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How the news is made 1, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Charlie Brooker perfectly apes essentially all news stories on British TV (especially regional news) in this little clip explaining exactly how a 1.30 piece is put together. As funny as it is, it does raise a good point that I’ve been wittering to myself about for years now: I don’t watch the news to see what ‘the average person’ thinks about it. I watch news to have well informed experts tell me their opinions. Not what Bill from Hull ‘rekons’ on global warming or on the latest tax on milk bottles…Mitchell and Web clearly agree with me.

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From bum bomb to body bomb? 1, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Middle East.
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Fears have been raised of a new generation of suicide bombers secreting explosives inside their bodies to evade airport security. This story appeared in the Daily Mail (a.k.a the Daily Fear), a newspaper that loves nothing more than whipping up an unjustified frenzy about illegal immigrants, security issues and Princess Diana.

The article quotes MI5 officials voicing such fears based on information from “observing increasingly vocal internet ‘chatter’ on Arab websites this year.” The Daily Hate goes on to quote “a leading source” who suggests that bombers might insert explosives near the appendix or their breasts if they are a female bomber.

Something like this is, in many ways, a logical progression. From bombs strapped to vests, to bombs in shoes, to bombs in underwear to bombs inserted up the bomber’s bottom, bombs stitched into, for example, the chest may well be the next evolution. If PETN, the explosive of choice for recent bombers, was used, a frighteningly small amount of it would be needed to punch through the thin skin of a plane. The Daily Hate suggest that as little as 8oz properly shaped can penetrate as much as five inches of armor.

A few thoughts:

  • In the aftermath of the horrific Madrid train bombings in 2004, I remember various articles discussing the next generation of Al Qaeda ‘sleeper agent’. These omnipotent agents would dress, act, live, eat and drink like ‘us Westerners’, only harboring their deep, dark secret within, waiting to unleash their bombs at an opportune time. Also, they did not have any real contact with the Al Qaeda ‘base’ in Afghanistan/Pakistan but were instead inspired over the internet. These supposed terrorists were, therefore, the very apogee of terrorism: undetectable, driven and deadly. Yet, such terrorists essentially do not exist. This story was more of an apocryphal warning for the maintenance of impossible levels of vigilance than anything else.
  • This potentially undetectable bomb strikes me as somewhat similar in nature. Especially so being as it is the Daily Fearmongerer that has the story. Apologies for belaboring the point but they are such a disreputable paper, so callously playing on peoples’ fears that I find it difficult to believe a word that they write.  Lord Northcliffe the founder of the Daily Mail, after all, based the paper on the notion of giving readersa daily hate to keep them coming back for more.
  • Yet, such a bomb is clearly possible and however unlikely it may be, it needs to be taken seriously. I’d suggest that this further goes to show that profiling of some form or another may well be a larger part of the answer than scanners.

Hat tip: CKU