Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: February 2007

28 February 2007

Unprepared US Rookie Troops Being Rushed Straight Across To Iraq ...



If you believe it's bad enough that the US military has lately (consistently and dramatically), lowered minimum standard recruiting requirements, then you'd better hold your your breath and, brace yourself.

Because, believe it or not, things are now even worse than you thought.

We wonder how many US citizens saw what CNN said, just the day before yesterday?

How's this for a wholly horrifying headline?

U.S. troops to forgo training in rush to Iraq
Can you credit it? Comprehend it? Come to terms with it? Cope with it?


Can you?

Really?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rushed by President Bush's decision to reinforce Baghdad with thousands more U.S. troops, two Army combat brigades are skipping their usual session at the Army's special training range in California.

They are now making preparations to leave their home bases.

Some in Congress and others outside the Army are beginning to question whether that decision means the Army is cutting corners in preparing soldiers for combat.

"Some" are beginning to question this diabolically daft and downright dangerous decision?

Only "some"?

Shit.


What a sodding super-shambles.
It's not the premiere kind of situation that commanders would prefer, but it is adequate." Daniel Goure, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank,said ...

Adequate?

More akin to amazing we'd say. As well as (awesomely), alarming.

What would you say?

Particularly, if you were a parent (or any other part of a family), of such a recently recruited and/or still semi-raw, young rookie.

The mind bloody boggles.

See the whole sorry story at the CNN site.

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27 February 2007

Afghanistan : Bagram Base Bombed, But Dick Cheney Escapes Unscathed ...

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Bagram base in Afghanistan attacked

A suicide attack has killed at least 18 people, including one American soldier, at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, where Dick Cheney, the US vice president, is visiting, officials said.
'Course it's all okay, everyone.


No real harm done.

Dirty Dick Cheney escaped unscathed.

Oh, well ...

Read the relevant Al Jazeera-English report.

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25 February 2007

Bulldozer Brutality In The West Bank: Israeli Army Arrives Commanding Curfew In Nablus ...

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RICHARD REPORTS - YOU DECIDE - SUNDAY 25TH FEBRUARY 2007

First off, we're starting by cutting any crap and cutting straight to the chase.

1./ We DO NOT deny the Holocaust happened.

2./ We DO NOT deny the state of Israel's right to exist.

3./ We DO NOT agree with or condone anti-Semitism.

Okay? Clear?

Right.

For far from the first time, Israel today used it's custom made, massive murderous, mighty armoured bulldozers as weapons of war.

Now read this news clip - fresh from this morning.

...... Witnesses reported 80 jeeps backing several bulldozers [entering] the Old City, Ras al-Ain and al-Jabal al-Shamali neighbourhoods of Nablus.

The size of the operation indicates that the military operation will not end soon, according to Al Jazeera's correspondent there.

The bulldozers pushed rubble into piles on main roads to make them impassable, witnesses said, while snipers took positions on rooftops in the Old City and the neighbourhood close to Raefedia hospital.

Troops placed about 50,000 people under curfew in the centre of Nablus and closed the main entrance to the city.

Jeeps blocked entries to two main hospitals in the city, al-Watani and Raefedia, said Ghassan Hamdan, a doctor there.

"We are suffering, Nablus is suffering, from this closure," Hafiz Shahine, the deputy mayor of the city told Al Jazeera, "the shops are closed and streets and blocked in the Old City, no-one can get out of their homes."

"Nablus has been under seige for six years," he said.

(Please note that the old lady shown laying prone was completely alive, uninjured and unharmed at the time of being photographed, but was protesting personally -- super-strongly.)

Read the rest of this report right here.

And, in the name of whichever God you either do or don't believe in -- wake up to what's really going on in the Middle East -- even as you sit and read this.

Then, in the name of (and for the greater good of), humanity as a whole - please pass this piece on - as quickly and as widely as possible.

Thank you.

Shalom.

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23 February 2007

Blair Spin - Re; Brit Troops 'Withdrawal' - Read 'Redeployment' ...



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So, it seems someone sneakily switched on the spin machine while a whole lot weren't watching.

Well, well, well.

We wonder why we're not surprised?

Anyway, as from this afternoon -- ref; British troops 'withdrawal' ; now read 'redeployment'.

Grab a good gander at this.

More UK soldiers for Afghanistan

The Army expects a major Taleban uprising in the spring More than 1,000 extra British troops are to be sent to Afghanistan, the BBC has learned.

Defence Secretary Des Browne will give details of the new deployment to the House of Commons on Monday.

(snip)

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said the move showed that British forces were too "overstretched" to carry out duties in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

(snip)

The move comes as the government announced that about 1,600 troops would be withdrawn from Iraq.

(snip)

BBC defence correspondent Paul Wood says commanders on the ground are "screaming for more troops" to deal with the Taleban's expected spring offensive, but Monday's announcement is still likely to be controversial.

(snip)

"Yet it is the British troops once again who are having to reinforce - the third or fourth reinforcement."

How much more sickening shit such as this, should the UK's paying public swallow before starting some sort of 'surge' of their own?

Read the rest of the 'redeployment' revelations.

