Back Up and Running 141

Many thanks to all the staff, medical and otherwise, at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary who hauled my carcase out of the ambulance and restored it to an appearance of intelligent life over the last five days. A timely reminder that we never know when disaster will strike, and need to make progress all the time. I am now thinking how to intensify my campaigning for Scottish Independence.

Profound apologies to those who submitted orders for signed copies of Sikunder Burnes and have not received them yet. By a happy coincidence I am restored home and this same day the new print run has arrived at the warehouse, so I will get on to it right away. Hopefully the book will now get into the shops well before Christmas. Very few have actually ever appeared in a shop, largely because to date almost all stocks have been hoovered up by online suppliers. Promotion has also been patchy, particularly in England, and I am very grateful to the efforts of blog readers in that respect on my behalf with bookshops. Continuing feedback is still very welcome.


Signed First Editions are now available direct from this blog! You can leave a message naming the dedication you want. Sold at cover price of £25 including p&p for UK delivery, £29 for European delivery or £34 everywhere else. Ideal Christmas presents!!

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141 thoughts on “Back Up and Running

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  • Sharp Ears

    A reminder that John Pilger’s film – The Coming War on China – is on ITV1 tonight at 22.40 -00.40.

      • Sharp Ears

        It was magisterial. What a man. The cruelty enacted on the Marshall Islanders was exposed in a moving and tender way.

        Pilger obtained some good interviews with some of the mad men and there was footage of others.

        It was heartening to see the strength of the ongoing protests against the bases in Okinawa and Jeju.

        The only thing that jarred was the insertion of the commercials, a dozen or so at a time, thrice.

        One review below.

        The Coming War on China review – discomfiting doc exposes US nuclear tactics
        John Pilger lays bare the historical horrors of the US military in the Pacific, exposing the paranoia and pre-emptive aggression of its semi-secret bases

        The title of John Pilger’s new film reminded me of a now-forgotten conservative tract from 1991, The Coming War With Japan by George Friedman and Meredith Lebard, a hawkish work which argued that the Soviet collapse meant America should be on its guard against the resurgent old enemy from the second world war. Paradoxically, Pilger’s documentary is about paranoia and pre-emptive military belligerence in the Pacific: a 21st century alt-yellow-peril. It’s a subject which tends to be ignored, especially now that we are (justifiably) concerned by Putin’s Russia.

        Watch the trailer for The Coming War on China

        Pilger politely reminds us that Nobel peace laureate Barack Obama presided over a massive increase in nuclear spending and a new strategic objective, the super-modern “pivot to Asia”, which for the arms business is like the exploitation of a lucrative new market. It means a colossal but unacknowledged buildup of military bases under China’s nose, specifically intended to smack down any thoughts China might be having about translating its commercial prosperity into power in the region and answer with an overwhelming show of strength China’s own disputed claim to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Their semi-secret bases are tracked by academic David Vine in his observation project Base Nation. Pilger fills in the historical context: from turning the Marshall Islands and their peoples into vivisectional nuclear-test guinea pigs after the war, the US government has turned many places into missile bases whose weapons are trained on China. (Pilger could – but doesn’t – point out how close America came to a nuclear strike on China during the Korean war.)

        It’s a bizarre, dysfunctional situation, a buildup which shows no sign of abating, certainly now that Donald Trump has encouraged America to believe China is its new enemy. This is a gripping film, which though it comes close to excusing China (“Yes, there are issues with human rights …”) does point out China’s insecurities and political cruelties. A strong corrective to our bland and complacent indifference to the new war-game scenario in the Pacific.

    • fwl

      Thanks, that was worth watching. Interesting and worrying timing. Trump loves it up with Russia and turns attention to mischief further east. Uncomfortable times for all in the Far East including Japan.

  • Sue Varley

    Just to let you know, I got your book three weeks ago in the great little bookshop in Linlithgow while passing through going home from Edinburgh.

  • Brianfujisan

    Good to see you Re-energized as it were Craig.. I Agree with Bevin, Move to the Country.. A log Fire/ stove..Chopping the wood will keep you active 🙂

    There will of course be those stuck in Hospital over Xmas. My Daughter represents Bliss ( For Babies Born Premature or sick ) She is gathering up the teeniest Santa hats and Packages for Parents, who will be in Hospital over Christmas with the wee souls. I got my mum to knit some..So small they are.. Bless the NHS.

