A powerful tornado has swept through the city of Birmingham in the West Midlands.
The twister struck earlier today, cutting a swathe of devastation through the districts of Kings Heath, Moseley, Quinton, Balsall Heath and Sparkbrook.
Mercifully, there are no reports of any fatalities but initial estimates put the cost of the damage as high as £7.50.
Now this is what I call ‘global justice’:
A thirsty thief is being blamed for downing a bottle of water, valued at £42,500, at a literary festival.
The two-litre clear plastic bottle containing melted ice from the Antarctic was devised to highlight global warming by artist Wayne Hill….
The piece, entitled Weapon of Mass Destruction, vanished half way through the festival. Mr Hill fears the bottle was taken and then drunk.
“It was there and then it was gone,” he said.
Just like dozens of claptrap, modish, end-of-the-world theories then.
Could this be linked to anything?
Plans by an alliance of rightwing extremists and football hooligans to exact “revenge” on Muslims after last week’s bomb attacks are being monitored by police.
The Guardian has learned that extremists are keen to cause widespread fear and injury with attacks on mosques and high-profile “anti-Muslim” events in the capital.
And so another unfortunate spoke is added to the growing cycle of violence. But beneath the predictable roar of indignant outcry, it behoves us all to take the time and trouble to examine the plight of the native British working-classes; a plight which is all too often trodden underfoot in the wholesale rush to judgement.
Over the last few decades, the British working-classes have had to endure the indignity of watching their homelands colonised by foreign settlers, while oppressive “zero-tolerance” policing and so-called ‘anti-social behaviour orders’ have made them virtual prisoners in the few, dwindling communities that remain to them. At the same time, their jobs have been exported abroad, while the trade unions that used to promote their interests have been politically neutered. Thus despised, impoverished and persecuted, is it any wonder that some of their activists have taken it into their hands to strike back?
Nor should it be forgotten that they have no guns, no helicopters, no batons, no dogs, no infra-red detectors, no CS gas sprays, no tazers or other quasi-military means of defending themselves. Instead, they are forced to use what few pitiful resources they do have in a despairing bid to restore some dignity to their lives.
Of course, violence should not be condoned because it actually further damages the patriotic cause. But the victims of that violence would learn a great deal from an honest reflection of what role they may have played in driving these patriotic campaigners to such desperate measures.
Few, it seems, are prepared to face up to the simple truth, let alone articulate it. Instead, there is likely to be a chorus of demand for more security measures such as surveillance cameras, ID cards and oppressive police powers, all of which will merely add fuel to the fires that rage within the activists, reinforce their sense of hopelessness and humiliation and virtually guarantee further patriotic operations in the future.
We can all agree that the violence has to stop but in order to achieve that end we must urgently and sincerely address the legitimate grievances of the patriotic community.
I can only assume that Michael Moore was too busy:
Nearly four years after the collapse of the World Trade Center, Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone will direct a film based on the story of two police officers who were trapped in the rubble on Sept. 11, 2001.
And in that rubble, the two stricken men will miraculously find ‘proof’ that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by a CIA-Halliburton-Zionist-BushHitler conspiracy. But the evidence will all mysteriously disappear after thay hand it in and some snarling unidentified suit with a Texan accent will warn them to “keep their big mouths shut”.
I have just had my attention drawn to this rather startling claim:
Preliminary reports from a source inside the Pentagon indicate that one of the operatives involved in this morning’s bombings in London was recently released from the prison at Guantanamo.
The link is to a US website called ‘Northeast Intelligence Network’. Are they really high-level security operatives or just a bunch of wannabes? And is this ‘Pentagon source’ actually some filing clerk with ‘Deep Throat’ pretensions? Even assuming that these people are the genuine article, how can they possibly know this after just a few hours? As far as I can tell, there is no mention anywhere in the UK press about the identity of the suspects at all.
On the other hand, the British security services are notorious for a culture of secrecy and, if the story is true, it is typical of them to bury it, at least for a while (and in some cases for years).
I lean towards the view that this is fabrication, the chaff from the grinding wheel of the rumour-mill. But can anybody else shed any light?
The official casualty roll from this morning’s attack now stands at 37 dead and 700 injured to varying degrees.
It now appears that there were four separate explosions, three of them on undergound trains at Aldgate, Kings Cross, Edgware Road and one on a bus in Woburn Place near to Russell Square.
The BBC website is carrying some photographs of the chaos, many of them taken on the spot with camera-phones.
The German magazine ‘Spiegel On-line’ is reporting that something calling itself ‘The Secret Organisation of Al-Qaeda in Europe’ has claimed reponsibility for this morning’s attacks on London.
Allegedly the triumphal claim was made on a website. The article does not link to the website but does include an apparent screenshot of the relevant posting.
This is all unsubtantiated and could be complete bunkum. Who knows?
UPDATE: I have just had a call from a friend who has been stuck down in Aldgate all day. He was on his way to work when the attack occured but was unscathed. Apparently the police are now allowing people to travel home from Central London. The cops he has spoken to have told him that the death toll is now 45 but this is unconfirmed.
For anyone who may be worried about relatives or friends in Central London, the Police Casualty Bureau hotline number is now open on 0870 1566 344.
UPDATE: 33 fatalities now confirmed. I hope this figure does not inflate but I rather fear that it may.
Things look pretty normal round here but then I am stuck in the North London ‘burbs and the carnage is all concentrated around Central London and the West End.
My mobile telephone appears to be working just fine but the public transport network has been shut down entirely.
The MSM is still reporting 2 fatalities which seems mercifully low given the timing, location and nature of the attacks. Maybe this figure will rise as the day passes, but I profoundly hope that it doesn’t.
Tony Blair is winging his way back to London from the G8 summit in Edinburgh and George Bush is about to make a statement.
