RedRoom and the website."

12:12 - bus explosion may have been a suicide bomber, according to reports.

12:15 - rumours of Al Quaida caim of responsibility. Well, they would, wouldn't they? Twats.

12:20 - Tim Worstall has lots of links to more blog coverage if I get cut off.

12:25 - reports of trapped tube train at King's Cross, major rescue operation underway. Phone networks pretty much all screwed. Official advice - stay where you are.

12:29 -

12:31 - in the comments, a report of another explosion - this time in Leicester Square. About half a mile from Downing Street.

12:34 - from the comments: " Someone here at work has just been phoned by a guy he knows in Canary Wharf (I know, it's a bit removed - but I trust him)

"He says marines have shot a man there who they think to have been a suicide bomber"

Workmate's husband reports Cambridge Circus - slap bang in the heart of the West End - has been completely shut down. That's just north of Leicester Square, so explosion report there may have been a controlled one.

12:37 - Leicester Square rumour is nonsense.

12:42 - Soho seems to have been cordoned off to act as Army HQ. Have heard nothing from my mate who works for Sony there.

12:47 - South Kensington may just be a suspect package. Canary Wharf apparently calm - shooting rumour may be jus that - there's a lot of it about.

12:52 - Military are apparently denying all rumours they're involved. Purely a civilian thing - at the moment.

12:53 - Robin grant also liveblogging

12:54 - Charles Clarke statement in House of Commons: "Metropolitan Police are in operational command... The Underground is closed and will remain so for some time... There are no busses in central London... Airports are operating normally... The Prime Minister is returning to London."

12:58 - When the site's working, the BBC's coverage is pretty good - fewer sensationalist attempts at scoops, more facts. For a kind of BBC liveblog, try here.

13:01 - God, us Brits are great. Hardly any panic - more just getting pissed off that it's going to be a bugger getting home. I love this country sometimes.

13:04 From the comments, via Justin, the supposed Al Quaida statement:
Jamaat al-Tandheem Al-Sierri (secret organization group)
Organization of Qaeda't al-Jihad in Europe

In the name of God the most merciful...

Rejoice the nation of Islam, rejoice nation of Arabs, the time of revenge has come for the crusaders' Zionist British government.

As retaliation for the massacres which the British commit in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mujahideen have successfully done it this time in London.

And this is Britain now burning from fear and panic from the north to the south, from the east to the west.

We have warned the brutish governments and British nation many times.

And here we are, we have done what we have promised. We have done a military operation after heavy work and planning, which the mujahideen have done, and it has taken a long time to ensure the success of this operation.

And we still warn the government of Denmark and Italy, all the crusader governments, that they will have the same punishment if they do not pull their forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

So beware.

Thursday 7/7/2005
Jamaat al-Tandheem Al-Sierri (secret organization group)
Organization of al Qaeda't al-Jihad in Europe.

13:12 - From Tim Worstall's comments section, "Bart from Kansas" earns my "insensitive cunt of the day" award. From the comments here, "Roger" earns the "stupid fucking reaction of the day" award. Yeah - let's burn some mosques, Roger. Fucking GENIUS. Moron.

13:17 - from the comments, reports that Soho is NOT closed off. All normal.

13:18 - FTSE down 115. Traders being asked to calm the fuck down. Everyone else relaxed.

13:27 - Wikipedia's got loads. And some good analysis via email from Daniel Johnson:
A brief summation of where we seem to stand based on my attempt at rational thought:

First of all; it seems the new channels, in particular the BBC are reluctant to get involved here.. the BBC didn't even broadcast Tony Blair's 1pm statement with the G8 leaders. Blair, Hoon, Davis, the police etc seem to be focusing their energy on the PR front to comforting British residents. Our TV screens are filled with calm police officers offering directions and people calmly going about their business. We're not being told anything.

The mujahideen have accepted responsibility - a claim which I don't think holds weight at the moment.. it was inevitable that some small Far Eastern group would.. I'd wait for police reports and word from the government on this.

It also appears that nothing has actually happened since 11am. There are rumours of packages in Tottenham Court Road, the Royal Bank of Scotland hiding their staff in a basement, Soho being used as an Army base, explosions on the M25 (a weird one). Not wishing to tempt fate, but it seems quite possible that all of these could be rumours, much like the planes that were headed into Canary Wharf and Westminster on 9/11 - Somewhere between panick and misplaced excitement comes a million different rumours.