      • Brianfujisan

        That’s Just Shocking Sharp Ears..

        wonder what the Stats are for people dying enroute.. 200 miles.

        and to think what we could have, instead of keeping, renewing the WMD’s in my river..

        what you can get for £100 billion ( but of course it’s at over £200 billion now ) –

        CND has published a new report: People not Trident: the economic case against Trident replacement. Collaborating with organisations such as the National Union of Teachers, Greenpeace and Keep our NHS Public, we show how £100 billion could be spent to make a difference in people’s lives. Economist Michael Burke has written the introduction, highlighting not only the immediate potential benefits of these alternative investments, but also how they would have a positive, long-term effect on the economy.
        We could employ 150,000 new nurses, build 1.5 million affordable homes or pay the tuition fees for 4 million students. 2 million jobs could be created, rather than the 7,000 currently sustained by spending £100 billion on nuclear weapons.

  • RobG

    I haven’t watched television for more than 15 years, and when I tell people that they look at me as though I’m mad.


    • Ba'al Zevul

      I fully endorse Rob G at 6/12, 23.12 and 23.29. But failing to watch the prolefeed in Oceania while eagerly absorbing that of Eurasia is doublecrimethink…

      Think outside the idiot box.

  • nevermind

    Good to hear/suspect that the Canaries win last weekend has had something to do with your re emergence from between the white starched pillows of the royal infirmary. I thank the staff for their best services, there in Edinburgh, as here in the NNUH, which I had to visit last week for a days procedure.

    Sadly, due to builders and other trades recharging our house for some time to come, who knows, I can’t give much of a feedback on the book, except that A. Burnes and his fellow contemporaries is about to embark on a spying mission up the Indus. The geopolitical ambitions not much removed from today.

  • Herbie

    In better news.

    Looks as if Aleppo is finally close to liberation:

    “The Syrian Arab Army has now successfully broken through remaining terrorist strongholds, following the liberation of Aleppo International Airport earlier in the week – being able to push in two directions, west and south. Within the last hour, the Fatah Halab terrorist group has now surrendered the primary remaining districts of Old Aleppo”

    Vanessa Beeley reporting similarly from the ground in Syria.

    • Brianfujisan

      Wow..the Pilger film.. On STV.. A must watch, covers so much, Frightening stuff

      Another Great film re WWIII – ‘ The Man Who Saved the World ‘ Best film I ever seen..we went to a showing in Glasgow with Scottish CND… Very intense, Emotional film, in which Stanislav plays himself –


      and here is A HUGE one the Fkn bbC, and other msm missed… Profound Humility at Standing rock, as Veterans Beg Forgiveness for U.S Crmes against the First Nations Thank you Veterans –

    • Brianfujisan

      Opps Sorry Herbie

      Meant to say..good to see Vanessa got back to Syria.. the fund raising must have went well

      I see the other day that Russia were Slamming the red cross over initial statements on the Russian Mobile Which Two Russian medic Specialists Perished.

    • Habbabkuk

      It will be even better news to hear that the whole of Syria has been liberated from the bloddthirsty, fascistic clutches of Assad & Co and the Ba’ath Party.

      I wonder if readers are aware of the idealogical (and practical) links between the Ba’ath Party and 1930s European fascism?

      • bevin

        You are suggesting Habbakkuk an affinity between the Ba’ath and Likud parties.
        As to the latter, there is no doubt at all of the fact that its founders were fascists- Albert Einstein is just one witness to that.
        As a Zionist you are simply projecting when you accuse Ba’ath of what is known to be a characteristic of the entire Israeli Establishment and of nobody more than the son of the eponymous “Fascist” who signed a regular column in Jabotinsky’s magazine- the current Prime Minister, Netanyahu.
        From the number of typos in your comment-I am presuming that you know how to spell ‘ideological’- it is clear that the Syrian Arab Army, probably the most formidable infantry in the Levant, has you in a funk.
        A time of reckoning is coming.

        • Habbabkuk

          No such affinity suggested, Bevs. What was affirmed (not even just suggested) was the affinity – and the contacts which took place – between the founders of the Ba’ath party and the European fascist parties of the 1930s.