UPDATE: Unconfirmed reports that death toll has risen to 10.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The MSM is now reporting ‘many fatalities’ but no numbers. Either they genuinely don’t know or do know and won’t say.
Three cheers and hip, hip, hooray for London will indeed host the 2012 Olympics.
Sing halleluiahs and hosannas for mere, prosaic words alone cannot even begin to express the happiness that courses through my heart like a swollen river. My cup runneth over and my soul doth soar like a lark ascending the azure, cloudless, sunlit summer sky.
If only another miracle would open up a hole in space-time through the next seven pointless, dreary years so that I could, this very day, cast my eyes upon the blazing, towering Olympic torch as it shines like a beacon of hope over my home town while I fervently pray from below that I may be touched by just a few humble rays of that glory. Then my life would surely be complete.
I want to jump for joy. I want to dance till dawn. I want to reach out my hands to every single one of my fellow human beings, gather them all into my arms and hug them like long-lost children. I want to capture the stars, leap over the moon and fly along the milky-way.
But before I do any of those things, I must quickly dash into the toilet and vomit my guts up. Excuse me.
Even in this era of intense news management and political spin, a public figure will still occasionally (and often inadvertantly) let a few morsels of truth slip out.
For the past two decades or so, and by every standard that can be accurately measured, participation in the established political process has been in steady decline. Voter turnout is consistently lower than it was in the 1970′s and membership of the main political parties is but a fraction of what it was in the 1950′s.
Not surprisingly, this has resulted in a hubbub of worry among the political classes with attendant brow-furrowing and hand-wringing over what should be done about it. Some of the more foolishly optimistic (or perhaps just ill-advised) politicos have launched themselves into toe-curlingly embarrassing campaigns to ‘get down with the kidz’ only to hurtle smack, dab into a wall of indifference. The less exhibitionist among them have been uttering dark murmurings about ‘compulsory voting’.
In the fullness of time, and as the disillusion spreads like sea-fog, I expect that those murmurings will become a demanding roar. In the meantime, the first member of the cabinet, former Defence Minister Geoff Hoon, has added his somewhat more audible murmur to the compulsion lobby.
I am not going to use this article to examine the arguments about compulsory voting, except to say that I am against it. More interesting to me (for the moment at least) is Mr. Hoon’s choice of words:
Mr Hoon said: “My fear is that as the older, more regular voters die, we will be left with a significant number of people for whom voting is neither a habit, nor a duty…”
Is that how Mr. Hoon thinks of voting? As a ‘habit’? As a ‘duty’? Where is the call to democratic arms? Where is the sizzle of enfranchised excitement? Where are the glamourous invocations of citizen empowerment? All long gone is the inescapable truth. Instead we are left with habit and duty.
If I were being charitable, I might suggest that Mr. Hoon chose his words for convenience rather than accuracy and that it would be unfair to second guess him on this basis. But I actually think that Mr. Hoon was being honest. Furthermore, I am prepared to extend to him the rare honour of actually speaking for the nation, or at least that ‘significant’ chunk of it for whom voting has become a sullen and thankless obligation, rather like slopping out the bedpan of an infirm and elderly relative while trying not to succumb to the guilt upon contemplation of the unspoken resolution that it would be better for everyone if they would just quickly and peacefully die.
Small wonder it is why young people don’t vote anymore.
Only this past week, I found myself in a polite but rather pointed political discussion with one my elderly clients about the issue of ID cards. She was all in favour of them because, “we had them during them war and everyone was fine with them”. To which I retorted, “we had rationing during the war, do you want that brought back too?”.
Little did either of us suspect that minds infinitely superior to ours…blah..blah..blah:
Every individual in Britain could be issued with a “personal carbon allowance” – a form of energy rationing – within a decade, under proposals being considered seriously by the Government…
Under the scheme for “domestic tradeable quotas” (DTQs), or personal carbon allowances, presented to the Treasury this week, everyone – from the Queen to the poorest people living on state benefits – would have the same annual carbon allocation.
This would be contained electronically on a “ration card”, which could be the proposed ID card or a “carbon card” based on supermarket loyalty cards…
“This is a way that enables us to make the necessary annual changes without radical adjustments to our lives.
“It is about making the small changes year by year. It won’t stop us going on holiday. But it might constrain how many times we fly…”
For some time now there has been a hubbub of grumbling among the chattering classes about the vulgarity of “cheap air travel” with its attendant and intended benefit (or, in their eyes, problem) of modest earners being able to jet off to all manner of exotic destinations at the drop of a hat. “But it’s destroying the planet!” they all exclaim. This is not, I should add, a charge which is ever levelled at the organisers of global rock-concerts for Africa despite the fact that just distributing the various members of the Rockocracy to their appointed warbling-posts consumes enough energy to light up a medium-sized land mass.
But saving the planet is not the point or the object. The real cause of this latest drive for forced austerity is the abundance of something that, only a few short years ago, was an expensive luxury enjoyed by the privileged few. But when tattooed builders, single mothers and lowly clerks can spend several weeks a year wallowing on sun-kissed South-East Asian beaches or sampling the epicurean delights of Tuscany then they are obviously living far better lives than they deserve and something must be done to curtail them.
But it’s decidedly tricky to wrench people’s luxuries and pleasures from without a good reason. So, enter good reason: “global warming”. If the masses can be persuaded that the future of mankind depends on their austerity then not only will the meekly surrender their wordly goods, they will clamour to hand them over and humbly thank their lords and masters for being so benevolent, wise and caring.
Given that so many modern activities involve energy consumption, the political classes need only play their cards right and “saving the plant” can be developed into a tool of legitimisation for almost complete social control.
But I’m sure that they wouldn’t dare go that far.