07 October, 2006

Misleading BBC Afghanistan report: Part 2

The BBC story linked to in my previous post contains a graphic (bottom of page) which could give the impression that, with many more troops, Germany is making a more significant contribution to the ISAF than Canada. Well they are not.

The German troops are safely ensconced in northern Afghanistan, where there is no danger of Taliban shrapnel landing in their sauerkraut and sausages. By contrast, the Canadians have been in southern Afghanistan, in the thick of the action in Kandahar, where they have been suffering a steady stream of fatalities.

The BBC blandly tells us that:

  • 31,000 troops now on ground in Afghanistan, including 10,000 coalition troops moved under Nato command
  • 37 nations contributing
  • 8,000 US-led troops continue training and counter-terrorism separate from Nato force
In fact, of the NATO countries, apart from the Brits and Canucks, only the Dutch and, of course, the Americans have seen serious action. No mention is made of the valuable contribution made by Australia, (not even a NATO member), especially their special forces.

So much for the BBC as a reliable news source.

Misleading BBC report on Afghanistan:

Time was when BBC News could be relied upon to be impartial and to keep you up to date with the latest events. How things have changed.

A month after Max Hastings first raised the problem in the Spectator and a nearly week after Brigadier Ed Butler talked about the problem to the Daily Telegraph, the BBC has finally reported that the army needs more helicopters in Afghanistan.

Brigadier Ed Butler requested more Chinook helicopters in response to a promise by Prime Minister Tony Blair of whatever extra resources were needed.
Somewhat misleadingly, the BBC report gives the impression that Brigadier Butler is only making the request in response to Blair's speech earlier today. An impression reinforced by a quote from an unnamed source:
The Ministry of Defence said it was not aware of a specific request for extra helicopters from Brig Butler. "The commanders have what they need to do the mission, Obviously, if they had more they could do more with it. That is what Brig Butler has always said," am[sic] MoD spokesman said.
A Foreign Office junior minister duly plays his part in the deception saying,
that while British commanders felt they had all of the equipment they needed,they would like more support from some other Nato countries which were not "punching their weight".
Garbage and more garbage. Brigadier Butler's views were clearly expressed his interview in the Telegraph and they are not those ascribed to him by the MoD. Hell, he was 36 hours away from pulling troops out of a battle for a "key base" because of a lack of helicopters. Moreover, as Max Hastings wrote back in early September,
The only reason the army is not crying from the rooftops for more helicopters in Afghanistan — there is no point in sending more men unless there are means to deploy them — is that the resources do not exist. Thus far, the government has not attempted the only possible measure that would help on the margin — leasing more heavy-lift helicopters on the open market...
Only an ambivalent caveat from the BBC man in Kabul is entered:
Alistair Leithead, says the question of extra helicopters has been raised again and again - with other Nato units also wanting more.
More garbage. What other NATO units want is irrelevant to the question, they were not engaged in hand-to-hand comabat with the Taliban in Helmand, which is where the lack of Chinooks was most acutely felt by the combat troops.

The Ministry of Defence has known of the problem for some time and the Prime minister and his Defence secretary should have known also. Any responsible news agency would be highlighting these failings instead of white-washing this stain on the government's record. Our troops deserve better.

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David Blunkett

David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary forced to resign in the wake of an affair, is evidently feeling sorry for himself. No doubt the royalties from his book, which is being pushed in both the right wing Daily Mail and the left wing Guardian will have a therapeutic value.

Like that other great Labour Lothario, John Prescott, Blunkett blames his demise on the scandal-mongering, sex-obsessed media. Wrong. Blunkett deserved, and Prescott ( still a minister) deserves, to be sacked not because they had mistresses but because each abused his office to do favours for his lover.

Blunkett fast tracked a visa application for his mistress' nanny, denied it and was found out only when e-mails between his office and the immigration authorities were unearthed. Prescott used his official car and driver to provide a taxi service for his mistress, an inappropriate use of public funds.

Sympathy for a former Home Secretary caught lying about his abuse of office. I think not.


