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  • 10 Amazing Stories of Incredibly Brave Indian Army Soldiers 10 Stories Of The Indian Army Heroes Will Make You Proud! Heroes are not born with a special power, they are ordinary people like us but do extraordinary things when the situation demands. Similarly, our brave Indian army soldiers have proved it time and again. There are lots of people who say bad things about our defence force, there is no surprise that we do have bad apples in our defence forces, but that is not we are going to talk in this article. This article is dedicated to the real heroes, soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country and its people. Read More: 10 Amazing Stories of Incredibly Brave Indian Army Soldiers | Part-2 [1] 1. Captain Anuj Nayyar Anuj Nayyar was an officer of the 17 Jat Regiment of the Indian Army, who was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, India s second highest gallantry award, for exemplary valour in combat during operations in the Kargil War in 1999. During the initial phase of assault, the Company Commander of Anuj's platoon was injured after which the command of the company fell on Captain Anuj Nayyar. After the initial setback, the Indian assault split into two groups, one led by Captain Vikram Batra and other by Anuj Nayyar. The Pakistani infiltrators had constructed several bunkers on Pt. 4875. Anuj's company located 4 enemy bunkers and charged the first bunker. During the assault, Anuj fired a Rocket propelled grenade and destroyed the first bunker. The company then charged towards the remaining 3 bunkers during which they came under heavy mortar fire from Pakistani infiltrators. However, under Anuj's leadership, the company cleared two more bunkers and engaged in numerous hand-to-hand combat. It was while clearing the 4th bunker, that an enemy RPG shell fell directly on Anuj killing him on the spot. This scene was dramatically portrayed in the film LOC Kargil. Soon after Anuj's death, the second Charlie Company, led by Captain Batra, successfully cleared the 4th bunker and secured Pt. 4875. The success of this mission was largely due to the bravery and leadership skills of Captain Anuj Nayyar. The success of this mission paved the way for the Indian recapture of Tiger Hill. 2. Colonel Neelakantan Jayachandran Nair Colonel Neelakantan Jayachandran Nair (popularly known as NJ ) was one of the outstanding and decorated officers of the Indian Army. Nair commissioned into 16 Maratha Light Infantry on 18 June 1971. In 1993, 16 Maratha Light Infantry was deployed in Nagaland. 20 Dec 1993 while heading an advance party of the battalion, his convoy was ambushed by Naga rebels. Col NJ Nair displayed indomitable courage in leading the attack personally to break the ambush and sacrificed his life defending his men. For his outstanding bravery, Colonel Neelakantan Jayachandran Nair was awarded with the Ashoka Chakra and Kirti Chakra. He is the only Indian to have won both the prestigious awards. 3. Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri Remember Sunny Deol in the movie Border? Public knowledge may be limited on this, but Deol's role was actually an adaptation of a real-life hero, Brigadier (Retd.) Kuldip Singh Chandpuri. Brigadier Kuldip Singh is known for his exemplary display of leadership skills during the Battle of Longewala, for which he was awarded the second highest gallantry award of the land, the Maha Vir Chakra. Brigadier Kuldip Singh MVC, VSM is a retired officer in the Indian Army. He is known for his heroic leadership in the famous Battle of Longewala, for which he was awarded Maha Vir Chakra by the Government of India. Serving as Major at that time, Mr Singh led his soldiers to defend his Longewala post in Rajasthan against the attack by the Pakistani Army during the early phase of the Indo-Pak War of 1971. Longewala was manned by 120 soldiers of the Alfa Company of the 23rd Battalion of the Punjab Regiment, under Major Singh's command. The soldiers fought against mammoth odds, battling Pakistan's 4 infantry battalions and the 22nd Armoured Regiment. The attack came at 12:30 AM and lasted entire night until help came in the guise of Indian Air Force the next morning. Even though the 23rd Battalion was heavily outnumbered, they persevered and held off the enemy for hours. The IAF then swooped in to destroy 26 tanks and a large number of Pakistan's Armoured Regiment Carriers. 4. Gurbachan Singh Salaria There are Indians, who have sacrificed their lives in other countries. Among such heroes, Chief Gurbachan Singh Salaria will be always remembered for his sacrifices. After Belgium left Congo, the UN interceded to stop a civil war raging through the African nation. Gurbachan Singh Salaria was a part of the UN s group to spare the nation from Katangese rebels. He died at a very young age of 26 and that too in an unknown land. Indian government honored Chief Salaria with the Param Vir Chakra, India s most astounding wartime military honor, for his grit in the Congo War in 1961. Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria, PVC (born 29 November 1935; Gurdaspur, Punjab 5 December 1961) is a military war hero, who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India s highest wartime military award. In the 1988 television serial Param Vir Chakra by Chetan Anand, Captain G.S. Salaria was played by actor Brando Bakshi. 5. Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat is an extra-ordinary symbol of bravery. He was a legend in the Indian Army. During Indo- China War of 1962, he was a part of the Fourth Battalion of the Garhwal Rifles. During the war, they were asked to retreat from their position, due to heavy casualty and circumstances. But, Jaswant Singh Rawat stayed back to fight against the Chinese. He fought against them with the utmost intelligence and courage. With the help from two Monpa tribal girls named Sela and Nura, he set up weapons at separate points and maintained a volume of fire that fooled the Chinese into believing that they were faced with a huge battalion. This went on for three days and it frustrated the Chinese. But, when Chinese captured the man who was supplying rations to Jaswant, Jaswant Singh Rawat shot himself in the head, knowing that he would be captured soon. The Chinese became furious when they learned that they were fighting a lone soldier and then they cut off his head and carried it back to China. However, after the ceasefire, the Chinese commander, impressed by the soldier s bravery, returned the head along with a brass bust of Jaswant Singh. The bust, created in China to honor the brave Indian soldier, is now installed at the site of the battle. Sela died in a grenade burst and Nura was captured. Jaswant Singh Rawat is the only soldier in the long history of the Indian army, who is known to have risen through the ranks after his death, and this rifleman has been promoted to the rank of Honorary Captain. This great son of India was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra (posthumous). 6. Captain Vikram Batra Captain Vikram Batra, another hero of Kargil War. He was the key person to recover Peak 5140 situated at a height of 17,000 feet from the enemy. Captain Batra recaptured the Peak 5140 from the enemy. He died in a counterattack by the enemy. Captain Vikram Batra died while saying the words Jai Mata Di . Captain Batra is also well known in India for using the slogan, Yeh Dil Maange More as his signal to communicate mission success. He was famously known as Sher Shah in the intercepted messages of the Pakistan army. Actor Abhishek Bachchan played Batra s part in the film LOC Kargil. Captain Vikram Batra was posthumously awarded with the Param Vir Chakra, India s highest and most prestigious award for valour, for his actions during the 1999 Kargil War in Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Captain Vikram Batra, PVC (9 September 1974 7 July 1999) was an officer of the Indian Army, posthumously awarded with the Param Vir Chakra, India s highest and prestigious award for valour, for his actions during the 1999 Kargil War inKashmir between India and Pakistan. 7. Arun Kumar Vaidya This Maha Vir Chakra awardee was part of the action during the 1965 war with Pakistan at the Battle of Chawinda where the first Armored Division of the enemy was destroyed. In 1971, Arunkumar Vaidya navigated a dangerous landscape loaded with mines and pushed ahead to refute the Pakistani counter-assault in the the battles of Chakra and Dahira. In the same clash, in the Battle of Barapind, he appropriated tanks crosswise over minefields and got his second Maha Vir Chakra. In 1984, he planned Operation Blue Star, which sought to evict Sikh militants hidden inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar. 8. Nand Singh During World War 2, Nand Singh led his troops up a steep ridge in Burma and captured major trenches despite carrying multiple injuries. In 1947, upon Independence, he took part in India s first war with Pakistan. In the same year, he got severely injured in Uri, after which his body was paraded in Pakistan and thrown into a dump. Sadly, his body was never recovered. Nand Singh has the distinction of receiving the British Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. 9. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan Sandeep Unnikrishnan (15 March 1977 28 November 2008) was an officer in the Indian Army serving in the elite Special Action Group of the National Security Guards. He was killed in action during theNovember 2008 Mumbai attacks. He was consequently awarded the Ashoka Chakra, India s highest peace time gallantry award, on 26 January 2009. Do not come up, I will handle them. These were probably the last words spoken by Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan to his men as he was hit by bullets while engaging terrorists inside the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during the Black Tornado operation in the Mumbai attacks in 2008. Unnikrishnan was a Major in the Indian Army serving in the elite National Security Guards (NSG). During the operation, when a commando got injured, Major Unnikrishnan arranged for his evacuation and started chasing the terrorists himself. It was during this chase that he got seriously injured and succumbed to his injuries. 10. Lt. Arun Khetarpal During the 1971 Indo-Pak war, 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal s 17 Poona Horse was ordered to construct a bridge across Basantar river, in the Shakargarh region near the international border with the 47th Indian Infantry Brigade. After building it, engineers were to crack the enemy mine-field. Half-way through, the enemy raided. Even though the mine fields were partly cleared, the regiment advanced, not having considered what laid ahead. By the first light of December 16th, 1971, the army established a link-up at the bridge for the tanks to pass. At 8am, a Pakistani regiment, sufficiently armoured, confronted the Indian troops. Our troops being outnumbered, the Commander of the squadron requested assistance from 2nd Lt. Khetarpal, who was close to the battle-field. As soon as the request was relayed, Kheterpal got into enemy s neck to clean it all! On the way, he overran some strong points and captured many soldiers. During this, his group s second tank was attacked and the commander was killed, leaving him alone fighting the Pakistanis. But Kheterpal single-handedly went on to ambush the area with his tank. The tank battle followed and 2nd Lt. Khetarpal destroyed four tanks. The Pakistanis then wrecked the other two following tanks and also bombed his tank, flaming it up. Khetarpal, not giving it up, went on to destroy rest of the tanks; after which his own tank blew up. The fearless officer met his death refuting the enemy to step on his land.When his tank was flamed up, the commander of his troop had ordered him to abandon the burning tank, but he proclaimed. Read Also: 1. 10 Amazing Stories of Incredibly Brave Indian Army Soldiers | Part-2 [2] 2. Top 20 Best Quotes From Indian Army Soldiers | Awesome Inspirational Saying [3] 3. Mind-Blowing War Tricks: 1965 India Pakistan War -Destroying Tanks With Water [4] Salute to this super heroes and their respective parents who gave birth to those super heroes . H/T: indiatimes.com References ^ 10 Amazing Stories of Incredibly Brave Indian Army Soldiers | Part-2 (www.reckontalk.com) ^ 10 Amazing Stories of Incredibly Brave Indian Army Soldiers | Part-2 (www.reckontalk.com) ^ Top 20 Best Quotes From Indian Army Soldiers | Awesome Inspirational Saying (www.reckontalk.com) ^ Mind-Blowing War Tricks: 1965 India Pakistan War -Destroying Tanks With Water (www.reckontalk.com)
  • 10 Goofball Military Antics That Went Way Too Far History [1] 10 Infamous Witch-Hunters From History [2] October 7, 2015 Weird Stuff [3] 10 Goofball Military Antics That Went Way Too Far [4] October 7, 2015 Creepy [5] 10 Lesser-Known Military Installations Of Conspiracy Lore [6] October 7, 2015 Misconceptions [7] 10 Silver Linings Behind Awful Devastation [8] October 6, 2015 Movies and TV [9] 10 Amazing Videos About Incredibly Unique Places [10] October 6, 2015 Space [11] 10 Soviet Space Firsts That Got Buried In The History Books [12] October 6, 2015 Our World [13] 10 Lost Treasures And The Awesome Ways We re Getting Them Back [14] October 5, 2015 Animals [15] 10 Crazy Facts About Crocodilians [16] October 5, 2015 History [17] 10 Odd Obsessions Of Odious Autocrats [18] October 5, 2015 History [19] 10 Revealing Letters Written By Famous People [20] October 4, 2015 History [21] 10 Infamous Witch-Hunters From History [22] October 7, 2015 Weird Stuff [23] 10 Goofball Military Antics That Went Way Too Far [24] October 7, 2015 Creepy [25] 10 Lesser-Known Military Installations Of Conspiracy Lore [26] October 7, 2015 Misconceptions [27] 10 Silver Linings Behind Awful Devastation [28] October 6, 2015 Movies and TV [29] 10 Amazing Videos About Incredibly Unique Places [30] October 6, 2015 Space [31] 10 Soviet Space Firsts That Got Buried In The History Books [32] October 6, 2015 Our World [33] 10 Lost Treasures And The Awesome Ways We re Getting Them Back [34] October 5, 2015 Animals [35] 10 Crazy Facts About Crocodilians [36] October 5, 2015 History [37] 10 Odd Obsessions Of Odious Autocrats [38] October 5, 2015 History [39] 10 Revealing Letters Written By Famous People [40] October 4, 2015 Weird Stuff [41] A.C. Grimes [42] October 7, 2015 If anyone understands the value of sober discipline, it s those in the military. They re sometimes asked to confront and endure unthinkable horrors with superhuman courage and composure. But even veritable fighting machines succumb to immature and sometimes idiotic whims. And as you re about to see, that can result in flagrantly inappropriate antics. 10 A Young Arnold Schwarzenegger (Allegedly) Instigates A Dangerous Tank Race Members of the armed forces know full well not to use tanks as playthings. But every so often, a rascally soldier takes one of those mechanized death-mobiles out for a high-octane joyride. One of those military imps was Arnold Schwarzenegger. During an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, the Terminator-turned-Governator-turned-Terminator-again regaled the audience with a story about the time he supposedly embarked on a late-night tank race as a soldier in the Austrian Army. The future film icon challenged a friend to speed downhill in two different models of tank to see which was faster. The pair plowed blindly into bushes and trees toward nowhere in particular. But as irresponsible an escapade as this already was, according to Schwarzenegger, the insanity of the competition was punctuated by his own act of incredibly reckless endangerment. The star who of course won in his telling also recalled, I beat him even though he had the more modern tank, but I realized the whole infantry, 15 guys that were standing on top of the tank, I totally forgot to tell them to get off. They were holding on and then they were falling off. I heard the screams the whole time [43] . For his careless tank play, the future Mr. Universe was forced to trudge through a mud obstacle course for six hours. After attaining celebrity, Schwarzenegger sought out and purchased the vehicle that got him into trouble and made a point to show it off at charity events. 9 Multiple Soldiers Steal Military Vehicles Ex-military celebs aren t the only people with over-the-top driving stories. Sometimes, the part of vehicular thrill-seeker is played by an average Joe with above-average boldness. And sometimes, that boldness ends in a well-deserved arrest. Take, for example, a certain 18-year-old soldier at Camp Hohne in Germany. In 2009, the British Army soldier one day had too many drinks and too little supervision. He commandeered a tank-like reconnaissance vehicle called a Scimitar but quickly totaled it. Then he went back, stole another Scimitar [44] , and began driving toward the Lower Saxon city of Bergen. The soldier s drunken drive turned sour when he nearly ran over a civilian and then crossed paths with a patrol vehicle. After running the police car off the road, he careened into a tree, halting his Bergen-bound rush. He was immediately arrested. He isn t the first soldier to pull such a crazy heist. In 1987, an Army private at Colorado s Fort Carson base teamed up with a retired soldier to steal a 27-ton, self-propelled howitzer and lead police on a 120-kilometer (75 mi) chase. Motivated by the retiree s desire to go to war [45] , the duo hopped into a metal behemoth and fled the base. With dozens of police cars on their tail, they reached Denver before their vehicle went kaput. At the end of the great howitzer hijacking, the culprits were cuffed, and the vehicle was ticketed by a good-humored policeman. 8 California s National Guard Okays A Helicopter Joyride Under The Golden Gate Bridge An HH-60 Pave Hawk is a repurposed Army Black Hawk helicopter employed in rescue missions by both the US Air Force and National Guard. They have a minimum cloud ceiling [46] of 200 meters (700 ft), so when clouds hang lower than that, it s safer to keep those iron hummingbirds grounded. But according to footage from an NBC News investigation, on a foggy day at San Francisco Bay, 40 members of California s National Guard rode five Pave Hawks under the Golden Gate Bridge through a thicket of fog [47] . For perspective, California s most iconic landmark stands just 227 meters (746 ft) tall and leaves a scant 75-meter (245 ft) air buffer between the roadway and the unforgiving ocean below. According to a veteran military pilot asked to weigh in on the flight, flying under the bridge in foggy weather was risky and unnecessary. Almost as disconcerting was the alleged reason for this helicopter outing. According to anonymous sources, the National Guardsmen were on an incentive flight, which is a pat on the head for exemplary work. That metaphorical gold sticker was doled out by two senior leaders of the group. Commanding officers Thomas Keegan and Matthew Wenthe, who guided the helicopter quintet under the Golden Gate, saw no consequences beyond a letter of reprimand to Wenthe. Both were later promoted. According to NBC s findings, this kind of leniency was part of a larger permissiveness corroding the integrity of California s National Guard. Despite having a resplendent history of service, the organization also seemed to have a pattern [48] of failing to address sexual harassment, sexual assault, and racism within its ranks. 7 German Soldiers Mock The Dead There are few occasions outside of Halloween and Hamlet when a human skull makes for an entertaining prop. A war zone is not one of them. So it s no surprise that in 2006 German troops stationed in Afghanistan infuriated Germans at home when they were shown engaging in macabre photoshoots [49] with human remains from a mass grave. Leaked by German tabloid Bild Zeitung , the pictures told a story of blithe indifference to death. In one image, a soldier is seen kissing a skull balanced on his flexed bicep. In another, a skull is mounted next to a serviceman s jauntily exposed penis. In various other photos, bones are positioned to spell out the names of soldiers. That kind of behavior flew in the face of the German military s reputation for discipline and humanitarian endeavors, and the public was incensed. The 2006 scandal wasn t a behavioral outlier. Over the three years German troops had been deployed to Afghanistan, posing with human remains became a not only a popular pastime but a social rite. According to one soldier, refusing to join in would brand a serviceman as overly squeamish. Soldiers from other nations were also alleged to have taken part. Germany s government, however, was unsympathetic to concerns of peer pressure and furthermore feared that such blatant disrespect to the dead would invite retaliatory violence from terrorists. Two soldiers were suspended, and Germany s conspicuously vexed chancellor, Angela Merkel, promised severe penalties [50] for the misconduct. But as an American Iraq War veteran commented on Deutsche Welle, corpse defilement is par for the course for people in war zones. Punishing that would be like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500 [51] . 6 Military Personnel Cause Airport Security Scares Most of us would probably dismiss the urge to stage an airport security breach as hopelessly stupid. That wasn t true for Matthew Monaghan. In 2008, the 19-year-old British Army soldier intentionally caused a ruckus at Edinburgh Airport using fake weapons and poor forethought. At the time, he and three friends were concluding a prank-filled trip to Scotland. Looking to go out with a humorous bang, Monaghan and another friend planted a water gun and a toy pistol [52] in the luggage of their two travel buddies. Airport security somehow failed to notice the gun-shaped objects during baggage screenings, so Monaghan decided to draw the worst kind of attention to them. Monaghan yanked the water gun from his friend s bag and waved it around. Security officers descended on the four men, at which point Monaghan proudly announced that his other buddy [had] a gun, too, without specifying that the gun was a toy. The airport responded to this jest by booting Monaghan and friends off their flight. Monaghan was also jailed for three days. Joining Monaghan on the list of airport patrons who should really know better was US Air Force airman Jeremy Sawyer. In September 2013, just five months after the Boston Marathon bombing, the 30-year-old entered Boston s Logan International Airport to discover that the United Service Organizations (USO) lounge was closed. Miffed and evidently feeling mischievous, Sawyer quipped, What am I supposed to do with this pressure cooker [53] ? before launching into a rant about the Boston bombing and military leave. Sawyer was arrested and released on $2,500 bail. A judge later let Sawyer off the hook after he owned up to his dumb outburst. 5 West Point Cadets Turn A Pillow Fight Into A Minor Blood Bath West Point Military Academy prides itself on producing both great soldiers and great leaders [54] . Its list of esteemed alumni includes historical juggernauts like Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Dwight Eisenhower [55] . Given such bona fides, it s natural to expect that West Point enrollees are superlatively responsible or at least not the sort to wail on each other with helmets for fun. But during a school-sanctioned pillow fight gone awry, that s precisely what happened. West Point s tradition of having cadets bop each other with head cushions dates back to 1897. The fight is used as a freshman-year bonding exercise that punctuates a summer of arduous basic training. For most of the school s history, the tradition hasn t had a problem with injuries. When conducted properly, pillow fights are generally low-risk affairs. West Point s 2015 freshman class, however, turned the event into a bloody scrum. Some cadets, heeding the instructions of upperclassmen who were supervising the event, wore protective helmets or even came clad in body armor. But others stuffed their helmets into pillow cases to wield as makeshift cranium-crackers. At least 30 freshmen were injured; 24 ended up with concussions. Multiple cadets were clocked unconscious or suffered dislocated shoulders and, according to some participants, one left with a broken leg. Despite serious injuries, some cadets reveled in the brutality. One upperclassman doted on a freshman who, despite getting knocked out, got up swinging. In the words of one freshman, If you don t come back with a bloody nose, you didn t try hard enough [56] . While students were plenty vocal, school officials remained tight-lipped. In the end, no cadets appeared to have been punished, unless you count the self-inflicted loss of brain cells. 4 A British Soldier Pulls Over Unsuspecting Drivers In An Overdone Prank Aydn Walster was a 22-year-old lance bombardier in the British Army who had served in Afghanistan. But in addition to being a dutiful young soldier, he was a real stickler about driving. In fact, Walster s passion for road safety drove him to jokingly halt fellow soldiers at his barracks when he deemed their driving subpar. Unfortunately, the joke didn t end at the border of his social circle. Instead, after pranking his friends Walster started targeting random civilians. Because lance bombardiers aren t exactly known for their ticketing powers, Walster passed himself off as a cop. To bolster the guise, he purchased some flashing blue lights [57] on eBay and fitted them to his Saab. With his car convincingly accessorized, Walster began stopping allegedly delinquent drivers on the road, going so far as to record their names and addresses in a notebook. He even once asked a driver to take a seat in the back of his cop car as if being detained. The soldier might have been milking this joke for every last yuck, but everyone else had already stopped laughing. A skeptical driver following Walster in a separate car reported him to the police, who promptly arrested the bombardier for impersonating a police officer. Walster was later fined 835 and was confronted with the extremely unfunny prospect of being ousted from the military. 3 An Idle Sergeant Blows Up An ATM In 1988, Russel Spahr of White Oak, Pennsylvania, was a newly minted sergeant in the US Army. Over the course of a six-year career, he had impressed superiors with a winning combination of smarts, diligence, and dependability. He was, in the words of his commanding officer, a solid soldier who was well on his way to reaching the upper echelons of the Army. But Spahr s stellar aspirations were permanently eclipsed when he exploded a bank ATM for fun. It was summer, and Spahr was at home on leave. The sergeant had been drinking and sagely decided that blowing a cash machine to kingdom come was just the thing to do. Luckily for him, he had conveniently smuggled a grenade simulator off base. A firecracker packed with black powder, the device served as a stand-in for actual hand grenades during training exercises. And Spahr was about to test its potency in a civilian environment. At about 2:00 AM, he moseyed down to a local bank and chose an automated victim. The explosion obliterated the ATM and blasted a hole in one of the bank s walls [58] . Spahr s career was the only casualty. He was discharged from the army, much to the dismay of those who had hoped to promote him. He was also slapped with five years probation and ordered to cover the bank s $4,275 repair fee. 2 A Soldier s Fire Extinguisher Prank Has Horrible Repercussions It s often said that tragedy plus time equals comedy, but in 2006 a moment of instant slapstick created lasting tragedy. Like many of the antics on this list, the disaster of this entry was inspired by an alcoholic muse, but the consequences were unforeseeable. Welsh Army private Gavin Williams got royally blitzed off booze during a regimental ball and unloaded a fire extinguisher on the guest of Captain Mark Davis. That drunken trespass ultimately cost Private Williams his life. The morning after his infraction, Williams was called in to see Captain Davis, but there was a catch. Davis wanted Williams physically spent for their meeting, allegedly to make the potentially aggressive private more docile. According to some witnesses, Davis demanded that Williams be brought before him panting like a dog. Purportedly, that request was an unofficial blessing to subject Williams to a beasting [59] , a grueling workout implemented as punishment in an unofficial capacity. Three officers marched the 22-year-old at a quick pace for an hour in the summer sun while he toted a cumbersome rucksack. The soldier was then forced to do a half-hour of intense gym exercises. So overtaxing was Private Williams s ordeal that his body temperature rose 5 degrees Celsius (9 F) above normal. Imploding under the strain, he collapsed repeatedly and pleaded for relief. But even then he was forced to do overhead thrusts with a gym bag while marching to the hospital for treatment. The soldier later died of heat stroke [60] . Captain Davis and the officers in charge of Williams s lethal workout were charged with manslaughter, but all were eventually cleared. In 2014, an inquest was opened to detail the circumstances of the private s unceremonious passing. 1 Australian Special Ops Commandos Take Ridiculous Risks In Afghanistan Pop culture tells us that war is a series of epic battles interspersed with moments of somber reflection, heartwarming friendship, and intense fear. Rarely do we imagine the outtakes of these real-life horror shows to involve the kind of brazen tomfoolery you d see on Jackass . But a DVD series [61] featuring members of Australia s Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) showed that soldiers in perilous circumstances can handily outdo Johnny Knoxville. Elegantly titled The Fist , the DVD series was created by a former SOTG commando who had gone into video and film production. It features servicemen stationed in Afghanistan while at their most debauched and dangerously playful. Liquored-up commandos are seen fighting, fishing with grenades while swimming, and hitting golf balls while potentially vulnerable to enemy attack. At various junctures in the videos, they exercise or sun themselves in enemy territory without protective armor. In one particularly egregious stunt, the commandos sent a boulder rolling downhill into a civilian road. This cavalcade of immaturity and bad decisions may not have been costless. According to a member of Australian National University s Strategic Defense Center, inattention to procedure cost the Australian forces at least two lives in Afghanistan. Yet despite wantonly jeopardizing their own and fellow soldiers safety, the rambunctious servicemen appear to have gotten off scot-free. The Australian Army claimed some commandos were duly disciplined, but a Defense Ministry probe showed that to be blatantly untrue [62] . Of course, when one s job is to live through hell, even horrific misconduct might seem rather forgivable. References ^ History (listverse.com) ^ 10 Infamous Witch-Hunters From History (listverse.com) ^ Weird Stuff (listverse.com) ^ 10 Goofball Military Antics That Went Way Too Far (listverse.com) ^ Creepy (listverse.com) ^ 10 Lesser-Known Military Installations Of Conspiracy Lore (listverse.com) ^ Misconceptions (listverse.com) ^ 10 Silver Linings Behind Awful Devastation (listverse.com) ^ Movies and TV (listverse.com) ^ 10 Amazing Videos About Incredibly Unique Places (listverse.com) ^ Space (listverse.com) ^ 10 Soviet Space Firsts That Got Buried In The History Books (listverse.com) ^ Our World (listverse.com) ^ 10 Lost Treasures And The Awesome Ways We re Getting Them Back (listverse.com) ^ Animals (listverse.com) ^ 10 Crazy Facts About Crocodilians (listverse.com) ^ History (listverse.com) ^ 10 Odd Obsessions Of Odious Autocrats (listverse.com) ^ History (listverse.com) ^ 10 Revealing Letters Written By Famous People (listverse.com) ^ History (listverse.com) ^ 10 Infamous Witch-Hunters From History (listverse.com) ^ Weird Stuff (listverse.com) ^ 10 Goofball Military Antics That Went Way Too Far (listverse.com) ^ Creepy (listverse.com) ^ 10 Lesser-Known Military Installations Of Conspiracy Lore (listverse.com) ^ Misconceptions (listverse.com) ^ 10 Silver Linings Behind Awful Devastation (listverse.com) ^ Movies and TV (listverse.com) ^ 10 Amazing Videos About Incredibly Unique Places (listverse.com) ^ Space (listverse.com) ^ 10 Soviet Space Firsts That Got Buried In The History Books (listverse.com) ^ Our World (listverse.com) ^ 10 Lost Treasures And The Awesome Ways We re Getting Them Back (listverse.com) ^ Animals (listverse.com) ^ 10 Crazy Facts About Crocodilians (listverse.com) ^ History (listverse.com) ^ 10 Odd Obsessions Of Odious Autocrats (listverse.com) ^ History (listverse.com) ^ 10 Revealing Letters Written By Famous People (listverse.com) ^ Weird Stuff (listverse.com) ^ A.C. Grimes (listverse.com) ^ I heard the screams the whole time (www.hollywood.com) ^ another Scimitar (www.thelocal.de) ^ go to war (articles.latimes.com) ^ cloud ceiling (www.af.mil) ^ thicket of fog (www.nbclosangeles.com) ^ pattern (www.nbcbayarea.com) ^ macabre photoshoots (www.spiegel.de) ^ promised severe penalties (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500 (www.dw.com) ^ planted a water gun and a toy pistol (www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com) ^ this pressure cooker (www.cbsnews.com) ^ great soldiers and great leaders (www.westpoint.edu) ^ Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Dwight Eisenhower (www.westpoint.edu) ^ you didn t try hard enough (www.nytimes.com) ^ flashing blue lights (www.lincolnshireecho.co.uk) ^ hole in one of the bank s walls (news.google.com) ^ beasting (www.salisburyjournal.co.uk) ^ died of heat stroke (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ DVD series (www.smh.com.au) ^ blatantly untrue (www.smh.com.au)
  • 10 Things That Happened at Milan Fashion Week ... on March 2, 2016 According to many and most, Milan Fashion Week is back in a very Italian, so very big, way. Although the va-va-voom of the country s fashion sense may be turning toward slightly subtler and arguably more intellectual designs, the runway is still packed with showstoppers, the world s most beautiful models, high drama and exquisite tailoring. Here were some of our favorite moments from Milan Fashion Week Fall 2016. 2. Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi lunched with the fashion elite on the first day of MFW. Giorgio Armani, Diego Della Valle (of Fay and Tod s), Renzo Rosso (of Maison Margiela and DIESEL), Donatella Versace, Anna Dello Russo, Anna Wintour and Valentino s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli all gathered to discuss the future of the fashion industry in The Boot over a (probably pretty tasty) meal. 3. Gigi Hadid had a wardrobe malfunction during her walk down a very lengthy runway at an otherwise reserved Versace show. Pro that she is, her nip slip didn t cause the lovely model to trip up in the slightest, and the dress still looked divine. 4. Dolce&Gabbana spun a happily ever after for their fall collection. Not only were the clothes the stuff of fantasy, but the set evoked a fairy-tale read to millions of women who remember having aspired to princess status although there were soldier boys, princes, beasts and some stepmother looks too. 5. Teeny-tiny mini bags on the streets and on runways like Fendi were certainly a trend this Milan Fashion Week. Now, what to keep in there? And where to stash the rest of your stuff? 6. It was raining, but that didn t keep fashion at bay . Perhaps the most ubiquitous accessory this MFW was a colorful or just reliable umbrella. 7. Alessandro Michele s geek chic at Gucci inspired the most pixels in the press again this season. Not only was his luxe and scholarly fall collection almost universally applauded, but Michele then jetted to Los Angeles to attend the Oscars [1] with Gucci spokesman Jared Leto . 8. Milan Fashion Week was a couples event . We saw pretty pairs all over the streets and at the shows. A couple that goes to shows together, well, they seem happy. 9. Texture is obviously a big story in the fall, and so it should come as no surprise that rich materials like fur, suede and velvet (Roberto Cavalli and Giorgio Armani) were all over the runway. Embroidery, too, is popping up on dresses and separates (Fendi and Gucci). And the styling would suggest that mixing two or three of these tactile trends hits the mark. 10. There s nothing like a sharp dressed woman. Suit coats were a mainstay on the runway , with Bottega Veneta s polished pairings ushering the 70s aesthetic to Bianca Jagger s Le Smoking levels of tailoring. References ^ Michele then jetted to Los Angeles to attend the Oscars (fashionista.com)
  • 171 - Finished: Tracks, But Not Tank Ones Home [1] hornby [2] 171 - Finished: Tracks, But Not Tank Ones Hello again and welcome to the final, finished layout. If you are unaware of what we've been up to please take a look at the previous posts: Part 1 [3] , Part 2 [4] , Part 3 [5] , Part 4 [6] and Part 5 [7] . I'd like to start by thanking everyone who has read through any or all parts of this build. What started out as something to give my dad back his hobby has escalated slightly and my brother-in-law and I have gone way beyond our initial plans for this project. Read on to see what we have accomplished. Let's start with the main station. Here you can see all three loops approaching the "town" station. The station was made up with a combination of platform pieces, station pieces and the canopy pieces which look awesome. We might try and extend the canopy over the outer loop and siding. You can also see the passengers on the platform and the marshalling yard in the distance. This is looking back at the main station., sorry for the leftover tools etc that are scattered next to it - we haven't worked out what to do with this area as it may be where the controllers are set up. The siding on the left that comes off the outer loop is long enough for 4/5 coaches. Continuing on round and we've got the completed marshalling yard (minus a couple of accessories). The incline on the outer loop is missing some track side fencing, which wasn't in with the rest of the pieces, so we'll add this later. There are a few buildings dotted around, including a loading bay, but the final positions may get changed. This gives you all a bit of a better view of the yard. The long sidings can fit 4 carriages and the shorter sidings will hold plenty of rolling stock or loco's. The two locomotives are from my dad's collection (of over 40 loco's). After a bit of oiling they were running perfectly. The only problem is the incline proving to be a challenge for tender driven trains. There are a few fixes we're working on including a "ghost" car, which is a motorised wagon at the end of the train. On one of the long sidings is the PECO rerailer, which will be used by dad to get the trains on the track. It may get some further modification once he's used it a while. Carry on up the incline and you hit a small village made up of a cafe, some houses and a church with graveyard. There is also a signal box overlooking one end of the marshalling yard. The hill frontage was covered with brick effect paper and brick effect plastic (the copydex was still drying when the photos were being taken). The hill sections were given a dusting of Halford's Peugeot Conifer green and Halford's Rover Maple brown along with areas of green flock mix and brown flock. Another shot looking across the tracks from the hill top and one looking along the swing out section. We had lots of sheep to dot around and figured we'd split them up across the hill and fields. There are also cows on the other side of the river. Finally a shot looking at the hill top home as the occupant attempts to coax the goat back in to the garden. We tried to create a few little scenes within the layout. There is an interview occurring on the main station platform to name another. Thank you all for taking the time out to read/look through this series of posts. My dad has had a few opportunities to use the layout and so far the feedback has been good. We still have plans for a few other additions, the first of which will be backdrops all the way around the board. Part of this is for aesthetic reasons and part is in case there is a derailment - we weren't sure if dad would be happy with hundred's of pounds of loco and rolling stock crashing on to the garage floor. Thanks again, and comments/complaints are appreciated as always. Facebook Google+ Stumble Digg References ^ Home (cadian127th.blogspot.com) ^ hornby (cadian127th.blogspot.com) ^ Part 1 (cadian127th.blogspot.co.uk) ^ Part 2 (cadian127th.blogspot.co.uk) ^ Part 3 (cadian127th.blogspot.co.uk) ^ Part 4 (cadian127th.blogspot.co.uk) ^ Part 5 (cadian127th.blogspot.co.uk)
  • 1941 (1979) (2 Disc Special Edition) (Directors Cut & Theatrical Version) - Armyrats
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  • 20 facts about Prince Edward In honour of The Earl of Wessex s 50th birthday today, Royal Central has compiled a list of 20 facts about The Queen s youngest child. HRH The Earl of Wessex is 50 today!

    1. Edward s full title is HRH The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Viscount Severn .

    The title of Earl of Wessex was given to him by his mother, The Queen, on his wedding day. The last person to hold the title Earl of Wessex was Harold II, who died at the Battle of Hastings, 1066!

    2. Prince Edward met his future wife, Sophie Rhys-Jones at a tennis event in 1993.

    Sophie had to stand in for sports personality, Sue Barker, and pose for promotional photos with Edward for the event, leading to the start of their relationship.

    3. Edward shares his birthday with a number of celebrities, including: Emeli Sande, Sepp Blatter and Tudor aristocrat and uncle to Anne Boleyn, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. March 10th is also the day the Princess Lilian, Duchess of Halland (of the Swedish Royal Family) died in 2013.

    4. Edward and Sophie s wedding was at St George s Chapel, Windsor Castle. The couple wanted an intimate affair, so chose a smaller venue.

    Edward asked his brothers to be his Supporters (or Best Men ), and guests wore evening attire, without hats, as requested. Prince Edward wears his London Regiment uniform to Trooping the Colour in 2013 and travels with his wife, Sophie, and daughter, Lady Louise..

    5. The Queen s youngest child spent time at Gordonstoun boarding school, Scotland, following in the footsteps of his father and two brothers.

    Edward excelled at drama and completed his A-levels in History, English Literature and Economic and Political Studies.

    6. The newly-turned 50-year-old completed his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award in his last year of school, 1986. Duke of Edinburgh is the world s leading achievement award for those aged 14 to 24, and offers the chance to develop skills for life and work, fulfil their potential and have a brighter future.

    Having taken part in the scheme and seeing the benefits of it, Edward has become an International Trustee and Chairman of the International Council for his father s youth award. Just last week, The Earl visited Jamaica with his wife to promote the Award, and the couple travelled to South Africa last year for the same purpose.

    7. After the passing of both his parents, it is intended that Prince Edward will be granted the title of Duke of Edinburgh.

    This will enable him to carry on the work for the eponymous award.

    8. Edward proposed to Sophie after 6 years of dating. Wed in 1999, the couple have been married 15 years.

    The 8th-in-line is the only child of The Queen to not have ever divorced.

    9. In 1982, before attending Jesus College, Cambridge, Edward spent time in New Zealand on a gap year. He was a house tutor at the Collegiate School in Wanganui, and also assisted with the Duke of Edinburgh award and drama classes, before going on to read History at university.

    10. Prince Edward pursued a career in theatrical production, stemming from his love of drama at school. He worked for Andrew Lloyd-Webber s Really Useful Theatre Company at one point, managing The Phantom of the Opera, amongst other plays.

    11. The young Royal s passion saw him set up his own production company Argent in 1993. Here he wrote, and narrated, two films about The Duke of Edinburgh Award in 1987, and even produced a documentary on the restoration of Windsor Castle after the fire in 1992, and another on his great-uncle, Edward VIII.

    Prince Edward wears the uniform for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in Gibraltar. Note the aguilette on his right shoulder 12. After dissolving his production company, Edward dedicated himself to Royal duties to support The Queen in her Golden Jubilee year, 2002, and The Earl and Countess of Wessex both became full-time Royals.

    His work is little reported, often in favour of younger and more senior Royals, but don t be deceived: Edward is very hard-working and last year undertook 245 engagements. He ranked the third busiest, only after The Princess Royal and The Prince of Wales.

    13. In 2003, The Earl welcomed his first child with wife Sophie.

    The Lady Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary was born prematurely, and the birth made Sophie very ill. The couple s second child, James Alexander Philip Theo, Viscount Severn, arrived in 2007.

    14. Prince Edward started training as an Officer Cadet in the Royal Marines in 1986.

    He didn t take to military life and left the Marines in January 1987.

    15. Despite not having a military career, the father-of-2 has numerous honorary military appointments in the UK and the Commonwealth. This includes: Colonel of the London Regiment; Royal Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry; Royal Colonel, 2nd Battalion The Rifles; Honorary Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and Colonel-in-Chief, Prince Edward Island Regiment.

    16. At university, His Royal Highness learnt to play Royal, or Real, Tennis. Henry VIII popularised the game in the 1530s, and remained popular until lawn tennis (the kind played at Wimbledon) emerged in the mid-19th century.

    It is played indoors, over a larger area and with a heavier, less bouncy ball. The rules are similar, but with a few contrasts, such as players can use the walls for shots, and a double-bounce does not mean out . Edward continues to play today when he has the time.

    17. In January, Prince Edward was appointed Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. This means he will sit in the General Scottish Assembly on behalf of The Queen.

    For one week in May, Edward will rank just behind his parents, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, and will be styled as His Grace instead of His Royal Highness . Royal tennis is enjoyed by Prince Edward 18. Edward holds 4 degrees: his BA in History from Cambridge, and 2 honorary degrees.

    The University of Victoria awarded The Earl of Wessex a degree in 1994 and the University of Prince Edward Island did the same in 2007. As Chancellor of the University of Bath, he holds an honorary doctorate in Law.

    19. The Earl is the Chancellor of the University of Bath; this sees him hand out degrees at graduation ceremonies and represent the University.

    Last year, he presented Paralympian swimmer, Ellie Simmonds with an honorary degree, the first duty he performed as Chancellor.

    20. Edward lives with his family at the historic Bagshot Park in Surrey. It is only a few miles away from Windsor, where Her Majesty and Prince Philip spend most weekends; the Wessex children have often been seen riding with their grandmother, The Queen, in the grounds at Windsor.

    photo credit: Satreix and photopin cc 1 2 References ^ Satreix (www.flickr.com) ^ photopin (photopin.com)

