the index

All of the articles originally written for the independence index have been imported to and tagged with the index.

The UK armed services, what next?

What do we want, what can we afford?

Built in Scotland? Built in Scotland?
The new top man in the army, General Sir David Julian Richards KCB,CBE,DSO,ADC, inherits a position founded on tradition. In his first interview as top man Gen Richards has also told us he thinks the UK military may be in Afghanistan for 40 years. Very often expats, like immigrants, have a memory of the country they left conditioned by: the date of leaving, the frequency of return visits and their willingness to absorb the changes taking place back home. In other words, unless careful, they are soon stuck with time-warped half truths. The tradition in soldering is that you spend a lot of time abroad; how up to date is Gen Richards? For a start perhaps someone should tell him that the UK is not, financially speaking, the country it once was; can the UK afford a 40 year campaign?

The UK broadsheets have in recent weeks carried a number of letters from retired military men letting the enemy have a broadside in the form of their opinion. So who was the enemy? Well often it was the other two services! This may have come as a bit of a shock to some but fear not, this is perfectly normal! Anyone who has taken an interest in the military will have spotted this, the equipment procurement process reinforces the prejudices.

Heads or tails?

Are we confused?

The cuckoo The cuckoo

The recession, are you confused? At what state in the cyclical nature of things are we? Take the Royal Bank of Scotland, now part owned by the taxpayer, it's in the news right now.

The Times has a headline - 'RBS returns to profit but warns of grim times'

While the Telegraph tells us - 'RBS warns there will be no 'miracle cure' as it tumbles to £1bn loss'

So, same bank, different stories, same day. Is this the most complicated recession ever? If you read each article you will find both to be a bit of a numbers' soup. Having declared RBS to have made a loss or a profit the newspaper then goes onto 'prove' it.

Aunt Julia and the databases

Aunt Julia.Aunt Julia.

When Soham murderer, Ian Huntley applied for his caretaker job at Soham Village College his references were never checked. Also the company responsible for co-ordinating checks on staff for many Cambridgeshire schools never verified certain details such as former addresses or possible aliases.The director of Employment Personnel Management Ltd, said they relied on the "honesty of the applicant".

The police muddled up their searches and despite knowing Huntley used an alias failed to check/link the two names.

A tale of two extraditions

Abu HamzaAbu Hamza

This scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least.. Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Bleak House by Charles Dickens.

The complexities of our legal system are fast approaching those of countries such as Italy. Cases wend their way at glacial speed the courts, earning the legal profession vast sums. Cause célèbres are printed in our papers for days, then die only to reappear at intervals of several years.

So, we have the cases of Gary McKinnon and Abu Hamza. The former an engaging computer nerd who has hacked into American computers searching for UFOs and hoping to discover a pure power source,used by UFOs, that will save the world. The other a grotesque fanatic, terrorist and killer. Both have been battling extradition to the USA for years.

Heroine Malalai Joya in the UK

Malalai JoyaMalalai Joya

Malalai Joya, has written an article criticising the present Afghan war and tells the story of her life here. She was the second recipient of the Anna Politkovskaya Award for human rights campaigning (see right). It is instructive to read her views in the same week that David Milliband is advocating talking with the 'moderate' Taliban. Perhaps he should have a chat with her. She writes:

In 2005, I was the youngest person elected to the new Afghan parliament. Women like me, running for office, were held up as an example of how the war in Afghanistan had liberated women. But this democracy was a facade, and the so-called liberation a big lie.

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