Today's Blogs


Bloggers wonder whether today’s minor blasts in New York are related to the British elections; they also discuss increasing Internet censorship in China and rave about Afghan girl group Burka Band.

Blasted: Two toy grenades filled with gunpowder detonated in front of a building that houses the British consulate in New York this morning; no one was hurt, but the building was slightly damaged. While there’s no evidence that the explosions were aimed at the consulate, some bloggers see a connection to today’s elections in Britain.

“It is hard to imagine that this incident was not a reaction or show of displeasure to Tony Blair’s role in aiding the United States in the war on terror and in Iraq and todays British Elections. Whether more sophisticated plot or individual nut case trying to make a point; terrorism is still terrorism,” asserts right-leaning Scaredmonkeys. Other bloggers are less convinced. “My tin-hat theory is that this could be a ‘test run’ for a much larger act. The media is linking the explosions to the elections in the U.K., but there could be something more going on and the U.K. elections could just be a diversion,” speculates conservative GOP and the City. Meanwhile, libertarian InstaPundit makes fun of the ineffective bombs and passes along a suggestion that the blasts may have been intended to mark the 24th anniversary of the death of IRA member  Bobby Sands. G.D. Frogsdong, a contributor at political commentary blog Blanton’s and Ashton’s questions whether the grenades really targeted the Brits and writes, “Given that there were no reported injuries, at this point in time, the best evidence is that this was the work of someone who really hates concrete planters.” And Carrie in NYC, a twentysomething newcomer to the city, admits that she walked by the site without noticing anything awry: “We see police and caution tape everywhere, and the subways are always off schedule. For a city that is supposed to be on elevated terrorist alert at all times, we’re pretty apathetic.”

Engaging more directly with the elections, Websnark’s Eric Burns bemoans Americans’ lack of attention to British politics and warns, “[T]he United Kingdom’s Iraq policy will change as a result of this general election. If Labour retains Parliament, they’re not likely to pull out entirely—but it would not be a surprise if they reduced their presence and role. Certainly, to maintain a significant presence and role, the United States is going to have to give them some reasons—some stake—beyond what they have, so far.”

Read more about the blasts near the consulate; read more about the British elections.

Freedom’s just another word: Earlier this week, Peking Duck’s Richard, an old China hand, posted an e-mail from a correspondent in China who kept encountering errors when trying to Google the word “freedom” in both Chinese and English. “This is by far one of the most ludicrous things I’ve seen yet on Internet censorship in China,” froths conservative China-centered blog The Horses Mouth. “I’ve never tried looking up the word ‘freedom’ in a Chinese dictionary, but now I’m curious as to how it would be defined. … Somehow I get the feeling that I might find some twisted reference pointing to October 1, 1949 [the day that the People’s Republic of China was founded].” On The Political Animal, the blog of the Washington Monthly’s Kevin Drum, a commenter converts Drum’s post into faux code (“Tiananmen Square” is “salty prunes,” for example) in order to mock the Chinese censoring strategies: “Apparently they’ve previously targeted specific noodles like ‘Salty Prunes,’ but an emailer says that a sticky rice for even a common dish like ‘bean curd’ now returns garbage, whether the fish sauce is done in English or Chinese.” And The Committee To Protect Bloggers links to this recent report about Chinese Internet censorship and notes, “Among the interesting issues discussed is the allegation of culpability by Western companies in assisting censorship efforts.”

Read more about Chinese censorship of the Internet.

Burka grrls: Some bloggers are ecstatic over Burka Band, Afghanistan’s first all-girl pop band.  Music for Maniacs, a blog that prizes “outsider” recordings, enthuses, “Performing on Western instruments (electric guitar, drum kit) and singing in English, these 3 ladies not only wear the traditional head-to-toe burkas, they sing about ‘em on their debut 7” [record] from the German label ata tak. Not quite a Muslim Shaggs, the result is charmingly amateurish rock-xotica.” Have Coffee Will Write’s writer/editor Jeff Hess gushes, “It wasn’t the Peacemaker nor the Trident that brought down the Soviet Union, it was Coca Cola and Levi’s. Will Rock ’n’ Roll topple the mullahs? Could be.” And in Amy’s New York Notebook, freelance reporter Amy Langfield predicts, “This should make everyone happy.”

Listen to the single “Burka Blue”; visit the Burka Band’s label’s Web site; read more about them.

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