  • 2015 news review: the biggest stories of the year from London, the ... The Paris terror attacks, the Calais Migrant Crisis, and the surprise election of Jeremy Corbyn were among the events that defined 2015. From the politics, to crime, to entertainment the year saw some dramatic - and in some cases sobering - events. 2015 got off to a sad start with the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January, which saw gunmen kill 11 at the French satirical magazine. The world mourned, with a vigil in Paris attracting hundreds of thousands of people, including more than 40 world leaders. January also saw the ordination of the UK's first female bishop, Libby Lane, who was consecrated as the eigth Bishop of Stockport. In March Jeremy Clarkson was suspended by the BBC after he attacked producer Oisin Tymon over a steak sandwich. A petition to the BBC calling for his reinstatement was signed by a million people, but his contract was not renewed - but he was snapped up by Amazon in July. In April the Hatton Garden heist gripped the nation, when a gang carried out what is thought to be the largest burglary in English legal history. Four elderly men have admitted their role in taking an estimated 200million worth of jewels by drilling a hole in the wall of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company in Holborn. May saw the birth of Princess Charlotte, who is fourth in line to the throne, at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington. Days later the UK went to the polls in the first general election in five years, and returned Prime Minister David Cameron for a second term - this time with an outright Conservative majority. May also showcased the best of London, when bystanders lifted a double-decker bus off a trapped unicyclist in Walthamstow. The man lived to tell the tale and praised the heroic Londoners who helped to free him. June saw terrorists strike again, this time in Tunisia, where they killed 38 people - 30 of them Britons on holiday. Gunmen opened fire on Maraba beach in Sousse, in the deadliest attack in the African country's history. Alton Towers also hit the headlines in June, when the Smiler rollercoaster crashed seriously injuring five people. While in America Donald Trump announced his intention to stand for president in June - and dominated the headlines for the rest of the year. It was better news in July, when London enjoyed a heatwave, with record-breaking temperatures recorded at Heathrow. July also saw American dentist Walter Palmer kill beloved lion Cecil in Zimbabwe - an act that caused outrage the world over. The Greek economic crisis reached a head in July, when a referendum was held on introducing tough new austerity measures. 2015 also saw a general election in the country, whose economy has struggled throughout the year. The Calais migrant crisis also caused concern during the summer, and the refugee crisis was the main topic of conversation among world leaders in September, after the body of young Syrian Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach. September also saw the election of veteren left-winger and Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. He had been considered an outsider when he entered the race, but his campaign gained huge momentum and he soared to an easy victory. The Paris terror atrocities in November shocked the world, when armed militants killed 130 people in a series of attacks across the capitals. The events cast a shadow over the rest of the year, with the world on high alert, and New Year celebrations cancelled in Brussels and Russia due to an increased terror threat. For more of the year's biggest news storiesclick on the gallery above and recall some of the funny, sad and dramatic moments in 2015. Pictures chosen by Gareth Richman
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  • 3 Clothing Staples That Came From the Military The armed forces have given us more than freedom they've given us fashion. The List's [1] Bradley Hasemeyer [2] has a list of duds that came up from the trenches to invade your closet. 1. Dr. Martens These iconic shoes came about around 1945 in post-war Munich. Dr. Klaus Marten was nursing a foot injury from a skiing accident and realized he needed a more comfortable shoe than his military issued could provide. 2. Coats Bomber jackets, pea coats and parkas all came from the military. Popular brands like Alpha Industries [3] initially started as a contractor to the United States military and then grew into an international commercial seller of military style apparel. You can also find a large selection of both new and used at your local military surplus store [4] . 3. The Cardigan Sweater This classic came about in the 1800s thanks to James Thomas Brudenell, the 7th earl of cardigan, who served as a British military Commander. His buttoned wool vest has evolved into the cardigan of today. From Dr. Martens to the cardigan sweater we re saluting the military clothing in our closets because it's what's trending. [5] Do you wear any of these pieces? Share your thoughts with us on our Twitter [6] page. References ^ The List's (www.facebook.com) ^ Bradley Hasemeyer (www.facebook.com) ^ Alpha Industries (alphaindustries.com) ^ military surplus store (us-militarysurplus.com) ^ what's trending. (www.thelisttv.com) ^ Twitter (twitter.com)
  • 30 for Culloden - Outlander Fans Supporting an Important National ... In honor of Outlander TV News reaching 30,000 followers on Twitter, we are organizing a donation drive to support a National Trust for Scotland site, Culloden. Culloden is a central event and focus in the second season of Outlander , and it was already touched on in the first season. Many fans who have been fortunate to travel to Scotland have visited this site and the Clan Fraser marker. We have never put together any sort of donation drive or an appeal for donations since we began this site in 2013. Many Outlander fans, sites, and groups have already made a difference through several organizations, some that are supported by the actors in this remarkable television series. So now is our chance A little bit about Culloden: From the NTS: The Culloden Battle Towards one o clock, the Jacobite artillery opened fire on government soldiers. The government responded with their own cannon, and the Battle of Culloden began. Bombarded by cannon shot and mortar bombs, the Jacobite clans held back, waiting for the order to attack. At last they moved forwards, through hail, smoke, murderous gunfire and grapeshot. Around eighty paces from their enemy they started to fire their muskets and charged. Some fought ferociously. Others never reached their goal. The government troops had finally worked out bayonet tactics to challenge the dreaded Highland charge and broadsword. The Jacobites lost momentum, wavered, then fled. Hardly an hour had passed between the first shots and the final flight of the Prince s army. Although a short battle by European standards, it was an exceptionally bloody one. From Wikipedia: Charles Stuart s Jacobite army consisted largely of Catholics Scottish Highlanders, as well as a number of Lowland Scotsand a small detachment of Englishmen from the Manchester Regiment. The Jacobites were supported and supplied by the Kingdom of France from Irish and Scots units in the French service. A composite battalion of infantry ( Irish Picquets ) comprising detachments from each of the regiments of the Irish Brigade plus one squadron of Irish cavalry in the French army served at the battle alongside the regiment of Royal Scots (Royal Ecossais) raised the previous year to support the Stuart claim. [5] The British Government (Hanoverian loyalist) forces were mostly Protestants English, along with a significant number of Scottish Lowlanders and Highlanders, a battalion of Ulstermen and some Hessians from Germany [6] and Austrians. [7] The quick and bloody battle on Culloden Moor was over in less than an hour when after an unsuccessful Highland charge against the government lines, the Jacobites were routed and driven from the field. Between 1,500 and 2,000 Jacobites were killed or wounded in the brief battle. Government losses were lighter with 50 dead and 259 wounded although recent geophysical studies on the government burial pit suggest the figure to be nearer 300. The battle and its aftermath continue to arouse strong feelings: the University of Glasgow awarded Cumberland an honorary doctorate, but many modern commentators allege that the aftermath of the battle and subsequent crackdown on Jacobitism were brutal, and earned Cumberland the sobriquet Butcher . Efforts were subsequently taken to further integrate the comparatively wild Highlands into the Kingdom of Great Britain; civil penalties were introduced to weaken Gaelic culture and attack the Scottish clan system. How can you help? We are not requesting any certain amount or setting any sort of goal for this donation drive. We are also not making a shirt or putting together a raffle for this. We would just like to show our appreciation for a historical site in Scotland that has relevance to the Outlander story. This drive will continue until the end of January 2016. 1) If you re in the UK, you can text ROOF75 5 to 70070 to donate 5 towards this important part of Scotland s history. 2) To submit a donation from wherever you are in the world, please use this link: https://www.nts.org.uk/Donation/Appeal/Once/Be-part-of-Cullodenas-future/ [1] and donate whatever amount you would like. Feel free to share this post, link to donate, or any other creative way you come up with to help out Culloden and preserve it and its important history for generations to come. And thank you for helping us reach a milestone! Thanks for 30K! -Sarah, Johanna, Stephanie, Ashley, and Amanda Sources: Wikipedia , NTS Culloden , Images: 1 , 2 , 3 [2] [3] . Bookmark the . References ^ https://www.nts.org.uk/Donation/Appeal/Once/Be-part-of-Cullodenas-future/ (www.nts.org.uk) ^ Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org) ^ NTS Culloden (www.nts.org.uk)
  • 31 things you didn't know about Prince Harry Prince Harry [1] has turned 31 and will spend the day taking to the skies in the biggest gathering of Battle of Britain aircraft since the Second World War to mark the aerial conflict's 75th anniversary [2] . Since the moment he was born, the Prince's life has been recorded, photographed and documented. The public seemingly know everything there is to know about him. We were there for his parents' divorce and his mother s death. We are all aware of his will-they-won't-they relationships, his job, that one time he wore a swastika and that other time he went to Las Vagas and got his kit off. So what don t we know about Prince Harry? Well, here are 31 suggestions - one for every year: When he started nursery school in London aged three, Prince Harry didn't automatically get on well with the other children and was reportedly picked on by bullies. His kind-heartedness started early. He owned a lop-eared rabbit that lived in a hutch in the stable yard at Highgrove. The young prince would also spend hours tending to the sheep on the country estate. Harry met his ex-girlfriend Cressida Bonas through his cousin Princess Eugenie in May 2012. Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas [3] are actually related, albeit very distantly. She is rumoured to be Prince Harry s ninth cousin through King Charles II. Harry had the idea for, and spearheaded, the Invictus Games [4] : a Paralympic-style multi sport event for wounded, injured or sick servicemen and women. Katy Perry is rumoured to have a crush on Prince Harry. A marriage between them would make for a hilarious Christmas gathering at the Palace, wouldn t it? The Queen, Prince Charles and Katy Perry opening presents as she cavorts in a cupcake bra. In the Army, he was known as "Captain Wales". As a British prince, he doesn t have a fixed surname and so instead used the name of the area over which his father holds title, as a territorial suffix in place of a surname. He s a dab hand at the Fifa video game, which we know because he told the Press in an interview while out in Afghanistan, saying, "You can ask the guys, I thrash them at Fifa the whole time". Game on, Harry. He will not be reading this article. Not only because obviously there s not a lot about himself he doesn t know, but because neither he nor William take any pleasure in reading articles about themselves and try to avoid it if they can. He really hates Twitter. Poor man. One of his middle names is David. The other two are Charles and Albert. Aged 18, he spent his gap year in Australia and Lesotho. While in Australia, he spent time working, as his father had done, on a cattle station and participating in the Young England vs Young Australia Polo Test Match. In 2007-2008 he served for 77 days in Helmand, Afghanistan. He was pulled out after the publication of the story in an Australian magazine. He returned to Afghanistan for a 20-week deployment in 2012-2013 with the Army Air Corps He studied geography, art history and art at A-Level and left school with a B in art and a D in geography - enough to get him into Sandhurst. He produced the documentary film The Forgotten Kingdom during his gap year in Lesotho, where he also visited Mants ase Children s Home near Mohale s Hoek. Have a look this video made when he later returned to Lesotho [5] . He was educated at Eton College [6] , famous for having graduates from the world of politics and business. He has his own coat of arms, granted to him on his 18th birthday. On the 10th anniversary of his mother s death, he gave a speech at the Thanksgiving Service in which he said: "What is far more important to us now is how she is remembered as she was: fun-loving, generous, down-to-earth, entirely genuine." Prince Harry also has his own monogram. It s a lovely curly "H" with a crown on the top. When commenting on the Las Vegas naked picture scandal [7] , Prince Harry said that "at the end of the day I probably let myself down, I let my family down, I let other people down," but also that "I was in a private area and there should have been a certain amount of privacy that should have been expected." Quite right, too. In an interview with NBC News, Harry said he would never stop wondering about the night that his mother died and what happened in that tunnel. There was an American TV show called I Wanna Marry Harry [8] , in which 12 women were led to believe that they were competing for Prince Harry's affections. The Harry in question was an actor, so they weren't. Apparently he can fix a broken cable TV which would come in very handy for anyone struggling to watch I Wanna Marry Harry. While visiting a temporary home in Valparaiso in Chile, he noticed a family s TV cable wasn t working and fixed it. He supports Arsenal [9] Football Club. When he was a child, Princess Diana took William and Harry around homeless projects and Aids wards in the hope that it would give them an understanding of people s emotions, insecurities and of people's hopes and dreams. As part of the Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge of 2013, Harry became the first member of the royal family to reach the South Pole [10] . Has named himself "the Funcle" (that's "Fun" "Uncle", for those of you wondering) of Prince George When Prince Harry presented the rings at his brother s wedding [11] , he carried them in the cuff of his tunic as his military uniform didn t have any pockets. Prince Harry was a supporter rather than a best man during the wedding. Apparently royal weddings don t have a best man. Following training at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry Regiment. Harry has three medals to his name: an Operation Service Medal for Afghanistan, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. telegraph.co.uk [12] Follow @telegraphnews [13] References ^ Prince Harry (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ 75th anniversary (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ Cressida Bonas (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ Invictus Games (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ Have a look this video made when he later returned to Lesotho (https) ^ Eton College (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ Las Vegas naked picture scandal (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ I Wanna Marry Harry (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ Arsenal (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ Harry became the first member of the royal family to reach the South Pole (http) ^ brother s wedding (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ telegraph.co.uk (www.facebook.com) ^ Follow @telegraphnews (twitter.com)
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  • 44 years later, a British soldier is arrested for Bloody Sunday shooting Authorities have arrested a former British soldier for his alleged role in the 1972 Bloody Sunday shootings, one of the most significant incidents during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, police announced on Tuesday. According to a statement from Northern Ireland's Legacy Investigation Branch, a 66-year-old man was arrested in County Antrim and taken to Belfast for questioning. It is the first time that anyone has been arrested for his role in the shootings, which occurred on Jan. 30 and left 14 civilians dead after soldiers shot into a crowd during a civil rights march in Derry, Northern Ireland. The event helped fuel the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, with the recently formed Provisional Irish Republican Army seeing a surge in support among Catholics who were incensed by the shootings and the lack of an official response to it. Between the late-1960s and 1998, the Troubles, which pit Catholics who wanted the re-unification of Ireland against largely Protestant Unionists, led to the killings of more than 3,500 people of whom more than 1,800 were civilians [1] . While one official investigation conducted in the 1970s had cleared the soldiers of culpability in the shootings, a more recent inquiry, released in 2010, had called the actions [2] of British paratroopers "unjustified" and exonerated all of those who died. The investigation disputed soldiers' claims that the crowd fired at them first and had planned to plant bombs, and also confirmed that some of those who died had been shot as they tried to escape or tend to the wounded. "What happened should never, ever have happened," Prime Minister David Cameron said in an official apology. "Some members of our armed forces acted wrongly." The 12-year long inquiry was one of the most expensive public investigations in British history. In 2013, Britain's Ministry of Defense offered [3] the families of the victims 50,000 (about $77,000) each as compensation, though no family accepted the offer and a number are now seeking civil compensation through Northern Ireland's court system. A separate murder investigation by Northern Ireland's Legacy Investigation Branch, a team designed to investigate unsolved murder cases from the Troubles, was opened in 2012. In June, the BBC reported that Northern Ireland's police [4] had contacted more than 100 British soldiers about the shootings. However, many relatives expressed dismay about the slow pace of the investigation. "Sometimes I and other families just feel we are on a road to nowhere," Mickey McKinney, whose brother William was killed in the shooting, told BBC Radio Foyle. The officer leading the investigation into the shooting, Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison, has said that this week's arrest marked "a new phase in the overall investigation which would continue for some time." Some families have welcomed the news. "To see a soldier even being questioned has truly shocked me," Kate Nash, whose brother William was killed in the shooting, told the BBC [5] . "I never thought it would get to this. The identity of the man being questioned in Belfast has not been released. The British Army has previously acknowledged that 21 soldiers shot their weapons [6] on that day, firing 108 rounds between them. Whoever he is, he would have been around 22 years old when the shootings occurred. More on WorldViews Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University. References ^ more than 1,800 were civilians (cain.ulst.ac.uk) ^ had called the actions (www.washingtonpost.com) ^ Britain's Ministry of Defense offered (www.theguardian.com) ^ BBC reported that Northern Ireland's police (www.bbc.co.uk) ^ told the BBC (www.bbc.co.uk) ^ 21 soldiers shot their weapons (cain.ulst.ac.uk)
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  • 5 Soldiers, the dance show that explores war and the military The cast of 5 Soldiers at Edinburgh Castle. Picture: Colin Hattersley 12:00 Saturday 23 April 2016 12:35 Friday 22 April 2016 Army barracks are among the venues for Rosie Kay s acclaimed 5 Soldiers, which explores modern war through dance. The choreographer tells Kelly Apter how the show made her rethink her ideas about the military It s 4am and the fighting is about to begin. For four hours, the Infantry has marched through darkness carrying backpacks weighing over 70lbs, but now it s time for the real challenge. The sound of rifles firing fills the air, adrenalin starts to pump and there, in the middle of it all, is Rosie Kay. Not a soldier but a choreographer, spending three days and four nights on Dartmoor training with The Rifles, an all-male regiment of the British Army. It was very intense, she recalls, and lifting so much weight for that amount of time was really tough going. I stupidly thought they would make compensations for me, because I m a woman and a choreographer, but they knew I wanted to be involved as much as possible. And although I started off as an observer who was treated like an outsider by the soldiers, because of sleep deprivation, sharing rations and just sitting around talking together, their guards really came down. Plus they could see I could keep up and was enjoying it. It was the first of several periods of research which Kay later poured into her award-winning dance production, 5 Soldiers. As well as her gruelling but exciting experience on Dartmoor, she took part in a mock battle on Salisbury Plain including lengthy discussions about strategy and manoeuvres, which she was surprised to find extremely choreographic . A few months later, however, she saw Army life from the other side, visiting Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey. There Kay met men she had befriended during the training exercises, now back home and dealing with complex injuries after a tour in Afghanistan. Having been inspired to create a show about Army life when she herself sustained a career-threatening injury, Kay was fascinated by how soldiers prepare, and heal, their bodies. As a dancer, I can get injured but they risk life and limb, says Kay. I wanted to know: how do they prepare for that? How do you train your body and mind to risk everything, and then what do you do when you are injured? People are surviving much more traumatic injuries now than they would have in the past, and the Army has had to adjust to that after-care and support. Visiting Headley Court was a very good counterpart to the excitement of the other world on Dartmoor. The subtitle to 5 Soldiers is The Body is the Frontline , and it was this Kay was keen to communicate. She readily admits to her own thoughts and prejudices about the military before starting her research, but as time went on, she felt compelled to portray what lies behind the facade. I wanted to humanise something which has become very dehumanised, she says. We see the uniform and the weaponry, and we use the word soldier, but we don t think about the human being. Yet despite all the changes in technology, the army is still made up of individual bodies. When we talk about war, we re still talking about harm to the human body. The result is one of the most successful shows that Rosie Kay Dance Company has toured in recent years, collecting awards, nominations and high praise along the way. Civilian audiences see it as a visceral insight into Army life, while those who have actually been on the frontline have been impressed by the accuracy and attention to detail. Support for the show in Scotland has come from Lt Col Gordon Mackenzie of the 51st Infantry Brigade, who has helped secure performance spaces in three Army barracks, open to all. For him, the show acts as a valuable bridge between the Army and the public. We want people to have a sense of ownership of the Army given that we are funded by the taxpayer, says Lt Col Mackenzie. And that includes reaching out to engage with different communities. So 5 Soldiers is an exciting opportunity to get people to look at us, and think about us, in different ways. One of our challenges is that we tend to live in barracks behind walls and fences and away from where most people live. This show gives us a chance to break down the barrack walls and bring people into the place we work. It will create debate and discussion, but we welcome that as we strive to broaden our dialogue with the people of Scotland. Kay herself was born in Devon, but spent her teenage years living in Edinburgh. We meet just along the road from her old high school, and the pleasure she takes in bringing work back to Scotland is palpable. Gaining such close access to the Army took, she tells me, a very, very long time but once Kay was in, they really took her into the fold. That said, it was important for her to retain some distance. I ve been really blown away by the support, she says. It s not often that people like me get access to something like this, so as an artist I felt a responsibility to respond to it. But I also have to keep my integrity as a choreographer and it wouldn t be right if I was just telling the Army s story. We had to have a real sense of authenticity in the piece, so the details are all really well observed, but it s a piece of dance, it s stylised and theatrical, it s not a documentary. Kay says she saw herself in the role of war choreographer , following in the footsteps of artists, poets, composers and filmmakers who have gone before during countless conflicts. Only with a dance production, the key component of both the subject matter and the artistic medium is the same the human body. Audiences don t look at 5 Soldiers in the same way you would a war film or book, she says. It makes you work because we re not just shouting one single message - there are lots of different messages, and how you receive them will depend on your own viewpoint. Rosie Kay Dance Company s 5 Soldiers is at Tramway, Glasgow, 29-30 April; Glencorse Barracks, Penicuik, 6-7 May; Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling, 13-14 May; Fort George, Ardersier, 20-21 May; Gordon Barracks, Aberdeen, 27-28 May, www.rosiekay.co.uk [1] {* #userInformationForm *} {* loginWidget *} {* traditionalSignIn_emailAddress *} {* traditionalSignIn_password *} {* /userInformationForm *} {* #userInformationForm *} Email Address {* traditionalSignIn_emailAddress *} Password {* traditionalSignIn_password *} {* /userInformationForm *} {* #userInformationForm *} {* traditionalSignIn_emailAddress *} {* traditionalSignIn_password *} {* /userInformationForm *} Please fill in the remaining fields below to complete your registration {* #registrationForm *} {* traditionalRegistration_firstName *} {* traditionalRegistration_lastName *} {* traditionalRegistration_emailAddress *} {* traditionalRegistration_password *} {* traditionalRegistration_passwordConfirm *} {* traditionalRegistration_displayName *} {* /registrationForm *} {* #socialRegistrationForm *} {* socialRegistration_firstName *} {* socialRegistration_lastName *} {* socialRegistration_emailAddress *} {* socialRegistration_displayName *} {* socialRegistration_jpCommsOptIn *} Registering with The Scotsman means you're ok with our terms and conditions. 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Unfortunately that verification link has expired. To get a new one, just resend the verification email by going to your profile page. Are you sure you want to remove this linked account? References ^ www.rosiekay.co.uk (www.rosiekay.co.uk) ^ terms and conditions. (www.johnstonpress.co.uk) ^ Terms and Conditions (www.johnstonpress.co.uk) ^ (www.scotsman.com) ^ No thanks, take me straight to the site. (www.scotsman.com) ^ (www.scotsman.com)
  • 5'1″ British Army medic Lcpl Kylie Watson received Military Cross ... 1 In 2011, when Lance Corporal Kylie Watson was summoned to the office of her commanding officer for a fireside chat she feared the worst. Do you know why you are here? he asked the combat medic. Am I in trouble, Sir? she enquired. No, he told her. You ve been awarded the Military Cross. The 23-year-old had already deployed to Iraq, but her tour of Afghanistan s Helmand province was her first as a fully qualified battlefield medic. Are you sure you ve got the right soldier? she asked. But there was no mistake. The extraordinary heroism she displayed by twice running into Taliban fire to treat wounded comrades had been awarded with one of the UK s highest honors. 2 Lance Corporal Kylie Watson tried to resuscitate one casualty as bullets smashed into the dust around her in a totally exposed position for 20 minutes. She was also forced to use her SA80A2 rifle firing 15 rounds to help defend her patrol during an ambush. The LCpl also ran 100 metres under fire to save the life of another ANA soldier who had been shot through the pelvis. His Afghan comrades were unhappy about a woman treating the wounded man and tried to stop her. The Lance Corporal from Ballymena, Northern Ireland, who stands 5 1 tall, said: I told them straight (through an interpreter), If I don t treat him, he dies. There is no argument, he is getting treated. 3 I just got on with it. There was no option. He had been shot through the pelvis and was bleeding heavily. We exposed the wound and I managed to stop the bleeding by applying several first field dressings. I got the stretcher ready and two guys from 1 LANCS (1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster s Regiment) and an ANA warrior helped me get him back into cover. The incident happened as Kylie went on patrol from a checkpoint near Nad E Ali in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in June, 2010. In a separate firefight she ran into exposed ground to treat an Afghan National Army soldier who had been shot in the chest. 4 5 She said: I ran forward to treat him. There was a tiny entry wound where the bullet had gone into his chest and no exit wound. There was very little blood but he was not breathing. I tried to resuscitate him for about 20 minutes but nothing could be done. I think he had died before I got to him, bless him. I looked up at last and saw bullets hitting the dust around me. I realised for the first time how exposed I was, I was just kneeling in a field with no cover. It was time to go. She said: About 12 of us were patrolling south a few hundred meters when we came under small arms fire from three men in a ditch. There was no cover available to us apart from an irrigation ditch but you don t want to dive into one of them in case it has IEDs planted in it. We needed to stop them shooting at us quickly and had to help. I just took a knee and fired about half a magazine at their position, about 15 rounds. It sounds dramatic I suppose but it wasn t, I know for a fact I didn t hit a thing. I need to get on the range a bit more often I suppose. 6 7 While her MC might have made her the pride of her regiment, it earned her a stiff telling-off from her mum: Kylie! What did you do? Next time, please don t. Watson is a little angered by some of the online comments which followed the announcement of her MC, branding it an act of tokenism or political correctness, rather than the just reward for acts of heroism to match any man. Watson is one of only four women in history to have been awarded the Military Cross. Those who say that are welcome to take my kit and go to Afghanistan for six months. They are welcome to wear my boots and be me, she said, adding that she can t wait to return to operations because I think I ve done all right so far. Her citation read: Watson s immense courage, willingness to put her own life at risk and absolute bravery saved the life of one warrior and acted as an inspiration to her platoon and their Afghan National Army partners.
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  • 600 British jobs are at risk as the Ministry of Defence is set to hand £425million helicopter deal to a US firm British Government is set to buy 50 battle-ready Apaches from Boeing Apaches previously fitted out by UK helicopter-maker AgustaWestland If Government buys from US, it puts 600 jobs at AgustaWestland at risk | View comments Hundreds of British jobs were feared to be under threat last night as the Ministry of Defence was poised to award a 425 million contract to provide Apache helicopters exclusively to a US manufacturer. The Government s move to buy 50 battle-ready Apaches from Boeing could put up to 600 jobs in jeopardy at the UK s last helicopter-maker, AgustaWestland. The controversial decision is reminiscent of the issues that triggered the Westland Affair of 1985-86 when Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine stormed out of Downing Street and quit after a row with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher over the future of the company. In action: The British Army's Apache attack helicopters which Prince Harry famously flew in combat in Afghanistan - have previously been fitted out and serviced at AgustaWestland s factory in Yeovil, Somerset While the Apache attack helicopter which Prince Harry famously flew in combat in Afghanistan is an American design, previously the helicopters in service with the British Army Air Corps were fitted out and serviced at AgustaWestland s factory in Yeovil, Somerset. But The Mail on Sunday has been told that 50 new aircraft to replace the existing fleet will be bought off the shelf directly from Boeing, for about 8million each saving the Government tens of millions. Last night, AgustaWestland and Boeing refused to comment and the MoD said it expected to make a decision by this summer. But The Mail on Sunday understands the MoD has made up its mind and will announce the deal in July. Ian Waddell, Unite union s national aerospace manufacturers officer, said: We will be seeking cast-iron assurances from the companies and the Ministry of Defence that the present employment levels at AgustaWestland will be maintained as a result of the Apache deal. The Government s move to buy 50 battle-ready Apaches from Boeing could put up to 600 jobs in jeopardy at the UK s last helicopter-maker, AgustaWestland
  • 63 fun facts to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's 63-year reign At 5:30pm on Wednesday September 9, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II will become Britain's longest ruling monarch. The Queen, 89, will take over the title from her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria who, according to Buckingham Palace, reigned for exactly 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes. To celebrate Liz's 63-year reign, here are 63 pub-trivia-worthy facts about Australia's Head of State: Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attend the Braemar Highland Games on September 5 in Braemar, Scotland. Photo: Getty 1. She has a private ATM in the basement of Buckingham Palace. Advertisement 2. Her signature handbag is made by British luxury leather manufacturer Launer and costs 1000 ($2200). 3. She doesn't have to pay tax. (But she has voluntarily chosen to do so since 1992.) 4. She was the oldest British monarch to celebrate her Golden Jubilee (in 2002). 5. She was also the oldest British monarch to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee (in 2012). 6. She is the patron of more than 600 charities and organisations. 7. British prime ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron were both born during her reign. 8. She was the first British monarch to celebrate a Diamond wedding anniversary. 9. She doesn't need a driver's licence. 10. She also doesn't need to have a number plate on her car. 11. In 1976, she sent her first email (from a British army base). 12. She has attended 37 Royal Variety performances. 13. She is immune from prosecution. 14. She is exempt from Freedom of Information requests. 15. She has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign. 16. In 1999, The Sun claimed she demoted a footman after he gave her corgis whisky. 17. She has visited the sets of both Eastenders and Coronation Street. 18. In 2004, she hosted Buckingham Palace's first female-only event, titled "Women of Achievement". 19. She owns every dolphin, whale and sturgeon in British waters (thanks to a statute from 1324). 20. She also owns all of the swans in the River Thames. 21. She speaks fluent French. 22. She, along with the rest of the royal family, joined Facebook in 2010, although it is not possible to "poke" the royal family 23. She has visited Australia 16 times. 24. She has visited New Zealand 10 times. 25. She has visited Canada 22 times. 26. In an average year, she hosts more than 50,000 guests at Buckingham Palace 27. She was a Girl Guide. 28. She enjoys photography. 29. She swaps her handbag between arms to indicate to her staff that she is bored with talking to someone. 30. To tell her staff she wants to leave a dinner within five minutes, she places her handbag on the table. 31. She is the patron of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association. 32. The house in which she was born (17 Bruton St, Mayfair) is now a Chinese restaurant. 33. She didn't release a Christmas message in 1969, because she felt the public had seen enough of her after a television documentary about her life was released earlier that year. 34. As a child she would call herself "Lilibet", as "Elizabeth" was too hard to pronounce. 35. She worked as a mechanic and truck driver with the Women's Auxilliary Territorial Service during World War II. 36. She is the first monarch to have seen three of her children divorce. 37. She has an estimated personal net wealth of 300 million ($659 million). 38. She has sat for at least 130 official portraits during her reign. 39. She has answered more than three and a half million items of correspondence during her time as monarch. 40. When one of her corgis mated with Princess Margaret's daschund, the sisters created a new breed of dog called a dorgi. 41. In 2014, she sent 7517 100th birthday cards to people in Britain. 42. It is estimated that she has sent more than 175,000 100th birthday cards to people across the Commonwealth during her reign. 43. She has preceded over the loss of more territory than any other British monarch. 44. She was the first monarch to let the public into Buckingham Palace (their entrance fees funded reparations to Windsor Castle after a 1992 fire). 45. She has seen 12 different British prime ministers during her reign. 46. She has visited both Cocos Island (population 596) and China (population 1.3 billion). 47. She is entitled to two birthdays each year (her actual birthday on April 21, and her official birthday on a Saturday in June). 48. She does not have a passport. 49. She cannot be compelled to give evidence in court. 50. She once received a jaguar as a present from Brazil (it now resides in London Zoo). 51. The two black beavers she received from Canada are also housed at the zoo. 52. She collected post-war clothing coupons to buy her wedding dress. 53. While collecting coupons, many women sent her their own coupons, however she had to return them. 54. Her wedding dress was white satin and designed by Sir Norman Hartnell. 55. She has been depicted in 23 different waxworks at Madam Tussauds. 56. She has four children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. 57. Her coronation was the first ever to be televised. 58. She was also the first British royal to ever be the subject of a television documentary: Royal Family (1969). 59. She has about 25 horses in training for each racing season. 60. In 2014 she visited the set of Game of Thrones [1] in Northern Ireland. 61. She has taken the salute in every annual Trooping the Colour ceremony since the start of her reign (with the exception of 1955, when a train strike forced the ceremony to be cancelled). 62. She has visited 116 countries during 265 official visits since she took the throne in 1952, making her the most-travelled monarch in history. 63. She starts every morning with a cup of Darjeeling tea at 7:30. References ^ Game of Thrones (www.smh.com.au)
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  • 7 times Ruth Davidson told everyone where to stick it in the BBC EU referendum debate Ruth Davidson wasn't taking any cr** tonight. The Remain-backing Scottish Tory leader cracked out every wisecrack in her arsenal in a bid to triumph at Wembley Arena. The BBC's final EU referendum [1] debate in front of a 6,000-strong audience was the biggest political event ever held by British TV. And the kickboxing no-nonsense Scot [2] was clearly ready for the fight. She coolly brought out her Territorial Army days, reeled off a fluent list of the security chiefs and got her own football chants. Here are 7 times Ruth Davidson told everyone where to stick it. Opinion: Ruth Davidson leaves the rest standing in the BBC debate [3] 1. When you couldn't handle the Ruth Video loading [4] Watch this video again Watch Next Click to play Tap to play The Live Event you are trying to watch is either unavailable or has not started Please refresh this page in your browser to reload this live event video The Scottish Tory leader channeled Tom Cruise in a Few Good Men when she was told 60% of our laws come from Brussels. [5] "I can t let it stand that you tell a blatant untruth in the middle of a debate days before a vote," she bellowed at Tory Brexiter Andrea Leadsom [6] . According to the independent House of Commons library the number is 13%." Turning to the whooping and hollering crowd she stormed: "You deserve the truth! You deserve the truth!" Admittedly there's one little problem - the 13% number isn t quite right either... [7] 2. When she casually whipped out her military credentials Everyone on the panel got royally told by the only ex-soldier in their midst. A former signaller in the Territorial Army, Ms Davidson said coldly: I think I m the only one on this panel who s ever worn the Queen s uniform. With all respect to retired generals who back Brexit [8] , she said, none of them are currently charged with safety and security of our nation . None of those in their jobs now are calling for a Leave vote, she added. 3. When she listed a load of experts without even trying "It's no coincidence that we've been more or less at peace" under the EU, she said. "The other side have said throughout this debate they don't like experts. But when it comes to keeping our country safe and secure I want to listen to the experts. "When the head of GCHQ says we're safer in the EU, I listen. "When 5 former Nato chiefs say we're safer in the EU, I listen. "When the head of Europol, who's a Brit, says we're safer in the EU, I listen. "When the head of MI5 and MI6 says we're safer in the EU, I listen. "When all of our major allies - America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand - say we're safer in the EU, I listen. "And if it comes to a choice to listening to all of these people even though they're experts, or listening to these three about who keeps my family safe, I'm going to vote for them every single day of the week and twice on Sunday." 4. When she told Gisela Stuart she's not Britain's only gran BBC Gisela Stuart, one of Labour's 10 Brexit [9] -backing MPs, is now notorious in the Westminster bubble for starting everything with "as a grandmother". And Ms Davidson had had enough of it. To cheers from the audience, she snapped: I just have to remind people are home there are mums and dads and grans and grandads on this side of the debate as well. 5. When she weaponised the mouth of Boris Johnson BBC The debate turned to the furious row over how quickly Turkey will join the EU. There was a grumble from the audience as she said: "It s simply not going to happen. It s not on the cards." So she added: "Not my words! The words of Boris Johnson on LBC radio 2 months ago." Gisela Stuart hit back at her with an attack on David Cameron [10] , saying: On the one hand he s said it ll be the year 3000 - or is it now 30 years? We are spending 1.9bn of YOUR money to accelerate accession of Turkey. 6.... and the mouth of Michael Gove Getty Reading from her lectern, she quoted the Tory Justice Secretary as saying: "I cannot guarantee that every person currently working would keep their current job." She added: "Boris Johnson said will there be job losses. There might or there might not. That is not good enough! That is not good enough! "How many jobs would go Boris? How many would go?" Boris replied: "Back to Project Fear!" 7. When she got her own football chant This is from an actual, real life Tory minister. We can't really go on after this. Goodnight everyone. Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Matt Hancock (@MattHancockMP) June 21, 2016 [11] EU Referendum 2016 References ^ EU referendum (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ the kickboxing no-nonsense Scot (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ Ruth Davidson leaves the rest standing in the BBC debate (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ "YOU DESERVE THE TRUTH!" - Ruth Davidson channels Tom Cruise in rousing EU debate moment (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ channeled Tom Cruise in a Few Good Men when she was told 60% of our laws come from Brussels. (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ Andrea Leadsom (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ the 13% number isn t quite right either... (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ Brexit (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ Brexit (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ David Cameron (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ June 21, 2016 (twitter.com)
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  • 8 ethnic rebel armies sign cease-fire pact with Myanmar govt | NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (AP) Myanmar's government and eight smaller ethnic rebel armies signed a cease-fire agreement to end more than six decades of fighting, but other more powerful groups refused to come on board, signaling that peace will remain elusive for some time to come. The pact was signed at a ceremony in Myanmar's administrative capital, Naypyitaw, by President Thein Sein and representatives of the groups. The refusal by the larger armies, such as those of the Kachin and Wa ethnic groups, to sign it robs Thein Sein of what he had hoped would be the crowning achievement of his five-year term. Still, the agreement, called the "National Ceasefire Agreement" despite its truncated list of participants, is seen as a first step toward ending longstanding insurgencies against the Burmese-majority government by various minority groups demanding autonomy and control over their natural resources in the north, northeast and east of the country. Ethnic groups, representing 40 percent of the country's 52 million people, have found themselves victims of military abuses and discrimination in areas spanning from health and education to road construction and access to electricity. "Although some organizations are currently not ready to sign, the government decided to conclude the (agreement) with the vanguard group." Thein Sein said in a speech at the signing ceremony. "We will continue with our efforts to bring the remaining organizations into the process. The door is open for them," he said. "The road to future peace in Myanmar is now open." Though largely an agreement to keep talking, the agreement could pave the way for a more comprehensive political settlement in the future. "It can't be considered a nationwide cease-fire agreement but it is the start of a process that might actually lead to all the ethnic groups signing the cease-fire agreement," Larry Jagan, a specialist on Myanmar and freelance journalist, told The Associated Press. Myanmar stunned the world by opening politically and economically in 2011 following a half-century of harsh military rule. But early reforms have since either stalled or started rolling backward. That has upped the stakes for getting cease-fire deals with all ethnic armies, one of Thein Sein's biggest pledges. Many ethnic armies have been fighting since the country gained independence from the British in 1948, and experts say continued civil unrest is slowing development in one of the region's poorest countries. The signing of the agreement, which was also witnessed by representatives of the United Nations, the European Union, China and others, comes just before the Nov. 8 general elections for a new parliament, which will eventually lead to the election of a new president. Critics said the only real beneficiary of the agreement would be Thein Sein, as he would use the image as a peacemaker to try to win another presidential term. Some of the groups decided they'd rather wait and negotiate with a new government, even if that means starting from scratch. The powerful Kachin Independence Army, Shan State Army and United Wa State Army the biggest in terms of army strength and territory size were among the groups refusing to sign. Things proceeded well in the early days of Thein Sein's administration, with more than a dozen groups signing bilateral cease-fire agreements. But negotiations have been on-again-off-again since then, with hundreds of meetings between rebels groups, peace negotiators and government officials. "We have to keep fighting for our freedom, for our political rights," said Thar Phone Kyaw, the general secretary of Ta'ang National Liberation Army, which also refused to sign. He said no cease-fire agreement will be signed without assurances they will get the "federal union" promised to them by Myanmar's independence leader Gen. Aung San more than 60 years ago. That would give them greater control over their natural resources in the northern Shan state, including a say in issues surrounding an oil pipeline to China that has displaced people and destroyed livelihoods. It would also allow them to control their own troops' movement and help end the spiraling scourge of drugs. Still, the agreement is not without meaning. State-run TV emphasized that point this week saying the signatories would be removed from a list of "terrorist groups." "It's going to allow them to move around their territory, talk to their townships, build up relationships with people on the ground that they have not been able to do because before this they were called illegal," said Jagan, the Myanmar specialist. It also will potentially allow for development and investment in those areas, others say, serving as encouragement for other holdouts to join the process at a later date. Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article. SHARE PICTURE
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  • 9 Epic Disney Moments That Will Inspire You Thanks to Walmart for sponsoring this post! Let s face it, we all have days when we re feeling less than motivated; we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, we re exhausted, and things just aren t going our way. In case that s you today (and we really hope it isn t), here are some key Disney moments we turn to for inspiration when we need it: When Mulan Retrieves the Arrow This is maybe one of the most empowering moments ever put to film. When Mulan reaches the top of this pole, especially when no other soldier can, it takes all of our effort not to scream, you go, girl, loudly and with passion. When Simba Returns to Pride Rock Even the weather responds epically to this moment, as it starts raining and not just any rain magical rain that transforms the Pride Lands back to their former glory. Thus is Simba s power. When Hercules Jumps into the River Styx A mere mortal would not have survived the trip, but Hercules s sacrifice proved that he was a true hero (and turned him into a God). Not a bad day s work. When Pocahontas Saves John Smith Everything about this moment gives us goosebumps: the music, the intense color scheme, the power of Pocahontas s will. It s all so beautiful, and gets us every time. When Tiana Opens Her Restaurant We can do anything we put our minds to with enough hard work and perseverance, and Tiana reminds us of this. When Belle Tells Beast She Loves Him A small, quiet act can sometimes be just as powerful as a bigger one. When Belle whispers to Beast, in his last moments, that she loves him, she ends up saving his life and securing her happy ending. When Maleficent Interrupts The Party Okay, so Maleficent is a villain. But, you have to admit that no one makes an entrance quite like she does. One of our live goals is to make such a lasting (albeit less overtly evil) first impression. When Pinocchio Becomes a Real Boy This moment is quintessential, classic, and the definition of good triumphing. Pinocchio had to learn that his biggest challenge was overcoming his own self-doubt and when he did (listening to his conscience didn t hurt either) he was worthy of his wish. When Quasimodo Saves Esmeralda Quasimodo literally breaks his chains apart and repels down the walls of Notre Dame cathedral to get to Esmeralda just in time to save her life. We are in awe. Just in case this isn t enough epic for you, add even more epic to your day with the Coffee-mate [1] Star Wars collection available now at Walmart [2] . Whether you enjoy your coffee with the Light side or the Dark side, it s sure to be delicious. References ^ Coffee-mate (Just%20in%20case%20this%20isn%E2%80%99t%20enough%20epic%20for%20you,%20add%20even%20more%20epic%20to%20your%20day%20with%20the%20Coffee-mate%20Star%20Wars%20collection%20available%20now%20at%20Walmart.%20Whether%20you%20enjoy%20your%20coffee%20with%20the%20light%20side%20or%20the%20dark%20side,%20it's%20sure%20to%20be%20delicious.) ^ available now at Walmart (www.walmart.com)
  • 9 Ways Mentally Strong People Handle Stress They reassure themselves Stress is a common obstacle [1] to productivity and career success. That s why being able to manage stress effectively can prove pivotal. We spoke with psychotherapist Amy Morin, the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don t Do [2] , to find out the best way to approach stress management. Here are nine things mentally strong people do to keep stress from taking over: 1. They keep their problems in perspective As stress builds up over time, it s easy to become frustrated and exaggerate the negative. Mentally strong people, however, understand that stressful situations arise and don t let the ill effects loom over them. They reframe their negative thoughts into something more realistic in an effort to keep their stress in proper perspective, Morin says. More from Business Insider: 2. They reassure themselves Self-confidence and self-assurance, key characteristics of mentally strong people, helps people work through stress. Instead of being negative and saying, I can t handle one more problem, they tell themselves: I can deal with stress, and I ll be OK no matter what happens,' Morin says. 3. They focus on what they can control Certain things are out of your control, and for some people, that simple fact is stressful. People with mental strength, however, know when something is their responsibility. They spring into action and engage in active problem-solving when they can prevent and address problems, and they don t waste energy on the things they can t control, Morin says. 4. They remain aware of their sources of stress A stressor is a situation that causes us to need to act and that can trigger our body s stress response, writes Elizabeth Scott in her book 8 Keys to Stress Management [3] . Identifying these stressors is the first step in stress management [4] , she says. Mentally strong people are aware of their stressors, and they re aware of the warning signs that they re becoming stressed out, Morin says. Because of their self-awareness, they are able to adjust their activities and their lifestyle accordingly so they can combat stress effectively. 5. They establish healthy boundaries In her book, Morin writes that mentally strong people avoid giving away their power by establishing strong emotional and physical boundaries. People can establish healthy boundaries by behaving assertively, she says. It s all about being responsible for your own actions. They don t blame others for infringing on their time or space, Morin says. They establish healthy boundaries, speak up when necessary, and take responsibility for getting their needs met. 6. They spend time with positive people Social support is an important part of combatting stress, and mentally strong people seek out positive people, Morin says. If you re surrounded with pessimists, chances are they will infringe on your outlook. The same can be said, however, for optimists. 7. They prioritize their tasks Time is perhaps the single most valuable resource, and mentally strong people understand this. They aren t hesitant to scrap the activities that bring them down, and they prioritize their tasks so they can focus on getting the most important things done, Morin says. 8. They don t forget to have fun One of the best ways to combat stress is to engage in leisure activities, Morin says. It can be anything hanging with family, engaging in a hobby, watching TV. As long as it relaxes you and improves your mental state, it will be beneficial. People who have developed mental strength know this and take time to relax and enjoy themselves. 9. They use healthy coping skills There s a right way and a wrong way to handle anything. When dealing with stress, using alcohol, caffeine, or food would fall in the wrong way category, Morin says. Mentally strong people use healthy coping skills, such as meditation, walking, or journaling to deal with their stress, she says. Living an all-around healthy lifestyle is key. Morin suggests getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and engaging in regular physical activity, which can give your mind and body a boost [5] . This article originally appeared on Business Insider [6] [7] References ^ common obstacle (www.businessinsider.com) ^ 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don t Do (www.amazon.com) ^ 8 Keys to Stress Management (www.amazon.com) ^ first step in stress management (www.businessinsider.com) ^ mind and body a boost (www.businessinsider.com) ^ article (www.businessinsider.com) ^ Business Insider (www.businessinsider.com)
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  • A bloody outrage: The decorated Para facing prosecution 44 years after shooting dead an IRA killer Soldier C faces prosecution for shooting the IRA commander Joe McCann The 65-year-old had been cleared of any wrong-doing over killing in 1972 Thought case is politically motivated and designed to appease IRA families Meanwhile, suspected IRA terrorists avoid prosecution due to Blair's deal | 105 View comments Soldier C is a man who rarely shows emotion. Having served his country for 23 years in both the Parachute Regiment and the Special Forces, he is made of sterner stuff. But here he is, red-eyed. Tearful. For this former paratrooper, who was awarded the British Empire Medal for his heroic actions during a distinguished career, now faces prosecution for the shooting dead of IRA commander Joe McCann more than 40 years ago. All I ever tried to do was serve loyally and professionally as a soldier, says the retired 65-year-old, who was cleared of any wrong-doing at the time of the killing in 1972. Only some sort of psychopath would take any pleasure from a man s death. I wish I hadn t been involved, but at the same time nobody will ever convince me that my actions on that day were anything other than the right actions. I did my duty when I was called upon to do so. Soldier C (pictured) faces prosecution for shooting the IRA commander Joe McCann in 1972 But now, all these years later, I ve been brought to this. This is the fact that two months ago he and a fellow ex-soldier were informed that their case, after being reviewed by Northern Ireland s Historic Enquiries Team (HET) and closed in 2010, had been passed to the country s Public Prosecution Service. It means the men, who served with the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment at the height of the Troubles, could be ordered to stand trial for the 1972 Belfast killing and face jail if convicted. When the letter arrived I was standing beside my wife in the kitchen, says Soldier C, who cannot be identified for security reasons. She said: What s going on? I thought all this was behind us. Why is it happening? My poor wife, she s . . . He pauses. Swallows. Gathers himself. I m sorry, this is very difficult. This is so hard on her. Perhaps you can imagine what she s going through? What we re terrified of is literally a knock on the door and they handcuff me, drag me out of the house and take me into custody. If that were to happen, it would be unholy. He shakes his head. Progressively, on a daily basis, this weighs upon us more and more. It s much worse for my wife. Given my background with the army, if I was incarcerated I could deal with it. My wife couldn t. It s not the issue of having to go to court and being tried, it s the stigma the stigma to my name, my reputation and the impact on my family. This is so. . . so. . . He searches for the right word. Unfair. Indeed. The case being considered by Northern Ireland s Public Prosecution Service is widely regarded to be politically motivated and designed to appease IRA families. A settling, some might think, of old scores. For the man sitting before me is not the only old soldier facing prosecution for his actions in a troubled Northern Ireland of almost half a century ago. His lawyer, James Dunn of Devonshires Solicitors, is representing no less than 12 British soldiers, but Soldier C is the first to speak out. By doing so, he knows, he is putting his own safety at risk. But this is a man who, if you cut him open, would have the Parachute Regiment s motto Utrinque Paratus (Ready for Anything) written through him like words through a stick of rock. Joe McCann (pictured) was shot dead in Joy Street in the Markets Area of Belfast This is wrong, he says. Thirteen months ago, our daughter gave us a grandson [he has one grown-up child] so I am a husband, father and grandfather. My wife supported me loyally throughout my army career. Sometimes, I d be away for ten months at a time but she never complained. Never asked questions. Now I ve retired this should be her time our time. We d just booked to go to the States when I was told about this. I d always wanted to go and see the Grand Canyon. A few days ago, she asked me what was going to happen about our holiday. That s the 64 thousand dollar question. I ve told her if there s a decision to go ahead with the prosecution I don t think my mindset would make me good company because. . . Again, his voice breaks. Meanwhile, suspected IRA terrorists, such as John Downey, who is believed to be responsible for the 1982 Hyde Park terror blast that killed four soldiers and seven horses which he denies escape prosecution because they were given guarantees of immunity, widely dubbed Get Out Of Jail Free Cards , under a controversial peace deal drawn up by Tony Blair. I constantly ask myself what kind of world am I living in when suspected terrorists and murderers are literally walking around with Get Out Of Jail Free Cards in their possession, while I and many others like me who have served our country, are living in fear of being arrested and tried for doing what we considered was our duty? It seems that Sinn Fein, under the control of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness and their stooges, are being allowed to mount a campaign of revenge against those they have despised for decades. These same men, who were themselves sought by the authorities for acts of terrorism, are now rubbing shoulders with royalty and senior politicians the Prime Minister included while at the same time former and serving members of the armed forces are being persecuted. This whole scenario I consider is the making of Tony Blair. In his haste to do a deal with Sinn Fein he was prepared to throw people like me to the wolves to satisfy the likes of Adams and McGuinness. His hands are washed in blood, and how he and his family can live with that every day is beyond my comprehension. This is the price he was prepared to pay to bring peace to Northern Ireland, but Blair s not paying the price. Others and their families are, while every day he enriches himself on the back of the deals he made while he led our country. I find that quite shocking. Where s the integrity? Where are the morals? All of this is said in a composed, reasoned fashion, but Soldier C s anger is palpable. He should be on the golf course today or in the garden with his wife. But he is here, in his lawyer s office having to defend his honour. I have asked myself countless times what would have happened had we not taken the action that we did that day, he says. I keep getting the same answer: Joe McCann would undoubtedly have carried on his war against the authorities, attempting to murder members of the security forces, police and possibly innocent members of the public. In short, he was a battle-hardened terrorist who had no compunction about killing others. On that sunny Saturday morning in April 1972, Soldier C was a 22-year-old paratrooper who d served two years in Northern Ireland. It was a very different country then, with daily riots, bombs and killings. Like a war zone, he says, and his unit worked on immediate standby whereby on a three-day rota they literally had to lie on our beds in our boots ready to go . McCann, known as the Che Guevara of the IRA, was at the top of the British Army s wanted list along with Adams and McGuinness. He was a notorious killer who, as commander of the Official IRA s feared Third Belfast Battalion, was involved in the July 1970 gun battles with British soldiers that saw five civilians killed and 70 injured. The following year his unit used children to lure Royal Green Jackets into an ambush, killing a young soldier. He also laid siege to a bakery (where he was photographed in a picture that became iconic), and in February 1972 was involved in the attempted assassination of Unionist politician John Taylor. Along with a second gunman, he machine-gunned Taylor s car, hitting him five times in the neck and head. McCann (pictured during a gun battle with the British Army), known as the Che Guevara of the IRA, was at the top of the British Army s wanted list along with Adams and McGuinness Five days of riots followed McCann s death and five British soldiers were shot in revenge. Three died. He was well-known to the security forces and feared, says Soldier C. It was accepted he was likely to be armed. Everyone believed he posed a threat and would have no compunction in killing to avoid arrest. Soldier C, in light of the possible prosecution he faces, has been advised by his lawyer not to speak about exactly what happened on that April 15 morning. It has, though, been widely reported that two RUC Special Branch officers recognised the terrorist in disguise near Belfast city centre and decided to arrest him on suspicion of attempted murder. Soldier C and two colleagues on patrol nearby were ordered to help. As McCann was fleeing, it is claimed the soldiers shouted at him to stop or they would shoot. When he failed to halt, one of the paras fired two warning shots into a wall above his head. He continued to run so all three paras opened fire. It was something that happened literally within seconds, he says now. There was no plan, no time to even discuss things among ourselves. But I m utterly convinced, and always have been, that the actions we took that day were appropriate and we did the right thing. Today, he says he has no memory of what happened immediately after McCann fell to the ground. I can only assume I was suffering a degree of shock because my recollection of the immediate aftermath is almost non-existent, he says. It s as if there is a big gap there where, for a period of time, my mind wasn t acknowledging what was going on around me. I ve been told our commander arrived, that there was a priest on the scene and our unit medic tried to save Joe s life. He gave him First Aid to try to keep him alive. My understanding is Joe died on the way to hospital, but I have no clear recollection of any of that. He does, however, know he was asked to provide a written statement later that day to a Royal Military Police investigation team. The soldiers were later told they would face no further action and life, as Soldier C says, went on . That August, he married his wife, whom he d met in Belfast. Two years later she gave birth to their daughter. Soldier C s military career flourished and, later, he was seconded to Special Forces where he rose to the rank of Warrant Officer and was awarded the British Empire Medal. In 1993, he retired from the army with an impeccable record to work in security in some of the most dangerous countries in the world. The events of April 1972 were little more than a distant memory until a letter arrived from the Ministry of Defence in July 2009, advising him that the HET was reviewing the shooting of Joe McCann along with 3,250 unresolved deaths during the Troubles. Soldier C was working in Columbia at the time, responsible for the security of three oil rigs. My wife opened it, called me and said: I ve got some bad news for you dear. I thought: What is this? The investigation continued for eight months, culminating in an interview on March 19, 2010 in his lawyer s London offices. A lawyer s note from the interview records that the head of the investigation, a detective chief superintendent, gave an assurance that in my professional opinion this ends here for you . Soldier C was delighted. I walked out of there elated, says Soldier C. I got on the phone to my wife and said: It s OK, love. There s nothing to worry about. Three years later, Soldier C retired. Having saved up during his time in security and with his army pension, he and his wife began to enjoy holidays in Barbados, gym membership, visits to their daughter and grandson and a house renovation project. On May 18, completely out of the blue, he received a letter from his lawyer asking him to call urgently. Prosecutors had contacted him to say that, despite the reassurances in 2010 and the case being closed by the HET, it had been reopened yet again and was being reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service. Soldier C has been told to expect no decision until the end of August. I ve got four brothers and a sister. We re a close family, he says. They keep asking me the same question: How can it be that these terrorists and murderers are walking around free and nobody is after them but, after everything you did in the army, you re being persecuted? As I said to them: life isn t always fair. Those guys walking around with those Get Out Of Jail Free cards should be standing beside me having to justify what they did during the Troubles. I can justify my actions because I believe in what I did. The IRA were merciless. They had no compunction in killing innocent civilians. They didn t care whose lives they affected or who they murdered. I was in Northern Ireland proudly serving Queen and country, which I continued to do I believe as a consummate professional for 23 years. Now here I am and my poor wife and family waiting to hear whether I ll face prosecution for murder. You tell me what s fair about that?
  • A daily plebiscite - Calcutta Telegraph Regarding Kashmir and the Northeast, mainstream Indian political opinion - with some exceptions - ignores or underplays the violence inflicted on people who are formally citizens of this republic. The violence of the past few days in Kashmir - five civilians killed in army and police firing, amongst them a schoolboy - is the latest instalment in a long history of mayhem. In a few weeks (or less) it will become another forgotten episode in this endless serial, a tribute to our genius for pretending that Kashmir is a series of noises off. This self-deluding gift leads to a set of diagnoses and arguments that are quasi-colonial in their logic: 1. The troubles in Kashmir and the Northeast are the work of foreign powers and do not represent the views of the silent majority of these regions. 2. The insurgencies in the Northeast are, in fact, a series of protection rackets and criminal enterprises that has nothing to do with self-determination or subnationalism. 3. The troubles in these regions represent not a general disaffection, but the irrational hostility of one malcontented sect or ethnicity. In the case of Kashmir, for example, it is often argued that the troubles are confined to the Valley and a few contiguous districts. The movement for azadi is sometimes called a Sunni insurgency. At other times, we are told that the troubles are no more than an urban derangement with rural Kashmiri Muslims living in a state of bucolic calm. These explanations are close cousins to the arguments used by the raj to discredit anti-colonial movements of resistance. All of them contain a measure of truth, but all of them wilfully underestimate the scale of alienation in these regions. They do so because to recognize the enormity of the problem would mean acknowledging the violence done in our name. By underplaying the problem, we become complicit in not acknowledging the viciousness of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, a piece of emergency legislation that has been in operation in India's borderlands for decades. AFSPA is incompatible with the rights of citizenship; the Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission recommended its repeal more than ten years ago. AFSPA's imposition creates a state of continuous emergency where citizens become colonial subjects without rights or legal protections. A law that effectively renders the military personnel of the Indian State immune to punishment for rape and murder is a law that should have no place in the life of a democratic republic. Under AFSPA, soldiers can be prosecuted only with the consent of the Indian government. In Kashmir after two decades and more of conflict and violence where no one, not even the Indian State denies that the police and the army have been responsible for atrocities, the permission to prosecute soldiers has never been granted. Kashmir and the states of the Northeast have been subject to AFSPA for decades. We cannot, in good faith, both claim the residents of these states as citizens and treat them like helots. By doing this continuously, by deferring to the army's need for impunity, we effectively treat Kashmir and Manipur and Nagaland as real estate, as empty landscapes voided of true citizens. The republican State has used AFSPA in ways that are more draconian than the practice of the British raj during times of serious insurgency. An AFSPA-like ordinance was passed during the Quit India movement in 1942, when Britain was fighting for its life against Germany. But even in that context, the colonial State required an officer of the rank of captain to invoke its draconian powers. In republican India, that authority has devolved to sergeants. We speak glibly of the integration of Kashmiris and people from the Northeast into the Indian economy, we cite their diasporas in the rest of India as signs of assimilation. But someone who moves from a state of republican freedom to a state of colonial subordination by taking a train home, is not a citizen but a subject. I experienced subject-hood for two years between 1975 and 1977. Northeastern friends of mine have lived their lives in the shadow of emergency laws. There is a whole genre of writing in the Northeast centred on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. Poems, stories, novels, plays, explore military violence and the Kafkaesque consequences of military impunity. In February, the Indian army was ordered into eight districts in Haryana to control the insensate violence visited upon the state by angry Jat agitators. During curfew hours, the army was ordered to shoot-on-sight. Despite the burning and looting and killing, the army went to extraordinary lengths not to fire upon rampaging mobs for fear of civilian casualties. Through days of mayhem, it didn't fire once. Contrast this with the army's hair-trigger willingness to fire upon young protesters in Kashmir. The difference isn't hard to explain: AFSPA turns citizens into subjects and a republican army into an occupying legion. Even if Kashmiri protesters don't consider themselves Indians, the Indian State doesn't have the luxury of treating them like hostiles. A republic can't disown its citizens. For us to look the other way, to ignore AFSPA and all that it implies, is cowardly. AFSPA compromises our claim to being a democratic republic. It endangers us all; draconian laws invariably end up being used on the general population, not just in insurgent areas. We can't invoke India's inalienable right to Kashmir if we are unconcerned about the suspension of the civil rights of Kashmir's Indian citizens. Unless, of course, we're keener on Kashmiri houseboats than Kashmiri human beings. The azadi campaign does itself no favours with its trivialization of Kashmiri Pandit suffering. The 'serve-them-right' dismissal of their exile, the insinuation that Pandits brought this upon themselves as pliant stool pigeons of the Indian State, has been an unattractive characteristic of spokespersons for Kashmiri self-determination. The argument that Kashmiri Pandits were willing accomplices in a State-inspired conspiracy to create a countervailing grievance, is an odious one. Given the documented violence against Kashmiri Pandits in the Nineties, to argue self-victimization at the GOI's behest demonstrates an almost ironical lack of empathy. The Indian citizen outside the valley has three options. He can support self-determination in Kashmir knowing that it might mean either a sectarian Muslim statelet or more territory for a larger sectarian state, Pakistan. He can endorse the military occupation because, in the larger scheme of things, Kashmiri Muslim suffering is the price that must be paid for the greater good of a pluralist India. Or he can press for the abolition of AFSPA, the demilitarization of Kashmir and the Northeast and the institution of a process by which atrocities by the security forces, especially in the period between 1989 and 1996 are investigated and the guilty punished. If the Indian republic wants to demonstrate its good faith, to make some reparation for the history of State violence there, this is the absolute minimum that it must do. If it claims the allegiance of the people in these areas, it must treat them as rights-bearing citizens, not mutinous subjects. Indians committed to the nation's territorial integrity need to recognize that a democratic republic's claim on its constituent territories is, in the last instance, under-written by consent. Unless the republic creates the conditions for earning that consent by withdrawing AFSPA and returning the army to its barracks, it runs the risk of permanently damaging its claim to political legitimacy. Without legitimacy, governance shades into occupation. In his famous lecture of 1882, "What is a Nation?", Ernest Renan dramatized this principle of consent with a metaphor: the nation, he argued, is a daily plebiscite. In AFSPA-land, this is a plebiscite that the Government of India is in danger of losing by default. The first step towards trying to win it ought to be the summary abolition of this nation-corroding, anti-republican law. [email protected] [1] References ^ [email protected] (hotmail.com)
  • A Film About Atheism in Poland, 325 Years After a Soldier Was ... 325 years ago, in 1689, Casimir Liszinski 1 (a.k.a. Kazimierz yszczy ski ), a Polish soldier, was executed for the crime of atheism. Last year, Polish filmmaker Zenon Kalafaticz made an English-language documentary 2 about how atheism fares in the country more than three centuries after Liszinski s death, and now he s back with a new film 3 about the topic.

    It s called 325 Years After : I haven t had a chance to watch the whole thing, but if you moments stand out, please leave a timestamp and summary in the comments!

    References ^ Casimir Liszinski (en.wikipedia.org) ^ made an English-language documentary (www.patheos.com) ^ a new film (youtu.be)