However there does seem to be a bit of a paradoxical thing happening. The broadcasters are holding back - reluctant to report news and instead focusing on reporting on the good work of the emergency services (from eye witness accounts and personally talking to people on the phone, the services are doing a great job and we should be incredibly proud). So they're very calm- but the public is spinning the rumour mill.. before long I'm sure we'll get IRA rumours, G8 rebels, etc- we should take comfort in the fact that the leaders of the free world are all together in a room, our emergency services are doing an amazing job - and the majority of scare-mongering rumours appear to be just that.
I'm off for some lunch (and a soothing pint) - back shortly.

14:05 - I tell you what, if this is an "Islamic" terrorist attack, they're doing a piss-poor job. The pubs are all packed out, people sipping their pints happily, all a tad pissed off, but basically fine with it. Nice one, Al Quaeda - you profess to be from a teetotal religion, and you've given the pub trade a massive mid-week boost. Result.

14:12 - update on the "insensitive cunt of the day" award - a new winner - Mike from New York, in the comments to this post. What a twat. I'd kiindly suggest, Mike old bean, that you go fuck yourself.

14:17 - and, for the record, the anonymous comments purporting to be from celebrating Muslims appear to be coming from the same computer as that from which Mike was posting. Nice one, Mike, you tit.

14:21 - bomb in Tavistock Square bus in the upper back of the thing. Met Police refuse to confirm it was a suicide attack. Fucked-up pictures fo the damage here and here. Christ...

14:28 - I've still only heard 45 dead tops (via the untrustworthy/sensationalist Sky - BBC's last report I heard was 24). Lots more injured, but reports from hospitals suggest that despite earlier reports most are walking wounded. Could be a surprisingly low body count.

14:40 - more, from the comments and Guardian Newsblog - "Ambulance sources suggest 23 people have been killed at King's Cross, nine at Edgware road, seven at Aldgate, two at Russell Square. There are hundreds - possibly more than a thousand - injured."

14:42 - Slideshow of images. Worrying viewing - especially if you know and love this city well. But, at least in terms of death toll, so far we seem to have got off lightly.

14:53 - It all seems to have calmed down. For more blog coverage, check out the Kinja digest someone's set up.

14:58 - Victoria, Paddington and Euston stations have re-opened. Looks like King's Cross will be shut for a while.

15:05 - Now that it's calm, people are starting to head home... Not entirely sure what route I can take considering I go via South Kensington and Edgeware Road, but still - the joys of a bike, eh? Sidestreets and ignoring one-way systems ahoy!

15:12 - the people who were trapped underground at King's Cross are apparently just getting out now. No reports on any casualties. But that's six hours stuck down there. Bloody hell.

15:13 - King's Cross apparently to reopen for overland suburban services soon.

15:33 - Bus services beginning to return to central London, bar the King's Cross, Russell Square and Aldgate areas. Will be slow and crappy (no change there then...), with extra police etc. to help with directions and travel advice.

15:35 - Met Police press conference: casualty bureau has a technical fault, so no one has any ideas on numbers.

"At the moment we don't know if this was suicide bombers or just packages left... There is no indication that these were anything other than conventional explosives, but we have no indication of the size or type of device... [CCTV] has been one of our first priorities, as has collecting forensic evidence"

No people are left trapped underground.

"Almost all the system was cleared within an hour... We don't have any information [about bus bomb fatalities]... The security level in London has been high over recent months. We have had all the security services actively engaged in antiterrorism activities during this period... We are content that the security level was appropriate even not withstanding the fact that G8 was happening in Scotland."

15:40 - ctd: "We have 11,000 Metropolitan Police Officers on duty in Scotland and 31,000 in London. We have more than enough to cope... we won't be bringing any back [from g8]... London has always been a terrorist target, and we are clearly shocked by what has happened today, but we are not surprised... we have spent years rehearsing and planning for this scenario... that plan has worked exactly as it should have done"

15:42 - "we don't have any intelligence about any other devices... but we are making sure that the public transport system is thoroughly searched before opening for business"

15:45 - ctd: "As far as I am concerned, 'Islamic' and 'terrorism' do not go together... we have received no claims as to who is responsible, so it is too early to speculate."

"We have no reports of a police sniper shooting anybody today... We understand that a group claiming to be linked to Al Quaida have claimed responsibility on the internet, which we will be investigating, but we have no evidence yet that that is the case."

Reports of Heathrow Terminal 3 being evacuated (not via the news conference though).

