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The BBC is reporting this:

Bloggers battered by viral storm

Some blogs have been found hosting booby-trapped links

Google’s Blogger site is being used by malicious hackers who are posting fake entries to some blogs.

The fake entries contain weblinks that lead to booby-trapped downloads that could infect a Windows PC.

Infected computers are being hijacked by the gang behind the attacks and either mined for saleable data or used for other attacks.

The Blogger attack is the latest in a series by a gang that has managed to hijack hundreds of thousands of PCs.

Attack pattern

Security researcher Alex Eckelberry from Sunbelt Software first noticed the booby-trapped links turning up on Blogger on 27 August.

Now many hundreds of blogs on the site have been updated with a short entry containing the link.

Mr Eckelberry said it was not yet clear how the links were posted to blogs. The bogus entries could have exploited a Blogger feature that lets users e-mail entries to their journal.

The blogs themselves could also be fake and set up solely to act as hosts for spam.

Google has yet to comment on the attack and how it might have been carried out.

The entries on the blogs have the same text as some of the spam distributed by the group behind the attacks. These attempt to trick people into clicking on links and downloading booby-trapped files using cleverly crafted messages.

Some pose as YouTube links others claim to be looking for testers of software packages or digital greetings cards.

The group behind the attack on Blogger is thought to have mounted a huge series of attacks since January.

The first attack used a spam that purported to give recipients more information about the severe storms seen in Europe in January. This led to the virus used by the gang being dubbed the “Storm Trojan”.

Since January the group has been sending out huge numbers of different spam messages in a bid to trick people.

“The criminals responsible for this spam campaign are experts at exploiting social engineering to propagate their botnets,” said Bradley Anstis from security firm Marshal.

The spam messages have been changed to capitalise on news events and the viral payload has been updated many times to fool anti-virus programs.

Mr Anstis said the sheer number of messages being sent by the group was staggering. On some days, he said, 4-6% of all the junk messages seen by Marshal were sent by the group.

Security experts estimate that the group can send out so much junk mail because they have hijacked so many Windows PCs via successive campaigns. Some suspect that the group has infected more than one million PCs over the last eight months.


are you kidding me? lol

Dude dont send that stuff to my home email…

Dude your gonna get caught, lol

HAHAHAHAHAHA, man your insane!

I cant belive you did this

LMAO, your crazy man

LOL, dude what are you doing

man, who filmed this thing?

oh man your nutz

OMG, what are you thinking


The BBC has a programme called ‘Open Country’ which in the past has had some perfectly adequate reports.

Listening today, however, to one Helen Mark going about the Stour Valley reminds one that the BBC is by-and-large wholly unsympathetic to the country.

This little princess was taken to a rather special old pillbox which is being kitted out as a Hilton for Bats. Having been got inside all she could do was squeak and quake with terror at being inside a confined space.

She complains in pillbox about not being able to sit down and her hands getting clammy. Her voice became distinctly nervous and she said she was frightened of someone locking door and the unpleasant atmosphere

Faced with some pigs she expressed fear at being near them and so on.

“Am I safe to come in amongst all these pigs they are quite big?”

“Make me a little nervous…. Squeak….”

“Some sows, they are so vast its frightening.”

Then there was what sounded like a Suffolk Punch Heavy Horse:

“…I’ve never seen such a huge horse I am almost scared to go near it, it is so vast.”

“It’s unnerving this creature is so vast.”

Why not employ someone as a presenter who actually likes the animals to be found in the countryside and who is robust enough to face to sort of situations one encounters there?

Mind you I was amused to hear the pig farmer summoning his pigs by the simple means of shouting “Pig, pig!” at them. I recall visiting a farm in the eastern Cape of South Africa in the 1980s where a fascinating gentleman was rearing white rhinos. We drove out into the bush to feed said rhinos and upon stopping the farmer leapt onto the back of a bakkie (pickup) and shouted “Rhino!………Rhino!”. I was dead impressed when three rhinos came trotting, dutifully, out of the undergrowth. Neat!

