Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Everybody's News

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  • Robyn Gallagher,

    CNN.com had frequently updated news coverage of 9/11, but here's the thing - the site was groaning under the pressure from everyone wanting to find out WTF was going on. Even using a stripped-down front page, the site was still very slow to load and I ended up turning to b3ta.com, whose community was continuously posting relevant links and personal anecdotes. It seems that these blog sites had the structure suited for frequent updates from multiple people.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1821 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I was still living in California - I was woken up by my wife taking the kids to school ... I normally left late to avoid the Bay Area traffic "have you seen what's on the news" and stayed riveted to the TV until the last one came down - then I went to work, down into Silicon Valley, across the Dumbarton bridge - by then the freeways were eerily quiet - I was sent home - at that point they were talking about closing all the bridges, they might be a target - there were cops everywhere.

    Work stopped for 3 days even though we were in deadline mode - the world stopped .... it was a lot like after the '96 earthquake when the bridge and freeway came down, or the Oakland hills fire (we lived right there, were ready to evacuate if it came down out of the hills) .... except it was the whole country stopped ..... then people got over their shock, went back to work, but everything had changed .... someone had given the keys to do anything to a child-president who until that moment no one really took seriously

    Two weeks later planes started flying again, I went to Denver on a biz trip the next day - the nascent that would grow into the TSA was already in force - my backpack set off the freshly installed chemical detector on the way home, I wasn't about to tell the guy I play with rockets for fun .... there was a Sikh guy traveling that day, he was wearing a US-style farmer's cap rather than a turban, with his hair piled into it, he looked uncomfortable and out of place - Sikhs had been killed a state south of there the week before, out of cultural ignorance, just because they wore turbans

    We moved back home to NZ in 2004 at least partly worried our then 14yr old might be in line for a draft - saw Bush being reelected on an all-night CNN-fest in a hotel in Madurai, India on the way - American Idiot was the sound track for our move back to NZ

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 1958 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack,

    Living in the UK, it unfolded in the afternoon. All five free to air channels ran coverage of the attack until 7.30pm when BBC2 switched to.... Eastenders.

    If they interrupt our soaps, the terrorists have won.

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Maslin,

    Perhaps the most surprising thing that I find reading through the emails is that many people were predicting that the US would invade Afghanistan - but none of the emails mentions Iraq as a potential target...

    California, United States… • Since Sep 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Davidson,

    Wow. Web pages and browers looked like *that* only 10 years ago?

    Anyone got any idea what the window/program (certainly not an "app") in the top-right of the screenshot is?

    Sydney • Since Mar 2007 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew E,

    I was just starting a secondment to the UK government. Web access was notoriously slow in the (then) Home Office building, but it simply dried up by around lunchtime on that day. One of my new colleagues had a mate who worked in the ministry's emergency response coordination centre, one of the few places in the building outside the Ministers' offices that had a TV. He took me down there to watch the live broadcasts and we arrived just before the second tower was hit. Naturally, the place was a bit twitchy, in case there might be attacks on similar London targets, including 1 Canada Square in Canary Wharf. So we got out of the way and spent the rest of the day reflecting along similar lines to that suggested by Barlow. Given that the UK Parliament had passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act as a 'temporary' measure in 1974 and it had remained in place since then, it wasn't unreasonable to suppose that we'd be seeing other measures antithetical to civil liberties in the wake of this much larger event.

    On a more mundane level, it was quite eerie to think that I'd been up in the tourist viewing gallery of the WTC tower almost a year to the day previously.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 196 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Chris Maslin,

    none of the emails mentions Iraq as a potential target

    Changing that was an impressively evil campaign of political communication that makes Crosby Textor look like rank amateurs.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Prior to 9/11 the US media was full of how the Bush administration (Cheney and Rumsfield in particular) considered Iraq as unfinished business - we were obviously being set up for something - no one was surprised when they started to blame Iraq with absolutely no evidence - much less the 3/4 of a million people I marched with against the Iraq invasion

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 1958 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Melville,

    Gareth - that's an ICQ window. The shock to me is that they still seem to exist!

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 180 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Maslin, in reply to Sacha,

    OK - I take it back. It's not surprising that no one mentioned Iraq - why would they??

    But I do agree it is astounding that Bush et al. managed to swing public opinion (albeit briefly) from the outrage against this event to justify a war against Iraq (Saddam was certainly not a saint - but I think it is highly unlikely that he had any specific involvement in the 9/11 attacks - even Cheney admitted that).

    California, United States… • Since Sep 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Melville,

    We were in Phnom Penh and had returned to the hotel around 9pm just in time to flick on the TV when the second plane hit. The only channel we could get reliably was a business one (possibly CNBC or Bloomberg?) which had quite a different commentary to the other channels; they had a lot of contacts in nearby buildings and were calling them throughout. One of the calls ended with unintelligible screaming when the first tower fell, and then the two anchors argued for a while whether the long shot of NYC showed that the tower had fallen or the angle/smoke cloud was misleading. I haven't been able to find an archive of that channel anywhere.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 180 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Sent the three months prior to Sept 11 in the US sussing out interest in a line of lavalava's/pareu's made specifically for men. Good to wear around the house (and if you were brave enough) to wear in public. Walked around Chicago in my product to stares and abuse. It was fun (as only wearing stereotype challenging attire can be). My impression, the place was amping for a fight.
    Got some contacts for future business and flew out on Sept 10 2001.
    Needless to say my idea died.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1149 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Chris: Sure way after the fact - just post 9/11 though there was all that talk about 'weapons of mass destruction', fake yellowcake, etc etc the Bush administration had much of the US populace was convinced that Saddam was behind it, lots are still convinced

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 1958 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Flew out from the UK to Minorca in the Med. for my honeymoon on 3rd Sept.