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22 February 2007

Inside Iraq; The True War News; Updated Daily ...


With the very best will in the world - we can't turn the clock back to become younger, fitter, stronger and/or as (seemingly), tireless as we once were.

So it's taken a little longer than we'd have liked to get round to acting on this (one of many), emails arriving daily, courtesy the confidentiality of the comments' moderation method.

But better late than never, eh?

Richard - Thanks for caring and speaking up: May I blog you know what?

Take a look at what I've been doing for Daily War News.

They've had a disastrous experience with blogger and I and my team have to rebuild there blog by hand every night for the last few months after each posting so over the next week or so they'll be moving to the new place.

I convert the blogger code every night and post it across. to their new home. Last night was the first live posting and by a completely new editor at that. I'm pleased.

Today in Iraq was started by "Yankee Doodle" a fiercely patriotic US veteran horrified at that the war in Iraq and who blew his top at president chimpanzee c**ks*ck*r when the dirty little toxic ape made his "Bring 'em on" speech.

Rather than see a fabulous ant-war resource die I stepped in and offered technical assistance.

ONLY technical assistance and I'm shouldering the costs too.

But my role in it is backroom boy and nothing more the editors make the policy - and that's as it should be. I'd be really grateful though if you'd give them a plug and maybe a follow up plug in a week or so? I've added quite a few facilities to it for readers and am busy adding more.

Kindest regards,

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Well, we know full well who the above regular reader and email author is; he's one of the good guys. But we'll leave it to him to decide whether or not he wants everyone to know all he does.

Whatever.

In the meantime, if you're just about as browned off as ourselves with the constant BushCo & BlairCo 'improving Iraq' bullshit, still shovelled out to us all on a daily basis -- you should do something about it.

For instance,
you should bookmark this blog-site's live link.

And if you run a blog of your own -- then stick it on your blog roll -- sharpish.

Okay? Clear?

Any questions?

Then carry on, regardless.


And that's an order.

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21 February 2007

Afghanistan: Taliban Spring 'Surge' Tough-Talk ...



Remember way back when Bush bragged about beating the terrible Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan?

But as usual, what does (Are there blacks in Brazil?), Bush know?

(Did someone say sweet f.a?)

Well, whatever.


But boy-oh-boy, have we got - some more - bad news for Bush.

The Taliban are back (if they ever went away), and when we say back -- we mean back, big-time.


Any surge you can do, we can do too, eh?

Taliban: Spring offensive is coming

Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's military commander, has told Al Jazeera that he has deployed more than 6,000 of his fighters in preparation for a spring offensive against the Afghan government and its allies.

"The attack is imminent," he told Al Jazeera's Arabic channel in an interview aired on Wednesday.
"The number of Taliban mujahidin who are ready to launch the spring battle has reached 6000,"
And he added:
... [that] he might even be able to deploy even more volunteers if Nato troop increases continued to prompt more Afghans to take up arms.

"It may rise to 10,000," he said.
But it gets bloody better.

Looks like the uniter-not-divider-decider, has 'suffered' some more success.

Well, wouldn't you say?

... Ali Jan Orkazi, the governor of the North West Frontier province of neighbouring Pakistan, said that the Taliban was growing stronger.

"As time passes, Taliban becomes more powerful," he told Al Jazeera.

"Today, they have reached a stage where many local residents support them.


This makes it [the movement] evolve into a kind of a national and resistance movement; a kind of a liberation war against the coalition forces."
Read the rest of this report.

Jesus H., George -- did you ever do anything right?

Maybe much more to the point Mr President -- why won't you just get out of the White House -- and let some sane adults take charge?

The whole, wide world is finally fed up of your fuck-ups.

So, for God's sake, stupid -- sod off!

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20 February 2007

Brit Troops To Trickle Out Of Iraq - Blair Statement Set For Tomorrow ...



This, breaking - via the BBC.

Blair 'to confirm Iraq timetable'

Tony Blair is expected to announce a timetable for the withdrawal of UK troops from Iraq.

The prime minister is due to make an announcement in the House of Commons on Wednesday in which he is expected clarify the details.

But we won't be holding our breath though. Nor should anyone else.

Tone talks the talk alright; he always has done; and done it well.


But as for walking the walk - that's always been far from his forte.

We say, seeing is believing.

As does anyone else with even a semblance of an ounce of sense.

So, roll on tomorrow, eh?


Surprise us, prime minister.

Bring it on, Mr Blair.

The whole world is waiting -- and watching.

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UPDATE - LATEST.

LONDON - Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce on Wednesday a new timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, with 1,500 to return home in several weeks, the BBC reported.

Blair will also tell the House of Commons during his regular weekly appearance that a total of about 3,000 British soldiers will have left southern Iraq by the end of 2007, if the security there is sufficient, the British Broadcasting Corp. said, quoting government officials who weren't further identified.

The announcement comes even as President Bush implements an increase of 21,000 more troops for Iraq.

But Blair said Sunday that Washington had not put pressure on London to maintain its troop numbers. The BBC said Blair was not expected to say when the rest of Britain's forces would leave Iraq. Britain currently has about 7,100 soldiers there.

MORE DETAILS HERE.

