Showing posts with label history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history. Show all posts

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Expelsius; Thermal boredom; Re-Writing History; and the Ferret fanciers Calendar

Still knackered, I have already been out to the smash and grab (Tesco) to stock up on gruel and cat food, and of course to infect as many people as possible.

Have to go out again later to stock up on cat litter and chicken for the dear little thing, but at least I will get my bi-weekly glimpse of buns.

I see that our water bill will fall by the enormous amount of £3 per annum, that is of course before inflation is added. Which works out at £0.06 per week? Yippee! I will rush out and buy.................bugger all.

And it’s not as if the water companies have to pay for the raw material, or is it a case of the “wrong kind of rain”

But the good news is that water bills will be reduced slightly over the next five years, regulator Ofwat has announced, great, that’s a whole £0.30 extra I have to pay the gas bill.


Ali Darling is defending the ‘secret’ loans of £61.6bn last autumn to RBS and HBOS, “in order to keep them afloat”.

Yeah that really worked didn’t it Ali.

First up:

Not a problem child

A boy aged four has been expelled just weeks after starting school.

McKenzie Dunkley was kicked out after teachers said he was violent, refused to obey them, disrupted classes, terrorised other pupils and repeatedly tried to run out of class, reports the Daily Mirror.

It came to a head after McKenzie, one of the youngest ever children to be expelled, allegedly assaulted staff for a second time.

The boy, who only started in September at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary in Preston, was sent home four times before he was finally excluded.

His mum Shelley, who agreed her son could be named, yesterday denied he has behavioural problems.

She commented: "They are making him out to be a thug but he never had any violent outbursts at nursery.

"They are saying he won't listen and is disruptive. But he's still only four and getting used to school. There's nothing wrong with him. He does everything I say at home."

The school said in a statement: "At such a young age behaviour that could lead to exclusion needs to be dealt with quickly by appropriate specialists."

Efforts are being made to find McKenzie a new school.

A new school, oh yes they used to call the Borstals didn’t they?

Well open the window then!

From down under: A conference of Australian and international architects and scientists has been told that opening a window can revolutionise the office.

The conference in Tasmania is examining ways to make buildings healthier.

Scott Drake from the University of Melbourne has been studying office buildings that can switch between air conditioning and natural ventilation.

He says people appear to work better if they can get fresh air.

"We're trying to look at ways that we can change offices."

"Having a building completely air-conditioned makes it very easy.

"You don't have any problems with dust and noise and you can control it centrally but we're finding that in those sorts of buildings people suffer from what we call 'thermal boredom'.

"Even though it’s nice for the building to be at a constant temperature people get a bit sick of it and they like to have a break," he said.

His research has also found people work better if they have a lunch room that is not air conditioned.

"They get a bit of exercise when they get up from their desk, they get to breathe some fresh air, they get a drink of water or a cup of tea and then they go back to work."

"So that ability to go somewhere in the building and refresh, we think, is very important.

"It potentially has energy savings as well so that if you're not air conditioning the whole building, you're not using as much energy."

The conference has attracted architects and scientists from Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates.

Well I never, opening a window can give you fresh air; I never knew that, that is of course unless you live in the UK where you will be battered by the wind and soaked by the rain.

Again from down under: The former Territory minister Alison Anderson has accused the Labour Party of trying to rewrite history after her image and name were removed from more than 50 archived press releases.

The Government has blamed the matter on an "overzealous, young IT worker".

Ms Anderson's photo and name were expunged from the Government's online archive after she quit Labour in August.

The same thing happened to press releases belonging to Marion Scrymgour, who also quit the party before returning.

Ms Anderson says Labour has engaged in childish behaviour.

"[These are] really, really immature steps to take all my photographs and my name off any of the press releases," she said.

The Government's head of communications says a computer technician removed the details to save space on the server.

He says the names and images were reinstated after it was brought to his attention.

Only because they were caught out.

And finally:

Next years Ferret Calendar is now available, it is titled “Ferrets go fishing”, I must rush out and buy one; mind you the backgrounds are stunning, shame about the Ferrets in the foregrounds.

All thirteen photos can be seen here.

Have a good one.




Angus Dei politico

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Afghanistan-200 dead and counting

Gordon Brown says “Britain must remain in Afghanistan and "honour its commitment" to make the country stable”

This morning, the Ministry of Defence said that the 201st casualty, from 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, also died yesterday from his injuries after being caught in an explosion on a foot patrol near Sangin in Helmand.

Neither man was named, but the families of both have been informed.

Sixty-four of the deaths happened this year, with 31 in July and August alone. The great majority of the casualties died in bombings as insurgents honed their tactics through the use of improvised explosive devices.

