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July 06, 2006

My Wife Flew off with Bono and Branson; Bombed in London 7.7.05

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On the plane with Richard Branson


Following is an edited cross post from Charmaine's Reasoned Audacity, July 1 - 7, 2005.

A year ago, Charmaine calls early morning from Edinburgh. "I'm having trouble flying into London," she says.

I'm still waking up. I ask, "When can you come home?"

"I don't know," she says, her voice unsteady, "They're still clearing the bodies."

A wake up call. London, welcome to the war.

It started, as most things these days do, with Powerline.

Following is original posting from London as Charmaine called it into me, when her site went down. Any inconsistencies may be due to transcription overload.

This is Jack, the husband: Charmaine called. Her site is still down, but she wanted to file a report to Powerline.

"Flew into Heathrow airport and took a $150 cab ride into north London to conduct interviews and document the bombsites. Bobbies cordoned off area around the sites sealing the scene of the explosions. I got to within a block or so of Edgware Tube station entrance with Londoners sitting calmly, relaxing in pubs. Everything is strangely calm, business as usual. I interviewed a woman, an interior designer, expecting some emotional display. There was none. "We don't do a lot of group hugging in England," she said, making me think of the stiff-upper lip. "We are not sentimental."

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And she seemed to reflect the mood of the London population. Not for what they were doing but for what they were not doing: No candles, no out-pouring of grief, no hoards of gawkers milling around police tape, no teddy bears, no bouquets of flowers. No movement. No tears. Everything normal, except, maybe for that bus with the top blown off. Workers cleared and cleaned up the area real well. Spiffy. And got back to their pints.

I visited hospitals and learned that 'only' 37 were confirmed dead at that time. More confirmations were expected.

There were no moms with little children in downtown London. I interviewed middle-aged businessmen on cell phones and kids with Mohawks, none who were surprised.

Londoners gently reproached me about my concern over the bloodshed, "You Americans get sentimental over silly things. We're used to getting bombed." The IRA Troubles had hardened hearts as well as the London infrastructure.

I expected some grief, at least as much as there was when Lady Di died. And grief I got. I interviewed three very ordinary, normal teenaged English Muslims, one with short spiky hair (dressed not unlike my 10 year-old-dude). All three seems to be parroting Muslim talking points. "The bombings were a conspiracy by Blair to generate support for the war," they recited in a charming British accent.

The bombers were quite indiscriminate. Edgware is not far from the heart of Little Beirut, a Muslim ethnic neighborhood.

A young British black woman told me, "The bombings are Tony Blair's fault -- they killed a 100 thousand Iraqis -- and it's like a boomerang [coming back at the British]." Most everyone I talked to believed that the British caused the bombing or had it coming.

Of the dozen or so people I interviewed only white males in business attire expressed surprise that anyone would think the British were at fault in anyway.

But these gentlemen were the minority. Most felt that the Brits were complicit. The people at London's ground zero were sounding like the "wobbly" Spanish after their train bombings.

The day is a cloudy, cold, rainy 7.7."

Charmaine is still out on the streets -- 9pm local London time and will be sending pictures soon.

Read the story at the jump.

CMR Salamander points to HotAir with video.

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G8 Flags

July 1, 2005

Packing My Bags for Bono-Blogging!

Reasoned Audacity is headed on the road. . . with U2 to the G8 Summit!

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Bono, lead singer, U2

On Sunday, I'll be meeting up with Josh Trevino of Redstate.org, Steve Beard of Thunderstruck.org, and John Aravosis of Americablog.com, to join Bono, U2 and the Live8 crew to fly to Gleneagles, Scotland for the G8 summit. . .We'll be there covering the summit all week long.

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My passport is ready, I'm triple-checking the modem, and the camera is packed, so that I can send you minute-by-minute, live reports of the policymakers, the activists, the demonstrators, and the rockers -- all on the spot and behind the scenes.

A huge thank you to John Hinderaker of Powerline who has been working with the Live8 and DATA (Debt, Aids, Trade, Africa) people to make this trip possible!

###

July 1, 2005

A Word From Our Sponsors

Your Audacious blogger is attending the G8 Summit with the generous support of a number of sponsors:

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Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic has donated the air transportation.

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The Hewlett Foundation is providing lodging and on-the-ground transportation.



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DATA (Debt AIDS Trade Africa) is providing logistical support and coordination.

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And can't say it enough: big thanks to John Hinderaker of Powerline, the vector for helping to bring bloggers, and me, aboard.

# # #

July 1, 2005

My Travelin' Peeps

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With Josh Trevino on the left
and John Aravosis on the right

So I just couldn't resist writing "Josh on the left and John on the right." Because that exactly reverses the general viewpoints of my new travelling buddies, Josh from Redstate.org and John from Americablog.com

Frankly, right now the guys are busy hanging out with Melissa Fitzgerald, otherwise known as C.J.'s secretary on West Wing. . . check their blogs out for the pics of them with her -- I took them. For me, I'm holding out for the pic with George Clooney. . .