  • A Glimpse of the British Army In May, 1916, Arthur Conan Doyle was permitted by the War Office of the Allies to visit the battlefront of the World War I, and report on the British, French and Italian Armies. Here his account of the British Army from the front I It is not an easy matter to write from the front. You know that there are several courteous but inexorable gentlemen who may have a word in the matter, and their presence imparts but small ease to the style. But above all you have the twin censors of your own conscience and common sense, which assure you that, if all other readers fail you, you will certainly find a most attentive one in the neighbourhood of the Haupt-Quartier. An instructive story is still told of how a certain well-meaning traveller recorded his satisfaction with the appearance of the big guns at the retiring and peaceful village of Jamais, and how three days later, by an interesting coincidence, the village of Jamais passed suddenly off the map and dematerialised into brickdust and splinters. I have been with soldiers on the warpath before, but never have I had a day so crammed with experiences and impressions as yesterday. Some of them at least I can faintly convey to the reader, and if they ever reach the eye of that gentleman at the Haupt-Quartier they will give him little joy. For the crowning impression of all is the enormous imperturbable confidence of the Army and its extraordinary efficiency in organisation, administration, material, and personnel. I met in one day a sample of many types, an Army commander, a corps commander, two divisional commanders, staff officers of many grades, and, above all, I met repeatedly the two very great men whom Britain has produced, the private soldier and the regimental officer. Everywhere and on every face one read the same spirit of cheerful bravery. Even the half-mad cranks whose absurd consciences prevent them from barring the way to the devil seemed to me to be turning into men under the prevailing influence. I saw a batch of them, neurotic and largely be-spectacled, but working with a will by the roadside. They will volunteer for the trenches yet. If there are pessimists among us they are not to be found among the men who are doing the work. There is no foolish bravado, no under-rating of a dour opponent, but there is a quick, alert, confident attention to the job in hand which is an inspiration to the observer. These brave lads are guarding Britain in the present. See to it that Britain guards them in the future! We have a bad record in this matter. It must be changed. They are the wards of the nation, both officers and men. Socialism has never had an attraction for me, but I should be a Socialist to-morrow if I thought that to ease a tax on wealth these men should ever suffer for the time or health that they gave to the public cause. Get out of the car. Don t let it stay here. It may be hit. These words from a staff officer give you the first idea that things are going to happen. Up to then you might have been driving through the black country in the Walsall district with the population of Aldershot let loose upon its dingy roads. Put on this shrapnel helmet. That hat of yours would infuriate the Boche this was an unkind allusion to the only uniform which I have a right to wear. Take this gas helmet. You won t need it, but it is a standing order. Now come on! We cross a meadow and enter a trench. Here and there it comes to the surface again where there is dead ground. At one such point an old church stands, with an unexploded shell sticking out of the wall. A century hence folk will journey to see that shell. Then on again through an endless cutting. It is slippery clay below. I have no nails in my boots, an iron pot on my head, and the sun above me. I will remember that walk. Ten telephone wires run down the side. Here and there large thistles and other plants grow from the clay walls, so immobile have been our lines. Occasionally there are patches of untidiness. Shells, says the officer laconically. There is a racket of guns before us and behind, especially behind, but danger seems remote with all these Bairnfather groups of cheerful Tommies at work around us. I pass one group of grimy, tattered boys. A glance at their shoulders shows me that they are of a public school battalion. I thought you fellows were all officers now, I remarked. No, sir, we like it better so. Well, it will be a great memory for you. We are all in your debt. They salute, and we squeeze past them. They had the fresh, brown faces of boy cricketers. But their comrades were men of a different type, with hard, strong, rugged features, and the eyes of men who have seen strange sights. These are veterans, men of Mons, and their young pals of the public schools have something to live up to. Up to this we have only had two clay walls to look at. But now our interminable and tropical walk is lightened by the sight of a British aeroplane sailing overhead. Numerous shrapnel bursts are all round it, but she floats on serenely, a thing of delicate beauty against the blue background. Now another passes and yet another. All morning we saw them circling and swooping, and never a sign of a Boche. They tell me it is nearly always so that we hold the air, and that the Boche intruder, save at early morning, is a rare bird. A visit to the line would reassure Mr. Pemberton-Billing. We have never met a British aeroplane which was not ready to fight, said a captured German aviator the other day. There is a fine stern courtesy between the airmen on either side, each dropping notes into the other s aerodromes to tell the fate of missing officers. Had the whole war been fought by the Germans as their airmen have conducted it (I do not speak of course of the Zeppelin murderers), a peace would eventually have been more easily arranged. As it is, if every frontier could be settled, it would be a hard thing to stop until all that is associated with the words Cavell, Zeppelin, Wittenberg, Lusitania, and Louvain has been brought to the bar of the world s Justice. And now we are there in what is surely the most wonderful spot in the world, the front firing trench, the outer breakwater which holds back the German tide. How strange that this monstrous oscillation of giant forces, setting in from east to west, should find their equilibrium here across this particular meadow of Flanders. How far? I ask. 180 yards, says my guide. Pop! remarks a third person just in front. A sniper, says my guide; take a look through the periscope. I do so. There is some rusty wire before me, then a field sloping slightly upwards with knee-deep grass, then rusty wire again, and a red line of broken earth. There is not a sign of movement, but sharp eyes are always watching us, even as these crouching soldiers around me are watching them. There are dead Germans in the grass before us. You need not see them to know that they are there. A wounded soldier sits in a corner nursing his leg. Here and there men pop out like rabbits from dug-outs and mine-shafts. Others sit on the fire-step or lean smoking against the clay wall. Who would dream to look at their bold, careless faces that this is a front line, and that at any moment it is possible that a grey wave may submerge them? With all their careless bearing I notice that every man has his gas helmet and his rifle within easy reach. A mile of front trenches and then we are on our way back down that weary walk. Then I am whisked off upon a ten mile drive. There is a pause for lunch at Corps Headquarters, and after it we are taken to a medal presentation in a market square. Generals Munro, Haking and Landon, famous fighting soldiers all three, are the British representatives. Munro with a ruddy face, and brain above all bulldog below; Haking, pale, distinguished, intellectual; Landon a pleasant, genial country squire. An elderly French General stands beside them. British infantry keep the ground. In front are about fifty Frenchmen in civil dress of every grade of life, workmen and gentlemen, in a double rank. They are all so wounded that they are back in civil life, but to-day they are to have some solace for their wounds. They lean heavily on sticks, their bodies are twisted and maimed, but their faces are shining with pride and joy. The French General draws his sword and addresses them. One catches words like honneur and patrie. They lean forward on their crutches, hanging on every syllable which comes hissing and rasping from under that heavy white moustache. Then the medals are pinned on. One poor lad is terribly wounded and needs two sticks. A little girl runs out with some flowers. He leans forward and tries to kiss her, but the crutches slip and he nearly falls upon her. It was a pitiful but beautiful little scene. Now the British candidates march up one by one for their medals, hale, hearty men, brown and fit. There is a smart young officer of Scottish Rifles; and then a selection of Worcesters, Welsh Fusiliers and Scots Fusiliers, with one funny little Highlander, a tiny figure with a soup-bowl helmet, a grinning boy s face beneath it, and a bedraggled uniform. Many acts of great bravery such was the record for which he was decorated. Even the French wounded smiled at his quaint appearance, as they did at another Briton who had acquired the chewing-gum habit, and came up for his medal as if he had been called suddenly in the middle of his dinner, which he was still endeavouring to bolt. Then came the end, with the National Anthem. The British regiment formed fours and went past. To me that was the most impressive sight of any. They were the Queen s West Surreys, a veteran regiment of the great Ypres battle. What grand fellows! As the order came Eyes right, and all those fierce, dark faces flashed round about us, I felt the might of the British infantry, the intense individuality which is not incompatible with the highest discipline. Much they had endured, but a great spirit shone from their faces. I confess that as I looked at those brave English lads, and thought of what we owe to them and to their like who have passed on, I felt more emotional than befits a Briton in foreign parts. Now the ceremony was ended, and once again we set out for the front. It was to an artillery observation post that we were bound, and once again my description must be bounded by discretion. Suffice it, that in an hour I found myself, together with a razor-keen young artillery observer and an excellent old sportsman of a Russian prince, jammed into a very small space, and staring through a slit at the German lines. In front of us lay a vast plain, scarred and slashed, with bare places at intervals, such as you see where gravel pits break a green common. Not a sign of life or movement, save some wheeling crows. And yet down there, within a mile or so, is the population of a city. Far away a single train is puffing at the back of the German lines. We are here on a definite errand. Away to the right, nearly three miles off, is a small red house, dim to the eye but clear in the glasses, which is suspected as a German post. It is to go up this afternoon. The gun is some distance away, but I hear the telephone directions. Mother will soon do her in, remarks the gunner boy cheerfully. Mother is the name of the gun. Give her five six three four, he cries through the phone. Mother utters a horrible bellow from somewhere on our right. An enormous spout of smoke rises ten seconds later from near the house. A little short, says our gunner. Two and a half minutes left, adds a little small voice, which represents another observer at a different angle. Raise her seven five, says our boy encouragingly. Mother roars more angrily than ever. How will that do? she seems to say. One and a half right, says our invisible gossip. I wonder how the folk in the house are feeling as the shells creep ever nearer. Gun laid, sir, says the telephone. Fire! I am looking through my glass. A flash of fire on the house, a huge pillar of dust and smoke then it settles, and an unbroken field is there. The German post has gone up. It s a dear little gun, says the officer boy. And her shells are reliable, remarked a senior behind us. They vary with different calibres, but Mother never goes wrong. The German line was very quiet. Pourquoi ils ne r pondent pas? asked the Russian prince. Yes, they are quiet to-day, answered the senior. But we get it in the neck sometimes. We are all led off to be introduced to Mother, who sits, squat and black, amid twenty of her grimy children who wait upon and feed her. She is an important person is Mother, and her importance grows. It gets clearer with every month that it is she, and only she, who can lead us to the Rhine. She can and she will if the factories of Britain can beat those of the Hun. See to it, you working men and women of Britain. Work now if you rest for ever after, for the fate of Europe and of all that is dear to us is in your hands. For Mother is a dainty eater, and needs good food and plenty. She is fond of strange lodgings, too, in which she prefers safety to dignity. But that is a dangerous subject. One more experience of this wonderful day the most crowded with impressions of my whole life. At night we take a car and drive north, and ever north, until at a late hour we halt and climb a hill in the darkness. Below is a wonderful sight. Down on the flats, in a huge semi-circle, lights are rising and falling. They are very brilliant, going up for a few seconds and then dying down. Sometimes a dozen are in the air at one time. There are the dull thuds of explosions and an occasional rat-tat-tat. I have seen nothing like it, but the nearest comparison would be an enormous ten-mile railway station in full swing at night, with signals winking, lamps waving, engines hissing and carriages bumping. It is a terrible place down yonder, a place which will live as long as military history is written, for it is the Ypres Salient. What a salient it is, too! A huge curve, as outlined by the lights, needing only a little more to be an encirclement. Something caught the rope as it closed, and that something was the British soldier. But it is a perilous place still by day and by night. Never shall I forget the impression of ceaseless, malignant activity which was borne in upon me by the white, winking lights, the red sudden glares, and the horrible thudding noises in that place of death beneath me. II In old days we had a great name as organisers. Then came a long period when we deliberately adopted a policy of individuality and go as you please. Now once again in our sore need we have called on all our power of administration and direction. But it has not deserted us. We still have it in a supreme degree. Even in peace time we have shown it in that vast, well-oiled, swift-running, noiseless machine called the British Navy. But now our powers have risen with the need of them. The expansion of the Navy has been a miracle, the management of the transport a greater one, the formation of the new Army the greatest of all time. To get the men was the least of the difficulties. To put them here, with everything down to the lid of the last field saucepan in its place, that is the marvel. The tools of the gunners, and of the sappers, to say nothing of the knowledge of how to use them, are in themselves a huge problem. But it has all been met and mastered, and will be to the end. But don t let us talk any more about the muddling of the War Office. It has become just a little ridiculous. I have told of my first day, when I visited the front trenches, saw the work of Mother, and finally that marvellous spectacle, the Ypres Salient at night. I have passed the night at the headquarters of a divisional-general, Capper, who might truly be called one of the two fathers of the British flying force, for it was he, with Templer, who laid the first foundations from which so great an organisation has arisen. My morning was spent in visiting two fighting brigadiers, cheery weather-beaten soldiers, respectful, as all our soldiers are, of the prowess of the Hun, but serenely confident that we can beat him. In company with one of them I ascended a hill, the reverse slope of which was swarming with cheerful infantry in every stage of dishabille, for they were cleaning up after the trenches. Once over the slope we advanced with some care, and finally reached a certain spot from which we looked down upon the German line. It was the advanced observation post, about a thousand yards from the German trenches, with our own trenches between us. We could see the two lines, sometimes only a few yards, as it seemed, apart, extending for miles on either side. The sinister silence and solitude were strangely dramatic. Such vast crowds of men, such intensity of feeling, and yet only that open rolling countryside, with never a movement in its whole expanse. The afternoon saw us in the Square at Ypres. It is the city of a dream, this modern Pompeii, destroyed, deserted and desecrated, but with a sad, proud dignity which made you involuntarily lower your voice as you passed through the ruined streets. It is a more considerable place than I had imagined, with many traces of ancient grandeur. No words can describe the absolute splintered wreck that the Huns have made of it. The effect of some of the shells has been grotesque. One boiler-plated water-tower, a thing forty or fifty feet high, was actually standing on its head like a great metal top. There is not a living soul in the place save a few pickets of soldiers, and a number of cats which become fierce and dangerous. Now and then a shell still falls, but the Huns probably know that the devastation is already complete. We stood in the lonely grass-grown Square, once the busy centre of the town, and we marvelled at the beauty of the smashed cathedral and the tottering Cloth Hall beside it. Surely at their best they could not have looked more wonderful than now. If they were preserved even so, and if a heaven-inspired artist were to model a statue of Belgium in front, Belgium with one hand pointing to the treaty by which Prussia guaranteed her safety and the other to the sacrilege behind her, it would make the most impressive group in the world. It was an evil day for Belgium when her frontier was violated, but it was a worse one for Germany. I venture to prophesy that it will be regarded by history as the greatest military as well as political error that has ever been made. Had the great guns that destroyed Li ge made their first breach at Verdun, what chance was there for Paris? Those few weeks of warning and preparation saved France, and left Germany as she now is, like a weary and furious bull, tethered fast in the place of trespass and waiting for the inevitable pole-axe. We were glad to get out of the place, for the gloom of it lay as heavy upon our hearts as the shrapnel helmets did upon our heads. Both were lightened as we sped back past empty and shattered villas to where, just behind the danger line, the normal life of rural Flanders was carrying on as usual. A merry sight helped to cheer us, for scudding down wind above our heads came a Boche aeroplane, with two British at her tail barking away with their machine guns, like two swift terriers after a cat. They shot rat-tat-tatting across the sky until we lost sight of them in the heat haze over the German line. The afternoon saw us on the Sharpenburg, from which many a million will gaze in days to come, for from no other point can so much be seen. It is a spot forbid, but a special permit took us up, and the sentry on duty, having satisfied himself of our bona fides, proceeded to tell us tales of the war in a pure Hull dialect which might have been Chinese for all that I could understand. That he was a terrier and had nine children were the only facts I could lay hold of. But I wished to be silent and to think even, perhaps, to pray. Here, just below my feet, were the spots which our dear lads, three of them my own kith, have sanctified with their blood. Here, fighting for the freedom of the world, they cheerily gave their all. On that sloping meadow to the left of the row of houses on the opposite ridge the London Scottish fought to the death on that grim November morning when the Bavarians reeled back from their shot-torn line. That plain away on the other side of Ypres was the place where the three grand Canadian brigades, first of all men, stood up to the damnable cowardly gases of the Hun. Down yonder is Hill 60, that blood-soaked kopje. The ridge over the fields was held by the cavalry against two army corps, and there where the sun strikes the red roof among the trees I can just see Gheluveld, a name for ever to be associated with Haig and the most vital battle of the war. As I turn away I am faced by my Hull Territorial, who still says incomprehensible things. I look at him with other eyes. He has fought on yonder plain. He has slain Huns, and he has nine children. Could any one better epitomise the duties of a good citizen? I could have found it in my heart to salute him had I not known that it would have shocked him and made him unhappy. It has been a full day, and the next is even fuller, for it is my privilege to lunch at Headquarters, and to make the acquaintance of the Commander-in-chief and of his staff. It would be an invasion of private hospitality if I were to give the public the impressions which I carried from that charming ch teau. I am the more sorry, since they were very vivid and strong. This much I will say and any man who is a face reader will not need to have it said that if the Army stands still it is not by the will of its commander. There will, I swear, be no happier man in Europe when the day has come and the hour. It is human to err, but never possibly can some types err by being backward. We have a superb army in France. It needs the right leader to handle it. I came away happier and more confident than ever as to the future. Extraordinary are the contrasts of war. Within three hours of leaving the quiet atmosphere of the Headquarters Ch teau I was present at what in any other war would have been looked upon as a brisk engagement. As it was it would certainly figure in one of our desiccated reports as an activity of the artillery. The noise as we struck the line at this new point showed that the matter was serious, and, indeed, we had chosen the spot because it had been the storm centre of the last week. The method of approach chosen by our experienced guide was in itself a tribute to the gravity of the affair. As one comes from the settled order of Flanders into the actual scene of war, the first sign of it is one of the stationary, sausage-shaped balloons, a chain of which marks the ring in which the great wrestlers are locked. We pass under this, ascend a hill, and find ourselves in a garden where for a year no feet save those of wanderers like ourselves have stood. There is a wild, confused luxuriance of growth more beautiful to my eye than anything which the care of man can produce. One old shell-hole of vast diameter has filled itself with forget-me-nots, and appears as a graceful basin of light blue flowers, held up as an atonement to heaven for the brutalities of man. Through the tangled bushes we creep, then across a yard Please stoop and run as you pass this point and finally to a small opening in a wall, whence the battle lies not so much before as beside us. For a moment we have a front seat at the great world-drama, God s own problem play, working surely to its magnificent end. One feels a sort of shame to crouch here in comfort, a useless spectator, while brave men down yonder are facing that pelting shower of iron. There is a large field on our left rear, and the German gunners have the idea that there is a concealed battery therein. They are systematically searching for it. A great shell explodes in the top corner, but gets nothing more solid than a few tons of clay. You can read the mind of Gunner Fritz. Try the lower corner! says he, and up goes the earth-cloud once again. Perhaps it s hid about the middle. I ll try. Earth again, and nothing more. I believe I was right the first time after all, says hopeful Fritz. So another shell comes into the top corner. The field is as full of pits as a Gruy re cheese, but Fritz gets nothing by his perseverance. Perhaps there never was a battery there at all. One effect he obviously did attain. He made several other British batteries exceedingly angry. Stop that tickling, Fritz! was the burden of their cry. Where they were we could no more see than Fritz could, but their constant work was very clear along the German line. We appeared to be using more shrapnel and the Germans more high explosives, but that may have been just the chance of the day. The Vimy Ridge was on our right, and before us was the old French position, with the labyrinth of terrible memories and the long hill of Lorette. When, last year, the French, in a three weeks battle, fought their way up that hill, it was an exhibition of sustained courage which even their military annals can seldom have beaten. And so I turn from the British line. Another and more distant task lies before me. I come away with the deep sense of the difficult task which lies before the Army, but with a deeper one of the ability of these men to do all that soldiers can ever be asked to perform. Let the guns clear the way for the infantry, and the rest will follow. It all lies with the guns. But the guns, in turn, depend upon our splendid workers at home, who, men and women, are doing so grandly. Let them not be judged by a tiny minority, who are given, perhaps, too much attention in our journals. We have all made sacrifices in the war, but when the full story comes to be told, perhaps the greatest sacrifice of all is that which Labour made when, with a sigh, she laid aside that which it had taken so many weary years to build. Arthur Conan Doyle [1] Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (1859 1930) was a physician and British writer and, most popular for his crime fiction series featuring the detective of 221 B Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes. His most famous short-story collections and novellas include The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Sign of Four, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, His Last Bow and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes . His other works include The Lost World (1912), The Coming of the Fairies (1922), and Memories and Adventures (1924-30), along with spiritual writings such as The Wanderings of a Spiritualist (1921), The History of Spiritualism (1926), and Pheneas Speaks: Direct Spirit Communications in the Family Circle (1927). References ^ Arthur Conan Doyle (coldnoon.com)
  • A Glossary of SlangEdwardian Promenade Courtesy of [1] The Institute of Edwardian Studies [2] , Askew s Glossary of Victorian Colonial Terminology, Vita Sackville-West s The Edwardians and Ronald Pearsall s Edwardian Life and Leisure . A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z A ague Any fever, such as malaria, that recurs at regular intervals (from Medieval Latin febris acuta, literally, sharp fever) ammunitions Boots (later usage) Return to Top [3] B baize a coarse, woolen material resembling felt balmy on the crumpet crazy, insane barnbrack (barmbrack) a spice cake-like bread usually made with currants beef, beer, and lust What British civilians thought British soldiers were too full of. beer, bum, and bacca Pleasures of the sailor s life, circa 1870, bacca being tobacco. blackavised dark faced, to have a dark complexion, swarthy black death The plague. A virulent contagious bacteria often found in rats. Humans can get the disease from fleas. black water fever A type of African malaria that causes anemia and brown or black urine due to the destruction of red blood cells. blimey From Gorblimey!, meaning God blind me blottesque blotted or blotchy blotto drunk blue devils to feel sad or depressed, to be in low spirits. e.g., I had the blue devils after losing the game. blue jacket British sailor BOR British Other Ranks, non-officers box coat a large, loose-fitting overcoat worn by coachmen brew Tea brevet A temporary higher rank, for example, a captain being a brevet colonel. It was not unusual for British colonial officers on loan to another regiment to be temporarily classed as a higher rank in that regiment but to paid for the lesser rank of their actual regiment. (Old French, diminutive of brief letter) brick good sort, good sport brolly Umbrella, circa 1873 broomsquire a professional broom maker buck a dandy, a smartly dressed or handsome individual buffer old man, old codger bunk to tell someone angrily to go away scram!; to dash or sprint away ( done the bunk to escape, run out on [something/one]) bun strangler Non-drinker Return to Top [4] C cabinet particulier a private room, usually associated with a restaurant and having a sofa or hidden bed, set aside for trysts by lovers and those having extra-marital affairs Cardigan an artilleryman from the Cardigan regiment of the Royal Garrison Artillery reserves caravan Travelers on a journey through hostile regions (Italian caravana, from Persian karwan). carry the banner tramp catarrh An inflammation of the nose and air passages that produces drainage (from Greek katarrhein to flow down). char Tea. (Hindustani char) charpoy A bed, frame strung with tapes or light rope (Hindustani carpai) cheeking taunting or jeering at cheese it stop!, stop it!, look out! chit derogatory term for a small or frail woman cicerone a sightseeing guide cinematrograph Early motion pictures c. 1900. Also known as viagraph or bioscope. chee-chee Half-caste, mixed race of British and Indian. Also the sing-song accent of same, from the early influence of Welsh missionaries. cheroot Cigar (from Tamil, curuttu, roll. [About 1679]) cholera belt A body wrapping of flannel worn to supposedly prevent cholera. Used in India until about 1920. chota peg Small drink, a gin and tonic chota wallah Little guy class regiment Indian Army regiment whose members were all recruited from one ethnic group such as Sikhs, Gurkhas, etc. clemming consumptive, emaciated; necessitous, in want, pinched; in shoemaking, the binding together of soles clergyman s daughter slang for a prostitute or woman with loose morals clobber Uniform, clothing cockchafer the beetle Melolontha melolontha college Prison (as in, I ve been to college. ) contango A technical term from the British Stock Exchange referring to the postponing of a transfer of stock. More colloquially, it refers to the last day to negotiate a financial arrangement before accounts are settled. In slang, it refers to the day of reckoning or the last judgement. Corner to corner the market on something, to gain a monopoly cozy corner an arrangement of built-in seats situated in a room s corner or next to a fireplace consumption Pulmonary tuberculosis or any other wasting-away disease that consumed its victims. crammer a person who helps students cram (intensively study) for examinations crack up talk up, praise, laud Crikey an exclamation equivalent to Oh My! or Well Then! croaker A dying person, a corpse, or someone who has given up; doomsayer, complainer cropper (come a cropper) a hard fall (esp. from a horse); usually used in come a cropper, meaning to come to ruin or to fail miserably crossing a fight, especially a clandestine prize fight cushy Easy (Hindi khush pleasant, from Persian khush [1915] cut it or cutting it escape, take off, take a vacation Return to Top [5] D daisy-roots Boots dead-and-alive dead quiet, dull, sleepy deevie divine dekko To take a look (Hindi, deckna, to look) dhobi wallah Indian who did the washing dhoolie wallah Indian dhoolie carrier D. O. British District Officer doggo To lie doggo, to hide. Probably from dog [1893] dog cart a two-wheeled vehicle of often simple design and decoration drawn by a smallish horse or a pony donkey walloper Infantry disparaging term for cavalry doss a bed or to sleep. Also see on the doss. doss house a cheap lodging house. Also see on the doss. down to be critical drugget a floor covering made of a coarse fabric dyspepsia Indigestion (Latin, from Greek, from dys- + pepsis digestion) Return to Top [6] E enteric fever Typhoid fever expie expensive Return to Top [7] F fallalish pertaining to an article of clothing or piece of dress that is excessively showy or fancy (from fallal) fast extravagant, wild Fieldfare a thrush, Turdus pilaris, related to the European blackbird. In summer it has a brown breast, brown back, white underwings, and grey head. Its winter plumage is mainly grey in color. finnan haddie smoked haddock Fishing Fleet Unmarried British women sent to India each year by their parents during the cool weather to find husbands. fittums What a perfect fit! fizz champagne flash showy, gaudy, vulgar fossick To search for gold or gemstones typically by picking over abandoned workings (Australian and New Zealand) footle nonsense; to talk nonsense or to waste time French to be French is to be disingenuous or unserious frou-frou the rustling or swish of a dress or gown fuddled to become befuddled or drunk furze also known as gorse or whin. A shrub, Ulex europeaeus, which grows 4 feet in height and bears yellow flowers Return to Top [8] G gallipot a small, covered earthenware pot galloper Officer used by commanders to carry messages. Gardner Gun (machine gun) A one- to five-barreled machine gun used by the British Army from 1880. Operated by turning a crank which loaded and fired each barrel in sequence. gas boasting; idle or nonsensical talk General Services Enlistment Act One of the causes of the Indian Mutiny. It required Indian troops in British service to to go overseas, if required. Hindus would break caste if they did so. gibbous humpbacked; convex; used to describe the moon when its phase is more than half but less than full gloaming twilight or dusk gradley (graidley) thoroughly, greatly graft Work grangerised adding material (especially pictures) collected from other sources to an existing book; extra-illustrated greenwood a form of woodworking which uses freshly-cut wood and specializes in bending the wood into curved shapes for chairs, bows, and ornamental objects; a vivid green wood used in making ornamental objects grig grasshopper or cricket. Often seen in the phrase merry as a grig, meaning ecstatic or jumping for joy. grippe Influenza (from French, seizure) god wallah Priest or chaplain goolie Testicle, late 19th century (Hindi gooli, a pellet) gorse see furze got the chuck fired from a job, discharged from a position, dismissed got the hump put out, annoyed, irritated. e.g., He has got the hump over it. Return to Top [9] H hanger a copse or wooded area on the side of a steep hill hap luck; happenstance havelock Cloth cap cover that hung on the back to protect the neck from sunlight (named after Sir Henry Havelock) heart-whole not in love heliograph a device which sends messages (usually in morse code) by means of flashes of reflected sunlight highball whiskey and water (Am Eng) hoarding a display case or area to place advertisements or advertised products; a wooden fence or barrier hook it escape, run away, get away hop the wag play truant from school hot or cold Ways of attacking. By shooting (hot) or by bayonet (cold) hoyden a boisterous girl or young woman hummock a knoll, small hill, or mound of earth hussar a light cavalryman Return to Top [10] I Ichabod an exclamation equivalent to By God!, How terrible!, or What a shame! Usage is derived from the biblical name in 1 Samuel, meaning no glory or the glory is gone. Imperial Yeomanry British volunteer cavalry force recruited from locals for the Boer war. Little or no training, but they had much enthusiasm. indy indigestion isinglass a gelatin made from fish, usually sturgeon Return to Top [11] J jackdaw a crow jipper to baste; meat broth, gravy, drippings josser a fool, a fellow juggins a simpleton jump liveliness jumping jesus a zealot or fanatic Return to Top [12] K Keep your hair on! a command not to get excited, equivalent to Keep your hat on! kip place to sleep; Bed (Danish kippecheap tavern) kipping sleeping knut an idle upper-class man-about-town kopje Afrikaans word for a small hill, especially one with steep sides Return to Top [13] L liberty-men Sailors on shore leave. limber horse-drawn, two-wheeled wagon used to transport artillery pieces; the action of transporting artillery pieces in a limber; the driver of a limber linctus in medicine it refers to a medicinal preparation or mixture leash (of animals) three or threesome loot Plunder (Hindi lut [c.1788]) lorgnettes opera glasses Return to Top [14] M mahout in India, an elephant driver malaria A disease transmitted by mosquitoes that causes periodic severe attacks of chills and fever, thought at one time to be caused by miasma (Italian [1740], from mala aria, bad air) man-man a royal personage matlow Self-adopted name of British sailors (blue-jackets)[1880](from French matelot, sailor) mar a cripple Maxim Gun British .303 caliber. Recoil-operated machine gun. First used in Matabele war of 1893-94. Bought and copied by almost all nations, although often under other names. The standard MG during the Great War. Named after the British (American-born) inventor, Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim. miasma A heavy vapor emanation or atmosphere believed to cause malaria or other diseases common in swampy areas (Greek, defilement, from miainein to pollute [1665]) miry swampy, muddy moithered to be agitated, flustered, or perturbed, especially by a noisy crowd mumchance silent, dumbstruck munge to chew or chop into a mixture; to get into or cause a bad situation, to make a mess of things murrain A plague that infects domestic animals (from Latin mori, to die) Mussulman A Moslem or Muslim (Turkish m sl man, Persian musulman, modification of Arabic muslim) Return to Top [15] N nap a form of the card game whist nappy wallach Barber nasty jar a bad or sticky situation Nebuchadnezzar phase a drunken episode, a drinking bout. Derived from the name given the largest container of champagne a Nebuchadnezzar which held 20 quarts or 15 liters nesh frail; tender, especially as regards susceptibility to the cold nightie nightgown Night-jar a bird, Caprimulgus europaeus, with gray-brown plumage and white wings. Also known as the goatsucker. Nordenfelt Gun Although Nordenfelt produced other types of guns, when used in a colonial setting the term usually refers to a multi-barreled machine gun (2 to 10 barrels) operated by a lever which was moved back and forth. First used in the 1880 s. nuclear spot central location Return to Top [16] O oast an oven for drying hops or malt off his chump insane, crazy off his onion mad, crazy old sweat Veteran on the cot Changing one s ways on the doss on the tramp, vagabondage on the peg Under arrest osier a small willow tree whose branches are often used in basket making, Salix viminalis Return to Top [17] P padding the hoof walking paddy Rice field (Malay padi [1623]) palanquin in India, a sedan chair used by British colonials, especially women, of rank. It was either carried by men or set atop an elephant. paling a fence, specifically the upright components of a fence especially wooden pickets pannier Donkey load. A large basket or container carried on the back of an animal or on the shoulders of a person (13th century, Latin, panis, bread) pantechnicon a furniture moving truck peg a soup kitchen, a place where free meals are given out pettish peevish P. and O. Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company. The main line for British travelers to India and the East Per mare, per terram By land, by sea , motto of the Royal Marines. AKA Poor Mary on the terrace pipe off lose interest in something, especially a lover pippin an outstanding person; a variety of apple pith helmet Sun helmet made of cloth-covered cork. piquet A small guard post with about 12 men or less. Pom or Pommie Derisive Australian soldier s term for British officers or British men in general (from pomade hair dressing) poodle-faker A man who spent too much time in the society of women, engaging in such activates as tea parties, balls, etc. pop-wallah Non-alcohol drinker, a drinker of soda pop pother to bother or worry; a fuss, confusion Pooterism a middle-class obsession with respectability and class distinctions; social pretentiousness, pettiness. The term is derived from Charles Pooter who is the main character in The Diary of a Nobody (1892) by George and Weedon Grossmith. pukka Genuine, authentic, first-class (Hindi pakka cooked, ripe, solid, from Sanskrit pakva) pukka sahib Excellent fellow (used for Europeans only) puggaree Muslin cloth wrapped around a pith helmet (Hindi pagri turban) punk Inferior, as in played a punk game , feeling punk (ill) (1896) punkah wallah Indian employed to work a fan, usually by a string attached to their toe or thumb. pusher Girl friend Return to Top [18] Q Queen s shilling, the Bounty paid to a new recruit for joining the army. Return to Top [19] R rag a rowdy event or celebration; a prant; the act of teasing or scolding ragger someone who is noisy or riotous; a conspicuous troublemaker razzle-dazzle a spree, to go carousing; to womanize reach-me-down used, as in a reach-me-down piece of clothing; equivalent to hand-me-down repining chagrin; regret; bitterness; yearning rinking roller skating rooky New recruit roly-poly a pudding made by rolling jam within a sheet of suet pastry which is then baked R.M.L.I. Royal Marine Light Infantry Return to Top [20] S sack cheap wine satinette gin sawney Scotsman (circa 1700 on) scorching speeding, racing; exceeding the speed limit in a motor car scraper a boot scraper screwed drunk, intoxicated semi-classical a euphemism for semi-nude, often used when describing art settle a bench or chair with a high back shako Stiff, tall military hat (French, from Hungarian cs k ) shambles a slaughterhouse or butcher shop shandy-gaff a combination of ale and ginger beer shaping working oneself into a state of excitement over something; preparing shrapnel Anti-personnel shell that exploded in the air and scattered small lead balls. Also, later on, any piece of metal from any type shell. (After the inventor, Henry Shrapnel [1806]) skof Food sleeping sickness A serious disease transmitted by tsetse flies, common in much of tropical Africa. Sleeping sickness saved parts of Africa from being settled by Europeans in the 19th century because it killed their cattle and horses. slingers Hard tack and coffee snotty Midshipman [Royal Navy] spyglass Telescope stoppages Money deducted from a soldier s pay ( stopped ) as a punishment subaltern A junior officer in the British army, just below lieutenant. swaddy Soldier. siphon short for siphon bottle, a bottle holding aerated or soda water skilly a concoction of three parts oatmeal stirred into three and one-half buckets of hot water. It was a staple of the diet in workhouses. skittle a form of ninepins; one of the pins knocked down in the game slavey a maid of all work slinging my hook running away, escaping. Also hook it. sluice a wash, to bathe snuggery a comfortable, cozy, snug room or place spasammy offhand, casual, cavalier spavined deteriorated, in disrepair; in medicine it refers to swelling spike the casual ward of a workhouse spoil-five a card game probably of Irish origin. After an initial bet, each player is dealt five cards and seeks to win three of five tricks. The winner gets the pot. If no one wins, the game is called spoiled and a new initial bet is added to the existing pot before the next deal. stash it Royal Navy slang for be quiet , eqivalent to stow it stashing it up causing a commotion or tumult sticking hockey stylograph a fountain pen which has a point instead of a split nib sub an advance on one s pay Return to Top [21] T taken the knock to be betrayed or jilted by a lover teagie tea gown tiled included in, covered with guilt or responsibility; in the same situation. e.g., We are all tiled in this mess. Ticker Soldier who owned his own personal watch (early usage) tiffin Lunch or snack (obsolete English tiff to eat between meals) to fire into the brown Originally referred to hunters firing into a covey of game birds without aiming at any particular bird, but was later used for soldiers firing into a charging mass of natives. topee Helmet (Hindi topi) Tommy Tommy Atkins. Name for the British common soldier toerag a bum or vagrant tommy food top-hole first class, first rate, the very best tosh rubbish, nonsense trap a two-wheeled carriage often pulled by a pony and called a pony trap or a pony and trap trump an outstanding person tumbled to get to the bottom of, discover the truth of, concluded the facts of a mystery or situtation. e.g., He tumbled to the truth of the matter. Return to Top [22] U Return to Top [23] V vapors A Victorian belief that emanations from bodily organs (such as the stomach) could affect the physical and mental condition of people, especially women. Vapors were often blamed for women fainting, although fashions that included binding women s bodies so tight that they could barely breathe would seem to be a more likely cause. VC The Victoria Cross, the highest British medal vedettes Mounted sentries Return to Top [24] W wad Cake wag his pow to wag one s tongue, to babble, to jabber, to rattle on wagonette a four-wheeled, horse-drawn carriage often having facing benches or seats in the rear wallah Person associated with an activity for example, god wallah for priest wet Tea, as in, have a wet , What priced head have you? roughly means How severe is your hangover? whin see furze white satin gin wizard Excellent, as in a wizard time wrangler a debater; at the University of Cambridge, one of those who have attained the first grade in the second (until 1909 in the first) part of the examination for honors in mathematics. Until 1909, the student attaining the highest marks was called the senior wrangler. Return to Top [25] X Return to Top [26] Y yarning inextricable yellow fever A disease transmitted by mosquitoes that causes jaundice, among many other symptoms yellow jack Yellow fever Return to Top [27] Z zenana in India, the apartment set aside for women in the household Return to Top [28] References ^ Courtesy of (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ The Institute of Edwardian Studies (web.archive.org) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com) ^ Return to Top (www.edwardianpromenade.com)
  • A guide to Dublin’s rebel museums for the 1916 centennial (PHOTOS) An actor marks the launch of the 1916 centenary in Dublin outside the GPO. Visit the museums and landmarks dedicated to the heroes of 1916 and the War of Independence. Photo by: RollingNews This year, 2016, marks the centennial of the Easter Rising [1] , the seminal event in Irish revolutionary history, which led, in six short years, to the establishment of today s Irish Republic. The Rising [2] lasted only six days, from Easter Monday to Saturday, but the brutal British reaction to it galvanized the Irish people into action. Initially, the Rising was unpopular with the locals. Many Dubliners had close ties to the British establishment, such as the separation women, the wives and family of Irishmen off fighting in the Great War [3] for Britain. But the swift British military trials and executions of the leaders shocked the Irish people and turned the fifteen martyrs Sir Roger Casement [4] , the sixteenth and last rebel executed, would be hanged on August 3 in London into national heroes. In Dublin today there are nine museums including three new ones and landmarks dedicated to the men of 1916 and the heroes of the War of Independence [5] . Their efforts eventually secured 26 of Ireland s 32 counties from the British for the first time in 700 years a David and Goliath quixotic feat that still amazes a century later. 1. Kilmainham Gaol There is probably a no more solemn place to begin a tour of rebel Dublin than at Kilmainham Gaol. The jail is a stark, bleak monument to 18th century penology. (Ironically, its dreariness and creepiness makes it one of the favorite places for movie-makers in all of Ireland.) It was here that 14 of the sixteen leaders were executed. They surrendered on April 29 and the executions began on May 3, and continued unabated until May 12, 1916. [6] [7] Read more stories on the 1916 centenary here [8] The guided tour, which takes about 45 minutes, brings you throughout the jail. One of the first stops is the Catholic Chapel where Joseph Mary Plunkett [9] , one of the signatories of the Proclamation and a Commandant-General in the Irish Volunteers, married his fianc e, Grace Gifford. Within the hour he was taken out and shot. The tour also shows you the cells where many of Ireland s prominent rebels Charles Stewart Parnell, Padraig Pearse and Eamon de Valera among them were held. Perhaps the highlight of the tour is a walk in the breaker s yard, where the 1916 rebels were executed. One cross marks the spot where thirteen men were shot standing and another cross marks the spot where the socialist labor leader James Connolly [10] , severely wounded in the leg during Easter Week, was executed sitting in a chair. Besides the tour, there is an impressive museum with many artifacts from 1916. Kilmainham is about a 10-minute taxi ride from the center of the city and can also be accessed by bus. During the summertime there are long lines and it s a good idea to get there early. All tourist information about Kilmainham Gaol can be found at their website here [11] . 2. Arbour Hill Cemetery After visiting Kilmainham it might be fitting to grab a waiting taxi and take a short ride across the River Liffey to Arbour Hill, the final resting place for the executed leaders. Arbour Hill was a British military installation, prison and cemetery. After the executions the British were wary of the Irish propensity for celebratory funerals for their rebels (the funeral of Jeremiah O Donovan Rossa [12] is a prime example) and under the cover of darkness brought the bodies to an open pit at Arbour Hill and poured quicklime over them insuring there would be no parades in their honor. Today the area is serene as the long mass grave of fourteen rebels sits quietly in front of the Irish Tricolour. The name of each rebel is marked on the side in both Irish and English. President Kennedy, on his visit to Ireland in 1963, laid a wreath here in honor of the dead martyrs. More information is available here [13] . 3. Visitor Centre at Cathal Brugha Barracks One of the hidden historical treasures of Ireland is located at Cathal Brugha (formerly Portobello) Barracks in Rathmines, a short taxi ride from the city center. The barracks is named after Ireland s first Minister for Defence, yet its visitors center is a monument to Brugha s arch enemy, General Michael Collins, the first leader of the Irish Army after independence. Collins was perhaps the greatest revolutionary of the 20th century, the inventor of urban guerrilla warfare, whose ruthlessness his personal squad, The Twelve Apostles, assassinated the British Secret Service in Dublin in one morning and political savvy in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 [14] , brought the modern Irish state into existence. He is admired by such diverse international personalities as Mao Tse-Tung, Yitzhak Shamir (the seventh Prime Minister of Israel), and Nelson Mandela. The small museum, which was originally a military jail, has a sordid history of its own. Francis Sheehy Skeffington nationalist, pacifist, feminist was murdered here, along with two other men, by a crazed British officer during Easter Week 1916. The bullet holes are still evident in the bricks of the small courtyard. In the museum itself there are several artifacts belonging to Collins. The desk he used at 5 Mesphil Road is there (the marks from the British jimmying the drawers remain) as is one of his Colt revolvers. Behind the desk on the wall is the tricolor flag that covered his coffin in 1922. There are also weapons used by his notorious Squad. The rest of the museum is a history of glaigh na h ireann, the Defence Forces Ireland, from 1922 to the present day. The reason this museum is such a secret is that admittance is by appointment only. It is only open Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Appointments can be made by contacting the Barracks Adjutant at 353-1-804-6362. The tour is conducted by a member of the Irish Army and usually, if time permits, he is happy to take you around the grounds and show you the buildings that Michael Collins used as his residence and offices just before his death in 1922. More information is available here. [15] 4. Pearse Museum Padraig Pearse [16] , the President of the Provisional Government during that fateful Easter Week, was the first to be executed on May 3, 1916. For good measure, the British also executed his brother, Willie, although Willie had little to do with the planning of the uprising. Padraig Pearse was picked as the face of the revolution by Tom Clarke, the incorrigible Fenian, because of Pearse s writing and speaking skills. His speech at the grave of Jeremiah O Donovan Rossa at Glasnevin Cemetery [17] in 1915 marked one of the pivotal moments in the march to revolution. He is also the author of the 1916 Proclamation, Poblacht Na h ireann, the equivalent of America s Declaration of Independence. At the time of their deaths the Pearse Brothers were running St. Enda s, a progressive Irish school in Rathfarnham, which is about 20 minutes from the city center either by the #16 bus or taxi. The school is located on the grounds of the Hermitage, where United Irishman and famed Irish patriot Robert Emmet is said to have secretly romanced his sweetheart, Sarah Curran. Recently the 18th century building has been faithfully restored and serves as a museum to the Pearse brothers. In it you can see the dorm where the students lived, plus Padraig Pearse s office. There are also several sculptures by Willie Pearse on display. For more information click here [18] . Read more stories on the 1916 centenary here [19] 5. National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks The National Museum of Ireland has a long tradition of exhibitions relating to Easter Week 1916. The Museum will put on show one of the largest display of materials from this period in a new exhibition entitled Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising at the Museum of Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, opening on March 3, 2016. Many of the exhibited objects have never been on public display before while others, such as the Irish Republic flag which flew over the GPO, have been specially conserved. Through the combined effect of the objects, words and imagery of the period, visitors to the exhibition will be confronted with the physical reality of the events of Easter Week, following the stories of those caught up in the events of that momentous week civilians, combatants and survivors alike. Collins (formerly the Royal) Barracks is located off Wolfe Tone Quay at Benburb Street and is a short taxi ride from city center. It is also accessible by Luas Tram or foot. On the second floor is a separate exhibit remembering those who fought in the War of Independence. For more information: click here [20] . 6. Glasnevin Cemetery For some reason the Irish have a great affinity for cemeteries and one of Dublin s most fascinating places is Glasnevin Cemetery the afterlife home of over one million Dubliners. It features the world s first cemetery museum and offers a guided tour of the cemetery where so many of Ireland s heroes are buried. Over 75,000 people visited the cemetery last year, making it one of the most popular and unlikely tourist destinations in Ireland. As you walk in you ll see the grave of Sir Roger Casement, the only 1916 martyr buried here. Next to Casement is the grave of Kevin Barry and the other Forgotten Ten, young men who were executed by the British in the period between November 1920 and the Truce in July 1921. Behind these graves is the appropriately named Republican Plot where some of Ireland s most famous rebels are buried. Here lies Jeremiah O Donovan Rossa, John Devoy, Cathal Brugha, Harry Boland, Maud Gonne, Countess Markievicz and the GPO nurse who led Padraig Pearse to surrender, Elizabeth O Farrell, among others. On its outside ridges you ll find the grave of Eamon de Valera who, for 50 years, was either Taoiseach (Prime Minister) or President of Ireland. A short stroll away is the grave of Michael Collins, just outside the museum s caf . His grave is covered with flowers and notes from admirers. After visiting Glasnevin it s not a bad idea to exit through the south gate and enjoy a pint at one of Dublin s great drinking spots, John Kavanagh s Gravediggers Pub. Glasnevin is 15-minutes from the city center and can be reached by #9 bus or taxi. For more information click here [21] . The newest rebel museums 7. Richmond Barracks After the rebels surrendered at the end of Easter Week they were brought to Richmond Barracks in Inchicore for classification. The big shots like Padraig Pearse and Tom Clarke were quickly condemned to death and removed to nearby Kilmainham Gaol for execution. The British then had to separate and evaluate the rest of the rebels according to their importance. (It was at this time that Michael Collins famously and casually walked across the room and joined a contingent of far less dangerous Volunteers, saving himself a stiffer sentence.) The insurgents were fingerprinted, but no mug shots were taken, which would turn into a big problem in the years to come when no one in the British Service knew what Collins looked like. Richmond Barracks was also the destination of teenage rebels like Se n Lemass, future Taoiseach of Ireland, and Vincent Byrne, a shooter in Collins Twelve Apostles who, ironically, would be the commandant in charge of the Barracks by 1922. Many women of the Cumann na mBan and the Irish Citizen Army were brought here including the Countess Markievicz and Elizabeth O Farrell who arranged, along with Pearse, the rebels surrender. Richmond Barracks will officially open on May 2, 2016 to commemorate the centennial of when the first Easter Rising rebels were marched through its doors. On July 31 they will celebrate Francis Ledwidge Day in honor of the poet/soldier who died in the Great War. Richmond Barracks is close to Kilmainham Gaol and one may want to visit both of them on the same trip. More information can be obtained at www.richmondbarracks.ie [22] . 8. An Post GPO Witness History The General Post Office on O Connell Street remains the most iconic building in Ireland and now it has a museum of its own. An Post GPO Witness History is an engaging, interactive visitor attraction bringing history to life through technology, video, sound and authentic artifacts many previously unseen. An immersive semicircular audiovisual space puts visitors right inside the GPO during the five days in which it was both the military command center, and the seat of the Provisional Irish Government. A digital recreation of Dublin as it was in 1916 provides both an immersive street level experience, and a God s Eye strategic overview of events, to highlight the difficulty of coordinating a national revolution from the GPO, in a city under siege from overwhelming Crown forces. It reveals dramatic instances of shocking violence, and inspiring courage, shown on all sides. Visitors undergo the full terror of the devastating British artillery bombardment that reduced the center of Dublin to smoking ruins. The exhibit opens on March 29th and the tour is open 365 days a year, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. For full details, check out www.gpowitnesshistory.ie [23] . Read more stories on the 1916 centenary here [24] 9. 1916 Rebellion Museum at 16 Moore Street By Friday of Easter Week the rebels had to abandon the burning GPO. They came out on Henry Street and made their way to Moore Street. After tunneling through several buildings, men like Pearse, Clarke, Plunkett, MacDiarmada and Connolly five of the seven signatories of the Proclamation assembled in #16 where they decided to surrender. By 2000 numbers 14, 15, 16 and 17 Moore Street were in danger of being destroyed as gentrification threatened Moore Street, which, with its fish and vegetable mongers, has remains much the same in the 21st century as it was in the time of Joyce and O Casey. Then the Save 16 Moore Street came to the rescue. After much wrangling the Irish government bought the buildings and they were saved from destruction. Even today there is much controversy surrounding the project and although slated to open at the Rising s centennial in April, the project may run late. Check out their website for the latest details 1916rebellionmuseum.com [25] . * Dermot McEvoy is the author of the The 13th Apostle: A Novel of a Dublin Family, Michael Collins, and the Irish Uprising and Irish Miscellany (Skyhorse Publishing) [26] . He may be reached at [email protected] Follow him at www.dermotmcevoy.com [27] . Follow The 13th Apostle on Facebook at www.facebook.com/13thApostleMcEvoy [28] . References ^ Easter Rising (www.irishcentral.com) ^ Rising (www.irishcentral.com) ^ Great War (www.irishcentral.com) ^ Roger Casement (www.irishcentral.com) ^ War of Independence (www.irishcentral.com) ^ leaders (www.irishcentral.com) ^ 1916. (www.irishcentral.com) ^ Read more stories on the 1916 centenary here (www.irishcentral.com) ^ Joseph Mary Plunkett (www.irishcentral.com) ^ James Connolly (www.irishcentral.com) ^ here (www.heritageireland.ie) ^ Jeremiah O Donovan Rossa (www.irishcentral.com) ^ here (www.heritageireland.ie) ^ Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 (www.irishcentral.com) ^ here. (www.military.ie) ^ Padraig Pearse (www.irishcentral.com) ^ Glasnevin Cemetery (www.irishcentral.com) ^ here (www.heritageireland.ie) ^ Read more stories on the 1916 centenary here (www.irishcentral.com) ^ here (www.museum.ie) ^ here (www.glasnevintrust.ie) ^ www.richmondbarracks.ie (www.richmondbarracks.ie) ^ www.gpowitnesshistory.ie (www.gpowitnesshistory.ie) ^ Read more stories on the 1916 centenary here (www.irishcentral.com) ^ 1916rebellionmuseum.com (1916rebellionmuseum.com) ^ The 13th Apostle: A Novel of a Dublin Family, Michael Collins, and the Irish Uprising and Irish Miscellany (Skyhorse Publishing) (www.amazon.com) ^ www.dermotmcevoy.com (%20www.dermotmcevoy.com) ^ www.facebook.com/13thApostleMcEvoy (www.facebook.com)
  • A Lance Corporal's perspective | The Official British Army Blog Lance Corporal Josh Crook Lance Corporal Joshua Crook, of Y Company 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (1RRF), joined the Army in January 2011 and attended the Infantry Training Centre Catterick for the six-month Combat Infantryman Course. He joined 1RRF in September 2011 and since then has completed countless exercises. Joshua attended and passed the Fire Team Commander s Course in January this year and was promoted in Afghanistan in April.

    This is my first operational deployment. Here I am now, hoping to tell you all about it. I m sure many of you who are reading this are currently serving in the forces, whether that be out on operations or back with your units in the UK, Germany or Cyprus but I m also aware that a lot of you are also civilians, looking at joining the army or are in the process already.

    This weekly blog will be, hopefully, an insight as to what it is I m doing out here in Afghanistan as a Lance Corporal as part of an infantry battalion and also, a brief look at the bigger picture to give you, back home, a look at what is going on and why in Afghanistan. The deployment begins Troops undertake RSOI training. Cpl Si Longworth RLC (phot) I flew out on the 10th April to Camp Bastion everyone who comes to Afghanistan on deployment has to attend a week s RSOI package which is basically a full up-to-the-hour information read-in on everything that is taking place in theatre; from insurgent tactics to main causes of diseases over here.

    It really is extensive. As well as all those briefs, depending on your unit and what it is you re out here to do, you then conduct ranges and various training packages within the week to make sure you re up to scratch on everything you ve been taught in your pre-deployment training, like Counter IED training for example. It s useful and for the first time puts into perspective just how good the training is you get back in the UK leading up to your operations.

    RSOI done, and it s a long week believe me not to mention the fact that for me especially, the heat is unreal, even in April. I think the hottest day we had on that week was in the region of 42 degrees, which in full kit is pretty warm. Troops undertake RSOI training.

    Cpl Si Longworth RLC (phot) Troops undertake RSOI training. Cpl Si Longworth RLC (phot) MOB Price; Where I am now and likely to be based for the rest of my time out here in Afghanistan. It doesn t take much to work out why this place gets called MOB Nice by most people either; the accommodation is big, clean and air-conditioned.

    The place has three large gyms with all the equipment you need and the cookhouse serves better food than camps in the UK! MOB Price against a the backdrop of a sandstorm. I ve been in Price since around the 19th April and this first entry comes in June, so I ll focus mainly on what s happened so far.

    I m with Company HQ out here, working as a junior NCO in my company s intelligence cell. What that means, in a nutshell, is that whenever anything happens in Afghanistan that concerns British Forces and us here in Price, I find out about it and then if necessary, become responsible to disseminate that information to the rest of my company so that we are all constantly up to date on what is happening around us and what it means to us. It s an interesting job, and because of it, I get to go out on 90 per cent of the operations my company are tasked with, whether that s as a Top Gunner on the vehicles, or one of the blokes in the section when going out on patrol.

    It s the best of both worlds! In the eight weeks or so that we ve been out here, Y Coy have been tasked quite a few times with various operations. The first being the closure of a CP (check point) not far from Price that had both ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) and British Forces manning it, the idea; that we pull all British troops out of the CP and let the ANSF man it themselves a great example of how much the ANSF are developing and how much progress they have made and are making!

    The operation went great, no drama s at all! First task Y Company; Success! First Fusiliers handing over a checkpoint.

    Cpl Si Longworth RLC (phot) First Fusiliers handing over a checkpoint. Cpl Si Longworth RLC (phot) Since the first, tasks have come through slow and steady; varying from supporting the Engineers with CP builds, to clearing major routes here in Helmand Province. A lot of the time patrol manage is in force, which basically prevents a lot of us from going out on the ground unless it is absolutely necessary, it s frustrating for us in the infantry as it s not what we want to hear, but it makes sense.

    Here in Afghanistan it s completely different from how it used to be. A different war. We are no longer out to start fights; grenade in hand and bayonets fixed.

    We ve been there, done that and it s now the time to let the ANSF take over: take responsibility for their country and their people; and they re doing just that. Of course, there have been teething issues and at times our support is still necessary, but that is the whole point in us being here now to support the ANSF. However, we are seeing time and time again ANSF not needing our help, not needing our support and it s all because of the training we have given them and the training they are disseminating down from us to their troops.

    We are slowly but surely pulling out of Afghanistan and evidence of that is clear all around us. For example, the number of CPs and PBs (patrol bases) that are being closed around Helmand, all of which held British troops.

    1RRF Regimental Flag flies over MOB PRICE Well, that pretty much brings us up to now I ll be updating this blog weekly or even more frequently than that if I get the chance, then again, not as frequently if I don t. I ll do my best to get some sort of system in place where any of you guys reading this that have questions can get them to me and I ll endeavour to get the answers back to you.

    There s a lot of units out here in Price and many others that pass through on a day to day basis so, I ll make sure there are plenty of different points of view from all different units and cap badges out here in Afghanistan. All feedback is welcome, good or bad I m just as new to this as I am Afghanistan so any ideas would be great and feedback much appreciated. Catch you next week, Crooky .

    Bookmark the .

  • A Millennial Reviews: 'Mr. Rogers,' the Voice of Our Generation ... No CGI required when you build to scale. ( Mr. Rogers , Netflix) Previous editions of A Millennial Reviews can be found here. [1] What s up Florheads. As you are aware from reading my scathing Facebook posts and my most recent viral photo series (pictures of old people at the mall scowling and holding cardboard signs with statements about body politics), I m not exactly thrilled with the state of modern television. I stopped watching Game of Thrones when they killed those poor skeletons at Hardhome (#StandWithSkeletons), I stopped watching Louie when I found out he eats dairy in real life, I stopped watching Mad Men halfway through the opening credits (NO THANK YOU). I love to stop watching things. It s my generation s method of speaking truth to power. Notwatchtivism has single handedly ended the careers of white male fascists like Charlie Sheen and Stephen Colbert, and I also believe it s responsible for the Arab Spring of 2010. Unfortunately I ve had to unwatch so many programs that lately I ve been running out of shows to put on in the living room while I do my daily crossfit regiment (jumping around in Moon Boots while wearing Sock Em Boppers and a Skip-It until I faint). I was about to give up entirely until I logged into my dad s boss s friend s Netflix account and found this new show called Mr. Rogers . I ended up watching the entire first season (four 20 minute episodes) in one sitting. I can t wait to rewatch it when I m hungover from drinking Burnie Sanders s all weekend (99 percent Vodka, 1 percent Vermont cheddar, topped with whipped cream to look like Berndog s hair, then you light the whole thing on fire and try to drink it before his hair curdles). No trigger warnings necessary: this show tells a gripping story while fighting the good fight by means of POSITIVE social messages. It s refreshing to finally watch show where I don t have to see characters gratuitously conflict with one another just to serve the purpose of a plot (shock value). Mr. Rogers is about a man who lives in a Minecraft level and wears a deep-V cut sweater over an entire Office Max uniform. It s sort of half talk show, half fantasy drama. The monologue tends to include some pretty hot takes on art (coloring), identity politics (being friendly), and post-industrial infrastructural venture capitalism (trollies). M-Rog then chews the scenery a little while backed up by his house band, OMINOUS PIANO TINKLING. I m pretty sure I read on an Answers.com listicle (that crashed my iPhone 3) that Brian Eno is playing the piano uncredited here, but I can t say for sure because I can t really fact check anything anymore without a bunch of singles in your area ads popping up. Next, he throws to the episodic portion of the show, a suspenseful and sexy fantasy saga called The Neighborhood of Make-Believe, daringly cast with completely non cgi puppets and a few mentally challenged adults. Characters include King who wears a Crown Royal Bag as a Cape and a Prince that s basically Joffrey from Game of Thrones but much shinier. Joffrey goes to school with a cat and a bunch of owls and shit that look like they fell out of the guy from Of Montreal s hair. This whole thing looks like a Tune Yards video with a 25 dollar production budget. The interview segment is where Mi$ter R0g3rz shows he really gets millennials. Instead of pandering to middle America by booking some sort of Daniel Tosh or Sean Penn nightmare, he has on real people, like Humans of New York people. Guests have included: A mailman, a cop, a burlap bag, Lou Ferrigno, an Asian person, a guy who makes sculptures out poems, Marc Maron, silence, the inventor of the electric car, The Zodiac Killer, Lena Dunham, Shelbyville Mr Rogers, Mark David Chapman, Grimace, and the list goes on. Whereas most talk show hosts would lowball fluff questions at these people, Mr Rogers just sort of fills them full of molly and stares wall eyed at them while they explain how umbrellas work or something. The only time I ever recall getting as high as these people look was the time I went to a secret VICE party at SXSW in the kitchen of a Wendy s. I got so stoned I made out with the side of Skrillex s head because someone had drawn a face on it. I woke up at Elijah Wood s house wearing one of those Mexican Chewbacca bandolier ammo things full of 5-Hour Energy Drinks and something called a Mauve Badge. It was B-A-N-A-N-A-N-A-S and so is this show. At this point in the show you can tell he s coming down a bit so he often throws to some sort of life-hack-umentary about how crayons are made. I really dig this part because as we all know, I Fucking Love Science. I Fucking Love Science so much I got half of a geology degree when I was 19 and then I dropped out to become a librarian, now I Fucking Love Silence. I m just kidding, I don t have a job. I m writing this on a flip phone. Anyhow, he rounds every show out by taking off his sweater and putting on one of those jackets they give you at nice restaurants when you came in wearing a Houston Rockets jersey. Then he sings a Sufjan Stevens song and credits roll. Perfect television show. Bernie Sanders: The 90 percent of my vodka has been exploited by the 10 percent of the ice in my beverage which has caused an exponential decrease in the buzz that hard working Americans like yourselves have managed to receive from the drinks that we have been promised in the constitution of The United States of America. References ^ A Millennial Reviews (observer.com)
  • A nervous breakdown in the body politic As Britain prepares to mark the centenary of the bloodiest battle in the First World War, the Somme, in July, Spain is bracing itself for an even more traumatic anniversary. In July 2016 it will be 80 years since the start of a civil war that tore the country apart and continues to divide it today. In the four decades since the return of democracy in the mid-1970s, Spaniards slowly inched towards rejecting the extreme violence of the Francoist right (and elements of the opposing left) as well as acceptance of various federal arrangements to accommodate the national sentiments of the Basques and Catalans, whose aspirations Franco had so brutally suppressed. In recent years, however, this consensus has been called fundamentally into question, with severe potential consequences not only for the unity of Spain, but the cohesion of the European Union. On 27 October 2015, after the Catalan elections, the new parliament in Barcelona passed a declaration requesting the start of a formal secession process from Spain, to be in place in 18 months. The immediate reaction of Spain s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, was to announce that the state was entitled to use any available judicial and political mechanism contained in the constitution and in the laws to defend the sovereignty of the Spanish people and of the general interest of Spain . The preamble to the constitution proclaims the Spanish nation s desire to protect all Spaniards and the peoples of Spain in exercising their human rights, their cultures and traditions, languages and institutions . Probably the most disputed articles are 2 and 8, which state, respectively, that the constitution is based upon the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation, common and indivisible patria of all Spaniards and that the army s mission is to guarantee the sovereignty and independence of Spain, to defend its territorial integrity and the constitutional set-up . Rajoy s implication was clear: the unity of the country would be maintained, if necessary by military means. It was Madrid, however, that broke with the federal consensus some years ago and thus boosted secessionist sentiment in Catalonia. Jos Mar a Aznar s government (1996-2004) failed to respond to demands for greater autonomy for Catalonia, at a time when secession was not even mentioned. This led to an increasing awareness among Catalans that the federal transfer system within Spain left them with an annual deficit of 8 per cent of Catalonia s GDP because of the financial arrangements established by the Spanish state, an issue aggravated by the effect of the global financial crisis. Catalan nationalism thus became a matter of not only the heart, but also the pocket. Even more important was the Spanish legal challenge to the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia 2006 and its subsequent dilution, after it had been sanctioned by the Catalan parliament, and by both the Spanish congress of deputies and the senate, not to mention the Catalan people in a legally binding referendum. According to the Spanish high court of justice, some of the statute s content did not comply with the Spanish constitution. This outraged many Catalans, who could not understand how the newly approved statute after following all the procedures and modifications requested by Spain s political institutions and constitution could still be challenged. Four years later, the Spanish high court finally delivered its verdict on 28 June 2010. It removed vital points from the Statute of Autonomy 2006 and declared them non-constitutional. All this led to a revival of Catalan nationalism, culminating in a symbolic, non-binding referendum in November 2014, which was boycotted by opponents and produced a majority of 80 per cent in favour of independence. The roots of this antagonism go deep, to the civil war that broke out on 17-18 July 1936 when some sectors of the army rebelled against the legitimate government of the Second Republic. The rebels rejected democracy, the party system, separation between church and state, and the autonomy of Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia. Their primary objective was to re-establish order by eliminating all vestiges of communism and anarchism, then quite strong in some parts of Spain. High on the list of General Franco s targets was Catalan nationalism, which had been growing since the late 19th century. The industrialisation of Catalonia and the Basque Country left the most economically developed parts of the Spanish state politically subject to the less prosperous Castile. By the end of the 19th century and influenced by German Romanticism, la Renaixen a a movement for national and cultural renaissance prompted demands for Catalan autonomy, first in the form of regionalism and later in demands for a federal state. Catalan nationalism did not emerge as a unified phenomenon. Diverse political ideologies and cultural influences gave rise to various types of nationalism, from the conservative nationalism of Jaime Balmes to the federalism of Francesc Pi i Margall, to the Catholic nationalism of Bishop Torres i Bages and the Catalan Marxism of Andreu Nin, among others. Catalonia enjoyed some autonomy under the administrative government of the Mancomunitat or commonwealth from 1913 onwards. This was halted by the 1923 coup d tat of the dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera. Autonomy was granted again during the Second Spanish Republic from 1931-39 but abolished by Francisco Franco s decree of 5 April 1938. Franco s victory led to the suppression of Catalan political institutions, the banning of the Catalan language and proscription of all the symbolic elements of Catalan identity, from the national flag (the Senyera) to the national anthem ( Els Segadors ). In February 1939, the institutions of the autonomous Generalitat went into exile in France. In 1940 the Gestapo arrested the president of the Generalitat , Llu s Companys, and handed him over to Spanish officials. He was interrogated and tortured in Madrid, then sent to Barcelona, where he was court-martialled and executed at Montju c Castle on 15 October 1940. The most important representatives of the democratic parties banned by the regime went into exile, or were imprisoned or executed. The authoritarian state designed by Franco crushed dissent and used brute power to suppress the historical nations included within its territory. The regime s aim was to annihilate the Catalans and the Basques as nations. *** After almost 40 years of Franco s dictatorship, Catalonia recovered its government, the Generalitat , in 1977 before the drafting of the Spanish constitution in 1978 and sanctioned a new statute of autonomy in 1979. The 2006 statute was expected, at the time, to update and expand Catalans aspiration for further devolution within Spain: never secession. At present, a renewed nostalgia and enthusiasm for Francoism can be found among some sections of the Spanish right. One of the main challenges of the newly democratic government from the mid-1970s onwards was to get rid of the symbols of Francoism that had divided Spaniards between winners and losers in the civil war. It was only in 2007 that the then prime minister, Jos Luis Rodr guez Zapatero, guided the Law of Historic Memory through parliament with the aim of removing hundreds of Fascist symbols reminiscent of the Franco era from public buildings. It also sought to make reparations to victims of the civil war and the ensuing dictatorship. There still exist hundreds of other references to the Fascist regime, however, with streets, colleges and roads named after Franco and his generals. The most controversial of these is the Valle de los Ca dos ( Valley of the Fallen ), near Madrid, commissioned by Franco as his final resting place. It supposedly honours the civil war dead, but is primarily a monument to the general and his regime, housing the graves of Franco and Jos Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the fascist Falange political party. Roughly 450,000 people visit it every year, and while most of them are foreign tourists, groups of Falangists and supporters of the old regime who come to pay tribute to the dictator have frequented it. Nostalgics for Francoism, though still a small minority within modern Spain, are becoming vociferous. They find common ground with far-right-wing conservatism, particularly in their shared aversion to federalism. On 3 August last year Artur Mas, the then president of Catalonia, called an extraordinary parliamentary election after all attempts to negotiate and agree on a legally binding referendum with the Spanish government failed. Supporters of independence immediately announced that the forthcoming Catalan elections would be regarded as a plebiscite on independence. On a turnout of more than three-quarters of the electorate, supporters of outright independence gained 48 per cent of the vote, while those backing a unitary state secured 39 per cent. On 9 November 2015 the Catalan parliament formally declared the start of the process leading to building an independent Catalan state in the form of a republic. It also proclaimed the beginning of a participative, open, integrating and active citizens constituent process to lay the foundations for a future Catalan constitution. The Catalan government vowed to move forward with its secession process. Immediately, the Spanish Constitutional Court suspended the Catalan law setting out a path to independence and warned that defiance could lead to criminal charges. Worse still for Madrid, secessionism is gaining strength not only in Catalonia but also in the Basque Country, whose premier, I igo Urkullu, demands a legal consultation on the northern region s future in Spain. He supports a new statute for the Basque Country and defends its status as a nation in the EU. Similarly to Catalonia, the Basque Country has a distinct language and culture, and benefits from the so-called concierto econ mico , an advantageous financial deal with the Spanish state. *** The Spanish government s refusal to engage constructively with Catalan nationalism contrasts markedly with London s more relaxed and ultimately more successful response to Scottish nationalist aspirations. The Edinburgh Agreement between the British Prime Minister and the then first minister of Scotland to allow a binding referendum on Scottish independence stands in sharp contrast to the Spanish government s outright opposition to a similar vote in Catalonia. Basques and Catalans find deaf ears regarding further devolution and binding referendums on self-determination. This highlights the distance between various conceptions of democracy that coexist inside the European Union, rooted in the diverse political cultures of nations with varying historical backgrounds. All this matters, not only to Spain but to the EU, because it is part of a broad trend across the continent. In mainland Europe, demands for self-determination are running strong in Flanders as well as parts of Spain. In turn, tensions between Italy and Austria over control of South Tyrol (Trentino Alto Adige, to the Italians) remain high, as do demands advanced by the South Tyrol ean secessionist movement. Bavarian regionalism is critical of the present German (and European) political order. Further to that, modern Venetian nationalism and its long-standing demands for independence have prompted a renewal of Venetian as a language taught in schools and spoken by almost four million people. Matters are now coming to a head. Catalonia and Spain are in flux following two inconclusive elections. In January, after a prolonged stand-off, the sitting Catalan president, Artur Mas, made way for a fellow nationalist, Carles Puigdemont. He was the first to take the oath of office without making the traditional oath of loyalty to the Spanish constitution and the king. Felipe VI, in turn, did not congratulate Puigdemont. The new president has announced that he plans to draw up a constitution, to be voted on in a referendum to constitute the Catalan Republic at the end of an 18-month consultation process. Puigdemont s strategy envisages not a dramatic unilateral declaration of independence, but a more gradual process of disconnection in constant dialogue with the Spanish government and Catalan political parties. Let no one be deceived by this softly-softly approach: it is designed to culminate, in a year and a half, perhaps sooner, in a vote on establishing a separate, sovereign state of Catalonia. Meanwhile, Spanish politics are in flux. The elections to the Cortes on 20 December 2015 resulted in a victory for Conservatism, but also the most fragmented Spanish parliament ever and, as yet, no government. Almost the only thing the Spanish parties can agree on is opposition to Catalan independence, yet even here there are divisions over whether more autonomy should be granted and what response to make to unilateral moves by the Catalans. The stakes are high for both sides. By pressing too hard, too early, Catalan nationalists may provoke Madrid. This would be a mistake. Strategy is important and recent events in Catalonia will weaken the Catalans democratic, peaceful and legitimate desire to hold a referendum on independence. Likewise, a heavy-handed response from Madrid will not only destroy the residual bonds between centre and periphery in Spain, but put the central government in the dock internationally. A confrontation will also cut across the only possible solution to this and all other national conflicts within the eurozone, which is full continental political union. Full union would render the separation of Catalonia from Spain as irrelevant to the functioning of the EU, and the inhabitants of both areas, as the separation of West Virginia from Virginia proper in the United States today. In a nightmare scenario, radicalisation and unrest could emerge in Catalonia, with division between Catalans and memories of the Spanish Civil War coming to the fore. In this context, it might become very difficult to prevent violence. This is the last thing that Brussels wants to hear as it grapples with the euro crisis, Russian territorial revisionism, Islamist terror, the migrant question and the prospect of Brexit. A meltdown in Catalonia will create dilemmas for Europe, starting from problems with Schengen, and raise questions about continued membership of the EU. It will also work against Catalans expectations of receiving EU support in their quest for independence, as turmoil in Europe will prompt nation states to close ranks. The EU will not be expected to intervene, because this scenario would at least initially be defined as an internal affair of Spain . Conflict between Barcelona and Madrid would shatter one of Europe s biggest member states. In that event, the peninsula will become the hottest point in an emerging arc of crisis across the southern flank of the EU, stretching from Portugal across Spain, an Italy struggling along with everything else to cope with the flow of migrants, the troubled Balkans, to Greece, which is perpetually perturbed. This highlights yet another flaw in the EU. It has no institutional framework for dealing with Catalan demands to become a nation within the Union, or those of other populations. Merely insisting on Spanish state sovereignty will not make the problem go away for Brussels, or for Europe as a whole. This is a potential matter of life and death not only for Spaniards and Catalans, but perhaps for the EU itself. Brendan Simms is the director of the Forum on Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge and president of the Project for Democratic Union Montserrat Guibernau is a visiting scholar in the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge and a member of the Forum on Geopolitics
  • A rolling First World War reviews thread.

