Ten years after 9/11 Westerners ‘still vulnerable’

“We are the centre of our own universe.”

This statement sprang to my mind as I watched some Afghanistan farmers looking nonplussed when confronted with graphic photographs showing the burning twin towers of the World Trade Centre on Channel 4 News.

“When you can’t feed or house yourself,” as one US soldier, based in the country where Al-Qaida orchestrated these atrocities, aptly articulated. “How are you going to care about somebody 6,000 miles away? So I can understand that.”

Only a police district chief recognised the images after scrutinising the prints.

I wasn’t surprised at all. For the last 10 days the UK has been remembering the 9/11 suicide attacks which claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people, including 67 Britons.

For my generation it is our “JFK moment”.

What were you doing when out of the clear blue sky two planes flew into two iconic buildings that had not only dominated the Manhattan skyline for nearly 30 years but were also symbols of US wealth and invincibility?

I was carrying out pedestrian research on restaurants offering the best deals for students ahead of “Freshers week” on the day the Western world stopped.

I returned to my newsroom to discover it had turned into Madame Tussaud’s with every single member of staff imitating wax works, their eyes glued to TV screens. Even the affable and loquacious receptionists sat mute.

When I glanced at the images on the screen, I initially assumed they were engrossed in an action film.

After all, the footage resembled anything Sly Stone could have produced.

But, no, these pictures conveyed reality. New York was under attack and another plane was heading for the seat for power – the Pentagon.

When I arrived home still in shock, along with the rest of country, I sat transfixed in front of my own television.

How could this happen? Who was behind it? Who would be next?

The answers to my questions were unpalatable.

The audacious terrorist assault in 2001 set in motion a chain of events, including the “War on Terror”, which continue to impact on our daily lives.

In 2005, 52 Londoners died in 7/7. But has the “War on Terror” made the world a safer place? Not according to the International Business Times.

Meanwhile, America has warned of a “specific, credible threat” ahead of the anniversary with security boosted in New York and Washington, the BBC news website writes.

Post 9/11 Westerners carry on but not as before. We have become accustomed to a vulnerability which wealth and materialism cannot protect us from.

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Alistair Darling reveals all

Bitterness is so very unseemly.

This weekend Alistair Darling has managed to personify this most unpleasant characteristic.

Extracts from his memoirs on his time as Gordon Brown’s chancellor which are being serialised in the Sunday Times reveal just how much opprobrium he has been harbouring against the former Labour prime minister since he left office.

And, just in case anybody failed to get the message Brutus, sorry, Mr Darling ensured the blade penetrated as deep as possible by articulating how “hurt” he was to Andrew Marr this morning.

If his intention was to humiliate Mr Brown and provide the Tories with ammunition they can dine out on for a while, then he has succeeded.

Glenn Mulcaire turns up the heat…

On 20 July, I predicted that private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, would break his silence now that News Corp had stopped paying his legal fees.

Well, I hate to say, “I told you so.”It is now sweaty palm time for somebody.

The Guardian reported today that Mulcaire has “denied suggestions he acted without orders from the News of the World”.

Meanwhile, Sara Payne, mother of eight-year-old Sarah who was abducted and murdered in 2000, has revealed she is “very distressed” after being informed her phone may have been hacked.

Well, I think I will end this succinct post with my father’s favourite saying: “Tomorrow is another day let us see what it brings.”

So will Glenn Mulcaire finally reveal all?

So News Corp is to stop paying the legal fees of private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed over the phone-hacking scandal.

Well, there must have been a reason why the company started paying for his legal team in the first place.

Mr Murdoch senior appeared both surprised and annoyed at this disclosure.

Indeed, throughout his time before the Culture, Media and Sport committee and, in particular, under Tom Watson‘s eagle eye and no-nonsense approach to questioning, Mr Murdoch’s feathers were more than ruffled.

What was startling was how little he appeared to know about the machinations of the News of the World even if it is just a bit player in News Corp.

No wonder the media titan admitted to feeling “humbled” before the committee.

Since so many puns have been written about the pie incident, I see no need for me to add to them.

Anyway, back to Mr Mulcaire.

Notice how I have made no mention until now about Mr Murdoch’s son, James, and Rebekah Brooks.

