Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Proud British soldiers are told not to wear their uniforms in public: Move to foil Woolwich repeat denounced as 'victory for terror'
British soldiers have been warned not to wear their uniform outside barracks amid fears of a Woolwich copycat attack. They have also been told not to let strangers know that they are serving in the British Army.
Whitehall officials are understood to have noticed increased ‘chatter’ among jihadists wanting to carry out a beheading or other high-profile attack on a serving soldier.
Fanatics have been carrying out internet searches for the location of army barracks across the country to identify targets, the Mail has learnt. The threat level for the armed forces has been raised from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe’, meaning a terrorist attack on military personnel is highly likely.
But commanders have told soldiers to act as if the threat is ‘critical’ – the highest level of terrorism alert – and to be ready for an imminent attack.
Politicians said military personnel should not be forced to ‘hide away’ by not wearing their uniform proudly in public. Labour MP John Woodcock said: ‘Our military personnel will understandably follow the immediate safety advice they are given but ministers must understand people want our brave troops to be loud and proud in their communities, not being forced to hide away.
‘It would be a stomach-churning victory for the terrorists if their cowardly attacks resulted in a permanent ban on our servicemen and women displaying their uniforms in public.’
Soldiers were warned it is ‘highly likely’ that terrorist groups will use the internet – and social media sites such as Facebook – to choose targets because of the ‘wealth of personal information available’.
One unit was even briefed by a commander that the internal threat had not been officially declared ‘critical’ for fear of panicking the public. Raising it to that level would mean intelligence had emerged that a threat was imminent.
A military source told the Mail: ‘They are worried another Woolwich-style attack is imminent. ‘The security services are terrified that soldiers are going to be targeted so soldiers have been warned not to wear their uniform outside military bases.
'We have been told it could be imminently stepped up to “critical”.’
A series of terror plots have been foiled by Scotland Yard and MI5 amid a marked increase in the number of threats from extremists over the past year.
Security chiefs have warned that a terrorist attack on British soil, linked to extremism, is ‘almost inevitable’ in the coming months.
The Ministry of Defence said there had been no central order but that individual units may have issued their own guidance.
Like a slice of Rudolph for Christmas lunch? Animal rights campaigners are furious at supermarket chain for stocking reindeer meat
Normally, they are to be found pulling Santa’s sleigh over roof-tops to the delight of countless children. But this festive season, reindeer can be found in a much more mundane location — stacked in packs in the deli aisle of a budget High Street supermarket.
For Lidl, whose dramatic price-discounting has lured shoppers away from its rivals, is selling smoked reindeer meat this year among its Christmas delicacies. The packs are part of the German-owned chain’s ‘Deluxe’ range.
But are we British — brought up on stories of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer — too sentimental to want a slice of Dasher, Dancer or Prancer with our Christmas lunch? And in any case, what does it taste like?
According to Lidl bosses, ‘reindeer resembles antelope in flavour and texture.’ But since most Britons will never have tasted antelope, this isn’t the most useful recommendation.
So I decided to test it for myself and found some of this ‘tender and flavoursome’ Scandinavian delicacy sitting in the chiller cabinet in Lidl’s store in Wood Green, North London, alongside other cured meats.
It comes from a company in Finland, with the meat originally from Russia. The animals are not kept in farms but are herded in the wild. Not surprisingly, the company that produces the meat has been accused by animal welfare groups of delivering ‘sick novelty for profit’ and making a mockery of the festive season.
Justin Kerswell, of the animal welfare and vegetarian group Viva!, is also concerned that wild predators of reindeer, such as wolves and bears, are shot to protect supplies for retailers.
He says: ‘What Lidl aren’t telling their customers is that to put reindeer meat on British shelves, other large wild animals are systematically hunted or trapped and shot.’
Lidl denies this claim. A spokesman says the animals are slaughtered under EU guidelines and meet the firm’s ‘high standards of food safety, hygiene and animal welfare’.
She adds: ‘The smoked reindeer that we sell is from the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region in Siberia. The reindeers pasture freely in the tundra year around, changing location on almost a weekly basis.’
