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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

And there were many who said al Q'aeda was a dying operation.. How wrong intelligence can be, or perhaps, with a more sinister overtone, how little we're told..
Osama recently made an unusual appearance in his first video for nearly three years.. his importance is generally thought to have been limited by his need to keep a low profile for fear of being caught.
Instead, recent events in Europe, with arrests in Denmark and Germany, as well as attacks in North Africa, have made that resurgence clear, and particularly highlighted the trail back to al Q'aeda's leadership..
The cell disrupted in Germany last week is a sign that the model of operations the UK has seen in recent years.. so called "home-grown" suspects receiving training and direction from the al Q'aeda leadership in Pakistan, is now spreading to other European countries..
It would appear the training camps are much smaller than the large static pre-9/11 camps in Afghanistan but do offer the chance for recruits to develop crucial expertise in areas the likes of explosives.. the making of bombs and the choosing of particular strategic targets..
One must wonder what is not being said, what information is not being passed along to the public.. the manner in which our various governments are attempting to minimize panic in general, while at the same time minimizing xenophobia.
The recent peace deal between the Pakistani government and tribal groups in Waziristan is seen as a huge mistake by counter-terrorism officials in the West in the belief it served to entrench the position of foreign fighters and al Q'aeda, giving them the chance to regroup, rather than seeing them driven out as was the stated aim.
It has also allowed channels of communication and direction from the al Q'aeda leadership to different groups around the world which were disrupted post-9/11, to be reinstated.
German authorities say that as well as attending training camps in Pakistan, the men arrested last week were receiving direct orders from the region on when to carry out an attack..
CIA director Michael Hayden reiterated last week that the US intelligence community strongly believed that al Q'aeda's central leadership was "planning high-impact plots against the US homeland" Q'aeda has "protected or regenerated key elements of its homeland attack capability" from its safe haven in Pakistan..
Difficult these days, to distinguish between one's friends, and one's enemies..
Most analysts agree that it is the ideological struggle.. the battle of ideas.. that has become crucial in recent years, especially as al Q'aeda's sophistication in putting out its message has grown, and as it continues to try and radicalise and recruit Muslims from around the world.
It must never be forgotten that this threat.. this push towards a worldwide Islamic State.. a return to the Caliphate.. is not going away.
Nor will it..

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.. Gordon's trying his best to maintain his popularity base, by limiting the numbers of EU migrant workers who can come into this country through the introduction of legislation that would require such workers to have skills in spoken English.. He told a meeting of the TUC yesterday, that the government estimates 35,000 of the 95,000 skilled migrants who entered the UK last year would not have been able to show they could speak the language..
Now this is happening while there are growing concerns among the Unions, that we're turning into a country of 'part-time' employees.. The Trades Union Congress is not impressed with the stance Labour is taking as far as keeping wages in line with inflation. Measures the likes of wage-increase splitting.. that is, offering say a 3% wake hike for public sector workers, but staggering the raises into as many as three parts over the course of a year, have workers such as medical staff, firefighters, the police, all reconsidering their positions on work-to-rule, or outright strikes.
We have seen over the past fortnight what can happen when postal workers stage slowdowns..
One can only imagine what would happen should the police, or firefighters, lay down tools and leave the shop floor.
According to TUC research, temporary staff are on different rates of pay to those with permanent jobs in half of all workplaces..
It also says that, in 25% of workplaces, temporary workers are not entitled to contractual sick pay and, in 14%, do not receive any holiday pay.
Attractive to employers.
Anathema to Unions.

And finally.. banking has always been a profitable business, but there has been quite a stir in this country over the past year or so due to the charges banks levee against customers who either surpass their overdraft privilages, or don't have the funds in their accounts for direct debits.
Most banks have been charging £30 or so, for each bounced cheque or returned direct debit, and consumer groups have launched lawsuits on behalf of bank customers, claiming these bank charges are nothing short of usury..
It is interesting to note though, that banks openly admit that between £2 to £3.5 billion a year is generated through charges, which essentially are nothing more than electronic transfer fees..
The Office of Fair Trade is looking into the issue, and it could well mean that our High Street Banks could be liable for payouts to it's customers which could amount to a figure close to £25 billion..
It's in the courts.

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