    Slugger O'Toole Given the day that is in it, and since there are only whatever number of shopping days until Christmas, this post is a rolling review of First World War literature, in its broadest sense to include personal accounts, historical fiction (and everything in between), histories, cinema, documentary, drama, theatre and the endless poetry. Next year, with the centenary of the outbreak of war looming, there will probably be a glut of reflections and new readings of the war, it s course and impact. So, given the extensive range of excellent works already available, if you have any recommendations give us your suggestions below.

    I m going to recommend two books: In Stahlgewittern by Ernst J nger, published in English translation as Storm of Steel , and Liam O Flaherty s Return of the Brute . They both sit roughly within the general collection of personal accounts that appeared as actual memoirs (J nger) like Graves Good-bye to All That , or the thinly and thickly disguised autobiographies of Sassoon or Hemingway s A Farewell To Arms (all of which are eminently readable). Storm of Steel went through a number of published editions in the 1920s and 1930s, conforming to the needs of National Socialist historiography in the later editions.

    If you can find a translation of the earlier editions (without the cloying Nazism that crept into later editions) J nger gives one of the rawest first-hand accounts of trench fighting, hand-to-hand combat and the brutal realities of the war. Originally J nger s war diary, it was dramatically eclipsed in popularity by Remarques (fictional) All Quiet on the Western Front in the English speaking world despite the disparity in their war experiences (Remarque spent a few weeks as a sapper, J nger fought and was wounded in numerous battles). Unlike the English memoirs which tend to dwell on the moral and psychological journey of the author, J nger revels in the detail of the actual fighting.

    Return of the Brute is fiction, although based on O Flaherty s own experiences in the Irish Guards which culminated in a case of shell shock. In that sense, O Flaherty s novel forms an out-working of his own experiences, keeping it apart from much later historical novels like Jennifer Johnstons How Many Miles To Babylon , Pat Barkers Regeneration trilogy or Sebastian Faulks Birdsong (all great reads in their own right). It is also unusual as it is not written by someone from the officer class (like J nger, Sassoon, Graves etc) but is giving a perspective from the point of view of a private soldier s experience.

    It recounts a section moving forward to grenade an enemy trench in an unnamed battle and can be read in a few hours so it is more or less in real time. Shell shock is the central theme and O Flaherty offers a frame of reference for those who fought in the war and lacked the classical learning and education that the literary officers used to give their surroundings meaning. I won t ruin it by giving away the ending.

    If you wish to add a review below (I ve not even mentioned histories of the war), leus everyone know what stands out or why that particular choice.

    Leave a Reply You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • A Simple Way to Combat Chronic Stress For most leaders today, frequent stress is inevitable. But with awareness and a little skill, its negative impacts are not. Intense negative experiences of stress are all too common. Consider Stefano, coauthor of this article. In 1998, Stefano began a career abroad while simultaneously completing an MBA. He worked and studied 14 hours a day, seven days a week, fueled by a constant flow of stress hormones. By the end of that year, he suffered from fatigue, headaches, impatience, and irritability, yet he ignored his symptoms and kept going. Soon those symptoms escalated into full-blown burnout: dizziness, heart palpitations, inability to concentrate, panic attacks, apathy, insomnia, and depression. He eventually decided that he needed to take a full six months to rebuild his mental and physical well-being before he could return to work. Chronic stress impacts people in different ways. In a recent global survey we conducted of 740 leaders, 84% reported experiencing stress on a regular basis (for more, read How Your State of Mind Affects Your Performance [1] ). As you might expect, more than half of the 84% said stress had a negative impact on their effectiveness, interactions, or business results. However, the remaining leaders around 45% told a different story. In their experience, stress either had no impact on their leadership or had a positive effect. More than 25% said stress actually improved their effectiveness. What accounts for these results? And what are those people doing that Stefano did not? The leaders we ve worked with over several decades have given us a wide variety of answers. In this article, we focus on two: tipping point awareness and stress shifting. Tipping point awareness Like many other leadership capacities, stress management requires self-awareness. Each of us has our personal tipping point, the critical edge where moderate, tolerable stress transitions to chronic stress and a constant flux of stress hormones drive us to the point of a breakdown. Leaders who manage stress well are able to recognize signs that they re approaching that point and consciously, deliberately step back from the edge. Signs of chronic stress fall into three main categories: physical, mental/emotional, and behavioral. The symptoms listed below are some of the most common complaints that leaders have told us they experience only, or to a greater degree, under chronic stress. While each of these can adversely impact leadership, they all either directly or indirectly stem from instinctive reactions we evolved to protect ourselves. When we re faced with a threat, whether real or imagined, our body mobilizes to prepare us for one of three survival responses: fight, flight, or freeze. For instance, a racing heart sends a rush of blood to the major muscles used to hit, kick, or run away. As primitive, unconscious reactions kick in, higher cognitive functions suffer. Stress hormones can dramatically impair concentration, planning, and decision making, all of which happen within the prefrontal cortex. These inborn survival mechanisms are ill-matched with present-day realities. Success in our professional and personal lives requires flexible intellectual, emotional, and social responses rather than instinctive physical reactions. And the challenges we face often persist for long periods of time, leading to chronic activation of a survival system that evolved to function only in emergencies. Eventually, that chronic activation can push any of us to our tipping point. We all have our limits, and when we stretch them too far we experience some combination of physical, mental/emotional, and behavioral symptoms that intensify as our stress levels rise. We need the awareness to notice them, as well as the courage to make tough choices to bring our stress levels down. As one leader put it, In a world that constantly invites us to go beyond our limits, the most courageous response is to be aware of our limits and resist the mermaids chant that invites us to keep going. Seventeen years ago, if Stefano had heeded his own physical and emotional warning signs, he could have prevented them from escalating, avoiding a great deal of suffering. Stress shifting Of course, committing to reducing stress is only useful if you have some idea of how to do that. Much has been written about specific stress management strategies, from cognitive reframing, emotional labeling, and mind/body practices to time management, fitness programs, and nutritional changes. We encourage leaders to use whatever techniques work for them. But there s one practice we consistently recommend that can enable and support all the others: intentional breathing. Breathing is both involuntary and voluntary. We don t need to plan how and when to take each breath (thank goodness!), but whenever we decide to consciously change our breathing, we can. This gives us the power to interrupt our involuntary stress responses and establish greater balance in our autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system has two branches: the sympathetic (our natural accelerator) and parasympathetic (our natural decelerator). When these two branches are alternately activated in a consistent pattern, we can enter into a state called coherence. Coherence is characterized by emotional stability and increased access to the prefrontal cortex, which promotes mental clarity, focus, and concentration just what we need to tackle leadership challenges more effectively. Stress, in contrast, is characterized by strong sympathetic activation with less parasympathetic activation, so we are constantly accelerating. And this is where breathing comes in: On the inhale our heart rate accelerates, and on the exhale it slows down. This heart rate information is sent directly to the brain, which plays a part in regulating the autonomic nervous system. Therefore, when we engage in a regular pattern of inhalation and exhalation, we help to establish a balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic activation. We recommend using a three-step approach to engage intentional breathing: Remember to breathe. When stress hits, it s helpful to have a cue like a simple sign saying Breathe that reminds you to take a breath. Begin breathing intentionally. Start with a couple of strong, long, and deep breaths. Try to notice the physical sensations that accompany these breaths. Engage in resonant breathing. After a few of these initial breaths, move to a technique called resonant breathing , where the total time spent on each inhalation and exhalation together is 10 seconds, for a total of six breaths per minute. Resonant breathing is particularly helpful in accessing coherence. You may find it helpful to learn how to do this while walking; the pace of your steps can provide a regular tempo for your breath. Eventually the rhythm will continue on its own, and you can stop timing. Continue until your state of mind shifts and you feel a sense of control over your own reactions. Establishing coherence is useful in almost any context, not just high-stress situations. The more you practice the three steps, the easier it will be to engage in intentional breathing when you need it most. Intentional breathing played a critical role in Stefano s recuperation. It helped to regulate his nervous system, which in turn made it easier for him to sustain other healthy practices, such proper nutrition, better sleep, yoga, physical exercise, and cognitive/emotional exercises. In time, Stefano gained more energy, his heart palpitations ceased, and his heart rhythms became more coherent. At the same time, his depression lifted and his impatience and irritability disappeared, leaving him calm and relaxed. Today, Stefano is in excellent health. Like all of us, he sometimes faces stressors that tempt him to push beyond his limits. But he now has the awareness, knowledge, and skill to bring himself back into balance. References ^ How Your State of Mind Affects Your Performance (hbr.org)
  • A woman challenging state-sanctioned violence in Northeast India Irom s cause reaches Delhi, where this 2009 protest took place to challenge the AFSPA. Joe Athialy/Flickr. Some rights reserved. Democracy, or rather democratic sincerity, means more than just free and fair elections. It is reflected in every aspect of society from a free judiciary and space for civil society to thrive, to freedom from fear and violence in everyday life. When repression is a reality, even in an established democracy such as India, individuals often rise above the state s diktats to uphold democratic principles. This is the story of one such individual, Irom Sharmila. Irom lives in India s troubled northeast region, where many citizens have for decades suffered from arbitrary state violence or fear of such violence, which has been made possible by a long outdated act. This act the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) continues to be challenged through civil resistance, both locally and nationally. The issue has become a litmus test for the democratic sincerity of one of the world s largest democracies. Irom s story is one of how an individual act of resistance can help gain recognition of civil rights for many. Irom Chanu Sharmila is a civil rights activist who has been on a hunger strike that has entered its sixteenth year now. Starting on 2 November 2000, at the age of 28, she has been on what is now the world's longest documented hunger strike. Since then, she has been arrested on charges of attempt to commit suicide , hospitalised, only to be force-fed by the Indian state, released, only to be re-arrested in annual cycles because this woman refuses to eat or drink voluntarily. Needless to say, the state is really vexed by her simple, yet persistent defiance. But what caused her to take up and endure such an extraordinary feat? For this, let me take you on a trip to her home, the Indian state of Manipur in north-east India, a beautiful, yet poignantly distressed part of the country. The history of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act Amnesty International recognizes Irom Sharmila as a prisoner of conscience. Wikimedia. Some rights reserved. After India gained independence from British colonial rule, for administrative ease, the country was divided into territorial units called states . While the mainland of India is congruent, there are seven states in the north-east that share international borders with many countries of south-east Asia and are therefore unique and distinct from those in the mainland. Geographically land-locked and cut off from the mainland, these states are home to many distinct tribes and ethnic groups distinguished by dialects and cultures that often differ even from village to village. Due to this diversity as well as cultural dissonance with the states in the mainland (which are all contiguous), integration and assimilation of the north-east in mainstream polity has continued to remain a challenge for the Indian government and all central policies have tended to treat the region as a collective unit. One of the states in the north-east is Manipur. Originally a kingdom, Manipur acceded to India in 1949. However, many groups within Manipur viewed this merger as being against their ethnic and territorial interests. There are over 30 different ethnic and tribal groups in Manipur, with some wanting a separate state under the Indian Constitution, some seeking sovereignty in alliance with sister tribes from neighbouring countries, and others demanding protection of their customary laws. AFSPA has caused widespread human rights violations. The state therefore has suffered from tribal wars, insurgency, and terrorism ever since. In 1958, the Indian government passed a law, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), that granted security forces unprecendented power to curb insurgency, including but not limited to the power to search properties without a warrant, to arrest people, and even to shoot at will if there is "reasonable suspicion" that a person is acting against the state. Ever since its enactment in 1958, AFSPA has become an emergency tool of state policy and has been enforced in several parts of India to curb insurgencies. Under this act, the armed forces, trained to fight international wars, are vested with extraordinary powers to combat internal strife. Such unlimited power can, however, be the source of more wrongs than right. Henri Tiphagne, Chairperson of FORUM-ASIA notes [1] , AFSPA has caused widespread human rights violations like enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, torture and sexual violence...[it] has been used to justify killings on mere suspicion as well as granted virtual immunity through a clause prohibiting legal proceedings without sanction from the federal government, which is virtually never granted. Since it was first promulgated in 1958, the act has been extended to other states including Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and parts of Arunachal Pradesh in addition to Manipur, just within the region of north-east India. Subsequent to being enforced, it has only been rolled back in one state, namely Tripura, in May 2015 [2] . In another part of the country, in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, AFSPA has been in force since 1990. In another northern state, Punjab and the union territory of Chandigarh, the act was enforced in 1983 and withdrawn 14 years later, in 1997. Once enacted for a state, there is little relief for local populations under this act. This continual state of state-sanctioned terror is what led Irom to take up her protest. After the "Malom massacre", Irom s protest gains nation-wide support Since the act confers extraordinary powers to the security forces, it has not only been misused but has led to the massacre of many civilians. One such massacre occurred in Manipur on November 2, 2000. Reported as the Malom Massacre by mainstream media, 10 civilians were allegedly shot and killed by the security forces while waiting at a bus stop in Malom, a town in the Imphal valley of Manipur [3] . A group of rebels had attacked a convoy of the paramilitary forces and in retaliation, the soldiers opened fire on people at the bus stop. Victims included a 62-year-old-woman and a young boy who had been awarded a national award for bravery as a child. But the town s woes did not end at this. After the attack, reportedly 42 people were dragged out from their houses and severely beaten. People were in shock, and this is when Irom embarked on her protest the law that had caused so much grief needed to be repealed. However, simple acts of resistance always invite the state s wrath. Since suicide is a culpable offence under Indian law punishable with imprisonment for one year, Irom has been released and re-arrested in annual cycles since she began her protest fast in 2000. However, in 2004 her cause suddenly gained momentum and many other Manipuri women publicly joined the call for repealing AFSPA. The trigger for this increased mass mobilisation was another shocking incident shrouded under the cloak of AFSPA the rape and shooting of Thangjam Manorama, a middle-aged Manipuri woman who was picked up from her home on 10 July 2004, on uncertain suspicions. The next day, her bullet-ridden body was found in a field near her village with an autopsy revealing semen traces. She emerged as an icon of civil resistance. Five days later, around 30 middle-aged women walked naked through the state s capital, Imphal, to the headquarters of the specific unit of armed forces that was behind this horrific incident with a banner that read, Indian Army, Rape Us [4] . In a separate move, Binodini Devi, an author of international acclaim, returned her Padma Shree award, the fourth highest civilian award in the country, to protest the killing. It was just the beginning of growing attention to Irom s protest; national and international headlines began picking up her story, and she emerged as an icon of civil resistance. Over the next few years, other female activists from the region emerged who wrote, spoke, and started mainstreaming how AFSPA was being used specifically to target women. The argument that activists and academics such as Binalaxmi Nepram and Rita Manchanda put forth was that the ongoing conflict disproportionately targeted and harmed women. Over the next few years, repealing the AFSPA became a mainstream cause of the feminist movement in India. The movement gained further traction with productions and plays in India s independent theatre scene during the same period. For example, in 2011, The New York Times reported on the one-woman play Le Mashale , on Irom s struggle, as having gained a cult following over the past two years on India s independent theater circuit. More recently, in 2014, Bollywood, which is India s answer to Hollywood, saw the commercial production and release of a film entitled Haider starring very popular actors and a storyline and dialogues directly criticizing the act. This is a far shift out from the traditional song and dance family dramas that the industry typically churns out. Past productions with political themes had never been associated with commercial success and thus had tended to remain on the fringes with a limited release and lesser-known cast. The fact that mainstream Bollywood dedicated big budgets and star power to such a cause (and managed to make a success out of it) has added a popular culture amplification to what was probably otherwise just another social movement. This is a big win for activists against AFSPA. Further grassroots and international mobilisation to challenge AFSPA Since human rights violations under the act can be inflicted based on mere suspicion, it confers extraordinary powers on law enforcement agencies and personnel, which have in many instances led to state-sanctioned human rights abuses. The act thus feeds vicious spirals of violence. The South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre has noted [5] , the use of the AFSPA pushes the demand for more autonomy, giving the peoples of the North East more reason to want to secede from a state which enacts such powers and the agitation which ensues continues to justify the use of the AFSPA from the point of view of the Indian Government. You cannot bring peace by imposing AFSPA, but through justice, truth and reconciliation. However, while popular support for the protest continues to surge, the government seems be rethinking its strategy. In October 2015, the high court in Meghalaya, another north-eastern state, directed the central government to consider enforcing AFSPA in parts of the state to help the local administration with a deteriorating law and order situation. However, the central government has instead decided to challenge this directive. Civilians, including many students, came out in large numbers for an anti-AFSPA march in November 2015 [6] proclaiming, you cannot bring peace by imposing AFSPA, but through justice, truth and reconciliation. Meanwhile, 60 social activists from all over the country issued a joint statement against AFSPA in November 2015 stating [7] : The AFSPA is widely considered to be a legislative measure unique in its absolute disregard of the rights of the residents against unlawful exercise of coercive power. The law exposes people to wanton and reckless use of force by security forces as it grants them absolute power and authority to use force. Over the years, a consensus has emerged on the AFSPA being a security measure of colonial origin in that it is a distinctively regressive tool, which sets up a military ecosystem where security forces act with impunity and whip up an environment of fear and terror in the hearts and minds of people living in these places. The use of the AFSPA as a substitute for routine policing and maintaining law and order is a dangerous development this blatant and unilateral order does not serve the democratic fiber of the region. Though the act still remains in force in Manipur, the mobilisation around Irom s protest fast bears testimony to how much Irom herself has managed to impact the national psyche and channelise popular support against this draconian legislation. Testing India s democratic sincerity India s quest for a sincere democracy, it seems, is marked by a history of repression. While it may have been rolled back in some parts of the country, once enacted, the AFSPA has tended to stick for decades in various regions without any checks and balances put in place. As a resource-rich region that buffers the mainland against China, Bangladesh and Burma, the north-east is quite vital to the economic and geo-strategic interests of India. However due to ongoing insurgencies, the region has continued to suffer from a development and governance deficit. The Documentation Centre noted in 2010, "...in such a situation strong-arm tactics will only help to further alienate the people. The beauty of civil resistance lies in its ability to enable everyone to participate. The fact that the act has been in force for over 50 years in Manipur is a serious question mark on India s democratic credentials. However, instead of making Irom s fight about individuals in power, her efforts target the systemic source of repression a law that curbs civil liberties and puts civilians directly at the mercy of other ordinary men and women, vested with extraordinary power. Her protest gained traction and has earned her the epithet of Iron lady of Manipur. Irom s struggle has riled the government, rallied the masses, spawned other movements in related causes, and inspired victimised populations. Her means of protest, fasting, has won her not only fans but also admirers. The beauty of civil resistance lies in its ability to enable everyone to participate since barriers to participation are low. For the region, the shock value of protests and other civil resistance tactics and of the ability of these tactics to galvanise wider support have ensured that nonviolent conflict is effective and may one day successfully push for the repeal of the AFSPA. By amplifying voices from the region into the mainstream, Irom s protest has set the ball rolling. Citizens of a democracy cannot truly be free as long as legislation continues to legitimise violence. References ^ Chairperson of FORUM-ASIA notes (indianexpress.com) ^ in May 2015 (www.firstpost.com) ^ Imphal valley of Manipur (www.meghalayatimes.info) ^ Indian Army, Rape Us (www.nytimes.com) ^ South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre has noted (www.hrdc.net) ^ march in November 2015 (timesofindia.indiatimes.com) ^ AFSPA in November 2015 stating (www.thehindu.com)
  • Abel Danger: SAS Active in International Terrorism This article appears in the October 13, 1995 issue of Executive Intelligence Review [1] . The SAS: Prince Philip's manager of terrorism by Joseph Brewda On the eve of the first of six scheduled French nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific atoll of Mururoa in September, Greenpeace, an offshoot of Prince Philip's World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), carried out a series of violent protests. A Greenpeace team somehow managed to penetrate the highly militarized nuclear test zone. French authorities revealed that the team was led by two highly trained retired professionals from the British Army's Special Air Services (SAS), its elite paratrooper and commando arm. "They are people used to operations which have nothing to do with ecology," commented the French Security Services commander on the scene. The incident points to the fact that SAS is active in international terrorism today, and that the motives behind its deployment are different than those of its patsies. As this report will show, SAS deployment is a key component of the "afghansi." SAS has a special role derived from the fact that it operates outside the British government command structure, and is directly beholden to the Sovereign. Formed in 1941 by Lt. Col. David Stirling, it has always drawn on the highest levels of the Scottish oligarchical families for its officer corps. Stirling himself was from the Fraser family (the Lords Lovat), one of the oldest and wealthiest of the Scottish Highland families. Closely associated with the royal family throughout his career, Stirling served as the "Goldstick" at Queen Elizabeth's 1952 coronation. The Goldstick is the royal household official solemnly mandated with securing the Sovereign's protection. Until his death in 1990, Stirling was a principal military adviser for Prince Philip's World Wide Fund for Nature, the royal family's most important private intelligence agency, and an organization bankrolled by his uncle, Lord Lovat, and his cousin, the Hongkong banker Henry Keswick. Together with its numerous private security company spinoffs, SAS is the military arm of the WWF. SAS methods and procedures According to the British Army handbook, the SAS is "particularly suited, trained, and equipped for counter-revolutionary operations," with a specialization in "infiltration," "sabotage," "assassination," as well as "liaison with, organization, training, and control of friendly guerrilla forces operating against the common enemy." From its inception in World War II, Special Air Services was detailed to run sabotage behind enemy lines and to organize popular revolt, at first in North Africa, and then in the Balkans, where another Stirling cousin, Fitzroy Maclean, ran British operations. At the end of the war, SAS was disbanded, but it was soon revived to crush the Malay insurgency in Malaysia, and the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya. The principle employed was to take over the insurgency from within, and use it to destroy the native population. In his 1960 bookGangs and Countergangs, Col. Frank Kitson boasted that the British were covertly leading several large-scale Mau Mau units, and that many, if not all Mau Mau units had been synthetically created by the colonial authorities. As a result of this practice, 22 whites were killed during the insurgency, as compared to 20,000 natives. Based on this principle, SAS emphasized recruitment of natives, as it received increasing responsibilities for overseeing counterinsurgency within the postwar empire, as well as organizing insurgencies elsewhere. In New Zealand, 30% of SAS was drawn from the indigenous Maori tribes, later supplemented by Sarawak tribesmen from Indonesia. By the 1960s, New Zealand SAS was active throughout Southeast Asia, organizing tribal revolts against the Burmese government, and stirring similar movements in Northeast India. Similarly, SAS squadrons based in Rhodesia ran the 1960s tribal separatist insurgency in Zaire. They later recruited and deployed natives in terrorist raids in Mozambique and Zambia. Today, there are three known SAS regiments, comprising 4,500 highly trained commandos in total. Training exercises for 15-man teams simulate terrorist assaults, in order, it is said, to "know the mind of the terrorist." Such teams are often sent abroad, to train British Commonwealth and other military units in the techniques of terrorist assault, as well as the use of tribal auxiliaries in covert warfare. Through such means, SAS has built an extensive terrorist control capability, especially in its former colonies. Its soldiers currently serve officially in some 30 countries. 'Private' means 'Her Majesty's' In order to facilitate its role as a disavowable arm of royal household covert operations, SAS has spun off a series of private security and mercenary recruitment firms led by its retired or reserve-status officers. Among these are Keenie Meenie Services, whose name is taken from the Swahili term for the motion of a snake in the grass. During its heyday in the 1980s, KMS shared offices with Saladin Security, another SAS firm, next door to the 22nd SAS Regimental HQ in London. The firms were run by Maj. David Walker, an SAS South American specialist; Maj. Andrew Nightingale of SAS Group Intelligence; and Detective Ray Tucker, a former Arab affairs specialist at Scotland Yard. Others SAS firms include: Kilo Alpha Services (KAS), run by former SAS Counter-Terrorism Warfare team leader Lt. Col. Ian Crooke; Control Risks, run by former SAS squadron leader Maj. Arish Turtle; and J. Donne Holdings, run by SAS counterespionage specialist H.M.P.D. Harclerode, whose firm later provided bodyguards and commando training for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. SAS operations under KMS label have been particularly important. In 1983, Lt. Col. Oliver North hired KMS to train the Afghan mujahideen, and simultaneously, to mine Managua harbor in Nicaragua, and to train the Nicaraguan Contras. At the same time, KMS was detailed to provide personal security for the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar, a close associate of then Vice President George Bush, who helped supply tens of billions of Saudi dollars for "Iran-Contra" operations internationally. KMS has a long history in the Arab and Muslim world. One of its first known assignments, back in the 1970s, was to aid Oman in repressing a revolt in its province of Dhofar. Oman remains a de facto British colony; its officer corps is dominated by British officers on secondment. KMS has also worked in Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, all of which are de facto British colonies, and all of which include numerous former SAS officers in their security apparatus. The current security chief in Bahrain, Ian Henderson, for example, was an SAS officer in Kenya during the Mau Mau period. The Omani chief of security is a former SAS officer, as is the case in Dubai, where KMS official Fiona Fraser, another Stirling relative, resides. These oil sheikhdoms are key hubs for British covert financial operations internationally. Dubai, for instance, is the center of the illegal flow of gold to Asia, while Kuwait has been a major bankroller of Afghan and Pakistan opium cultivation. The emirates' gold trade, which is integral to the drugs-for-arms trade, is overseen by the British Bank of the Middle East, a Dubai-based subsidiary of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp., a centuries-old leading financier of the opium trade dominated by Stirling's cousins, the Keswicks. Abu Dhabi, similarly, was the headquarters of the Bank of Commerce and Credit International, the now-defunct narco-bank. BCCI, which was run by WWF activist and funder Hassan Abedi, was a major conduit for bankrolling the Afghan War. The relations of these SAS firms with the Iran-Contra narcotics trafficking, emerged dramatically in August 1989, when reports surfaced in the British and Italian press that the Colombian Cali Cartel, historically most closely tied to the George Bush machine, had hired SAS veterans to assassinate Pablo Escobar of the rival Medell n Cartel. On Aug. 16, three days after the story broke, Colombian presidential candidate Luis Carlos Gal n, a fierce opponent of the drug trade, was assassinated, some Colombian government sources say, by these British mercenaries. Among the individuals identified as working for the Cali Cartel were Col. Peter McAleese, a former SAS officer in Malaysia; Alex Lenox, a former member of the SAS Counter-Terrorism Warfare task force; and David Tomkins, a veteran of Afghanistan. WWF's 'Operation Lock' In 1988, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, a co-founder of the WWF with Prince Philip, established a special hit squad within the WWF under the name of "Operation Lock," officially charged with stopping the poaching of elephants and rhinos in South Africa's national parks. Operation Lock hired Kilo Alpha Services (KAS), the private security firm led by Lt. Col. Ian Crooke. Crooke was a commander of the 23rd SAS Regiment, a part-time unit composed of reserve officers and soldiers frequently employed in SAS private security firms. His brother Alastair, the British vice consul in Pakistan, helped oversee the arming of the Afghan mujahideen. Operation Lock is the secret behind the fratricidal warfare in South Africa between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Inkatha, which killed 10,000 people between 1990-95. KAS supervised the commando training of Zulu followers of Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha, who were employed as game wardens and guards in several South African national parks. It also undertook the training of opposing Xhosa tribal followers of Nelson Mandela's ANC, in different parks. Beginning in 1989, these commando teams began what has since been referred to as "third force" killings: the slaughter of ANC and the rival Zulu cadre in such a way as to implicate each other. In August 1991, Zimbabwean Minister for National Security Sydney Sekerayami accused KAS of "being a cover for the destabilization of southern Africa." In 1993, his government's investigations determined that the 1992 Boipatong anti-Zulu massacre was carried out by the "Crowbar squad," a Namibian anti-poaching unit created and trained by KAS. Destabilizing Sri Lanka In 1983, Sri Lankan President Julius Jayawardene asked the U.S. and British governments to help him suppress the insurrection led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, Tamil Tigers). The British government authorized KMS to train the Sri Lankan Army in counterinsurgency, and to lead Army units fighting the LTTE. For its part, the United States set up an "Israeli interests" section at its embassy in Sri Lanka, also charged with training the Sri Lankan Army. But simultaneously, KMS and the Israelis were secretly training the LTTE too, at training camps in Israel and elsewhere. The Sri Lankan civil war rapidly increased in intensity. In 1991, the LTTE was implicated in the murder of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. An article in the Western Mail in Wales at the time noted: "A band of mercenary soldiers recruited in South Wales is training a Tamil army to fight for a separate State in Sri Lanka. About 20 mercenaries were signed up after a meeting in Cardiff, and have spent the last two months in southern India preparing a secret army to fight the majority Sinhalas, in the cause of a separate Tamil State in Sri Lanka." According to recent Indian press reports, the LTTE is now being equipped with Stinger missiles diverted from former Afghan mujahideen stocks. The afghansi Throughout the 1980s, SAS was on the ground in Pakistan as a lead agency training the Afghan mujahideen. SAS expertise in "sabotage," and "liaison with, organization, training, and control of friendly guerrilla forces," was, of course, much in demand when Islamic volunteers with plenty of fervor, but no military training, began arriving in Pakistan from all over the world. In camps throughout Pakistan, these youth and their Afghan refugee counterparts, were turned into commandos, and sent into Afghanistan to fight. In reality, the Afghan operation was always deployed against all nation-states in the region, not just the Soviet Union. Oman was a particularly critical base of SAS operations into Afghanistan throughout the 1979-89 war. According to the recent unauthorized biography of Mark Thatcher, son of the former British prime minister, Oman's extensive SAS community served as the principal British arms-shipping center for the mujahideen. The sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said, was installed on the throne in 1970, in an SAS-orchestrated coup that deposed his father. The head of the coup effort was Brig. J.T.W. ("Tim") Landon, who had been an intimate of Qaboos since the 1950s, when both had attended the British military academy at Sandhurst. The newly installed sultan showed his gratitude to his old school chum by making Landon his equerry, special adviser, and chief military counsellor. Landon built up Oman's military as one of the best-armed small forces in the world. The arms purchases were handled by another former British Army officer, David Bayley, who set up a purchasing office in the Omani capital of Muscat. Another active figure in the British military community in Oman was Lt. Col. Johnny Cooper, a founder of SAS. Landon enjoyed intimate ties to both Mark Thatcher and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher throughout the 1980s, and this further facilitated Oman's key role as a weapons conduit to the Afghan mujahideen. A look at a map of the Arabian Sea and the Indian subcontinent shows that Oman is a stone's throw away from the Pakistani port of Karachi, the major weapons-importing point (and heroin-exporting point) for the Afghan rebels. Ironically, another strong player in Oman during this period was one of the American CIA figures who most closely followed the British SAS model: Theodore G. Shackley. Shackley had directed the CIA's "secret war in Laos" during the late 1960s and early 1970s, and had written a book, The Third Option , spelling out the SAS approach to training and controlling local insurgent armies as surrogates. Much of the Laos "secret war" had been financed by the sale of Golden Triangle opium. Shackley was a pivotal behind-the-scenes player in George Bush's "secret parallel government" apparatus that ran the Afghan, Nicaraguan, Angolan, and other covert operations. When Shackley left the CIA, he went on retainer with a shadowy Dutch oil trader named John Deuss, who developed a special relationship with Sultan Qaboos that was almost as tight as the Omani's ties to Brigadier Landon. Typical SAS uses of these afghansi include: Punjab: In 1984, Sikh separatists assassinated Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, following a several-year bloody insurgency in Punjab. Many of the Sikh terrorist leaders had fought in Afghanistan. The Sikh terrorist groups active in Punjab, such as Babbar Khalsa, were trained abroad by SAS veterans in British Columbia, Canada, and Britain. Many of these Canadian Sikh leaders also oversaw western arms smuggling to Pakistan for the war in Afghanistan. Kashmir: In May 1995, Kashmiri separatists occupying the Charare-e-Sharif mosque burnt it down, after a three-month Indian Army siege. "India should remember that the fire of Charare-e-Sharif will not be confined to Kashmir alone, but will burn Delhi and Bombay," the leader of Harkat-ul-Ansar threatened following the incident. The group is composed and led by former Afghan mujahideen, and is an offshoot of the "Islamic fundamentalist" Jamiati Islami of Pakistan which received millions of dollars from the West during the Afghan War. If Pakistan "continues to interfere in India's internal affairs, we shall have no option but to accomplish the unfinished task of vacating Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," the Indian home minister threatened, claiming that Pakistan oversaw the incident. Pakistan's Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto convened a special cabinet meeting to review Pakistan's military preparedness in response, claiming Indian responsibility for the affair. But there is another "third force" at work. The Kashmiri groups demand that Pakistani-occupied Kashmir, and not just Indian Kashmir, be "liberated," to form an independent State. The creation of an independent Kashmir would fragment and destroy Pakistan, while massively eroding the strength of India. ________ References ^ Executive Intelligence Review (www.larouchepub.com)
  • Accused Army Deserter Bergdahl to Appear Before Military Court U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is scheduled to appear before a military judge on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy on Tuesday. During his brief arraignment hearing at Fort Bragg in North Carolina on Tuesday, Bergdahl deferred offering a plea in what was his first court appearance pertaining to charges that could carry a life sentence in prison. Members of the Taliban captured Bergdahl shortly after he walked off his Army post, and the insurgent group held him prisoner for five years, which is the longest any American has ever survived as a prisoner of the Taliban. Bergdahl, who also faces a charge of misbehavior before the enemy, barely spoke during the short hearing, answering only "yes" and "no" to a series of questions about whether he understood his rights and the court proceedings. Kobe Bryant expected to play Tuesday night against Denver [1] "You long son of a..." Bryant tied his season-high effort and helped the Lakers (5-23) win for just the second time in 10 games. In the past, Bryant wore an nearly angry expression from start to finish, a sign of his ferocious competitive drive. The military officer who headed the investigation testified in September he believed Bergdahl should not face prison time. A new hearing in the case was set for January 12. Bergdahl's lawyers have already protested that the charges go beyond what they see as the evidence against him and complained that remarks by Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump - who called Bergdahl a "dirty, rotten traitor" - may bias a jury. Taliban 'push further' into Sangin town in Helmand [2] The area was handed over to USA military forces by the British Army in September, 2010. These troops are supposedly not to be deployed outside the camp, the ministry said. "These are people who are able to sort out the difference between extremely aggravated offenses and offenses committed by people who just make really stupid decisions", Corn said [3] . But earlier this month, the Army announced Bergdahl would face the more serious general court-martial. You know, I could be, you know, what... Bergdahl claims [4] he deserted his post because he wanted to draw attention to leadership issues in his unit. PM Narendra Modi holds talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul [5] Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Presidential Palace ( Kabul ) met Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday. Afghanistan has till now been dependent on the United States air support in its operations against the Taliban. On December 14, Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command, broke from the recommendation of Dahl, his fellow general - as well as the testimony of Lt. Col. Mark Visger, an Army investigator - that Bergdahl should face no jail time. However, the Pentagon has said that it has no proof that anyone died amid search efforts for Bergdahl. "Doing what I did is me saying that I am like..." References ^ Kobe Bryant expected to play Tuesday night against Denver (iusbpreface.com) ^ Taliban 'push further' into Sangin town in Helmand (iusbpreface.com) ^ said (www.nytimes.com) ^ Bergdahl claims (www.businessinsider.com) ^ PM Narendra Modi holds talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul (iusbpreface.com)
  • Accused UK soldier killer `loves al-Qaeda' A man accused of the gruesome murder of a British soldier has told his trial that he loves al-Qaeda and considers the Islamic militants to be his "brothers". Michael Adebolajo, 28, sat surrounded by security guards as he began giving evidence in his trial at London's Old Bailey court on Monday. He and Michael Adebowale, 22, are accused of murdering 25-year-old soldier Lee Rigby in broad daylight as he walked back to his London barracks in May.

    The court has heard that the pair ran Rigby over with a car before attacking him with knives and Adebolajo attempted to behead him with a meat cleaver. The defendants, both Britons of Nigerian descent, deny murder. The soldier's family sat just metres from Adebolajo in the courtroom as he said: "Al-Qaeda, I consider to be mujahideen.

    I love them, they're my brothers." He added that he has never met members of the militant group. Adebolajo said he had been raised as a Christian but converted to Islam in his first year at Greenwich University in south London, close to where Rigby was killed. "My religion is everything," he told the court. The jury heard that Adebolajo, who has asked to be called Mujaahid Abu Hamza in court, is married and has six children.

    Growing up in Romford, east of London, he said that the "vast majority" of his school friends were white Britons. One of them had joined the army and was killed in Iraq. Adebolajo said he held former prime minister Tony Blair, who sent British forces to join the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, "responsible" for his friend's death.

    Adebolajo tried to travel to Somalia in 2010 but was captured in Kenya and brought back to Britain, the court heard. He said that before the brutal attack on Rigby, he had attended demonstrations organised by an Islamist group banned under British anti-terror laws, but then realised the protests were "impotent rage". "In reality, no demonstration will make a difference," he added. He told the court several times that he was a "soldier" and that he did not regret what happened to Rigby. "I will never regret obeying the command of Allah.

    That is all I can say," he said.

    The trial heard last week that Adebolajo told police he and Adebowale had targeted a soldier because they believed this was "the most fair target" in an attack aimed at avenging the deaths of Muslims abroad.

    He said he tried to behead Rigby because it was the most "humane" way to kill him, comparing it to halal butchery methods.

  • Act of Valor [Blu-ray] [2012] [US Import] - Reviews
  • Act of Valor [DVD] [2011] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] - Reviews
  • Actors Learn the Welsh Guards Drill #RWCMD RWCMD actors were put through their paces by a Sergeant Major as they prepared to perform in a special concert to celebrate 100 years of the Welsh Guards. The concert, which took place at RWCMD, was directed by regular visitor and collaborator Bruce Guthrie 1 . Second year acting students George Naylor, Connor Vickery, Ross Foley, Jack Hammett and Rhys Whomsley each represented a soldier from a different era throughout the 100 years of the Welsh Guards, performing a mixture of poetry and song, alongside the RWCMD brass ensemble 2 and the Band of the Welsh Guards.

    With high-ranking army personnel in the audience, it was essential that the actors performed the drills and marching with the highest level of accuracy. The actors were given drill sessions outside College in the dark by Sergeant Major Steven Boika, who was part of the regiment and had toured with the Guards in Afghanistan. For his role as a Commanding Officer, actor Connor Vickery s preparation included reading the 2014 Officer s Handbook and watching the Changing of the Guards.

    He said: The show was absolutely terrifying because the Dora was completely packed and you knew, looking out, that these people knew every fact and every command that you were saying. It would be a bit like doing Hamlet with the RSC in the audience. We did a mini-tour around all the tables and met some childhood heroes, as well as some very complimentary veterans.

    We heard some incredible stories and I am very grateful I could be a part of it. Ross Foley said: We got really positive feedback from the Guards many of them saying they thought we were actually in the Welsh Guards as our Drill was so good. This was a massive compliment to us and to Steve for having trained us.

    They seemed to have enjoyed the night and were extremely grateful to us for being a part of the Centenary performance.

    References ^ Bruce Guthrie (www.bruceguthrie.co.uk) ^ RWCMD brass ensemble (blog.rwcmd.ac.uk)

  • Afghan bombers strike during US official's visit - Worldnews.comNative name Jomh r -ye Esl m -ye Af nest n (Persian) Da Af nist n Isl m Jomhoriyat (Pashto) Conventional long name Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Common name Afghanistan Image coat Coat of arms of Afghanistan.svg Symbol type Emblem National anthem Afghan National Anthem Official languages PashtoDari (Persian) Demonym Afghan Capital Kabul Largest city Kabul Government type Islamic republic Leader title1 President Leader title2 Vice President Leader name1 Hamid Karzai Leader name2 Mohammed Fahim Leader title3 Vice President Leader name3 Karim Khalili Leader title4 Chief Justice Leader name4 Abdul Salam Azimi Legislature National Assembly Upper house House of Elders Lower house House of the People Area rank 41st Area magnitude 1_E11 Area km2 647500 Area sq mi 251772 Percent water negligible Population estimate 30,419,928 Population estimate year 2012 Population estimate rank 40 Population census 15.5 million Population census year 1979 Population density km2 43.5 Population density sq mi 111.8 Population density rank 150th Gdp ppp year 2011 Gdp ppp $29.731 billion Gdp ppp per capita $1,000 Gdp nominal year 2011 Gdp nominal $18.181 billion Gdp nominal per capita $585 Hdi year 2011 Hdi 0.398 Hdi rank 172nd Hdi category low Gini 29 Gini year 2008 Gini category low Fsi 102.3 2.5 Fsi year 2007 Fsi rank 8th Fsi category Alert Sovereignty type Establishment Established event1 First Afghan state Established date1 October 1747 Established event2 Independence (from the United Kingdom) Established date2 August 19, 1919 Currency Afghani Currency code AFN Country code AFG Time zone D Utc offset +4:30 Drives on right Cctld .af Calling code +93 Footnote1 }} Afghanistan (; ; ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan , is a landlocked country forming part of South Asia, Central Asia, and to some extent Western Asia. With a population of around 30 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world. It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and the east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast.

    Afghanistan has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and human migration. Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation from as far back as the Middle Paleolithic. Urban civilization may have begun in the area as early as 3,000 to 2,000 BCE.

    Sitting at an important geostrategic location that connects the Middle East culture with Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, the land has been home to various peoples through the ages and witnessed many military campaigns, notably by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and in modern era Western forces. The land also served as a source from which the Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Hephthalites, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khiljis, Timurids, Mughals, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires. The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan begins in 1709, when the Hotaki dynasty was established in Kandahar followed by Ahmad Shah Durrani's rise to power in 1747.

    In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the "Great Game" between the British and Russian empires. Following the 1919 Anglo-Afghan War, King Amanullah began a European style modernization of the country but was stopped by the ultra-conservatives. During the Cold War, after the withdrawal of the British from neighboring India in 1947, the United States and the Soviet Union began spreading influences in Afghanistan, which led to a bloody war between the US-backed mujahideen forces and the Soviet-backed Afghan government in which over a million Afghans lost their lives.

    This was followed by the 1990s civil war, the rise and fall of the extremist Taliban government and the 2001 present war. In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to help maintain security in Afghanistan and assist the Karzai administration. Three decades of war made Afghanistan the world's most dangerous country, including the largest producer of refugees and asylum seekers.

    While the international community is rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan, terrorist groups such as the Haqqani Network and Hezbi Islami are actively involved in a nationwide Taliban-led insurgency, which includes hundreds of assassinations and suicide attacks. According to the United Nations, the insurgents were responsible for 80% of civilian casualties in 2011 and 2012. Etymology The name Afgh nist n (, ) means "Land of the Afghans" , which originates from the ethnonym "Afghan" .

    Historically, the name "Afghan" mainly designated the Pashtun people, the largest ethnic group of Afghanistan. This name is mentioned in the form of Abgan in the 3rd century CE by the Sassanians and as Avagana ( Afghana ) in the 6th century CE by Indian astronomer Varahamihira. A people called the Afghans are mentioned several times in a 10th century geography book, Hudud al-'alam, particularly where a reference is made to a village: "Saul, a pleasant village on a mountain.

    In it live Afghans ."Al-Biruni referred to them in the 11th century as various tribes living on the western frontier mountains of the Indus River, which would be the Sulaiman Mountains. Ibn Battuta, a famous Moroccan scholar visiting the region in 1333, writes: One prominent 16th-century Persian scholar explains extensively about the Afghans. For example, he writes: It is widely accepted that the terms "Pashtun" and Afghan are synonyms.

    In the writings of the 17th-century Pashto poet Khushal Khan Khattak it is mentioned: The last part of the name, -st n is a Persian suffix for "place". The name "Afghanistan" is described by the 16th century Mughal Emperor Babur in his memoirs as well as by the later Persian scholar Firishta and Babur's descendants, referring to the traditional ethnic Pashtun territories between the Hindu Kush mountains and the Indus River. In the early 19th century, Afghan politicians decided to adopt the name Afghanistan for the entire Afghan Empire after its English translation had already appeared in various treaties with Qajarid Persia and British India.

    In 1857, in his review of J.W. Kaye's The Afghan War , Friedrich Engels describes "Afghanistan" as: The Afghan kingdom was sometimes referred to as the Kingdom of Kabul , as mentioned by the British statesman and historian Mountstuart Elphinstone. Afghanistan was officially recognized as a sovereign state by the international community after the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919 was signed.

    Geography A landlocked mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest, Afghanistan is described as being located within South Asia or Central Asia. It is part of the Greater Middle East Muslim world, which lies between latitudes and , and longitudes and . The country's highest point is Noshaq, at above sea level. , and hot summers in the low-lying areas of the Sistan Basin of the southwest, the Jalalabad basin in the east, and the Turkestan plains along the Amu River in the north, where temperatures average over in July.|date=October 2011}} Despite having numerous rivers and reservoirs, large parts of the country are dry.

    The endorheic Sistan Basin is one of the driest regions in the world. Aside from the usual rain falls, Afghanistan receives snow during winter in the Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains, and the melting snow in the spring season enters the rivers, lakes, and streams. However, two-thirds of the country's water flows into neighboring countries of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan.

    The state needs more than to rehabilitate its irrigation systems so that the water is properly managed. The northeastern Hindu Kush mountain range, in and around the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, is in a geologically active area where earthquakes may occur almost every year. They can be deadly and destructive sometimes, causing landslides in some parts or avalanche during winter.

    The last strong earthquakes were in 1998, which killed about 6,000 people in Badakhshan near Tajikistan. This was followed by the 2002 Hindu Kush earthquakes in which over 150 people of various regional countries were killed and over 1,000 injured. The 2010 earthquake left 11 Afghans dead, over 70 injured and more than 2,000 houses destroyed.

    The country's natural resources include: coal, copper, iron ore, lithium, uranium, rare earth elements, chromite, gold, zinc, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, marble, precious and semi-precious stones, natural gas, and petroleum among other things. In 2010, US and Afghan government officials estimated that untapped mineral deposits located in 2007 by the US Geological Survey are worth between and . At , Afghanistan is the world's 41st largest country, slightly bigger than France and smaller than Burma, about the size of Texas in the United States.

    It borders Pakistan in the south and east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far east. History Excavations of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree and others suggest that humans were living in what is now Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago, and that farming communities in the area were among the earliest in the world. An important site of early historical activities, many believe that Afghanistan compares to Egypt in terms of the historical value of its archaeological sites.

    The country sits at a unique nexus point where numerous civilizations have interacted and often fought. It has been home to various peoples through the ages, among them the ancient Iranian peoples who established the dominant role of Indo-Iranian languages in the region. At multiple points, the land has been incorporated within large regional empires, among them the Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire, the Islamic Empire and the Sassanid Empire.

    Many kingdoms have also risen to power in what is now Afghanistan, such as the Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Hephthalites, Kabul Shahis, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Kartids, Timurids, Mughals, and finally the Hotaki and Durrani dynasties that marked the political origins of the modern state. Pre-Islamic period Archaeological exploration done in the 20th century suggests that the geographical area of Afghanistan has been closely connected by culture and trade with its neighbors to the east, west and north. Artifacts typical of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron ages have been found in Afghanistan.

    Urban civilization is believed to have begun as early as 3000 BCE, and the early city of Mundigak (near Kandahar in the south of the country) may have been a colony of the nearby Indus Valley Civilization.After 2000 BCE, successive waves of semi-nomadic people from Central Asia began moving south into Afghanistan, among them were many Indo-European-speaking Indo-Iranians. These tribes later migrated further south to India, west to what is now Iran, and towards Europe via the area north of the Caspian. The region as a whole was called Ariana.

    The ancient religion of Zoroastrianism is believed by some to have originated in what is now Afghanistan between 1800 and 800 BCE, as its founder Zoroaster is thought to have lived and died in Balkh. Ancient Eastern Iranian languages may have been spoken in the region around the time of the rise of Zoroastrianism. By the middle of the 6th century BCE, the Achaemenid Persians overthrew the Medes and incorporated Afghanistan (Arachosia, Aria and Bactria) within its boundaries.

    An inscription on the tombstone of King Darius I of Persia mentions the Kabul Valley in a list of the 29 countries that he had conquered. Alexander the Great and his Macedonian army arrived to the area of Afghanistan in 330 BCE after defeating Darius III of Persia a year earlier in the Battle of Gaugamela. Following Alexander's brief occupation, the successor state of the Seleucid Empire controlled the area until 305 BCE when they gave much of it to the Indian Maurya Empire as part of an alliance treaty.|Strabo|64 BC 24 AD}} The Mauryans brought Buddhism from India and controlled the area south of the Hindu Kush until about 185 BCE when they were overthrown.

    Their decline began 60 years after Ashoka's rule ended, leading to the Hellenistic reconquest of the region by the Greco-Bactrians. Much of it soon broke away from the Greco-Bactrians and became part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Indo-Greeks were defeated and expelled by the Indo-Scythians in the late 2nd century BCE.

    During the 1st century BCE, the Parthian Empire subjugated the region, but lost it to their Indo-Parthian vassals. In the mid to late 1st century CE the vast Kushan Empire, centered in modern Afghanistan, became great patrons of Buddhist culture. The Kushans were defeated by the Sassanids in the 3rd century CE.

    Although various rulers calling themselves Kushanshas (generally known as the Indo-Sassanids) continued to rule at least parts of the region, they were probably more or less subject to the Sassanids. The late Kushans were followed by the Kidarite Huns who, in turn, were replaced by the short-lived but powerful Hephthalites, as rulers. The Hephthalites were defeated by Khosrau I in CE 557, who re-established Sassanid power in Persia.

    However, in the 6th century CE, the successors to the Kushans and Hepthalites established a small dynasty in Kabulistan called Kabul Shahi. Islamization and Mongol invasion Between the 4th and 19th centuries the northwestern area of modern Afghanistan was referred to by the regional name as Khorasan. Two of the four capitals of Khorasan (Herat and Balkh) are now located in Afghanistan, while the regions of Kandahar, Zabulistan, Ghazni, Kabulistan and Afghanistan formed the frontier between Khorasan and Hindustan.Arab Muslims brought the message of Islam to Herat and Zaranj in 642 AD and began spreading eastward, some of the native inhabitants they encountered accepted it while others revolted.

    The people of Afghanistan was multi-religious, which included Zoroastrians, Buddhists, worshippers of the sun, Hindus, Christians, Jews, and others. The Zunbil and Kabul Shahi were defeated in 870 AD by the Saffarid Muslims of Zaranj. Later, the Samanids extended their Islamic influence into south of the Hindu Kush.

    It is reported that Muslims and non-Muslims still lived side by side in Kabul before the Ghaznavids rose to power.|Istahkr |921 AD}} Afghanistan became one of the main centers in the Muslim world during the Islamic Golden Age. By the 11th century Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni had finally Islamized all of the remaining non-Muslim areas, with the exception of the Kafiristan region. The Ghaznavids were replaced by the Ghurids who expanded and advanced the already powerful empire.

    In 1219 AD, Genghis Khan and his Mongol army overran the region. His troops are said to have annihilated the Khorasanian cities of Herat and Balkh as well as Bamyan. The destruction caused by the Mongols depopulated major cities and forced many of the locals to revert to an agrarian rural society.

    Mongol rule continued with the Ilkhanate in the northwest while the Khilji dynasty controlled the Afghan tribal areas south of the Hindu Kush, until the invasion of Timur who established the Timurid dynasty in 1370. During the Ghaznavid, Ghurid, and Timurid eras, Afghanistan produced many fine Islamic architectural monuments as well as numerous scientific and literary works. Babur, a descendant of both Timur and Genghis Khan, arrived from Fergana and captured Kabul from the Arghun dynasty, and from there he began to seize control of the central and eastern territories of Afghanistan.

    He remained in Kabulistan until 1526 when he and his army invaded Delhi in India to replace the Afghan Lodi dynasty with the Mughal Empire. From the 16th century to the early 18th century, Afghanistan was part of three regional kingdoms: the Khanate of Bukhara in the north, the Shi'a Safavids in the west and the remaining larger area was ruled by the Mughal Empire. Hotaki dynasty and Durrani Empire Mir Wais Hotak, seen as Afghanistan's George Washington, successfully rebelled against the Persian Safavids in 1709.

    He overthrew and killed Gurgin Khan, and made the Afghan region independent from Persia. By 1713, Mir Wais had decisively defeated two larger Persian armies, one was led by Khusraw Kh n (nephew of Gurgin) and the other by Rustam Kh n. The armies were sent by Sultan Husayn, the Shah in Isfahan (now Iran), to re-take control of the Kandahar region.

    Mir Wais died of a natural cause in 1715 and was succeeded by his brother Abdul Aziz, who was killed by Mir Wais' son Mahmud as a national traitor. In 1722, Mahmud led an Afghan army to the Persian capital of Isfahan, sacked the city after the Battle of Gulnabad and proclaimed himself King of Persia. The Persians were disloyal to the Afghan rulers, and after the massacre of thousands of religious scholars, nobles, and members of the Safavid family, the Hotaki dynasty was ousted from Persia after the 1729 Battle of Damghan.In 1738, Nader Shah and his Afsharid forces captured Kandahar from Shah Hussain Hotaki, at which point the incarcerated 16 year old Ahmad Shah Durrani was freed and made the commander of Nader Shah's four thousand Abdali Afghans.

    From Kandahar they set out to conquer India, passing through Ghazni, Kabul, Peshawar, and Lahore, and ultimately plundering Delhi after the Battle of Karnal. Nader Shah and his army abandoned Delhi but took with them huge treasure, which included the Koh-i-Noor and Darya-ye Noor diamonds. After the death of Nader Shah in 1747, the Afghans chose Ahmad Shah Durrani as their head of state.

