Thursday, 29 July 2010

"Second captured US serviceman found dead"

The (London) Times has published the following on its website:

"The body of a second American sailor held captive by Taleban insurgents has been recovered almost a week after he and a colleague were ambushed by Taleban fighters in a hostile area south of Kabul, US and Afghan officials said.

The family of Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, 25, from the Seattle area, have been notified of his death, a US military official told the Associated Press.

The retrieval of the body yesterday afternoon brought to a close a major manhunt across Logar province that was launched when the young serviceman and Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin McNeley, 30, from Colorado, failed to return to their base in Kabul after driving off together in a white sports utility vehicle.

No explanation has been given as to why the two sailors were out alone in such a dangerous part of the country. The US military typically travel in groups of armoured vehicles when moving off-base outside Kabul.

The remains of Petty Officer McNeley, a father of two who was killed during the ambush last Friday in the Charkh district of Logar, were retrieved in the area on Sunday. His body has already been flown back to the United States.

It remained unclear how Petty Officer Newlove died. He had survived the ambush and was being held in an undisclosed location by Taleban insurgents.

General Mustafa Mosseini, the chief of police in Logar, said he believed the body of Petty Officer Newlove had washed downstream after rains on Tuesday night. US forces retrieved the body on Wednesday afternoon.

David Rohde, an award-winning correspondent for The New York Times, was also kidnapped in Logar province while trying to make contact with a Taleban commander. He and an Afghan colleague escaped in June 2009 after seven months in captivity, most of it spent in Taleban sanctuaries in Pakistan.

The only other US serviceman known to be held hostage by militants in Afghanistan is Private Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho. He disappeared on June 30, 2009 in neighbouring Paktika province, an area heavily infiltrated by the Haqqani network, which has deep links to al-Qaeda. Private Bergdahl has since appeared on videos posted on Taleban websites, confirming his captivity."

I have posted a comment on The Times website:

"My deepest sympathy to his family and friends and to all of the families and friends of those who have been lost in this criminally pointless venture. The streets of Seattle (where I was a week or so ago) and our British cities are no safer for the sacrifices being made. Bring all of our American and British boys home. Afghanistan is another Vietnam." 

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Good News - "Catalonia bans bullfighting in landmark Spain vote" (BBC Report) Well done, the Catalans!

Well done, the Catalans!

Go to -

I hate hare coursing and have fought against hare coursers for upwards of fifty years. Sir Mark Prescott, Bt., one of the leading lights in hare coursing along with Ms. Clarissa Dickson Wright, is said also to approve of bull fighting. Well, anybody who has read about 'the little white horse' in Sir Alfred Munnings's autobiography would never give his approbation to bull fighting, but perhaps Sir Mark hasn't read Munnings.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Peter Brookes (of The Times) and the latest leaks!

Is it possible that we have been and are being mis-informed as to the seriousness of the war - or lied to?

A mass of further information on Afghanistan has been revealed.

Is it possible that we have been and are being mis-informed as to the seriousness of the war or, perish the thought, lied to?

If it is possible and if it is actually happening - that we are being mis-informed and/or lied to - then those responsible for the mis-information or the lying have some some answering to do, come the day of judgement.

In the meantime, I am more and more convinced that the lives of those who have been lost have been wasted.

We and our allies can ill afford such waste.

Bring our remaining boys home - now.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Obama Faces New Doubts on Pursuing Afghan War

For the latest from today's New York Times, go to -

Peter Brookes - PMQs by the Deputy Prime Minister

Nick Clegg did not do well in yesterday's PMQs. His Iraq 'gaffe' was appalling. This ConDem coalition will not last more than a few more months.

Two more British soldiers shot dead in Afghanistan

From The Times:

"Two British soldiers were shot dead yesterday evening while trying to evacuate a wounded colleague during an operation in the usually calm provincial capital of Helmand.

Their deaths take to 15 the total number of British servicemen killed this month in a spate of attacks that included the killing of two officers and a Ghurka soldier by a rogue Afghan sergeant last week.

In the latest bloodshed, the soldiers, one from The Royal Dragoon Guards and the other from 1st Battalion Scots Guards, were part of a cordon that was providing security for a routine mission in Lashkar Gah.

Details of what happened next remained unclear this morning, but the two men were trying to evacuate another soldier who had been injured.

