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Kabul, Ardoyne, Queens

A news mosaic from 17 November 2001 —


The Northern Alliance, whom as their name implies have been hanging out in the north of Afghanistan, have just taken Kabul.

The Taliban left without a fight. There is talk they went to Kandahar; further south anyhow. There is concern about the behavior of the Northern Alliance, but the population seem to have welcomed the change. Some of the men are shaving their beards,and some women shedding their burqas.

Northern Ireland

The police guard on the route to Holy Cross primary school was doubled on Monday [12 November 2001] after a confrontation-related death on Sunday evening. A 17-year-old boy on the Protestant-Unionist side of a "fierce riot" (Irish Times) was apparently intending to throw a pipe bomb at the police when it exploded and killed him. Seventeen, hell; he would have been 17 this coming Friday.

The police presence on Ardoyne Road on Monday was increased because the route to Holy Cross is another area of recent trouble.

From about 12 weeks ago, when the schoolyear began, Protestant residents of Ardoyne Road have assembled along the street to demonstrate against the passage of Catholic schoolkids on their way to and from school.

There has been some violence there, and verbal pressure and menacing is the daily course of events.

There have been talks lately, of concessions and progressive agreements on the Ardoyne Road problem; the pressure even eased during one recent day when students were taking an important academic exam. But in the last few days things seem to have slipped a bit and trouble there continues.

On Monday, about 400 police officers lined the road in what must have been a virtual gauntlet of security. Even so, there were some "minor scuffles."

Flight 587

The crash on Monday of American Airlines Flight 587 in New York City was apparently an accident.

The Airbus A300 seems to have suffered a mechanical failure; no evidence from the cabin voice recorder indicates that there was interference with the flight crew.

The engine, made by a subsidiary of General Electric, has come under scrutiny. In the spring of 2000, some of the CF6-80C2 model suffered failures that sent metal fragments flying

I'm not sure why the engine would have fallen off; but then with the rotational and thrust force involved, any change might be catastrophic. It might have just popped off in a fit of gyroscopic trauma.

Apparently more than 260 people died, including all the airliner's passengers and some of the residents of the neighborhood where the plane fell, in the borough of Queens, three minutes after taking off from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City.

The city closed all bridges and tunnels that morning, evacuated the Empire State Building, and took other like precautions elsewhere.

I remember the relief on hearing that the crash was "only" an accident. The sense must have been palpable in New York City; indeed it must have been so in the States overall. Obviously the stock markets took a deep breath for some reason on Tuesday, with the Dow up about two percent and the Nasdaq up more than two-and-a-half percent.

It's strange and twisted how such a tragedy can seem so acceptable when compared to other possible explanations.

17 November 2001

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