I just arrived in London today and it’s already quite exciting. There’s a lot of anticipation in the air here around the G20.  So I arrived at Heathrow after a 10 hour flight overnight from San Francisco, rode the tube for 90 min (after a few changes) and got settled into my hotel. 

I walked the wrong way to the hotel and saw the entrance to G20 ground zero – the ExCel Centre. There are a lot of cops around dressed in bright yellow plastic vests and funny shaped round black hats, but they are all very nice and quite helpful. Though like Obama’s inauguration, they are perhaps not as well trained as they might be given the circumstances. One cop whom I asked for directions shrugged his shoulders and good-naturedly exclaimed: “I have no idea. They brought me in from Bristol!” Right…

Anyway, I also got a free ride on the light rail which was the final leg of my journey. I think the American accent and obvious, helpless confusion on my face helped. Also it was only 2 stops…

It’s obviously super-historic given the global economic crisis plus this being Obama’s first face-to-face meetings with world leaders setting a new tone in US foreign relations. Protests and riots are being planned and one of the bloggers in my program (@JotMan – http://jotman.blogspot.com/) was detained for 2 hours at Heathrow immigration and questioned about his intentions here. He’s your average white guy and has a hippie-friendly bohemian beard, funky t-shirt and jeans thing happening. The police actually looked at his blog while he was in custody and wanted to see his summit blogger accreditation. So there’s some real restriction, harassment and intimidation going on.  

I told Jotman that this kind of thing happened to black people in the US all the time — random arrest and detention through “profiling” and discrimination with the intent to restrict and intimidate. It’s sort of weird to hear a white person describe an experience all too common for the black and brown and indeed JotMan said he could imagine what it was like for people trying to emigrate, especially if they don’t have the “right look”, didn’t have their papers quite in order or their story just didn’t sound right.

Anyway, things are looking to be challenging in terms of transportation due to the summit and the protests here. I’ve already told you about @G20Meltdown and there’s also Climate Camp G20. My room here is small, simple & comfy with free tea & biscuits with the advantage of being literally right across the street from the Excel Centre – G20 ground zero). It’s almost like I can touch Barack Obama already!!! 
April 1 is all about briefings prior to being at the Summit and also I’m supposed to be on BBC World Have Your Say’s live TV special and radio program focused on the G20 later in the day. April 2 is an early start for us – 7am at Excel and what will actually happen at the G20 Summit is hard to say. 
BTW, here’s what people seem to be reading in London judging from the airplane and tube: Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time and The Damned UTD (also an indie movie coming out) which is about a famous Leeds United angry football coach.
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