Blair on Afghanistan:

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has told the British Forces Broadcasting Service,

"If the commanders on the ground want more equipment, armoured vehicles for example, more helicopters, that will be provided. Whatever package they want we will do".
Better late than never, but we will have to wait and see if his words are matched by deeds.

Still, the Prime Minister will not address the problem of wounded soldiers being threatened by terrorist supporters in civilian hospitals.
Although we're looking, for example, at military-managed wards (in NHS hospitals). To go back to the old military hospitals I don't think would be sensible in this day and age.
On the contrary,with so many enemy sympathisers at large in the community "in this day and age", there is a greater need than ever before for military hospitals.

On one thing Tony Blair was correct:
Our troops have been extraordinary there, I mean truly courageous, to a degree that should give this country enormous pride.
So, Mr Blair, why are they not being treated accordingly.

Corrupting Children made easy.

It is simple. Just place your children under the care of the state. The UK Daily Telegraph has revealed the details of the health fascists' latest strategy for indoctrinating children into their bizarre universe. Under the guise of a schools' drug awareness campaign,

(p)upils as young as seven are being encouraged to act out being drunk at a wedding while 10-year-olds pretend to take ecstasy....
The main teachers' resource is an NHS approved text, Drugs Centre stage (the only live official link I could find is a cached Google page). According to the DT, in one role play the children,
act out the death of a drug user. "I think Gary's ODed. He's not moved for a week and he's starting to smell," says the script.
Gary and the script have something in common: they both stink.

Children's innocence does last for ever; they will all too soon find out what the real world is like. Should the state - the NHS and the Department for Education and Skills -be protecting children from sordid reality or exposing them to it as early as possible? I suppose the answer depends on whether you view children as vulnerable individuals in need of protection or as resources to be exploited in an unscrupulous "health professional's " or teacher's career development.


Breast Cancer Helpline Closure:

Just when you think bureaucrats have reached the limits of stupidity, along comes a story like this.

The National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline, a 24-hour service founded and run by Derbyshire woman Wendy Watson, is threatened with closure. Is it because there is no demand, or because at £40,000 a year (£4.58 an hour) it is too expensive? No, her local paper, the Derbyshire Times, explains,

... the Department of Health has angered Mrs Watson by telling her she must find her own funding from March next year because it is no longer 'innovative'.
I see, the decision on whether to fund the Helpline is not taken on medical grounds but according to whether or not it fits bureaucratic criteria laid down by some anonymous government official. If the right boxes are not ticked, forget it. It gives a new meaning to the saying, "innovate or die."

06 October, 2006

Why bother voting?

Another party conference season over. Labour spent a week in Manchester blood-letting over Tony Blair's successor as party leader. Conservatives spent their week in Bournemouth talking amongst themselves about the best way to be perceived as caring liberals. And the Liberals no doubt said something important in Brighton but, as usual, nobody was listening. Never has so little been achieved by so many.

Any time now, the politicians are due for another self-pitying bout of asking why the electorate does not take them seriously. They will lament that the 2006 General Election turnout was down to about 60%. and that in local government elections the turnout is often less than half of that figure. Naturally, being very self-important people , MPs will blame voter apathy on the electorate and propose all manner of schemes to prise voters into the ballot box. Never, not even for a second, does it cross their minds that they, the senior figures in the political parties, might be at fault.

What is the point in voting when all the major parties are competing for the same centre ground, merely trying to outdo each other through presentation of similar polices?


Injustice, Sharia style.

The Times provides a glimpse of possible things to come in Europe under Sharia "law". In Pakistan, Mirza-Tahir Hussain was found guilty of murder in a case involving highway robbery but after a lengthy legal process,

... the High Court acquitted him. Before Hussain was freed, however, the High Court referred his case to a Sharia court that claims jurisdiction over cases of highway robbery. In that trial in 1998, one of the judges said that the visiting Briton had been framed by police, who had lied in court. But Hussain was given the death penalty by a two-to-one margin and the country’s Sharia Supreme Court rejected subsequent appeals.
Having been freed by the legal system, Hussain was re-arrested by religious police and is going to be executed for a crime for which he has been already legally tried and found not guilty.