One must, above all, remain positive on the matter of a referendum on the EU Constitution. It is so unthinkable that we do not eventually get a referendum that one’s mind will not brook the idea of failure. At the moment all the signs remain good. Yet I wonder if we have failed to factor in The Town Rat Catcher’s (who he? I hear you ask: why Gordon Brown, of course, for that is the only job up for election after the EU marches in) ability to dig in and weather the attack. He is showing absolutely no sign of surrender as yet.

It is plain that he is engaged in the business of trying to stave off defeat on the issue. Over the weekend it became apparent that as many as 120 Labour MPs may be planning to defy The Town Rat Catcher and vote for a Referendum when the matter is before Parliament. These self-same Labour MPs, it must be noted, are not acting out any desire to prevent the EU from completing its coup d’etat against the status of the 27 members of the EU as Sovereign Independent States, merely against the extent of it.

They, of course, can be bought and they know their man. They know that he is an appeaser and a doer of deals, the more secret the better. They know full well that, given the right circumstances, he will buy them. They sense a weakness in his position and have been swift to the point of having the ruthlessness of a pack of hyenas in moving quickly to seize a haunch or two. This, according to the Daily Telegraph (HERE) is their shopping list:

  • Keep policing and criminal justice away from the European Court of Justice.

None of us opposed to the EU in principle will cavil at anything which can be kept out of the deathly embrace of the ECJ

  • Prevent the court using EU competition law to undermine public services.

This is a classic piece of the sort of thing that goes to make up a constituent part of the perma-slime of the Socialist EU. If EU Competition law should happen to act in such a way (and, of course, EuroPiggies might canter down the runway at Heathrow and fly to the moon), and make our public services efficient and cheap, know then that many Labour MPs are against that.

  • Scrap the new post of EU foreign policy chief and the EU diplomatic service.

Well done, boys and girls, join the club!

  • Member states to regain international aid budgets.

Let us have our international aid budgets back so we can waste them good and proper, not in the half-hearted way the EU does.

  • Scrap rules that allow EU leaders to introduce majority voting into new areas without the need for treaty changes.

Well done, boys and girls, join the club!

  • Drop plans for further extension of majority voting and stick with the provisions agreed in talks on the Nice Treaty in 2000.

Well done, boys and girls, join the club!

  • Drop plans for a list of areas where the EU “shares competence” over policy with member states.

Well done, boys and girls, join the club!

  • Return powers over regional spending to national governments.

Whilst superficially this is a good idea, one would like to see the small print: does this mean that they see a way to bribe their way to Regional Government of the UK (and thereby a means of side-stepping the whole West Lothian Question by dividing us to rule us)? It has that rank smell about it.

  • Enable the Government to “automatically” deport foreign criminals.

It is evident that they realise the grave harm this whole issue has done to them: they have understood that the Chindamo case has made them (and Jack Straw in particular) look very foolish and careless, given that the law on which his Judgement was based was signed off by Straw and subjected to no effective scrutiny by Parliament.

  • Scrap plans to deprive national voting rights if they breach EU economic rules.

Just imagine proposing to France that she be deprived of voting rights when they breach the rules governing the Euro……

  • Abandon plans to give Brussels the power to determine composition of the European Commission.

Well done, boys and girls, join the club!

  • Retain national veto over trade agreements relating to public services.

An essentially protectionist measure, but who could oppose preventing us from deciding our own policy on this.

Whilst one commends them for some things they oppose, one should make it clear that in so doing one is only happy that they understand how lethal these things will be for the UK’s sovereignty: one would rather we were totally disentangled from this mid-20th. century’s dinosaur’s grip.

You may be sure that other demands will be forthcoming as, in the way of all bullies and blackmailers, they begin to sense that the tide is running their way. Other things they hate will discreetly be advanced as worthy of the chop and just as discreetly, for the moment anyway, they will get it. That, however, is unlikely to be the case with the twelve demands above, as the Daily telegraph reports (HERE), with the notorious Elmar Brok observing:

“The European parliament is worried about the exact extent, definition and consequences of the opt-outs.