15:49 - ctd: "We had no warning from any organisation"

"During rush hour we would be running 500 trains... around 600-900 people on them"

"We move around 3 million people a day"

15:51 - ctd: "People didn't panic... people just got on with it... I was impressed with just how calm people were in very, very traumatic circumstances"

We Brits rule.

16:01 - Casualty bureau is up and running - number is 0870 156 6344 - but try family and friends first to prevent overload.

16:05 - official figure is at least 33 dead.

16:15 - I'm going to follow police advice and head home. Should be back online in c.30-45 minutes, depending on road closures. I'll take the camera, but am going to try and avoid the affected areas as much as possible...

17:00 - back home. Lots of police sirens, little else. As normal. Brits rule.

An observation:

Liverpool St/Aldgate East/Moorgate was all the same incident.
- this is near Brick Lane, with a sizable Bangladeshi/Muslim community.

Edgeware Road
- the heart of a major Arab/Muslim community

King's Cross/Russell Square and Woburn Place
- by the King's Cross Estate, with a sizable Bangladeshi/Muslim community, plus the School of Oriental and African Studies, one of the world's leading universities for the study of Islam (amongst others)

Was this intended to stir up anti-Muslim tension as much as anything? Otherwise the locations are rather bizarre - King's Cross and Liverpool Street, as major rail termini, make sense if you intend to cause maximum damage/casualties. Edgeware Road is near Paddington, another major station, so that could make sense too. But nothing at Charing Cross, Victoria, Waterloo etc. Nothing at Heathrow or Gatwick either. Odd. Why go for half measures?

Either way, from the casualties so far we've got off lightly. Seems like fluke as much as anything.

17:21 - That bus really doesn't look good. Official casualties from all blasts is still only 33 though:

Shadow Home Secretary (and Tory leadership frontrunner) David Davis on BBC News points out that Identity Cards "don't prevent this sort of thing". Considering there was no warning, the police kept warning levels the same as they have been for a month, and no one yet know who was responsible (despite claims), he's got a very good point.

17:30 - Blair statement - "I've just attended a meeting of the government's emergency committee... there will be announcements as soon as possible... there will of course now be the most intense police and emergency service action to make sure we bring those responsible to justice. I would also like to pay tribute to the stoicism and resilience of the people of London, who have responded in a way that is typical of them... {The terrorists] are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to stop us from doing what we want to do... the should not and will not succeed... When they try to intimidate us they will not intimidate us. When they try to change our way of life it will not be changed. WHen they try to divide us they will not succeed and our resolve will hold firm... Our values will long outlast theirs. The purpose of terrorism is to terrorise people. And we will not be terrorised... THis is a very sad day for the British people, but we will hold true to the British way of life."

17:43 - a message to our sensible American friends (and others from around the world), many of whom are posting in the comments:

Cheers for the messages of support. London's grateful. And we're going to keep our heads. Stiff upper lip and all that - wouldn't do to get all emotional. Hardly British - and if we stop being British about it, the bastards have won. So we'll have a few beers, make as many sick jokes about it in pubs up and down the land as we can, and get on with our lives as normal. Other than causing the grief of too many innocent people, these cunts will have achieved precisely fuck all. We shall not be moved.

17:59 - I'd missed this - Eyewitness blogger account of the Edgeware blast.

18:10 - Police report - 37 confirmed dead, including two from the bus. 700 casualties total, "a number" in a severe condition, but "many" got to hospitals by themselves - so total is likely to rise, but no one knows by how much.

18:35 - Just heard that my Sharpener blog buddy Andrew was on the train behind the one hit at Liverpool Street, but is fine - and on his usual form:
"to the terrorist cunts who tried to kill me today:

"Fuck you. You missed me. Better luck next time."
18:57 - Nice, BBC News special report cuts away to a weather report. Britain, as I believe I may have said a few times today, rules.

19:07 - discussions are underway for a "Fuck you, terrorist dicks" protest/show of solidarity, Madrid style, this weekend. I'll let you know more when we've finalised something.

Trains are running out of London from King's Cross and St Pancras. 4 trains an hour from Euston. Near normal service at Liverpool Street. Limited services at Paddington. 2 per hour London Bridge to Brighton. Near normal services at Charing Cross, Blackfriars, Marylebone, Victoria, Fenchurch Street (though the latter's worth avoiding).

