Guilty of Endangering the Public
Projected onto Houses of Parliament, a very good use of light!
Again we face controversy about threats to freedom. This is written out of sympathy for Nige, Quasar9, Joao Maguiejo, friends and fellow bloggers in the United Kingdom. Though we don't agree on everything, even the nature of threats, we are united in hope for a better Britain. Once we had a situation where someone who questioned the speed of light was welcome from Indonesia to Mexico, but harassed in one country. Despite her treatment, a scientist is still deeply concerned about the United Kingdom.
On the tragic day July 7, 2005 terrorist bombs killed 52 Londoners. A similiar bomb attack fizzled and failed to kill anyone on July 21. The next day Metropolitan Police corrected that by shooting innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes. Police somehow thought that de Menzes resembled a terror suspect. In their disregard for life they aided the terrorist goal of murder and fear. On November 1, 2007 a court found the Metropolitan Police Force guilty of endangering the public. They have not heard the end of this.
The day of his killing, officers tailed Jean Charles de Menezes from his home to an underground carriage in full view of London's "Big Brother" surveillance system. This shows that no matter how good the instruments are, everything depends on the judgement of the observer. The Chief of Police tried first to stop an inquiry, then told television that de Menezes was part of terrorism operations. To the Metropolitan police: Someone visiting Imperial College to deliver a talk is not endangering the public--you are.
Metropolitan police did not stop to question de Menezes or read him any rights. They waited until he had already boarded a train before taking him down. If anyone thought de Menezes was a terrorist, then they should have not let him on the Tube. If someone were carrying explosives, their rounds might have set them off. They shot de Menezes in the head seven times with hollow-point bullets as if he was the Terminator.
The real July terrorists were born in the UK. Their parents benefitted from a Home Office policy allowing unlimited chain migration. Today vast swaths of London are not safe for a woman to walk. The 7/7 leaders made trips to Pakistan for training, right under the noses of authorities. If police had questioned them instead of a scientist there would be 53 more Londoners alive today. Read more at the Menezes family website.
Lest we forget, New York City suffered 3000 deaths in a day. In the aftermath of their terrible day New Yorkers were surprisingly polite and helpful to one another. They all knew that enough violence had already taken place. Though the US government has since done many questionable things, New York police did not kill anyone like Jean Charles de Menezes. A walk through Manhattan today shows a city where people enjoy their lives in defiance of fear. Since 2001 the US has suffered no terrorist attacks of the scale of 7/7.
It would be honourable for London's police chief and Home Secretary to accept responsibility. Since they have not done the honourable thing, this will fester and undermine confidence in the government. Like the Ministry of Magic, the Home Office has been derelict in this and other duties. The Blair who appointed this Home Secretary has already retired. His successor felt the heat and cancelled the election expected for this month. Who watches the watchers?
In the meantime, a real revolution continues. Despite thousands of arrests, 100 Buddhist monks protested Wednesday in Burma. The Burmese army has suffered so many desertions that they are drafting 10-year old boys. Thursday tens of thousands protested against the festering dictatorship in Venezuela. (Another protest is planned in Caracas for 10 AM Saturday.) At Allameh University West of Tehran, students are rising up despite arrests and armoured vehicles. Those who protest against real dictators show true courage.
When Archimedes hit upon his law of bouyancy, he ran through the streets naked in happiness. A good idea, like Archimedes Law, can survive the rise and fall of whole civilisations. We are hot on the trail of a solution to the "dark energy" mystery. At the current rate, the solution will be part of the books within a human lifetime. The question is, will a free United Kingdom last long enough to see it?
UPDATE: Next week's report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission will be damining of Iain Blair. His attempts to block investigation of the killing are a lot like Richard Nixon saying "stonewall it." Other detectives tried purposefully to cover up their mistakes in de Menezes killing. Hard to see Blair or the others wearing their police costumes much longer. Serves them right.