    No TV, no internet, no radio, no papers.

    Vaguely heard on around the 14th Sept that something really bad had happened (can't remember how we heard). Drove into the nearest large town to try and find an english-language newspaper. Apart from the front pages, everything was exactly the same as it usually was, and remained that way for the next two weeks of our stay. People on the beach, in the cafes, in the bars, in the shops, just doing their thing. There was no real sense, either from the locals or the other tourists, that anything significant had happened at all. Life just went on with the merest riple to disturb the tranquility.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2292 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Bringing down the house...

    But there was more than that. Winer and others like him had demonstrated that what we now know as “citizen” or “social” media could not only do the job of crisis reporting differently than established media organisations could – it could, in some important ways, do it better.

    also true for "Citizen Engineers and Scientists" ...

    and also let's not forget the other 9/11 - in 1973 when the CIA helped orchestrate the overthrow of Allende in Chile

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4197 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    Personally I am rather keen on professional standards for scientists and engineers. Citizen dentistry anyone?

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew E,

    The Guardian's Seamus Milne has a useful piece looking back at media coverage of the event, and patting the paper on its back for the approach it took after the attacks, and the vitriol it attracted as a result.

    Jonathan Steele's article from September 14 is worth reading as an example of the warnings about Afghanistan that were blithely brushed aside.

    And today, Richard Norton-Taylor reports that:

    A green paper being drawn up by the government will propose a new statute prohibiting any intelligence information in the hands of MI5 or MI6 ever being disclosed in court.

    It's all pretty sickening really: the screwing up of the Middle East, the attacks, the response, the hundreds of thousands of lives lost, the millions of lives damaged, the missed opportunities. All this folly, all this energy and resource put into destroying things, instead of concentrating on bringing the planet back from the brink.

    And yet, people are surprised when I don't want to become a parent.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 196 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    There's a rather interesting roundup here of the reaction from various parts of the press to dissent published in The Guardian.

    Rather self-aggandising, but interesting to see 10 years worth of 'why do you hate our freedom?' compressed like that.

    ETA: Ah, snap.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2292 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    I was in my second or third year of university and living in a flat off Dominion Rd. I had decided to skip my morning classes for a sleep in, turned on the TV (I didn’t have a computer of my own back then) and spent the rest of the day sitting in my pajamas on the couch, watching the screen in mute shock. I don’t remember seeing my flatmates at all that day-they all worked or studied, but I’m sure we must’ve seen each other at some point?

    I went in to class the next day, and it was all anyone was talking about. Even the lecturers were ready to drop everything and sit around discussing what had happened with us. Right before a social psychology class, I remember discussing what had happened with a friend, a mature student in his thirties, who was generally quite a liberal guy. When I told him I had sat at home watching the TV and crying, his reaction was “Why?”, as if feeling overwhelmed by the human impact of events, the human cost, was somehow incomprehensible. He made a comment about Americans “deserving everything they got.”

    That attitude shook me and, I suppose, made me aware of a genuine undercurrent of anti-Americanism I’d never noticed before in some parts of New Zealand culture. In the years that followed, it was a hard thing sometimes, being honest about the history leading up to the attacks and watching the redirection of the tragedy of the day into self-serving political symbolism, and yet frequently finding myself on the “side” of people who thought this argument was about justice and collective punishment being visited upon America and individual Americans.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Personally I am rather keen on professional standards for scientists and engineers.

    I take it you didn't watch the video then...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4197 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    Actually I did. I'd be interested to get an appropriately qualified engineer's perspective on it.
    I am very wary of the idea of 'citizen engineers'. Sounds like the kind of thinking that led to Cave Creek.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I sat through 9/11 all day, with my sister, who had brought her kitten over, having decided her transient lifestyle was unfair on a cat. She was staying, to acclimatize it to the house. The cat died before Bin Laden did.

    That day was pivotal for my interest in news, and habits in consuming it. I had paid little attention to alternative sources than TV and newspapers (mostly online) before. But very rapidly I came to think they were hopeless in their analysis of the events. I discovered Public Address not long after.

    Apart from horror at the events and the American reaction to it, the most unpleasant outcome of the thing for me was seeing a side of some friends that I really didn't like.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    He made a comment about Americans “deserving everything they got.”

    That attitude shook me and, I suppose, made me aware of a genuine undercurrent of anti-Americanism I’d never noticed before in some parts of New Zealand culture.

    In 2002 I spent a few months as a Lay Clerk at Saint Paul's Cathedral in Wellington. While I was there, the dean - an american guy who had been in New Zealand only a couple of years - had to resign, because of abuse and threats directed at him and his family. I remember him saying that as the public face of a religious organization he expected to have to deal with a certain amount of shit, but his children were being taunted at school, and he was receiving threats in the mail, and he didn't feel they could remain in the country.

    I think it shook a lot of people to think that an Anglican cathedral could harbour that kind of vitriol; of course those who are regularly involved in church politics wouldn't be surprised at all.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I kind of wish I had known you back then, Russell, because you said in your missive what I was thinking but was too afraid to say, for fear of offending people.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3112 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    I'd be interested to get an appropriately qualified engineer's perspective on it.

    I think we may be on the same page - try these folk
    My point in posting the video is that it is being left to concerned individuals to do the research, tests and experiments that NIST and other Governmental agencies should have done.
    And before anyone goes all Kim Hill on my sorry ass, the Engineers for Truth espouse no particular blame to any individual or group, they just want it to be properly, and openly investigated by appropriately qualified engineers.
    Sounds fair and reasonable to me.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4197 posts Report Reply

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