Busses up and running, but major delays - many roads still closed. Gray's Inn, Caledonian, East Smithfield, Commercial Road, all approaches to Aldgate, M25 and M4 out of London are packed.

You can get home, if you've been waiting, but it may take a while.

19:16 - Just had an email request for details of how to give charity donations to help the victims. Nothing that I've heard of so far. I'd say give it to Oxfam or Make Poverty History - Londoners are fairly well-off. Bunk it to people who matter - the African buggers who were meant to be getting helped out at G8 today. The terrorist bastards have screwed them over more than they have us.

20:14 - Just spoke to my grandmother, a nurse in London throughout the Blitz. Though naturally worried about her grandson being in one of the prime targets, she's living proof that London has coped with worse than this. We refuse to give in to this sort of thing.

20:51 - Only just found this, but spot on.

21:46 - reports of seven people in intensive care in one London hospital - could be unconscious for days or weeks. Few reports of life-threatening injuries, many reports of lost limbs and emergency amputations.

22:00 - Third Avenue has a good world press roundup, while Yes But No But Yes rounds up blog reactions.

22:31 - The BBC, after a few splutters when the news site went down this morning, is doing brilliantly. Meanwhile, The Guardian has a handy reminder of why we're used to this shit. And here, for those who care, is an old post explaining why I'm used to this shit.

22:41 - The BBC's London radio station will be broadcasting throughout the night. Should have travel info for those of us trying to get to work tomorrow. The Beeb's London site also has more pictures.

23:20 - Nearly time for bed. All I ask is that we don't forget the others who have died today, from whom those bastard terrorists managed to distract our attention.

Find out more and donate
- don't let a bunch of psychos distract us from what really matters.

Thursday morning update from the Met Police (update: actually, it's Friday, isn't it? Lost track there somewhere...): 700 casualties, of which 350 were minor. 350 were taken to hospital, of which 100 were kept overnight, of which 22 are in a critical condition.

There are over 50 dead that they know of. There will be more, but thanks to the nature of the blasts on the bus and between Russell Square and King's Cross, it's difficult to count the bodies.

Final update: Sign up to the pledge to join a fuck you, terrorist dicks protest.

The G8, EU, Africa, the CAP (and a bit on the BBC's supposed bias)

As a G8 sideshow, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson today gave a speech in Edinburgh on living standards in Africa, how they will be affected by current EU reforms, and what needs to be done to help the continent pull itself out of poverty. Nothing especially major considering what's going on up the road in Gleneagles (not that that's likely to achieve much either).

The important bit, however, was his admission that "in our current EU sugar reform, one developing country’s gain may well be another’s loss."

Cut to the BBC's 10 O'Clock News (supposedly a Europhile institution that the sceptics always get het up about for its bias). A report on the impact of EU sugar quotas. A (nearly) word-for-word transcription:

"The EU reforms will set [this farmer's] family back a generation. But it is not just him. The whole of Swaziland will face devastation... Swaziland's biggest industry faces ruin, as do the thousands of farmers who depend on it."
This all accompanied by images of extreme, near-subsistence poverty, and African farmers with those dead, hopeless eyes staring at the camera, desperate. All deliberately set up to make the viewer react with "what a bunch of bastards - how could they do this to these poor, poor people?"

This report was obviously aimed at the G8 meeting, and our Tony's main push for more help for Africa. But it strongly - very strongly - suggested that the EU is responsible for more than its fair share of poverty in the continent. Not only that, but it was stated explicitly that the EU is making the situation worse in Swaziland with no "buts" involved - even though it is easily arguable that the EU's current reforms will actually help Africa as a whole, even if hurting some countries.

Yep, the BBC's pro-EU alright.

The rest of Mandelson's speech, though in places riddled with a level of hypocricy the likes of which is rarely seen (I mean, "it is not for want of EU effort to help Africa trade"? bollocks, Mandy) is worth a look, even if more interesting stuff is happening elsewhere.

He does, amidst the nonsense, have some valid points:
"33 of the 46 sub-Saharan African countries enjoy full quota and tariff free access to European markets, including for all agricultural goods, under the EU’s “Everything But Arms” initiative for Less Developed Countries... Already EBA has had positive results. Exports to Europe of the range of products that benefit have risen by 100% in 3 years, whereas they had fallen by 11% in the previous ten years... Thirteen sub Saharan countries are not classed as LDCs and do not enjoy that full and free access, including Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. They do however enjoy a privileged trading relationship with Europe as ACP countries. 88% of their agricultural exports to Europe enter tariff and quota free."
There are also a few interesting suggestions of how to go forward, though I'm not convinced about "aid for trade" - sounds too much like "oil for food", and we all know how THAT ended up...

