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Preview: A letter from the Olde Countrie

A letter from the Olde Countrie

Group Captain Lionel Mandrake VC, AFC, RAF (Retd.)

Updated: 2012-04-16T02:31:40.624+00:00



Forget Warbloggers
Now we have Nudebloggers.

Do you get naked to blog?

Shocking Shell does.

Do you?


Looking for love in all the right places
'We found love online'.

It is possible, I know.


This blog has moved to:
You will be redirected in 30 seconds.

It has also merged with the blog formerly known as Shellshocking.

Over at our new home, we will be posting much the same thing as you are used to reading here, but debating it from A US and a UK viewpoint. One hint: Marmite rules, and "y'all" is not an improvement to the language.

The new blog is running under the much more reliable Movable Type (Yayy!). It will takes us a week to get the blogroll and other links moved over there, so don't worry if you're blog is blogrolled here but not there - we'll get around to you soon.


They've got Saddam's half-brother
Trying to cross into Syria.

Fox News says he was caught in Mosul, on his way to Syria.

Well, isn't that a surprise? Not.


Forget my last post, I couldn't ignore this

This belated "No shit!" moment, after reading a story that seems to have been quietly buried:
An Egyptian immigrant's deadly attack on an Israeli airline ticket counter last year has been ruled a terrorist attack related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an FBI spokesman said Friday.

"Given his political views and the fact that El Al is an Israeli government-owned airline, that met the criteria for a terrorist attack," said Matthew McLaughlin, a spokesman for the Los Angeles field office of the FBI.

Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, 41, opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport's El Al ticket counter on July 4 last year, killing two people before being shot dead by an airline security guard.

The Department of Justice had withheld characterizing the shooting while federal agents launched a worldwide probe to determine whether it was a terrorist attack, hate crime or motivated by personal reasons.

The FBI findings were made several months ago and were recently approved by the Justice Department. McLaughlin said his office was told not to issue a press release but was given permission to confirm the decision if asked.

He said Hadayet acted alone and had no ties to any terrorist organization.

The investigation, however, found that Hadayet supported the Palestinian cause in the Israel-Palestine conflict and had become increasingly militant in recent years.

"The investigation developed information that he openly supported the killings of civilians in order to advance the Palestinian cause," McLaughlin said.

He said Hadayet bought the weapons used in the attack just weeks before the shooting, closed his bank accounts and sent his family overseas. He walked into the terminal with a .45-caliber semiautomatic Glock pistol, a 9 mm handgun and a six-inch knife.

The finding also contradicts the notion that Hadayet acted for personal reasons or because he was despondent over financial problems, said Hier, leader of the Jewish human rights organization.

In a 1993 interview for asylum, Hadayet told U.S. immigration officials that Egyptian authorities arrested him and accused him of involvement with Al-Gamma'a al-Islamiyaa, the Islamic Group. The group at the time was waging a violent effort to topple the secular Egyptian government and replace it with Islamic rule.

Hadayet said he was falsely accused of belonging to the group, which is now on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations.
I found the part about not announcing the decision particularly disturbing.

Any possibility this story was buried because Egypt is supposed to be our friend?


Watch this space
Posting will be light this weekend as the Movable Type installation goes ahead on the new webspace and we I take care of testing and moving things over.

Watch this space for announcements on Monay. We I think you'll like the changes.

There were no hints whatsoever in the above.


Day 23 update
Mosul falls without a fight to Kurds and US special forces

After Many of Saddam's better troops abandoned the city and the conscripts remaining (very wisely) chose to surrender.

Forfeited the right to be listened to
The Axis of Weasels, better known as France, Germany and Russia, are going to get together to decide policy on post-war Iraq.

Isn't that rather like Iceland, Greenland and Outer Jibberobia getting together to decide what the US should do about the Mexican illegal immigrant problem?

So has this guy
Hans Blix has something to say about war aims:
The invasion of Iraq was planned a long time in advance, and the US and Britain are not primarily concerned with finding any banned weapons of mass destruction, says the chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix.

"There is evidence that this war was planned well in advance. Sometimes this raises doubts about their attitude to the (weapons) inspections," Blix told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

"I now believe that finding weapons of mass destruction has been relegated, I would say, to fourth place, which is why the US and Britain are now waging war on Iraq.