More later: press conference is starting in 5 minutes, so I'm dashing. The plane takes off at 7, so I'll try to report back to you, after the press conference if there is time.

Come back soon for more on LIVE8 and the G8 and Bono...

###

July 3, 2005

Richard Branson Press Conference

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Charles McCormack, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Branson and Jamie Drummond

Running for the plane. Highlight from the press conference.

Jamie Drummond, executive director and co-founder of DATA (who looks and sounds just like Ewan McGregor), said that the ONE Campaign is becoming "like the NRA for the poor."

Everyone laughed, and Richard Branson responded, "or like the AARP. . ."

Much more later. Both Djimon Hounsou and Richard Branson addressed the corruption issue extensively.

On to Edinburgh. . .

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Live8 and G8 coverage continues...

###

July 3, 2005

Advice from the Cab Driver . . .

The protestors are already rioting in downtown Edinburgh.

There is a palpable sense of unease in this city that awaits the arrival of the world's G8 leaders and another Live8 "Final Push" concert Wednesday morning here in Edinburgh.

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Many buildings display banners like this one, "Make Poverty History"

For some reason never explained, our bus from the airport ended up with a bus driver who didn't know the directions to any place in Edinburgh. As a result, we were all dropped at one central location downtown and we hailed cabs to get to our hotels.

Josh and I were both assigned to Allison House, a bed and breakfast about three miles from the center city. But when we told our cab driver the address, he sighed. Then he replied, "Don't worry, I know where it is. I just need to think how to get you there."

Most of the major streets in Edinburgh were closed off. The driver kept trying different routes, only to have to turn and try another. He kept apologizing for driving us in the wrong direction. Our three mile trip ended up taking over half an hour, maybe more.

Everywhere we looked were policeman. At several intersections, a row of police cars blocked off the street.

We also saw some protestors, but most looked silly -- one young man had pink tulle wrapped around his neck; his female companion had on what appeared to be a skirt made of aluminum foil -- rather than threatening. Others just looked like punks spoiling for a chance to rumble. One kid looked to be only a little older than the Dude (who is only ten), but he was already smoking and had multiple body piercings. The scowl on his face said, to me at least, "I'm worried about Africa's debt repayment."

Finally, the hotel. As I handed the driver some pound notes, he glanced at the "US Media" badge still hanging around my neck and said:

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Allison House

Oooh. And one moor thing. Doan tell them you're American.

Instead, he suggested that if we went out to dinner or into the city, we should say we are Canadian.

That way, we'd be safe.

"And have a good stay!"

###

July 3, 2005

Two Different Welcomes: Bobbleheads and Cute Kids

When we touched down in Edinburgh earlier this afternoon, two very different welcomes greeted us: Bobbleheads and Cutie Pies.

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Okay, so the whole kids with flags waving thing was totally staged. But it was adorable -- who can resist those rosy Scottish cheeks and the hand-drawn "Welcome to Edinburgh" sign?

Inside the terminal, however, the welcome was a snarky one. The Bobbleheads awaited.

No one ever explained exactly what the Bobbleheads were about -- maybe it was all just for laughs? Kind of Disney-esque? John and I stood surveying the scene and debated as travellers vied to get their picture taken with the Bobs. Could have been. . .

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But when I arrived at Allison House, there they were, featured in the local paper -- the very same Bobbleheads marching carrying a "Make Poverty History" sign. Something of local celebrities apparently.

Was it meant to be all in fun? Nah.

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The Bobbleheads' shoes . . .very European.

###

July 4, 2005

John Aravosis Detained by Police Here in Edinburgh

My new blogging buddy, John Aravosis, who is staying in a different hotel than I am, was caught in the riots earlier this evening here in Edinburgh and detained by the police. . .

My family is very pleased that I wasn't nearby, but (since he is okay), I am planning to give John grief for landing in the middle of the action without me.

More seriously, this level of rioting when the summit doesn't even begin until Wednesday doesn't bode well for this city. Pictures on the local news of children sobbing in the streets are heart-breaking.

Riding into the city on the bus this afternoon, we passed a Starbucks with enormous glass windows in the downtown area, and Greg Beals, a globe-trotting journalist on assignment here with NY Newsday, predicted it would be smashed by week's end . . .

###

July 4, 2005

Richard Branson Responds to the Corruption Question

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On the plane with Richard Branson

Two things are abundantly clear in traveling with Richard Branson and the ONE campaign activists: first, they know they have to address the corruption question; and two, their responses to the question are pro forma because they view the issue of corruption (despite protestations to the contrary) as being somewhat peripheral.

Scott Johnson at Powerline writes about the Live8 phenomenon today and quotes his reader, Julian Biggs, who argues:

Time after time, the TV announcers [covering Live8] reminded us that things are "even worse in Africa than they were before Live Aid 20 years ago!" Clearly, none of them considered this might tell us something about the efficacy of Live Aid and its use of cash to solve problems caused by massive political corruption.

Good point. So why do Branson and Co. treat "massive political corruption" as peripheral?