Still, Mandy's figures won't convince many. Not least if you read this report from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
"'Rich countries have never been richer, yet they have never given less; they give half as much in aid as they did in 1960. Increasing their aid to the levels needed - as they promised to do in 1970 - would cost them the equivalent of a cup of coffee a week for each of their citizens. The price of not doing it will be measured in millions of lives,' Oxfam's head of advocacy, Jo Leadbeater, said in statement on Tuesday.

"In 1970 the leading nations agreed that 0.7 percent of the GDP of their states would be devoted to aid. This undertaking was reaffirmed at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and again at the UN International Conference on Financing for Development at Monterrey in 2002.

"To date only five countries have managed to reach that target: Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Six others have pledged to do so by 2015: Belgium, Britain, Finland, France, Ireland and Spain."
The top aid-givers may all be European (even if Norway isn't part of the EU), but their decisions to give are not thanks to any EU strategy.

Still, aid's not necessarily the way forward - I'm still trying to work out where I stand on this one, though am beginning to lean further and further towards (almost) free trade as the best solution. When it comes to aid, it's the whole "give a man a fish" argument all over again. From that same report:
"There appears to be broad consensus that more aid is essential if Africa is to get ahead, but a series of arguments put forward by the International Monetary Fund contends that there is no strong evidence that aid boosts economic growth and, hence, no reason to suppose that aid reduces poverty either.

"Co-authored by IMF chief economist Raghuram Rajan and a colleague, Arvind Subramanian, two papers on aid maintain that while projects may do good, they have unseen side effects that eventually hurt those they are intended to help.

"The authors point out that aid flows inadvertently push up a country's exchange rate, damaging exporters; aid projects that hire local workers are bidding up skilled wages, again damaging the export firms that hire from the same labour pool."
Whereas free trade, of course, could see African farmers exploited by big multinationals for meagre pay. But at least they'd be getting paid. Meanwhile, European farmers, now too expensive (as they already are) would likely more and more go bankrupt, unable to compete.

Without some continuation of subsidies for farmers to enable them to maintain the land, vast swathes of European countryside would turn to wasteland, slowly returning to nature as 6,000+ years of agricultural cultivation slowly merges with the wilderness.

This is (sort of) what the current CAP reforms claim to aim to prevent (they're no longer subsidising farmers to produce food, technically it's now to maintain the land - and no, I'm not convinced either). But they still shut out the competition, and poor farmers outside the EU still suffer as a result.

It's a tricky one, and no mistake. Certainly too tricky to sort out over a few drinks in Scotland. But if this meeting is taken merely as groundwork for the World Trade Organisation shindig in Hong Kong in December, it's just possible that the cogs could begin to whirr in the right direction. Only just, mind...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The European Parliament has rejected the software patents directive by 648 votes to 14 with 18 abstentions. This is apparently a good thing, but as I'm not a geek (much) I wouldn't know. (Via)

Update: Samizdata has more, as does Phil Hunt.

Enough of the Olympics nonsense. How about reading Jarndyce on something that actually MATTERS?

Although I feel I should point out that the initial estimated budget of the 2012 London Olympics (£2.375 billion), likely to rise, could - based on Jarndyce's sums - pay for 999,579 better childhoods. Nearly a million children given a better chance, or a bunch of adults mindlessly competing in games that most of us gave up when we were twelve?

Pissing shit. We got it.

Hello even more extortionate council tax bills.

I fucking hate the sodding Olympics.

Update: Some links for those who care - The Guardian, The Sun, Reuters.

Update 2: Heh...

Update 3: Hear hear.

Oh, and a reminder of why this is a load of bollocks from a few months ago.

Update 4: How Paris lost it. (Lucky bastards...)

Olympics announcement expected within the next half hour. As expected, it's down to London or Paris, with the other buggers knocked out this morning. For some good in-depth coverage, complete with pictures of the proposed London site, check out Diamond Geezer. He's in favour of London hosting it, but despite that seems fairly rational about the whole thing.

Electoral Reform - have your say

Just received via email - may be of interest to some:

This is your final chance to submit your evidence to the POWER Inquiry

What is the POWER Inquiry?

