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If you listen only to the BBC you'd think the sole problem Afghanistan faces these days is lack of access to education for females. You might conclude that one of the Bs in BBC stands for Bourgeois. Because what we're getting is bourgeois interviewing bourgeois. The average Afghan villager isn't planning to send his daughter to university. It's an upper middle class and above issue. Here in Canada when we asked what our soldiers were bring killed and crippled for in Afghanistan, the best the government could answer was Girls' Education. In the long run girls and women have lost out because in the minds of the Taliban their education is associated with foreign military occupation. Afghanistan is, as far as we know, at peace. Afghans apparently do not agree that female education is worth dying or being crippled for. Though, that doesn't make what the Taliban is doing right. But let's hear more in the western bourgeois dominated media about all the problems Afghanistan faces and how we can actually help.

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One of the few useful things we could have been taught on the journalism course at Napier, but weren't, was table etiquette. You know, which implement to use to eat which food. This was brought home to me shortly after I started work in Inverness. There was a fancy meal hosted by British Rail to celebrate the launch of a new train service. I was sitting next to a senior executive and we were chatting away quite happily until plates with an avocado in each were placed before us. I had no idea how to eat an avocado in a formal setting and suddenly felt at a disadvantage. Our places had been set with at least nine pieces of cutlery and I had a feeling picking the avocado up with my hands was not the way it should be done. If only we'd been taught this skill at Napier.

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The radio tells me I live in Amiskwaciywaskahikan, rather than Edmonton in Canada. That's the old Cree Indian name for the area the city stands on. Only, it's not the only name for the area which predates the rebranding to honour a part of London. It has long been an attractive locale and the Indians long fought over it. At one point the North Saskatchewan River, which cuts the city pretty much in half, marked the boundary between the Cree and the Blackfoot. The Blackfoot called it Omahkoyis. The radio station which harps on about Amiskwaciywaskahikan is south of the river. So, if it wants to remind us of the evils of colonialism and settler culture maybe it should be using Omahkoyis. There are even third and fourth names- Titâga from the Nakota Soiux and Nââsʔágháàchú, anglicised as Nasagachoo, from the Tsuutʼina. And dollars to doughnuts, none of the above were the first inhabitants of the area. Shame no-one recorded what they called it. The radio also refers to Planet Earth as Turtle Island. Once again, not all Indians subscribe to the Turtle Island legend. And the radio is certainly wrong when it claims the Innuit of Northern Canada describe it as Turtle Island. It strikes me as much akin to the radio describing Edinburgh as Edinburg.

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Twice while driving between Oban and Campbeltown on the A83 I met a vehicle coming at me head-on on the wrong side of road. I swore if it happened a third time, I was going to quit my job and no more driving the A83. Of course, I may not have survived that third encounter with a nut behind the wheel. You can't quit if you're dead. The A83 was, and for all I know still is, a nasty road. Once, on a curve, the office van hit some loose spilled gravel or oil from a vehicle and briefly went onto the verge. I managed to get it back on the road but not before a rock tore out a back tyre and damaged a wheel arch. Another time I slowed down to walking pace on the approach to an almost 90o turn onto a bridge across a burn because I knew the road might be icy. The van only made an 80o turn. I could have got out, the van was moving so slowly, and interposed myself between it and the bridge parapet. But vague memory of High School physics and the momentum of even a small van made me think crushed shins. I think I got off with a broken indicator. Minutes later the council sanding truck went by. I miss several things about life in Argyll but the A83 isn't one of them.

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It's an old trick: a supposed question that's really an accusation. I think I heard one recently. Until comparatively recently the Canadian federal government sent Indian kids to what were known as Residential Schools, usually far from home and their parents. The schools were often run by churches. It's hard not believe that their primary purpose was to destroy the kids' sense of their heritage. In the past couple of years there has been a lot of talk about the kids being abused by staff and this has now transformed into tales of hundreds of unmarked graves in the grounds of the old schools. Even of mass graves. Cree writer and musician Thomson Highway attended one of these schools and was pretty much asked why he continued to insist he had no complaints. Question as accusation. The accusation being that was he refusing to back the clamour and was therefore betraying the kids allegedly murdered in a century long "genocide". Some in Scotland may recognise the residential school scheme as being very similar to what happens to kids from the remoter islands. Anyway, good for Mr Highway.

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