Think of that the next time a poll reveals European muslims in favour of the introduction of Sharia in Europe.

Afghaistan: all points bulletin no. 2

The wholly justified security restrictions imposed on reporting military action in Afghanistan create difficulties in formulating a precise assessment of progress in the war between ISAF and Taliban. Any analysis of the strategic picture, is, therefore, partly impressionistic and will reflect more than usually the biases of the analyst. However, even for the sake of argument adopting a most pessimistic perspective, I cannot discern the predicted looming disaster for the ISAF so fervently hoped for by the left. Overall, despite the continuing problems and tragedies, ISAF forces in Afghanistan seem to be making satisfactory progress towards ensuring the country is secure enough to hand back the Afghan government.

In the west, where Operation Wyconda Pincer is going after the Taliban, Crumbling Spires has already reported the Taliban being cleared out of the Golestan district of Farah province. Now, from the east, comes news of an Operation Mountain Fury success in Ghazni province. Elsewhere, in the area, the Afghan authorities have themselves arrested 17 would-be suicide bombers. The south remains problematical but, for now at least, Taliban activity seem to have been reduced from full scale attacks to individual suicide bombings. In isolation these reports might not appear to amount to very much but, taken as a whole, they send a signal to the Talbian that it cannot operate with impunity even in areas it formerly regarded as strongholds.

The one dark shadow looming over the entire ISAF operation originates to the east, in Pakistan, where the surrender of Waziristan to the Taliban has provided the terrorists with a secure base and raised serious questions about the Pakistan government's attitude towards Islamic terrorism.

RAF bombing Taliban: videos,

The Ministry of Defence has released video footage from Afghanistan of RAF Harriers visiting the Taliban. The videos can be downloaded from the related links section on here.

Jack Straw

Jack Straw upsets the mediaeval brigade with this.

Not even a veiled comment yet on the rights of wimmin from Labour's post-modernist harridan tendency.

By my count that is two government ministers and the Chief Rabbi that have recently uttered multi-cultural heresy. It is suddenly getting crowded on the far shores of the right.

05 October, 2006

Afghanistan Reference

This page is intended as an Afghanistan database for future easy reference. It is not intended to be exhaustive, rather it lists the main UK and US government and Afghanistan news sites I have bookmarked over the last few months. I hope it proves useful to anyone seeking background information or news on Afghanistan.

Map of Afghan Provinces:

From: Afghana.com. Click on map to enlarge.

CIA World Factbook: Afghanistan

US State Department: Briefing Notes

Foreign Office: Country profile (updated 18.12.06)

Ministry of Defence

Department of Defense

Centcom- Afghanistan

International security Assistance Force (ISAF)


The Durand Line

United Nations

Afgha.com news

Afghanistan's website

Afghan Daily

Wikipedia, much maligned in some quarters but useful for quick reference and links.

BBC South Asia

Last, but certainly not least, Google News

Gurkhas in Afghanistan

Tom Coghlan continues his accounts in the Daily Telegraph, of the fighting in Afghanistan, with a look at how the Gurkhas (motto: better to die than be a coward) dealt with being under siege in Nawzad, Helmand.

Over 10 gruelling days,40 Gurkhas besieged in Nawzad police station, sustained only three injuries as they repelled a stream of 28 Taliban attacks. Taliban casualites were light, considering they went up against soldiers widely regarded as being some of the best troops in the world; only about 100 killed, including 4 dispatched by a Gurkha sniper brought in to deal with a terrorist counterpart.

Amongst the remarkable stories,

With the Taliban closer than 50 yards, Rifleman Nabin Rai, 20, manning a heavy machinegun on the roof, had several rounds ricochet off his weapon before a bullet went through the gunsight and hit him in the face.
"His commander called for him to be medi-vacced out, but he refused to come down from the roof," said Major Rex [Gurkha commander]. "Later he was again hit, this time in the helmet. He sat down and had a cigarette, then went back to his position."
Just one example of the bravery and courage displayed at Nawzad in the best traditions of the Gurkhas.

