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If chattering classes dominated radio is to be believed then the most pressing issue in Afghanistan today is female education. Nope. The average Afghan father is way too poor to send his daughters to high school or university and not being able to do so is the least of his worries. And, anyway, education for most boys doesn't go much beyond learning to recite the Koran by heart. No, only the urban elite could afford to send their daughters to university. But that is who our western media identify so strongly with. Diversity in newsrooms is thought of only in terms of skin tone or sexual preference. But a Home Counties Pony Club lesbian whose parents come from overseas is indistinguishable on the radio from one whose ancestors have lived in Hampshire for centuries. By the way, the Taliban strongly identified girls' education with the western military. I seem to recall that the prime reason, almost the only one, given to the public as to why Canadian and British youngsters were being killed and maimed in Afghanistan was girls' education. So, perhaps no surprise the Taliban regime has curtailed it so drastically.

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Years ago I saw a documentary about an American black doctor taking his daughters to West Africa to celebrate their heritage. I can't remember if he knew for sure that his ancestors came from the country he chose for the family expedition. Perhaps he'd hired some scam family tree expert who claimed to know. Anyway, this fellah was immensely proud of his slave ancestors and of his own professional success. The thing is that at every turn during his African trip he was swindled and cheated by the locals. All they saw was another rich gullible Yank. Skin tone counted for nothing to them.

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Last week I heard some classic hubris. A radio presenter was recounting on air how her waitress was worried about flitting after a light snowfall. "I told her I read the weather forecast on the radio and that there would be no snow left by the time of her move," recounted the presenter. Maybe I'm being too harsh and she just meant that she kept a regular eye on the forecasts. But it came across as suggesting some expertise in the meteorology. I would no more take this woman seriously regarding forthcoming weather than I would take medical advice from an actor who declares "I am not a doctor but I play one on television". You may well wonder how such a piece of self-regarding banality as the waitress story came to be broadcast. Indeed. But these are same people who believe the solution to the Cost of Living Crisis is simply to pick up a smaller size skinny latte on the way to work.

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Here in Canada, Remembrance Day is a public holiday, or stat as most folk call them. Most stats are on a Monday to create a long weekend. There are about 10 a year and I think majority are Mondays. The exceptions would be November 11, July 1 (Canada Day) Christmas Day, and New Year. OK, so five the stats are Mondays. Good Friday is also a specific day, rather than date, stat. To make up for all the stats, Canadian employers tend to give folk a week's less holiday entitlement than folks in the UK enjoy. At the Edmonton Sun there was an odd stat holiday tradition. A few days before the stat someone would pin up a notice informing folk of their legal entitlements if they worked on the holiday, which I seem to recall included double pay. Once the notice was up, the question was how long would be before it was torn down. It might have made an interesting sweep stake - entries being in 15 minute increments after posting. I wonder if management ever worked out who was doing the posting.

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This is a story that got away from me. Mainly because it wasn't worth flying from Canada to Australia for and my Australian collaborators were crap. Like most Commonwealth countries, Australia has pensions for disabled war veterans. Until recently, most of those veterans were from the First or Second World Wars. Many had suffered serious battlefield injuries. But the pensions are also paid out to people who suffered some injury due to their wartime military service. One of the oddest must have been the former Australian aircrew member who wanted compensation for the loss of his teeth. He did his air force training on the Canadian Prairies, as did many Commonwealth flyers. He successfully argued that the quality of the drinking water at his training base was so poor that he was forced to survive on a well-known sugary soft drink. Which in turn rotted his teeth and now he was entitled to compensation. The hearing agreed. I thought it was interesting. The veteran's local paper couldn't be bothered pulling the hearing documentation. With Remembrance Day coming up this weekend, this photo from 1917 may serve as a reminder of what it looks like a battle goes wrong.

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