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19 February 2007

Prince Harry Headed For Iraq?

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It seems Henry Charles Albert David Mountbatten-Windsor 's wish to wage war in Iraq (in person), could soon be coming true.

But then as third in line to the British throne there's probably nothing new in someone as special as
Prince Harry having his own way.

Here's the low down on the latest on the lad.

Iraq security nightmare for 'bullet magnet Harry

by Matthew Hickley and Rebecca English

Prince Harry appears to have won the battle to be allowed to join his men on operations in a war zone.

Army commanders are grappling with an unprecedented security headache as Prince Harry prepares to deploy to Iraq.

The third in line to the throne appears to have won the battle to join his men on operations in a war zone after months of high-level discussions during which he threatened to quit if he was left behind for his own safety.

Of course, Harry's apparently had his habit of courting controversy while wearing one uniform or other, for quite a while.

Remember the uproar regarding this?


Even when out & about without a uniform, Harry can't hide the fact that he's a real 'hands-on' type when it comes to grabbing a piece of any action available.


Ask Natalie; Natalie knows - first hand.

And no, that's not photo-shopped; that's the real, royal, young dirty-Harry lending a little lady friend a hand.

(We wonder whether Harry ever heard about Janet Jackson?)

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18 February 2007

Is War With Iran (Almost), Imminent?

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We may be a pair of 'oldies' -- but never let it be said that we've ever been slow off the mark.



Here's some of tomorrow's news -- today.

American military operations for a major conventional war with Iran could be implemented any day.

That's the bones of it.

Here's the header.

* Iran - Ready to attack *

Dan Plesch

Published 19 February 2007

American preparations for invading Iran are complete, Dan Plesch reveals. Plus Rageh Omaar's insights from Iran
We won't waste any more time talking about it.

See it for yourself -- The New Statesman's exclusive cover story.

Dateline: tomorrow: Monday 19th February 2007.

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17 February 2007

Sad Story Of A Brit War-Widow's American Insurer's Insult ...


Professional peacekeeper-soldier, kindred spirit and civilised blog-mate, markfromireland sent us this.

An American company contracted to provide life insurance to British soldiers serving in Iraq is refusing to accept liability for the death of a military police officer because it does not accept that he died in service.

Captain Ken Masters, who led investigations into allegations of abuse against British troops in Basra, took his own life in October 2005 after the pressures of his position became too much for him. The coroner who presided over his inquest has asked the MoD to improve systems to deal with the kind of psychological damage he suffered.

But AIG, which by arrangement with the Army receives payments direct from soldiers' salaries, does not include psychological harm within its definition of "bodily injury" covered by its policy and has now told Captain Masters' widow, Alison, that she has no entitlement.
When we read the report in The Independent we were both shocked & sickened, and wondered what sort of shitty insurers this AIG, US crew were.

So we did a little digging -
and first of all, found the following.

AIG settles fraud case for $1.6 bln

Thu Feb 9, 2006 12:56 PM ET
By Ed Leefeldt

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American International Group Inc., the world's largest insurer by market value, on Thursday settled federal and state charges of fraud, bid-rigging and improper accounting for $1.64 billion.

The widely anticipated settlement ends a long-running investigation of the company by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and State Insurance Superintendent Howard Mills, along with federal authorities led by the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission.

But it does not resolve pending cases against former AIG Chief Executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg and former Chief Financial Officer Howard Smith, both of whom left AIG just before the charges were announced last year.

In settling, Spitzer pointed the finger directly at Greenberg and Smith, who have denied they did anything wrong.

"There are some who continue to deny there was any wrongdoing at the company," said Spitzer in an interview in New York City. "I think the facts laid out today are overwhelming in establishing that from the highest levels of AIG there was an intent to misrepresent the financial condition of the company." Spitzer said "transactions were entered into that were false, and there were flagrant violations of state and federal law designed to misrepresent the financial condition of the company."
When we decided we'd dig deeper, we unearthed what's underneath.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal and CNBC reported that Greenberg, 79, would step down as Chief Executive Officer of AIG this week, but stay on as non-executive chairman.

The reports came as AIG was under regulatory scrutiny. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is investigating allegations of bid-rigging and fraud in the industry, and two former AIG executives have pleaded guilty in the probe.

AIG said its board has taken no action and declined further comment about Greenberg, who in recent years has become unofficial leader of the industry.

His preeminence was sealed in 2001, as AIG pulled off one of the biggest insurance acquisitions ever, buying life insurer American General for $23 billion.

Greenberg's personal power came to the fore in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, as he led insurers to the White House to lobby President George W. Bush for federal support on future terror insurance claims. There was never any debate on who would lead the group.

The 5' 6" New Yorker reached the top with a steely glare and a soldier's vocabulary, inspiring fear and respect in equal measure.

Known to all as "Hank", after baseball Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, he revolutionized insurance by insisting on profits from selling policies, rather than relying on investment returns, like other firms.

He did it with an iron rule, barking at colleagues or calling them on Christmas day to query figures.
(snip)

FIERY TONGUE

Greenberg didn't charm his way to the top.

