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I wonder what impact, if any, the recent decision to allow three Kenyans allegedly tortured during the Mau Mau Rebellion in the 1950s to sue for compensation will have in the fight for justice in the case of the Scots Guards’ massacre of civilians at Batang Kali in Malaya. It has been decided that the Kenyans can put their case for compensation in front of the British Courts. The British Government has argued that the Batang Kali massacre is ancient history; I would think the Mau Mau Rebellion also comes under the same heading. And while the British Government would rather, to this day, that the events of December 1948 were swept under the carpet, there is still a lot of bitterness in Malaysia over the continued cover-up. The lack of answers, and British obstruction of Malaysian attempts to investigate the massacre, is harming relations between the two countries. The British refusal to name the men who ordered the massacre and then covered it up, this was not the work of some rogue squaddies, stinks. It will be interesting to see how many other people tortured as the sun set on the British Empire now come out of the woodwork to demand compensation. See Batang Kali Revisited

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Regular visitors will know I’m no fan of private schools. I don’t recall the British Tories telling voters at the last General Election that if they won, only people who went to the same high school as the Prime Minister could get to be in the Cabinet. And I can’t help feeling if the people who run Britain, and still make an excellent living from it, would ensure that  the state schools were properly funded and run if their own little darlings went to them. But I’ve got something good to say about private schools for once. A high school teacher here in Edmonton, my Canadian hometown, has just been fired for insisting on giving kids who failed to hand in their homework a big fat zero. This was against school policy. Some might say the policy is “controversial”, many believe it is crackpot. I’ve heard the teacher involved interviewed on the radio and he came across as thoughtful and caring. As far as I know, the headmaster of the school has never given an interview on the radio. But someone recorded a speech he gave at staff-only meeting and passed it onto the media. I think the fact that a member of staff did that speaks volumes for the atmosphere at the school. Two teachers who retired from the school spoke about a climate of fear there. Certainly, I did not find the headmaster’s speech very impressive; I can see why there might have been a clash of personalities when it came to the teacher and the headmaster. The teacher was fired by the Edmonton Public School Board, which decided to back the headmaster. The teacher was given a couple of days between his disciplinary hearing and being fired in which to resign, and thus protect his pension, but he foolishly believed that commonsense would somehow triumph. That’s not how the public education system here works, and I have the word of a retired headmaster for that. He told me he’s glad he’s well out of it all now. Anyway, an Edmonton private school has now stepped in and hired the teacher in question. So, I have to admit that private schools are not all bad. But then Himmler never forgot a secretary’s birthday.

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While most of the British media have been focusing on Prince Harry not being injured in the Taliban attack near Camp Bastion last week, I haven't seen discussion of what a coup the destruction of eight US Marine Corps Harrier jump jets was for the insurgents.
In the space of a few minutes 15 Taliban raiders dressed in US uniforms wiped out 7% of the US Military’s entire Harrier fleet and left only two operational Harriers in Afghanistan. I haven’t been able to get much detail, supposedly for security reasons but more probably because the truth is so embarrassing for the NATO, but it would appear the raiders got through a security fence at Camp Leatherneck, as the US Marine portion of the Bastion complex is known. They were carrying rocket propelled grenades, which it would appear they used to destroy six Harriers and so badly damage two more that they will never fly again. The raiders, at least some reportedly wearing suicide vests, then shot out with NATO troops for something like two hours. When the shooting was over, 14 of the Taliban were dead; along with two American soldiers including the commander of the Harrier squadron. A further eight NATO soldiers and a civilian contractor were wounded. The raid was obviously well planned and the Taliban knew what they were doing.
The attack raises a lot of questions, and it’s far from clear who should be answering them. Bastion is primarily a British base. Its site on a flat bare plain was chosen because no-one can supposedly approach it without being seen. So, did anyone see the Taliban? I just hope the British don’t have questions to answer. The Americans were seriously under-impressed by the British effort at Basra in Iraq and they didn’t think much of what the British have managed, or failed to manage, to do in Helmand.

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It looks as though US F-16 pilot Major Harry “Psycho” Schmidt has claimed another victim. It was Schmidt who bombed a Canadian live-fire training exercise near Kandahar Airfield in 2002 and killed four members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. I now read that the best friend of one of the men killed is facing three years in jail as prosecutors in British Columbia pursue him for possession of a restricted hand-gun. It came out that Yan Berube had the gun after he showed it to a government nurse and announced he was either going to shoot himself or the cops would have to shoot him. The nurse was at his home because Berube suffered some kind of nervous breakdown after the death of his best friend Ainsworth Dyer. I interviewed Berube and Dyer before they deployed to Afghanistan. They seemed like good guys. It was bad enough that some sad nutbar from the US air force killed Ainsworth. Schmidt’s claim that he was acting in self-defence when he dived down and bombed the training exercise never made any sense to me. I think he just wanted to drop a bomb and kill some people for real. Anyway, now it comes out that Schmidt has wrecked Berube’s life. Yan never did do anything with the gun, beyond showing it to the nurse. The police were called and the ex-soldier went quietly. It looked as though things were going to take a sensible course and Berube pled guilty to all charges on the understanding that he would probably be given a suspended sentence or probation. Then Crown Prosecutors announced that possession of the restricted handgun carried a minimum of three years jail time. A judge kicked the attempt to jail Berube out of court. But the prosecutors successfully appealed the judge’s decision. Now he is to be re-tried and again faces three years in jail. I can’t help wondering why it is so important to send Yan to jail and how that will make British Columbia safer. I don’t know who is worse; Psycho Schmidt or Canadian prosecutors. Or more incompetent. For more of my thoughts on Psycho see Blog Posting

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The High Court in London has said there are no legal grounds to overturn at British Government decision not to order a proper inquiry into the 1948 massacre of 24 suspected Communist sympathisers in Malaya by a patrol from the Scots Guards. While at first that might seem like bad news, the judgement says that the evidence points to the massacre claim being true and that there has been a long-standing cover-up of the fact. A fatuous claim from the British authorities that the Malaysian Government and not the British Government should be held  responsible for the conduct of the Guardsmen at Batang Kali was firmly rejected by the High Court. The court also said the British Government deliberately hindered a 1993 investigation by the Royal Malaysian Police into the killings. I’m still baffled as to why the British Government after all these years is so determined that the truth about this shameful incident should never come out. Once again, I ask; who is it protecting? The Government doesn’t have a particularly good record when it comes to defending and backing-up ordinary squaddies. So what is it about what happened back in 1948 that the Great British Public must never ever know? For a little more detail of what the court said have a look at this Press Release from the London law firm which has been representing the families of some of the murdered men.

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