          As far as I’m aware, there were no contacts between the founders of Likud and the Nazi and Italian fascist leaders, if only for the simple reason that the latter had disappeared from the scene a good few years before Likud was founded.

          Having disposed of that particular bit of silliness, perhaps I could suggest that the Syrian Arab army is only the “most formidable infantry in the Levant” when it comes to easy adversaries – for example, Syrian civilians. I recall that the Syrian Arab army didn’t come off too well against the IDF (on more than one occasion). 🙂

          Sorry to disappoint.

      • Herbie

        That’s not on the menu, habby.

        Not now.


        What do you think of Naftali Bennett’s plans for a one state solution to Palestine/Israel?

        Trump’s on board for that.

        Big supporter of the illegal settlers he is.

        Good news for you, eh.

        I just hope it won’t be too detrimental, or at least any more detrimental, to Israel’s reputation abroad.

  • michael norton

    Russian colonel dies after ‘opposition’ shelling in Aleppo – MoD
    A Russian military adviser has died in Syria after shelling in Aleppo ‘by the so-called opposition forces,’ the Russian Ministry of Defense has stated.

    The deceased serviceman, identified as Colonel Ruslan Galitsky, was working with a group of Russian military counselors, the ministry added.

    “Colonel Ruslan Galitsky has died in the hospital from severe wounds. Russian military doctors had been fighting for his life for a few days. The serviceman was wounded during shelling of a residential neighborhood in western Aleppo by militants of the so-called opposition,” the ministry’s statement said as cited by RIA Novosti.

    The BBC seems to have gone rather quiet on Yemen and quiet on Syria

    Could that be to do with Frau Theresa May cavorting around the Middle East
    whilst we wave old Illustrious to the head choppers of Turkey?

    • michael norton

      I would have thought, if we construct aircraft carriers in this country, it should also be incumbent on the United Kingdom
      to deconstruct them.
      Even if it costs more ( in cash) The deconstruction costs, should be written in to the whole lifetime project,
      many jobs and recycling capabilities could be employed, especially for the (World) environment.
      We should be responsible for the waste we make, not shift it to head choppers inc.

      One might ask are the whole lifetime projects costs of Hinkley Point C written into the project?

      We should not produce anything, if we are not prepared to deconstruct the project and deal with all the waste issues.
      The MoD announced earlier this year it had been sold for £2m to a ship recycling company in Turkey.

  • Sharp Ears

    How you would have fared in England Craig, goodness knows. Nick Triggle is a good reporter and is keeping a close watch on the collapse of OUR NHS. It is a very worrying situation and I feel great concern for those who are relying on it when there is a need.

    ‘ ‘Deeply worrying’ waits for hospital beds
    By Nick Triggle
    Health correspondent

    More than one in 10 patients in England face long delays for a hospital bed after emergency admission.

    BBC analysis of NHS figures showed nearly 475,000 patients waited for more than four hours for a bed on a ward in 2015-16 – almost a five-fold increase since 2010-11.

    Hospitals reported using side rooms and corridors to cope with the growing number of “trolley waits”.

    NHS bosses acknowledged problems, blaming “growing demand” on the system.

    Doctors said hospitals were now dangerously overcrowded, with three quarters of hospitals reporting bed shortages.

    Bed occupancy is not meant to exceed 85% – to give staff time to clean beds, keep infections low and ensure patients who need beds can be found them quickly.

    But 130 out of 179 hospital trusts are reporting rates exceeding this for general hospital beds.

    Hospital managers said the problem was causing “deeply worrying” delays for these patients.

    They are people who have already faced a wait to be seen in A&E but whose condition is deemed to be so serious they need to be admitted on to a ward.

    About one in five people who come to A&E fall into this category and it includes the frail elderly and patients with chest pains, breathing problems and fractures.’


    [Two years ago, paramedics arrived within five minutes on four occasions when I had difficulty in breathing following a thyroidectomy for cancer (in which I lost a laryngeal nerve and hence the use of one vocal cord) and after radiotherapy which destroyed salivary glands. So I owe my life to those paramedics, the doctors and nurses in A&E and those on the ward to which I was admitted twice. Only once I had to wait a couple of hours for a bed and was kept in a side ward with the inebriated and demented. That was scary. I don’t know how the staff cope.

    I love and cherish the NHS as should all of us.]

    • giyane

      Surely the only response to Sharp Ears’ return must be thanks and welcome !