“In the courageous and selfless act of attempting to evacuate an injured colleague, they themselves were shot and fatally wounded, said Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, spokesman for Task Force Helmand.

Next of kin have been informed. The names of the two servicemen are expected to be released later today.

Reinforcing the heavy toll paid by British troops this month, the bodies of four servicemen killed in separate incidents recent days will be flown back to Britain later today.

Staff Sergeant Brett Linley, 29, of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, and Sergeant David Monkhouse, 35, of the Royal Dragoon Guards, both died on Saturday.

Their deaths followed those of Senior Aircraftman Kinikki Griffiths, 20, of 1 Squadron RAF Regiment, and Marine Jonathan Crookes, 26, of 40 Commando Royal Marines, who died the previous day.

The bodies of all four men will be flown back to to RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire and driven through the nearby village of Wootton Bassett."

What makes me especially angry is, first, that it is only too evident that our boys are achieving nothing 'over there' - they might be more usefully deployed in, say, Somalia or Yemen or, indeed, in Leeds, Leicester, Luton and London, where the threat from 'home-grown' terrorists is known to exist - and, second, that with our so-called 'leaders' giving out mixed messages as to the timing of our withdrawal from the hell-hole of Afghanistan, surely it is both sensible and considerate of the feelings of relatives and friends back here that no more losses should be sustained by our hard-pressed and brave soldiers. If it's OK to get out in 2015 or 2014 or 2013 or 2012 or 2011, why not now?

Bring our boys home!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

250 people attend angry meeting at Swaffham Prior

Residents of Swaffham Prior and some nearby villages showed and voiced their anger last evening at Swaffham Prior Village Hall. About 250 people are believed to have been present. Lots could not get into the hall and loudspeakers relayed the proceedings to those outside. The anger was directed at East Cambridgeshire District Council's proposal for a six-pitch gypsy site next to Goodwin Farm, Heath Road, Swaffham Prior.

As a local resident and as a member of Swaffham Prior Parish Council, I felt for the whole village but most especially for Mr William Steven, of Goodwin Farm, who said that his property had become valueless in a few days.

The 'top table' included (left to right) District Councillor Mr Allen Alderson, County Councillor Mr David Brown, Mr David Greenfield, who chaired the meeting, and Mr John Covill, chairman of Swaffham Prior Parish Council.

The pressure is now on our representatives to kill this proposal. I wish them success.

Inside Afghanistan: 'no one's life is worth losing out here' (Video borrowed from the Daily Telegraph)

Go to -

and see some of our brave boys for yourself.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Three more British soldiers lost in Afghanistan. This is our Vietnam. Bring all of our boys home now!

Terrible, terrible, terrible. Three more British soldiers lost in Afghanistan. The 'running total' of British dead is 317, the British injured and the British maimed unknown. This is our Vietnam. Bring all of our boys home now!

Monday, 12 July 2010

What a lot of busybodies waffling nonsense!

I have just fired off a letter to local magazine editors reporting on a meeting held last week. It's self-explanatory.

"Dear Editor(s),

The Joint Neighbourhood Panels Wicken Vision 'Update' meeting at Bottisham Village College was, as predicted, yet another indoctrination exercise by the National Trust. There were exhibitions and presentations from the Trust and from organisations who favoured the Trust. The few who take a mildly contrarian line - the District Council, the National Farmers' Union - barely got a look-in and the 'bulk of the meeting,' planned for questions and answers, was not 'the bulk' after all as time became too short.

A friend of mine wrote afterwards, 'What a lot of busybodies waffling nonsense!' He was not far off the mark. However, a few points came up that are worth reporting.

For the first time in my presence, a National Trust officer admitted that the area of our Fens to be 're-wetted' or flooded is 3,000 to 4,000 acres. This, of course, is the lower-lying land which happens also to be the very best and most peat-rich. The Trust seems to be good at growing ragwort, stinging nettles and thistles on land that it already controls. I agree with the NFU that farming matters in the Fens. I also assert that with our population growing exponentially, our best food-producing land ought not to be lost, either to water or to weeds.

Some of us discussed increased access by the public to the Fens. That is fine in theory and usually fine in practice - viz., the Fen Rivers Way public footpath that passes within yards of my back door. Increased access will be less fine if it means motor cycles, etc., coming out from Cambridge to roar along the old railway track through the Quy Estate that the Trust is so keen to acquire. It will also be less fine for the Fen-edge villages that will have to cope with extra car parking. Lode, in particular, is already much troubled by cars.