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Photo op on the tarmac at Heathrow: Bob Geldof, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Branson, Female British rocker, Natalie Imbruglia, Charles McCormack, President of Save the Children

In responding to a question about corruption at yesterday's press conference, Branson said, with a clearly well-worn joke, that corruption was something like marital affairs -- people like to blame men, but "it takes two to tango."

Much overly hearty laughter at Sexual-Joke-Made-By-Rich-and-Famous-Man.

Foreign companies, he argued, should be penalized if they try to bribe lobal officials. BUT, he emphasized, "a lot of African companies are getting it together on corruption." Nigeria for example. (Coincidentally, this week saw the launch of Virgin Nigeria, the newest Branson venture.) He argued that it is "quite easy" to blame a lack of investment in Africa on corruption, but that "as a business man, my belief is that corruption is on the decline."

Branson emphasized that investing in Africa "makes good business sense. It's not a charity."

Later, as we walked toward boarding the flight to Heathrow, I asked him if Africa was going to be a focus of his business expansion beyond his investment in Virgin Nigeria. "Yes." (He stood in line with everyone else to board the plane, greeting all comers very congenially.)

There was one person who seemed to take the corruption issue more seriously: Djimon Hounsou, the Oscar-nominated actor from Amistad and Gladiator, was the first one to raise the issue of corruption, even before the question from the floor. Perhaps not coincidentally, he was also one of the very few actual Africans present. He is originally from Benin, which is in West Africa. He argued that in order to combat corruption, elections in Africa need to be monitored, and the use of aid monies must also be monitored.

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On the tarmac at Heathrow

Tomorrow, I'll be attending a briefing on "What the G8 Must Do on Debt" hosted by the Jubilee Campaign. (As well as trying to avoid rioting anarchists.) This reflects the One Campaign's call for debt cancellation. Anyone have questions they'd like to have asked? Shoot them to me!

###

The ironies abound.

We're starting the day this morning at the Roxy Art House, a beautiful late Scots Gothic building built in 1912. . . that used to be the Lady of Glenorchy's Church. Today, at the front of the large hall, two stained glass windows depicting the life of Christ still hang. But the interior space is now used as the Angels Cafe where you can order an espresso or capuccino. Or from the bar in the back, you can get a pint, or hard liquor, for just under three pounds.

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The Altar

Here is today's altar, where we worship at the church of ONE. The congregation is assembled -- the activists from the ONE campaign that we travelled with on the plane -- are here for a presentation by Richard Curtis, Hollywood director of Notting Hill fame, to show us PSA's developed for the ONE campaign.

Last night we had the Great Opportunity to attend a showing of Curtis' latest film . . .something "wonderful" involving "love at the G8." I kid you not. Sorry. Can't tell you too much about it; I passed on that one. (Of course, there is Another Opportunity to see it tonight!)

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The Congregation

And here is the congregation, worshipping in Lady Willielma Maxwell's church. She was a woman born in the late 18th century, who became a widow at the age of thirty in 1771. After becoming impressed with the evangelist John Wesley, "she became convinced that social reform was only possible through 'methodical' attention to the intellectual, physical and moral welfare of the dispossessed." She then began using the vast fortune her husband left her to establish a church to minister to the poor. She died when she was only 44. However, by 1912, her church was "the busiest church in Edinburgh, humming like a beehive."

Now, we have Live8. . .

###

July 5, 2005

No Posters. . . and We Mean It!

"No Bill Posters Or We Will Prosecute And We Mean It"we_mean_it.jpg No. Really. We Mean It. Yeah, well you see how effective that was with self-styled anarchists.

It feels a little silly to describe the protestors as anarchists. The term makes me think of the dodgy characters of The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare. But the protestors who wreaked such havoc here yesterday do, in fact, label themselves "anarchists." Read all about the riots from John and Josh's reports.

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Lots of Anti-Bush T-shirts, too

This afternoon, John, Steve Beard and I set out to assess the aftermath of last night's riots. (Well, and maybe see a little of Edinburgh along the way. . .)

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I haven't yet introduced you to Steve Beard of Thunderstruck.org. Steve's a movie/music critic who covers the culture writ large, as well as the editor of Good News magazine. And a great guy.

Frankly, as I mentioned yesterday, we expected to see more random disturbances today. But the only sign of protest was the still-heightened police presence, and the anti-authority posters plastered all over town.

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Hundreds of individually signed protest postcards


###


July 6, 2005

Bono Rocking in Edinburgh Late into the Night

It's ten minutes until midnight and I'm writing from Murrayfield Stadium here in Edinburgh, where 50,000 people have been rocking since 7:00. And they show no inclination toward going home. The roar of the crowd behind me is intense. . .

Bono, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure led the crowd in singing the Scottish national anthem minutes ago which segued into a set by Ure and his band with the crowd going crazy.

The organizers have been announcing since 10:00 that the trains and buses would stop running at 11:30 . . .but very few left.

Oh wait. Now here comes James Brown! Even your Audacious Blogger has got to go . . .

More later. Lots to tell you about what has been said here tonight.