In that area of Siberia, reindeer are vital to the livelihoods of tens of thousands of indigenous herders in Russia’s ‘High Latitudes’, where temperatures can drop to minus 50c.
The animals are used for meat, for skins to make clothes and tents, and to tow sledges. According to the Russians, reindeer meat is ‘ecologically clean’.
Certainly, it is exceptionally lean — comparing favourably with fish for its high levels of health-boosting chemicals, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which protect against breast cancer and heart disease. Im a paper published last year, Ammar Eltayeb Ali Hassan, of the Arctic University of Norway said: ‘Reindeer meat is very healthy.
‘It contains more than double the values of some nutrients as other meats, and is comparable to chicken in fat. Reindeer meat also has more than twice as much vitamin B12 [which helps prevent anaemia] as veal or lamb.’
One of the reasons for its nutritious value is the animal’s diet, which, in the winter, is comprised mainly of lichens (which are rich in selenium, zinc and iron).
But reindeer meat is hardly known in the UK — and when Gordon Ramsay offered a recipe for reindeer stew on his TV series, Gordon Ramsay’s F Word, there was a strong reaction from viewers.
So what will consumers make of Lidl’s carpaccio-style 100g packs of Deluxe Smoked Cured Reindeer Steak?
The slices of meat are dark maroon in colour and smell overpoweringly smoky. My husband pronounced them ‘delicious’, but couldn’t resist asking: ‘Is this Donner, Blitzen, Prancer or Vixen?’
He said the steaks smelled ‘lovely, quite delicate . . . Like Italian salami, very smoky. A taste sensation, very salty. It’s less gamey tasting than venison. I definitely like it.’
However, food writer Rose Prince, who has a more professional palate, disagrees.
She agrees that reindeer meat, which is essentially venison, is a lean and healthy option, but says these cured slices have ‘a horrible strong flavour — salty and artificially smoky’.
She also points out that they are made from ‘reformed meat’, meaning they have been chopped to a mush then shaped into a salami.
When she tried them, she says: ‘They were sweaty when they came out of the pack, then began to dry out quickly.’
She concludes: ‘It is a very nasty product and a waste of good meat. I don’t think reindeer meat slices will find much of a market in Britain, not just because of the emotional reaction to them, but also because they taste disgusting.’
Archbishop calls for state war on hunger but MPs say feckless parents waste cash on cigarettes and drink
The Archbishop of Canterbury was warned not to become a ‘political pawn’ last night after calling for state-backed food banks.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby said he had been left more shocked by the plight of Britain’s hunger-stricken poor than those suffering in African refugee camps.
His comments came before the publication of a wide-ranging report, backed by the Archbishop, that calls for the Government to do more to eradicate hunger.
But yesterday senior Tories criticised the clergyman for supporting the ‘nationalisation’ of food banks. In addition, the MPs’ study found that families’ lack of money was not the only problem.
The all-party Commons group on hunger warned that some parents spend far too much money on cigarettes, alcohol, takeaways and other ‘non-essential items of expenditure’ because they lack basic budgeting skills. Many more cannot cook even the simplest meals for their children – leaving them to go hungry.
The MPs call upon teachers to do more to report parents from chaotic households so they can receive help from ‘troubled families’ units.
However, they conclude: ‘We should not leave the duty resting with schools. Parents have duties, and these duties are not abated by the chaos resulting from their lifestyle.’
The report, Feeding Britain, is released today. Chaired by Labour MP Frank Field, the all-party group calls for:
A new publicly funded body, also to be called Feeding Britain, to work towards a ‘hunger-free’ UK with the help of eight Cabinet ministers;
Bigger food banks to distribute more free food, and advise how to claim benefits and make ends meet;
A rise in the minimum wage, and the provision of free school meals to children even during school holidays;
New measures to make it harder to withhold benefits, including ‘yellow cards’ instead of outright bans; and
A request from the Government for food bank funding from Brussels.
The Archbishop wrote in the Mail on Sunday how hunger ‘stalks large parts’ of the country.
He added that he found the plight of a British family who resorted to using a food bank ‘more shocking’ than terrible suffering in Africa because it was so unexpected.