This is because they apparently knew nothing about what was going on at Britain’s biggest selling newspaper…….

Anyway, back to Mr Mulcaire. I know, I know, I am repeating myself.

All eyes are agog and ears pricked up in preparation for the investigator breaking his silence.

His fees would easily have run into hundreds of thousands of pounds ….

Once again we are back to who “signed-off” on releasing the funds for his fees.

Come to think of it, we still do not know who paid him in the first place to hack into the phones.

We also wait with bated breath to see what Harbotte and Lewis, the law firm used in 2007 to investigate the phone-hacking at the NotW, will reveal now that News Corp is allowing it to talk….

Goodness! They are dropping like flies…..

“This can’t be the first resignation…,” Ken Livingstone talking to BBC News 24 about the shock resignation of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.

Mr Livingstone also indicated that others within the met should be off too.

Sir Paul could not have predicted that a few weeks of “R and R” at the glamorous Champneys would leave his glittering police career in tatters on one miserable, wet Sunday evening in July 2011.

How the mighty are being wiped out by the NotW scandal.

I have to admit when this whole saga began unravelling at alarming speed almost two weeks ago, I could never have predicted the whirlwind would have swept up so many high-profile figures.

It is no longer a question of what will happen next but whose head will be next on the chopping block.

Anyone else either directly involved or connected in any way to this saga must now be viewing this as a reign of terror.

Maximilien Marie Isidore de Robespierre would have been proud…..


Plurality call over the NotW fallout

No doubt buoyed by the latest developments which have seen Rupert Murdoch fly to the UK and apologise in person to the Dowler family and Rebekah Brooks arrested, Ed Miliband is now calling for plurality in the media.

Interestingly, he has the firm backing of Nick Clegg who outlined the need for it, along with “diversity” and “accountability” in the media, on Andrew Marr this morning.

Hang on a minute!

Anybody would think the close relationship between the press and politicians is something that has recently occurred in this country.

Neither is it unusual for one man to own a substantial amount of the press.

William Maxwell Aitken (1879-1964) the first Lord Beaverbrook, made his mark in newspapers, politics and finance.

Apart from having a successful parliamentary career – he was one of only three men to serve in the cabinet – he acquired the majority shareholding in the Daily Express and the Evening Standard.

Lord Beaverbrook also courted his fair share of controversy.

The point I am trying to make, if you had not already realised, is that I doubt that there has ever been a time when parliamentarians did not rub shoulders with journalists and their editors.

After all, at least half of them would have attended the same schools and universities – Oxford and Cambridge.

I am all for more transparency but we must be realistic about what is actually possible without going to extremes to make a point, especially a political one.

Why did Rebekah Brooks choose today to resign?

Gone but not forgotten.

Rebekah Brooks will certainly not be forgotten by Milly Dowler’s family or the 200 News of the World journalists who are currently filling in Job Seekers Allowance forms.

I thought I would let the dust settle – hence no post yesterday.

I do not claim to have an oracle but something told me someone or something was about to give.

Yesterday morning the wise and much-respected former editor of the Guardian Newspaper, Peter Preston, appealed for calm as other voices were calling for ways to muzzle “The Press”.

Later on Tony Blair talked about “getting everything out in open”.

Mais excusez-moi! He must be aware of the proverb: “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

This from a man who apparently “doesn’t do God” but then promptly converts to Catholicism after leaving office.

The words “kettle” and “black” also spring to mind come to think of it….

I am not even going to mention the so-called “dodgy dossier”.

Oh, damn it!

Then the Huffington Post reveals the FBI is to launch an investigation following reports alleging the phones of 9/11 victims may have been hacked into.

Meanwhile, father and son Murdoch make a surprise u-turn after refusing to appear before a parliamentary committee next Tuesday, and leaving the beleaguered Mrs Brooks to take MPs’ questions on the chin.

Finally, one of the richest men in the world who just happens to own a staggering seven percent stake in News Corp – making him the second largest shareholder – grants Newsnight an exclusive interview.

Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal stated the News International chief excecutive would have to resign if there was any sign of her involvement.

Lo and behold Rebekah falls on her sword the next morning and her successor is swiftly announced.

Of course, we can all speculate until the cows come home but it is likely we will never actually discover why she chose to leave when she did……..