"Today the main aim is to change the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein," he said.
Why hasn't Blix figured out that he has lost all credibility? Pension him off.



Yes, we really meant it Part 2

That we'd do the job in Iraq, then come home.

British Marines, who had been involved in heavy fighting in southern Iraq (during which they didn't lose a single man in combat), are expected home in a month.

(According to BBC TV news - nothing on the web yet)


Iraq: The (nuclear) smoking gun?
Could be.
The discovery was unexpected and forces in the area are testing a variety of things to best determine the significance of the find.

Marine nuclear and intelligence experts have so far found 14 buildings that have high levels of radiation, an embedded reporter from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Thursday, noting that some of the tests have found nuclear residue too deadly for human occupation.

The Marine radiation detectors go "off the charts" a few hundred meters outside the nuclear compound, where locals say "missile water" is stored in enormous caverns, the correspondent, Carl Prine, reported. Prine is embedded with the U.S. 1st Marine Division.

"It's amazing," Chief Warrant Officer Darrin Flick, the battalion's nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialist told the paper. "I went to the off-site storage buildings, and the rad detector went off the charts. Then I opened the steel door, and there were all these drums, many, many drums, of highly radioactive material."


Day 22 update
Oil town Kirkuk now mostly in Kurdish hands
US-backed Kurdish forces are reported to have moved into the centre of the northern town of Kirkuk, one day after the regime of Saddam Hussein collapsed in Baghdad.

A BBC correspondent travelling with the troops, Dumeetha Luthra, said local people were celebrating.
"I am surrounded by crowds of people. They're celebrating what appears to be the fall of Kirkuk," she said.
Our correspondent said there were still pockets of resistance, but the army appeared to have fled the town that controls strategically significant oil fields in northern Iraq.
It was amusing to see that the Kurdish artillery appears to be equipped with British WWII (or earlier) era 25 pounder field guns.

The Arab press and the fall of Baghdad
The BBC has an err, amusing article:
Newpapers throughout the Arabic-speaking world reacted with a mixture of amazement, concern and delight on Thursday to the sudden fall of central Baghdad to US military forces.

"Momentous", "inexplicable" and "loathsome" were among the comments, as were "good news" and "rejoice".
The article has links to various Arab news sources and is more than a little amusing.

Towards Freedom
Is the name of the newest TV station on the planet. It will broadcast inside Iraq, on the same channel as the former state controlled TV station, is coalition controlled and has just broadcast a message from President Bush and Vive President Prime Minister Blair. In it. they promised that the money from Iraqi oil belongs to Iraq.


Not the war 6: A piece of magic passes on
Concorde, the world's first operational supersonic passenger jet, is to be taken out of service in the autumn.
Concorde flights are to end after more than three decades of luxury travel.

British Airways and Air France made simultaneous announcements that they would be permanently grounding the famous supersonic airliners from the end of October. Passenger numbers have never recovered since the crash near Paris in 2000 and the aircraft no longer makes a profit.

In a statement, BA said Concorde would cease flying in the autumn because of "commercial reasons, with passenger revenue falling steadily against a backdrop of rising maintenance costs for the aircraft".
Concorde is a record-breaking aircraft, despite it's troubled history politically and otherwise. Military aircraft are capable of Mach 2+ (twice the speed of sound) in short dashes only. This is primarily because of the vast amount of fuel used. Concorde travels from London (and Paris) to New York at Mach 2 all the way - so fast, it outruns the timezones crossed and you arrive before you left.

Concorde is, in my not even slightly humble opinion, one of the most beautiful aircraft ever built:



Day 21: This is not the end, despite what all UK news sources are saying
But it is very close to the end. Baghdad is now largely under US control.

I am sick of hearing reporters talking about how long it has taken. Get a grip boys and girls - the US and UK have subdued a country the size of France in three weeks with little loss of life! It took twice as long to liberate Kuwait during Gulf War I, and that was a very quick conflict.

What coalition forces have done is nothing short of amazing. There could so easily have been many more deaths and injuries, both civilian and military. It could also have taken so much longer.

I shall now endeavour to stop foaming at the mouth.


To readers of the New Observer.