Last night former Cabinet minister David Mellor said: ‘He’s fully entitled to make points about food banks. Where they get it wrong is talking about the Government having to do food banks.
‘My understanding of religion ... is it’s about religious responsibility. 'I don’t remember any part of the Gospel where people were told to queue up outside Pontius Pilate’s office and tell him to give more money to the poor. [The Archbishop] should allow himself to be aware that he shouldn’t be used as a pawn in a political game.’
Tory business minister Matt Hancock stressed that food bank dependency had risen under the Coalition in part due to greater awareness.
‘Before we came to power, food banks were not allowed to advertise their existence,’ he said. ‘One of the reasons for the increase in use is because more people know about them.’
Damian Green, the former immigration minister, said: ‘We have a welfare state now, but what they’re saying is the welfare state should take over food banks, should nationalise food banks.’
The all-party report also discloses the ‘unpleasant truth’ that some children are hungry when they get to school because of the ‘chaotic conditions in their homes’.
‘A large proportion of primary schools that submitted evidence to the inquiry said they had witnessed children arriving at school hungry because their parents could not, or would not, wake them up to make them breakfast, or bring them to the school breakfast club,’ the report says.
Another factor behind parental poverty is the addictions that many families face.
‘Budgeting support is terribly important, but ... is often not enough to equip families to kick their addictive habits when addiction is being fed and defended by some very powerful lobbies,’ it warns.
The report says some parents are so tempted by cheap alcohol in supermarkets, and the plethora of betting shops on high streets, that they spend money on these rather than food for their children.
‘A family earning £21,000 a year, for example, where both parents smoke 20 cigarettes a day will spend a quarter of their income on tobacco,’ it adds.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg backed the report, saying he agreed with introducing ‘yellow cards’ for benefit claimants.
Napoleon to meet his Waterloo again - but this time the biggest concern will be not upsetting the French
It may have been 200 years ago, but plans for a re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo are reportedly being adjusted to avoid creating any tension between the British and French.
The re-enactment of the historic defeat of the French forces, led by Napoleon Bonaparte in the battle on June 18, 1815, is due to take place next year.
The battle was fought near Waterloo, which is now Belgium, and saw 25,000 French troops killed or wounded as the Duke of Wellington led Allied troops to victory, along with General Blücher from Prussia.
Wellington's victory over Napoleon's 72,000-strong army however was fairly close, as 15,000 of his own troops were left dead or wounded after the fighting. He acknowledged this when he described the Allied win as a 'near run-thing' when the battle ended almost 23 years of war.
And while the re-enactment will be kept historically accurate, it is claimed some adjustments have been made to ensure it is not too damaging to relations between the two countries, the Sunday Times reported.
Instead of being held on just one day the staged battle will take place over two days - with day one ending with a stronger French side. The next day 80,000 people will watch the Allied army - a coalition of British, Dutch, Belgian and German soldiers - counterattack and achieve victory. This will represent the end of hours of bloody fighting which took place in 1815.
Napoleon may be played by Mark Schneider, an American, and around a third of his troops are likely to be from the UK. Frank Samson, a Frenchman, is also reported to be in the running to play Napoleon.
Etienne Claude, director-general of Waterloo 200 - the group organising the re-enactment - said the battle was not a defeat of the French but 'a defeat of Napoleon.'
He said: 'The spectacle of the first day is not to win or lose by the French army. It's part of the historical reality.'
Mr Claude said there are also plans for a VIP battlefield ceremony, which will see President Francois Hollande invited along with descendants of the Duke of Wellington.
Other proposals thought to be under consideration include head of government marking the occasion during a routine meeting of EU leaders due to be held a week later.
However some believe the re-enactment should not be a 'watered down' version of history. Vince Law, whose great-great-great grandfather served as one of Wellington's foot soldiers said he thought the bicentary of Tralfalgar 'took political correctness too far.'
The adjustments will not be the first time Britain has avoided damaging French pride through staging historical events. In 2005 a re-enactment of the Battle of Trafalgar saw a sea battle between red and blue teams take place, representing the French and Spanish navies and the Royal Navy. The battle was one of the most decisive naval victories, with 22 ships lost by the Franco-Spanish fleet, and none by the British.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.