* * *

2 AM UPDATE: Made it back to the hotel. But it was an adventure. We almost had to walk. Must. Sleep.

But quickly, just to goad you into coming back tomorrow for the full report, here's what Geldof shouted as a challenge to "the eight men in one room:"

We've got 3.8 million people in our back pockets. What are you going to do about that?

Then he said they expected politicians to respond to the Live8 movement or:

When you come to us and ask for our approval at the ballot box: F**K OFF!

The crowd went wild.

(James Brown was terrific!)

###


###

George Clooney Appearance

UPDATE Saturday 9th:

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George Clooney

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Djimon Hounsou
and George Clooney

Waiting to hear George Clooney speak to the ONE campaign activists Wednesday morning at the Roxy Art House in Edinburgh, the last thing I expected was to hear George Clooney give George Bush higher marks than Bill Clinton. On anything.

But he did.

First he noted that the President's speech last Saturday night was a "step in the right direction." And then he commented that the Bush administration is "ahead of schedule on AIDS funding." But he went even further by drily remarking that this was "better than the last President." That President would be Bill Clinton.

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Clooney's presentation was very controlled and carefully calibrated. He didn't appear to be particularly enthused about his assignment, but he was clearly designated as the tip of the spear in the Bono/Geldof charm offensive in their campaign to engage the Bush Administration, and more broadly the Right as a movement, with their African anti-poverty agenda.

Clooney made this agenda fairly specific, talking about "building bridges" and mentioning his upcoming appearance on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network by joking and saying that "my parents will laugh." The kids in the audience loved it.

The Pat Robertson tactic is serious. Robertson's grand-daughter was present with the CBN team and Clooney greeted her heartily with "How's your grandfather?"

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Clooney provided even more evidence of the strictly disciplined on-message Positive Approach the ONE campaign is pursuing. The assembled media at the gathering were denied any opportunity to ask questions. Instead Clooney easily fielded questions from the activists who asked uniformly bland questions.

Activist Question: "How do we get media attention for our issues?"

Clooney Answer: "Marry someone famous."

Irritated, George Arney from the BBC pushed forward at the end, shoved a microphone in Clooney's face and asked about global warming. Waving off the event organizer's protests, Clooney answered evenly: "We're trying not to polarize people; we're trying to pick our fights."

Then he added a comment that I found very interesting for its insight into the Bono/Geldof strategy: "We have to let them [the Bush Administration] be good guys."

Here's why I thought Clooney wasn't too thrilled with this approach: he fiddled with his fingers through much of the presentation.
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George Clooney Fidgets

What was it like being a few feet from George Clooney? A little underwhelming actually. I couldn't help thinking of Dolly Parton's remark that "it takes a lot of money to look this cheap."

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George Clooney's Shoes

# # #

Elected politics for Clooney? "Run for office? No. I've slept with too many women, I've done too many drugs, and I've been to too many parties."
-George Clooney

More at Clooney's fan club

Clooney knows politics as he buys property in Italy. Learn at Luxist.

Thank you to the Media Soul for her George Clooney report from CBN.com,

Much of the pressure to take such action came from the One campaign -- a massive anti-poverty effort that brought together such diverse personalities as actor George Clooney and CBN's Pat Robertson.

Clooney and Robertson appeared on a recent "Nightline" together.

"George is a tremendous humanitarian," Robertson said.

"Obviously, it's rather strange bedfellows," Clooney commented.

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Murrayfield Stadium
Edinburgh, Scotland
Live8: The Final Push

After attending the final Live8 concert Thursday night 6 July, in Edinburgh, I left you in the wee hours of Friday morning with a teaser -- Bob Geldof's challenge to the G8:

We've got 3.8 billion people in our back pockets. What are you going to do about that?

Then he said they expected politicians to either respond to the Live8 movement or:

When you come to us and ask for our approval at the ballot box: F**K OFF!

Of course, Friday morning dawned with news of bombs in London, and my promise to follow up was trumped with more pressing events.

But I want to come back to the concert, and here's why. On Thursday afternoon, we looked out the window of the Media Center on the second floor of the Balmoral Hotel and saw protestors gathering further down Prince Street. So Steve Beard and I grabbed our cameras to head in that direction. When the elevator doors opened up, there stood Geldof.

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We had been on the plane with him from Heathrow to Edinburgh and, frankly, the guy is so amazingly scruffy that in person he doesn't seem like a Big Deal. We chatted very casually in the elevator. But then the doors opened, we walked into the lobby, and the air molecules changed. Steve and I were right behind him as he walked out to the waiting crowd and the scene was pandemonium. Geldof is a walking Ion Generator.

Keeping that image in mind, here's my larger point: we found out later that he was headed to catch the helicopter to Gleneagles to meet with President Bush. He then came back for the triumphant concert that night, to celebrate this remarkable access to world leaders: 3.8 billion people in our back pocket.

A pretty megalomaniacal claim, even for a rock star.

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Edinburgh: The Final Push

But then came the announcement from Gleneagles: Aid to Africa increasing by $50 billion; debt forgiveness for 18 countries. A large portion of the Bono/Geldof agenda moving forward.