    Regarded as the founder of modern Afghanistan, Durrani and his Afghan army conquered the entire present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Khorasan and Kohistan provinces of Iran, along with Delhi in India. He defeated the Indian Maratha Empire, one of his biggest victories was the 1761 Battle of Panipat. In October 1772, Ahmad Shah Durrani died of a natural cause and was buried at a site now adjacent to the Shrine of the Cloak in Kandahar.

    He was succeeded by his son, Timur Shah, who transferred the capital of Afghanistan from Kandahar to Kabul in 1776. After Timur Shah's death in 1793, the Durrani throne was passed down to his son Zaman Shah followed by Mahmud Shah, Shuja Shah and others. The Afghan Empire was under threat in the early 19th century by the Persians in the west and the Sikhs in the east.

    The western provinces of Khorasan and Kohistan were taken by the Persians in 1800. Fateh Khan, leader of the Barakzai tribe, had installed 21 of his brothers in positions of power throughout the empire. After his death, they rebelled and divided up the provinces of the empire between themselves.

    During this turbulent period, Afghanistan had many temporary rulers until Dost Mohammad Khan declared himself emir in 1826. The Punjab region was lost to Ranjit Singh, who invaded Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in 1834 captured the city of Peshawar. In 1837, Akbar Khan and the Afghan army crossed the Khyber Pass to defeat the Sikhs at the Battle of Jamrud, killing Hari Singh Nalwa before retreating to Kabul.

    By this time the British were advancing from the east and the First Anglo-Afghan War, one of the first major conflicts during the Great Game, was initiated. Western influence Following the 1842 massacre of Elphinstone's Army and victory of Afghan forces, led by Akbar Khan, the British established diplomatic relations with the Afghan government but withdrew all forces from the country. They returned during the Second Anglo-Afghan War in the late 1870s for about two-year military operations, which was to defeat Ayub Khan and assist Abdur Rahman Khan establish authority.

    The United Kingdom began to exercise a great deal of influence after this and even controlled the state's foreign policy. In 1893, Mortimer Durand made Amir Abdur Rahman Khan sign a controversial agreement in which the ethnic Pashtun and Baloch territories were divided by the Durand Line. This was a standard divide and rule policy of the British and would lead to strained relations, especially with the later new state of Pakistan.

    After the Third Anglo-Afghan War and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi in 1919, King Amanullah Khan declared Afghanistan a sovereign and fully independent state. He moved to end his country's traditional isolation by establishing diplomatic relations with the international community and, following a 1927 28 tour of Europe and Turkey, introduced several reforms intended to modernize his nation. A key force behind these reforms was Mahmud Tarzi, an ardent supporter of the education of women.

    He fought for Article 68 of Afghanistan's 1923 constitution, which made elementary education compulsory. Some of the reforms that were actually put in place, such as the abolition of the traditional burqa for women and the opening of a number of co-educational schools, quickly alienated many tribal and religious leaders. Faced with overwhelming armed opposition, Amanullah Khan was forced to abdicate in January 1929 after Kabul fell to rebel forces led by Habibullah Kalakani.

    Prince Mohammed Nadir Shah, Amanullah's cousin, in turn defeated and killed Kalakani in November 1929, and was declared King Nadir Shah. He abandoned the reforms of Amanullah Khan in favor of a more gradual approach to modernisation but was assassinated in 1933 by Abdul Khaliq, a Hazara school student. Mohammed Zahir Shah, Nadir Shah's 19-year-old son, succeeded to the throne and reigned from 1933 to 1973.

    Until 1946 Zahir Shah ruled with the assistance of his uncle, who held the post of Prime Minister and continued the policies of Nadir Shah. Another of Zahir Shah's uncles, Shah Mahmud Khan, became Prime Minister in 1946 and began an experiment allowing greater political freedom, but reversed the policy when it went further than he expected. He was replaced in 1953 by Mohammed Daoud Khan, the king's cousin and brother-in-law.

    Daoud Khan sought a closer relationship with the Soviet Union and a more distant one towards Pakistan. Afghanistan remained neutral and was neither a participant in World War II, nor aligned with either power bloc in the Cold War. However, it was a beneficiary of the latter rivalry as both the Soviet Union and the United States vied for influence by building Afghanistan's main highways, airports and other vital infrastructure.

    In 1973, while King Zahir Shah was on an official overseas visit, Daoud Khan launched a bloodless coup and became the first President of Afghanistan. Marxist revolution and Soviet war In April 1978, the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in Afghanistan in the Saur Revolution. Within months, opponents of the communist government launched an uprising in eastern Afghanistan that quickly expanded into a civil war waged by guerrilla mujahideen against government forces countrywide.

    The Pakistani government provided these rebels with covert training centers, while the Soviet Union sent thousands of military advisers to support the PDPA government. Meanwhile, increasing friction between the competing factions of the PDPA the dominant Khalq and the more moderate Parcham resulted in the dismissal of Parchami cabinet members and the arrest of Parchami military officers under the pretext of a Parchami coup. By mid-1979, the United States had started a covert program to assist the mujahideen.

    In September 1979, Khalqist President Nur Muhammad Taraki was assassinated in a coup within the PDPA orchestrated by fellow Khalq member Hafizullah Amin, who assumed the presidency. Distrusted by the Soviets, Amin was assassinated by Soviet special forces in December 1979. A Soviet-organized government, led by Parcham's Babrak Karmal but inclusive of both factions, filled the vacuum.

    Soviet troops were deployed to stabilize Afghanistan under Karmal in more substantial numbers, although the Soviet government did not expect to do most of the fighting in Afghanistan. As a result, however, the Soviets were now directly involved in what had been a domestic war in Afghanistan. At the time some believed the Soviets were attempting to expand their borders southward in order to gain a foothold in the Middle East.

    The Soviet Union had long lacked a warm water port, and their movement south seemed to position them for further expansion toward Pakistan in the East, and Iran to the West. American politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, feared the Soviets were positioning themselves for a takeover of Middle Eastern oil. Others believed that the Soviet Union was afraid Iran's Islamic Revolution and Afghanistan's Islamization would spread to the millions of Muslims in the USSR.

    The PDPA prohibited usury, made statements on women's rights by declaring equality of the sexes and introducing women to political life. After the invasion, President Jimmy Carter announced what became known as the Carter Doctrine: that the U.S. would not allow any other outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf.

    He terminated the Soviet Wheat Deal in January 1980, which was intended to establish trade with USSR and lessen Cold War tensions. The grain exports had been beneficial to people employed in agriculture, and the Carter embargo marked the beginning of hardship for American farmers. That same year, Carter also made two of the most unpopular decisions of his entire Presidency: prohibiting American athletes from participating in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, and reinstating registration for the draft for young males.

    Following the Soviet invasion, the United States supported diplomatic efforts to achieve a Soviet withdrawal. In addition, generous U.S. contributions to the refugee program in Pakistan played a major part in efforts to assist Afghan refugees.

    The Reagan administration increased arming and funding of the mujahideen as part of the Reagan Doctrine, thanks in large part to the efforts of Charlie Wilson and CIA officer Gust Avrakotos. Early reports estimated $6 20 billion but more recent reports suggest that up to $40 billion were provided by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.

    This was in the forms of cash and weapons, which included over two thousand FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles. The 10-year Soviet war resulted in the deaths of over 1 million Afghans, mostly civilians. About 6million fled to Pakistan and Iran, and from there tens of thousands began emigrating to the European Union, United States, Australia and other parts of the world.

    Faced with mounting international pressure and great number of casualties, the Soviets withdrew in 1989 but continued to support Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah until 1992. Foreign interference and war After the fall of Najibullah's government in 1992, the Afghan political parties agreed on a peace and power-sharing agreement (the Peshawar Accords). The accords created the Islamic State of Afghanistan and appointed an interim government for a transitional period to be followed by general elections.

    According to Human Rights Watch: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar received operational, financial and military support from Pakistan. Afghanistan expert Amin Saikal concludes in Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival : In addition, Saudi Arabia and Iran as competitors for regional hegemony supported Afghan militias hostile towards each other. According to Human Rights Watch, Iran was backing the Shia Hazara Hezb-i Wahdat forces of Abdul Ali Mazari to "maximize Wahdat's military power and influence".

    Saudi Arabia supported the Wahhabite Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and his Ittihad-i Islami faction. Conflict between the two militias soon escalated into a full-scale war. Due to the sudden initiation of the war, working government departments, police units or a system of justice and accountability for the newly created Islamic State of Afghanistan did not have time to form.

    Atrocities were committed by individuals of the different armed factions while Kabul descended into lawlessness and chaos as described in reports by Human Rights Watch and the Afghanistan Justice Project. Because of the chaos, some leaders increasingly had only nominal control over their (sub-)commanders. For civilians there was little security from murder, rape and extortion.

    When the Taliban took control of the city in 1994, they forced the surrender of dozens of local Pashtun leaders. The Islamic State government took steps to restore law and order. Courts started to work again.

    Massoud tried to initiate a nationwide political process with the goal of national consolidation and democratic elections, also inviting the Taliban to join the process but they refused as they did not believe in a democratic system. Taliban Emirate and the United Front The Taliban started shelling Kabul in early 1995 but were defeated by forces of the Islamic State government under Ahmad Shah Massoud. Amnesty International, referring to the Taliban offensive, wrote in a 1995 report: "This is the first time in several months that Kabul civilians have become the targets of rocket attacks and shelling aimed at residential areas in the city." The Taliban's early victories in 1994 were followed by a series of defeats that resulted in heavy losses which led analysts to believe the Taliban movement had run its course.

    Many analysts like Amin Saikal describe the Taliban as developing into a proxy force for Pakistan's regional interests.On 26 September 1996, as the Taliban with military support by Pakistan and financial support by Saudi Arabia prepared for another major offensive, Massoud ordered a full retreat from Kabul. The Taliban seized Kabul on 27 September 1996, and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. They imposed on the parts of Afghanistan under their control their political and judicial interpretation of Islam issuing edicts especially targeting women.

    According to Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), "no other regime in the world has methodically and violently forced half of its population into virtual house arrest, prohibiting them on pain of physical punishment." After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban on 27 September 1996, Ahmad Shah Massoud and Abdul Rashid Dostum, two former enemies, created the United Front (Northern Alliance) against the Taliban that were preparing offensives against the remaining areas under the control of Massoud and those under the control of Dostum. The United Front included beside the dominantly Tajik forces of Massoud and the Uzbek forces of Dostum, Hazara factions under the command of leaders such as Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq and Pashtun forces under the leadership of commanders such as Abdul Haq or Haji Abdul Qadir. The Taliban defeated Dostum's Junbish forces militarily by seizing Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998.

    Dostum subsequently went into exile. According to a 55-page report by the United Nations, the Taliban, while trying to consolidate control over northern and western Afghanistan, committed systematic massacres against civilians. UN officials stated that there had been "15 massacres" between 1996 and 2001 and that "these have been highly systematic and they all lead back to the Taliban Ministry of Defense or to Mullah Omar himself." The Taliban especially targeted people of Shia religious or Hazara ethnic background.

    Upon taking Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998, 4,000 6,000 civilians were killed by the Taliban and many more reported tortured. The documents also reveal the role of Arab and Pakistani support troops in these killings. Bin Laden's so-called 055 Brigade was responsible for mass-killings of Afghan civilians.

    The report by the UN quotes "eyewitnesses in many villages describing Arab fighters carrying long knives used for slitting throats and skinning people". President Pervez Musharraf then as Chief of Army Staff was responsible for sending thousands of Pakistanis to fight alongside the Taliban and bin Laden against the forces of Massoud. According to Pakistani Afghanistan expert Ahmed Rashid, "between 1994 and 1999, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistanis trained and fought in Afghanistan" on the side of the Taliban.

    In 2001 alone, there were believed to be 28,000 Pakistani nationals, many either from the Frontier Corps or army, fighting inside Afghanistan. An estimated 8,000 Pakistani militants were recruited in madrassas filling the ranks of the estimated 25,000 regular Taliban force. Bin Laden sent Arab recruits to join the fight against the United Front.

    3,000 fighters of the regular Taliban army were Arab and Central Asian militants. Human Rights Watch cites no human rights crimes for the forces under direct control of Massoud for the period from October 1996 until the assassination of Massoud in September 2001. As a consequence many civilians fled to the area of Ahmad Shah Massoud.

    In total, estimates range up to one million people fleeing the Taliban. National Geographic concluded in its documentary "Inside the Taliban" : "The only thing standing in the way of future Taliban massacres is Ahmad Shah Massoud." In early 2001 Massoud addressed the European Parliament in Brussels asking the international community to provide humanitarian help to the people of Afghanistan. He stated that the Taliban and al-Qaeda had introduced "a very wrong perception of Islam" and that without the support of Pakistan and bin Laden the Taliban would not be able to sustain their military campaign for up to a year.

    On this visit to Europe he also warned that his intelligence had gathered information about a large-scale attack on U.S. soil being imminent. On 9 September 2001, Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated by two Arab suicide attackers inside Afghanistan and two days later about 3,000 people were killed in the September 11 attacks in the United States.

    The US government identified Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the Al-Qaeda organization based in and allied to the Taliban's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as the perpetrators of the attacks. From 1990 until this date over 400,000 Afghan civilians had already died in the wars in Afghanistan. The Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden to US authorities and to disband al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan.

    Bin Laden later claimed sole responsibility for the September 11 attacks and specifically denied any prior knowledge of them by the Taliban or the Afghan people. In October 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom was launched as a new phase of the war in Afghanistan in which teams of American and British special forces worked with ground forces of the United Front (Northern Alliance) to remove the Taliban from power and dispel Al-Qaeda. At the same time the US-led forces were bombing Taliban and al-Qaida targets everywhere inside Afghanistan with cruise missiles.

    These actions led to the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif in the north followed by all the other cities, as the Taliban and al-Qaida fled over the porous Durand Line border into Pakistan. In December 2001, after the Taliban government was toppled and the new Afghan government under Hamid Karzai was formed, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established by the UN Security Council to help assist the Karzai administration and provide basic security to the Afghan people. Recent history (2002 present) While the Taliban began regrouping inside Pakistan, more coalition troops entered the escalating US-led war.

    Meanwhile, the rebuilding of war-torn Afghanistan kicked off in 2002. The Afghan nation was able to build democratic structures over the years, and some progress was made in key areas such as governance, economy, health, education, transport, and agriculture. NATO is training the Afghan armed forces as well its national police.

    ISAF and Afghan troops led many offensives against the Taliban but failed to fully defeat them. By 2009, a Taliban-led shadow government began to form in many parts of the country complete with their own version of mediation court. After U.S.

    President Barack Obama announced the deployment of another 30,000 soldiers in 2010 for a period of two years, Der Spiegel published images of the US soldiers who killed unarmed Afghan civilians. At the 2010 International Conference on Afghanistan in London, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he intends to reach out to the Taliban leadership (including Mullah Omar, Sirajuddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar). Supported by NATO, Karzai called on the group's leadership to take part in a loya jirga meeting to initiate peace talks.

    These steps have resulted in an intensification of bombings, assassinations and ambushes. Some Afghan groups (including the former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh and opposition leader Dr. Abdullah Abdullah) believe that Karzai plans to appease the insurgents' senior leadership at the cost of the democratic constitution, the democratic process and progress in the field of human rights especially women's rights.

    Dr. Abdullah stated: }} Over five million Afghan refugees were repatriated in the last decade, including many who were forcefully deported from NATO countries. This large return of Afghans may have helped the nation's economy but the country still remains one of the poorest in the world due to the decades of war, lack of foreign investment, ongoing government corruption and the Taliban insurgency.

    According to a report by the United Nations, the Taliban and other militants were responsible for 76% of civilian casualties in 2009, 75% in 2010, 80% in 2011, 80% in 2012. In 2011 a record 3,021 civilians were killed in the ongoing insurgency, the fifth successive annual rise.}} After the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, many prominent Afghan figures began being assassinated, including Mohammed Daud Daud, Ahmed Wali Karzai, Jan Mohammad Khan, Ghulam Haider Hamidi, Burhanuddin Rabbani and others. Also in the same year, the Pak-Afghan border skirmishes intensified and many large scale attacks by the Pakistani-based Haqqani Network took place across Afghanistan.

    This led to the United States warning Pakistan of a possible military action against the Haqqanis in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The U.S. blamed Pakistan's government, mainly Pakistan Army and its ISI spy network as the masterminds behind all of this. |Admiral Mike Mullen|Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff}} U.S.

    Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, told Radio Pakistan that "The attack that took place in Kabul a few days ago, that was the work of the Haqqani Network. There is evidence linking the Haqqani Network to the Pakistan government. This is something that must stop." Other top U.S.

    officials such as Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta made similar statements. On 16 October 2011, "Operation Knife Edge" was launched by NATO and Afghan forces against the Haqqani Network in south-eastern Afghanistan. Afghan Defense Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, explained that the operation will "help eliminate the insurgents before they struck in areas along the troubled frontier".

    In anticipation of the 2014 NATO withdrawal and a subsequent expected push to regain power by the Taliban, the anti-Taliban United Front (Northern Alliance) groups have started to regroup under the umbrella of the National Coalition of Afghanistan (political arm) and the National Front of Afghanistan (military arm). Governance Afghanistan is an Islamic republic consisting of three branches, executive, legislative and judicial. The nation is currently led by Hamid Karzai as the President and leader since late 2001.

    The National Assembly is the legislature, a bicameral body having two chambers, the House of the People and the House of Elders. The Supreme Court is led by Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi, a former university professor who had been a legal advisor to the president. The current court is seen as more moderate and led by more technocrats than the previous one, which was dominated by fundamentalist religious figures such as Chief Justice Faisal Ahmad Shinwari who issued several controversial rulings, including seeking to place a limit on the rights of women.

    According to Transparency International's corruption perceptions index 2010 results, Afghanistan was ranked as the third most-corrupt country in the world. A January 2010 report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime revealed that bribery consumes an amount equal to 23% of the GDP of the nation. A number of government ministries are believed to be rife with corruption, and while President Karzai vowed to tackle the problem in late 2009 by stating that "individuals who are involved in corruption will have no place in the government", top government officials were stealing and misusing hundreds of millions of dollars through the Kabul Bank.

    Although the nation's institutions are newly formed and steps have been taken to arrest some, the United States warned that aid to Afghanistan would be reduced to very little if the corruption is not stopped. Elections and parties The 2004 Afghan presidential election was relatively peaceful, in which Hamid Karzai won in the first round with 55.4% of the votes. However, the 2009 presidential election was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread electoral fraud.

    The vote, along with elections for 420 provincial council seats, took place in August 2009, but remained unresolved during a lengthy period of vote counting and fraud investigation. Two months later, under international pressure, a second round run-off vote between Karzai and remaining challenger Abdullah was announced, but a few days later Abdullah announced that he is not participating in the 7 November run-off because his demands for changes in the electoral commission had not been met. The next day, officials of the election commission cancelled the run-off and declared Hamid Karzai as President for another 5-year term.

    In the 2005 parliamentary election, among the elected officials were former mujahideen, Islamic fundamentalists, warlords, communists, reformists, and several Taliban associates. In the same period, Afghanistan reached to the 30th nation in terms of female representation in parliament. The last parliamentary election was held in September 2010, but due to disputes and investigation of fraud, the sworn in ceremony took place in late January 2011.

    After the issuance of computerized ID cards for the first time, which is a $101 million project that the Afghan government plans to start in 2012, it is expected to help prevent major fraud in future elections and improve the security situation. Administrative divisions Afghanistan is administratively divided into 34 provinces ( wilayats ), with each province having its own capital and a provincial administration. The provinces are further divided into about 398 smaller provincial districts, each of which normally covers a city or a number of villages.

    Each district is represented by a district governor. The provincial governors are appointed by the President of Afghanistan and the district governors are selected by the provincial governors. The provincial governors are representatives of the central government in Kabul and are responsible for all administrative and formal issues within their provinces.

    There are also provincial councils which are elected through direct and general elections for a period of four years. The functions of provincial councils are to take part in provincial development planning and to participate in monitoring and appraisal of other provincial governance institutions. According to article 140 of the constitution and the presidential decree on electoral law, mayors of cities should be elected through free and direct elections for a four-year term.

    However, due to huge election costs, mayoral and municipal elections have never been held. Instead, mayors have been appointed by the government. As for the capital city of Kabul, the mayor is appointed by the President of Afghanistan.

    The following is a list of all the 34 provinces in alphabetical order: Foreign relations and military The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for managing the foreign relations of Afghanistan. The nation has been a member of the UN since 1946, and has maintained good relations with the United States and other NATO member states since the signing of the Anglo-Afghan Treaty in 1919. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was established in 2002 under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1401 to help the nation recover from decades of war and establish a normal functioning government.

    Today, more than 22 NATO nations deploy about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Apart from close military links, the country also enjoys strong economic relations with NATO members and their allies. It also has diplomatic relations with neighboring Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, the People's Republic of China, including regional states such as India, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Russia, United Arab Emirate, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, and others.

    Afghanistan Pakistan relations have been negatively affected by issues related to the Durand Line, the 1978 present war (i.e. Mujahideen, Afghan refugees, Taliban insurgency, and border skirmishes), including water and the growing influence of India in Afghanistan. Afghan officials often allege that Pakistani and Iranian intelligence agencies are involved in terrorist attacks inside Afghanistan, by training and guiding terrorists to carry out attacks.

    On the positive side, the two nations are usually described in Afghanistan as "inseparable brothers", which is due to historical, religious, and ethnolinguistical connections, as well as trade and other ties. Afghanistan has always depended on Pakistani trade routes for import and export but this has changed in the last decade with the opening of Central Asian and Iranian routes. Conversely, Pakistan depends on Afghan water and considers Afghanistan as the only trade route to Central Asian resources.

    India and Iran have actively participated in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, with India being the largest regional donor to the country. Since 2002, India has pledged up to $2 billion in economic assistance to Afghanistan and has participated in multiple socio-economic reconstruction efforts, including power, roads, agricultural and educational projects. There are also military ties between Afghanistan and India, which is expected to increase after the October 2011 strategic pact that was signed by President Karzai and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

    The military of Afghanistan is under the Ministry of Defense, which includes the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan Air Force (AAF). It currently has about 200,000 active soldiers and is expected to reach 260,000 in the coming years. They are trained and equipped by NATO countries, mainly by the United States Department of Defense.

    The ANA is divided into 7 major Corps, with the 201st Selab ("Flood") in Kabul followed by the 203rd in Gardez, 205th Atul ("Hero") in Kandahar, 207th in Herat, 209th in Mazar-i-Sharif and the 215th in Lashkar Gah. The ANA also has a commando brigade which was established in 2007. The National Military Academy of Afghanistan serves as the main educational institute for the militarymen of the country.

    A new $200 million Afghan Defense University (ADU) is under construction near the capital. Crime and law enforcement The National Directorate of Security (NDS) is the nation's domestic intelligence agency, which operates similar to that of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and has between 15,000 to 30,000 employees. The nation also has about 126,000 national police officers, with plans to recruit more so that the total number can reach 160,000.

    The Afghan National Police (ANP) is under the Ministry of the Interior, which is based in Kabul and headed by Bismillah Khan Mohammadi. The Afghan National Civil Order Police is the main branch of the Afghan National Police, which is divided into five Brigades and each one commanded by a Brigadier General. These brigades are stationed in Kabul, Gardez, Kandahar, Herat, and Mazar-i-Sharif.

    Every province of the country has a provincial Chief of Police who is appointed by the Ministry of the Interior and is responsible for law enforcement in all the districts within the province. The police are being trained by NATO countries through the Afghanistan Police Program. According to a 2009 news report, a large proportion of police officers are illiterate and are accused of demanding bribes.

    Jack Kem, deputy to the commander of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, stated that the literacy rate in the ANP will rise to over 50% by January 2012. What began as a voluntary literacy program became mandatory for basic police training in early 2011. Approximately 17% of them test positive for illegal drug use.

    In 2009, President Karzai created two anti-corruption units within the Interior Ministry. Former Interior Minister Hanif Atmar said that security officials from the U.S. (FBI), Britain (Scotland Yard) and the European Union will train prosecutors in the unit. The south and eastern parts of Afghanistan are the most dangerous due to the flourishing drug trade and militancy.

    These areas in particular are often patrolled by Taliban insurgents, and in many cases they plan attacks by using suicide bombers and planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on roads. Kidnapping and robberies are also often reported. Every year many Afghan police officers are killed in the line of duty in these areas.

    The Afghan Border Police are responsible for protecting the nation's airports and borders, especially the disputed Durand Line border which is often used by members of criminal organizations and terrorists for their illegal activities. Reports in 2011 suggested that up to 3 million people are involved in the illegal drug business in Afghanistan, many of the attacks on government employees and institutions are carried out not only by the Taliban militants but also by powerful criminal gangs. Drugs from Afghanistan are exported to Iran, Pakistan, Russia, India, the United Arab Emirate, and the European Union.

    The Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics is dealing with this problem. Recently, the people mustered courage and took to streets in Kabul to protest against gruesome killing of a woman accused of adultery by suspected Taliban in the Parwan province. Economy Afghanistan is an impoverished and least developed country, one of the world's poorest due to the decades of war and nearly complete lack of foreign investment.

    The nation's GDP stands at about $29 billion with an exchange rate of $18 billion, and the GDP per capita is about $1,000. The country's export was $2.6 billion in 2010. Its unemployment rate is about 35% and roughly the same percentage of its citizens live below the poverty line.

    About 42% of the population live on less than $1 a day, according to a 2009 report. On the positive side, the nation has less than $1.5 billion external debt and is recovering by the assistance of the world community. The Afghan economy has been growing at about 10% per year in the last decade, which is due to the infusion of over $50 billion dollars in international aid and remittances from Afghan expats.

    It is also due to improvements made to the transportation system and agricultural production, which is the backbone of the nation's economy. The country is known for producing some of the finest pomegranates, grapes, apricots, melons, and several other fresh and dry fruits, including nuts. While the nations's current account deficit is largely financed with the donor money, only a small portion is provided directly to the government budget.

    The rest is provided to non-budgetary expenditure and donor-designated projects through the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations. The Afghan Ministry of Finance is focusing on improved revenue collection and public sector expenditure discipline. For example, government revenues increased 31% to $1.7 billion from March 2010 to March 2011.

    Da Afghanistan Bank serves as the central bank of the nation and the "Afghani" (AFN) is the national currency, with an exchange rate of about 47 Afghanis to 1 US dollar. Since 2003, over 16 new banks have opened in the country, including Afghanistan International Bank, Kabul Bank, Azizi Bank, Pashtany Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, First Micro Finance Bank, and others. One of the main drivers for the current economic recovery is the return of over 5 million expatriates, who brought with them fresh energy, entrepreneurship and wealth-creating skills as well as much needed funds to start up businesses.

    For the first time since the 1970s, Afghans have involved themselves in construction, one of the largest industries in the country. Some of the major national construction projects include the New Kabul City next to the capital, the Ghazi Amanullah Khan City near Jalalabad, and the Aino Mena in Kandahar. Similar development projects have also begun in Herat in the west, Mazar-e-Sharif in the north and in other cities.

    In addition, a number of companies and small factories began operating in different parts of the country, which not only provide revenues to the government but also create new jobs. Improvements to the business-enabling environment have resulted in more than $1.5 billion in telecom investment and created more than 100,000 jobs since 2003. The Afghan rugs are becoming popular again and this gives many carpet dealers around the country to expand their business by hiring more workers.

    Afghanistan is a member of SAARC, ECO and OIC. It is hoping to join SCO soon to develop closer economic ties with neighboring and regional countries in the so-called New Silk Road trade project. Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul told the media in 2011 that his nation's "goal is to achieve an Afghan economy whose growth is based on trade, private enterprise and investment".

    Experts believe that this will revolutionize the economy of the region. Opium production in Afghanistan soared to a record in 2007 with about 3 million people reported to be involved in the business but then declined significantly in the years following. The government started programs to help reduce cultivation of poppy, and by 2010 it was reported that 24 out of the 34 provinces were free from poppy grow.

    In June 2012, India strongly advocated for private investments in the resource rich country and creation of suitable environment therefor. Mining and energy Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution explains that if Afghanistan generates about $10 bn per year from its mineral deposits, its gross national product would double and provide long-term funding for Afghan security forces and other critical needs. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated in 2006 that northern Afghanistan has an average (bbl) of crude oil, 15.7 trillion cubic feet ( bn m 3 ) of natural gas, and of natural gas liquids.

    In December 2011, Afghanistan signed an oil exploration contract with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) for the development of three oil fields along the Amu Darya river in the north. Other reports show that the country has huge amounts of lithium, copper, gold, coal, iron ore and other minerals. The Khanashin carbonatite in Helmand Province contains of rare earth elements.

    In 2007, a 30-year lease was granted for the Aynak copper mine to the China Metallurgical Group for $3 billion, making it the biggest foreign investment and private business venture in Afghanistan's history. The state-run Steel Authority of India won the mining rights to develop the huge Hajigak iron ore deposit in central Afghanistan. Government officials estimate that 30% of the country's untapped mineral deposits are worth between and .

    One official asserted that "this will become the backbone of the Afghan economy" and a Pentagon memo stated that Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium". In a 2011 news story, the CSM reported, "The United States and other Western nations that have borne the brunt of the cost of the Afghan war have been conspicuously absent from the bidding process on Afghanistan's mineral deposits, leaving it to mostly to regional powers." Transport and communications Afghanistan has about 53 airports, with the biggest ones being the Kabul International Airport, serving the capital and nearby regions followed Kandahar International Airport in the south, Herat International Airport in the west, and Mazar-i-Sharif Airport in the north. Ariana Afghan Airlines is the national carrier, with domestic flights between Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif.

    International flights include to United Arab Emirate, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Turkey, India, Iran, Pakistan and a number of other Asian destinations. There are also domestic and international flight services available from the locally owned Kam Air, Pamir Airways and Safi Airways. Airlines from a number of regional nations such as Turkish Airlines, Gulf Air, Air Arabia, Air India, PIA and others also provide services to Afghanistan.

    Flights between Dubai and Kabul take roughly 2 hours to reach. The country has limited rail service with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in the north. The government plans to extended the rail line to the capital and then to the eastern border town of Torkham by 2014, connecting with Pakistan Railways.

    Long distant road journeys are made by older model company-owned Mercedes-Benz coach buses or carpool and private cars. Newer automobiles have recently become more widely available after the rebuilding of roads and highways. They are imported from the United Arab Emirates through Pakistan and Iran.

    As of 2012, vehicles that are older than 10 years are banned from being imported into the country. The development of the nation's road network is a major boost for the economy due to trade with neighboring countries. Afghanistan's postal and package services such as FedEx, DHL and others make deliveries to major cities and towns.

    Telecommunication services in the country are provided by Afghan Wireless, Etisalat, Roshan, MTN Group and Afghan Telecom. In 2006, the Afghan Ministry of Communications signed a $64.5 million agreement with ZTE for the establishment of a countrywide optical fiber cable network. As of 2011, Afghanistan has around 17 million GSM phone subscribers and over 1 million internet users.

    It only has about 75,000 fixed telephone lines and little over 190,000 CDMA subscribers.

    3G services are provided by Etisalat and MTN Group. The Afghan government announced that it will send expressions of interest to international companies to attract funding will launch its first ever space satellite by October 2012. Health According to the Human Development Index, Afghanistan is the 15th least developed country in the world.

    The average life expectancy was estimated in 2012 to be 49.72 years. Afghanistan has the 9th highest total fertility rate in the world, at 5.64 children born/woman (according to 2012 estimates).Afghanistan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, estimated in 2008 at 1,400 deaths/100,000 live births, and the highest infant mortality rate in the world (deaths of babies under one year), estimated in 2012 to be 121.63 deaths/1,000 live births. Data from 2010 suggests that one in 10 children in Afghanistan dies before they are five years old.While these statistics are tragic, the government plans to further cut the infant mortality rate to 400 for every 100,000 live births by 2020.

    The country currently has more than 3,000 midwives with an additional 300 to 400 being trained each year. A number of new hospitals and clinics have been built over the last decade, with the most advanced treatments being available in Kabul. The French Medical Institute for Children and Indira Gandhi Childrens Hospital in Kabul are the leading children's hospitals in the country.

    Some of the other main hospitals in Kabul include the 350-bed Jamhuriat Hospital and the Jinnah Hospital, which is still under construction. There are also a number of well-equipped military-controlled hospitals in different regions of the country. It was reported in 2006 that nearly 60% of the population lives within two hours by foot to the nearest health facility, up from 9% in 2002.

    Latest surveys show that 57% of Afghans say they have good or very good access to clinics or hospitals. The nation also has one of the highest incidences of people with disabilities, with an estimated one million handicapped people. About 80,000 citizens have lost limbs, mainly as a result of landmines.

    Non-governmental charities such as Save the Children and Mahboba's Promise assist orphans in association with governmental structures. Demographic and Health Surveys is working with the Indian Institute of Health Management Research and others to conduct a survey in Afghanistan focusing on Maternal death, among other things. Education Education in the country includes K-12 and higher education, which is supervised by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education.

    The nation's education system was destroyed due to the decades of war, but it began reviving after the Karzai administration came to power in late 2001. More than 5,000 schools were built or renovated, with more than 100,000 teachers being trained and recruited. It was reported in 2011 that more than seven million male and female students were enrolled in schools.

    As of 2011, about 82,000 students are enrolled in different universities around the country. Kabul University reopened in 2002 to both male and female students. In 2006, the American University of Afghanistan was established in Kabul, with the aim of providing a world-class, English-language, co-educational learning environment in Afghanistan.

    The capital of Kabul serves as the learning center of Afghanistan, with many of the best educational institutions being based there. Major universities outside of Kabul include Kandahar University in the south, Herat University in the northwest, Balkh University in the north, Nangarhar University and Khost University in the eastern zones, as well as a number of others. The National Military Academy of Afghanistan, modeled after the United States Military Academy at West Point, is a four-year military development institution dedicated to graduating officers for the Afghan armed forces.

    The $200 million Afghan Defense University is under construction near Qargha in Kabul. The United States is building six faculties of education and five provincial teacher training colleges around the country, two large secondary schools in Kabul and one school in Jalalabad. Literacy rate of the entire population is low, around 28%.

    Female literacy may be as low as 10%. In 2010, the United States began establishing a number of Lincoln learning centers in Afghanistan. They are set up to serve as programming platforms offering English language classes, library facilities, programming venues, Internet connectivity, educational and other counseling services.

    A goal of the program is to reach at least 4,000 Afghan citizens per month per location. The military and national police are also provided with mandatory literacy courses. In addition to this, Baghch-e-Simsim (based on the American Sesame Street) was launched in late 2011 to help Afghan children learn from preschool and onward.

    Demographics As of 2012, the population of Afghanistan is around 30,419,928, which includes the roughly 2.7 million Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan and Iran. In 1979, the population was reported to be about 15.5 million. The only city with over a million residents is its capital, Kabul.

    The other largest cities in the country are, in order of population size, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Lashkar Gah, Taloqan, Khost, Sheberghan, Ghazni, and so on. Urban areas are experiencing rapid population growth following the return of over 5 million expats. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the Afghan population is estimated to increase to 82 million by 2050.

    Ethnic groups Afghanistan is a multiethnic society, and its historical status as a crossroads has contributed significantly to its diverse ethnic makeup. The population of the country is divided into a wide variety of ethnolinguistic groups. Because a systematic census has not been held in the nation in decades, exact fi

  • Afghan interpreter wounded on duty with British Army is now sleeping rough Fazel Dijilane, 23, spent eight months translating for soldiers on patrol He says he was abandoned when our troops pulled out and forced to flee Instead he is now destitute, living in a tent in Calais among other migrants | View comments Desperate: Fazel Dijilane, 23, in France An interpreter injured by a bomb while working for the UK Army in Afghanistan is now sleeping rough in the Calais Jungle. Fazel Dijilane, 23, spent eight months translating for soldiers on patrol, risking his life every day. But he says he was abandoned when our troops pulled out and was forced to flee after the Taliban accused him of being a spy. He spent more than two years travelling across Europe to try to reach the UK, where he hoped to claim asylum. But instead he is now destitute, living in a tent in Calais alongside hundreds of other migrants. His injuries mean he is in constant pain, which is worsened by cold weather. Mr Dijilane said: I am at the front door of the UK now. But it seems they don t care about the interpreters. He said he wanted to help British troops because they had left everything to fight for peace for us . But his cousin, a member of the Taliban, was killed and his family suspected Mr Dijilane of informing because of his work. He said he was waiting for the UK Government s Labour Support Unit (LSU) in Afghanistan to consider his application to be relocated to the UK when he was threatened by the Taliban and had to flee. He said: I lost everything: my mother, my sisters, my health, my country. I know many interpreters the Taliban have already killed. So I had to leave. Now, I am just asking for help. Mr Dijilane, from Logar Province, started working for the Army in January 2012 as an interpreter for the 3rd battalion Yorkshire Regiment and the Royal Marines. His father died of cancer 18 years ago, so he was the main breadwinner for his mother and six sisters. During one patrol, a remote-controlled IED went off and he was thrown backwards. He was taken to hospital and diagnosed with suspected nerve damage down one side of his body. He said he was told he did not have to keep working after he was injured, but he chose to carry on to help fight for peace, and also to support his family. In 2013, he was told his base was closing as British troops prepared to withdraw from Afghanistan. He said they told him to go to Kabul to apply to the LSU, which offers support and sometimes relocation to the UK for staff who are being intimidated. But he was threatened before he got an answer. Mr Dijilane said: They told me that after five days they would interview me but after five days I was still waiting and they said the programme has not started yet. Then they said maybe 2014, maybe 2015, but I could not wait that long, it was my life at risk. I told them I could not go home, because everybody knew I worked for the British. When I was at home, I was frightened, I could not sleep. It is 90 per cent Taliban, my uncles, my cousins all Taliban. I received a lot of calls. They told me to go somewhere and lie low or in a few days your life is finished. That is why I decided I should leave. He fled in the middle of the night in April 2013 and travelled through ten countries, arriving in Calais five months ago. He has tried several times to jump on a UK-bound lorry, but finds it too difficult because of his injuries. Mr Dijilane said he wants to come to the UK to finish his business studies. His appraisal papers from the Army say he was one of the most effective and experienced translators at the base and that they fully trust him . An Afghan interpreter who risked his life to protect British soldiers is to be kicked out of the UK and sent back to the Taliban. The 31-year-old, who fled Afghanistan after receiving death threats from the terror group, faces deportation after a judge ruled it was safe for him to go back and rejected his asylum claim. This was despite serving and former Army officers giving evidence to a tribunal saying he saved many British lives and that he could be killed if he goes back. The father of three, known as Ahmed, whose real name cannot be disclosed for his safety, said last night: It is like someone has executed me. The Taliban call me a traitor and a spy. If I go back, I know that they will find me and kill me. His case contrasts with that of a Sudanese migrant who walked 31 miles through the Channel Tunnel to Britain and was granted asylum this month. Abdul Rahman Haroun can now claim benefits and live in state-funded accommodation. Sudanese migrant Abdul Rahman Haroun, walked 31 miles through the Channel Tunnel to Britain and was granted asylum Senior military figures branded the ruling against Ahmed as ridiculous and Tory MP Julian Lewis, chairman of the Commons defence committee, said it was utterly indefensible . The Daily Mail s Betrayal of the Brave campaign, backed by military chiefs and MPs, has called for translators to be given sanctuary. The Government only grants asylum to those with at least a year s service after December 2011 unless they can show they were threatened, in which case they can apply while still in Afghanistan under a separate intimidation scheme . Ahmed, who is sleeping on a sofa in the North, joined the Army in 2007 and served in Helmand Province for over two years. He monitored Taliban radio and warned of imminent attacks and the location of roadside bombs. He also translated when they met locals. The Taliban branded him a slave and a spy for the British and he received death threats over the telephone. In 2013 he paid people-smugglers in Kabul 3,215 to help him escape. He travelled via Turkey, Greece and Italy to Calais, and reached the UK in October that year in the back of a lorry. Two days later he put in an asylum claim, but it was rejected in October 2014. His lawyers appealed, but it was rejected again because the judge said it was safe to return. Ahmed s brother, also an ex-interpreter, was granted sanctuary on the grounds that the Taliban might kill him if he returned. Ahmed said: [The Home Office] could come for me today, tomorrow, every day I am scared. I helped protect English people but now no one is helping me. Colonel Simon Diggins, ex-military attache to the British Embassy in Kabul, said last night: I m appealing for a generosity of spirit. This man risked his life to help us. In evidence to the tribunal, he said the idea Ahmed would be safe in Kabul was as ridiculous as it is disingenuous . Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone, of the Welsh Guards, said Ahmed was loyal and brave , adding: He kept us alive. Major David Landon, of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, said he twice saw Afghan soldiers threatening Ahmed with rifles and that he would face a clear danger if he goes home. Lord West, former head of the Navy, added: It seems absolutely extraordinary when you think of the people we are allowing to stay in this country and contrast that with someone who put his life on the line to assist our soldiers. Tribunal judge Steven Alis said he had sympathy for Ahmed but added: If he has a fear of returning to ... his own village, I am satisfied it would not be unreasonable for him to relocate to a city such as Kabul where the Taliban has considerably less influence. Ahmed s lawyer submitted new evidence, but he received a letter in November saying he was expected to make arrangements to leave without delay . His lawyer is now seeking a judicial review. The Home Office said: All [asylum] claims are carefully considered ... but we expect those who are found not to need our protection to leave the UK. Our decision in this case has been upheld by an independent immigration judge. An MoD spokesman said Ahmed did not apply for asylum under the intimidation scheme. SHARE PICTURE
  • Afghan interpreter wounded on duty with the British Army is now sleeping rough in the Calais Jungle in a bid to reach the UK Fazel Dijilane, 23, spent eight months translating for soldiers on patrol He says he was abandoned when our troops pulled out and forced to flee Instead he is now destitute, living in a tent in Calais among other migrants | View comments Desperate: Fazel Dijilane, 23, in France An interpreter injured by a bomb while working for the UK Army in Afghanistan is now sleeping rough in the Calais Jungle. Fazel Dijilane, 23, spent eight months translating for soldiers on patrol, risking his life every day. But he says he was abandoned when our troops pulled out and was forced to flee after the Taliban accused him of being a spy. He spent more than two years travelling across Europe to try to reach the UK, where he hoped to claim asylum. But instead he is now destitute, living in a tent in Calais alongside hundreds of other migrants. His injuries mean he is in constant pain, which is worsened by cold weather. Mr Dijilane said: I am at the front door of the UK now. But it seems they don t care about the interpreters. He said he wanted to help British troops because they had left everything to fight for peace for us . But his cousin, a member of the Taliban, was killed and his family suspected Mr Dijilane of informing because of his work. He said he was waiting for the UK Government s Labour Support Unit (LSU) in Afghanistan to consider his application to be relocated to the UK when he was threatened by the Taliban and had to flee. He said: I lost everything: my mother, my sisters, my health, my country. I know many interpreters the Taliban have already killed. So I had to leave. Now, I am just asking for help. Mr Dijilane, from Logar Province, started working for the Army in January 2012 as an interpreter for the 3rd battalion Yorkshire Regiment and the Royal Marines. His father died of cancer 18 years ago, so he was the main breadwinner for his mother and six sisters. During one patrol, a remote-controlled IED went off and he was thrown backwards. He was taken to hospital and diagnosed with suspected nerve damage down one side of his body. He said he was told he did not have to keep working after he was injured, but he chose to carry on to help fight for peace, and also to support his family. In 2013, he was told his base was closing as British troops prepared to withdraw from Afghanistan. He said they told him to go to Kabul to apply to the LSU, which offers support and sometimes relocation to the UK for staff who are being intimidated. But he was threatened before he got an answer. Mr Dijilane said: They told me that after five days they would interview me but after five days I was still waiting and they said the programme has not started yet. Then they said maybe 2014, maybe 2015, but I could not wait that long, it was my life at risk. I told them I could not go home, because everybody knew I worked for the British. When I was at home, I was frightened, I could not sleep. It is 90 per cent Taliban, my uncles, my cousins all Taliban. I received a lot of calls. They told me to go somewhere and lie low or in a few days your life is finished. That is why I decided I should leave. He fled in the middle of the night in April 2013 and travelled through ten countries, arriving in Calais five months ago. He has tried several times to jump on a UK-bound lorry, but finds it too difficult because of his injuries. Mr Dijilane said he wants to come to the UK to finish his business studies. His appraisal papers from the Army say he was one of the most effective and experienced translators at the base and that they fully trust him . An Afghan interpreter who risked his life to protect British soldiers is to be kicked out of the UK and sent back to the Taliban. The 31-year-old, who fled Afghanistan after receiving death threats from the terror group, faces deportation after a judge ruled it was safe for him to go back and rejected his asylum claim. This was despite serving and former Army officers giving evidence to a tribunal saying he saved many British lives and that he could be killed if he goes back. The father of three, known as Ahmed, whose real name cannot be disclosed for his safety, said last night: It is like someone has executed me. The Taliban call me a traitor and a spy. If I go back, I know that they will find me and kill me. His case contrasts with that of a Sudanese migrant who walked 31 miles through the Channel Tunnel to Britain and was granted asylum this month. Abdul Rahman Haroun can now claim benefits and live in state-funded accommodation. Sudanese migrant Abdul Rahman Haroun, walked 31 miles through the Channel Tunnel to Britain and was granted asylum Senior military figures branded the ruling against Ahmed as ridiculous and Tory MP Julian Lewis, chairman of the Commons defence committee, said it was utterly indefensible . The Daily Mail s Betrayal of the Brave campaign, backed by military chiefs and MPs, has called for translators to be given sanctuary. The Government only grants asylum to those with at least a year s service after December 2011 unless they can show they were threatened, in which case they can apply while still in Afghanistan under a separate intimidation scheme . Ahmed, who is sleeping on a sofa in the North, joined the Army in 2007 and served in Helmand Province for over two years. He monitored Taliban radio and warned of imminent attacks and the location of roadside bombs. He also translated when they met locals. The Taliban branded him a slave and a spy for the British and he received death threats over the telephone. In 2013 he paid people-smugglers in Kabul 3,215 to help him escape. He travelled via Turkey, Greece and Italy to Calais, and reached the UK in October that year in the back of a lorry. Two days later he put in an asylum claim, but it was rejected in October 2014. His lawyers appealed, but it was rejected again because the judge said it was safe to return. Ahmed s brother, also an ex-interpreter, was granted sanctuary on the grounds that the Taliban might kill him if he returned. Ahmed said: [The Home Office] could come for me today, tomorrow, every day I am scared. I helped protect English people but now no one is helping me. Colonel Simon Diggins, ex-military attache to the British Embassy in Kabul, said last night: I m appealing for a generosity of spirit. This man risked his life to help us. In evidence to the tribunal, he said the idea Ahmed would be safe in Kabul was as ridiculous as it is disingenuous . Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone, of the Welsh Guards, said Ahmed was loyal and brave , adding: He kept us alive. Major David Landon, of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, said he twice saw Afghan soldiers threatening Ahmed with rifles and that he would face a clear danger if he goes home. Lord West, former head of the Navy, added: It seems absolutely extraordinary when you think of the people we are allowing to stay in this country and contrast that with someone who put his life on the line to assist our soldiers. Tribunal judge Steven Alis said he had sympathy for Ahmed but added: If he has a fear of returning to ... his own village, I am satisfied it would not be unreasonable for him to relocate to a city such as Kabul where the Taliban has considerably less influence. Ahmed s lawyer submitted new evidence, but he received a letter in November saying he was expected to make arrangements to leave without delay . His lawyer is now seeking a judicial review. The Home Office said: All [asylum] claims are carefully considered ... but we expect those who are found not to need our protection to leave the UK. Our decision in this case has been upheld by an independent immigration judge. An MoD spokesman said Ahmed did not apply for asylum under the intimidation scheme.
  • Afghan man is awarded £16,000 compensation for being partially blinded after he was shot in the eye with a paintball gun by a British soldier during... Lance Corporal Shaun Sewell, 31, shot Mohammad Jamil during exercise Jamil was posing as an insurgent at British base in Helmand Province Lance Corporal Sewell thought Mr Jamil was posing as a suicide bomber Court martial found him guilty of negligence and demoted him to a private | 1 View comments Demoted: Lance Corporal Shaun Sewell, 31, was reduced to the rank of private for partially blinding a man on a training exercise in Afghanistan An Afghan man has been awarded 16,000 after he was partially blinded by a British soldier who shot him in the eye with a paintball gun. Mohammad Jamil was hit in the right eye by a round from Lance Corporal Shaun Sewell's assault rifle during a training exercise at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. Lance Corporal Sewell, 31, said he thought Mr Jamil was a fake suicide bomber he was supposed to attack as part of the exercise. But a court martial ruled that he had been negligent in his duties and demoted him to the rank of private. Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire heard that Lance Corporal Sewell, of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, fired at Mr Jamil during the exercise on February 8, 2014. Using an SA80 assault rifle which had been modified to launch paintballs, he first hit Mr Jamil in the chest after he thought he saw 'wires' protruding from his chest from a mock suicide vest. Mr Jamil ducked after the first pellet hit him, and the second round struck him in the eye, which was damaged so badly he can now only see shades of light and dark through it. The victim, who was hired by the British Army to help with the training scenarios, was awarded $25,126 in U.S. dollars by the court - around 16,800. The award, around 60 times the average wage in Afghanistan, will be paid to Mr Jamil, who now runs an electrical shop in the country. Court martial: Lance Corporal Sewell fired two shots at Mohammad Jamil, an Afghan who was hired to take part in a training exercise. The first shot hit him in the chest, the second struck him in the right eye The court martial heard that Lance Corporal Sewell, a Jamaican who entered the Army as a Commonwealth citizen, had been told earlier that day not to shoot at anybody who wasn't wearing protective gear. Judge Jeff Blackett, sentencing, said: 'You shot and wounded Mr Jamil with the consequence leaving him partially blind for the rest of his life, but we accept you didn't attempt to injure him. 'You were in an exercise scenario and you acted as if you were being attacked by a suicide bomber. 'However, others exercised good judgement and didn't fire while you, on the other hand, took aim and fired at a person. You must have realised the risk. 'By taking this action, your performance fell well below the standards of a junior officer.' Training: British soldiers are pictured above during an unrelated training exercise at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province Assault rifle: Lance Corporal Sewell used a modified SA80 rifle which fired paintballs. Pictured above is the regular version of the rifle Sewell, a married father to a seven-year-old girl, was cleared of girevous bodily harm at the trial. In mitigation, Bob Scott said: 'From the outset of the investigation Lance Corporal Sewell readily accepted that he aimed his rifle and fired at the chest of Mr Jamil, firing two shots at him. 'He has accepted and always has done that one of those shots struck him in the eye that resulted in the loss of most of his vision in that eye. 'He's terribly sorry his actions have caused this injury. This case represents an isolated momentary lapse in an otherwise blameless and promising career.' The court also heard that there were 'critical failings' in the delivery of the series of training exercises - including the fact that some Afghan participants did not have protective gear. Captain Sparks, of Ashford, Kent, of 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, who was the senior planning officer for the series of training exercises, was cleared of negligently performing a duty. Warrant Officer Class 2 David Lovell, 35, of Newcastle and 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment, was the exercise conducting officer during the activities and was also cleared of negligence. Mr Jamil was shot on the fifth and final day of the exercise which involved 67 exercise troops and 25 locally employed civilians from Afghanistan playing the role of insurgents.
  • Afghanistan experience The British Army has always learnt from experience, as the dramatic changes in uniforms and equipment over the years show. Even the Force that will return from Afghanistan at the end of 2014 looks and operates differently to the one that first deployed to the country in 2001. And all of this is due to the service s ability to absorb knowledge gained on the battlefield and adapt its methods accordingly.

    The process, which is co-ordinated by Warminster s Lessons Exploitation Centre, draws on feedback from all ranks, from the private soldier right up to the most senior staff. Among those tasked with capturing the information is Lieutenant Colonel David Steel of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, who said that recording ideas and observations from those who have recently served was vital to improving operational effectiveness: A successful lessons learnt process should enhance our tactics and procedures, reduce casualties, mould our training so troops are better prepared, and lead to the development of better kit. The system ensures the Army remembers and acts on what it learnt during the last fighting system, from every training event and every incident.

    It is vital that personnel at all levels contribute and we ve worked hard to make sure it s as easy as possible for people to do so. Operational requirements in Afghanistan have driven forward the development of unmanned aerial systems (library image) Picture: Sergeant Rupert Frere, Crown copyright Servicemen and women give their feedback from the sharp end in a number of ways. Anyone who identifies an area for improvement can tell their chain of command, who will note it in a post-operational report.

    In addition, teams of researchers visit units that have recently returned from a tour to conduct syndicate discussions with all ranks and record their views. Mission exploitation symposiums also take place after key deployments or training periods, giving personnel from various arms and branches the chance to share ideas. Finally, troops can submit their proposals directly to the Lessons Exploitation Centre via the Ministry of Defence intranet.

    Lieutenant Colonel Steel said: The process is designed to be a thorough way of extracting information and ensures that everyone in the chain of command can get their point of view across. It plays a significant role in improving our capabilities and will continue to do so as long as personnel persist in reporting their good ideas. Once the information has been received and analysed, it is passed to the relevant branch at Army Headquarters to be put into action as appropriate.

    Tangible results can be seen in improved personal equipment such as ballistic glasses and body armour. But, while more complicated technology such as new vehicles can take years to hit the front line, other lessons are translated much more rapidly. One such example is the 1-page guide that is produced and distributed in a matter of days if troops need to be made aware of an urgent operational development.

    Mentoring skills and techniques learned and developed in Afghanistan will be transferable to future stabilisation and peacekeeping roles (library image) Picture: Corporal Jamie Peters, Crown copyright Lieutenant Colonel Steel explained: The response happens as fast as it reasonably can. In the best-case scenario, an incident could occur in theatre and within about 48 hours soldiers undergoing training for Afghanistan in the UK could know about a particular threat and how they can counter it. For example, about 18 months ago in Helmand a new type of improvised explosive device (IED) known as a pillow IED was identified.

    They look a bit like a half-empty sandbag, and insurgents could place them on a road surface, where they were very hard to decipher, within about 10 seconds. They would listen for a vehicle patrol at night, scoot in quickly to lay the bomb and leave again without being seen, which obviously left soldiers very vulnerable. The counter-IED community found a device, examined it, and were able to devise some simple countermeasures which were emailed around Task Force Helmand within a few hours.

    Soldiers may not always get the impression that senior officers are listening to them but examples such as this are proof that their suggestions are being taken seriously and used to enhance the Army s capabilities, both now and in the future.

    This article is based on a report by Becky Clark which features in the March 2014 issue of Soldier: Magazine of the British Army 1 .

    References ^ Soldier: Magazine of the British Army (www.army.mod.uk)

  • Afghanistan war hero British Army chief charged with sexually ... An Afghanistan [1] war hero, Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Davies - a serving British Army [2] officer - has been charged with sexually assaulting a female officer. The incident is alleged to have taken place in Ontario - and the alleged victim a serving member of the Canadian military. The 45-year-old Brit has been ordered to surrender his passport and remain in the country ahead of a scheduled September 15 court appearance. The alleged attack is reported to have taken place in the early hours of April 10 in Kingston, Ontario. Police charged Davies on Tuesday following a lengthy investigation by Canadian detectives after the alleged assault was reported to them the day after the 'attack' by the victim. It is understood DNA samples and clothing were taken from her as evidence at the time. The woman, an officer in the Canadian military, was visiting Kingston for an event to commemorate Canadian efforts during World War One. Police said the two had been out drinking in a licensed establishment with a group of people after a military mess dinner commemorating the Battle of Vimy Ridge the previous evening at Fort Frontenac. Investigators allege Davies, who is believed to be married, followed the woman when she returned to her nearby hotel and sexually assaulted her in her room. Lt-Col Bayard Barron of the British Defence Directorate of Communication said Davies is an infantry officer posted to Fort Frontenac. We are aware of an investigation being conducted by Kingston Police into an alleged incident that took place in April this year involving a serving British Army officer, he said. As the case is sub-judice it would be inappropriate to make any comment. References ^ Afghanistan (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ British Army (www.mirror.co.uk)
  • Afghanistan war hero British Army chief charged with sexually assaulting a female officer An Afghanistan [1] war hero, Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Davies - a serving British Army [2] officer - has been charged with sexually assaulting a female officer. The incident is alleged to have taken place in Ontario - and the alleged victim a serving member of the Canadian military. The 45-year-old Brit has been ordered to surrender his passport and remain in the country ahead of a scheduled September 15 court appearance. The alleged attack is reported to have taken place in the early hours of April 10 in Kingston, Ontario. Police charged Davies on Tuesday following a lengthy investigation by Canadian detectives after the alleged assault was reported to them the day after the 'attack' by the victim. It is understood DNA samples and clothing were taken from her as evidence at the time. The woman, an officer in the Canadian military, was visiting Kingston for an event to commemorate Canadian efforts during World War One. Police said the two had been out drinking in a licensed establishment with a group of people after a military mess dinner commemorating the Battle of Vimy Ridge the previous evening at Fort Frontenac. Investigators allege Davies, who is believed to be married, followed the woman when she returned to her nearby hotel and sexually assaulted her in her room. Lt-Col Bayard Barron of the British Defence Directorate of Communication said Davies is an infantry officer posted to Fort Frontenac. We are aware of an investigation being conducted by Kingston Police into an alleged incident that took place in April this year involving a serving British Army officer, he said. As the case is sub-judice it would be inappropriate to make any comment. References ^ Afghanistan (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ British Army (www.mirror.co.uk)
  • After 50 Years, A Soldier Comes Home New Day - CNN.com Blogs In today s edition of the good stuff, a 71-year-old soldier who gave fifty years of his life to serve his country finally retires home. Army Major Bill Ray is greeted by his wife and grandchildren at the airport in Milwaukee. The patriot says he retired once but claims he didn't care much for the down time.