Oliver Letwin

Oliver Letwin is the chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Review Group and chairman of the Conservative Research Department. As such he is one of leading standard bearers for Cameron's new touchy-feely brand of lefty conservatism. This week he has been demonstrating his dampness by proclaiming "an unambiguous commitment to the growth of Britain's public services" and "a 'new partnership' with the professions."

Letwin's hagiographical profile on the Conservative website says tersely:

He was a member of the Prime Minister's Policy Unit from 1983-1986, after being Special Adviser to Secretary of State for Education and Science (1982-1983)...
Enough of that Oliver Letwin.

In about 1983, from within Mrs Thatcher's Downing Street Policy Unit, came a bright idea: removing the largest items of expenditure from local government would facilitate the introduction of a poll tax. Education was the largest item but it was politically impossible to privatise the schools, as the right had discovered between 1981 and 1983. However, removing Further Education from local authority control would be much less controversial. One particularly right wing Policy Unit advisor, therefore, persuaded the Environment minister, to look seriously at abolishing Further Education. The argument was that private sector training companies could provide craft training (the staple of FE in those days) better than the local authority FE colleges. Nothing came of the idea but the advisor's name was Oliver Letwin.

Source: Hargraves, G.
From TVEI to CTC. Unpublished MEd disssertation, University of Leeds, 1992.

Is it a coincidence or are there two Oliver Letwins?

I have no objection to politicians changing their views over time but, when it happens without an explanation, it lays the individuals involved open to charges of hypocrisy and opportunism.

Immigration Judges.

The case of the immigration judges and the Brazilian slapper rumbles on. The Times reports:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor, and Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the Lord Chief Justice, have decided that there are sufficient grounds to ask the Office for Judicial Complaints to conduct a preliminary investigation into the behaviour of Mohammed Ilyas Khan and another judge, known only as Miss J.
No sign of the Inland Revenue being interested in the judges' tax or national insurance arrangements with their former employee. Perhaps they are too busy illegally chasing people legally importing tobacco and alcohol from Europe.


Global Warming

Global warming is not the sun's fault, say some scientists.

Our results imply that, over the past century, climate change due to human influences must far outweigh the effects of changes in the Sun's brightness.
Global warming, in part, might be due to cosmic rays but we are not sure , say some other scientists
...the sun has an effect. But I'm also saying it's uncertain how much global warming has to do with the sun and how much is caused by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
...The greenhouse effect must play some role. But those who are absolutely certain that the rise in temperatures is due solely to carbon dioxide have no scientific justification. It's pure guesswork.
Conclusion: if global warming exists (and the question is not yet decided), we do not yet know the causation. Are you listening Al Gore and David Cameron.

04 October, 2006

Simon Heffer on Cameron's Conservatives.

At the best of times, Simon Heffer has a brilliant turn of phrase and a wonderful ability to get up the left's nose but, in today's Daily Telegraph, he excels even himself in his sadly accurate analysis of Dave Cameron's Conservative Beta Party. The knockabout is tremendously funny. I particularly liked his description of the new Conservative Party that Cameron is trying to create as a:

the tree-hugging, bunny-hugging, hoodie-hugging cult
However, Heffer also makes a very serious point: in trying to attract the floating vote and a favourable press by articulating trendy policies according to the latest findings of his focus groups, Cameron is alienating much of the Tory core support.

Core support does not mean only those who will vote Conservative whatever, it is also the individuals who, come election time, deliver posters, stuff leaflets in envelopes, knock on doors, drive cars and undertake all the rest of the mundane jobs vital in any election campaign.

Antiques Road show in Afghanistan

If the Antiques Road Show was ever to visit Afghanistan, it could do worse than feature the airframes of some of the army's Chinook helicopters, especially the one which saw service in the Falklands a quarter of a century ago. Following his interview with Brigadier Butler, Tom Coghlan, the Daily Telegraph's man at Camp Bastion, in Helmand, has been talking to some of the Chinook pilots and it makes for grim reading.