There is something significant afoot here and Americans need to pay attention. If for no other reason than that there really are children dying in Africa.

Trying to watch the concert from a detached perspective was difficult to maintain: it was impressive to see world-class entertainers at work. . .manipulating public sentiment and mobilizing public opinion.

It wasn't perfect: The repetitive, canned appeals from most of the entertainers was wearisome. In some cases humorous --

"$50 billion dollars is a lot of money. Really, it is. Think for a minute, if you move from $25 billion to $50 billion and you think of how you spend your own money. . .uh, well, uh,. . . . . . it's a lot of money,[entertainer panicking with mind going blank]. . . and now we're going to show you a video . . . "

In other cases screechy and shrill -- "It's about JUSTICE. We demand JUSTICE."

But still, the music was great and interspersed with powerful, evocative videos played on the JumboTron. The most emotional one was the "Click" video. If you've not seen it yet, take a minute to watch it.

The video is built around the statistic that every three seconds a child dies in Africa. A celebrity comes on screen every three seconds, and "click" -- snaps their fingers. A child has died. Click. Another one.

Click. Another.

The mother in me was deeply moved. How can we just let these children die?

The policy analyst in me replied: We have to get it right.

I left the concert with ambivalent feelings. There had been so much of the typical liberal silliness: Nobel Peace Laureate, Wangari Maathai, challenging the crowd to "plant ten trees to take care of carbon dioxide."

Please.

Get Serious. Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt.

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John Hinderaker and I talked before I left for the trip. We were both curious about whether or not the potential for a right-left convergence on this issue is real.

It could be. The boos of the Live8 crowd any time President Bush's name was mentioned left me skeptical. But in Bono and Geldof's praise for President Bush, George Clooney's refusals to accept bait to criticize the administration, and other obvious efforts to craft a coalition-building message, I saw a glimmer of potential.

Click.

We do have to get it right. To Make Poverty History will take more than eight concerts.

And more than more money . . .

###

July 7, 2005

London Later 7.7.05

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I have a lot to tell you about the events of this last week. My plan today was to write up my notes on the George Clooney appearance qua briefing; yesterday's afternoon protests in Edinburgh; the Wolfowitz speech on trade to the German Marshall Fund; and the mixed reaction I had to last night's Murrayfield Geldof/Bono concert. I will yet do those posts, but priorities suddenly shifted today.

As I strolled toward the departure gate at Edinburgh airport this morning with two hours to spare before our scheduled departure to Heathrow, I was engrossed in thinking about how best to convey the wild ride of the last few days.

And then I glanced up at a television monitor and my heart sank. Bombs, multiple bombs, in London. People dead.
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As I got to the gate area, everyone was crowded around, watching the television in stunned silence, while policeman with machine guns soberly stood guard nearby. It suddenly felt like 9/11.

Early reports had 90 dead. The latest numbers I'm hearing here are 38 dead; 50 in critical condition; and 700 wounded to some degree.

When we finally did reach London much later in the afternoon, a group of us jumped in a cab to try to reach the city, despite warnings that the roads were impassable. We sped toward the city on the M4 and the A40, however, without any difficulty. Those trying to get out of the city were not so lucky and faced bumper to bumper traffic.

Our driver did his best to accomodate his anxious American journalist passengers who kept asking him to turn the radio up louder. Jon, a journalist with KOMO Radio, filed two posts on the phone from the cab. We listened for awhile to a local news call-in show where the female host in her most soothing voice kept trying to steer the conversation toward group consolation.

A caller named Colin was having none of it. "If it weren't for Tony Blair and George Bush," he said angrily, "we wouldn't be in this situation."

We were going to hear a lot of this sentiment in the hours ahead.

Still, we sped past a soccer field on our left, a group of shirtless little boy played soccer happily. Life as usual.
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Finally, we reached the Queen Elizabeth the Mother Hospital in Paddington where some of the victims had been taken. It was quiet and calm, but definitely not life as usual, with police guarding the entrance and a gaggle of reporters camped out across from the entrance.
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The Edgware Underground Tube station was only a few blocks away, so we set off on foot. As we neared the site, the police presence was strong, as expected. The crowds were not.

A steady stream of observers did stop to look and photograph the barricaded street. But mostly, the feel in the air was one of stoic calm.

Greg Beals, of New York Newsday and I decided to try the Hilton across the street from the barricades to see what the day had wrought for them. In today's only (extremely) hostile encounter, a manager summarily kicked me out. As I left, a security agent crossed the lobby and said, "I understand you've been taking pictures," and appeared ready to take my camera. I hastened to show him that I had not, in fact, taken any photographs of the Hilton. Hooray for digital.

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Directly outside I saw Davy D, a hip-hop DJ from Oakland. Together we went over to interview a group of young men standing together by the barricades. After they recognized Davey, they were happy to speak right up. We asked them why everyone seemed to be reacting so calmly and they all just shrugged. One said: "I was expecting this -- sooner or later it was going to happen. I knew something was going to happen." Then he continued: "Everyone thinks they know why it happened. . ."