His has a military discipline and intimidates employees, competitors, analysts and the media.
(snip)

Journalists are generally below Greenberg's radar, but they get short shrift if they ask the wrong questions. "This will be the last time you and I ever speak," Greenberg told a London journalist, warning him not to ask questions about his family.
See the story yourself by scrolling down to headline #3 at this link.

Well, we don't know about you - but you can bet your life that we won't be giving any insurance business to this bunch of b******s.
Never. Ever.

To help you recognise him should you ever run across him (perhaps whilst driving your car - at speed), looking suitably smug below is the biggest 'boss of bosses' belonging to the above bunch - old Wank Hank Greenberg himself.

Incidentally, as almost all actuaries would agree -- according to current life insurance mortality tables, this old ogre could soon be deceased.


But we bet that as soon as he is, his own family's claim is paid out in full -- and paid out pretty pronto.



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16 February 2007

C.I.A. Italian-Job, Kidnapping Capers - And Much, Much More ...



MILAN, Italy - A judge Friday indicted 26 Americans and five Italians in the abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect on a Milan street in what would be the first criminal trial stemming from the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.

The judge set a trial date for June 8, although the Americans, who have all left the country, almost certainly will not be returned to Italy.
So, they almost certainly won't be sent over to Italy to stand trial, eh?

So what's new?

Since when was the CIA ever accountable to anyone, other than it's own big boss(es)?

You know the type we're talking about; those like ex C.I.A. boss of bosses such as George H.W.Bush -- before he became President of the United States -- as also, incidentally ( and so soon afterwards), did G.H.W.B and big Babs' own blue eyed boy, George W. Bush.

Two of 'em, eh? Out of three hundred million plus, possibles?


Well, perhaps we shouldn't worry too much. Maybe certain special families really are born lucky. Eh?

But back to the 'Italian job,' business of the day.

The CIA has refused to comment on the case, which has put an uncomfortable spotlight on its operations.

Prosecutors are pressing the Italian government to seek the extradition of the Americans. The previous government of Silvio Berlusconi refused, and Premier Romano Prodi's center-left government has yet to make its decision.

Even if a request is made for their extradition — a move bound to further strain U.S.-Italian relations — it was unlikely that the CIA agents would be turned over for trial abroad.

Yeah, like we said, we already knew they're always considered special cases -- way above and beyond any laws of any land.

Including their own land (of the free?). As well as those mentioned below.

Prosecutors elsewhere in Europe are moving ahead with cases aimed at the CIA program.

This week, the Swiss government approved prosecutors' plans to investigate the flight

Read the full AP report right here.

Oops!


Would you believe we almost forgot about this photo we found ... showing some other 'specialists' of their day ... in Bosnia, in 1999?


Nawrh ... never ... McCain could never become a president too ... nawrh ... it couldn't ever happen ... could it?

Finally, before we both bugger off -- how the hell could any specialist/covert/CIA kind of blog coverage be complete without including something this spectacularly special, from the forever fantastic Chris Floyd?

** Hefty hat-tips for the Floyd report go to Griffon in Oz and Mark A. in America.

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15 February 2007

Iraq, Iran And The Demopublican Party Plan ...

As our blog banner states, we say it as we see it - without exception.

So, here's how we're seeing things this afternoon.

While here's what we always foresaw.


Below, is how we've always seen Bush.


At last but by no means least -- here's 'our' Hilary.



Never has any woman we've ever known had so much to say -- but actually, always ended up saying so little. And most of the 'little' -- in the main, meant nothing.

Consider her latest kind of double-talking, crappy-quote, clap-trap.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton warned President Bush on Wednesday not to take any military action against Iran ...

What?

She warned him?

Bollix, brothers and sisters.

Read the 'small print'.

Because (as always), Hilary insists on inserting her individual 'insurance' rider.

... without getting congressional approval first.

Well, as far as we're concerned - when ever and where ever - Mrs Hilary Rodham Clinton is concerned -- riders are all too ruddy regular occurrences.

(snip)

Clinton, a member of the Armed Services Committee, voted in 2002 to give Bush the authority to use military force in Iraq ...

Here's where to go for more -- if you're a masochist.

Obviously, official-opposition-wise things are every bit as bad - on both sides of our ocean.

Let's face it friends, the fact is that these days we're all faced with only a one political party, choice.

In the UK it's 'New Tory'.

In the US it's 'Demopublican'.

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14 February 2007

Iran; The Bombing Begins ...



Let the great games begin.

On your marks.

Get ready.

Get steady ...

Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 09:32 GMT

Iranian bombing 'kills 11 people'
(snip)

Correspondents say an attack of this size and nature is unprecedented in Iran - hitting an elite force in broad daylight in an open street.
(snip)

Fars news agency says a small car overtook the bus and then stopped in front of it, the occupants saying it had broken down.

They were then picked up by motorcycles and taken away before the bomb planted in the car exploded, apparently triggered by remote control.
(snip)

Iranian officials have accused Britain and the United States of supporting ethnic minority rebels operating in the Islamic republic's sensitive border areas.

Read the rest of this report right here.

** To be continued.
You can bet your life on it.

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13 February 2007

Can America Afford All Its Wars?