The prime minister said the new deaths were tragic, but insisted the soldiers' "vital mission" was worthwhile.

"Every man and woman fighting for their country is someone's son or daughter, someone's brother or sister, or someone's father or mother," he said. "Every death leaves a hole in a family's life that will never be filled. We are hugely indebted to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and today my thoughts are with the families and friends of all those soldiers who have died in Afghanistan serving our country.

"Today is a day of mourning, and also a day of reflection.

I want to thank the entire armed forces and the families and communities which sustain them. We will honour and support those who have been killed or wounded in the field of battle. And we will give those who fight on all the support that they need to succeed in this vital mission."

Britain's roll of honour ranges from six 18-year-olds to a 51-year-old senior aircraftsman, and includes the most senior British soldier to die in combat for 27 years and a female intelligence officer.

This of course isn’t the first time that Britain has “invaded” Afghanistan.

With the failure of the Burnes mission (1837), the governor general of India, Lord Auckland, ordered an invasion of Afghanistan, with the object of restoring shah Shuja (also Shoja), who had ruled Afghanistan from 1803 to 1809. From the point of the view of the British, the First Anglo-Afghan War (often called "Auckland's Folly") was an unmitigated disaster. The war demonstrated the ease of overrunning Afghanistan and the difficulty of holding it.

An army of British and Indian troops set out from the Punjab in December 1838 and by late March 1839 had reached Quetta. By the end of April the British had taken Qandahar without a battle. In July, after a two-month delay in Qandahar, the British attacked the fortress of Ghazni, overlooking a plain that leads to India, and achieved a decisive victory over the troops of Dost Mohammad, which were led by one of his sons.

The Afghans were amazed at the taking of fortified Ghazni, and Dost Mohammad found his support melting away. The Afghan ruler took his few loyal followers and fled across the passes to Bamian, and ultimately to Bukhara, where he was arrested, and in August 1839 Shuja was enthroned again in Kabul after a hiatus of almost 30 years. Some British troops returned to India, but it soon became clear that Shuja's rule could only be maintained by the presence of British forces. Garrisons were established in Jalalabad, Ghazni, Kalat-iGhilzai (Qalat), Qandahar, and at the passes to Bamian.

Opposition to the British-imposed rule of Shuja began as soon as he assumed the throne, and the power of his government did not extend beyond the areas controlled by the force of British arms.

Dost Mohammad escaped from prison in Bukhara and returned to Afghanistan to lead his followers against the British and their Afghan protégé. In a battle at Parwan on November 2, 1840, Dost Mohammad had the upper hand, but the next day he surrendered to the British in Kabul. He was deported to India with the greater part of his family. Sir William Macnaghten, one of the principal architects of the British invasion, wrote to Auckland two months later, urging good treatment for the deposed Afghan leader.

Shuja did not succeed in garnering the support of the Afghan chiefs on his own, and the British could not, or would not, sustain their subsidies. When the cash payments to tribal chiefs were curtailed in 1841, there was a major revolt by the Ghilzai.

By October 1841 disaffected Afghan tribes were flocking to the support of Dost Mohammad's son, Muhammad Akbar, in Bamian. Barnes was murdered in November 1841, and a few days later the commissariat fell into the hands of the Afghans. Macnaghten, having tried first to bribe and then to negotiate with the tribal leaders, was killed at a meeting with the tribal chiefs in December. On January 1, 1842, the British in Kabul and a number of Afghan chiefs reached an agreement that provided for the safe exodus of the entire British garrison and its dependents from Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, the British would not wait for an Afghan escort to be assembled, and the Ghilzai and allied tribes had not been among the 18 chiefs who had signed the agreement. On January 6 the precipitate retreat by some 4,500 British and Indian troops with 12,000 camp followers began and, as they struggled through the snowbound passes, the British were attacked by Ghilzai warriors. Although a Dr. W. Brydon is usually cited as the only survivor of the march to Jalalabad (out of more than 15,000 who undertook the retreat), in fact a few more survived as prisoners and hostages. Shuja remained in power only a few months and was assassinated in April 1842.

The destruction of the British garrison prompted brutal retaliation by the British against the Afghans and touched off yet another power struggle among potential rulers of Afghanistan. In the fall of 1842 British forces from Qandahar and Peshawar entered Kabul long enough to rescue the British prisoners and burn the great bazaar. All that remained of the British occupation of Afghanistan was a ruined market and thousands of dead (one estimate puts the total killed at 20,000).

Although the foreign invasion did give the Afghan tribes a temporary sense of unity they had lacked before, the accompanying loss of life (one estimate puts the total killed at 25,000) and property was followed by a bitterness and resentment of foreign influence that lasted well into the twentieth century and may have accounted for much of the backlash against the modernization attempts of later Afghan monarchs.