Why?

Well, because George Bush and Tony Blair need to make it easier to go to war.

Davey and I glanced at each other. The interview moved on to other topics. Finally, as we wrapped up, I stopped the young man, just to clarify his comment. Did he mean, I asked, to imply that there was some sort of conspiracy by the government involved in today's attacks? Just to generate support for the war?

"Definitely," he said. "Definitely."

These young men told us something that we heard reported nowhere else: in the aftermath of the attacks, the government shut down the cell phone towers and no one was able to communicate with their phones. This, they said, was "terrifying." For some time at least, no one was able to find out where their loved ones were.
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Next Davey spied two attractive young black women and asked for their reactions. They eyed him warily, but one of them couldn't resist and blurted out aggressively, "It's Tony Blair's fault! They've killed 100,000 people -- it's like a boomerang." Later she repeated this, talking about "killing innocent people" and "invading other peoples' country . . ."

When we asked her the question about the calm, she shrugged too. "We're used to it," she replied. "Americans get patriotic over anything silly."

We were starting to see a pattern.

I spotted a young woman about my own age and asked if she would talk with me. After initial hesitation, she got warmed up, and ended up repeating many of the same themes the young men had given us, without the conspiracy theories.

She, too, had been expecting to be attacked and was almost relieved. "We were so going to happen," she said.

As to the calm? Again: "We're used to it."

When I first asked her about Tony Blair she was hesitant to assign blame. But as we talked, she became more animated, and finally blurted out: "This is the price we're paying [for the war in Iraq]. Yes, I guess I do blame [Blair] -- makes you bloody angry. . . we've killed all those people in Iraq; all those civilians . . . "

I started to wonder if someone had handed out talking points for the day. But how was it that a group of young, male English Muslims, a trendy black woman in her late 20's, and a 30-something white woman interior designer, were all saying the same thing?

I decided I needed to expand my demographic sample and started looking for the quintessential English gentleman businessman.

Spied him talking on the phone near the barricade and moved in. Warily, he agreed to talk.

No, he wasn't surprised. "It's been due to happen. Sooner or later." He got the talking points, too.

Bu then he pointed out something very interesting that I had noticed only on a subconscious level. "This is the heart of Little Beirut" he said. We were indeed surrounded by people, like the young men, who appeared to be Arab. A strange and exceptionally cold-blooded choice of targets for Al Quaida, even by terrorist standards.

Finally, I asked him the Tony Blair question. He looked at me puzzled: "How can you blame Tony Blair?"

I told him he was the only one all day I'd found who didn't.

He frowned. "Interesting," he said. And walked off.

As our group re-assembled and walked back toward the hospital in a sudden grey London rain, we compared notes. We all agreed that we were observing a striking difference between English and American reactions to this kind of disaster. Perhaps later the impromptu teddy-bear memorials that characterize our American communal grief in the wake of tragedy will appear.

But, for now, the English we met were putting on the stiff upper lip.

###

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Thank you (foot)notes:

DANEgerus also has the prayful Madonna and insights.

Chrenkoff suggests the real inspiration for the rock stars.

Amy Sherman asks Who are the Poor at Common Grounds On Line

Charlotte Hays, from Inkwell, says aid feeds African despots over at Is Poverty History Yet?

Kerfuffles reports the insults at The 3 Stooges Do Europe.

Visit Open Post at Mudville Gazette. They get it right: Bet your life on it.

Lori Byrd at PoliPundit has an excellent review at Conservatives Have the Rigth Idea on Aid.

The Professor has charts at SCSUScholars. Class is in session, go audit.

The Daily DeMarche says "We don't want your money- we want your government's money" at Live 8.

Eric Scheske says, "Yeah, these people will solve Africa’s problems," at Live 8.

GOP Bloggers say G8 rewarded terrorism

The Clooney Network has more pics

The MovieBlog has analysis at Clooney on CNN

Challies asks, "What to change the world? Go to church." Not Live 8.

Junkyardblog has Madonna and the digitus impudicus at Fooling. Thanks to PyroManiac and Challies

USS Neverdock
asks,"Looking for justice", "start a revolution", "create good government", are these people seriously talking about, dare I say it, regime change?in Africa, Are You Listening?

WILLisms says, "I have no doubt that Bono is sincere in his concern for Africa, but, watching Live 8, the effort really just missed the point. Millenium Challenge Accounts are what the world needs to get on board with, not awareness for the sake of awareness." Read more at Certified Classy #5

Digitus says in Recent Articles about Live8 performers that "They were there to reach down and help us help the poor, but meanwhile, backstage they while snarfing up the lobster, caviar, and $14,000 gift bags given for free to the A-listers like Madonna..."

Outside The Beltway has excellent contributing posts at Beltway Traffic Jam.

JollyBlogger rethinking negative comments.