Remember Osama bin Laden ?



A 'real' terrorist from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (for so long ruled so ruthlessly by the best of BushCo's Royal family friends), and most definitely not from either Iraq or Iran.


A truly terrible, mayhem making madman - who Saddam Hussein couldn't bear, wouldn't wear, and 'saw off' so many times - in no uncertain terms.

What a pity so many people have so plainly forgotten so much, in such a short time.

Well, we haven't.

Nor has Mister Eric Margolis.
The still elusive Osama bin Laden, who said the only way to expel US influence from the Muslim World was to bleed the US financially, must be beaming over the success of his grand strategy.
Now, while we've often found ourselves at odds with some of Eric's own opinions, we've never found fault with his fantastic flair for fact finding, nor with his amazing inborn ability to always amalgamate same - in his so well put together and so easy to understand, prime journalistic pieces.

More from Margolis.

The US government has just estimated that President George Bush’s occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and his so-called `war on terror,’ will cost at least $690 billion by the end of next year.

That’s more than the total cost to America of World War I, the Korean War, or Vietnam, and second only to the $2 trillion cost of World War II (in current dollars).

And there's more.

The whole sordid story of the 100,000 `private contractors’ employed by the US in Iraq has only begun to emerge. According to the US Government Accountability Office, at least 48,000 of these – let’s use the correct term, mercenaries - are private gunmen working for hundreds of shadowy US military corporations like Blackwater and Vinnell.

These heavily-armed desperados are a law unto themselves and under no supervision. Some of these mercenaries make US $1,000 daily in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Then there's this.

The White House wants to help pay for its foreign wars by slashing spending on health and seniors.

While the Washington DC police no longer dare patrol crime-infested southern parts of America’s capitol, President Bush and VP Cheney are sending the 82nd Airborne Division to try to pacify Baghdad.

If this isn’t the extreme theater of the absurd, I don’t know what is.

Here's the link. Head on over to Eric's place to read the rest.


* Yup. All those born with brains knew it all along.

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12 February 2007

Iran Set Up By US For Something Soon? Seen Some Of These Strange Stories?

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Well, now.

Flatten us -- with a flippin' feather duster.

Who'da hell'da thunked it, eh?

Isn't this all so strange?

That the bombs/armaments/explosives/etc, supposedly made in Iran and being sent to Iraq are all quite clearly marked in the English language? And that any accompanying numerals are also English/(Roman), ones?



And isn't it also strange - that the Brit military brass gave short-shrift to any such sorts of suspicions, quite some considerable time ago?

(snip) ..... there have been a number of news reports over the last year expressing scepticism, even among military personnel, about the link to Iran.

The Washington Post reported last October that British troops in the south doubted the claim.

A year ago, the London Times said that British officers in Basra had stopped making any such claim, saying only that the technology matched bomb-making found elsewhere in the Middle East, including Lebanon and Syria.


And isn't this Australia aired 'Voice of America' story, also strange?

Top American General Disputes US Military Claim on Iran

By Al Pessin
Canberra, Australia
12 February 2007

Pessin report - Download 416K
Listen to Pessin report

The top American military officer, General Peter Pace, declined Monday to endorse the conclusions of U.S. military officers in Baghdad, who told reporters on Sunday that the Iranian government is providing high-powered roadside bombs to insurgents in Iraq.

General Pace made his comments during a visit to Australia, and VOA's Al Pessin reports from Canberra.

Sometimes, certain things seem sooo strange that they're almost spooky -- eh?

'Course, what would we old codgers know?

Could quite easily be nothing more than another case of a couple or so, loosely related coincidences.

Eh?

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11 February 2007

All About Some 'Best Of British' Jews

Brit Professor Tony Judt.


For far too long (as far as we and many others are concerned), fear of falling foul of finger pointing fanatics shrieking accusations of anti-Semitism has stifled almost all sensible attempts at civilised and intelligent, Israel related discussion.

However, thanks to growing numbers of brave British Jews it seems things are finally beginning to change -- and change for the better.

This header from today's UK Observer (the Sunday version of the Guardian), should help those still 'in the dark' to get the general gist (in ultra-short-order-time), as to what is and has been, happening.


The new Jewish question

A furious row has been raging in the international Jewish community over the rights and wrongs of criticising Israel.

At its centre is a British historian who accuses his fellow Jews in the US of stifling any debate about Israel.

His opponents say his views give succour to anti-Semites. One thing's for sure: any appearance of consensus over the Middle East has been shattered.


Gaby Wood
Sunday February 11,
2007
The Observer
Here's a clip that's typical of this piece's thrust and content.

In the past two weeks, the Judt Affair has entered an entirely new gear. In an essay written by the Holocaust scholar Alvin Rosenfeld and published by the American Jewish Committee, Judt's views - and those of other 'progressive Jews' such as the American playwright Tony Kushner and the British academic Jacqueline Rose - were expressly linked to anti-Semitism.

That row was reported in the New York Times, giving it an unprecedented prominence, and since then the story has opened the floodgates of a debate that until now has been shrouded in fear.