Flies and mosquitoes - very much a live issue - were also alluded to. Mr and Mrs Moxon of Swaffham Bulbeck brought to the meeting recently caught specimens of the latter. One of the National Trust's experts asserted that Malaria is not a disease of mosquitoes but of man. Mosquitoes are the carriers. But what the experts seem to forget is that it isn't all that long ago that Malaria (or 'Fen Ague') was endemic and that Oliver Cromwell, a Fenman who became 'Our Chief of Men,' is thought to have died of this dread disease.

In my opinion, the so-called 'Wicken Vision' is supported by people with overweening arrogance, too much Government and National Lottery money and a severe shortage of common sense.

Yours sincerely,

Geoffrey Woollard."

Note: the attached picture is of Oliver Cromwell, 'Our Chief Of Men.'

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Reckless MP sorry for being 'too drunk to vote'

Will they ever learn?  
A Kent MP has apologised for being drunk in the House of Commons and missing a vote on the Budget.

Mark Reckless said he did not feel it was appropriate to take part in the vote in the early hours of Wednesday because of the amount he had drunk.

The Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood told BBC Radio Kent: "I made a mistake. I'm really sorry about it."

Labour MP Hazel Blears said she returned to the library after it became "a bit lively" on the terrace.

Mr Reckless is one of 227 new MPs who started work at Westminster following the general election on 6 May.

He said: "I'm terribly, terribly embarrassed. I apologise unreservedly and I don't plan to drink again at Westminster."

Mr Reckless denied claims that he fell asleep on the terrace or got a taxi back to his constituency.

He added: "I remember someone asking me to vote and not thinking it was appropriate, given how I was at the time.

"If I was in the sort of situation generally where I thought I was drunk I tend to go home.

"Westminster is a very special situation and all I can say... is given this very embarrassing experience I don't intend to drink at Westminster again."

Mr Reckless was having drinks on the night of the second reading of the Finance Bill, which lasted until 0230 BST on Wednesday.

Commons leader Sir George Young described it as the first "seriously late" sitting of the new parliamentary term.

Hazel Blears told Sky News on Sunday: "On Tuesday night, it was a hot night, and we all knew we were going to be there until two o'clock so I went out for a drink on the terrace.

"I was there until about half past 10. Then I thought this is getting a bit lively so I went back in the library and did a bit more correspondence and then I popped out and had a drink somewhere else with my friends."

She added: "I think the lesson is [that] there's a lot of new members in the House. He said, Mr Reckless, he said it was a bit like a lock-in so maybe he does that in his pub.

"But I think he's probably learnt his lesson."

Go to -

Friday, 9 July 2010

Peter Brookes skewers 'Pipsqueak' Gove - love it!

This slaughter of British soldiers must stop now!

Go to -

"A Royal Marine has been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said.

The death took place on Thursday in the Sangin district of Helmand province. Next of kin have been informed.

It takes the total number of British service personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 314.

The death - the 101st to occur in Sangin - came on the same day that a soldier from the 5th Regiment Royal Artillery was killed in the area.

Speaking about the Royal Marine, who was from 40 Commando, spokesman for Task Force Helmand Lt Col James Carr-Smith said: "He was part of a joint foot patrol, along with his fellow Marines and Afghan National Army partners, when he was struck by an explosion.

"He died a marine, in the course of his duty and whilst improving the lives of local nationals in Sangin. His bravery and sacrifice will not be forgotten. We will remember him."

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said on Wednesday that UK forces would be withdrawn from Sangin district in the autumn.

A US Marines battle group will be moved from Nimruz province to take control of the area.

The handover will leave the British military effort concentrated in central Helmand, which covers a relatively small area but is home to a third of the province's population."

Thursday, 8 July 2010

“In Sangin, UK forces have made huge progress ... "(Liam Fox, as reported in The Times)

As usual, Dr. Fox makes the 'right' noises.

As usual, cartoonist Peter Brookes produces the appropriate image.

And, as if on cue, we have lost another British soldier, the 100th in Sangin and the 313th in or as a result of the Afghanistan adventure.