Not the war 5: little sympathy from me
In the US, the Seattle Times reports that gas (petrol) prices may drop to as little as US$ 1.58 a gallon after the war.

In the UK, where petrol is taxed to freakin' death (despite us owning many North Sea oil fields), we're currently paying anything up to US $ 6.00 a gallon.

And now I've started another day by foaming at the mouth.


Yes, we really meant it, Part 1
Meant what?

That Iraq should be run by its own people after the war.

British troops appoint a 'mayor' of Basra.
British forces in southern Iraq say they have asked a tribal leader to take over as the "mayor" of Basra. The unnamed cleric will head a committee of local people to run Iraq's second city, where the British have overcome most Iraqi resistance.

In Basra, UK military spokesman Colonel Chris Vernon said the British hoped to move from a combat role to "post-conflict nation building" operations within a day or so.


"This could be the big one."
The words of an Airborne Air Controller (presumably on board an AWACS) to the crew of the B-1 bomber being directed onto Saddam last night.

I imagine that got their attention.


Not the war 4: McDonalds to go up-market
According to the BBC.
Fast food giant McDonald's says it is changing direction, after suffering the first loss in its 55-year history.

The firm's executives have conceded that its approach is out of date and would now change to give more healthy food and higher quality burgers.

The company plans to introduce a "premium hamburger" made with more wholesome meat. It says staff will be better trained, would smile and apologise.

Stainless steel and plastic will be counter-balanced by "aroma and warmth", executives say.
We will see. I haven't been into a McDonalds for anything other than a Diet Coke for several years.


Day 20 update
Did they get Saddam during the night?
Group Captain Al Lockwood, confirmed the coalition had intelligence from three different sources that Saddam, together with his two sons and other officials, were meeting in a house. A B1-B bomber dropped three so-called "bunker busting" bombs on the house, leaving a 60 foot deep crater.
Saddam was believed to be in a structure attached to a restaurant or dining area, along with at least his son Udai and two to three dozen security or Baath party officers, officials told Fox News. Those present at the meeting were discussing how to get out of Baghdad, the officials said.

The target location, which officials believed had a bunker and underground tunnels, was a large crater after the strike. "Whoever was in there is dead," an official told Fox News.

Centre of Baghdad under attack
This morning, as coalition forces push forward.

Can't lead, won't follow, refuse to get out of the way

The treehuggers who delayed an Australian frigate heading for the gulf.


And now?
US forces are not pulling out of Baghdad tonight. They are in the city in signficant numbers, and seem like they're there to stay.

British forces are out of their armoured vehicles and
patrolling Basra on foot. There are some isolated incidents, but the city seems to be pacified.


Day 19 Update
Now they're really there

US troops are certainly in the centre of Baghdad this morning. Conflicting reports say that one of Saddam's palaces and the Ministry of silly walks Disinformation are in US hands. Interestingly, the Minister of Lies is speaking in a hotel, 10 yards from a BBC reporter, rather than from his ministry. We've also seen very surprised looking Iraqi soldiers running, some in their underwear - perhaps awoken rudely?

He's talking about US columns being "slaughtered" and that they've re-taken the airport.

Bugger! I had hoped that half a dozen hulking great US Marines would walk in on one of his press conferences, just as he said something about how the US and British forces are in full retreat.

Basra: British troops tighten their hold
Basra falling.
UK forces have been consolidating their hold in Basra overnight, after a major assault on the southern Iraqi city in which three British soldiers were killed. British commanders said they made "big gains" in the assault on Sunday, and much of the city was now in their hands.


Afternoon update (1600 GMT)
British armoured column reaches the centre of Basra, second takes and holds power station. Spokesman says "Basra is falling".

George Galloway to be expelled by the Labour Party in the UK
Saddam's Minister of Disinformation in Britain, (AKA 'Member for Baghdad Central') Labour Member of Parliament George Galloway, has vowed to fight any attempt to expell him from the party.
Mr Galloway, who last week branded allied leaders wolves, said it was his duty to speak out against the war. He also denied being a traitor, and said millions of people across the UK backed his stance.

"I am not without support in the country, not least within the Muslim community, which feels virtually powerless and almost voiceless amidst this catastrophe in Iraq. And it would send the message that Mr Blair wants free speech in Baghdad, but not in the British Parliament.