Americans have long been in the grip of a cultural taboo that is characterised by Judt as follows: 'All Jews are silenced by the requirement to be supportive of Israel, and all non-Jews are silenced by the fear of being thought anti-Semitic, and there is no conversation on the subject.'

Erm, excuse us? Anti-Semitic Semites?


Isn't that about as barmy as labeling This Old Brit as anti-British? Or, Richard as an anti-radical?

Well, whatever. Examine another extract from the piece we're placing before you.

Judt tells a story about an Israeli journalist who was in Washington in the 1960s. 'The Israeli ambassador was retiring, and the journalist asked him what he thought was his biggest achievement. The ambassador said: "I've succeeded in beginning to convince Americans that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism."

There has been a progressive emergence of a conflation,' Judt explains. 'It didn't just happen naturally. And it was pushed quite actively in the Seventies and Eighties, to the point at which it became so normal in this country that it was for a while the default assumption. It's really only in the last five to eight years that it's started to be questioned.'

The actions of very pro-Israel Jewish organisations - for instance, making carefully placed phone calls relating to certain public speakers - are, Judt believes, now born of panic rather than confidence.

'They've lost control of the debate,' he says. 'For a long time all they had to deal with were people like Norman Finkelstein or Noam Chomsky, who they could dismiss as loonies of the left.

Now they're having to face, for want of a better cliché, the mainstream: people like me who have a fairly long established record of being Social Democrats (in the European sense) and certainly not on the crazy left on most issues, saying very
critical things about Israel.

They're not used to that, so their initial response has been to silence people if they could, and their second response has been to ratchet up the anti-Semitic charge.' Judt thinks it's telling that the New York Times 'is willing to report these issues and let reporters quote both sides. In the past, you would have had silence.'


We could not agree more wholeheartedly.

Moreover, we'd remind every honourable, honest man and woman - regardless of race, religion, creed or colour - that silence is the greatest sedition.

Read the rest of this awesome article and please, please, please pass this piece on.

Since suddenly it seems that at long last, there's a brilliant bright light appearing at the end of a long dark tunnel.

Therefore, it is imperative to see to it that none of those who have for so long been blinded by bigotry (be it by accident or by design), can any longer connive to convince any others otherwise.

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09 February 2007

President Putin Losing Patience : Raising Russian Military Spending ...



We saw a very sobering sort of story in this morning's Guardian. We're sure it's something special enough to be shared - as soon as possible - especially among our American amigos, states-side.

Here's the header.

Big rise in Russian military spending raises fears of new challenge to west·

Moscow anxious over US missile defence plans·

Hawkish minister outlines $189bn hardware revamp


Luke Harding in Moscow and Ian Traynor in Brussels
Friday February 9, 2007 --
The Guardian

Concerns were growing yesterday over a new bout of east-west confrontation, after Russia unveiled a big increase in military spending in the wake of the American decision to site parts of its controversial missile defence system in eastern Europe.
We don't know about such news causing 'concerns' but what we definitely do know is this; it certainly shouldn't come as a surprise.

We've both been expecting something like this for some considerable time now. Haven't you?


Put yourself in President Putin's place for a minute -- if you were he (or his defence minister, Sergie Ivanov), wouldn't you too, by now, be just about as bloody well browned by the BushBlairCo, crazy carryings on?

We know we would.

Here's more from the same story.

Russia's hawkish defence minister, Sergei Ivanov, revealed an ambitious plan for a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear submarines and possibly a fleet of aircraft carriers.

Moscow also intended to revamp its early warning radar system.

This major overhaul of Russia's military infrastructure would cost $189bn (£97bn) over eight years, he said, adding that he wanted to exceed the Soviet army in "combat readiness".

And here's some more.

Yesterday analysts said Moscow was worried the defence shield in eastern Europe could turn into a Trojan horse.

"This is irritating for Russia," said Yevgeny Miasnikov, a senior research scientist at Moscow's Centre for Arms Control.

"When the Soviet Union collapsed a vacuum was created in the countries of the former Warsaw bloc. The US has tentatively moved into the vacuum and is creating infrastructure that might
threaten Russia.

The Bush administration's system is not justified.


Read the rest of this revealing, Russia related report right here.

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07 February 2007

Anne Karpf : 'The Children Of The Holocaust ... '

I've just been talking on the phone to an aunt in Israel - a Holocaust survivor like my mother. After swapping news about the family, the subject of the Middle East came up.

Though our views sometimes overlap they also differ because, despite her strong criticism of the current Israeli government and despair over their incursion last year into Lebanon, she's ultimately a passionate defender of the state.

Our conversation was heated but never less than amicable: what struck me was how long it is since I've had such a vigorous exchange of views about the Middle East with other Jews in Britain with whom I disagree that didn't end with me being accused of something - from being self-hating, to undermining the very future of Judaism.
That wasn't either of one of us 'speaking' -- it was Anne Karpf.

She's a popular accomplished columnist in the (Saturday), Guardian's Family section, as well as a writer and broadcaster. She's also the author of the 'The Human Voice' (2006).

We like her.

Here's the header from Anne's piece from which we borrowed the bit we began with, above.
Children of the Holocaust

The more the Israeli government claims to act on behalf of all Jews, the more I feel obliged to make my dissenting voice heard.