"The airframes are antiques," said Flt Lt Steve Hewer. "There are up-to-date versions of the Chinook but we don't have them. We do have the latest self-defence systems and we are grateful for that."
The demands being made on the pilots are such that a normal six month tour of duty has to be split into three two-month mini-tours.
The six British forward operating bases in the province are too dangerous to supply by road, unless large numbers of troops are deployed as a protection force, so the resupply burden falls almost exclusively on the Chinooks. Four Lynx helicopters in the theatre have been unable to fly in daylight during the summer months because of the heat.
On operations to forward bases, although the Chinook pilots are always acutely aware of the danger of rocket propelled grenades, they receive so much small arms fire that they hardly notice it any more.
"It is extremely challenging flying," said Flt Lt Hewer.
What a shambles. Unless the government gets a grip, it will only get worse. For now, let us just be thankful that, somehow, the bravery of the pilots has not resulted in any fatalities.

Government ignores wounded troops:

The Daily Telegraph reports on the scandalous treatment of wounded troops repatriated from the Middle East.

An estimated 5,000 injured troops are being prevented from joining front-line operations because they are languishing on health service waiting lists.
Military doctors have told The Daily Telegraph of the "absolute scandal" of soldiers having to wait for treatment while a fully equipped military hospital lies virtually empty.
When wounded troops actually get to hospital their treatment is often not as good as they deserve.

An unguarded seriously wounded solider was exposed to enemy threats in a civilian hospital.

Tony Blair's and the government's response has so far been merely to hope the problem will go away. It will not.

03 October, 2006

Wyconda Pincer victory for ISAF in Farah.

Afhga.com reports a success for Operation Wyconda Pincer, the ISAF attack on the Taliban in Farah province, western Afghanistan. Probably as part of a sub-operation called Wyconda Rib, launched in the Golestan district of the province (tbc), the Taliban have been removed from the area.

Provincial police chief Sayed Aqa Saqib told Pajhwok Afghan News on Sunday the district headquarters was captured by Taliban fighters about two weeks back. The militants were forced out after a joint operation by the US and Afghan forces.
He said Taliban set on fire the district offices, police stations, clinics, schools and other governmental buildings before fleeing the area. They also took away a number of vehicles with them.
Another police official Mohammad-ud-Din said they had launched a search operation in the area for the fleeing militants. He said no arrest had been made thus far.
Located to the far east of the provincial capital, Gulistan district is abutting the country's restive Helmand province. Taliban have intensified their resistance against the Afghan and foreign troops in the south, southeastern and some western parts of the country over the past six months.

European Defence Agency Vision

The European Defence Agency has been running up the white flag. This glorified subcommittee of the Council of Europe has presented defence ministers with its 20 year vision of European defence and security. As befits such a grandiose endeavour (even Stalin only planned 5 years ahead), the document has a grandiose title: An Initial Long-Term Vision for European Defence Capability and Capacity Needs. There the grandeur stops.

Underlying the report is a pessimistic analysis of a Europe with neither the political will nor the military capability to defeat its enemies; a Europe in which maintaining a largely pacifist, ageing population takes priority over military and defence expenditure. The Daily Telegraph has a concise summary for those who cannot face wading through the 28 pages of the full report. (Direct pdf download here.)

In places, the 73 paragraph document is virtually meaningless verbiage, full of the latest fashionable jargon, which paragraph 43 will serve to illustrate:

43. Synergy. In the future, joint forces composed of land, air, space and maritime elements will increasingly use precision firepower, intelligence and focussed [sic]logistics in order to deliver military effects in a more discriminate way. And the capabilities of other agencies and actors, including non-governmental organisations, will contribute to the management of conflict. The media, with its increased reach and effectiveness, need increasingly to be taken into account. Synergy between these different capacities will create the effects necessary for mission accomplishment within acceptable levels of risk, while minimising undesired effects. Synchronisation across organisational, institutional and component boundaries moves the joint force from traditional de-confliction and coordination procedures to the integrated, comprehensively-planned operations required.
"Focussed"? Perhaps they should be more discriminate and deconflict their spell-checker.