    After a second tour of duty in Afghanistan, Ray says he's certain his family will keep him busy at home. "Last time I got bored, I tried this. So this time I think they've done everything so I'll never get bored. We worked twelve hours a day in Afghanistan, I think I'll be doing about four more when I get home." If you have #GoodStuff news, let us know!

    Leave a comment, post 1 on Facebook, or tweet to @ChrisCuomo 2 & @NewDay 3 using #NewDay.

    References ^ post (www.facebook.com) ^ @ChrisCuomo (twitter.com) ^ @NewDay (twitter.com)

  • Against All Odds: Israel Survives 13 Episode DVD Series DVD at ...List Price: $49.99 Price: $33.75 You Save: $16.24 (32% off) Stock Status: In Stock Only 2 left, order now! More expected on 10/25/2015 Updated: 10/16/2015 10:40am CDT Description: The complete 13-part cable network series that asks the powerful question: Is Israel the place of miracles? Modern day Israel is truly a divine wonder of the current age. How has it trumphed through four major wars and survived relentless terrorist attacks? Meet the actual people who lived through what can only be described as miracles of Biblical proportions, and share their remarkable stories in this 13-episode series. Even cynics will be challenged by this extraordinary journey through Israel's turbulent history to explore incredible documented stories which helped create and preserve modern Israel. This stirring 13-part live-action series dramatizes awe-inspiring incidents that pose the question: Does a divine power continue to uphold the country? Disc 1: Episodes 1-3 Shula Cohen, a married woman living in Beirut, risks her life to become one of Israel's most famous spies. Israeli troops in the Yom Kippur War are saved when a mysterious wind exposes thousands of mines that imperil their lives. During WWI, the biblical account of Saul and Jonathan inspires a British major to launch an improbable victory against a Turkish garrison. Disc 2: Episodes 4-6 An outnumbered Israeli squad is saved when approaching enemy troops inexplicably flee. Compelling dramatizations and interviews chronicle miraculous triumphs in Israel's fight for independence from the British and in the establishment of a Jewish homeland in 1948. The devastating history and haunting legacy of the Holocaust is considered. Disc 3: Episodes 7-9 Avigdor Kahalani, one of Israel's most decorated and beloved war heroes shares his incredible stories of survival and victory in the Yom Kippur War. Considering the miracle of Israel's own existence, her citizens share firsthand what it means to live in the land of their forefathers. Disc 4: Episodes 10-12 Strange beings wielding flaming swords foil marauding Arabs in their attempt to destroy a Jewish community. Thousands of storks suddenly appear to devour locusts plaguing a farming village. The subject of miracles and faith take a personal meaning when former hostage Sarah Davidson recalls the harrowing 1976 hostage crisis that set the stage for a daring rescue mission at Entebbe airport. Disc 5: Episode 13 plus Extra Feature This stirring episode reflects on the remarkable people and incredible stories that pose the question: Is Israel a place of miracles? Extra Feature (available only DVD) : Series writer and director Tom Ivy hosts Against All Odds: The Making Of A Miracle , a fascinating behind the scenes look at the creation of this extraordinary exploration of fact and faith. Disc 6: Against All Odds - Feature Film This feature film version captures all the powerful drama and uplifting spirit of the stirring 13-part series. Gripping dramatizations, eyewitness accounts, and interviews with historians and religious leaders etch a fascinating portrait of a nation's soul. Extra Feature : Photo Gallery Note - Some Material may not be suitable for children.
  • alasdair mclellan captures the humanity in military ceremony In August 2006, Doncaster-born photographer Alasdair McLellan spent nearly a month documenting the ceremonial troops of the British Army. Rather than shooting them solely in all of their formidable militaristic glory, Alasdair set out to show the human behind the ritualistic facade we see at state funerals and on parade at Buckingham Palace. "Jo-Ann Furniss and I watched the Queen Mother's funeral in 2002, and we were amazed at how brilliant the ceremonial troops looked," Alasdair says. "I think the state funerals in the UK look so great because of the ceremonial troops and the grandeur of their uniforms. It was extremely moving, powerful, and really impressive. Not many other countries can compete with the British Army's traditions and ceremony." Four years after the Queen Mother's death, Jo-Ann became Editor-in-Chief at Arena Homme+ and commissioned Alasdair to shoot portraits of the soldiers. Given insight into a world few get to see, "Ceremony" revealed key themes that would be revisited in much of Alasdair's later work for the likes of Louis Vuitton, i-D, British Vogue, and his first book, 2013's Ultimate Clothing Company ; a sense of self, the British identity, and the beauty, poise and vulnerability of youth. "When you see the ceremonial soldiers working, whether it's Trooping The Color or the Changing The Guard at Buckingham Palace, they always seem very regimented. We captured them smiling and laughing, because I wanted to capture their charm more than anything," Alasdair explains. "Many of those that we spoke to and photographed proved to be incredibly kind, tough, polite, idealistic, hilarious, and generous. They are real people behind all of their ceremonial duties and the uniform." For his second book, Alasdair, who cites Bruce Weber and Stephen Patrick Morrissey as early influences, chose to revisit the Homme+ story and expand it into a full book. The 116-page volume, edited by Jo-Ann and published with M/M Paris, reveals disarmingly intimate images, but the beauty is in the detail: the chipped tooth smiles, the gleaming buttons polished with pride, the intensity of a soldier grooming his steer, and the unselfconscious pose of a young lad on his phone. "We had the opportunity to spend time at each of the soldiers' barracks, the Coldstream Guards barracks is part of Buckingham Palace, and also St. James's Palace," Alasdair recalls of the access he was granted. "We had lunch with the officers in the mess at St James' Palace, which was an experience that I'm probably never going to have again. That was incredible. We had breakfast every morning with The King's Troops for about a week in their mess, and they were just great company. The soldiers were very charming, they didn't really need to prove themselves. They felt like real people who knew exactly who they were, because they had a sense of duty and knew what they had to do. Often people at that age don't really know what they're doing yet, but the soldiers felt as though they had really figured out their purpose." Creating Ceremony proved to be a seminal moment for Alasdair. "It's hard to follow it up. Working out how to follow it up with a documentary project that is equally as good how can you beat that? That's a challenge in itself." Ceremony is available from February 8 at selected retailers including IDEA Books, Claire De Rouen, Dashwood Books, and 0fr. Proceeds from the book will be donated to ABF - The Soldiers' Charity. Credits Text Hattie Collins Photography Alasdair McLellan
  • Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy ( Russian [1] : ' ' ' ; September 5 [O.S. August 24] 1817 October 10] [O.S. September 28] 1875) was a Russian [2] poet, novelist and dramatist [3] . Not as famous internationally as his distant relative, Leo Tolstoy [4] he was nevertheless a writer of considerable accomplishment, avoiding the overly pro-Slavic style of many contemporaries. Through his satire, rather like an early day George Orwell [5] , he ridiculed the political classes. He was also critical of the embryonic [6] materialism [7] that was creeping into fashion as Russia became more industrialized. Background Tolstoy was born in Saint Petersburg to the famous family of Count Tolstoy [8] , and inherited the title "Count." His mother, A. A. Perovskaya, married Count K. P. Tolstoy, then an elderly widower, in 1816. The marriage was not a success and the couple soon broke up. When Tolstoy was six weeks old, he was taken by his mother and his maternal uncle, A. A. Perovskiy, to the uncle's estate, were he was raised until he was eight years old. Then, he was taken back to Saint Petersburg. Soon, with the help of his uncle's connections, he was introduced to future emperor Alexander II [9] , who was the same age. Tolstoy became the young prince's weekend playmate among other children of noble background. This relationship would last throughout Tolstoy's entire life. In the future, the empress Mariya Alexandrovna, wife of Alexander II, would pay high tribute to the Tolstoy's talent. In 1826 Tolstoy, with his mother and uncle, traveled in Europe the "grand tour" was a tradition for wealthy Russian noble families. In Germany he visited the elderly Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [10] , and sat on his lap. Italy [11] produced a great impression on the boy with its art, architecture and beautiful cities. With every town they visited, Tolstoy became more and more interested in art. After receiving schooling at home, in the mid 1830s Tolstoy became one of the "archive boys" at the Moscow Archive of Foreign Affairs Department. As an "archive student," he graduated from the University of Moscow in 1836, and was assigned to the Russian [12] diplomatic mission in Germany [13] . That year his uncle died, leaving him heir of a considerably fortune. During the winter of 1850-1851, he met Sophia Miller, wife of a cavalry colonel, during a palace ball. After a stormy romance, Sophia left her husband. They could not marry officially for some time because Sophia was not divorced. Tolstoy's entire lyric poetry is addressed to her. Career Tolstoy spent almost all of his life at court, serving first as the master of ceremonies, later as grand master of Royal Hunting, visiting Europe on many occasions. In 1855, during the Crimean War [14] he tried to organize his own militia but was unsuccessful. Instead, he joined Royal Rifle Regiment. However, he did not see active service due to a severe case of typhus, which he barely survived and cut down a large portion of his regiment. In 1861 he retired from service to dedicate more time to writing poetry. His literary reputation increased as his writing continued. He often wrote under the name of Kozma Prutkov, and much of his writing was satire directed against the Russian bureaucracy. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he can neither be classed as a Slavophile or as a Westernizer. His historical novel, A Prince of Outlaws was set during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. He returned to this period in a trilogy of blank verse The Death of Ivan the Terrible (1865), Tsar Fyodor Ivanovitch (1868), and Tsar Boris (1870). For these novels, he was influenced primarily by Alexander Pushkin [15] . Legacy Tolstoy could have become a significant figure politically due to his popularity at court had he wanted to pursue a more public career. However, he was dedicated to his writing, and wanted to concentrate on his "art." For this reason, one of his first longer poems, "Ioann Damaskin," about the life of a court poet, was partially autobiographical. Yet, in spite of his close friendship with the emperor, nor was he content to just be one of the courtiers, living a life of ease with no real purpose. Tolstoy chose to write. In 1841 he published his first book, Vampire , which he totally neglected later. During this period he become well acquainted with some of Russia's most eminent writers, such as Nikolai Gogol , Sergei Aksakov, Pavel Vasilyevich Annenkov, who edited Pushkin's work, Nikolay Alexeyevich Nekrasov, Ivan Panayev, and particularly with Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev who writing addressed social and political issues and who opposed serfdom. After a gap in literary production, he published a few of his poems in the journal Sovremennik" ("Contemporary"), which immediately attracted public attention. [16] During 1854-1855 he collaborated with two of his cousins with to write a number of satires published under the collective pen name of Kozma Prutkov. It is very hard to distinguish which parts were contributed by Tolstoy, but he was well known for his fine sense of humor. Some of the most famous poems are full of openly expressed irony against trends of the 1860s, which inevitably resulted in a good deal of criticism. He was especially critical of the new materialism that the beginning of industrialization in Russia had stimulated. Beside satires, he wrote ballads, an historical novel and some licentious verse. Many of his works are full of Slavic themes. However, his lasting contribution to Russian literature was the trilogy of historical dramas, modeled after Pushkin [17] 's Boris Godunov . His best achievement in prose is his historic novel from the age of Ivan the Terrible [18] ( Duke Silver ). This novel is written in traditional oral style, which contributed to its success among all levels of society. He died September 28 (October 10), 1875, from a morphine overdose, which was prescribed for him as pain relieve from asthma [19] , angina pectoris and neuralgia. References Dalton, Margaret. A. K. Tolstoy . New York: Twayne Publishers, 1972. Tolstoy, Aleksey Konstantinovich. Vampires: Stories of the Supernatural . Portland, OR: Hawthorn Books, 1969. ASIN B0006BYSQA Tolstoy, Aleksey Konstantinovich. Tsar Fyodor Ivanovitch: A play in five acts , translated by Jenny Covam. New York: Brentanos, 1923. ASIN B00085NQLC Tolstoy, Aleksey Konstantinovich. The death of Ivan the Terrible, a drama in verse, by Alexis K. Tolstoi, rendered into English verse by Alfred Hayes, with a preface by C. Nabokoff . London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1926. Tolstoy, Aleksey Konstantinovich. A prince of outlaws [Prince Ser bryany] translated from the Russian of Count Alexis K. Tolstoy by Clarence Augustus Manning . New York: A. A. Knopf, 1927. External links All links retrieved March 2, 2016. Credits New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards [20] . This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License [21] (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here [22] for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here: Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed. References ^ Russian language (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Russia (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Drama (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Leo Tolstoy (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ George Orwell (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Embryo (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Materialism (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Tolstoy (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Alexander II of Russia (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Italy (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Russia (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Germany (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Crimean War (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Alexander Pushkin (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Nikolai Gogol (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Alexander Pushkin (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Ivan the Terrible (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Asthma (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ Help:Writers Manual (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ New World Encyclopedia:Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 (www.newworldencyclopedia.org) ^ click here (www.newworldencyclopedia.org)
  • Algeria Hostage Standoff Over: At Least 19 Hostages, 29 Militants ... A freed Algerian hostage arrives at Algiers airport after he was released by Islamist captors, alongside other Algerians, from a gas plant in Ain Amenas, more than 1,600 kilometers from the capital, on Jan.

    18, 2013. More than 72 hours after the heavily-armed militants staged a deadly raid on the complex, and two days after Algerian special forces launched a botched rescue bid widely condemned as hasty, there appeared to be a stand-off in the Sahara. (Getty Images) ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) The Algerian government says 32 militants and 23 captives were killed during the three-day military operation to end the hostage crisis at a natural gas plant in the Sahara. The provisional death toll was issued by the Interior Ministry on Saturday after the special forces operation crushed the last holdout of the militants at the gas refinery, resulting in 11 extremists killed along with seven hostages.

    A total of 685 Algerian and 107 foreigner workers were freed over the course of the standoff, which began on Wednesday, the statement added. The military also confiscated machine guns, rocket launchers, missiles and grenades attached to suicide belts. The ministry added that the militants involved consisted of 32 men of various nationalities, including three Algerians.

    THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP s earlier story is below.

    In a bloody finale, Algerian special forces stormed a natural gas complex in the Sahara desert on Saturday to end a standoff with Islamist extremists that left at least 19 hostages and 29 militants dead. Dozens of foreign workers remain unaccounted for, leading to fears the death toll could rise. With few details emerging from the remote site in eastern Algeria, it was unclear whether anyone was rescued in the final operation.

    The siege at Ain Amenas transfixed the world after radical Islamists linked to al-Qaida stormed the complex, which contained hundreds of plant workers from all over the world, and then held them hostage surrounded by the Algerian military and its attack helicopters for four tense days that were punctuated with gunbattles and dramatic tales of escape. Algeria s response to the crisis was typical of the country s history in confronting terrorists, favoring military action over negotiation, which caused an international outcry from countries worried about their citizens. Algerian military forces twice assaulted the two areas where the hostages were being held with minimal apparent mediation first on Thursday and then on Saturday.

    In the final assault, the remaining band of militants killed seven hostages before special forces killed 11 of the attackers, the state news agency said. It wasn t immediately possible to verify who killed the hostages. The military launched its assault to prevent a fire started by the extremists from engulfing the complex, the report said.

    The seven hostages and 11 militants adds to the previous toll of 12 captives and 18 kidnappers, according to the government, but there are fears that the number of hostages killed is much higher and dozens of foreign workers from the Ain Amenas site remain unaccounted for. Sonatrach, the Algerian state oil company running the site along with BP and Norway s Statoil, said the entire refinery had been mined with explosives, and the process of clearing it out had begun, indicating the militants planned to blow up the complex one of the largest in oil and gas-rich Algeria. Algeria has fought its own Islamist rebellion since the 1990s, elements of which later declared allegiance to al-Qaida and then set up new groups in the poorly patrolled wastes of the Sahara along the borders of Niger, Mali, Algeria and Libya, where they flourished.

    The standoff has put the spotlight on al-Qaida-linked groups that roam these remote areas, threatening vital infrastructure and energy interests. The militants initially said their operation was intended to stop a French attack on Islamist militants in neighboring Mali though they later said it was two months in the planning, long before the French intervention. The militants, who came from a Mali-based group run by an Algerian, attacked the plant Wednesday morning.

    Armed with heavy machine guns and rocket launchers in four-wheel drive vehicles and fell on a pair of buses taking foreign workers to the airport. The buses military escort drove off the attackers in a blaze of gunfire that sent bullets zinging over the heads of crouching workers. A Briton and an Algerian probably a security guard were killed.

    Frustrated, the militants turned to the vast gas complex, divided between the workers living quarters and the refinery itself, and seized hostages, the Algerian government said. The gas flowing to the site was cut off. The Algerian government said the militants crept across the border from Libya, 60 miles (100 kilometers) away, while the militants later said they came from Niger, hundreds of miles to the south.

    On Thursday, Algerian helicopters kicked off the military s first assault on the complex by opening fire on a convoy carrying both kidnappers and their hostages, resulting in many deaths, according to witnesses. The accounts of hostages who escaped the standoff showed they faced dangers from both the kidnappers and the military. Ruben Andrada, 49, a Filipino civil engineer who works as one of the project management staff for the Japanese company JGC Corp., described how he and his colleagues were used as human shields by the kidnappers, which did little to deter the Algerian military.

    On Thursday, about 35 hostages guarded by 15 militants were loaded into seven SUVs in a convoy to move them from the housing complex to the refinery, Andrada said. The militants placed an explosive cord around their necks and were told it would detonate if they tried to run away, he said. When we left the compound, there was shooting all around, Andrada said, as Algerian helicopters attacked with guns and missiles.

    I closed my eyes. We were going around in the desert. To me, I left it all to fate.

    Andrada s vehicle overturned allowing him and a few others to escape. He sustained cuts and bruises and was grazed by a bullet on his right elbow. He later saw the blasted remains of other vehicles, and the severed leg of one of the gunmen.

    The site of the gas plant spreads out over several hectares (acres) and includes a housing complex and the processing site, about a mile apart, making it especially complicated for the Algerians to secure the site and likely contributed to the lengthy standoff. It s a big and complex site. It s a huge place with a lot of people there and a lot of hiding places for hostages and terrorists, said Col.

    Richard Kemp, a retired commander of British forces who had dealt with hostage rescues in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are experienced terrorists holding the hostages. Casualty figures varied widely.

    While the Algerian government has only admitted to 19 hostages dead so far, the militants claimed through the Mauritanian news website ANI that the helicopter attack alone killed 35 hostages. One American, from Texas, is among the dead and least one Briton, a Frenchman and Algerians have also died in the standoff. Escaped Algerian workers describe seeing people of many nationalities, including Japanese, shot down.

    French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Saturday that the Frenchman killed, Yann Desjeux, was a former member of the French special forces and part of the security team. The remaining three French nationals who were at the plant are now free, the Foreign Ministry said. British Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed that as of Saturday, there were fewer than 10 British nationals still at risk or unaccounted for and the majority of Britons at the plant were now safe, he said.

    Statoil CEO Helge Lund said Saturday that there were only six Norwegians unaccounted for, from the 17 at the plant at the time of the attack. BP said four of its 18 employees were still unaccounted for. Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said Saturday one Romanian hostage was killed in the course of the siege, while four escaped unharmed.

    The attack by the Mali-based Masked Brigade, founded by Algerian militant Moktar Belmoktar, had been in the works for two months, a member of the brigade told the ANI news outlet. He said militants targeted Algeria because they expected the country to support the international effort to root out extremists in neighboring Mali and it was carried out by a special commando unit, Those Who Signed in Blood, tasked with attacking nations supporting intervention in Mali. The kidnappers focused on the foreign workers, largely leaving alone the hundreds of Algerian workers who were briefly held hostage before being released or escaping.

    Several of them arrived haggard-looking on a late-night flight into Algiers on Friday and described how the militants stormed the living quarters and immediately separated out the foreigners. Mohamed, a 37-year-old nurse who like the others wouldn t allow his last names to be used for fear of trouble for himself or his family, said at least five people were shot to death, their bodies still in front of the infirmary when he left Thursday night. Chabane, who worked in food services, said he bolted out the window and was hiding when he heard the militants speaking among themselves with Libyan, Egyptian and Tunisian accents.

    At one point, he said, they caught a Briton. They threatened him until he called out in English to his friends, telling them, `Come out, come out. They re not going to kill you.

    They re looking for the Americans, Chabane said.

    A few minutes later, they blew him away.

    This post has been updated.

  • All British Armed Forces have deadly 'battle plan' for an all out assault on ISIS All three of our Armed Forces [1] have been included in a deadly battle plan for a ground, sea and air assault on Islamic State terrorists [2] . The RAF [3] and Royal Navy would lead with a strike on Islamic State, supported by Army special forces on the ground in Syria and Turkey, under plans secretly drawn up by British military chiefs. Tornado bombers would target Islamic State in Syria in one of the riskiest missions in years. Typhoon air-to-air fighter jets would ride shotgun with them, protecting them from attack in daily and nightly missions costing over 1million a time. PA Sea attack: The Royal Navy has been included in the deadly battle plans The RAF onslaught could be backed by cruise missiles fired from a Royal Navy Astute [4] class nuclear submarine in the Mediterranean. And military leaders have made plans to reduce the huge risk our pilots face if shot down, especially after a Russian pilot was killed and a Jordanian pilot burned alive by ISIS. Battle plan: What Armed Forces could be about to launch Special Forces [5] will be on standby as a Combat Search and Rescue force at an air base in Diyarbakir, southern Turkey, just 250 miles north of Raqqa, the ISIS capital in Syria [6] . Leading the joint-forces mission is a Parachute Regiment general with vast experience commanding troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland. REUTERS RAF ready: Their could also be airstrikes An RAF source said: In the next five days there ll be a lot of work going on to make sure we ve the capability ready to deliver should politicians vote yes. Chemical weapons expert Colonel Hamish de Bretton Gordon, who advises Non Government Organisations in Syria, warned: If we don t address the complexities that come with attacking Isil we will repeat the mistakes of Iraq. He said Britain must form uncomfortable alliances with Russia, Iran and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Poll loading References ^ Armed Forces (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ Islamic State terrorists (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ RAF (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ a Royal Navy Astute (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ Special Forces (www.mirror.co.uk) ^ Syria (www.mirror.co.uk)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front [Blu-ray] [1930] [US Import]
  • All The Queen's men: The Welsh Guards The Welsh Guards have been around for exactly 100 years this year. They were founded by King George V on 26 February 1915 by Royal Warrant to include Wales in the national component to the Foot Guards. They were the last Guards to be created, and they began their first King s Guard at Buckingham Palace just one week later on 1 March 1915. Their motto is Cymru am Byth or Wales Forever . To enter the Welsh Guards recruits go through a grueling training programme lasting thirty weeks, which is two weeks longer than regular training. The extra time is devoted to drilling and ceremonial duties. The Welsh Guards saw plenty of action in the First World War. They were sent to France on 17 August 1915 and were first active at the Battle of Loos on 27 September 1915. Sergeant Robert Bye received the regiment s first Victoria Cross two years later after the Third Battle of Ypres for most conspicuous bravery . The Welsh Guards returned home in 1918, and they performed many ceremonial duties, like the Changing of the Guard and Trooping the Colour, until 1929 when they were deployed to Egypt. They stayed only a short while and came home in 1930. They were in Gibraltar when the Second War broke out, after that a 2nd battalion was created, followed quickly by a 3rd battalion during the war. The battalions fought all kinds of battles during the war. For example, they were in Boulogne and Belgium. During the Battle of Arras a lieutenant named The Hon. Christopher Furness was killed in action. He was awarded the Victoria Cross. They were also part of the Evacuation of Dunkirk. They were even active during the North African Campaign. The 1st and 2nd Battalions were amongst the first troops to enter Brussels on 3 September 1944. The end of the Second World War saw the 3rd Battalion disbanded and the 2nd Battalion being placed in suspended animation. In 1947, the 1st Battalion was sent to Palestine and performed internal security duties. They left in 1948 when Israel was declared a state. In the 1950s, the Welsh Guards spent some time in West Germany. They returned home around 1953 but were soon on the move again, when they were deployed to the Suez Canal Zone in Egypt, which was quite turbulent. They withdrew in 1956. In 1960, they were again sent to West Germany, before being sent to Yemen in 1965. They returned in 1966 and were again sent to Germany, this time to M nster, in 1970. During The Troubles, the Welsh Guards were deployed to Northern Ireland. Sergeant Phillip Prince died in a terrorist attack, known as Bloody Friday. The following year Guardsman David Roberts was killed in a landmine explosion, and he was the 200th soldier to die in Northern Ireland. In 1976, they were deployed to Cyprus, which had recently been invaded by Turkey. In 1977, they went back to familiar territory in Germany. They came back to Northern Ireland in 1979, where they again lost a Guardsman. His name was Paul Fryer, and he was the victim of a booby trap bomb. In 1982, the Welsh Guards were a part of the British Task Force, which was sent to liberate the Falkland Islands from Argentinian occupation. 48 of the Welsh Guards would not come home after the RFA Sir Galahad ship they were on was attacked. 97 men were wounded, and the Sir Galahad was scuttled at sea. Between 1984 and 1992 they were again sent to both Germany and Northern Ireland. On 6 September 1997 12 Guardsmen of the Welsh Guards were among those escorting the casket of Diana, Princess of Wales from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey. In 2002, they arrived in Bosnia but during their employment the Queen Mother died, and some them returned to stand vigil around her coffin while she was lying in state in Westminster Hall. The Welsh Guards were part of Operation Telic in 2005 in Iraq. They returned to London in 2006, before being returned to Bosnia in October. In 2009, they were deployed to Afghanistan, where six members of the battalion were killed, and they lost a Lieutenant-Colonel later that year. From 1953 to 1975 The Duke of Edinburgh was their Field Marshal until this duty was taken over by The Prince of Wales. As they are a Foot Guards Regiment in the Household Division the Welsh Guards also proudly provide the Guard for Her Majesty the Queen at her royal residences. They mount from the Wellington Barracks in London and provide guards for St James s Palace, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Tower of London. They are also part of Trooping the Colour and provide Guards of Honour for visiting heads of state. They were involved in the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, where they provided a Royal Guard of Honour at Buckingham Palace, with the remainder lining the route on Horse Guards. You can recognize the Welsh Guards from the spacing of the buttons on their tunics. They wear their buttons in groups of five and have white and green plumes on their bearskins. Photo and Video Credits: Cindy Stockman 2015 Spotted an Error?
  • American Power Under Challenge Masters of Mankind (Part 1) Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com [1] [ This piece, the first of two parts, is excerpted from Noam Chomsky s new book, Who Rules the World? [2] (Metro politan Books). Part 2 will be posted on Tuesday morning. ] When we ask Who rules the world? we commonly adopt the standard convention that the actors in world affairs are states, primarily the great powers, and we consider their decisions and the relations among them. That is not wrong. But we would do well to keep in mind that this level of abstraction can also be highly misleading. States of course have complex internal structures, and the choices and decisions of the political leadership are heavily influenced by internal concentrations of power, while the general population is often marginalized. That is true even for the more democratic societies, and obviously for others. We cannot gain a realistic understanding of who rules the world while ignoring the masters of mankind, as Adam Smith called them: in his day, the merchants and manufacturers of England; in ours, multinational conglomerates, huge financial institutions, retail empires, and the like. Still following Smith, it is also wise to attend to the vile maxim to which the masters of mankind are dedicated: All for ourselves and nothing for other people -- a doctrine known otherwise as bitter and incessant class war, often one-sided, much to the detriment of the people of the home country and the world. In the contemporary global order, the institutions of the masters hold enormous power, not only in the international arena but also within their home states, on which they rely to protect their power and to provide economic support by a wide variety of means. When we consider the role of the masters of mankind, we turn to such state policy priorities of the moment as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the investor-rights agreements mislabeled free-trade agreements in propaganda and commentary. They are negotiated in secret, apart from the hundreds of corporate lawyers and lobbyists writing the crucial details. The intention is to have them adopted in good Stalinist style with fast track procedures designed to block discussion and allow only the choice of yes or no (hence yes). The designers regularly do quite well, not surprisingly. People are incidental, with the consequences one might anticipate. The Second Superpower The neoliberal programs of the past generation have concentrated wealth and power in far fewer hands while undermining functioning democracy, but they have aroused opposition as well, most prominently in Latin America but also in the centers of global power. The European Union (EU), one of the more promising developments of the post-World War II period, has been tottering because of the harsh effect of the policies of austerity during recession, condemned even by the economists of the International Monetary Fund (if not the IMF s political actors). Democracy has been undermined as decision making shifted to the Brussels bureaucracy, with the northern banks casting their shadow over their proceedings. Mainstream parties have been rapidly losing members to left and to right. The executive director of the Paris-based research group EuropaNova attributes the general disenchantment to a mood of angry impotence as the real power to shape events largely shifted from national political leaders [who, in principle at least, are subject to democratic politics] to the market, the institutions of the European Union and corporations, quite in accord with neoliberal doctrine. Very similar processes are under way in the United States, for somewhat similar reasons, a matter of significance and concern not just for the country but, because of U.S. power, for the world. The rising opposition to the neoliberal assault highlights another crucial aspect of the standard convention: it sets aside the public, which often fails to accept the approved role of spectators (rather than participants ) assigned to it in liberal democratic theory. Such disobedience has always been of concern to the dominant classes. Just keeping to American history, George Washington regarded the common people who formed the militias that he was to command as an exceedingly dirty and nasty people [evincing] an unaccountable kind of stupidity in the lower class of these people. In Violent Politics , his masterful review of insurgencies from the American insurgency to contemporary Afghanistan and Iraq, William Polk concludes that General Washington was so anxious to sideline [the fighters he despised] that he came close to losing the Revolution. Indeed, he might have actually done so had France not massively intervened and saved the Revolution, which until then had been won by guerrillas -- whom we would now call terrorists -- while Washington s British-style army was defeated time after time and almost lost the war. A common feature of successful insurgencies, Polk records, is that once popular support dissolves after victory, the leadership suppresses the dirty and nasty people who actually won the war with guerrilla tactics and terror, for fear that they might challenge class privilege. The elites contempt for the lower class of these people has taken various forms throughout the years. In recent times one expression of this contempt is the call for passivity and obedience ( moderation in democracy ) by liberal internationalists reacting to the dangerous democratizing effects of the popular movements of the 1960s. Sometimes states do choose to follow public opinion, eliciting much fury in centers of power. One dramatic case was in 2003, when the Bush administration called on Turkey to join its invasion of Iraq. Ninety-five percent of Turks opposed that course of action and, to the amazement and horror of Washington, the Turkish government adhered to their views. Turkey was bitterly condemned for this departure from responsible behavior. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, designated by the press as the idealist-in-chief of the administration, berated the Turkish military for permitting the malfeasance of the government and demanded an apology. Unperturbed by these and innumerable other illustrations of our fabled yearning for democracy, respectable commentary continued to laud President George W. Bush for his dedication to democracy promotion, or sometimes criticized him for his na vet in thinking that an outside power could impose its democratic yearnings on others. The Turkish public was not alone. Global opposition to U.S.-UK aggression was overwhelming. Support for Washington s war plans scarcely reached 10% almost anywhere, according to international polls. Opposition sparked huge worldwide protests, in the United States as well, probably the first time in history that imperial aggression was strongly protested even before it was officially launched. On the front page of the New York Times , journalist Patrick Tyler reported that there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion. Unprecedented protest in the United States was a manifestation of the opposition to aggression that began decades earlier in the condemnation of the U.S. wars in Indochina, reaching a scale that was substantial and influential, even if far too late. By 1967, when the antiwar movement was becoming a significant force, military historian and Vietnam specialist Bernard Fall warned that Vietnam as a cultural and historic entity... is threatened with extinction... [as] the countryside literally dies under the blows of the largest military machine ever unleashed on an area of this size. But the antiwar movement did become a force that could not be ignored. Nor could it be ignored when Ronald Reagan came into office determined to launch an assault on Central America. His administration mimicked closely the steps John F. Kennedy had taken 20 years earlier in launching the war against South Vietnam, but had to back off because of the kind of vigorous public protest that had been lacking in the early 1960s. The assault was awful enough. The victims have yet to recover. But what happened to South Vietnam and later all of Indochina, where the second superpower imposed its impediments only much later in the conflict, was incomparably worse. It is often argued that the enormous public opposition to the invasion of Iraq had no effect. That seems incorrect to me. Again, the invasion was horrifying enough, and its aftermath is utterly grotesque. Nevertheless, it could have been far worse. Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest of Bush s top officials could never even contemplate the sort of measures that President Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson adopted 40 years earlier largely without protest. Western Power Under Pressure There is far more to say, of course, about the factors in determining state policy that are put to the side when we adopt the standard convention that states are the actors in international affairs. But with such nontrivial caveats as these, let us nevertheless adopt the convention, at least as a first approximation to reality. Then the question of who rules the world leads at once to such concerns as China s rise to power and its challenge to the United States and world order, the new cold war simmering in eastern Europe, the Global War on Terror, American hegemony and American decline, and a range of similar considerations. The challenges faced by Western power at the outset of 2016 are usefully summarized within the conventional framework by Gideon Rachman, chief foreign-affairs columnist for the London Financial Times . He begins by reviewing the Western picture of world order: Ever since the end of the Cold War, the overwhelming power of the U.S. military has been the central fact of international politics. This is particularly crucial in three regions: East Asia, where the U.S. Navy has become used to treating the Pacific as an American lake ; Europe, where NATO -- meaning the United States, which accounts for a staggering three-quarters of NATO s military spending -- guarantees the territorial integrity of its member states ; and the Middle East, where giant U.S. naval and air bases exist to reassure friends and to intimidate rivals. The problem of world order today, Rachman continues, is that these security orders are now under challenge in all three regions because of Russian intervention in Ukraine and Syria, and because of China turning its nearby seas from an American lake to clearly contested water. The fundamental question of international relations, then, is whether the United States should accept that other major powers should have some kind of zone of influence in their neighborhoods. Rachman thinks it should, for reasons of diffusion of economic power around the world -- combined with simple common sense. There are, to be sure, ways of looking at the world from different standpoints. But let us keep to these three regions, surely critically important ones. The Challenges Today: East Asia Beginning with the American lake, some eyebrows might be raised over the report in mid-December 2015 that an American B-52 bomber on a routine mission over the South China Sea unintentionally flew within two nautical miles of an artificial island built by China, senior defense officials said, exacerbating a hotly divisive issue for Washington and Beijing. Those familiar with the grim record of the 70 years of the nuclear weapons era will be all too aware that this is the kind of incident that has often come perilously close to igniting terminal nuclear war. One need not be a supporter of China s provocative and aggressive actions in the South China Sea to notice that the incident did not involve a Chinese nuclear-capable bomber in the Caribbean, or off the coast of California, where China has no pretensions of establishing a Chinese lake. Luckily for the world. Chinese leaders understand very well that their country s maritime trade routes are ringed with hostile powers from Japan through the Malacca Straits and beyond, backed by overwhelming U.S. military force. Accordingly, China is proceeding to expand westward with extensive investments and careful moves toward integration. In part, these developments are within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which includes the Central Asian states and Russia, and soon India and Pakistan with Iran as one of the observers -- a status that was denied to the United States, which was also called on to close all military bases in the region . China is constructing a modernized version of the old silk roads, with the intent not only of integrating the region under Chinese influence, but also of reaching Europe and the Middle Eastern oil-producing regions. It is pouring huge sums into creating an integrated Asian energy and commercial system, with extensive high-speed rail lines and pipelines. One element of the program is a highway through some of the world s tallest mountains to the new Chinese-developed port of Gwadar in Pakistan, which will protect oil shipments from potential U.S. interference. The program may also, China and Pakistan hope, spur industrial development in Pakistan, which the United States has not undertaken despite massive military aid, and might also provide an incentive for Pakistan to clamp down on domestic terrorism, a serious issue for China in western Xinjiang Province. Gwadar will be part of China s string of pearls, bases being constructed in the Indian Ocean for commercial purposes but potentially also for military use, with the expectation that China might someday be able to project power as far as the Persian Gulf for the first time in the modern era. All of these moves remain immune to Washington s overwhelming military power, short of annihilation by nuclear war, which would destroy the United States as well. In 2015, China also established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), with itself as the main shareholder. Fifty-six nations participated in the opening in Beijing in June, including U.S. allies Australia, Britain, and others which joined in defiance of Washington s wishes. The United States and Japan were absent. Some analysts believe that the new bank might turn out to be a competitor to the Bretton Woods institutions (the IMF and the World Bank), in which the United States holds veto power. There are also some expectations that the SCO might eventually become a counterpart to NATO. The Challenges Today: Eastern Europe Turning to the second region, Eastern Europe, there is a crisis brewing at the NATO-Russian border. It is no small matter. In his illuminating and judicious scholarly study of the region, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands , Richard Sakwa writes -- all too plausibly -- that the Russo-Georgian war of August 2008 was in effect the first of the wars to stop NATO enlargement ; the Ukraine crisis of 2014 is the second. It is not clear whether humanity would survive a third. The West sees NATO enlargement as benign. Not surprisingly, Russia, along with much of the Global South, has a different opinion, as do some prominent Western voices. George Kennan warned early on that NATO enlargement is a tragic mistake, and he was joined by senior American statesmen in an open letter to the White House describing it as a policy error of historic proportions. The present crisis has its origins in 1991, with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. There were then two contrasting visions of a new security system and political economy in Eurasia. In Sakwa s words, one vision was of a Wider Europe, with the EU at its heart but increasingly coterminous with the Euro-Atlantic security and political community; and on the other side there [was] the idea of Greater Europe, a vision of a continental Europe, stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok, that has multiple centers, including Brussels, Moscow and Ankara, but with a common purpose in overcoming the divisions that have traditionally plagued the continent. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was the major proponent of Greater Europe, a concept that also had European roots in Gaullism and other initiatives. However, as Russia collapsed under the devastating market reforms of the 1990s, the vision faded, only to be renewed as Russia began to recover and seek a place on the world stage under Vladimir Putin who, along with his associate Dmitry Medvedev, has repeatedly called for the geopolitical unification of all of Greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok, to create a genuine strategic partnership. These initiatives were greeted with polite contempt, Sakwa writes, regarded as little more than a cover for the establishment of a Greater Russia by stealth and an effort to drive a wedge between North America and Western Europe. Such concerns trace back to earlier Cold War fears that Europe might become a third force independent of both the great and minor superpowers and moving toward closer links to the latter (as can be seen in Willy Brandt s Ostpolitik and other initiatives). The Western response to Russia s collapse was triumphalist. It was hailed as signaling the end of history, the final victory of Western capitalist democracy, almost as if Russia were being instructed to revert to its pre-World War I status as a virtual economic colony of the West. NATO enlargement began at once, in violation of verbal assurances to Gorbachev that NATO forces would not move one inch to the east after he agreed that a unified Germany could become a NATO member -- a remarkable concession, in the light of history. That discussion kept to East Germany. The possibility that NATO might expand beyond Germany was not discussed with Gorbachev, even if privately considered. Soon, NATO did begin to move beyond, right to the borders of Russia. The general mission of NATO was officially changed to a mandate to protect crucial infrastructure of the global energy system, sea lanes and pipelines, giving it a global area of operations. Furthermore, under a crucial Western revision of the now widely heralded doctrine of responsibility to protect, sharply different from the official U.N. version, NATO may now also serve as an intervention force under U.S. command. Of particular concern to Russia are plans to expand NATO to Ukraine. These plans were articulated explicitly at the Bucharest NATO summit of April 2008, when Georgia and Ukraine were promised eventual membership in NATO. The wording was unambiguous: NATO welcomes Ukraine s and Georgia s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO. With the Orange Revolution victory of pro-Western candidates in Ukraine in 2004, State Department representative Daniel Fried rushed there and emphasized U.S. support for Ukraine s NATO and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, as a WikiLeaks report revealed. Russia s concerns are easily understandable. They are outlined by international relations scholar John Mearsheimer in the leading U.S. establishment journal, Foreign Affairs. He writes that the taproot of the current crisis [over Ukraine] is NATO expansion and Washington s commitment to move Ukraine out of Moscow s orbit and integrate it into the West, which Putin viewed as a direct threat to Russia s core interests. Who can blame him? Mearsheimer asks, pointing out that Washington may not like Moscow s position, but it should understand the logic behind it. That should not be too difficult. After all, as everyone knows, The United States does not tolerate distant great powers deploying military forces anywhere in the Western hemisphere, much less on its borders. In fact, the U.S. stand is far stronger. It does not tolerate what is officially called successful defiance of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which declared (but could not yet implement) U.S. control of the hemisphere. And a small country that carries out such successful defiance may be subjected to the terrors of the earth and a crushing embargo -- as happened to Cuba. We need not ask how the United States would have reacted had the countries of Latin America joined the Warsaw Pact, with plans for Mexico and Canada to join as well. The merest hint of the first tentative steps in that direction would have been terminated with extreme prejudice, to adopt CIA lingo. As in the case of China, one does not have to regard Putin s moves and motives favorably to understand the logic behind them, nor to grasp the importance of understanding that logic instead of issuing imprecations against it. As in the case of China, a great deal is at stake, reaching as far -- literally -- as questions of survival. The Challenges Today: The Islamic World Let us turn to the third region of major concern, the (largely) Islamic world, also the scene of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) that George W. Bush declared in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attack. To be more accurate, re- declared. The GWOT was declared by the Reagan administration when it took office, with fevered rhetoric about a plague spread by depraved opponents of civilization itself (as Reagan put it) and a return to barbarism in the modern age (the words of George Shultz, his secretary of state). The original GWOT has been quietly removed from history. It very quickly turned into a murderous and destructive terrorist war afflicting Central America, southern Africa, and the Middle East, with grim repercussions to the present, even leading to condemnation of the United States by the World Court (which Washington dismissed). In any event, it is not the right story for history, so it is gone. The success of the Bush-Obama version of GWOT can readily be evaluated on direct inspection. When the war was declared, the terrorist targets were confined to a small corner of tribal Afghanistan. They were protected by Afghans, who mostly disliked or despised them, under the tribal code of hospitality -- which baffled Americans when poor peasants refused to turn over Osama bin Laden for the, to them, astronomical sum of $25 million. There are good reasons to believe that a well-constructed police action, or even serious diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban, might have placed those suspected of the 9/11 crimes in American hands for trial and sentencing. But such options were off the table. Instead, the reflexive choice was large-scale violence -- not with the goal of overthrowing the Taliban (that came later) but to make clear U.S. contempt for tentative Taliban offers of the possible extradition of bin Laden. How serious these offers were we do not know, since the possibility of exploring them was never entertained. Or perhaps the United States was just intent on trying to show its muscle, score a victory and scare everyone in the world. They don t care about the suffering of the Afghans or how many people we will lose. That was the judgment of the highly respected anti-Taliban leader Abdul Haq, one of the many oppositionists who condemned the American bombing campaign launched in October 2001 as "a big setback" for their efforts to overthrow the Taliban from within, a goal they considered within their reach. His judgment is confirmed by Richard A. Clarke, who was chairman of the Counterterrorism Security Group at the White House under President George W. Bush when the plans to attack Afghanistan were made. As Clarke describes the meeting, when informed that the attack would violate international law, "the President yelled in the narrow conference room, I don t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.'" The attack was also bitterly opposed by the major aid organizations working in Afghanistan, who warned that millions were on the verge of starvation and that the consequences might be horrendous. The consequences for poor Afghanistan years later need hardly be reviewed. The next target of the sledgehammer was Iraq. The U.S.-UK invasion, utterly without credible pretext, is the major crime of the twenty-first century. The invasion led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people in a country where the civilian society had already been devastated by American and British sanctions that were regarded as genocidal by the two distinguished international diplomats who administered them, and resigned in protest for this reason. The invasion also generated millions of refugees, largely destroyed the country, and instigated a sectarian conflict that is now tearing apart Iraq and the entire region. It is an astonishing fact about our intellectual and moral culture that in informed and enlightened circles it can be called, blandly, the liberation of Iraq. Pentagon and British Ministry of Defense polls found that only 3% of Iraqis regarded the U.S. security role in their neighborhood as legitimate, less than 1% believed that coalition (U.S.-UK) forces were good for their security, 80% opposed the presence of coalition forces in the country, and a majority supported attacks on coalition troops. Afghanistan has been destroyed beyond the possibility of reliable polling, but there are indications that something similar may be true there as well. Particularly in Iraq the United States suffered a severe defeat, abandoning its official war aims, and leaving the country under the influence of the sole victor, Iran. The sledgehammer was also wielded elsewhere, notably in Libya, where the three traditional imperial powers (Britain, France, and the United States) procured Security Council resolution 1973 and instantly violated it, becoming the air force of the rebels. The effect was to undercut the possibility of a peaceful, negotiated settlement; sharply increase casualties (by at least a factor of 10, according to political scientist Alan Kuperman); leave Libya in ruins, in the hands of warring militias; and, more recently, to provide the Islamic State with a base that it can use to spread terror beyond. Quite sensible diplomatic proposals by the African Union, accepted in principle by Libya s Muammar Qaddafi, were ignored by the imperial triumvirate, as Africa specialist Alex de Waal reviews. A huge flow of weapons and jihadis has spread terror and violence from West Africa (now the champion for terrorist murders) to the Levant, while the NATO attack also sent a flood of refugees from Africa to Europe. Yet another triumph of humanitarian intervention, and, as the long and often ghastly record reveals, not an unusual one, going back to its modern origins four centuries ago. Noam Chomsky is institute professor emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A TomDispatch regular [3] , among his recent books are Hegemony or Survival and Failed States . This essay, the first of two parts, is excerpted from his new book, Who Rules the World? [4] (Metropolitan Books, 2016). His website is www.chomsky.info [5] . GET THE NEWSLETTER References ^ TomDispatch.com (www.tomdispatch.com) ^ Who Rules the World? (www.amazon.com) ^ TomDispatch regular (www.tomdispatch.com) ^ Who Rules the World? (www.amazon.com) ^ www.chomsky.info (chomsky.info)
  • American Power Under Challenge: Masters of Mankind This article was originally published by War is Boring on 9 May 2016. It is Part 1 of a two-part series. We will post Part 2 tomorrow. [1] [2] In the contemporary global order, the institutions of the masters hold enormous power, not only in the international arena but also within their home states, on which they rely to protect their power and to provide economic support by a wide variety of means. When we consider the role of the masters of mankind, we turn to such state policy priorities of the moment as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the investor-rights agreements mislabeled free-trade agreements in propaganda and commentary. They are negotiated in secret, apart from the hundreds of corporate lawyers and lobbyists writing the crucial details. The intention is to have them adopted in good Stalinist style with fast track procedures designed to block discussion and allow only the choice of yes or no (hence yes). The designers regularly do quite well, not surprisingly. People are incidental, with the consequences one might anticipate. The second superpower The neoliberal programs of the past generation have concentrated wealth and power in far fewer hands while undermining functioning democracy, but they have aroused opposition as well, most prominently in Latin America but also in the centers of global power. The European Union, one of the more promising developments of the post-World War II period, has been tottering because of the harsh effect of the policies of austerity during recession, condemned even by the economists of the International Monetary Fund if not the IMF s political actors. Democracy has been undermined as decision making shifted to the Brussels bureaucracy, with the northern banks casting their shadow over their proceedings. Mainstream parties have been rapidly losing members to left and to right. The executive director of the Paris-based research group EuropaNova attributes the general disenchantment to a mood of angry impotence as the real power to shape events largely shifted from national political leaders [who, in principle at least, are subject to democratic politics] to the market, the institutions of the European Union and corporations, quite in accord with neoliberal doctrine. Very similar processes are under way in the United States, for somewhat similar reasons, a matter of significance and concern not just for the country but, because of U.S. power, for the world. The rising opposition to the neoliberal assault highlights another crucial aspect of the standard convention: it sets aside the public, which often fails to accept the approved role of spectators (rather than participants ) assigned to it in liberal democratic theory. Such disobedience has always been of concern to the dominant classes. Just keeping to American history, George Washington regarded the common people who formed the militias that he was to command as an exceedingly dirty and nasty people [evincing] an unaccountable kind of stupidity in the lower class of these people. In Violent Politics [3] , his masterful review of insurgencies from the American insurgency to contemporary Afghanistan and Iraq, William Polk concludes that Gen. Washington was so anxious to sideline [the fighters he despised] that he came close to losing the Revolution. Indeed, he might have actually done so had France not massively intervened and saved the Revolution, which until then had been won by guerrillas whom we would now call terrorists while Washington s British-style army was defeated time after time and almost lost the war. A common feature of successful insurgencies, Polk records, is that once popular support dissolves after victory, the leadership suppresses the dirty and nasty people who actually won the war with guerrilla tactics and terror, for fear that they might challenge class privilege. The elites contempt for the lower class of these people has taken various forms throughout the years. In recent times one expression of this contempt is the call for passivity and obedience ( moderation in democracy ) by liberal internationalists reacting to the dangerous democratizing effects of the popular movements of the 1960s. Sometimes states do choose to follow public opinion, eliciting much fury in centers of power. One dramatic case was in 2003, when the Bush administration called on Turkey to join its invasion of Iraq. Ninety-five percent of Turks opposed that course of action and, to the amazement and horror of Washington, the Turkish government adhered to their views. Turkey was bitterly condemned for this departure from responsible behavior. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, designated by the press as the idealist-in-chief of the administration, berated the Turkish military for permitting the malfeasance of the government and demanded an apology. Unperturbed by these and innumerable other illustrations of our fabled yearning for democracy, respectable commentary continued to laud Pres. George W. Bush for his dedication to democracy promotion, or sometimes criticized him for his na vet in thinking that an outside power could impose its democratic yearnings on others. The Turkish public was not alone. Global opposition to U.S.-U.K. aggression was overwhelming. Support for Washington s war plans scarcely reached 10 percent almost anywhere, according to international polls. Opposition sparked huge worldwide protests, in the United States as well, probably the first time in history that imperial aggression was strongly protested even before it was officially launched. On the front page of The New York Times , journalist Patrick Tyler reported that there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion. Unprecedented protest in the United States was a manifestation of the opposition to aggression that began decades earlier in the condemnation of the U.S. wars in Indochina, reaching a scale that was substantial and influential, even if far too late. By 1967, when the antiwar movement was becoming a significant force, military historian and Vietnam specialist Bernard Fall warned that Vietnam as a cultural and historic entity is threatened with extinction [as] the countryside literally dies under the blows of the largest military machine ever unleashed on an area of this size. But the antiwar movement did become a force that could not be ignored. Nor could it be ignored when Ronald Reagan came into office determined to launch an assault on Central America. His administration mimicked closely the steps John F. Kennedy had taken 20 years earlier in launching the war against South Vietnam, but had to back off because of the kind of vigorous public protest that had been lacking in the early 1960s. The assault was awful enough. The victims have yet to recover. But what happened to South Vietnam and later all of Indochina, where the second superpower imposed its impediments only much later in the conflict, was incomparably worse. It is often argued that the enormous public opposition to the invasion of Iraq had no effect. That seems incorrect to me. Again, the invasion was horrifying enough, and its aftermath is utterly grotesque. Nevertheless, it could have been far worse. Vice Pres. Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest of Bush s top officials could never even contemplate the sort of measures that President Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson adopted 40 years earlier largely without protest. Western power under pressure There is far more to say, of course, about the factors in determining state policy that are put to the side when we adopt the standard convention that states are the actors in international affairs. But with such nontrivial caveats as these, let us nevertheless adopt the convention, at least as a first approximation to reality. Then the question of who rules the world leads at once to such concerns as China s rise to power and its challenge to the United States and world order, the new cold war simmering in eastern Europe, the Global War on Terror, American hegemony and American decline and a range of similar considerations. The challenges faced by Western power at the outset of 2016 are usefully summarized within the conventional framework by Gideon Rachman, chief foreign-affairs columnist for the London Financial Times . He begins by reviewing the Western picture of world order. Ever since the end of the Cold War, the overwhelming power of the U.S. military has been the central fact of international politics. This is particularly crucial in three regions: East Asia, where the U.S. Navy has become used to treating the Pacific as an American lake ; Europe, where NATO meaning the United States, which accounts for a staggering three-quarters of NATO s military spending guarantees the territorial integrity of its member states ; and the Middle East, where giant U.S. naval and air bases exist to reassure friends and to intimidate rivals. The problem of world order today, Rachman continues, is that these security orders are now under challenge in all three regions because of Russian intervention in Ukraine and Syria, and because of China turning its nearby seas from an American lake to clearly contested water. The fundamental question of international relations, then, is whether the United States should accept that other major powers should have some kind of zone of influence in their neighborhoods. Rachman thinks it should, for reasons of diffusion of economic power around the world combined with simple common sense. There are, to be sure, ways of looking at the world from different standpoints. But let us keep to these three regions, surely critically important ones. The challenges today East Asia Beginning with the American lake, some eyebrows might be raised over the report in mid-December 2015 that an American B-52 bomber on a routine mission over the South China Sea unintentionally flew within two nautical miles of an artificial island built by China, senior defense officials said, exacerbating a hotly divisive issue for Washington and Beijing. Those familiar with the grim record of the 70 years of the nuclear weapons era will be all too aware that this is the kind of incident that has often come perilously close to igniting terminal nuclear war. One need not be a supporter of China s provocative and aggressive actions in the South China Sea to notice that the incident did not involve a Chinese nuclear-capable bomber in the Caribbean, or off the coast of California, where China has no pretensions of establishing a Chinese lake. Luckily for the world. Chinese leaders understand very well that their country s maritime trade routes are ringed with hostile powers from Japan through the Malacca Straits and beyond, backed by overwhelming U.S. military force. Accordingly, China is proceeding to expand westward with extensive investments and careful moves toward integration. In part, these developments are within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes the Central Asian states and Russia, and soon India and Pakistan with Iran as one of the observers a status that was denied to the United States, which was also called on to close all military bases in the region. China is constructing a modernized version of the old silk roads, with the intent not only of integrating the region under Chinese influence, but also of reaching Europe and the Middle Eastern oil-producing regions. It is pouring huge sums into creating an integrated Asian energy and commercial system, with extensive high-speed rail lines and pipelines. One element of the program is a highway through some of the world s tallest mountains to the new Chinese-developed port of Gwadar in Pakistan, which will protect oil shipments from potential U.S. interference. The program may also, China and Pakistan hope, spur industrial development in Pakistan, which the United States has not undertaken despite massive military aid, and might also provide an incentive for Pakistan to clamp down on domestic terrorism, a serious issue for China in western Xinjiang Province. Gwadar will be part of China s string of pearls, bases being constructed in the Indian Ocean for commercial purposes but potentially also for military use, with the expectation that China might someday be able to project power as far as the Persian Gulf for the first time in the modern era. All of these moves remain immune to Washington s overwhelming military power, short of annihilation by nuclear war, which would destroy the United States as well. In 2015, China also established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with itself as the main shareholder. Fifty-six nations participated in the opening in Beijing in June, including U.S. allies Australia, Britain and others which joined in defiance of Washington s wishes. The United States and Japan were absent. Some analysts believe that the new bank might turn out to be a competitor to the Bretton Woods institutions the IMF and the World Bank in which the United States holds veto power. There are also some expectations that the SCO might eventually become a counterpart to NATO. The challenges today Eastern Europe Turning to the second region, Eastern Europe, there is a crisis brewing at the NATO-Russian border. It is no small matter. In his illuminating and judicious scholarly study of the region, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands [4] , Richard Sakwa writes all too plausibly that the Russo-Georgian war of August 2008 was in effect the first of the wars to stop NATO enlargement ; the Ukraine crisis of 2014 is the second. It is not clear whether humanity would survive a third. The West sees NATO enlargement as benign. Not surprisingly, Russia, along with much of the Global South, has a different opinion, as do some prominent Western voices. George Kennan warned early on that NATO enlargement is a tragic mistake, and he was joined by senior American statesmen in an open letter to the White House describing it as a policy error of historic proportions. The present crisis has its origins in 1991, with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. There were then two contrasting visions of a new security system and political economy in Eurasia. In Sakwa s words, one vision was of a Wider Europe, with the E.U. at its heart but increasingly coterminous with the Euro-Atlantic security and political community; and on the other side there [was] the idea of Greater Europe, a vision of a continental Europe, stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok, that has multiple centers, including Brussels, Moscow and Ankara, but with a common purpose in overcoming the divisions that have traditionally plagued the continent. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was the major proponent of Greater Europe, a concept that also had European roots in Gaullism and other initiatives. However, as Russia collapsed under the devastating market reforms of the 1990s, the vision faded, only to be renewed as Russia began to recover and seek a place on the world stage under Vladimir Putin who, along with his associate Dmitry Medvedev, has repeatedly called for the geopolitical unification of all of Greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok, to create a genuine strategic partnership. These initiatives were greeted with polite contempt, Sakwa writes, regarded as little more than a cover for the establishment of a Greater Russia by stealth and an effort to drive a wedge between North America and Western Europe. Such concerns trace back to earlier Cold War fears that Europe might become a third force independent of both the great and minor superpowers and moving toward closer links to the latter as can be seen in Willy Brandt s Ostpolitik and other initiatives. The Western response to Russia s collapse was triumphalist. It was hailed as signaling the end of history, the final victory of Western capitalist democracy, almost as if Russia were being instructed to revert to its pre-World War I status as a virtual economic colony of the West. NATO enlargement began at once, in violation of verbal assurances to Gorbachev that NATO forces would not move one inch to the east after he agreed that a unified Germany could become a NATO member a remarkable concession, in the light of history. That discussion kept to East Germany. The possibility that NATO might expand beyond Germany was not discussed with Gorbachev, even if privately considered. Soon, NATO did begin to move beyond, right to the borders of Russia. The general mission of NATO was officially changed to a mandate to protect crucial infrastructure of the global energy system, sea lanes and pipelines, giving it a global area of operations. Furthermore, under a crucial Western revision of the now widely heralded doctrine of responsibility to protect, sharply different from the official U.N. version, NATO may now also serve as an intervention force under U.S. command. Of particular concern to Russia are plans to expand NATO to Ukraine. These plans were articulated explicitly at the Bucharest NATO summit of April 2008, when Georgia and Ukraine were promised eventual membership in NATO. The wording was unambiguous. NATO welcomes Ukraine s and Georgia s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO. With the Orange Revolution victory of pro-Western candidates in Ukraine in 2004, State Department representative Daniel Fried rushed there and emphasized U.S. support for Ukraine s NATO and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, as a WikiLeaks report revealed. Russia s concerns are easily understandable. They are outlined by international relations scholar John Mearsheimer in the leading U.S. establishment journal, Foreign Affairs. He writes that the taproot of the current crisis [over Ukraine] is NATO expansion and Washington s commitment to move Ukraine out of Moscow s orbit and integrate it into the West, which Putin viewed as a direct threat to Russia s core interests. Who can blame him? Mearsheimer asks, pointing out that Washington may not like Moscow s position, but it should understand the logic behind it. That should not be too difficult. After all, as everyone knows, The United States does not tolerate distant great powers deploying military forces anywhere in the Western hemisphere, much less on its borders. In fact, the U.S. stand is far stronger. It does not tolerate what is officially called successful defiance of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which declared but could not yet implement U.S. control of the hemisphere. And a small country that carries out such successful defiance may be subjected to the terrors of the earth and a crushing embargo as happened to Cuba. We need not ask how the United States would have reacted had the countries of Latin America joined the Warsaw Pact, with plans for Mexico and Canada to join as well. The merest hint of the first tentative steps in that direction would have been terminated with extreme prejudice, to adopt CIA lingo. As in the case of China, one does not have to regard Putin s moves and motives favorably to understand the logic behind them, nor to grasp the importance of understanding that logic instead of issuing imprecations against it. As in the case of China, a great deal is at stake, reaching as far literally as questions of survival. The challenges today the Islamic world Let us turn to the third region of major concern, the (largely) Islamic world, also the scene of the Global War on Terror that George W. Bush declared in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attack. To be more accurate, re-declared. The GWOT was declared by the Reagan administration when it took office, with fevered rhetoric about a plague spread by depraved opponents of civilization itself, as Reagan put it, and a return to barbarism in the modern age the words of George Shultz, his secretary of state. The original GWOT has been quietly removed from history. It very quickly turned into a murderous and destructive terrorist war afflicting Central America, southern Africa, and the Middle East, with grim repercussions to the present, even leading to condemnation of the United States by the World Court which Washington dismissed. In any event, it is not the right story for history, so it is gone. The success of the Bush-Obama version of GWOT can readily be evaluated on direct inspection. When the war was declared, the terrorist targets were confined to a small corner of tribal Afghanistan. They were protected by Afghans, who mostly disliked or despised them, under the tribal code of hospitality which baffled Americans when poor peasants refused to turn over Osama Bin Laden for the, to them, astronomical sum of $25 million. There are good reasons to believe that a well-constructed police action, or even serious diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban, might have placed those suspected of the 9/11 crimes in American hands for trial and sentencing. But such options were off the table. Instead, the reflexive choice was large-scale violence not with the goal of overthrowing the Taliban (that came later) but to make clear U.S. contempt for tentative Taliban offers of the possible extradition of Bin Laden. How serious these offers were we do not know, since the possibility of exploring them was never entertained. Or perhaps the United States was just intent on trying to show its muscle, score a victory and scare everyone in the world. They don t care about the suffering of the Afghans or how many people we will lose. That was the judgment of the highly respected anti-Taliban leader Abdul Haq, one of the many oppositionists who condemned the American bombing campaign launched in October 2001 as a big setback for their efforts to overthrow the Taliban from within, a goal they considered within their reach. His judgment is confirmed by Richard A. Clarke, who was chairman of the Counterterrorism Security Group at the White House under Pres. George W. Bush when the plans to attack Afghanistan were made. As Clarke describes the meeting, when informed that the attack would violate international law, the president yelled in the narrow conference room, I don t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass. The attack was also bitterly opposed by the major aid organizations working in Afghanistan, who warned that millions were on the verge of starvation and that the consequences might be horrendous. The consequences for poor Afghanistan years later need hardly be reviewed. The next target of the sledgehammer was Iraq. The U.S.-U.K. invasion, utterly without credible pretext, is the major crime of the 21st century. The invasion led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people in a country where the civilian society had already been devastated by American and British sanctions that were regarded as genocidal by the two distinguished international diplomats who administered them, and resigned in protest for this reason. The invasion also generated millions of refugees, largely destroyed the country, and instigated a sectarian conflict that is now tearing apart Iraq and the entire region. It is an astonishing fact about our intellectual and moral culture that in informed and enlightened circles it can be called, blandly, the liberation of Iraq. Pentagon and British Ministry of Defense polls found that only three percent of Iraqis regarded the U.S. security role in their neighborhood as legitimate, less than one percent believed that coalition (U.S.-U.K.) forces were good for their security, 80 percent opposed the presence of coalition forces in the country and a majority supported attacks on coalition troops. Afghanistan has been destroyed beyond the possibility of reliable polling, but there are indications that something similar may be true there as well. Particularly in Iraq the United States suffered a severe defeat, abandoning its official war aims, and leaving the country under the influence of the sole victor, Iran. The sledgehammer was also wielded elsewhere, notably in Libya, where the three traditional imperial powers Britain, France and the United States procured Security Council resolution 1973 and instantly violated it, becoming the air force of the rebels. The effect was to undercut the possibility of a peaceful, negotiated settlement; sharply increase casualties (by at least a factor of 10, according to political scientist Alan Kuperman); leave Libya in ruins, in the hands of warring militias; and, more recently, to provide the Islamic State with a base that it can use to spread terror beyond. Quite sensible diplomatic proposals by the African Union, accepted in principle by Libya s Muammar Qaddafi, were ignored by the imperial triumvirate, as Africa specialist Alex De Waal reviews. A huge flow of weapons and jihadis has spread terror and violence from West Africa now the champion for terrorist murders to the Levant, while the NATO attack also sent a flood of refugees from Africa to Europe. Yet another triumph of humanitarian intervention, and, as the long and often ghastly record reveals, not an unusual one, going back to its modern origins four centuries ago. Noam Chomsky is institute professor emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. References ^ originally published (warisboring.com) ^ War is Boring (warisboring.com) ^ Violent Politics (amzn.to) ^ Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (amzn.to)
  • American Ranger: It's Time For This Old Soldier To Fade AwayAbout a year ago, I posted a variation of the following article. Later on I had second thoughts and continued to post my feelings and comments about the direction of our country. But now it is time to "fade away" as Douglas McArthur once said of old soldiers.