      The powers that be , Neo-cons, Tories, political Islam, have all had a good kicking in exchange for the good kicking they have given us over the years. Each of their policies have been utterly disgraced: using terrorists to further global hegemony, leverage money like curry into explosive methane, and using a religion of truth as a shroud of total deceit.

      It is wonderful news that although some of our body and social components can go awol, commonsense and health are capable of being restored.

    • Habbabkuk

      What would be the solutions to the problems you describe in your post (in your opinion)?

    • Habbabkuk

      “I love and cherish the NHS as should all of us.”

      Most sensible, intelligent people whose thinking has not become fossilised would probably agree that loving and cherishing the NHS should not rule out admitting that the NHS is not perfect and has never been. A fortiori, nor should it rule out looking for ways in which its shortcomings and failures might be remedied through appropriate reforms and new thinking of a more or less fundamental nature.

      A model and practices appropriate (perhaps) to conditions and demand in 1948 are not necessarily still appropriate for the rather different conditions of 60 plus years later.


      Anyway, I (and perhaps others?) look forward to hearing ideas from the contributor at 09h06 on how – in her opinion – the problems specifically referred to in her contribution might be alleviated or even overcome.


    Glad you are restored to health, Craig. Nice to be able to visit a site where Brexit is not discussed, or discussed only very briefly, and there are no photos of Nigel Farage!

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Saying the BBC make lots of other programmes besides news and current affairs is like saying the Mafia make lots of spaghetti.

    The real point is that the BBC enjoys tremendous stature as a voice of authority in this land, and most people simply assume they are impartial, but they are clearly not.

    Propaganda doesn’t have to be in your face, the BBC propaganda is subtle but insistent. They frame and shape the debate and mould national opinion. In some cases, this can be comic, such as when they pretend the whole country is out having street parties in adoration of the Royal Family.

    At other times, such as war, the effects are more tragic. Half the country opposed the Iraq War but it would be unthinkable for the BBC to represent that constituency. Modern wars cannot be fought without the consent of the people at home, so the military wage a parallel war of information against their own people. The BBC are handmaidens to this.

    They sanitise the truth, they mute the cries of blown-up people, and systematically conceal the horrors of war from the public. They call invasions ‘interventions’ and give the impression that few people get hurt in them.

    When a BBC journalist reports in tones of hushed wonder about Shock and Awe—watching the distant green flashes light up the horizon like summer lightning—that journalist never explains what the doctrine of Shock and Awe is. That it was designed by its framers to reduce the civilian populace to the same state of catatonic shock that befell the people of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The journalists never point out that the US army buried thousands of Iraqi conscripts alive in the Gulf War with giant ploughs attached to tanks. If they did, those people whose taxes were funding the carnage might feel queasy.

    As numerous statesmen including Lloyd George have observed, if they told the truth about war no one would go.

  • Sharp Ears

    Faisal Islam was very impressed with Pannick’s performance at the Supreme Court yesterday.

    Pannick attack: QC tries to dismantle Govt case in Brexit court battle
    The highly regarded silk marshalled a plethora of arguments as he sought to demolish the Government’s case on triggering Brexit.

    ‘In the afternoon, the highly regarded silk took back control of the Supreme Court. A Pannick attack on the previous day and a half of legal argument aiming to overturn the High Court decision.

    The rights of Newfoundland lobster farmers in 1892, King James during the Case of Proclamations and Freddie Laker, all were marshalled in pursuit of his argument that “there is no prerogative power available in this case”.

    He began with quite the zinger though.’

    • bevin

      I cannot believe that there were ‘lobster farmers’ in Newfoundland in 1892, but then the guy is a lawyer isn’t he?

        • nevermind

          Thanks for sorting out MN’s ridiculous response to Sharp ears, mods.

          @Bevin, thanks for that link to the press gazette. should have not looked at it, Laura Kuensberg??? the Tory’s special spokesperson paid for by us?

      • Ba'al Zevul

        Tracing the reference back as far as I care to – even I have a life – it seems that fishing generally in Newfoundland went into decline, for reasons which in part could be argued were due to the reduction of external markets – and hence a loose parallel to Brexit, as envisged by its opponents – or equally due to the failure of the trading bloc represented by the British Empire to reduce tariffs, which looks more like a parallel with Remain.