And again:

On November 21, 1878, British troops entered Afghanistan at three points.

After tension between Russia and Britain in Europe ended with the June 1878 Congress of Berlin, Russia turned its attention to Central Asia. In the summer of 1878 Russia sent an uninvited diplomatic mission to Kabul, headed by Russia's General Stolyetov, setting in motion the train of events that led to the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Sher Ali tried to keep the Russian mission out but failed. The Russian envoys arrived in Kabul on July 22, 1878, and on August 14 the British demanded that Sher Ali accept a British mission. Sher Ali had not responded by August 17 when his son and heir died, throwing the court into mourning.

Sher Ali, having turned in desperation to the Russians, received no assistance from them.
When no reply was received, the British dispatched an envoy, Sir Neville Chamberlain, with a small military force, which was refused permission to cross the Khyber Pass by Afghan troops. The British presumably considered this an insult, but more likely it was viewed at the highest levels as a fine pretext for implementing the Forward Policy and taking over most of Afghanistan. The British delivered an ultimatum to Sher Ali, demanding an explanation of his actions. The Afghan response was viewed by the British as unsatisfactory,

Appointing his son, Yaqub, regent, Sher Ali left to seek the assistance of the tsar. Advised by the Russians to abandon this effort and to return to his country, Sher Ali returned to Mazare Sharif, where he died in February 1879.

With British forces occupying much of the country, Yaqub signed the Treaty of Gandamak in May 1879 to prevent British invasion of the rest of Afghanistan. According to this agreement and in return for an annual subsidy and loose assurance of assistance in case of foreign aggression, Yaqub agreed to British control of Afghan foreign affairs, British representatives in Kabul and other locations, extension of British control to the Khyber and Michni passes, and the cession of various frontier areas to the British.

The British resident in Kabul, Sir Louis Cavagnari, was assassinated on September 3, 1879, just two months after he arrived. British troops trudged back over the mountain passes and the Afghan uprising against the British was, unlike that of the First Anglo-Afghan War, foiled in October 1879 with the reoccupation of Kabul. Yaqub abdicated.

Despite the success of the military venture, by March 1880 even the proponents of the Forward Policy were aware that defeating the Afghan tribes did not mean controlling them. Although British policymakers had briefly thought simply to dismember Afghanistan a few months earlier, they now feared they were heading for the same disasters that befell their predecessors at the time of the First Anglo-Afghan War.

Just as the British interventionists were reaching this conclusion, the Liberal Party won an electoral victory in March 1880. This assured the end of the Forward Policy, which had been a major campaign issue. The second British venture into Afghanistan resulted in about 2500 British and colonials killed with some 1500 Afghans killed.

Of course the Government’s justification this time is the Taliban:

George W. Bush launched the war in Afghanistan in October 2001. It may become America's longest foreign war before long. What has been achieved since? Hard to tell.

The country was briefly conquered whole, the Taliban defeated, al-Qaeda dispersed. But Bush never followed through, either by consolidating military gains or by investing in the country's physical, economic and educational infrastructure to improve a country at war since the Soviet invasion of 1979. Afghanistan is now mostly back in the Taliban's control, a failed state with a future as nebulous as America's mission there.

If Bush had kept his nerve we would not now be losing soldiers, along with America and other nations, the 200 plus British death toll would not have happened, the 200 plus families would not be grieving.

Democracy! is the cry of the warmongers, democracy is the people deciding and informing the government what they want, but we do not have democracy in the UK, we have a dictatorship, and an unelected dictatorship at that.

The shame of it all is that we probably can’t withdraw now, because the “enemy” will see it as a defeat for our troops and will expand their terrorism to our shores and the USA, Bush, Blair and Brown have put us in an impossible position, a new Vietnam, a war we cannot win and which could drag on for another forty years, with losses in the tens of thousands and lines of hearses as far as the eye can see.

The answer? I don’t see one, Brown will go as Blair and Bush have, leaving a legacy of mourning families and a waste of young lives, they won’t care because it will no longer be their responsibility, yes, they will say the right words and vomit forth condolences, but it will be the country that pays the price.


Angus Dei politico


Friday, 15 May 2009


I am not after sympathy but I slept really badly last night, the deluge of rain didn’t help, and neither did the cat who wanted god knows what at two thirty in the morn, and this morning I feel like a two day old doughnut.

And as the “local free” paper dropped on the mat in the evening I thought I would feature some of the news from my part of the world.

MPs expenses-yes I know-boring, but I think my local MPs sum up the attitude of those esteemed members of the Palace of Westminster.

Now just to put it into perspective, Aldershot is 37 miles from the centre of London, which is about 40 minutes by train or just over an hour by car.