The one clear message is of defeatism: in future, victory will not be achievable and the best Europe can hope for is to achieve some sort of compromise (paragraph 35):
In cases of intervention by force the main task will be to gain control of the dynamics of conflict, reduce its destructive power and break the cycle of violence. The objective is not “victory” as traditionally understood, but moderation, balance of interests and peaceful resolution of conflicts – in short, stability.
Defeatism at the outset. One inference is that, if a society cannot defend itself by defeating external enemies, it is unlikely to have the will to defend against the enemy within. Read in that context, the Vision can be interpreted as a long-winded, almost embarrassed, conformation of Mark Steyn's penetrating analysis of European society and its defence failings.

Death of Lance Corporal Dennis Brady

The Ministry of Defence has named the 119th British fatality in Iraq: Lance Corporal Dennis Brady.

Corporal Brady died as a result of a mortar attack on his base in Northern Basra on Sunday. The BBC reports:

A British military spokesman in Basra said about 15 mortars had been fired at the base in Sunday's attack, with three or four landing inside the perimeter.
L/Cpl Brady was taken to hospital, where he later died. Another soldier suffered a broken arm in the attack, the spokesman said.
Let us also remember Dennis Brady's family at this particularly difficult time.

Success for Bush doctrine in Afghanistan

A refreshing change from the msm professional nay-sayers and defeatists. In the Persian Journal Slater Bakhtavar analyses the success of the Bush Doctrine in removing the criminally murderous Taliban from power and bringing democracy to Afghanistan. There is a long way to go before the situation is finally resolved but, Baktavar concludes:

Many Americans have been false-heartedly led by the mainstream media to believe that the doctrine has become an unmitigated disaster. This form of distorting reality frames a deceptive image of the conditions in Afghanistan. Propaganda wars aside, the truth emanating from Afghanistan is that the Asian country is progressing in remarkable fashion and the tremendous majority of Afghanis are supportive of both the Karzai government and are grateful to The Bush Administration.The Afghanis understand that it takes time to progress toward an independent, proud modern democratic nation, but they also understand that Afghanistan will eventually emerge as one of the seats of progress in the Middle East.

02 October, 2006

Canadian Fatalities in Afghanistan

In the UK we, perhaps understandably, focus on British troops in Afghanistan. Let us also remember that, not for the first time in recent history, the Canadians are in the thick of the action.

From ctv of Canada, an interactive memorial to the Canadian casualties in Afghanistan.

CBC News also pays interactive tribute, with links to detailed news stories of each fatal tragedy

Canada .com has a roll of honour, clicking on the names leads to a very moving memorial guest book.

What the Butler saw: a critical shortage of helicopters.

Brigadier Ed Butler, commander of the British task force in Afghanistan, is standing down at the end of the week, but he is not going quietly. The Brigadier has been telling the Daily Telegraph about the severe problems facing our troops in Helmand.

British forces in southern Afghanistan came within hours of retreating from a key base because they suffered a critical shortage of helicopters, the task force commander has disclosed.
Yesterday, Crumbling Spires reported that Brigadier Butler had agreed a truce with the Talbian at Musa Qala. Now, Butler has told the Telegraph that he came within 36 hours of abandoning the village to the Taliban, a withdrawal prevented only by the village elders negotiating a ceasefire. Butler's problem was not that the British troops were being outfought, but the lack of helicopters.
We were not going to be beaten by the Taliban in Musa Qala... but the threat to helicopters from very professional Taliban fighters and particularly mortar crews was becoming unacceptable. We couldn't guarantee that we weren't going to lose helicopters.
The British army has only six Chinooks in the entire theatre (and not all of them are equipped with a winch for evacuation missions); Butler felt he just could not afford to lose even one of them on either supply or casualty evacuation missions. The Brigadier said that he warned his superiors last month of the danger to the Chinooks. (I suspect he also had a quiet word with Max Hastings.) Indeed, in early September, knowledgeable military figures were publicly complaining the army was being asked to do the job in Afghanistan with inadequate equipment. Nothing was done. The politicians were totally indifferent to the possible casualties, as they are now, except for any political damage they might incur.