        Lawyers – slippery customers, and unused to putting both sides of a case.

        • bevin

          I just don’t believe that they ‘farmed’ lobsters. I gather incidentally that Louie a 100 year old lobster was bought at auction, recently, by someone who was kind enough to release it/him back into the wild.

          • Trowbridge H. Ford

            Sure the guy didn’t work for the Pentagon.

            See it was responsible for another earthquake, the one yesterday off Aceh.

            Right before Christmas 2004, the special attack sub the USS Jimmy Carter, on its bread-down cruise, instigated an earthquake off the Auckland Islands which not only killed hundreds of sea mammals but more important triggered an earthquake which broke off the Australian-Indian plate from the Antarctic one which then resulted in that gigantic one right after Christmas whose tsunamis killed about 250,000 people.

            Quite an inventive bunch, those Pentagon guys.

            Just wait till the new SoD Mattis gets going.

        • lysias

          The reduced price of fish — in addition to debts from World War One and the costs of the Newfoundland Railway — was one of the reasons why Newfoundland ceased to be a dominion and returned to dependent colony status in 1934.

          Newfoundland’s colony status ended when Newfoundland joined Canada as a new province in 1949. Interestingly, the results of the referendum in Newfoundland that approved joining Canada were very close, and there were lots of charges of British interference in the campaign leading up to the referendum and also in the referendum itself.

  • Sharp Ears

    Drug companies to pay up.

    Pfizer and Flynn Pharma fined over 2,600% NHS price hike
    Two pharma firms reject claims they exploited the taxpayer by raising the price of a drug at a cost of £48m to the NHS.

    Owen Smith was employed by Pfizer as their PR spokesman. What would he be saying today?

    Where is he btw since he lost to Jeremy? Hardly a peep out of him since June. Just two contributions.

    This in October.
    Owen Smith (Pontypridd) (Lab)
    I have been at a bit of a loose end in the past few weeks, but I have been putting my time to good use: I have been reading the Secretary of State’s back-catalogue. In one of the speeches I found, which I can quote for him, as it is invidious for him to quote himself, he recommended—this was just a few years ago—that we have two referendums on Brexit, the second referendum being held only when the terms of the negotiation were fully formed. Did he change his mind only when he saw the result of the referendum?

    Mr Davis
    The hon. Gentleman may have had some time to spare, but he has not used it very well. Indeed, he needs some reading lessons, or maybe reading glasses. Ten years ago—not two years ago; he should get his dates right—I when talked about the possibility of a double referendum, in the early days of our discussions on the matter, I said that we should set up a mandate referendum, laying out exactly what our claims would be, and then if we won that, use it as a lever to get good terms and make a decision thereafter. That is not what the Government did; they put a straight question. If the hon. Gentleman went out on the streets of London and asked people, “What do you think you voted for? Did you vote for a mandate, or did you vote to leave?”, the answer would be that they voted to leave.’

    and another in November

    Davis swatted him away like a fly both times.

    There was a debate in the HoC yesterday on the price of pharmaceuticals and other NHS supplies.

    This was of note. Nobody knows where £1.24billion has gone!

    Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab)
    ‘Amendment 8 seeks to compel the Government to reinvest the rebate from the pharmaceutical sector for the purpose of improving access to new and innovative medicines and treatments. On Second Reading, the Secretary of State confirmed that £1.24 billion had so far been returned to the Department of Health through the rebate scheme. That is a considerable sum of money, and it is anticipated that the sum to be received annually will increase when the Bill is enacted.​
    Despite numerous questions asked throughout the passage of the Bill, we have still not been able to pin down the Government on exactly where this money has gone, other than into the general pot. It is our fear that this new money, which could have delivered a step-change in access to treatments to the benefit of patients and the life sciences sector, will instead be simply added to the baseline, with every £1 from the pharmaceutical sector meaning £1 less coming from the Treasury.’

    Dr Philippa Whitford SNP made good contributions.

    Vaz as ever held forth. On his diabetes.

  • Robert

    This is such BS.

    Nobody has subjected Julian Assange to anything. He skipped his bail (leaving his friends and backers to pay up) and took refuge voluntarily in the Ecuadorian Embassy. He has no rights, except to a fair trial. And that is what he is desperately trying to avoid.

    He is a sleazy, dishonourable man in hiding from the law. Nothing more.

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