Last night, the BBC News programme at 10 was a "special" on Afghanistan.
The first report was from Helmand province and our reporter, Alistair Leafhead, was shadowing some UK forces. This feature showed many images of war and fighting. We saw a situation develop where two Taliban fighters had been spotted, say 700 metres from the British position. Bombs and rockets were fired and countless machine gun rounds were discharged in a two minute blitz. Yet the Taliban appeared to escape, no bodies were found.
We moved further north where the US army were stationed. Here, tactics like that of Iraq are being employed, suicide bombings and roadside bombs in this "changing, vicious war". Images were shown of American army vehicles being blown up with these roadside bombs. A suicide bomber was shown who advised that "in heaven, we can get anything we want". We saw an American soldier with a bomb damaged foot
Kabul was "liberated" from the Taliban in 2001 but they have returned and operate their in tandem with al-Quaeda. So said our next report which showed old clips of Osama Bin Laden; who is now "probably hiding over the border in Pakistan". Images of cave networks were shown.
230 innocent Afghan civilians have been killed by Nato forces so far we were told but also that locals were "worried about the British leaving as they dont want the Taliban back".
Now - the rest of the news
A new vaccine has been developed which can reduce the risk of cervical cancer by combating the virus which causes it in 70% of cases. Human papillomavirus, or HPV. This disease kills 1000 women per year in the UK. The plan is to vaccinate schoolgirls aged 12 against this and therefore reduce the cancer in the long term. The reason that girls so young are being vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease is that 10% of 14 year olds, 25% of 15 year olds and 50% of 16 year olds have had sexual intercourse.
We saw images of a mother with an adorable toddler stating that "this can only be a good thing" and a cancer victim was also of that opinion. I will discuss this further on when I review ITN.
Next up, private equity companies and tax "discounts". Basically, private equity firms were called up to explain themselves and their operations in front of a government panel. This took the form of an Alan Sugar's Apprentice style question and answer session. It was almost like the MP's were in fact "imitating" Alan's "style", whether consciously or not.
Tony Blair is apparently in the running for some type of "leadership" job in an independent Palestinian state. So says the Washington Post anyway and so we were told about this possibility and the potential consequences of it. It is only speculation though, so far
Gordon Brown next giving his last speech to the City in London. We need 5 million more people to gain some sort of skills in order that Britain remains competitive within the Global world. Gordon says that we have a "culture of second best" and, furthermore, "low aspirations". We have a lot of talent, sitting idle, not being used. Being used for what Gordon - a future in your new world order.
Perhaps some potentially talented people can see exactly what your aspirations are on a global basis and perhaps they dont subscribe to them.
Another British soldier killed in Iraq.
Joseph Corre, a co-founder of lingerie brand Agent Provocateur, has rejected his MBE due to the war in Iraq. He advised that Blair is "morally corrupt". His wife has accepted her's though and is delighted. Oh for more men like Mr Corre. What a good name for an owner of a lingerie company - Corre, you dont get many of them to the pound!
Jill Dando next and Barry "George's" appeal. I received a comment about this yesterday and will reply shortly. Last night though, this feature was illustrated using an image of Barry dressed in a Hannibal Lecter style straightjacket.
Alan Johnson next, still hostage, 100 days now. Vigils were held ("went global") and we saw images of them, posters being held up etc. Further images were shown of Hamas fighters, veiled women etc.
Back to Afghanistan, this time to see how we are improving the quality of life for the locals. Afghanistan "needs billions, just to get the basics right." We flew low with the reporter, avoiding attack and landed in a "typical rural village" in "the depths of poverty" where people live on 50p a day. A "lot of British taxpayers money has been spent" installing a water system and we saw a local asked - "How has this changed your life ?" His reply (translated) "Before, we had dirty water and now we have clean drinking water". A man was shown growing mint, which earns him 3 times as much as if he grew opium poppy. You dont get a hit off mint though; so how big is the potential "global market ?"
ITN started with a long feature on Alan Johnston. Their reporter seems to think that Alan has been kidnapped by a local clan family with the surname Dogmoosh. As do Hamas officials, the reporter's personal Hamas bodyguard and a human rights worker. We got to see a big pool of fresh blood with people standing around and then our reporter met the Dogmooshes who were at the morgue, burying one of their own. The reporter asked one of them if it was the Dogmooshes who had kidnapped Mr Johnston but the man seemed to deny it. That was really about it.
Coming up - China and the demand by the West for cheap goods.
Next was Barry "George". We saw images of Jill Dando, dressed in scarlet. We saw a gun being shot, close up, a number of times and saw a "gun expert" discuss the seemingly flimsy foresnsic evidence. There was talk at the end of a "smoking gun" but I couldnt quite catch why.
HPP next as with the BBC. This time we saw a cancer victim saying it could only be a good thing and then we saw a lady called Mrs Musgrove (Brookside), advising that she would be getting her son immunised as well;" as he can, as a male, simply carry and transmit the virus. We are going to "eradicate the virus from our society" we were told.
Does anyone smell a rat here? It looks like it may well end up all twelve year olds to be immunised and this is to save 700 lives a year. How many people are dying just now because of flesh eating disease which is caused by dirty, poorly cleaned hospitals. Why not sort out the rot first before taking on a new "life saving" project. If I was 11 and looking at a compulsory injection , I would be heading for a cave in the Highlands; which, incidentally, could well end up our own "Afghanistan" where social undesirables may be forced. I believe this may have in fact happened during Roman times, yet I digress. The Taliclan. Hopefully we will be able to grow cannabis and opium as well with all the global warming.
Red Hot news next - A boy was seen being bundled into the back of a van in Worcester, his mouth taped up. No more details as yet (nothing this morning either).
Soldier killed in Iraq -image shown
Iraq have now also criticised the giving of honours to Salman Rushdie.
Joseph Corre, bras and pants again.
Chinese now and their industries. I covered an extremely similar feature a couple of months ago when we were shown a factory which produced spiked rubber balls for tumble dryers. A long feature with images including steel production and the associated molten metals; the purpose of which seemed to be to worry us about global warming.
The recent storms and flash floods "may or may not be part of global warming"
Stuart Pearce, England under 21's manager, gutted after team go out 13 -12 to Holland, on penalties. An important number 13/12. 13th December, your author's birthday.
The American election next and the use of the internet to promote politics. We saw a spoof Sopranos which shows Hilary and Bill (Clinton) indulging in some "carefree nonsense". We then saw another American political "internet video", this time a bit more raunchy but I didnt follow who it was about, sorry. We were reminded though that the internet can be "fickle" and we saw another man doing his hair up, no idea who, sorry.
Headlines Tomorrow (today)
The Sun - Madeleine McCann's father mugged at a cashline and three irreplaceable photographs of Madeleine were stolen along with his wallet whilst on a very short visit to the UK. I find this incredible, where were the media ?
As a footnote, I head this morning on Radio 2 that Mr McCann helped to save a life on his flight in to the UK.