    I must also take the time to smell the roses as I walk down the ever-narrowing road of life with my wonderful wife. There will come a day - hopefully far from now - when I too will finish my last patrol. Until then I shall devote my time to my family and to God - where ever He may lead me. * * * * Since I will soon turn 65 in February of 2014, I have come to believe it is time to move aside for the next generation.

    My wife Debbie and I are enjoying our retirement, and our time together is cherished beyond description. We shall fade away together. I started this blog in 2006 in anticipation of my third mobilization in the War on Terror.

    It became my effort to highlight soldiers, police officers, military and law enforcement families, and to provide resources for them. I also couldn t resist commenting on world affairs or political events. However, since my retirement from the Army in 2009 and my retirement from the police department in 2010, I can no longer write a blog from the perspective of an active soldier or still-serving cop.

    Also, there are literally thousands of blogs and websites that do a better job of providing up-to-date information for the communities I have spent my life serving. This blog will remain active because I still get a lot of visitors who read both recent and older posts. I also receive comments from these readers, and I enjoy responding to them.

    There are people who find my book via the blog. The world we live in is changing in many ways. Unfortunately, much of what we will see over the next few years will likely alter our way of life dramatically.

    I fear the loss of many of our liberties, I am concerned about the inability of our elected representatives to save our economy from excess spending, and I wonder if those in charge of our nation really have our best interests at heart. To my children and grandchildren and to all of those in the next couple of generations I beg you to do everything you can to preserve the liberties given to us by God and defined so well by our founding fathers. They and subsequent generations have sacrificed greatly to protect the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.

    A relative of mine once said that the Constitution needed to be updated. Though a well-meaning liberal, this person did not understand that the Constitution and its liberties are timeless. They do not need updating; they need to be protected for all Americans for all the generations to come.

    After almost twenty-three years of military service and twenty years as a law enforcement officer, it is time to let a younger generation (with better backs and knees) take their positions on the bunker line of liberty. (However, if you need backup, just let me know and I'll get there as soon as I can.) Keep a steady watch, do not fall asleep, and be ready to defend the perimeter when duty calls. Because, my young friends, America is in your hands now...... Charles M.

    Grist

  • Amnesty International demands inquiry into British Army shoot-to-kill ...By NICK BRAMHILL, IrishCentral Contributing Writer Published Saturday, November 23, 2013, 5:00 AM Updated Saturday, November 23, 2013, 7:57 AM The Military Reaction Force (MRF) shot terrorist suspects on sight in Northern Ireland - whether they were armed or not. Photo by Mirror Amnesty International has called for an inquiry after evidence that a secret British Army hit squad carried out shoot-to-kill missions at the height of The Troubles 1 was revealed. Members of the covert Military Reaction Force (MRF) broke their 40-year silence in a BBC Panorama documentary last night (Thurs) to admit they shot terrorist suspects on sight in Northern Ireland - whether they were armed or not.

    The BBC probe unearthed evidence that the shadowy undercover unit killed at least two people, Daniel Rooney and Patrick McVeigh, and injured 13 more people during a five-month period in 1972. According to the documentary, members of the elite plainclothes unit didn't believe military restrictions on opening fire applied to them and used to cruise republican areas of west Belfast, gunning down IRA 2 members, whether they were armed or not. The shocking revelations have prompted calls from Amnesty International to launch a full-blown inquiry into what it described as "human rights violations and abuses." Amnesty Northern Ireland director, Patrick Corrigan, said: "The revelations in Panorama underline our call for the UK government to establish a new, over-arching mechanism to investigate human rights violations and abuses in Northern Ireland, whether carried out by paramilitary groups or the security forces. "Victims and bereaved family members have a right to truth and justice. "Such a process must focus not just on those who pulled the trigger, but also those in positions of authority who pulled the strings." Successive British governments have repeatedly denied a shoot-to-kill policy was operated by security forces during The Troubles.

    However, the programme provided evidence that the MRF's 40-strong unit carried out drive-by shootings of nationalists manning barricades to keep out loyalists. According to the Irish Mirror, one former MRF soldier said: "We were not there to act like an army unit, we were there to act like a terror group." Highly-trained MRF members were handpicked from elite ranks of the army and were told that they officially didn't exist as they were tasked with hunting down and killing IRA members, according to the programme. Another former MRF member is quoted as saying: "If you had a player who was a well-known shooter who carried out quite a lot of assassination, it would have been very simple, he had to be taken out." Some MRF members would even go undercover as road-sweepers or down-and-out alcoholics during their mission, it was claimed.

    Tony Le Tissier, a major in the Royal Military Police, said: "They were playing at being bandit, they were meant to be sort of IRA outlaws. "That's why they were in plain clothes, operating plain vehicles and using a Thompson sub-machine gun." It is not known how many killings the unit carried out, as much of the documentary evidence is understood to have been destroyed.

    However, among those they killed in May 1972, was father-of-six, Patrick McVeigh, whose daughter, Patricia, said: "We want the truth.

    We don't want to stop until we get the truth." And Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams added: "The BBC programme shines a light on one aspect of Britain's dirty war in Ireland. "The existence of the MRF and its activities have been known for many years, but the programme contains new information and provides a fresh insight into the use by the British government of counter-gangs and secret military units." Here s a clip from the BBC: "); } else document.write(""); document.write(" It may take several minutes for your comment to appear. "); } else if(readCookie("worldirish")) document.write(""); else document.write(""); References ^ The Troubles (www.irishcentral.com) ^ IRA (www.irishcentral.com)

  • Andrew Simpson: Homecomings, 1945 I think these will be the last of the pictures from Belleville for a while. Now I do have more from the collection of Mike Dufresne but these two perfectly tell the story of the return of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment from its war in Europe. The regiment left Canada for Britain soon after the war began and saw action in France, Italy and Holland and returned to Belleville Ontario in the autumn of 1945. I have featured five of the photographs from the collection and each has its own story or perhaps stories, and while there are more pictures I think these pretty much make closure. And like all good photographs after you have taken in the image with these two you wonder what else there is. Now if truth were known I don t have a clue what else lies hidden. For a start I don t know who any of the people are and nor do I know what happened to them so we are left with just asking questions. Of the four men one is in civilian clothes and yet he appears to share a bond with the other three. So are they comrades, and was he invalided out due to an injury? Which begs the question of whether the tiny lapel badge is significant? The military ribbons on the other three testify to the action they have seen but all that is now in the past, and with all the fuss and noise of a homecoming with the town turned out to meet the regiment these four have sought each other out. I would like to know what interests them so much about the flag and the detail one of the soldiers is pointing to and for that matter what is being said. Perhaps it is just a posed shot but there is something in the gaze of one of the four which leads me to think it is more than just a rehearsed photograph. In the same way I am drawn to the other picture. The couple stare in a relaxed way at the camera while around them men disembark from the train. They seem perfectly at ease on that railway station and what I like about the picture is that you have a sense they have been caught in mid motion stopping just for a minue at the request of the photographer. And if it does not seem fanciful you half expect them to move off , thanking the photographer and mumbling something about having somehere to go. There is much more that I could say about these two but none of it would be based on historical research, so I shall just leave them to their reunion on a pleasant sunny day sometime in 1945. Pictures; courtesy of Mike Dufresne
  • Andrew Simpson: Looking for the story behind the picture of a ... This is the headquarters of the 2 nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and it stood at numbers 1 & 3 Stretford Road. It has gone now and I doubt that any one passing the new build on the corner of Stretford Road and Boundary Lane will now know that this old military building ever existed. And I have to count myself as one of them, although it is just possible that it was still there in the late 1960s when I first arrived in Manchester. So I was pleased that Bill Sumner posted this picture of the place in response to a story [1] I did on 2 nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.* To be more accurate it had been about the First Manchester Rifle Volunteers and the military march that had been composed by Dan Godfrey for their Grand Bazaar. The first Manchester s had been formed in 1859 at the Star Hotel in Deansgate as part of the initiative to create volunteer units across the country. Within a year the force consisted of 900 men and in 1882 they took possession of their brand new HQ on Stretford Road. Just six years later under the reorganisation scheme the battalion lost its distinctive title of the First Manchester Rifle Volunteers and became the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. ** And that takes us neatly to Bill s picture postcard. We don t have a date for it but the original photograph will have to date from after 1882 when the HQ was opened and more likely to after the unit changes its name. But I think we can get even closer because the card was marketed by Entwistle & Thorpe who in 1911 had offices in Woodall s buildings at 42 Deansgate which was on the corner with Blackfriars Street. Today this spot in inhabited by that slab of late 60 s development which includes the Renaissance Hotel the reopened Italian restaurant and nothing else. Back then there were seventeen businesses in Woodall s building including Entwistle and Thorpe who were still a relatively new company which had been formed by the amalgamation of two existing photographic businesses which were trading separately at the Deansgate address in 1909. That said while they had separate listings they also were down as Entwistle Harry, photo engraver (Entwistle Thorpe & Co). All of which may seem the nerdy end of history but is a nice lesson in how little bits of the past can be coaxed to reveal a bit of their story. Now there will be someone who remembers the HQ on Stretford Road and when it was demolished. If we are very lucky they may also have memories of visiting the buildings have their own pictures. In the meantime I will return to that military march and the music sheet which started me off on the journey. It is owned by David Harrop and is currently in an exhibition at St John s parish church in Heaton Mersey. Pictures; headquarters of the 2 nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, Stretford Road circa early 1900s, courtesy of Bill Sumner, Woodall's buidlings, 1900 from Goads Fire Insurance maps courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/ and front page of the First Manchester March, date unknown from the collection of David Harrop [2] **The 2nd V.B.M.R. BAZAAR, the Manchester Guardian April 12, 1904 References ^ story (www.blogger.com) ^ http://digitalarchives.co.uk/ (digitalarchives.co.uk)
  • Andrew Simpson: One historic piece of sheet music and a special ... Looking at the score for the First Manchester March is to be reminded of how I wish I could read music and play an instrument because I have yet to come across a recording of this piece. It was composed for the First Manchester Rifles Bazaar by Dan Godfrey whose father and son were also musical composers. Now I can t be sure of the date. I know that Lieut-Colonel Bridgford was in command from 1867 to 1902 and a bazaar was held in the April of 1904. That said I bet there will be someone who knows. The Manchester Rifles had been formed at a meeting in the Star Hotel on Deansgate in May 1859 and within a year had a compliment of 900 men. Its headquarters were at Stretford Road and in 1888 under the reorganisation scheme the battalion lost its distinctive title of the First Manchester Rifle Volunteers and became the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. * The 1904 bazaar had been held to clear off a debt on the headquarters in Stretford Road, extend the headquarters, to further equip the battalion, and improve the details of the mobilization scheme. * It s odd now to think that a unit of the British army was reliant on voluntary contributions but the First Manchester s were part of the Volunteer Force which was a citizen army of part time rifle, artillery and engineer corps created as a popular movement in 1859.** The decision to authorise the creation of such units was published on May 12 of that year and First Manchester s were formed just eight days later. All of which makes the sheet music a fascinating item and one that with more research might reveal its date. I suppose it could have been produced any time between 1862 and 1902 and might well have been the work of Dan Godfrey or his son Sir Dan Godfrey both of whom composed military music. That said I am looking forward to seeing the original which will be on display as part of a special presentation at St John s parish church in Heaton Mersey tomorrow at 2pm. The event has been organised by old friend David Harrop who tells me that along with the sheet music there will a large number of items from his collection of memorabilia from both world wars and the history of the Post Office. Pictures; sheet music for the First Manchester March, date unknown from the collection of David Harrop *The 2nd V.B.M.R. BAZAAR, the Manchester Guardian April 12, 1904 ** Volunteer Force, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteer_Force_(Great_Britain) [1] References ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteer_Force_(Great_Britain) (en.wikipedia.org)
  • Andrew Simpson: When you could see Tom Jones, Ben-E-King, and ... There will be many who remember the Princess Ballroom on Barlow Moor Road and many more who will have been there when it was variously known as Valentines, Ra Ra s and Adam and Eve s. I guess its heyday was in the 1960s when as the Princess Club it played host to a variety of entertainers from Del Shannon, and Tom Jones, to Lonnie Donegan, and Bob Monkhouse, Ben-E-King and the Drifters. Nor were these acts performing alone. What you got for your ticket was a selection of turns which on the night of our poster included the group Paper Lace from Nottingham alongside Hollywood, Korky and Chugalug. And one of the real strengths of clubs like the Princess was that they offered an opportunity for local groups to perform allowing young hopefuls the chance to be discovered, or just somewhere to act out the dream and learn from the professionals. And it was here that the Big Chuckles played in the mid 60s. They had been formed in 1963 but lacked a singer so they advertised for one. In the words of Graham Gill who was one of the group, a young lad called Chris Neil from Wythenshawe turned up. Chris was a choir boy at the Holy Name church and had grown up in the Moss Side, Hulme area before moving to Wythenshawe. He played with the group for a few years before leaving to perform in Hair at the Palace Theatre and went on to become a record producer, songwriter, singer and actor. I missed out on this period in the club s history which is my loss. Now I know that the forthcoming Chorlton Arts Festival offers an opportunity to sample a wide range of live events and that there are also the Edge Arts Centre and Jellyfish Rooms but places like the Princess, and the Golden Garter should be missed and mourned. But they were commercial enterprises and at the mercy of commercial trends and the odd disaster. The Golden Garter had opened in 1968, and closed after a fire in 1990. There are still many who miss it today. The Garter', as it was affectionately known locally, had lavish, thick carpets and gold and crimson d cor as well as d collet plaster goddesses smiling in pairs on either side of the movable apron-stage. There were 50 barmen, who wore green and gold-striped waistcoats and there was room for 1,400 diners. A 3-Course meal at the Golden Garter would cost you 15 shillings (75p), a bottle of champagne 39 shillings ( 1.90p), a glass of brandy 3 shillings and 6 pence (33p) and a pint of bitter 2 shillings and 7 pence (23p). * Added to this it could draw the top performers of the day. In 1979 the list included Gene Pitney, The Supremes and Mary Wilson, The Drifters, the Dooleys, and Showaddywaddy along with Les Dawson, Cannon and Ball and Tom O Connor. And here in Chorlton once you mention the Princess the memories of magic evenings are recounted with a mix of pleasure and a sense of loss that eventually it became just a place to get a late night drink and dance to records. It had opened in the 1920s as the Chorlton Palais de Dance. Ida remembers it from the mid 1960s when "it was always busy" and Adge told me that "we went to the Princess Club ('the Prinny') on a regular basis in the late 60'/early 70's, it was always rocking! Saw some great acts there inc' Ben E King Emile Ford and Long John Baldry amongst others. It was always packed to the rafters and, at the end of the night, the last song was always "Hi Ho Silver Lining", everyone in the place joined in (all well lubricated) I can see and hear it now in my head. It was also the place I had my first dance and snog with my (now) wife." My thanks to Graham who provided the handbill, and the pictures of the Big Chuckles, Jonathan Young and card for the Golden Garter.who not only hosted many of the night in the Princess but wrote Manchester Morning. He also reminded me that "t he Golden Garter started as a Bowling Alley with a night club attached I think it was called Darrens. One thing I do know is that I made the ventilation system for the bowling Alley in 1963 when I worked at CWS Engineering Knowsley Street Cheetham." And I suppose it reflects the time, because just as the Garter moved from bowling to live acts so our own Palais de Dance became the Princess Ballroom. Pictures; P rincess Ballroom, R.E.Stanley, May 1959, m17616, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and remaining images courtesy of Graham Gill * http://www.wythenshawe.btck.co.uk/GoldenGarterNightclub [1] References ^ http://www.wythenshawe.btck.co.uk/GoldenGarterNightclub (www.wythenshawe.btck.co.uk)
  • Andrew Simpson: With The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment ... Here are three of those images that pretty much speak for themselves. We are in Belleville in Ontario in the autumn of 1945 watching the home coming of The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment. They had shipped out for Europe in the December of 1939, saw action in France in June 1940 and were part of the allied landings in Sicily and mainland Italy in 1943. In the final months of the war they moved to North West Europe Meanwhile back in Canada in June 1945, a second Battalion of the regiment was mobilized for service in the Pacific but with Japan s surrender in the August the battalion was disbanded in the November. Each photograph is a rich source of detail, from the informality of the disembarkation at the railway station to the formal march past. So often the identities of the people in the pictures are lost but the second soldier in the parade was the Inetelligence Officer Farley Mowatt. Pictures; by Mike Dufresne, posted on the facebook site, Vintage Belleville, Trenton & Quinte Region
  • Anonymous Couple Shocked Everyone by Dropping a $500,000 ... Phones have been ringing off the hook at the Twin Cities Salvation Army after an anonymous couple dropped a $500,000 check in a kettle outside of a local supermarket in Rosemount, Minnesota the biggest check that the local branch of the organization has ever received. And many Salvation Army staffers believe that the timing of the donation was a God thing, as the Twin Cities branch unbeknown to the anonymous donors was $523,000 down in collections when compared to the same time period last year. We all call it a God thing. God knew what we needed and he gave it to us, Annette Bauer, communications manager for the Twin Cities Salvation Army, told TheBlaze on Wednesday. To have that happen you can t write this stuff! Salvation Army bell ringer volunteers William Schmidt (L), who is on his 20th year volunteering, and his grandson Bubba Wellens (R) ring their bells hoping for a donation into a kettle is made outside a Giant grocery store November 24, 2012, in Clifton, Virgina. (AFP/Getty Images) But the good tidings didn t end with the $500,000 check, as the story quickly spread through national news, leading hordes of people from around the nation and world feeling so inspired by the couple s act of generosity that they reached out to the Salvation Army to find out how they, too, can help out this holiday season. We have been fielding calls from all over the country asking to be bell ringers, Bauer said, noting that she s even received calls from Sweden. In addition to adding new bell ringers in the local area as a result of the generous gift, interested parties in other cities and towns around the U.S. who called the Twin Cities office have been connected with local branches of the Salvation Army. That s been really fun to have these people wanting to bell ring. Talk about inspiring generosity, she said. There s so many people who don t have $500,000, they don t have $50, they don t have $5, but they can give that time. Bauer said that calls for requests to volunteer as bell ringers have at least tripled since the $500,000 donation was given on Saturday. It just shows you that this wasn t just a coincidence that people started calling, she said. This was directly related to this story. It appears the anonymous couple s goals of inspiring others and honoring one of their fathers who served in World War I and was fond of the Salvation Army have been recognized, as the donation has gone viral [1] and dramatically moved people to action. The couple, who do not wish to be named publicly but who are regular donors to the Salvation Army, recalled their own past struggles with money, remembering how they once relied on grocery store scraps to get by. Salvation Army You get to a point in life where it s time to take care of others, the way you were taken care of, they said. Major Jeff Strickler, commander of the Twin Cities Salvation Army, said that he s stunned [2] by the generous donation. We are simply stunned and honored to have received such a generous gift, he said. This is a true blessing and it could not come at a better time for The Salvation Army and the people we serve. The goal for the Twin Cities Salvation Army is to raise $11.6 million this holiday season, and while Bauer said that they still have a way to go, the generous check has clearly sent the organization on its way. (H/T: KTLA-TV [3] ) Follow the author of this story on Twitter and Facebook: References ^ has gone viral (ktla.com) ^ he s stunned (salvationarmynorth.org) ^ KTLA-TV (ktla.com)
  • Another military base on high alert as police investigate 'suspicious' men in a car outside Aldershot barracks Police investigating two men 'acting suspiciously' in a Renault Clio Soldiers at Aldershot 'are warned not to wear their uniforms to work' Military have been on high alert after two men tried to abduct RAF man Incident was reported by a civilian staff member working at the base | 502 View comments Another military base was on high alert today after two men were seen acting suspiciously, just weeks after an abduction attempt at RAF Marham. Unconfirmed reports suggested that two men had tried to kidnap a serviceman, close to the garrison in Aldershot, Hampshire at around 8.15am, and soldiers were said to have been warned not to wear their uniforms to work or in the town. However, police later confirmed that no soldier had been involved in the incident, which had been reported by a member of civilian staff working at the barracks. They said there is no evidence to suggest a crime had taken place, but are investigating reports of two men acting suspiciously in a blue Renault Clio, close to the garrison in Aldershot, Hampshire at around 8.15am. A soldier was today at the centre of a fresh kidnap scare after men were seen acting suspiciously outside his base, just two weeks after an abduction attempt at RAF Marham Soldiers were reportedly warned not to wear their uniforms to work or in the town (file photo) A spokesman for Hampshire Police said: 'We were called to a suspicious incident at 8.42am today at the junction between Queens Avenue and Hospital Hill, Aldershot. 'Two men were seen acting suspiciously in a blue Renault Clio. 'At this stage there is nothing to suggest that a crime has been committed but we are looking into why the two men had stopped the car on this stretch of road. 'No contact was made between the two men and the person reporting the incident who is a civilian member of staff who works within the military complex at Aldershot.' The incident is said to have happened close to a church near to Aldershot Garrison (pictured) Security was said to have been stepped up at the garrison, and the number of guards by the gates increased A post on the military-themed Fill Your Boots Facebook page said: 'ALERT ALERT ALERT. Please pass round. 'Unsure whether it's the same blokes from Marham but there was an attempted abduction of a bloke in Aldershot by two blokes in a blue Renault Clio.' On that occasion, the RAF victim was able to headbutt one of the attackers before fleeing, despite a knife being brandished during the struggle. A later post said: 'ALERT CONFIRMED. Just been briefed by our colonel and told no uniforms to be worn to work and out in town. A post on the military-themed Fill Your Boots Facebook page said this morning that there had been an attempted abduction A later post said: 'ALERT CONFIRMED. Just been briefed by our colonel and told no uniforms to be worn to work and out in town' 'The incident happened at 8.15am this morning by the church near Aldershot Garrison. 'They do not believe the potential kidnappers were able to get hold of the man. 'It was one male squaddie outside the garrison. 'Two reports say he was jogging, one says he was on his way into work in kit. The gate guards have been increased.' Servicemen have been on high alert following an attempted abduction of a servicemen at RAF Marham, Norfolk, on July 20. Police are continuing to hunt for two attackers who tried to drag their victim into a car. Servicemen have been on high alert following an attempted abduction of a servicemen at RAF Marham, Norfolk, on July 20 Police are investigating reports of two men acting suspiciously in a blue Renault Clio, close to the garrison in Aldershot, Hampshire at around 8.15am A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: 'The police are investigating at the moment. They will rule if it was an incident or not.' Aldershot Garrison, also known as Aldershot Military Town, has long been seen as the home of the British Army ever since it was established in 1854. It covers approximately 500 acres, and has a population of around 10,500 people. In 1972, the garrison was the site of one of the worst UK mainland IRA attacks when a car bomb was detonated outside the headquarters mess of the 16 Parachute Brigade. The Official IRA claimed responsibility for the attack which claimed six lives, including five women and an army priest. The IRA said the attack was revenge for the events in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on January 30 1972 when 13 civilians were shot dead by the Parachute Regiment. At the time of the attack, Aldershot garrison was an entirely open garrison, but steps were taken to step up security afterwards with armed security patrols and fences. The site is now home to the headquarters of the Army's Support Command, and it is also the administrative base for the 101st Logistic Brigade. In total, it hosts around 70 military units and organisations. HIGH ALERT FOR MILITARY AFTER MARHAM SNATCH ATTEMPT The military has been on high alert since two attackers tried to kidnap a serviceman at knifepoint as he jogged close to RAF Marham in Norfolk. The men, who are both of Middle Eastern appearance, attempted to bundle an airman into a car as he jogged near an airbase two weeks ago. Although the force has not ruled out terrorism it said the attack could have been a case of mistaken identity over a drugs debt or a domestic dispute. Police are continuing to hunt for two attackers who tried to drag an RAF serviceman into a car as he jogged close to RAF Marham Police have received more than 150 calls from the public but none have been confirmed sightings of the pair. Officers have trawled through hours CCTV footage without finding any images of the dark-coloured people carrier used by the suspects. The married serviceman in his late 20s was targeted on July 20 about a mile from the gates of the base, which is home to four squadrons of Tornado bombers flying missions against Islamic State. The airman told police one of his assailants had a combat-style knife with a three-inch blade. He had gone for a run outside the military base when the first suspect leapt out at him from a parked car. Police have received more than 150 calls from the public but none have been confirmed sightings of the pair. Pictured are military police outside RAF Marham after the attack The attacker grabbed the runner s shoulder and then his wrist and tried to drag him towards the dark-coloured people carrier with a degree of force , police said. The airman fought back and knocked the man to the ground, but then saw a second man running towards him with the knife. When the second suspect saw his accomplice on the floor he headed towards him and the airman was able to escape. The running route is used regularly by base personnel and is only some 400m from its married quarters, meaning the two men could have been lying in wait for a lone victim they could abduct. The airman, who was very, very shaken by his ordeal, was wearing running clothes which did not show any military insignia. He said his first assailant shouted something, but he was listening to music through earphones and did not hear what was said. Within hours of the attack, servicemen at RAF Marham were warned to keep a low profile and not to travel alone amid fears that the attack was a Lee Rigby-style terrorist plot. In an MoD memo sent to military personnel, protective security chief Rich Curzon said: Following an incident at RAF Marham, it is directed that all personnel keep a low profile and not make themselves vulnerable. Until the threat subsides, no one is to be on their own on foot, or on a bicycle, within the local area in uniform or clothing which might identify them with the military. Both suspects are said to be of Middle Eastern origin and between 20 and 30 years old. The first is about 6ft, with dark hair and a beard. The second is younger and about 5ft 10in. Detective Superintendent Paul Durham, who is leading the inquiry, said: Regarding the search for our suspects, we are not focusing on any specific area and I m keeping an open mind as to where they are from. It s evident the would-be attackers have underestimated the victim s ability to fight back. There is no credible evidence this is a terrorist incident, but that remains one of a number of possibilities. Two men matching the description of the assailants were spotted outside an army base on Friday prompting a security alert. A report on a Facebook page used by military servicemen warned that two men resembling the e-fit images of the suspects were seen outside Colchester army barracks. A similar vehicle to the one described by the victim was also spotted. Hours later police confirmed that the sighting was not related to the incident at RAF Marham.
  • Another story from Tony Goulding .......... THE ... Below are recorded , in no particular order, "pen pictures" of ten of these names-being the first instalment of a project to feature all the 32 men and 1 woman remembered here William Eric Lunt (D.o.W.14/10/1916 France) Born in 1895 the son of John Henry Lunt, a greengrocer, and his wife Mary Ann of 60, Sandy Lane Enlisted at Ardwick on 5th. September, 1914 into the 8th (Home Service) Battalion, Manchester Regiment transferred in 1916 to the 18th Battalion for service in France. William's civilian occupation was as an apprentice in a millenary warehouse. William's papers indicate that he was a tall lean youth of just 19; 5'11'' and 129 lbs. with a 351/2'' chest and had brown eyes, dark hair and a sallow complexion. We even can discover his cap and boot sizes -7 and 10 respectively. He had three cousins (and fellow Chorltonians) who were all also killed on the Western Front (2) Thomas Roy Ellwood (K.i.A-18/2/1917-France) Son of the noted chronicler of old Chorlton-cum-Hardy, and chief clerk of Manchester City Council's Public Health Office, Thomas Loft house Ellwood Thomas Roy was born in 1896, lived at 68, Brundretts Road and in civilian life worked as an apprentice in a Macintosh works warehouse until his family moved away to Bedale in Yorkshire. He enlisted at Harrogate into the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own) reaching the rank of lance sergeant before his death in France. His body was one of the tens of thousands which were never recovered from the battlefield and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. Christopher Thomas Bottrill (K.i.A. 1/7/1916 France) Resident of 52, Keppel Road. A sergeant In"C"company 16th battalion, Manchester Regiment and one of the casualties in the carnage that was the first day of the Battle of the Somme, he is also commemorated at Thiepval. Christopher was born at Shelley Nr.Huddersfield, West Yorkshire in 1891. Sometime in the 1890's his father Christopher George, a master bread baker, moved his wife, Jane, young Christopher and his four sisters to Chorlton-cum-Hardy and opened a bakery at! 2, Barlow Moor Road.(3) Christopher also (like William Lunt) worked as apprentice in a millenary warehouse (at 29, Dale Street for Pugh , Davies &Co.) while his two oldest sisters both worked as elementary school teachers. Robert Taylor Hardman ( K.i.A. 1/7/1916 France) Temp. 2cnd Lt. Royal Engineers, Special Brigade. (4) Another casualty of the first day of the Somme. He was born in Higher Crumpsall, on 22nd July 1889, from where he attended Bury Grammar School. Later attending schools in Manchester before completing a M.Sc. degree in Chemistry (1907-1911) at Manchester University. He gained a 2cnd class honours degree which was good enough for him to get a research fellowship (1912-1913). At the outbreak of War, Robert had not long retuned from New York, where he had been working as a research chemist (Aug. '13-Apr '14) , and was living with his father, also a Robert Taylor and mother, Alice Ann at the family home of 30, Church (now Chequers) Road -- later 32,Stockton Road. At university he had spent more than four years in the Officer Training Corps and he was "gazzeted" in November 1914 into the The Kings Own Royal Lancs. Regiment before the formation of the "Special Brigade" saw his transfer to the Royal Engineers to better utilize his expertise. Again he lies in no known grave and is included in the list of the missing at Thiepval. THE THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Arthur Kettle (K.i.A. 18/11/1916 France) Private in the 19th battalion, Manchester Regiment. Yet another recorded on the Thiepval Memorial. Married Mabel Lillian (nee Jones) at the Primitive Methodist Church on High Lane, April 2nd 1904. Home addresses 2, Swayfield Ave. Born in Grantham, Lincolnshire in 1879. Parents Joseph and Emily lived at 5, Oswald Lane. Enlisted at Manchester on 7th September, 1914 despite being nearly 35 years old and a married man with six young children the oldest just turned 10 and the youngest, Pearl a 6 months old baby. According to army records he stood 5'7'' tall, weighed 123 lbs and had a 35" chest, fresh complexion with blue eyes and brown hair. Leonard Kitchen. (K.I.A. 25/10/1918 France) Private in Machine-gun Corps (originally "B" company 23rd battalion Manchester s) born in 1888 at Worcester. His mother, Annie moving her young family back to her home town of Manchester following the death of his father John in 1895. He married Agnes Kettle in 1913 making him the brother-in-law of the above man. They resided at 6, Provis Road. Tragically he perished less than three weeks before the Armistice of 11th. November, 1918, ended the fighting. Raymond Percy (D.o.W. 12/8/1918 France) Temp.Lt. (acting Captain) 12th.battalion Kings Liverpool Regiment. Awarded a Military Cross. Raymond was born in 1896 in Echuca, Victoria, Australia but was brought up in Chorlton-cum-Hardy at 20, Salisbury Road with his father, John Arthur, a pawnbroker and jeweller, mother Katie (nee. Kemp) and older brother, George Leslie. In the years prior to 1914 Raymond had attended a boarding school with his brother in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire. His parents had been married at St.Matthew's, Stretford on 29th. November, 1893 prior to their move to Australia. Arnold Clifford Wagstaff M.M (1) (D.o.W.29/8/1916 France) A Lance Corporal in the Manchester Regiment -20th battalion and a recipient of the Military Medal, he was born in Sercombe ,Cheshire in 1894. Before the hostilities he was an apprentice dental mechanic living with his parent s , George Arthur an advertising agent and Rosa Ellen at 103 , Beech Road . Arnold would certainly have been well acquainted with the three Lunt brothers (referred to above) who lived above their father's greengrocer shop at 119, Beech Road. Frederick Pontefract (died 16/6/1918.France) Frederick enlisted in Manchester on 11th May , 1915 , when aged 19 years and 2 months He was assigned to the Royal Army Medical Corps and posted to join the 2/3 field ambulance unit of the East Lancashire Regiment, spending some time with The Expeditionary force in Egypt before being transferred to France. At his medical on the 11th. May 1915 the record shows he was 5' 6" and had a chest measurement of 35" with good vision and no distinguishing marks or "defects. The attestation papers reveal that he was a cashier by trade and resided with parents Frederick William, a cotton fabrics buyer, and Agnes Anne at 11,Grange Avenue. He was born at 15, Beechwood Avenue and later lived at 5, Beech Road. An examination of the service record of this individual brought to light a very sad story indeed Frederick died of a skin infection "cellulitis lace" at Perronne Reserve Hospital , France whilst "a prisoner of war in German hands" Very unfortunately it seems that due to the vagaries of communications between the combative powers (perhaps exacerbated by the imminent internal collapse of Germany) notification that Frederick was a P.O.W. only reached his parents on 9th August 1918 . In the following weeks as the feeling that the end of hostilities was approaching grew, they likely had great hope that their son had survived only for it to be dashed with the notification of his death on 15th. October, 1918 Cecil William Somerville (K.i.A.24/8/1918 France) 2nd.Lt. 82cnd. sqd. R.A.F. (originally joined the Manchester Regiment) Cecil had Irish parentage. William, a commercial traveller/linen merchant and his wife Mary of 11, Torbay Road and later 32, Egerton Road hailed from Co. Armagh. Cecil was their eldest (surviving) child born in the Toxteth Park area of Liverpool on 19th.September 1897. By the time of the 1911 census, Cecil had four siblings a brother, Vivian, and three sisters Doris, Edith, and Maudie. The family's initial home in Chorlton-cum-Hardy was at 29, Needham Avenue. GLOSSARY K.i.A. = killed in action. D.o.W. = died of wounds. Died = died of illness or injury while on active service NOTES 1) There is a double entry on the Memorial. The list of names on the front includes A.C. Wagsraffe whilst on the side the name A. Clifford Wagstaffe appears. The explanation for this comes courtesy of my good friend David, a member and official of the Methodist Church. According to him when the Primitive Methodist Church, on High Lane closed in 1967 and amalgamated with church on Manchester Road they added the names from their memorial to the side of this one .Presumably Mr. Wagstaffe had been a member of both congregations. 2) William Eric Lunt is also a relative of my friend David whose family resided in Dartmouth Road, which is just opposite the location of "Lunts" greengrocer shop on Sandy Lane. Gladys May, William's younger sister and only sibling married a Thomas H. Patching in 1916. My friend David's mother, Constance was the half-brother of the groom. 3) The Bottrill s lived at 2, Oak Bank Avenue which is now Silverwood Avenue. The bakery on Barlow Moor Road was in the building on its comer now occupied by the Halifax. 4) The Royal Engineers "Special Brigade" was formed in 1915 as a response to the use of poison gas by the Germans. Its remit was to both expand Britain's own chemical warfare initiatives and develop defensive measures to counter any future German attacks. Tony Goulding Pictures; from the collection of Tony Goulding
  • Ant and Dec to host ITV birthday “spectacular” for Queen's 90th ... Ant and Dec are to host the Queen s 90th Birthday Celebration, to be co-produced by ITV Studios and broadcast live on ITV later this year. The event, to be hosted by Royal Windsor Horse Show in the private grounds of Windsor Castle, will tell the story of the monarch s life from her birth in 1926, through World War Two, to her Coronation in 1953 and a reign spanning more than 60 years. An as-yet-unannounced array of British talent will join more than 900 horses and 1,500 participants for a spectacular evening . Performers in the arena will include The New Zealand Army Band, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, The King s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. Ant and Dec said: We are honoured to be hosting this special celebration of Her Majesty The Queen s 90th Birthday. This spectacular evening will bring together some of the best known names in the entertainment world who will perform with 900 horses and 1500 participants to mark this very special birthday. The programme has been commissioned by ITV s director of entertainment and comedy, Elaine Bedell, and commissioning editor, entertainment, Peter Davey. It is produced by ITV Studios and Spun Gold Television. Lee Connolly and Sue Andrew will executive produce for ITV Studios and Nick Bullen for Spun Gold Television. The event is organised by the organising team behind Royal Windsor Horse Show. Bedell said: We are delighted to be celebrating Her Majesty The Queen s 90th Birthday with this stunning evening of entertainment. Earlier this year, Ant and Dec interviewed Prince Charles as part of a Prince s Trust documentary for ITV.
  • Ant and Dec to host Queen's 90th birthday celebrations Jatinder Dhillon via Flickr It appears British TV presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly have certainly won the royal seal of approval. The pair, originally from Newcastle upon Tyne, have been chosen to front coverage of The Queen s 90th birthday celebrations, which will be broadcast live on ITV later this year. Some of the world s biggest entertainment stars will join the duo, as they host the spectacular celebrations live from the private grounds of Windsor Castle. The event, which The Queen is set to attend on its final evening, will see more than 900 horses and 1500 participants tell the story of The Queen s life from her birth in 1926, through World War Two, to her Coronation in 1953 and a reign spanning more than 60 years. In a tribute to Her Majesty s love of horses and all things equestrian, the celebration will see a plethora of mounted regiments taking part including The Oman Royal Cavalry, Chilean Huasos, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Azerbaijan Cossack Riders, The King s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. As State Carriages from The Royal Mews take centre stage, the regiments will be joined by a number of military bands and dancers, including The New Zealand Army Band, The South Australian Police Band, 100 Military and Commonwealth Pipers, The Fijian Army Dancers and Band. Ant and Dec both said they are honoured to be at the forefront of the channel s coverage. It comes after the huge success of their recent documentary on The Prince s Trust, which saw them follow the work of Prince Charles over a year and featured warm interviews and jokes with The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and Princes William and Harry. ITV s Director of Entertainment and Comedy Elaine Bedell said We are delighted to be celebrating Her Majesty The Queen s 90th Birthday with this stunning evening of entertainment. With Ant and Dec hosting this special event, viewers will get to enjoy the very best of British talent along side some remarkable performers in celebration of the Queen s landmark birthday . The event will make up just part of ITV s celebratory programme. The network has also commissioned a two-hour long documentary, that has granted filmmakers unusually close access to The Queen and other members of her family during the last year. A number of royals are said to have been interview or recorded, including the Duchess of Cambridge, who used the occasion to give her first ever solo interview.
  • Antigone in Galway - London Review of Books (subscription) In September , the Irish government held a state funeral for the exhumed remains of Thomas Kent, a rebel and a patriot who was executed in 1916 and buried in the yard of what is now Cork Prison, at the rear of Collins Barracks, once the Victoria Barracks. His coffin was first removed to the garrison church, where thousands of people including Dr John Buckley, the bishop of Cork and Ross filed past to pay their respects. The funeral echoed the reinterment of Roger Casement thrown in a lime pit in Pentonville Prison in 1916 and repatriated in 1965 when Eamon de Valera got out of his sickbed to attend and a million people lined the route. Thomas Kent was buried in the family plot at Castlelyons and the taoiseach, Enda Kenny, gave the graveside oration. Today, he said, we take him from the political Potter s Field to lay him with all honour among his own . Although the land in which he had lain is now, technically speaking, Irish, the prison yard still held the taint of Britishness, the memory of his dishonour. Potter s Field is not a term much used in Ireland, though we have many traditional burial plots for strangers. These are marked Cill n on Ordnance Survey maps. Sometimes translated as children s graveyard , the sites contain the graves of unbaptised infants, but also of women who died in childbirth, changeling children, suicides, executed criminals and the insane (infanticides were typically disposed of without burial). Some are situated on sacred sites and in ancestral burial grounds that existed before the shift to the churchyard in early medieval Ireland. These earlier graves served a territorial function: they are found near the boundaries of ancient kingdoms, and by the water s edge. Cill n are often situated between one place and another, at the limits of things. After the Second Vatican Council, in the 1960s, allowed burial rites for the unbaptised, the Cill n , along with the idea of limbo, fell out of use. Some of those I visited in Connemara command a mighty view. One lies beside a path known as M m an (the Pass of the Birds) that pilgrims still use on the way to the well of St Patrick. Individual graves are built up with large stones, for the length of the body beneath, and there are no crosses to be seen. The bodies of infants were buried by a father or an uncle, often at night. The scant ritual and the isolation of the setting is offset by the beauty that surrounds it: the place feels both abandoned and sacred. Which is not to say that the women whose babies were so buried did not resent the lack of a marker, or feel the loneliness of the spot (if, indeed, they were told where it was). It was a great difficulty to have someone close to you, buried apart. Irish graveyards are, above all, family places. Would you like to be buried with my people? is not a marriage proposal you might hear in another country, even as a joke. Emigration split families, and this may have made the need to gather together stronger for those who remained, even after death. In a country of the dispossessed, it is also tempting to see the grave plot as a treasured piece of land. But the drama of the Irish graveyard was not about ownership, and only partly about honour (in the Traveller community, to step on a grave is still an indelible insult). Irish ghost stories tell of graveyards actually rejecting those who do not belong by which is meant Protestants. The ground itself might refuse, and yield their bodies up, or if they did stay put, the wall could jump over them in the night, to put the Protestants on the other side. Whole churchyards went wandering in order to leave them behind, and these ideas of purity and aversion persist in the undisturbed Irish earth, even into modern times. When Enda Kenny praised the nieces who d lobbied for the reinterment of Thomas Kent These three women have tended the flame of his memory he was speaking from the heart of the Irish rhetorical tradition. Under the censorship of British rule, the graveside was a rare opportunity for political speech, and it was a woman s role not just to mourn and love, but also to remember the revolutionary martyr. The job of remembering was also a work of silence: O breathe not his name! was the song by Thomas Moore, the name being that of the patriot Robert Emmet, executed after leading the 1803 rebellion, who asked that his epitaph remain unwritten until his country had taken its place among the nations of the earth. High speech and silence, this was the patriotic way, and no silence more urgent than that of the graveyard. And so we get the great speech by Patrick Pearse, eight months before the 1916 Rising: the fools, the fools, the fools! they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace. * It is tempting to see Antigone as a play not just about the mourning female voice, or about kinship and the law, but about the political use of the body after death. Creon, the ruler of Thebes, dishonours the body of his nephew to serve as a warning to other potential enemies of the state. One brother, Eteocles, has been buried in accordance with justice and law , the other, Polynices, is to lie unwept and unburied this according to their sister Antigone, who has already decided at the play s opening to ignore Creon s edict and bury the corpse. And so she does. When asked to deny the crime, she says, in Anne Carson s 2012 translation of Sophocles: I did the deed I do not deny it. She does not seek to justify her actions within the terms of Creon s law: she negates the law by handing it back to him, intact If you call that law. Antigone later says she is being punished for an act of perfect piety , but that act is also perfectly wordless in the play. The speeches she makes to her sister Ismene and to Creon are before and after the fact. She is a woman who breaks an unjust law. We can ask if she does this from inside or outside the legal or linguistic system of the play, or of the state, but it is good to bear in mind that Antigone does not bury her brother with words, but with dust. Her appeal, when she makes it, is not to Creon but to a higher order of justice, the unwritten unfaltering unshakeable ordinances of the gods . Antigone looks into her heart, you might think, and towards the heavens, while Creon looks around him to the business of government. But this system collapses before the end of the play into something more simple and self-enclosed. The dead do not belong to you, Tiresias tells Creon, nor to the gods above. There are moments and death (or more properly decay) is one of them that belong neither to sacred nor to secular law, but to themselves. Antigone has known this all along: Death needs to have Death s laws obeyed. Carson doesn t use the word ghost . The idea that Polynices has some residual agency or voice creeps into other translations, but not into this one. The body remains a body rawflesh for dogs and birds not a human presence. It is only when Antigone herself goes to die that she calls her brother s name. * They say a grave never settles, Catherine Corless remarked as we walked the convent wall in Tuam, where she suspected adult remains might lie. I looked at the ground and I could believe it; the shadow of vegetation that grew more lush formed an oblong, seven feet by five. This was beyond the little plot where locals say babies from the town s Mother and Baby Home were buried. A small grotto in the corner is tended by the residents of the housing estate that was built on the site in the early 1970s. Corless was doing a local history project and, intrigued by the unmarked burial plot, went to the Bon Secours sisters to ask for records. These had been passed on to the county council in Galway they said. The county council told her they were passed on to the Health Board, the Health Board said it only had individual records , which she would not be allowed to see. She then went to the Births, Marriages and Deaths Registration office in Galway to get, at her own expense, the death certificates of 796 babies and children who died in the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam between 1925 and 1961. The location of their bodies is unrecorded. They have not yet been found. In 1975 local boys had told of seeing the small bones of children in some kind of tank, under a broken concrete top. There was a strong response from the media when Corless said that this might be a disused septic tank that is marked on the map as lying under this spot. There was much rifling through the statistics and records; yes, the death rate among illegitimate children was up to five times that of those born within marriage, but institutions are great places for disease to spread, and what about measles? In fact, Corless was accusing no one of murder, and besides, the story was not new. There had been a brief report in a local paper two years earlier, and no one had seemed to care. It was the word septic that did it; the association with sewage, the implication that the bodies were not just carelessly buried, or even discarded, but treated like filth . After the words septic tank appeared in the world s press Corless found herself besieged by journalists. She was misquoted, then called a liar for things she hadn t said. With all that shame flying around, it needed a place to stick and clearly it was her fault, whatever it was sewage tanks, babies, all that dead history, Ireland s reputation abroad. Maps, photocopies, ledgers and certificates littered the kitchen table. Over the course of an hour, two people rang Corless s mobile, looking for female relatives who may have been in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. They might already have asked the nuns and the county council and the Health Board, but even babies born in the home do not have the statutory right to see their records, because of the secrecy clauses signed by the mothers who, willingly or not, gave them up for adoption. The information they do find may have been falsified at the time. Great desperation leads people to local historians like Corless. She told me about a man she helped, who was born in the home seventy years before. He had led a full life, with six children of his own but one of them was disabled and he thought this was a punishment of some kind. When he found his mother s grave, he brought flowers to it, and wept. He just wanted to meet her, he said, and tell her that it was all right. When I asked Corless why she had brought the problem of the missing dead to light, she said: It was the little ones themselves crying out to me. Her interest in historical research began when she tried to trace her origins after the death of her own mother. There was some load there, some secret . Her grandmother had entered a second relationship with a Protestant man, her mother was fostered out and never went back home. Corless managed to trace an aunt and when she made contact, decades after these events, the woman said: We have nothing here for you now. It did not take many women to run the Mother and Baby Home four or five nuns, Corless said, for up to a hundred pregnant and nursing women, and their children, who might be taken away for adoption at any time. They had nowhere else to go, clearly, but they must also have been very compliant. What were they like? Fear kept them quiet, Corless said, the threat of being sent to the asylum or the laundry. That, according to Julia, a long-term resident, is how the argument was settled. Dr Coughlan was GP for the Galway Magdalene Laundry from 1981 to 1984. The Residents were a delightful and happy group of ladies, he says, each lady presented as a unique individual, with a unique personality, well able to ask relevant questions and to express her opinion and, above all, ready and willing to gossip, to tease and be teased and to joke. And perhaps it is true. Irish women are often nice. When the Bon Secours nuns left Tuam for good, they exhumed the remains of their dead sisters 12 in all and took them with them to their new home in Knock. The controversy Corless started about the 796 missing bodies has provoked a commission of inquiry into the Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland, led by Judge Yvonne Murphy. A few weeks ago a geophysical survey was taken of the ground using penetrating radar and magnetometry. Corless is confident that the remains of an untold number of children will be found there. But if they are not found and that is also possible there will be much fuss and distraction from the fact that no one knows where the bodies of 796 children have gone. * The living can be disbelieved, dismissed, but the dead do not lie. We turn in death from witness to evidence, and this evidence is indelible, because it is mute. It started in 1993, when the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge sold off a portion of their land to a developer in order to cover recent losses on the stock exchange. As part of the deal, they exhumed a mass grave on the site which they said contained the bodies of 133 auxiliaries , women who worked until their deaths in the Magdalene Laundry of High Park, which closed in 1991. There were ten of these laundries in Ireland. They are styled, by the nuns who ran them, as refuges for marginalised women where they endured, along with their keepers, an enclosed, monastic life of work and prayer. The women were described as penitents , and the act of washing was seen as symbolic. The laundries were run as active concerns, washing dirty linen for hotels, hospitals and the army, and they undercut their rivals in the trade by the fact that their penitential workforce was not paid. So the laundries might also be styled as labour camps, or prison camps, where women were sent, without trial, for a crime that was hard to name. In 1958, 70 per cent of the women in the Magdalene Laundry in Galway were unmarried mothers. Asked how long they would be there, the mother superior answered: Some stay for life. To the apparent surprise of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge, 22 extra bodies were found in the opened grave at High Park. The nuns didn t appear to know the names of several of the women buried there, listing them by their religious names as Magdalene of St Cecilia or Magdalene of Lourdes, and more than one third of the 155 deaths had never been certified. It was clear the nuns were not used to dealing with outside authorities. Costs were high; they allegedly haggled with the undertaker to ask if he could get three bodies to a coffin. In the end, the remains were cremated, in contravention of Catholic custom, and everyone who heard the news then or read the reports knew, in the silence of their hearts, exactly what was going on, and what had been going on, and what all this meant. It was another ten years before Mary Raftery wrote about the High Park exhumations. Raftery s documentaries, the three-part States of Fear (1999) and Cardinal Secrets (2002), provoked two commissions of inquiry, one into abuse in Irish institutions for children, which were usually run by the religious, and one into clerical abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese. These were published in 2009, as the Ryan Report and the Murphy Report respectively. Before her death in 2012, Raftery was hailed as the most influential broadcaster of her day, but she got what we used to call drag from RTE television on these projects, especially States of Fear ; the kind of delay, indifference and non-compliance that runs through an institution when someone seeks to disturb the status quo. Sheila Ahern, who worked with her as a lone researcher, remembers being told that the story was, in media terms, done already . There was no budget, no resources, the whole thing was deemed, in audience terms, a turn-off and Raftery was asked to lighten it up a bit . Mostly patronising, this is an attitude that only turns aggressive at the last moment; it is particularly suited to dealing with women when they are troublesome, and Mary Raftery was very troublesome. Passionate for the victims of abuse, she had a bad attitude when it came to authority: non-compliant, endlessly tenacious and full of glee. I don t think a man could have done what she did, but it would be wrong to cast Raftery as some kind of Antigone; all her concern was for the living. Her work was founded on the personal testimony of people who had been abused in institutions. She brought those voices into vision, and shaped an argument with and around them that was incontrovertible. For some reason they had been hard to hear: now you couldn t look away their stories were unbearable and, for the country, deeply shaming. Bertie Ahern, the then taoiseach, issued an apology before the third part of the series hit the air. Raftery worked within the law, sharing the churches and the state s obsession with records, files, account books, ledgers, baptismal certificates, adoption papers, gravestones and mortal remains. She took an almost childlike pleasure in undoing the riddle of power. I knew her a little. She was good fun. One of our conversations was about the redress scheme established in 2002 as a result of her work, to compensate those who had suffered abuse in childcare institutions. This seemed to me like a good thing. But the money, Raftery said, was subject to a confidentiality clause and this recalled, for some victims, the secrecy imposed on them by their abusers, the small bribes they used: a bit of chocolate, a hug. You see? she said. Back in the trap. In the late 1980s I met a woman who had been committed to Saint Ita s, a mental institution near Dublin. The papers were signed by her mother and a priest. The priest had the power to sign a section order in those days though a doctor might also have been involved. The priest was the woman s uncle, her mother s brother, and they were putting her away because she said that the priest had felt her up. This was a woman my own age, or younger. In St Ita s she was medicated for three months, and kept in for another three and then let go. The doctors, she said, knew there was nothing wrong with her. I remember laughing in horror at this story, and she laughed too: They have you every way. It is, of course, this woman s mother who is the most interesting person in this story; how she disbelieved her daughter and pushed her away. The graveyard at St Ita s is a walled plot that contains, by repute, five thousand bodies. There is only one personal headstone raised by an inmate s uncle, on behalf of his grieving sister, in the early 1900s. The priest at Grangegorman, another huge asylum, got so lonely burying the abandoned mad that he requested company just one other living person, to say the word Amen. The dead, we feel, should be freed from their sorrows, from the projections of the living. The shame should die with them. They should be allowed back in. * The boy is dead, Tiresias says to Creon, stop killing him. Instead, Creon kills Antigone. He kills his own future daughter-in-law, breaking his son s heart. Creon is concerned with anarchy ( obedience saves lives ) and with keeping himself superior to womankind: never never never let ourselves be bested by a woman. He is also concerned with pollution. His son s nature has been polluted by being subject to a woman. The pleasure of sex that women afford is an open wound in your house and your life . Creon is speaking about all women here, but Antigone is a woman squared, being the product of an incestuous union between her father, Oedipus, and his mother, Jocasta. Their family, Ismene says, is doubled tripled degraded and dirty in every direction . The line of kinship is hopelessly tangled, so when Ismene says, O sister don t cross this line, she is speaking to someone in whom all boundaries are broken. The line of Creon s edict is only one of the lines in the play. There is the city wall, and there is also the horizon line, where Polynices body lies on the unopening ground. Antigone is neither outside nor inside. She is a strange new kind of inbetween thing not at home with the dead nor with the living . As the play proceeds she moves deeper into the other world; my soul died long ago, she says, so it might serve the dead. This self-involvement makes her seem a bit adolescent in the face of Creon s unyielding, corporate fury she is like a teenager doing death but this is not a rehearsal of adult autonomy. Antigone is buried alive by way of punishment for her crime. As she goes to her tomb she calls it a bridal chamber she looks to her own incestuous contradictions, and goes to meet her people: father, mother and brother. According to the chorus, she is the only one of mortals to go down to Death alive . The paradox of living death completes the incestuous paradox of her origins. It is like a bad joke. Antigone is a pun that was never funny. She never had anything to lose. Creon, by contrast, is free of incestuous taint. A man who runs his household right/can run a government. To be a man is to be a man. He will not get mixed up in her or by her. In order to stay whole and free he must assert his authority, he must kill Antigone. If he lets her get away with it then surely I am not a man here/ she is the man. He will be clean of this girl . He will put some food in her burial chamber, just enough to avoid the pollution, a sort of/sacred technicality . When his son kills himself, Creon bemoans his own folly and the god who was his undoing, but the sight of his wife s corpse makes him cry: O filth of death. By trying to keep himself clean and separate from the incestuous, from the female, from death itself Creon has fallen into a different trap. If you find you re confusing evil with good/some god is heading you down the high road to ruin. It is Tiresias, history s first transsexual, who puts him straight: for you ve housed a living soul beneath the ground below/and held a dead man here/without his grave or rights. * Sometimes, the things we have said all our lives look strange again, like the way the religious style themselves as family: Father this, Mother that, Brother, Sister. It is hard to say if it is a question of aversion, of purity or of privacy, but the nuns plot in High Park was as far as the land would allow from that of the auxiliaries. This is also true of Sunday s Well Magdalene Laundry in Cork: the nuns are in the north-east corner, in neat rows with a neat cross for each; the auxiliaries are in a mass grave, now vandalised, in an overgrown and inaccessible part of the complex. Ordinary Magdalenes were buried in the local public cemetery, though anxiety persists about the names on their headstones and the actual occupants of the graves. This anxiety was not alleviated by the most recent report, in a line of reports, by the Inter-Departmental Committee to establish the facts of State Involvement with the Magdalene Laundries (IDC), known as the McAleese Report. Martin McAleese trained as a dentist and as an accountant and served the state well as the spouse of President Mary McAleese over 14 years, in which time he played an active role in the Northern Irish peace process. In his introduction McAleese says he wants to protect the privacy of the Magdalene workers, who have, for too long, suffered the stigma of being called fallen women . They came to the homes through various routes: the courts, the industrial schools; by free will and at the behest of their families. He stresses that they were not prostitutes, as commonly thought, and hopes this label will not simply be replaced with the word criminal . He does not discuss the anonymity of the nuns within the report, or their potential criminality : these are not at issue. The congregations have since refused either to apologise or to contribute to any redress scheme. Published in 2013, the report is a strange document. The first mention that the women were not paid for their work comes in Chapter 15, in a section about social insurance. There is another reference to their lack of wages in Chapter 19. And that s it, really, on the slavery question. The report is a thousand pages long. And money is much discussed. Accounts are provided, to show that the laundries operated on a break-even basis . The documents were furnished by the congregations to their own accountants and were not subject to separate audit. Some accounts are listed as missing, including that of Sunday s Well in Cork. During her time as an RTE researcher, Sheila Ahern came into possession of accounts for Sunday s Well dealing with the years 1957 to 1966. She photocopied them and posted the originals back to the nuns of the Good Shepherd; in March 1999 they wrote back, saying: The material you forwarded is a cash receipts record for the laundry it bears no relationship whatsoever to profit. Of course these accounts may subsequently have been lost, along with those that explained the absence of profit, so we cannot say that Martin McAleese was less than obsessive in his hunt for the truth. Still it s an odd almost journalistic thrill to look at documents on your own laptop that the public record says do not exist. Broadly speaking, the report asks us to believe that women working an eight or ten-hour day ( we never knew the time, one of them says) six days a week, before falling asleep in unheated dormitories, could not earn enough to keep themselves fed. If the nuns were bad with money they were like no nuns I ever knew, but the issue of profitability is another distraction. The question is not one of business management, but of human rights. Why do we feel confused? The advocacy group Justice for Magdalenes has challenged the IDC s findings about the number of women in the system and the average duration of stay. The report puts this at 3.22 years, with a median of 27.6 weeks, but this ignores women who went in before Independence in 1922, many of whom stayed for life. Claire McGettrick has checked electoral registers to find that 63.1 per cent of the adult women registered in the Donnybrook Magdalene Laundry in 1954-55 were still there nine years later. Local grave records show that over half the women at the institution between 1954 and 1964 were there until they died. The Magdalene story, like the other stories here, is one of people maddened by information, misinformation, lies and ledgers, and there is much and persuasive talk of statistics. But it is the voices of the women that interest me. They spoke to McAleese in person. The report breaks down their testimony into different categories, moving from sexual abuse through physical abuse to lack of information and a real fear of remaining there until death . Only one woman complains that she was not paid for her work. Perhaps the others did not feel entitled to pay, or entitled, indeed, to complain. Their idea of difficulty might be different from yours or mine. The report uses their voices in brief quotations to say that there was no sexual abuse, there was very little physical abuse (by which is meant beatings): there was ritual humiliation, long hours of thankless labour, bewilderment and fear. But, you know, it wasn t as bad as you might think. Many, many times longer than any woman s testimony is the testimony offered by Dr Coughlan, who seemed to have a splendid time in the Galway Laundry: After I sat down at my desk [name] a jovial Resident would proudly arrive with a linen-covered tray laden with tea and buns. The ladies wore colourful clothing, they brought him their small troubles, or bits of gossip Do you like my hair, Doctor? There was rarely anything wrong with them, medically: Overall, my experience with the Magdalene was a happy and gratifying one. And as for death certs, he often had to tell people about death certs, we can assume he was worn out telling them. The women Dr Coughlan saw in 1984 were among the last Magdalenes. It is possible they were institutionalised, though he sees that damage as a kind of sweetness. It is possible though it is really not possible that it wasn t all that bad and, besides, it is fine now. The fragmentation of the women s testimony they are turned into a kind of chorus in the report seems to show some unease. Justice for Magdalenes says that McAleese was at first reluctant to speak to the former inmates at all; they also say that survivors were not made aware their responses would be used to cast doubt over their abusive experiences. Of course the report is not an oral history project, or even a history project, and it fulfilled its remit to prove there was significant state involvement in the laundries, but I felt I knew less after it than before. It is hard to describe how tiring it was to work through, chasing the sense that something is missing, that you are trapped within the paternalistic paradox: I am in charge, therefore you are fine. So the taoiseach said sorry, and there is now a redress scheme in place. The records, which McAleese said were so willingly opened to him by the congregations, have been anonymised and the originals returned. Times were different, this is what the men in my life say: my husband, my brother, my father. Martin, my husband, says that for the Athenian audience Creon was the real hero of the piece; his was the hubris and his the fall. Creon tries to control the natural order by his own will or ingenuity a very Athenian impulse and loses everything he loves. The death of his son, Haemon, is the real tragic event of the play, not the death of Antigone. At best, there are two parallel, dissonant tragedies here, two characters who cannot change their minds, with Antigone the unwitting agent and Creon the dupe of the gods. So it might even be time to feel sorry for the ageing Catholic congregations, who keep reaching for their PR companies and failing to understand. When the Oh My God mass grave in the West of Ireland story broke in an English-owned newspaper (the Mail ) it surprised the hell out of everybody, not least the sisters of the Bons Secours, wrote Terry Prone of the Communications Clinic, who went on to say that most of the nuns she represents are in their eighties now. The Adoption Rights Alliance believes the state has a strategy of deny till they die : stalling until the nuns and the birth mothers are all dead. But though the children were sent away, they do keep coming back. In the Examiner , Conall F tharta keeps breaking a story about Bessborough, another Mother and Baby Home, also in Cork. A 2012 health service report is concerned that death records may have been falsified so children could be brokered in clandestine adoption arrangements at home and abroad. F tharta says that according to figures given to the public health inspector, 102 babies died there in 1944, a death rate of 82 per cent. There are, however, only 76 deaths on the order s own register, and this pattern is repeated in the surrounding years. Where are the missing children? They may be alive and old, in America. If the problem in Bessborough and perhaps in Tuam, was one not of murder, neglect or the discarded dead, but one of baby trafficking, few people in Ireland would be surprised. One day we will all wake up and be shocked by it, but not yet. Meanwhile, the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary may, in the interests of respectability, decline to open the records they hold on the deaths, births and adoptions of Irish citizens, except on their own terms. In July, the Adoption Information and Tracing Bill was discussed in cabinet. It will give as many as fifty thousand adoptees the right to their birth certificate, if they promise not to contact their mothers directly. What we want, says Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance, is our file and nothing but the file . In August, shortly before the reburial of Thomas Kent, John Buckley, the bishop of Cork and Ross, called for the exhumation of little Nellie Organ, from the graveyard of Sunday s Well in Cork. Nellie was a wonderfully pretty little girl who suffered a long illness and a terrible death probably from tuberculosis in the infirmary of the orphanage there. She was the darling of the nuns, and of all who came in contact with her. She died in 1908, at the age of four. On her last day, she received the host, and Irish schoolchildren were often told she died of happiness. Her story inspired Pope Pius X to lower the age of communion for children, from 12 to seven. The bishop calls her the unofficial saint of the city. She was buried in St Joseph s Cemetery but then exhumed and reburied within the convent grounds at the nuns request , Buckley said. At the time of the exhumation, a year after Nellie s death, her remains were found to be intact. She is currently buried in the locked nun s plot at Sunday s Well, her grave made distinctive, among the low plain crosses, by a large statue of the Infant of Prague. The Sunday s Well complex is now derelict. It is currently the property of Ulster Bank and the accountancy firm KPMG.
  • Armed Forces commemorate the Battle of Saragarhi News story Armed Forces commemorate the Battle of Saragarhi From: Ministry of Defence and Julian Brazier MP [1] [2] First published: 14 September 2015 The 21 Sikh soldiers who fought in the Battle of Saragarhi were commemorated this weekend at Armoury House, London. On 12th September 1897, 21 British Indian Army Sepoys (Sikh soldiers) defended the Saragarhi outpost in the hills of the North West Frontier Province, now Pakistan but then part of British India, against 10,000 Afghan tribesmen. Rather than surrender, the soldiers fought to the death for nearly 10 hours with ammunition and bayonets. Although the outpost was lost, the Afghans later admitted to having lost around 180 of their soldiers and many more wounded, demonstrating the expertise of the Sikh soldiers. To honour the selfless commitment and courage of these Sikh warriors they were posthumously awarded the Indian Order of Merit, the highest gallantry award of the time. This is the second year that the Armed Forces have commemorated the Battle of Saragarhi. It s a significant event for Sikh personnel, and the event this year also offered the opportunity to celebrate present Sikh heroes within the Armed Forces; Regulars, Reservists and Cadets. The bravery, skill and loyalty to duty demonstrated in the battle serve as an example to all military personnel today. There are currently around 180 Sikhs in the British Army performing a range of roles, from infantry soldiers to medics to HR administration, and the integral contribution and success of Sikh personnel in the Armed Forces is undoubtedly due to the values that are shared between Sikhism and the Armed Forces: courage, discipline, respect for others, integrity, loyalty, and commitment. During the course of the morning, the First World War Sikh Heritage Platoon recalled stories of their great grandfathers and Jay Singh-Sohal explained about the selfless commitment and bravery of Sikhs from their unflinching loyalty in 1897 to operations today. Serving soldiers and cadets enthused about the benefits they currently enjoy from serving, and the opportunities Army life offers for future careers beyond the military. Adding colour and pageantry to the commemorative event, the Band of Rifles marched and played traditional music. One of their number Rifleman Mandeep Singh, 25, from Birmingham is himself a proud Sikh. Lance Corporal Ian Chave played the last post and a solemn silence was held in memory of all those who had fallen in service of the Crown, before a dramatic War Cry was performed by Captain Makand Singh. Then the guests were treated to a Punjabi lunch with spiced tea in the Honourable Artillery Company s historic Prince Consort Rooms. Reserves Minister Julian Brazier said: We re determined to make sure that any Sikh joining up will feel at home in the Armed Forces of today. That s why we have the British Armed Forces Sikh Association providing personnel with a practical support network, complemented by the spiritual guidance offered by our Sikh Chaplain. We have prayer rooms in every unit, vegetarian ration packs for every operation, and a flexible dress code so that these days a Sikh in a turban can stand guard outside Buckingham Palace. Today is a unique opportunity to come together, not simply to commemorate an extraordinary event, but to strengthen our great bonds and, inspired by the recollection of our shared past, we want to encourage even greater Sikh participation in the future force of tomorrow, so together we can write a proud new chapter in the history of Britain. Major Sartaj Singh Gogna, 37, from Brentwood is a senior instructor at the School of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineering in Arborfield. He joined the Army 15 years ago and as Chairman of the British Armed Forces Sikh Association he often get asked about the challenges facing Sikhs thinking of joining the Army. When I signed up I was a clean shaven, short haired bloke. And surprisingly it was the Army that has helped me to grow spiritually and supported my decision to become a fully practising Sikh, wearing my Dastar (turban). Lieutenant Daljinder Virdee, 25, from Iver Buckinghamshire is a pharmacist officer in 256 Field Hospital Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in London. He said he takes inspiration from the 21 Saragarhi Warriors every day, commenting: The RAMC motto is strength in adversity and in tough times when odds are stacked against you these soldiers stood their ground and did not give an inch. They were my forefathers and their strength is in all of us. Share this page Share on Facebook [3] Share on Twitter [4] Published: 14 September 2015 From: Ministry of Defence [5] Julian Brazier MP [6] References ^ Ministry of Defence (www.gov.uk) ^ Julian Brazier MP (www.gov.uk) ^ Share on Facebook (www.facebook.com) ^ Share on Twitter (twitter.com) ^ Ministry of Defence (www.gov.uk) ^ Julian Brazier MP (www.gov.uk)
  • Army and industry join together at military vehicle event ... Defence Vehicle Dynamics (DVD), being held at Millbrook Proving Ground near Milton Keynes today and tomorrow, 25 and 26 June, gives visitors an insight into the vast array of equipment used by the British Army. It brings together MOD s equipment and support organisation (DE&S), the army and industry to showcase the vehicles used by the military such as the heavily armoured Mastiff and the agile Foxhound. The event also looks ahead to future equipment requirements with visitors getting the chance to see some of the next-generation of army vehicles.