February 7, 2007 04:00 PM
Did we mention how much we admire Anne?

Here's something else she has to say.

I draw inspiration from the long Jewish tradition of fighting for human rights, other people's as well as one's own: Jews have been prominent in virtually every major modern movement for civil rights and social equality.

I also refuse the idea of "our civil rights versus theirs", as though justice for Israelis and Palestinians were not only divisible but also mutually exclusive.

This is a form of polarisation beloved by those unwilling to expose their arguments to counter-evidence, who prefer slogans to dialogue, and who promote a false idea of winners and losers.

In my view this formulation has played a significant part in perpetuating the conflict in the Middle East.
Like we said -- we like this lady -- a lot.

We recommend accessing all of Anne's remarkable article here, so as to see for yourself if you rate her as highly as we do.

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06 February 2007

With Such American Allies, Who The Hell Needs Enemies ?

Coroner, Andrew Walker.

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Things go from bad to worse by the day -- nay -- better make that by the bloody minute.

Is it any wonder that under the US army of occupation in Iraq, that that whole unfortunate country is actually dying?

And, what's worse, it's dying a long drawn out, agonising death at that.

But what the hell else can be expected, if the mighty US military can't properly perform it's 'duties' -- even where it's own allies are concerned?

We Brits have a saying regarding (any/all), completely incompetent idiots. We say: "They couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery."

And never has that phrase applied more aptly than with regard to this latest (in a long, long line of), so-called friendly-fire, fatal fuck-ups.

Regular reader, commenter and military man of much personal experience, Mark from Ireland posted the following to our own previous blogpost. And, apart from some slight format editing we now (re)publish it right here in it's entirety -- exactly as he wrote it.

God help us all.

After all these years, our armed forces have been dragged right back in time; back to the bad old days of being 'Lions led by donkeys'.

markfromireland said...

THIS is the full transcript of the cockpit video from call sign POPOV36 during the disastrous friendly fire attack on the Household Cavalry patrol. Lasting just over 15 minutes, it begins just before the A-10 Thunderbolt pilot spots the four British
vehicles.


Link to video - BBC Radio 4 (You need realplayer for this).

Today's Top Story - The cockpit recording of a 2003 "friendly fire" incident, in which Lance Corporal Matty Hull died, has been leaked by the Sun. Were the US right to try and keep it secret?

IMO the Independent has the best summary: Cockpit tape exposes US friendly fire blunders By Nick Hodgson and Aislinn Simpson, PA Published: 06 February 2007

A cockpit recording of a US pilot opening fire on UK forces in Iraq was leaked today, exposing the errors that led to the death of a British soldier.

In the recording, the pilot of one of two US A-10 Thunderbolt jets involved in the attack says, after they realise their mistake: "We're in jail dude". The other pilot, who opened fire, weeps, saying: "God dammit."

The Sun newspaper today published the transcript after obtaining a tape of the recording of the moment that one of the jets launched two devastating attacks on a British armoured convoy, killing Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull.

The Ministry of Defence initially told L/Cpl Hull's family the recording did not exist, but it found its way into the hands of Oxford coroner Andrew Walker, who is hearing the inquest into the soldier's death.

Today the MoD refused to comment on the contents of the videotape. Last week Mr Walker adjourned the inquest in frustration at the MoD's failure to get the permission of the US authorities to use the recording in evidence.

The transcript reveals as many as six errors immediately before the attack near Basra in southern Iraq on March 28, 2003

The Guardian has this:

Bitter tales of combat mistakes There is a long military
history of deaths at the hands of 'friends', Peter Walker notes


And this:

The pilots clearly see orange panels on top of the vehicles, an indicator of coalition troops, but attack when ground controllers say there are no friendly forces nearby. But at the same time, the video gives little sign that the unnamed pilots, believed to be reservists with no previous combat experience, are the gung-ho would-be Top Guns of popular myth.

Richard you might like to take a look at this: MoD refuses to hand over video to Coroner

And more re; the Army Rumour Service forum.

** Note to those who don't know what that is. ARRSE is the British Army's UNOFFICIAL centre of military and civil current affairs, news, discussion, humour, jobs, photos and bullshit.

4:19 PM

markfromireland said...

I missed this one - sorry about all the links: A coroner who demanded the release of a cockpit video showing a US plane attacking a British convoy in Iraq will not have his contract renewed. Andrew Walker criticised the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for failing to clear the video to be shown at an inquest.

4:28 PM

It should go without saying that we are eternally grateful to Mark for all his effort, time, trouble, blood, sweat and tears when putting this piece together -- but we're going to say it anyway:

Mark, thank-you; ten thousand times over, mate

05 February 2007

The Shameful Way The British Army Supports It's Troops ...



We recently wrote regarding the terrible treatment some American soldiers have suffered (and in certain cases still are), courtesy of their own country's army.

Well, surprise, surprise; similarly sickening and equally shameful stories of British soldiers' suffering at the hands of the British Army have suddenly surfaced in the press.

Here's an example as seen in the Sunday Mirror.

