Tuesday, August 09, 2011

England Riots: Today's Update

Am shaking my head over the morning papers here in the U.S., where the coverage of the rioting in London, its suburbs and a few other cities in England is of little use to travelers -- or to anyone else curious about what is actually going on.

The cable news outlets are of course even worse, especially as they are unable to pay attention to more than one phenomenon at a time, and they're mesmerized right now by Wall Street. Dunno about the broadcast networks, which I haven't watched since, what, the Carter administration? You know, back when CBS and the like actually had foreign bureaus that produced news?

Anyway, yo, media: Remember who, what, when, where and why?

The situation in London and a few other cities is not improving. Here's a roundup in the Daily Mail.

And from the Guardian, which is far less excitable than the Daily Mail, this useful live blog.

Here's a roundup in the Telegraph, which also has an interactive map.

And here is the Guardian's interactive map today. It shows the verified trouble spots and describes the trouble.

Unlike the U.S. media, which appear to be blissfully unaware that readers actually know London and are anxious to see where trouble spots are. Instead, we're getting harrumphing about UK politics, as potentially affected by the rioting. Also, the U.S. media have largely forgotten what maps are for, having ceded so much layout authority to photo editors who love those pictures of big orange flames, and page designers with their damn crayons.

Incidentally, one of the themes of public reaction today in Britain is anger over the evidently hapless police response. The Metropolitan Police, a.k.a. Scotland Yard, now say they'll have 16,000 officers on London's streets tonight, compared with 6,000 last night.

But the coppers have been flatfooted in anticipating trouble flare-ups -- possibly because they're clueless about the way flash crowds have been assembled through social media. Hey, Scotland Yard, perhaps you're too busy hacking phones on behalf of Mister Murdoch, but really, you can monitor Facebook and Twitter without even breaking the law. It's all the rage!

I wonder how the New York Police Department would have handled this rioting. The NYPD are experts in well-planned crowd-control techniques, and usually can handle possibly unruly crowds and street disturbances without marching in like Napoleon's Grande Armée. Maybe Scotland Yard could break some of its officers away from the employ of Mister Murdoch and dispatch them to New York for a course in smart tactical riot-control from experts.

An editorial in today's Murdoch-owned Times of London carries this prim lecture: "Small sections of the capital’s youth have evidently come to believe that this is an amusing way to treat their city. They must realise they are wrong." Ah, so much for the fabled Thunderer.

Meanwhile, I gotta say that Matt Drudge is right on top of this story, incidentally. I've always said that Drudge is essentially a very good night-wire editor out of some panting right-wing tabloid in the 1930s -- but with unlimited space. I mean that as a compliment. The boy oughta be wearing an eyeshade instead of that fedora. Also, the guy does not glam up his Web site with a bunch of useless graphic design hooey.

Anyway, if you're headed to London, be alert.

Still waiting for the State Department, which is so quick to issue travel alerts for third-world countries, to take official note of the serious trouble right now in England, at the height of the tourist season.

The German foreign ministry, on the other hand, is paying attention. It issued a travel warning for England. It says, sensibly:

"Travelers are advised to exercise special caution, to immediately pull back if confronted with any signs of disturbance, and to especially follow advice given by security forces ... Travelers should also look to the media to keep themselves informed about the latest developments and act in an appropriate fashion locally."


1 comment:

Colm Linehan said...

Joe, The main problem is not so much that the Police have not been able to get to grips quickly enough with the way the riots are being organised on social networks (though this is certainly part of the problem). After previous riots, such as at the G20 protests, the state has prosecuted Police who used force, and so the Met is now terrified to engage with force. Their orders last night were to monitor, and hold back - not to engage heavily.

It is understood that they have very different orders tonight, which is probably because the top politicians are back and have worked out that the public want them to.