The 48-year-old MP was met with a backlash when he attacked allied leaders during an interview on Abu Dhabi TV. Armed forces minister Adam Ingram accused him of breaking his oath of allegiance to the Queen, while Education Secretary Charles Clarke branded his remarks completely unacceptable.

Suicide bomber hands himself over to British troops
A suspected suicide bomber has handed himself in to British troops in the suburbs of Basra.

The man, who was in his late 40s or early 50s, walked up to gates of a Royal Marines' base in Iraq's second city carrying five hand grenades.

He claimed to have been behind at least two attacks on the base in recent days but had enough, an officer said.


Day 18 morning update (1000 GMT)
US Marines attack almost-empty terrorist training camp
"Marines moving through the town early Sunday found abandoned trenches, reinforced with sandbags, and empty sandbag nests on rooftops."

US Central Command
No link - it was a BBC TV interview.

Would neither confirm nor deny eyewitness reports that "large numbers" of coalition vehicles, including tanks, were moving into Baghdad from the direction of the airport.

"Chemical" Ali's bodyguard dead - positively identified. No news on Ali himself.

"Somewhere near 7,000" Iraqi prisoners of war now in custody.

Marines digging for chemical weapons in school
Marines are digging up the courtyard of a girls' school south-east of Baghdad after a tip-off chemical weapons may be buried there.

The Marines said they had been told about it by a man who described himself as a former member of the Iraqi special forces.

He said groups of men had knocked down a wall of the school two months ago, hidden something in the courtyard and then concreted it over again.
Friendly fire
In the last hour, a BBC reporter travelling with Kurds and US special forces in Northern Iraq, has witnessed another friendly fire incident. Up to ten vehicles were damaged or destroyed, all carrying Kurds and US troops. BBC reporter John Simpson was wounded in the leg during the attack. More soon.

From the BBC TV morning news
British tanks in the centre of Basra, according to eyewitnesses in a TV report.

An armoured Battle Group, comprising 2,000 assorted vehicles, has crossed the Euphrates River into Baghdad.

A British Army spokeman describes the push into Basra as "Brigade sized", and encountering little resistance. "Severa" battle groups are involved, so this can be seen as a "here to stay" operation.


The first day of the end?
American forces report the can move freely around Baghdad. The Republican Guard seems to be holed up in its barracks and taking a pounding.

Americans estimate 1,000 Iraqi soldiers killed, for the loss onf one tank, the crew of which are safe. The headquarters of the Republican Guard's Medina Division is in US hands.

It is now dark in Baghdad and all is, for now at least, quiet.

The killing fields of Iraq? The remains of hundreds of men have been found at an abandoned military base. The bodies have been there for some time, and many show signs of mutilation. Most had died from gunshot wounds to the head. I wonder if any are of troops punished for "failing" to perform during Gulf War I?

COMMENT: I don't think anybody thought this much progress would be made so quickly in Baghdad. All, I think, as a result of a small patrol that met little resistance and so was reinforced quickly.


Afternoon update from US Central Command (1330 GMT)
A water pipeline from Kuwait into Southern Iraq has been completed. Water should soon be restored to Basra.

The airport formerly known as Saddam International is under the "full control" of US forces. Extra troops and specialists are being sent int to make it an operating base.

Private Lynch rescue: Said "I'm an American soldier too." when her rescuers identified themselves. Weapons cache and terrain model found in the hospital. Graces dug up by hand in the hospital to recover US dead from Jessica's unit.

Infrastructure for oil production is being repaired.


Laughing out loud
The Iraqi Minister of silly walks Minister of (Dis)Information is saying that they still have control of Saddam International Airport and that reporters will be taken there to see for themselves, just as soon as they finish mopping up the last few remaining Americans.

He goes on to say that they are inflicting heavy losses on Biritsh forces in and around Basra, destroying tanks.

He promised that electricisty will soon come back "to incrasing parts of Baghdad."

More martyrdoms.

We will "slaughter" the invaders, "those thugs."

Iraqi police cars are driving around the centre of Baghdad with their sirens sounding. You don't think this is a pathetic attempt to cover the sound of the fighting?