    The UK s first fully-digitised tracked armoured vehicle, the Scout specialist prototype, is on display to demonstrate how technology and capability requirements are evolving to meet the needs of Future Force 2020 1 . DVD 2014 2 Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne said: Operations over the last decade have demanded that our vehicles were created or adapted to suit the challenges our armed forces faced in 2 very different campaigns. As we move to an age of contingency, DVD 3 provides a glimpse as to how we are preparing to meet the needs of Future Force 2020.

    It highlights the innovative technology that industry has developed to enable the armed forces to deliver the capability required on operations. World-class technology that is made in Britain and that I want to support British industry to export worldwide. I am also delighted that KBR, which already provides 100 sponsored UK reserves in Afghanistan, has today signed the corporate covenant 4 and I hope it encourages other defence contractors to come forward and pledge their support.

    The corporate covenant provides large or small businesses with the opportunity formally to support the armed forces community. Our personnel and their families play an invaluable role in our society and it is only right that they get the recognition they deserve. Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne with the new Scout specialist vehicle being developed for the British Army Picture: Richard Watt, Crown copyright Major General Paul Jaques, Director Land Equipment in DE&S 5 , said: The impact of DVD has been significant; relationships with industry have been developed, and innovation in equipment has been driven forwards.

    DVD 2014 is about the future; out to the end of this decade and beyond.

    References ^ Future Force 2020 (www.gov.uk) ^ DVD 2014 (www.youtube.com) ^ DVD (www.theevent.co.uk) ^ corporate covenant (www.gov.uk) ^ DE&S (www.gov.uk)

  • Army base in kidnap scare as police investigate 'suspicious' men in a car outside Aldershot barracks Police investigating two men 'acting suspiciously' in a Renault Clio Soldiers at Aldershot 'are warned not to wear their uniforms to work' Military have been on high alert after two men tried to abduct RAF man Incident was reported by a civilian staff member working at the base | 503 View comments An Army base was today at the centre of a fresh kidnap scare after men were seen acting suspiciously, just two weeks after an abduction attempt at RAF Marham. Unconfirmed reports suggested that two men had tried to snatch a serviceman, close to the garrison in Aldershot, Hampshire at around 8.15am, and soldiers were said to have been warned not to wear their uniforms to work or in the town. However, police later confirmed that no soldier had been involved in the incident, which had been reported by a member of civilian staff working at the barracks. They said there is no evidence to suggest a crime had taken place, but are investigating reports of two men acting suspiciously in a blue Renault Clio, close to the garrison in Aldershot, Hampshire at around 8.15am. A soldier was today at the centre of a fresh kidnap scare after men were seen acting suspiciously outside his base, just two weeks after an abduction attempt at RAF Marham Soldiers were reportedly warned not to wear their uniforms to work or in the town (file photo) A spokesman for Hampshire Police said: 'We were called to a suspicious incident at 8.42am today at the junction between Queens Avenue and Hospital Hill, Aldershot. 'Two men were seen acting suspiciously in a blue Renault Clio. 'At this stage there is nothing to suggest that a crime has been committed but we are looking into why the two men had stopped the car on this stretch of road. 'No contact was made between the two men and the person reporting the incident who is a civilian member of staff who works within the military complex at Aldershot.' The incident is said to have happened close to a church near to Aldershot Garrison (pictured) Security was said to have been stepped up at the garrison, and the number of guards by the gates increased A post on the military-themed Fill Your Boots Facebook page said: 'ALERT ALERT ALERT. Please pass round. 'Unsure whether it's the same blokes from Marham but there was an attempted abduction of a bloke in Aldershot by two blokes in a blue Renault Clio.' On that occasion, the RAF victim was able to headbutt one of the attackers before fleeing, despite a knife being brandished during the struggle. A later post said: 'ALERT CONFIRMED. Just been briefed by our colonel and told no uniforms to be worn to work and out in town. A post on the military-themed Fill Your Boots Facebook page said this morning that there had been an attempted abduction A later post said: 'ALERT CONFIRMED. Just been briefed by our colonel and told no uniforms to be worn to work and out in town' 'The incident happened at 8.15am this morning by the church near Aldershot Garrison. 'They do not believe the potential kidnappers were able to get hold of the man. 'It was one male squaddie outside the garrison. 'Two reports say he was jogging, one says he was on his way into work in kit. The gate guards have been increased.' Servicemen have been on high alert following an attempted abduction of a servicemen at RAF Marham, Norfolk, on July 20. Police are continuing to hunt for two attackers who tried to drag their victim into a car. Servicemen have been on high alert following an attempted abduction of a servicemen at RAF Marham, Norfolk, on July 20 Police are investigating reports of two men acting suspiciously in a blue Renault Clio, close to the garrison in Aldershot, Hampshire at around 8.15am A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: 'The police are investigating at the moment. They will rule if it was an incident or not.' Aldershot Garrison, also known as Aldershot Military Town, has long been seen as the home of the British Army ever since it was established in 1854. It covers approximately 500 acres, and has a population of around 10,500 people. In 1972, the garrison was the site of one of the worst UK mainland IRA attacks when a car bomb was detonated outside the headquarters mess of the 16 Parachute Brigade. The Official IRA claimed responsibility for the attack which claimed six lives, including five women and an army priest. The IRA said the attack was revenge for the events in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on January 30 1972 when 13 civilians were shot dead by the Parachute Regiment. At the time of the attack, Aldershot garrison was an entirely open garrison, but steps were taken to step up security afterwards with armed security patrols and fences. The site is now home to the headquarters of the Army's Support Command, and it is also the administrative base for the 101st Logistic Brigade. In total, it hosts around 70 military units and organisations. HIGH ALERT FOR MILITARY AFTER MARHAM SNATCH ATTEMPT The military has been on high alert since two attackers tried to kidnap a serviceman at knifepoint as he jogged close to RAF Marham in Norfolk. The men, who are both of Middle Eastern appearance, attempted to bundle an airman into a car as he jogged near an airbase two weeks ago. Although the force has not ruled out terrorism it said the attack could have been a case of mistaken identity over a drugs debt or a domestic dispute. Police are continuing to hunt for two attackers who tried to drag an RAF serviceman into a car as he jogged close to RAF Marham Police have received more than 150 calls from the public but none have been confirmed sightings of the pair. Officers have trawled through hours CCTV footage without finding any images of the dark-coloured people carrier used by the suspects. The married serviceman in his late 20s was targeted on July 20 about a mile from the gates of the base, which is home to four squadrons of Tornado bombers flying missions against Islamic State. The airman told police one of his assailants had a combat-style knife with a three-inch blade. He had gone for a run outside the military base when the first suspect leapt out at him from a parked car. Police have received more than 150 calls from the public but none have been confirmed sightings of the pair. Pictured are military police outside RAF Marham after the attack The attacker grabbed the runner s shoulder and then his wrist and tried to drag him towards the dark-coloured people carrier with a degree of force , police said. The airman fought back and knocked the man to the ground, but then saw a second man running towards him with the knife. When the second suspect saw his accomplice on the floor he headed towards him and the airman was able to escape. The running route is used regularly by base personnel and is only some 400m from its married quarters, meaning the two men could have been lying in wait for a lone victim they could abduct. The airman, who was very, very shaken by his ordeal, was wearing running clothes which did not show any military insignia. He said his first assailant shouted something, but he was listening to music through earphones and did not hear what was said. Within hours of the attack, servicemen at RAF Marham were warned to keep a low profile and not to travel alone amid fears that the attack was a Lee Rigby-style terrorist plot. In an MoD memo sent to military personnel, protective security chief Rich Curzon said: Following an incident at RAF Marham, it is directed that all personnel keep a low profile and not make themselves vulnerable. Until the threat subsides, no one is to be on their own on foot, or on a bicycle, within the local area in uniform or clothing which might identify them with the military. Both suspects are said to be of Middle Eastern origin and between 20 and 30 years old. The first is about 6ft, with dark hair and a beard. The second is younger and about 5ft 10in. Detective Superintendent Paul Durham, who is leading the inquiry, said: Regarding the search for our suspects, we are not focusing on any specific area and I m keeping an open mind as to where they are from. It s evident the would-be attackers have underestimated the victim s ability to fight back. There is no credible evidence this is a terrorist incident, but that remains one of a number of possibilities. Two men matching the description of the assailants were spotted outside an army base on Friday prompting a security alert. A report on a Facebook page used by military servicemen warned that two men resembling the e-fit images of the suspects were seen outside Colchester army barracks. A similar vehicle to the one described by the victim was also spotted. Hours later police confirmed that the sighting was not related to the incident at RAF Marham.
  • Army calls on foreign fighters to bolster our forces: 200 Commonwealth recruits will be able to join up in bid to make up for 'perilous' manpower... New figures show a drastic drop in numbers in Army, Navy and RAF Defence officials have relaxed the rules for Commonwealth recruits Under current rules they can only join after being in the UK for five year Commonwealth citizens will fill the gap in troops with specialist skills | 9 View comments Two hundred foreign fighters a year will be able to join Britain's Armed Forces in a desperate bid to make up for 'perilous' manpower shortages. Defence officials have relaxed the rules for Commonwealth recruits wanting to serve as part of the Army, Navy and RAF as new figures show a drastic drop in numbers. Under current rules they can only join the military if they had lived in the UK for five years. Defence Minister Penny Mordaunt has waived the residency requirements to allow 200 Commonwealth citizens to fill roles in regular forces every year Defence Minister Penny Mordaunt has waived the residency requirements to allow 200 Commonwealth citizens to fill roles in regular forces every year. They will fill the gap in troops with specialist skills, such as engineering. The u-turn comes as staggering statistics published yesterday revealed there had been a drop in the regular armed forces of 3,680 troops since April last year. In a written statement today, Miss Mordaunt said there was a 'long tradition' of soldiers from Commonwealth nations serving in the British military. She said: 'We continue to value their service which provides an important contribution in defending the UK at home and abroad. 'The current Commonwealth recruitment rules which require five years UK residency have therefore been reviewed, and the residency requirements will be waived to allow for 200 Commonwealth citizens per annum to be recruited to fill a limited number of roles in the Regular Armed Forces which require specialist skills.' She said the decision had been made in consultation with the Home Office and would be subjected to regular review. She said this would not apply to those who wanted to join the reserves unless in exceptional circumstances. Last night Sir Michael Graydon, former head of the RAF, said: 'It suggests recruiting is not going as well as they hoped at the moment.' Defence officials have relaxed the rules for Commonwealth recruits wanting to serve as part of the Army, Navy and RAF as new figures show a drastic drop in numbers Baroness Judith Jolly said: 'We fully support the long tradition of Commonwealth citizens serving in the British Armed Forces, but if we are relying on foreign recruits to meet shortfalls at home that is of serious concern. The Lib Dem defence spokesperson added: 'The Ministry of Defence needs to clarify which specialist positions are part of these 200 new recruits per year, offer an explanation as to why we are failing to recruit from within the UK, and explain what their long term plan is to upskill our own workforce to fill these positions in the future.' Former military top brass have warned how the Navy, Army and RAF had been hit with massive manpower shortages after devastating cuts to Britain's Armed Forces. Defence chiefs have even asked countries across the world to loan Britain troops in a desperate bid to make up the numbers. The embarrassing scramble to re-recruit servicemen to man the UK's warplanes and new aircraft carriers comes after the Government heavily slashed the forces during its last defence review in 2010. A shortage in personnel has resulted in both the RAF and Royal Navy looking to recruit foreign fighters in order to fill a gap in manpower. In 2013, soldiers from Commonwealth countries were banned from joining the Armed Forces unless they had lived here for five years. Miss Mordaunt said there was a 'long tradition' of soldiers from Commonwealth nations serving in the British military
  • Army Clerk Refuses To Issue DD214s FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. Based on her deeply held beliefs of the sanctity of military service, admin clerk Spc. Kim David has been refusing to issue DD214s to service members whose records do not share her military service values, Duffel Blog has learned. It wasn t a spur of the moment decision, said David. It was thought out, and I consulted the army values, all seven of them, before taking these actions. Spc. David s actions or lack thereof have stirred controversy across the installation, drawing sharp criticism from those who feel the 19-year-old clerk is obligated to perform her duties as assigned regardless of her beliefs, while others complain she should not be evaluating others service after she was caught using her Government Travel Card to buy Joel Osteen DVDs. Some soldiers have come to her defense, seeing her stance as bravery in the face of the deteriorating power of the E-4 mafia. [1] David doesn t have to process anyone s DD214 that doesn t embody the army values like we do, said Spc. Trevor Koch, a medic and vocal supporter of David s growing contingent. Just the other day, I did a multi-source feedback on one of the lieutenants in the unit. Looked like everyone said he was a shit-bird. That s why I m not going to update his vaccinations properly in MEDPROs. Spc. John David Riley, the first soldier David refused to process a DD214 for, did nothing above standard for the army and deserved to continue serving until he distinguished himself, said David, when called before a judge at her Court Martial. Riley is still waiting on a folding chair assuming that any minute now his DD214 will be complete and could not be reached for comment. David, a Rowan County, Ky. native, testified that she joined the army to be a cook and was forced into the administration position. She asserted she never would have volunteered for a position where she would be forced to provide services to soldiers who have not served up to her standards. David herself has previously collected a string of Article 15 s for public indecency, dereliction of duty, and misappropriation of government equipment in addition to the investigation into her Government Travel Card Charges. I ve made mistakes, said David. I know I have. But I m only accountable to the army. I can t be fired. No one else on this post knows how to generate a DD214. DD214 E4 Mafia Freedom [2] [3] [4] References ^ the E-4 mafia. (shop.duffelblog.com) ^ DD214 (www.duffelblog.com) ^ E4 Mafia (www.duffelblog.com) ^ Freedom (www.duffelblog.com)
  • Army colonel warns sending 1,000 troops to Libya risks 'mission creep' that draws Britain into a new Afghanistan-style war Colonel Rupert Wieloch led the British military mission in Libya until 2012 1,000 British soldiers could be sent to Libya to reinforce a training mission Italy has been leading the current mission in the north African country But Colonel Wieloch warned foreign troops could be dragged into fighting | 21 View comments Colonel Rupert Wieloch warned of 'mission creep' if Britain committed troops to Libya A former British commander of forces in Libya has warned sending in troops to reinforce the fight against Isis risks drawing the UK into a new Afghanistan [1] -style war. Colonel Rupert Wieloch said it would be 'tempting' to allow a training mission to expand into crisis response or a direct confrontation with ISIS forces. But he warned the action would raise a 'great danger of mission creep'. Plans to send 1,000 British troops to join an Italian-led training mission in Libya have been discussed repeatedly in recent months. The Mediterranean country has descended into chaos since a British and French-led bombing campaign removed Colonel Gaddafi from power in 2011. ISIS forces have moved to establish a foothold in the North African country amid the chaos. In remarks reported by the Daily Telegraph [2] , Col Wieloch warned: 'It would be very tempting to get involved in other things other than just training, for example crisis response, or defeating Isil itself. 'We have seen this before in a number of operations. 'It's then very easy for the local population to not understand what the international community is trying to do.' Col Wieloch said the presence of western troops in Libya could unite the warring militias who have fought over the country's future since 2011. The retired soldier led British efforts to try and stabilise the country after the 2011 campaign. He said: 'It's got to be well thought through, with properly trained people going out there and it's got to be a mixture of not just military, but civilians as well. 'I believe it has to be Muslim-led because it's all very well to say the Italians are going back in, but they have not got a good reputation because the Libyan's remember the fascist regime.' The Ministry of Defence has refused to confirm details of any British mission. Prime Minister David Cameron was accused by US President Barack Obama, pictured together at the White House, of getting distracted in the aftermath of the 2011 Libya campaign Speaking in the Commons last month, David Cameron told MPs: 'If we had any plans to send conventional forces for training in Libya we would of course come to this House and discuss them. 'What we want to see in Libya is the formation of a unity Government.' The Prime Minister said the Government was eager to support a stable new administration in Tripoli. Mr Cameron's role in the Libya campaign came under scrutiny last month after US President Barack Obama accused Europe of leaving the country a 's*** show'. Mr Obama said the Prime Minister had become 'distracted' from the aftermath as Libya descended into chaos. References ^ Afghanistan (www.dailymail.co.uk) ^ Daily Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  • Army dismisses 'swearing guidelines' after BBC documentary showing bad language 1/30 19 February 2016 First Minister Nicola Sturgeon officially opens Scotland's first independent safe deposit box service in Glasgow. Based in the city's south side, Glasgow Vaults has been introduced in response to the major banks withdrawing the service that safeguards people's valuable possessions 2/30 18 February 2016 Snowdrops carpet the ground in the beech wood at Welford Park in Berkshire 3/30 17 February 2016 Rescue teams and a Coastguard helicopter are deployed to the scene of an Avalanche at Creag Meagaidh in Fort William,Scotland. The rescuers had been searching for missing climbers Rachel Slater, 24, and Tim Newton, 27 from Bradford, had been climbing on Ben Nevis over the weekend but were reported missing 4/30 16 February 2016 Visitors enjoy the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society's) Early Spring Fair in London. Growers from across the UK come together for the show at the RHS Horticultural Halls in Westminster to exhibit their seasonal produce 5/30 15 February 2016 Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson during a visit to Stirling Bull Sales in Scotland. The Scottish Conservatives are targeting disenchanted Labour and Lib Dem voters as they step up campaigning for the Holyrood election. Leader Ruth Davidson is to send out a personal letter to 600,000 people, many of whom have never voted Conservative before, to ask them for support on 5 May 6/30 14 February 2016 Farmer Peter Laidlaw feeds his sheep at Craigannet Farm on the snow covered hills of the Carron Valley in Stirling, Scotland, as snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures sweep the country 7/30 13 February 2016 London celebrates Chinese New Year, the celebrations are the largest outside Asia. Performers celebrate the Year of the Monkey in London 8/30 12 February 2016 Flocks of geese fly at dawn along the coastline of The Wash near Snettisham in east Britain 9/30 11 February 2016 A sculpture made from galvanised wire, titled 'The Kiss', which is part of a new exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral called Relationships by artist Sophie Ryder 10/30 10 February 2016 London Taxi Drivers block Whitehall in central London in protest over the regulation of private hire cars 11/30 9 February 2016 The Royal Mint has released a range of commemorative coins featuring the playful figure of a monkey to celebrate the forthcoming Chinese New Year. Produced specifically for the UK, The Royal Mint s commemorative lunar coins blend ancient Chinese tradition with British craftsmanship, and form part of The Royal Mint s Sh ngxi o (or Chinese zodiac) Collection. It is traditional to exchange tokens and gifts of money in red envelopes at Lunar New Year as a symbol of good wishes for the recipient s health, wealth and prosperity 12/30 9 February 2016 PG tips Monkey is projected on to Elizabeth Tower in Westminster, London, to celebrate Chinese New Year 2016 13/30 8 February 2016 Waves crash over the cliffs at Sennen near Land's End in Cornwall. Parts of the UK are currently being battered by Storm Imogen, the ninth named storm to hit the UK this season. Thousands of homes have been left without power and commuters hit by road and rail chaos as Storm Imogen batters the South with gale force winds and torrential rain 14/30 7 February 2016 Clowns attend the 70th anniversary Clown Church Service at All Saints Church in Haggerston in London. Clowns attended the service in memory of Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837), the most celebrated English clown who was born in London. The service has been an annual tradition since 1946 15/30 6 February 2016 A performer dressed as Jack Frost takes part in the biennial Imbolc Celtic fire festival, to celebrate the end of Winter and the coming of Spring, in Marsden, northern England. The festival culminates in a short Mummers play where Jack Frost and the Green Man battle for victory and which concludes with a firework display signifying the emergence of the Sun 16/30 4 February 2016 A dead sperm whale lies on Hunstanton beach in Norfolk. This is the second sperm whale be beached on Hunstanton Beach and the sixth whale that the UK Coastguard has dealt with on beaches in eastern England over the two weeks 17/30 3 February 2016 Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale speaks with schoolchildren during a visit to Cowdenbeath Primary school ahead of parliamentary vote on income tax in Cowdenbeath, Scotland. The Scottish Labour leader met primary school pupils ahead of a Holyrood vote on the party's plan to propose using new Holyrood powers to increase income tax by one pence in a bid to avoid cuts to council budgets 18/30 2 February 2016 Oil rigs are left in the Cromarty Firth in Invergordon, Scotland. Rig platforms are being stacked up in the Cromarty Firth as oil prices continue to decline having a major impact on the UK's North Sea oil industry leaving thousands of people out of work 19/30 1 February 2016 Waves crash over the lighthouse at Porthcawl, Wales 20/30 31 January 2016 The Cambridge crew (Bow-Cox, Ashton Brown, Zara Goozee, Alice Jackson, Fiona Maccklin, Hannah Roberts, Thea Zabell, Daphne Martschenko, Myriam Goudet and Rosemary Ostfeld) in action during The 2016 Cancer Research UK Boat Race Trial race between Cambridge University Womens Boat Club and Oxford Brookes in London 21/30 30 January 2016 Light sculptures are reflected in the lotus pool at the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House Gardens in west London. The festival, to celebrate Chinese New Year 2016 - the Year of the Monkey, uses more than 50 hand-sculpted lanterns and is set to run from 3 Febuary to 6 March 22/30 29 January 2016 The town of Swadlincote in Derbyshire, has kicked off their Sainsbury s Waste Less, Save More initiative, after being awarded a 1 million investment to dramatically cut food waste by 50% in one year. A group of locals involved in the project (pictured here in front of the town s famous Sharpe s Pottery Museum) came together to spur the town into action. Dubbed, Sustainability Street , this cast of real-life characters will be leading the charge, trialling various technologies and best practices 23/30 28 January 2016 Greenpeace campaigners and people from flood-hit areas installed an artwork outside the Houses of Parliament in London, featuring 500 pairs of wellington boots, which each carry a message from those affected by the recent flooding 24/30 27 January 2016 Messages are pictured on a quilt consisting of patches made by some of the orphaned child survivors of the Nazi concentration camps who came to the UK, at the Jewish Museum in London 25/30 26 January 2016 Almost 200 Scouts assembled in the shape of a hashtag in Gilwell Park, Kent, to mark the launch of a new long-term partnership between Vodafone UK and The Scout Association. The partnership, supported by the Vodafone Foundation, will help young people develop improved digital skills, safety and confidence 26/30 25 January 2016 One of three Sperm Whales, which were found washed ashore near Skegness, lays on a beach. The whales are thought to have been from the same pod as another animal that was found on Hunstanton beach in Norfolk 27/30 24 January 2016 People hold up copies of Thomas More's Utopia to celebrate it's 500th year, at Somerset House in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) 28/30 A woman walks her dog before sunrise on Whitley Bay beach, Tyne and Wear 29/30 22 January 2016 The 1st Battalion of The Royal Welsh's newest recruit, Fusilier Llywelyn, with his Goat Major, Fusilier Matthew Owen, before a passing out ceremony at the Officer's Mess at Lucknow Barracks, in Wiltshire. Fus Llywelyn is the latest in a long line of goats recruited by the regiment since 1844 when Queen Victoria presented the Royal Welsh Fusiliers with its first official Royal goat 30/30 21 January 2016 The sun sets behind the Haslingden Halo Panopticon in Haslingden. The Halo installation designed by John Kennedy of LandLab sits on a hill called Top o' Slate, a reclaimed landfill site in East Lancashire and has become a major landmark since opening in 2007. 'Halo' is the centrepiece of panopticons art projects, led by the REMADE in Lancashire programme, Groundwork and Rossendale Council, which has reclaimed and returned to public use 33 hectares of land
  • Army finally says sorry to major's wife who lost her baby after she was ordered to fly home from Kenya against medical advice Couple claim army orders to fly back to UK killed their unborn baby Katherine Howe, 40, said she was the daughter she had 'longed for' It has taken five years for the army to apologise for the traumatic time But the pair say this is not enough - and are considering legal action | View comments The Army has apologised to a major's wife who claims they killed her unborn baby - after she suffered a miscarriage 'because she was ordered to fly against medical advice'. Katherine Howe, 40, was living as a military ex-pat in Kenya, where her husband David, 38, was stationed, when she fell pregnant with her second child. During the pregnancy she suffered a bleed and was advised by Kenyan doctors to get some rest and not fly. Katherine Howe with her two sons, Johnny, three, and William, seven But, despite the warning, the family claim they were forced to take an eight-hour flight home because the army feared a possible lawsuit should Mrs Howe miscarry in Kenya. And they believe the stress resulted in Mrs Howe suffering a stillbirth in 2011 - and hold the British Army responsible for the death of the baby girl they longed for. Now, after a five year battle for answers, the army has apologised unreservedly for its part - despite the official time limit for complaints to be resolved being 24 weeks. Mrs Howe, of Calne, Wiltshire, said: 'The army has blood on its hands, but it just marched away, closed ranks and washed its hands of us. 'It would have meant the world to us to have a little girl. She was so longed-for, but I never got to hold my daughter. 'Through all of this I haven't had the opportunity to grieve for my child.' She believes the apology is worthless because it is faceless, and is now considering suing for damages. She said: 'The Army needs to be held accountable. 'They have "marked their own homework" and in our case awarded themselves top marks.' On the day of the flight, 22 weeks into her pregnancy, Katherine had a third bleed and was admitted to hospital where her waters later broke. After a gruelling 12-hours in labour, at 1am on August 29 2011, she gave birth to a lifeless child. The couple named the little girl Harriet. Mrs Howe said: 'I remember the nurse holding up this tiny, fully formed little girl to me. I touched her forehead and said goodbye.' The baby's body was put in a plastic orange waste bag and placed on a metal trolley. It was later dumped in hospital waste. Katherine Howe with her husband David, and sons William, seven, and Johnny, three The couple have said an apology from the Army is not enough and are considering suing for damages Staff at the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK), had been anxious that the pregnancy could go wrong and were 'very cleverly trying to cover their own backs', the Howes said. The family had previously been told that pregnancy and child-birth in Kenya was problem-free and that healthcare was good. But a list of worst-case scenarios was presented to the couple at a meeting - risks they had never been made aware of before - to frighten them into returning home. When they objected, civilian medic Dr John Ross, of BATUK, allegedly threatened to have David removed from his post so he would have no choice. However the following day, a senior staff officer ordered the couple to take an eight-hour flight home. They had no choice but to obey under military law. Mrs Howe said: 'The officer said my risk was high, but the risk to the Army was higher.' The couple and their son William, now seven, were forced to abandon their lives in Nanyuki within 48 hours. A few days after Mrs Howe gave birth, the couple received a brief text message from BATUK doctor, Dr Ross, to say he was sorry for their loss. But Kenyan practitioner Dr Dhadialla said that, in his opinion, had the army not interfered, Katherine would have gone on to have a full-term pregnancy. Katherine Howe claims she was ordered on a flight with husband David (above) despite medical warnings Devastated Katherine, who has since had a second son, Johnny, now three, said: 'They ignored the real medical problem of me being so stressed and anxious over it all. 'They kept insisting that stress had no bearing on pregnancy, but it did. My stress levels went through the roof. 'I suffered bleeds when I was pregnant with Johnny, but he is here now and he's perfectly healthy. 'It keeps me awake at night. 'It was clear the army was putting its interests ahead of ours. We didn't feel as though our needs as a family or that of the baby mattered.' A report by the army Board of the Defence Council, the Army found that the support the Howes received 'lacked compassion' and was 'not at the standard it should have been'. It concluded that the family had been 'wronged' and as a result issued an 'unreserved apology' in response to the 'tragic events'. David Howe has said his wife Katherine was like a 'tickling time bomb' in the eyes of the Army For Mr Howe, an Afghanistan veteran, speaking out against the Army is against protocol and threatens his career - but he is desperate to expose what has happened. He said: 'Kate was like a ticking time bomb to them.' Mrs Howe added: 'Throughout this, I have had no voice. I feel absolutely scared stiff to be standing up to the establishement. 'My husband is petrified. But we feel that we have got to do this. Our quest now is to give military wives a voice. 'They have learnt absolutely diddly squat from what I have endured. Their policy leaves this wide open for this exact same thing to happen all over again.' She added: 'I'm screaming for the army to listen and take this seriously. I want it to listen to how this has affected my family.' An Army spokesman said: 'While we cannot comment on individual cases, we can be clear that soldiers and their families continue to receive outstanding medical care both in the UK and when deployed overseas. 'As this case could be subject to further action, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.'
  • Army Instructor Ousted Over Muslim Groups' Complaints ... - The Blaze Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley (Thomas More Law Center) A highly decorated Army lieutenant colonel says he was essentially blacklisted by his superiors after more than 50 Muslim groups complained about a course he taught on radical Islam.

    Now he is fighting to get his career back. As previously reported by TheBlaze, Lt. Col.

    Matthew Dooley, a West Point graduate and decorated combat veteran, was an instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College at the National Defense University, where he was reportedly popular among students and fellow staff members, FoxNews.com reports. That all changed when Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, slammed Dooley and his Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism course during a Pentagon press conference in May, calling his teachings unprofessional and against our values. He was later given a negative Officer Evaluation Report (OER), which was unusual given the fact that Dooley had passed the evaluations with flying colors the previous five years.

    Dooley says a bad OER is like being blacklisted in military circles. This was a very heavy-handed approach from the very top, Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center, told Fox News. His organization is now representing Dooley in the case.

    To read one of their latest press releases on the case, click here. He had a brilliant career ahead of him, Thompson added. Now, he has been flagged They superiors ordered a negative evaluation.

    He will never have the opportunity for promotion unless this is overturned. (To learn more about some of Dooley s course material, click here) Attorneys at the Thomas More Law Center believe a letter sent to the White House, Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies about a year ago and signed by 57 Islamic organizations caused the federal government to clamp down on Dooley, his course and ultimately all the government s training material on radical Islam. Among the organizations who signed the letter are the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), both named unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial, the largest terrorism financing case in U.S. history.

    Lawmakers and critics have alleged that the letter led to the massive purge of terms than Muslims might find offensive in government training materials, which Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) says threatens U.S. national security.

    The feds enlisted a number of Islamic experts to help with the purge, however, they have refused to reveal who they are despite numerous inquiries from Congress and members of the press. The Washington Times explains some of the changes that occurred: The FBI training manual changed. Nearly 900 pages of training that was considered offensive were deleted.

    Members like Congressman Allen West, Florida Republican, and Congressman Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, were critical of the purge. Gohmert questioned FBI director Robert Mueller in May 2012 about the deleting of FBI material. Rep.

    Gohmert went to the House floor and compared the number of times certain terms (at 22:40) were used in the 9/11 Commission report as opposed to the now purged FBI training manual. For example, according to Gohmert, the 9/11 report mentioned the word Islam 322 times. However, Gohmert discusses that the FBI training manual can no longer mention the terms: Islam, Muslim, jihad, enemy, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, caliphate, Shariah law.

    The people who were the hijackers the people who planned the attacks that hoped to have killed tens of thousands of Americans instead of three thousand those were Islamists they believed in Islam. And thank God that they only represent a tiny percentage of Muslims around the world, but let s be realistic. As one intelligence officer said, we are blinding ourselves to being able to see who our enemy is.

    Watch Gohmert s epic House floor speech on document purge and radical Islam back in February: Dooley is still serving in the military and not allowed to speak publicly on his case, according to Thompson.

    But the soldier is hoping to have his negative OER revised and be reinstated in his job as an instructor, according to Thompson, who maintains that the guidelines from the NDU Faculty Handbook were disregarded when Dooley was relieved of his position, according to FoxNews.com.

    Here is the letter that reportedly led the massive purge of terms relating to radical Islam in government training materials: US Islamic groups demand Islamophobia purge in letter to White House

  • Army Instructor Ousted Over Muslim Groups' Complaints About ... Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley (Thomas More Law Center) A highly decorated Army lieutenant colonel says he was essentially blacklisted by his superiors after more than 50 Muslim groups complained about a course he taught on radical Islam.

    Now he is fighting to get his career back. As previously reported by TheBlaze, Lt. Col.

    Matthew Dooley, a West Point graduate and decorated combat veteran, was an instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College at the National Defense University, where he was reportedly popular among students and fellow staff members, FoxNews.com reports. That all changed when Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, slammed Dooley and his Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism course during a Pentagon press conference in May, calling his teachings unprofessional and against our values. He was later given a negative Officer Evaluation Report (OER), which was unusual given the fact that Dooley had passed the evaluations with flying colors the previous five years.

    Dooley says a bad OER is like being blacklisted in military circles. This was a very heavy-handed approach from the very top, Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center, told Fox News. His organization is now representing Dooley in the case.

    To read one of their latest press releases on the case, click here. He had a brilliant career ahead of him, Thompson added. Now, he has been flagged They superiors ordered a negative evaluation.

    He will never have the opportunity for promotion unless this is overturned. (To learn more about some of Dooley s course material, click here) Attorneys at the Thomas More Law Center believe a letter sent to the White House, Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies about a year ago and signed by 57 Islamic organizations caused the federal government to clamp down on Dooley, his course and ultimately all the government s training material on radical Islam. Among the organizations who signed the letter are the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), both named unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial, the largest terrorism financing case in U.S. history.

    Lawmakers and critics have alleged that the letter led to the massive purge of terms than Muslims might find offensive in government training materials, which Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) says threatens U.S. national security.

    The feds enlisted a number of Islamic experts to help with the purge, however, they have refused to reveal who they are despite numerous inquiries from Congress and members of the press. The Washington Times explains some of the changes that occurred: The FBI training manual changed. Nearly 900 pages of training that was considered offensive were deleted.

    Members like Congressman Allen West, Florida Republican, and Congressman Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, were critical of the purge. Gohmert questioned FBI director Robert Mueller in May 2012 about the deleting of FBI material. Rep.

    Gohmert went to the House floor and compared the number of times certain terms (at 22:40) were used in the 9/11 Commission report as opposed to the now purged FBI training manual. For example, according to Gohmert, the 9/11 report mentioned the word Islam 322 times. However, Gohmert discusses that the FBI training manual can no longer mention the terms: Islam, Muslim, jihad, enemy, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, caliphate, Shariah law.

    The people who were the hijackers the people who planned the attacks that hoped to have killed tens of thousands of Americans instead of three thousand those were Islamists they believed in Islam. And thank God that they only represent a tiny percentage of Muslims around the world, but let s be realistic. As one intelligence officer said, we are blinding ourselves to being able to see who our enemy is.

    Watch Gohmert s epic House floor speech on document purge and radical Islam back in February: Dooley is still serving in the military and not allowed to speak publicly on his case, according to Thompson.

    But the soldier is hoping to have his negative OER revised and be reinstated in his job as an instructor, according to Thompson, who maintains that the guidelines from the NDU Faculty Handbook were disregarded when Dooley was relieved of his position, according to FoxNews.com.

    Here is the letter that reportedly led the massive purge of terms relating to radical Islam in government training materials: US Islamic groups demand Islamophobia purge in letter to White House

  • Army instructors told to cut down swearing at recruits Army instructors told to cut down swearing at recruits Ministry of Defence tells instructors to tone down their language following BBC documentary Follow [1] British Army instructors are being told to tone down their language by the Ministry of Defence. A BBC documentary showed the passage of new recruits from the time they began training to when they pass out. In the documentary a corporal was filmed shouting at recruits: "Seriously, I ask you to do one ****** thing, it was to do that ****** list on the board which I had the kindness to write down for you lot. "Well that didn't work. Right now, you lot have got me ****** raging! Mr ****** Nice Guy is not coming back." Recruits under go 14 weeks of training before passing out. Last September, when the Army launched a new leadership code, the Chief of General staff [2] reiterated that abusive language was unacceptable. While there is no suggestion that swearing could be banned completely, existing MoD guidelines say that training staff should not use excessive foul, profane or insulting language when dealing with recruits. The culture of the Army has come under the spotlight again with the opening of a new inquest into the death of Pte Cheryl James, a young female soldier at Deepcut barracks, Surrey in 2002, [3] There have been other complaints of bullying in the army in recent years. Last year it was disclosed that a captain was suing the MoD over the treatment he faced a a troop treatment centre. [4] An MoD spokesman said: It is a long-held policy that the British Army does not condone the use of abusive or insulting language towards its recruits. thetelegraphnews [5] Follow @telegraphnews [6] References ^ Follow (twitter.com) ^ the Chief of General staff (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ Pte Cheryl James, a young female soldier at Deepcut barracks, Surrey in 2002, (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ a captain was suing the MoD over the treatment he faced a a troop treatment centre. (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ thetelegraphnews (www.facebook.com) ^ Follow @telegraphnews (twitter.com)
  • Army launches recruitment drive amid fears of officer shortage Army launches recruitment drive amid fears of officer shortage Officers are touring British universities to "overcome misconceptions" after one in ten posts were unfilled last year at Sandhurst The British Army is launching its first recruitment campaign to attract new officers in almost 10 years amid a dramatic drop in applications [1] . Officers are touring British universities to "overcome misconceptions" after one in ten posts were unfilled last year at Sandhurst, the army's officer training academy. The drop-off reflects a steady fall in graduate recruitment [2] into the armed forces as a whole over the last decade, with numbers 27 percent lower than they were in 2005. Officers have been tasked with highlighting how there is more to the job than combat roles, drawing on humanitarian work officers can carry out. "This recruitment campaign aims to bring the Army to the forefront of university students' hearts" Major General Paul Nanson The new campaign - With Heart, With Mind - will see the Army visit universities across the UK over the next six weeks. Potential recruits can try a virtual reality Sandhurst obstacle course and a parachute jump, test their fitness in a virtual "bleep" test to see if they can beat an army physical training instructor, and hone their leadership skills in an interactive winter aid exercise. The roadshows, which run to November 19, will be manned by young officers who will share their experiences with potential recruits and explain potential salaries, the opportunities for promotions and the qualifications available. Major General Paul Nanson, the commandant of Sandhurst, said: "We know that today's graduates are looking for challenge and genuine responsibility from day one in their career. They want to do something that makes a difference and are not driven by money as they used to be. "A career within the Army provides this, fulfilling the desire to work with both heart and mind. "This recruitment campaign aims to bring the Army to the forefront of university students' hearts and minds by offering insight and experiences and raising awareness of the opportunities and competitive salary that officers enjoy." He said the recruitment drive will showcase the benefits of a career as an officer [3] , focusing on the leadership, challenges, adventure and training available. Earlier this year it emerged the Army has already dipped below its downsized headcount of 82,000 regular soldiers, three years before its money-saving reductions were due to finish. Around half of officers come from a comprehensive school background and more applicants are joining from polytechnic universities, with fewer from more traditional sources such as Oxbridge. The majority of applicants [4] to Sandhurst have a degree, and the top courses studied by officers last year were history, geography and sports science. Verity Brown, 29, joined the Army as a dental officer serving with the 5 Armoured Medical Regiment. She said: "After 18 months of practising dentistry as a graduate, I was attracted to joining the Army as it offered me the opportunity to develop and gain further qualifications, and to travel the world. "I've continued to develop as a dentist, gaining an industry recognised qualification, the MJDF, and a graduate diploma in dental studies. I'm currently doing dentistry out of a tent on a field exercise in Canada. "My role has involved treating soldiers, their families and people in local communities where the Army is based, which is very rewarding." telegraph.co.uk [5] Follow @telegraph [6] How we moderate [7] References ^ dramatic drop in applications (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ drop-off reflects a steady fall in graduate recruitment (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ the recruitment drive will showcase the benefits of a career as an officer (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ majority of applicants (www.telegraph.co.uk) ^ telegraph.co.uk (www.facebook.com) ^ Follow @telegraph (twitter.com) ^ How we moderate (my.telegraph.co.uk)
  • Army regiment asks far-right group to pull photo of soldiers from Facebook page A FAR-RIGHT political party notorious for peddling anti-immigrant views has been asked to take down a photograph of British soldiers from its official Facebook page. FACEBOOK A screen grab of Britain First's website The group posted a photograph of soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment on their page and asked: How many likes for the Royal Anglians, the Vikings ! Within hours it recieved more than 3,000 likes and just over a 100 shares. But the rally of praise was halted by the Royal Anglian Regiment themselves. Their official Facebook page administrator posted a polite request on the page asking Britain First to remove the photograph. GETTY STANCE: The Army is an a-political servant of the state FACEBOOK EXTREMIST: Deputy Jayda Fransen addressing a rally The UK Army is an a-political organisation British Army spokesman The photograph of the troops was removed soon after as was any trace of the request by the regiment to have the photo taken down. The image was believed to have been downloaded off the internet after being used on news stories about the British Army. Last year the neo-fascist organisation came under fire for using the Remembrance poppy on social media. Led by Paul Golding and deputy Jayda Fransen, the group featured in the BBC Three documentary called We Want Our Country Back. The party was formed in 2011 by ex-members of the British National Party. A British Army spokesman said: "The UK armed forces is an a-political organisation and we are proud of the fact that our solidiers asked for this to be removed from this Facebook page." British First were unavailable for comment. FACEBOOK CONTROVERSIAL: Britain First have come under fire for using the Remembrance poppy Related articles