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Sunday, July 24, 2005


Stockwell Shooting

Reaction from my London pals is one of horror over the sloppy shooting of the hapless Jean Charles de Menezes. The knowledge that the plain-clothes mob were given a discreet OK to go round emptying pistols into innocent electricians doesn't bode well for relaxed travel by other citizens of swarthy hue.

It all seems cloaked in dissembling and double-speak: first the Police Commissioner (discouragingly surnamed Blair) says the shooting was "directly linked to the ongoing and expanding anti-terrorist operation", then we hear the poor bloke had nothing to do with it. First someone says JC didn't spikka da English too good; then the family chips in to say he understood it fine. What a mess - no wonder the Financial Times is covering this appalling cock-up from the angle of the backlash.

They say JC grew up in a Brazilian slum where self-survival meant steering well clear off the law, but you'd still think that three years in Britain would have told him that jumping barriers might be open to misinterpretation.

There are so many bizarre aspects to this: the fellow passenger who witnessed the execution from five yards away gets up to the ticket office where he's approached by a policeman and London Underground staff and the first thing they ask is if he needs counseling.

Counseling?? What *is* my country coming to? Twenty years ago when I left the UK to resume my world travels, there was none of this psycho babble stuff. If I'd even heard the word 'counseling' fall from the lips of police or Underground staff, I'd have seen that as a clear giveaway that I was dealing with dastardly foreigners in disguise and turned them into the porper stoic authorities.

He probably thought it a good idea to steel folks in advance, but how crass of Commissioner Blair to spell it out, that "somebody else could be shot" as the hunt continues.

Well, at least the Home Secretary has been persuaded to call off his vacation. Honestly! What a time to go swanning off - in the middle of a security crisis, and *80* days, to boot.

Interesting angle on that Money magazine Best Place to Live piece: I sent off a self-satisfied link to a pal in bomb-stricken London and he wrote back commiserating on the untimely spotlight. As he saw it, it's exactly the sort of provocative article to put ideas into terr'ists looking for new targets.

Speaking of new targets, check out her pertinent "We can buy it all, except safety" piece, page 4 of the Review, by Bainbridge Buzz's always shrewd Cathy Nickum. She reminds us that,

"The Bainbridge-Seattle commuter ferries may present the biggest terrorist target of any public transit conveyance in the country - up to 2,500 "captured" riders on one vessel, with 200-plus vehicles, departing and arriving from a major metropolitan area several times a day."
While you're about it, read up on *all* Cathy's excellent ferry articles.

Ignoring for the moment those in peril on the Sound, and looking on the bright side of the sort of pyrotechnics warned against by my London pal, I still say there's room for creative tweaking in the direction of aesthetic 'mercy' dynamiting of the more bilious of our spreading blight of eye-sore construction.

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