From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.

 


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The strange case of the vaporised bomber
and other grim stuff from the 7/7 bombings inquest

18 November 2010

It’s been a bit over five years since the 7 July London bombings and a coronial inquest under the stewardship of My Lady Hallett is underway. A miasma of evasion has hung about the proceedings, with the mainstream media doggedly refusing to notice some most alarming issues posed by answers to the cross-examination of witnesses. There is not one elephant in the courtroom but a whole herd.

Outright scepticism about the ‘Official Narrative’ isn’t represented in the proceedings but it is, nevertheless, grimly fascinating to follow the highlights of cross-examination on the J7 inquests blogspot (http://77inquests.blogspot.com/). The four alleged bombers are not represented, which is a pity, because there is much their counsel could question.

So let’s take, almost at random, the issue of the near-vaporisation of alleged bomber Shehzad Tanweer, which came up in “Factual Issue 3: Circumstances at the scene immediately following the explosions”.

Shehzad Tanweer was a popular, sports-obsessed 22 year-old, born in Britain, and the son of a former Yorkshire police officer and successful Beeston businessman in whose fish and chip shop he worked. Shehzad is alleged to have detonated a bomb, carried in a black backpack, that was placed on the floor of Circle Line train 204 near Aldgate station.

According to evidence presented at the inquest, Tanweer was standing near door 7 of the carriage with the backpack on the floor in front of him, and about half a metre away, when it exploded. One of the victims, Lee Baisden, was standing on the other side of the bomb, about half a metre away. Considerable evidence about the state of Baisden’s body was led. It was severely burned but largely intact. The bodies of the other six named victims, while partly dismembered, were also relatively intact. The furthest from the blast was about 4 metres away and most were within 3 metres. Eight people within a four metre radius survived.

The total number of deceased, according to witness testimony, was seven, and it is also known that no victims of this incident died in hospital. So where was the eighth body – that of Shehzad Tanweer? The alleged bomber had apparently disappeared. His presence at the scene was initially established by a damaged wallet, mangled credit and membership cards and paper receipts, but nothing identifiable as his head, torso, or limbs, appeared, from the evidence of several experienced officials, to have been present.

Officially, it was not until two days after the incident that police recovered “a fragment consisting of the lower part of the thoracic spine and the upper lumbar spine weighing 1.852 kilograms” from the wrecked carriage and evidence was led that it was from this fragment that DNA was extracted that later identified it as the remains of Tanweer.

How on earth could this be? The bomb was relatively small, as these things go. Evidence led in other courtrooms was that it used an amateur concoction of hydrogen peroxide and masala powder, or maybe ground black peppercorns, or perhaps chapatti flour – the experts could not be sure. The mute testimony of Lee Baisden’s corpse suggests it is impossible for Tanweer’s body – an equal distance from the blast, to have been almost completely vaporised.

Those with the stomach for it can view, on the J7 inquest blog, a photo of the remains of a suicide bomber who detonated real explosives worn on the body, rather than carried in a backpack placed at his feet. Even in that case, the body remains recognisably intact.

And – departing from the inquest evidence for a moment – there is this strange circumstance: rumour in Beeston, where Shehzad Tanweer and his family were widely known and popular, suggests that a relatively intact body was returned to the family and was buried in their place of origin in Pakistan.

These anomalies go on and on. What of the almost complete lack of CCTV footage of the bombers on their final journey through the London transport system – famously the most CCTV-rich environment on Earth? At Kings Cross station, where they split up, there were 76 CCTV cameras, “moving in sequence from one second at a time” to quote a witness, but only one of them, allegedly malfunctioning and remaining locked on the one view for 20 minutes, recorded the four young men passing. There is nothing, apparently, from the cameras in the trains. There is vision of the youngest alleged bomber, Hasib Mir Hussain, in a W. H. Smith shop at Kings Cross station, where he might, perhaps, possibly, have bought a 9 volt battery to replace an apparently dud one in his device, but the cameras aboard the No 30 bus he allegedly blew up were apparently not working. But what of Hussain’s infamous ‘Last Big Mac’ visit to the Scottish restaurant where he might, perhaps, possibly, have inserted the battery into his bomb? Alas, when the question was asked …

“A. There was no footage. We recovered the CCTV from McDonalds, but unfortunately the system was – the recording was stopped prior to him going into that location.

“Q. So there were cameras, but for some reason they weren’t recording?

“A. There were cameras and, in fact, you see the office manager in the office going to the video machine and switching the ‘stop’ button and it stops.”