Mudville Gazette serving the country and mankind at Open Post

Paul Hogue has Anti-Americanism in Perspective

GOPBloggers have the real answer to Africa's problems,

Our leftwing friends will wonder why this is important - but each and every conservative knows that the way to make people determined upon personal liberty, stable and free government and the rule of law is the widespread ownership of property. You don't let your community become a haven of criminals when you've got equity value in property you hold title to.

Professor Drezner has citations and analysis on Africa's Digital Divide -- a most interesting perspective with cell phones.

Asymetrical Information says not to throw good money after bad debt in Should We Give?

Unfortunately, aid can make things worse, by entrenching the incompetent or corrupt governments and institutions that keep people poor. The world community has tried to tie aid to good governance committments, but these rarely pan out in practice. The aid community has the same problem as the financial community: it is in the business of giving out money. When there are no good opportunities available, the tempation is to start piling into the bad ones, rather than give the money back and look for a job selling shoes.

Professor Becker at The Becker-Posner Blog suggest we consider India,

India and other examples of poor countries that managed to grow rapidly indicate that large scale and general foreign economic aid is not the solution to slow growth. Indeed, general aid might delay the reforms necessary for growth because it can take away the crisis mentality that appears crucial to galvanizing the political will necessary to implement radical economic reforms.

Enjoy the wealth of intellectual property of Outside The Beltway at Traffic Jam

LaShawn Barber's Corner is asking for ideas.

Jolly Blogger has a 'thanksgiving' message.

Evangelical Outpost suggests a Day of Mourning

Captain's Quarters has insight on London's Muslims

Crooked Timber has thoughful Open Thread

Wonkette on the "stiff upper lip"

MaxedOutMama has "Isreal Slander"

Small Dead Animals has it right on "community involvement."

Little Green Footballs: Terrorism Works.

Ever vigilant Mudville Gazette at Open Post.

The Washington Monthly has NON-LESSONS FROM LONDON.

Outside The Beltway quotes MP Galloway " Bombings Price of Iraq and Afghanistan."

ProLife Blogs Supporting our friends in London

Bling has more at The Day After

Little Green Footballs: Terrorism Works.

WILLisms Winston Churchill Quote, 1940.

Yea Right Whatever is going to fly the Union Jack.

Michelle Malkin has pics of spontaneous memorials (sort of)

The Anchoress asks all the right, "If's"

Smash at The Indepundit reports the our State Dept has found and is flying the Union Jack. Salute to Robert Mayer follows at...

Publius Pundit has a Union Jack.
unionjack.jpg


Feld Thoughts
on Live8 and Pink Floyd.

Live8 and more at Joho the Blog

Culture Vulture has impressions of Live8

The OfficeWebLog has analysis.

Mudville Gazette does it all at Open Post.

JollyBlogger rethinking negative comments.

Mudville Gazette serving the country and mankind at Open Post

Paul Hogue has Anti-Americanism in Perspective

GOPBloggers have the real answer to Africa's problems,

Our leftwing friends will wonder why this is important - but each and every conservative knows that the way to make people determined upon personal liberty, stable and free government and the rule of law is the widespread ownership of property. You don't let your community become a haven of criminals when you've got equity value in property you hold title to.

Professor Drezner has citations and analysis on Africa's Digital Divide -- a most interesting perspective with cell phones.

Asymetrical Information says not to throw good money after bad debt in Should We Give?

Unfortunately, aid can make things worse, by entrenching the incompetent or corrupt governments and institutions that keep people poor. The world community has tried to tie aid to good governance committments, but these rarely pan out in practice. The aid community has the same problem as the financial community: it is in the business of giving out money. When there are no good opportunities available, the tempation is to start piling into the bad ones, rather than give the money back and look for a job selling shoes.

Professor Becker at The Becker-Posner Blog suggest we consider India,

India and other examples of poor countries that managed to grow rapidly indicate that large scale and general foreign economic aid is not the solution to slow growth. Indeed, general aid might delay the reforms necessary for growth because it can take away the crisis mentality that appears crucial to galvanizing the political will necessary to implement radical economic reforms.

Enjoy the wealth of intellectual property of Outside The Beltway at Traffic Jam

Mighty_mouse2.jpg

Here I Come
To Save the Day!

Yesterday, in an article entitled, "All Rock, No Action", the New York Times published a dissident voice on the Live 8 effort to help Africa -- the oped was written by an African, Jean-Claude Shanda Tonme, from Cameroon.

Tonme argues that Live 8 was "an insult both to us and to common sense." He says that Africans are the ones who know what the problems of their continent are and that "no one else should speak in our name."

After I spent a week with Live 8 activists, hearing that Africa needs more money, more trade . . . and "more mosquito nets," I thought Tonme's central argument was breathtaking:

Our anger is all the greater because despite all the presidents for life, despite all the evidence of genocide, we didn't hear anyone at Live 8 raise a cry for democracy in Africa.

No. He didn't. The one person I heard who kept raising the issue of corruption in Africa was . . . Djimon Hounsou -- who is himself originally from Africa. He knows whereof he speaks.