Ministers were prepared to lie, rather than admit they were sending soldiers into battle.
The statistics of the Paras tour tell their own story of low level, often close quarter, infantry fighting: 443,000 rounds fired, 3,500 mortar shells launched and 400 hand grenades thrown.
Such figures sit in stark contrast to the aid and development mission originally outlined by the Government, which gave assurances that "offensive operations" would not be a feature of Operation Herrick.
John Reid, who was then Defence Secretary, had expressed the hope at the start of the year that British troops might leave Afghanistan after three years "without firing a shot".
Ministers were prepared to lie rather than admit they had sent inadequately equipped soldiers into battle.
Our forces are poorly equipped, in particular there is a crippling shortage of helicopters - we even learnt yesterday that some troops have had to forage for food. Yet ministers remain sanguine. All the while, journalists are kept well away from the front line in a cyncial attempt to conceal the true nature of this conflict from the public.
Ministers were prepared lie rather than spend money on helicopters to protect troops in action. Our servicemen deserve better. Let this be the government's political epitaph.
A critical shortage of helicopters

Israeli "Night of Terror"

Night of Terror says the BBC headline (under "Features, Views, Analysis", bottom left). This being the BBC, the report refers to an IDF defensive operation in Gaza, where they were hunting unspecified "Palestinian militants". Hamas or Hezballah or perhaps the IDF was chasing PLO ghosts? We are not told. We are told that the troops were beating an innocent mentally disabled youngster, who was defended by a brave relative from al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades militant group.

Now, that is what I call propoganda.

A week old but it this it is still prominent on the BBC's Middle East page. Has nothing important happened in Gaza or the Middle East in the last seven days?

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01 October, 2006

British army "in secret truce with the Taliban"

Or so says the Times.

Over the past two months British soldiers have come under sustained attack defending a remote mud-walled government outpost in the town of Musa Qala in southern Afghanistan. Eight have been killed there.
It has now been agreed the troops will quietly pull out of Musa Qala in return for the Taliban doing the same. The compound is one of four district government offices in the Helmand province that are being guarded by British troops.
The report goes on to say that Brigadier Ed Butler, British task force commander, hopes the deal might provide a template which can be applied throughout Helmand.

If the deal saves British servicemen's lives in the short term, all well and good. However, Butler appears to be playing a dangerous game. There must be a danger that the Taliban will use the truce as a chance to rearm and regroup prior to coming back stronger and better equipped, leading to a greater loss of lives in the longer term.

It might be a good idea for the British government to use any respite to ensure that our forces are properly equipped and manned.

The print edition of the Sunday Telegraph carries the story as a few paragraphs at the end of this report, but, at the time of posting, they were not in the on-line version According to the ST, the truce was negotiated between the army and the Taliban with the full approval of the local Afghan population, who hanged one of the terrorists for opposing the deal.

Immigration judges, illegal labour and tax.

The case of the Brazilian slapper and the immigration judge rumbles on as the Sunday heavies weigh in.

In the Observer, Mary Riddell just does not get it:

The issue is not what judges get up to with their cleaners. It is that many people with rightful cases may, in the future, be denied access to the justice handed down by Khan's colleagues.
I leave Riddell's tortuous logic to others.

In the Sunday Telegraph Alasdair Palmer gets closer but still no prize:
: ... his sex life is not what sunk Judge Khan: it was employing an illegal immigrant. Incredibly, neither he nor Judge J tried to find out whether their Brazilian cleaner was entitled to be here. Yet of course, as immigration judges, establishing whether someone has the right to be in Britain is something they do every day of their working lives.
The 'it 'neither journalist gets, nor even mentions, is tax, more precisely, income tax and National Insurance. The rest of us are liable to end up in jail for tax evasion if we knowingly employ individuals without providing the Inland Revenue with its cut, so I repeat my question from a week ago:
...it sounds like the judges did not need to know if she had a work permit because they were paying cash-in-hand and so avoiding tax and National Insurance. I wonder if the Inland Revenue is going to investigate possible criminal activity? Perhaps not.