4 February 2007

EXCLUSIVE : INJURED TROOPS SCANDAL

By Kate Mansey

A YOUNG woman soldier has told how she was left homeless and abandoned by the Army after suffering a mental breakdown following a tour of duty in Iraq.

Private Shirley Lumley, 23, was severely traumatised by a rocket blitz on her barracks. The attack shook the room where she was sleeping and seriously injured two of her comrades.

On her return to the UK she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and agoraphobia, and was unable to work. She also became pregnant, but miscarried.

Now she claims the Army failed to help her in any way.

The revelation comes after a Sunday Mirror investigation revealed thousands of soldiers who put their lives on the line have been left without pensions or adequate medical care.
And that's not all -- nor, it seems, is it anything new.

Wounded Brit soldiers being handed 'the shitty end of the stick' by their bosses looks to be a long standing practice.

Witness what happened to another 'war surplus', wounded soldier from Gulf War 1.

DAVE Corrigan, a TA soldier injured in the first Iraq war in 1991, claims he had to hitchhike 200 miles home from the RAF base in Bucks where the Army left him on his return to the UK.
We wonder why British politicians haven't insisted that the British Army should support their own troops?

Couldn't be just another clear-cut case of cold blooded ''cos it ain't cost effective' crap -- could it?

Or that they simply could not care less?

Our preceding three questions, of course, are completely rhetorical.

But we both bet you knew that.

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04 February 2007

Former US Military Top Brass Warn Against Attacking Iran ...



Today, the wider world is told via MSM that General Joseph Hoar (pictured left), a former commander-in-chief, US Central Command has publicly warned of the dire consequences should the United States attack Iran.

Steadfastly and unabashedly standing shoulder to shoulder with the general and saying it how they also see it, are two more former top brass military men.

They are:

Lt General Robert Gard, a former military assistant to the US defence secretary.

And, Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan, a former director of the Center for Defense Information.

The following is snipped from today's BBC report.

US ex-generals reject Iran strike

Three former high-ranking American military officers have warned against any military attack on Iran.

They said such action would have "disastrous consequences" for security in the Middle East and also for coalition forces in Iraq.

They said the crisis over Tehran's nuclear programme must be resolved through diplomacy, urging Washington to start direct talks with Iran.

Then they added that ...

... such action would further exacerbate regional and global tensions.

See for yourself some more of what's been said.

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02 February 2007

How America Supports Its Troops

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We're far from the only folk who have at some time or other been accused of not 'supporting the troops'.

Perhaps the accusers in question haven't heard this particular deceased US soldier's shocking story.

Here's an excruciating excerpt from same.

Jonathan Schulze was a United States Marine.

He died earlier this month at the age of 25 -- not in Iraq, but back home, in Minnesota.

He died of wounds received during his seven-month tour of duty in Iraq, wounds different from the ones that earned Schulze two purple hearts.

This young man died of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, of wounds to the soul and not the flesh.

He died because the government that was there to send him far away to fight in 2004 wasn't there for him when he got home.
See some more of the same.
"What happened that a young man who was a marine veteran with two Purple Hearts turns up at a VA center and says: I am thinking of committing suicide, can you help me, can you admit me, and he is told: No, the list is 26 long in front of you?"
Here's the entire heart-rending report.

Weep while you read.

Of course this oh-so-sad, sort of story isn't new. Nor is it unique.

Far from it in fact.

See this sorrowful website (to all intents & purposes, still semi-secret), which was set up by a US Vietnam veteran: The Suicide Wall.

But first steel yourself, since said suicide statistics are scandalous.

Not to mention frightening.

Nor diabolically deplorable, deeply disgusting nor just plain damned indefensible.

Nor, even close upon criminal.


Huge hat-tip to Harper (she knows who she is).

And, to Bob Geiger.

Also, David Ehrenstein.

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01 February 2007

Is A Blair 'Watergate' Wending It's Way Toward Downing Street?




We ain't saying nothing till we've seen our mouthpiece.

Know what we mean?

Nudge, nudge -- wink, wink -- say no more.

Incidentally, they're the words of we old pair, not of Great Leader Blair nor of Lord Levy.

It seems they would sooner stay schtum.

But the BBC's Nick Assinder isn't.

Seen what he's saying?

It is extraordinary enough that the prime minister has been interviewed for a second time by police in the cash-for-honours investigation.

It is just as extraordinary that the 45-minute conversation was kept secret for the best part of a week - particularly as there have been persistent claims that someone is leaking details of this probe.
And, Assinder asks:

Have the police now moved onto what is, in effect, a separate inquiry into a Watergate-style cover-up, as some are now claiming?

Does it all mean the inquiries, once believed to have been near completion, are now weeks away from a conclusion?

And has it increased or diminished the likelihood that charges will eventually be laid against individuals and, if so, at what level in the Labour Party or even the government?

Another Nick we know - BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson - has also been keeping a close eye on things --
and he's been blogging about them too.

Here's a quick clip & paste.

Lord Levy's refused to comment after his arrest on Tuesday but, he's always protested his innocence telling friends that "only one person can nominate people for honours and it isn't me".

I think we know what - and who - he's referring to.
Hmm.

Perhaps the plot thickens.

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