And this is the central problem at the heart of the good intentions of the Live 8/One Campaign efforts -- it is a movement infused with the "Here I come to save the day" ethos:

But the truth is that it was not for us, for Africa, that the musicians at Live 8 were singing; it was to amuse the crowds and to clear their own consciences, and whether they realized it or not, to reinforce dictatorships. They still believe us to be like children that they must save. . .

Africa is strategically important; we can't ignore its problems. Not to mention the moral imperatives of genocide and disease. But our efforts to help must be based on more than good intentions, and Tonme offers a cautionary tale:

We would have preferred for the musicians in Philadelphia and London to have marched and sung for political revolution. Instead, they mourned a corpse while forgetting to denounce the murderer.

Read the whole article after the jump . . .

Thanks to Brogonzo at A Healthy Alternative to Work via Mudville Open Post.

Update 2 August Small Dead Animals has more and points us to where the millions billions have gone, thanks to research on African Corruption by Canadian blogger Unconscious Country.

LIVE 8, that extraordinary media event that some people of good intentions in the West just orchestrated, would have left us Africans indifferent if we hadn't realized that it was an insult both to us and to common sense.

We have nothing against those who this month, in a stadium, a street, a park, in Berlin, London, Moscow, Philadelphia, gathered crowds and played guitar and talked about global poverty and aid for Africa. But we are troubled to think that they are so misguided about what Africa's real problem is, and dismayed by their willingness to propose solutions on our behalf.

We Africans know what the problem is, and no one else should speak in our name. Africa has men of letters and science, great thinkers and stifled geniuses who at the risk of torture rise up to declare the truth and demand liberty.

Don't insult Africa, this continent so rich yet so badly led. Instead, insult its leaders, who have ruined everything. Our anger is all the greater because despite all the presidents for life, despite all the evidence of genocide, we didn't hear anyone at Live 8 raise a cry for democracy in Africa.

Don't the organizers of the concerts realize that Africa lives under the oppression of rulers like Yoweri Museveni (who just eliminated term limits in Uganda so he can be president indefinitely) and Omar Bongo (who has become immensely rich in his three decades of running Gabon)? Don't they know what is happening in Cameroon, Chad, Togo and the Central African Republic? Don't they understand that fighting poverty is fruitless if dictatorships remain in place?

Even more puzzling is why Youssou N'Dour and other Africans participated in this charade. Like us, they can't help but know that Africa's real problem is the lack of freedom of expression, the usurpation of power, the brutal oppression.

Neither debt relief nor huge amounts of food aid nor an invasion of experts will change anything. Those will merely prop up the continent's dictators. It's up to each nation to liberate itself and to help itself. When there is a problem in the United States, in Britain, in France, the citizens vote to change their leaders. And those times when it wasn't possible to freely vote to change those leaders, the people revolted.

In Africa, our leaders have led us into misery, and we need to rid ourselves of these cancers. We would have preferred for the musicians in Philadelphia and London to have marched and sung for political revolution. Instead, they mourned a corpse while forgetting to denounce the murderer.

What is at issue is an Africa where dictators kill, steal and usurp power yet are treated like heroes at meetings of the African Union. What is at issue is rulers like François Bozizé, the coup leader running the Central Africa Republic, and Faure Gnassingbé, who just succeeded his father as president of Togo, free to trample universal suffrage and muzzle their people with no danger that they'll lose their seats at the United Nations. Who here wants a concert against poverty when an African is born, lives and dies without ever being able to vote freely?

But the truth is that it was not for us, for Africa, that the musicians at Live 8 were singing; it was to amuse the crowds and to clear their own consciences, and whether they realized it or not, to reinforce dictatorships. They still believe us to be like children that they must save, as if we don't realize ourselves what the source of our problems is.

Villainous Company says that Live8 is, "a fundraiser in which not one thin dime is going directly to the intended recipients" in The Song Remains the Shame.

In the Agora points us to organizations needing donations through The ONE Campaign.

The Great Separation reminds us that American Out Gives Europe 15 to 1.

While Geldolf was cussing Richard Anderson was praying.

LaShawn Barber's Corner is asking for ideas.

Jolly Blogger has a 'thanksgiving' message.

Evangelical Outpost suggests a Day of Mourning

Captain's Quarters has insight on London's Muslims

Crooked Timber has thoughful Open Thread

Wonkette on the "stiff upper lip"

MaxedOutMama has "Isreal Slander"

Small Dead Animals has it right on "community involvement."

Little Green Footballs: Terrorism Works.

Ever vigilant Mudville Gazette at Open Post.

The Washington Monthly has NON-LESSONS FROM LONDON.

Outside The Beltway quotes MP Galloway " Bombings Price of Iraq and Afghanistan."

ProLife Blogs Supporting our friends in London

Bling has more at The Day After

Enjoy the Covered Dish over at Basil's Blog

Wizbang asks Will Live Aid End Poverty?

Read David Adesnik (Oxford and UVA) on Oxblog and the Starbucks irony at Letter From a Victim of Starbucks. Frothy.

Posted by Jack at July 6, 2006 07:11 PM

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