News - gethampshire The five Tory MPs representing the News area claimed a total of £712,710 in expenses for one year.

New figures show that the MPs claimed an average of £142,542 on top of their £63,291 salary.
Mr Gove, Mr Howarth and Mr Arbuthnot claimed the full amount for second homes. Mr Hunt claimed the least second home allowance, £11,610, but Mr MacKay had just under the full amount, claiming £22,575. Mr MacKay and his wife Julie Kirkbride topped the list as the most expensive married MPs to take full advantage of their second home allowance. They received a total of £45,658 for the year. Mr Gove said he claimed the allowance for his house in Elstead (very posh), where he spends weekends to be near his constituency

Among some other allowance claims, Mr MacKay got the most for travel expenses, at £5,562, and Mr Howarth the least, with £4,971. Mr MacKay also claimed the most for stat-ionery, receiving £729.

The Aldershot (or Rushmoor) member is Conservative Gerald Howarth, who I believe is a member of the “Johnsons Wax” family, and is not poor.

Mr Howarth, who has a second home in Farnborough, said he spent most of the week in London and weekends in his constituency.

He said the second home allowance was necessary to help MPs fulfil their duties at Westminster and in their constituencies.

He said forcing MPs to commute across the country every day as well as keeping on top of all their parliamentary commitments would “drive people to an early grave”.
He added: “This is not a job but a way of life and a calling.”

“I make it completely clear, the people of Aldershot are my employers.”

Just remember, these five MPs have constituencies that are less than an hours travelling from London, so why do they need “second homes”, millions of people commute from this area and further away to London each day, it seems that it is alright for us plebs to be driven to an early grave but MPs are special and need a longer life so that they can enjoy their pensions for as long as possible.

Our loss-Historic Para landmark lost another landmark piece of aviation heritage is to be lost to the area.

The Dakota aircraft on Queen’s Avenue, between North Camp and Aldershot, is being dismantled and will be shipped to Colchester.
The old Dakota has stood on the Queens avenue for many years and is a well known landmark much loved by all.
Many of the brigades that were in Aldershot have taken up residence in Colchester in Essex.
There are still hundreds of former serving Paras who live in Aldershot and Farnborough, many of whom are upset that the visible reminder of the link with the regiment is to be lost.

Pat Sheehan, 86, of Church Lane East, Aldershot, who served with the Paras between 1942 and 1962, said the loss of the aircraft was a blow to the town. He jumped from similar aircraft during airborne raids on Ardennes and the Rhine in 1944.

“It is a shame the Airborne Forces have been completely severed from Aldershot,” he said.
“Whatever happens, Aldershot will remain the home of the Parachute Regiment.

Although Aldershot was the home of the Parachute Regi-ment for 50 years, the main body of Paras left in 2000 and the last airborne forces soldiers left in 2003.

Many of the brigades that were in Aldershot have taken up residence in Colchester in Essex.
There are still hundreds of former serving Paras who live in Aldershot and Farnborough, many of whom are upset that the visible reminder of the link with the regiment is to be lost.

Pat Sheehan, 86, of Church Lane East, Aldershot, who served with the Paras between 1942 and 1962, said the loss of the aircraft was a blow to the town. He jumped from similar aircraft during airborne raids on Ardennes and the Rhine in 1944.

“It is a shame the Airborne Forces have been completely severed from Aldershot,” he said.
“Whatever happens, Aldershot will remain the home of the Parachute Regiment.”

The site currently occupied at Browning Barracks by Queen’s Avenue will eventually be covered with housing as part of the 4,500-home Aldershot Urban Extension

Which brings me nicely to Rushmoor Borough Council - Aldershot Urban Extension The release of army land for private redevelopment means that Aldershot will be able to grow significantly for the first time in nearly a century.

Rushmoor Borough Council is producing a framework for the future expansion of Aldershot to provide 4,500 new homes.

Now the last thing we need in Aldershot is 4,500 new homes, which I would think means at least 4,500 more cars, more strain on the sewer systems, water, and other services, yes it may mean more trade for the town but Tesco’s is full to the gunnels now, and they have no space to expand, the town centre lacks any of the big high street names and is like a ghost town most of the time.

The Victorian buildings in the town centre have been replaced with concrete “carbuncles” and the character has been lost in favour of “modern” shopping centres.

But it does explain why they built the new “centre for health” at the top of the most remote and steepest hill in the area, because it is right next to the “Urban Extension” site on which will be accessible without the need for mountain climbing gear or oxygen

But despite all this I still love living here, the people are good in the main, and within ten minutes on foot or in the car I can be in the country side-open spaces and beautiful scenery.

"Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change."- Confucius


NHS Behind the headlines

Angus Dei politico

Angus Dei-NHS The Other Side