The POWER Inquiry has been set up by the Joseph Rowntree Trusts to explore how political participation and involvement can be increased and deepened in Britain. It aims to understand why the decline in popular participation and involvement in formal politics has occurred and to provide concrete and innovative proposals to reverse the trend. For more information visit

The POWER Inquiry - the independent inquiry into democracy and participation in Britain - is nearing the end of its evidence-gathering phase. A variety of groups and organisations have already presented their thoughts on increasing political participation in Britain, but we are still interested to hear evidence from new contributors. Do you support proportional representation like the Liberal Democrats? Would you like to see compulsory voting introduced, as Geoff Hoon has recently recommended? Or would you like to see more direct forms of democratic control? The deadline for the submission of evidence on all POWER's key questions is Friday 15th July.

How do I submit evidence?

Complete the form online. Alternatively you can submit evidence via email to or post to POWER, 2 Downstream, 1 London Bridge, London, SE1 9BG. If you wish to submit evidence via post or email, you can download a copy of the Inquiry's key questions or a form to complete from the website, or reply to this email (info AT and request these documents.

How does my evidence fit into the Inquiry?

All the evidence submitted will be available to the Inquiry Commission in its original form. The Inquiry research team will also identify key themes arising from all evidence and present these to the Commission. A draft version of the final report will be made available to everyone who takes part in the Inquiry will be able to make further comments for consideration by the Commission before final publication in February 2006.

I would just like to state for the record that I deeply hope that London fails to win the bid to host the Olympics today. Pointless waste of time and money. Let the French have it and get screwed - it'd be a hell of a lot cheaper to give every British person who wants to attend a Eurostar ticket to Paris than host the sodding thing ourselves in any case.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Tackling the euro popularity deficit

Another one to get the sceptics all upset - a call for a propaganda campaign to convince people that the euro is great and stuff. From the report (.doc download) it looks like some of our more economically-minded anti-EU brethren could have some fun with this:

"the benefits of a single currency and its accompanying instruments - a single monetary policy and enhanced co-ordination of economic policies - cannot be seriously questioned at this stage"
I mean, I'll freely admit to having little knowledge of economics and even I know that's a silly claim to make.

There's also the assertion that "polls in new Member States also reflect some scepticism to the adoption of the euro caused primarily by a lack of relevant information" (my emphasis).

Lack of information is not the issue - it's lack of a detailed knowledge, understanding and ability to interpret the relationship between macroeconomics and individual prosperity.

I'd say that the dodgy situations of Italy and Germany, both Eurozone members, is probably in itself reason enough to be a tad sceptical about the benefits. And it's entirely reasonable for the average punter to look at the apparent short-term impact of the new currency on those states which have adopted it, even if the hopeful assertion is that, long-term, it will be beneficial to all - and even if the short-term impact may only be a perceived one.

What else, after all, can they base their judgement on? They certainly aren't going to trust "information campaigns" funded by an organisation with a vested interest to see the thing work. Bias in economic analysis is among the worst sort, for economics is basically a science. You wouldn't trust the findings of a creationist study of evolution which concluded that evolution is a load of bollocks, so why would you trust an EU-funded study which concluded that the euro is great?

In any case, a propaganda campaign is not the way forwards, as it assumes a popular hostility which flies in the face of the facts. I seriously reckon that, when you get down to it, the issue of euro resistance is not one of nationalism. Naturally there is a strong traditionalist attachment to national currencies - especially one as strong and successful as the pound. But what the majority of people want is not so much the coins they're used to jangling in their pockets, but simply a comfortable standard of living.

The issue of the Queen's head on our currency has long since been sidestepped by - erm - each member of the Eurozone being able to have national symbols on their money. And the experience of switching from L.s.d. in the seventies shows that everyone can cope with a far more complex currency changeover than a simple shift from one metric system to another would be. (The issue of metric weighting is somewhat different, what with money being an arbitrary construct dependant on many variables and weight actually relating to something tangible and constant and all, but that doesn't really bear on this issue, thankfully.)

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the largely abstract notions of national identity are not as strong or as binding as the desire to get food on the table as cheaply as possible. If the euro could be demonstrated to cut our bills and make life in general cheaper, we would - bar a few "patriotic" extremists - be up for it.

This is why, of Gordon Brown's famous (yet never sufficiently remembered) five economic tests, the only one that really matters to the average man on the street is the last - "Would joining the euro promote higher growth, stability and a lasting increase in jobs?" That test cannot be passed with a propaganda campaign - and until it is any propaganda campaign will fail.