Go to -

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Two book reviews for Amazon: I give both five stars

"I am British. I am 72. I have spent much of my life studying and being involved in British politics, even to the extent this year - 2010 - of standing as a candidate for election to the House of Commons. (I lost big time). I reckon that I know a fair bit about British politics. I have also spent much of my life studying American history and watching American politics. I reckon that I know a fair bit about American history and politics. But I also reckon that, American history and society being much more complex and varied than British history and society, it is bound to be true that the American political scene is more varied and complex. It is in this light that my recent consecutive reading of two books - 'Living History,' by Hillary Rodham Clinton, and 'How I Joined The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy,' by Harry Stein - was extremely interesting and enlightening. I liked both books, for different reasons, and I give them both five stars.

Mrs Clinton has truly lived history - and may well have more history to make - and I readily confess that I admire both her and Mr Clinton. The secret of Bill Clinton's rise to the governorship of Arkansas and then to the presidency seems to me to have been a direct result of his having grown up in the South and, consequently, having an easy and understanding relationship with much of the black community. This, though, is probably part of the reason for some who have had very uneasy relationships with the black community having it in for Bill. We don't - yet - have a large black community in Great Britain and I am opposed to further massive increases in non-white immigration. I am also opposed - in the same way that Harry Stein seems now to be - to 'multi-culturalism.' But America is not Great Britain. America has always been multi-racial and multi-cultural. Bill Clinton, ably aided by his Illinois-born wife who grew up in 'Yankee territory' and initially knew less of the South, has always been able to deal easily with the multitude of races and the multitude of cultures that make up the United States of America and, whilst I rail against my country changing too much and too rapidly, the former president and the former 'First Lady' found friends and supporters right across the racial and cultural ranges in their great country. My wife and I felt this to our very beings on the brief occasions that we met the campaigning Clintons and on the day of President Clinton's first inauguration in 1993. We rejoiced then with many other races and cultures and it is worth remembering that Bill followed one of the Bush presidents and, in turn, was followed by the other Bush president. Does anyone in either of our great countries seriously suggest that either Bush was superior to Bill Clinton? I think not.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was convinced that a 'vast right-wing conspiracy' was out to get her and her husband. The evidence that she produces is extremely convincing and it is well that it is clearly documented. I am convinced that the conspiracy was initiated and motivated by and through the ancient but understandable animosities of Arkansas, a beautiful state with a divided and troubled history. I am also convinced that the American people, through their representatives and through successive polls, delivered verdicts on Bill and Hillary Clinton that enabled both to continue to serve their country whilst holding to higher political policies and standards than their critics of 'the Right' could ever contrive. It has also been amusing to re-read reports of the immoral imbroglios of some of their principal and most vocal critics. Nobody is perfect, but Bill and Hillary Clinton are better people than I or their principal critics are. I salute both of them and I commend whole-heartedly Mrs Clinton's excellent and well-written book.

However, I have always been on 'the Right' in British politics. I was an admirer of Margaret Thatcher (and President Ronald Reagan) and, because I have been and am one of those who shout at the TV when too much left-wing liberalism appears on the screen, I can understand the rage that such as Harry Stein exhibits in his later books. I was never a political Liberal: Mr Stein was. It is clear that Mr Stein is now, like me, one of those who shout at the TV. He does more than shout: he writes well, too. I wonder if one or both of the following factors have played a part in Mr Stein's 'conversion' from 'Liberal' to 'TV shouter.' First, he has aged. According to wikipedia he was born in 1948. That makes his age about 62. I started shouting at the TV when I was about 62. Second, Harry Stein married well. (In fact he married Priscilla Turner, a distant cousin of my wife). He has children (who are also, therefore, my wife's distant cousins). He has responsibilities. A lot of former 'Liberal' men with nice wives, children and responsibilities become right-wing or 'TV shouters' or both. I understand all this. What I cannot understand is Mr Stein's vitriolic diatribe against the Clintons. This diatribe suffuses the whole of his book. If one believes, as I do, that a 'vast right-wing conspiracy' was out to get Hillary and Bill Clinton and, if one acknowledges, as I do, that the conspiracy was flawed and failed, then Mr Stein demeans himself and his otherwise excellent writing by harping on about the Clintons.

I would advise readers to get hold of this book, to read it with a sceptical eye, to agree, perhaps with Mr Stein's 'TV shouting' style that may have come with his age and his married and fatherly state, but then to recognise, as I do, that, whilst 'liberalism' may have gone too far and too fast, the Clintons were and are an honourable couple who don't deserve Mr Stein's vitriol and who may yet have more to give to their country and to the world."