The real question, of course, is whether the euro can ever achieve all that has been claimed for it. As of yet, there is little in the way of overwhelming evidence to support claims that the euro - and, importantly, the euro alone - has been responsible for "price stability, low mortgage rates, easier travel, protection against exchange rate fluctuations and external shocks" as that report asserts. There is also little overwhelming evidence of the opposite. But when it comes to this sort of thing, better the devil you know is a fair enough line to take until the evidence becomes overwhelming. The evidence isn't yet overwhelming - hence Gordon still saying his tests aren't passed - so no one but the most fervently ideological is going to be convinced. That simple.

Handy EU tax/growth comparison charts courtesy of John B. Find your own patterns. I reckon it looks like a velociraptor though, and you'll never convince me otherwise.

The power of Hoon compels thee! - I did have a proper post on this, but Firefox crashed on me and my words have now been lost unto the very ether. Instead check out Talk Politics' rather nice rant.

This also annoyed me. Lots of things seem to annoy me these days.

It's the Jackie and Gerdy show!

God, Chirac's a card. The wit, the hilarity! No wonder the guy's such a dismal failure if his sense of humour's that bad. British people, erm - bad food and stuff, oui?


The thing is, this is not the diplomatic incident that some have tried to make it out to be. It's little more than an(other) indication that France is being led by a twat.

These were not "witty" comments directed at the press in a kind of knowing "ha ha - we're having a fight with Britain" way. If they were they'd have been a bit crap, but typical of the sort of faux-jocular nonsense politicians seem to come up with on such occasions (witness our Tony's "five times a night" claims and shoddy attempts to play the guitar for the cameras). They were instead GENUINE bon mots delivered and secretly recorded during an informal dinner with Gerhard Schröder and Vladimir Putin. Poor bastards.

Jaques Chirac: unoriginal, unfunny, and my new person I'd least like to sit next to at a dinner party. That kind of piss-poor dialogue wouldn't make it past the script editors on Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps (note to the uninitiated - the single shittest sitcom I've ever had the misfortune to witness, and I've seen Blossom...)

And we thought the Germans were meant to have no sense of humour. (See what I did there?)

I don't really understand science any more. Or maths. But Jim Bliss does. Luckily he's also rather nifty at translating it all into English. Read his post on Peak Oil at The Sharpener and probably get a bit worried and stuff. (Though personally I reckon it'll be great - fewer bastards in 4x4s trying to knock me off my bike or run me over when I'm on a zebra crossing... the collapse of global capitalism is a small price to pay.)

Monday, July 04, 2005

OK, maybe I was being a tad harsh... Via Andrew and Tim Worstall, President Bush offers to scrap US farm subsidies, as long as the EU scraps the CAP:
"Let’s join hands as wealthy industrialised nations and say to the world, we are going to get rid of all our agricultural subsidies together. And so the position of the US Government is, we are willing to do so, and we will do so with our fine friends in the European Union."
Interesting... Bush knows it'll never happen, so I reckon my earlier snide point still largely stands, but interesting nonetheless.

Shaking off the bonds of colonial oppression

The 4th July. Independence Day. Means everything to Americans, tit all to anyone else (including us Brits, who lost a bunch of our prime colonies thanks to the thing and now have to pay through the nose to have a nice smoke.)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Unless, of course, you're African.

The Telegraph - Panic in No 10 as ID card support collapses:
"A YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph shows that backing for ID cards has plummeted from 78 per cent less than two years ago to 45 per cent."
Good. But worryingly, from the same article, it looks like Blair's lost any touch he may once have had with reality:
"Amid further signs of Labour disarray, it emerged yesterday that the Prime Minister had delivered a furious rebuke to Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, for 'going soft' on the fight against crime."
The Safety Elephant? Soft on crime? The guy's quite happy to lock us all up without trial, confine us to our homes, electronically tag us and keep our DNA on file in a technologically substandard take on Minority Report - the only way he could get tougher is sending out Brazilian-style death squads. Is this the "culture of respect" Tony's been going on about? Let's face it, if you don't respect someone who's shoving a gun down your throat, you aren't going to respect anyone. That'll teach the little hoody-wearing bastards...

Update: I should have guessed Anthony Wells would have something on this poll...

Like poetry? Of course you do! Thusly, in response to a request from Channel 4 News, behold the might that is The Sharpener's G8 poem thing!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Hear, hear.

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