“The extension of majority voting in crucial policy areas, particularly in justice and home affairs, will strengthen the fight against terror and cross border crime. Regrettably Britain has got an opt-out from the policy area of justice and home affairs.”

Anyone doubting what this exercise is all about should pay close attention to the words “crucial policy areas” in the foregoing quote: the EU is not going to rest until it has seized control of our every last vestige of power we have to run our justice system and control what goes on in our country.

That The Town Rat Catcher may be bought and sold, often at great expense to the public purse, is further evidenced by preparations which are being made to cave in to the Unions over Public Sector Pay upon which several newspapers have reported in recent days. It should come as no surprise that the Unions have opened a wholly new front in favour of a referendum on the EU Constitution, this one based on making the depth of the perma-slime of EU Socialism ever greater, the effects of which will be to make this country (and the other 26 members of the EU), even less competitive as against the emerging Tiger economies. Ramping up public sector pay, will have the usual effects of requiring to be paid for, with higher taxes or cuts or both. Just like the 1970s, of which era the Town Rat Catcher is a living fossil.

Another suggestion has been doing the rounds, which smacks of panic, is that The Town Rat Catcher is desperately hoping that someone else will vote against this treaty and thus sink it for good, or so he hopes. At the moment only Ireland is going to have a referendum and the pressure will be on them, not least with all the threats to the juicy handouts that Dublin gets as Danegeld every year. Hoping that someone will fortuitously come along and throw a huge lifebelt into the water is really the counsel of despair. And even if someone does come along, we should never give up our quest for a Referendum. Regardless of what any other country may want, we should demand our say on this appalling Treaty.

Hopefully, the ranks of Useful Idiots will continue to throw up the likes of Gary Titley –by – name, Titley – by – nature who plunged his foot firmly into his mouth by declaring in a debate with union leaders:

“The RMT union is arguing that the UK has opted out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This is wrong.”

The final suggestion as to how to get rid of the Referendum is to hold a General Election on a manifesto that says ‘No referendum’, to win the election and then say there is no commitment to hold referendum. Well, that might seem like a clever idea on paper. Yet to do so this way would see the Labour party descend to new lows of dishonour as they weasel their way out of a manifesto commitment and any such election may yet become principally an election on the issue of a referendum. That would be a catastrophe for Labour. The British Public can see though that wheeze in a moment and will not take to it at all. It would be the ultimate gift to a David Cameron campaigning on a referendum.

Meanwhile, the LibDems are making sounds as though they would like a bit of democracy according to the Daily Telegraph (here) . It seems as though the LibDems, not always the brightest of buttons on the shelf, are worrying about inroads which the Conservatives might make against them if they are seen to oppose the Referendum and oppose democracy, particularly in the south of England where they might face being punished by the voters for their anti-democratic ways and continuing Onanistic Europhilia.

So, what news from the front? Well, a bit of a mixed bag: a few hundred yards of ground gained here and then but rather more smoke on the battlefield than normal.

Yet still a sense that things are moving in the way of allowing us to have our say.

Peter Riddell, not notably a supporter of the right or of The Conservative party writes an encouraging piece for them in Today’s Times (here).

He makes one point which it is, I think, vital for the leadership to take on board at once:

The Tories still have plenty of problems. Mr Brown remains well ahead of Mr Cameron as preferred prime minister. The Tory policy review remains a muddle. No one knows what is a firm commitment especially when ideas clash, as between the quality of life and competitiveness groups. A leisurely two-year process based on the theme of “may a thousand flowers bloom” appealed early last year but now looks a luxury, even if there is no election until next spring. Talking about crime and the like is no substitute for a clear view on the role and size of the State.

In commenting one has a very clear idea of what the targets are for attack on the Labour side of the battlefield. In a sense that is inevitable given that they have been in office for ten years and a government must have a set of ongoing policies with a reasonably fixed foundation otherwise it could not have a legislative programme of any sort.

Since Mr. Cameron’s election as Tory leader there has been a leisurely stroll about the policy park with a variety of policy groups grazing here and there before moving on to fresh pasture where a bit more grazing is done. Then the cattle lie down and ruminate before chewing the cud and ultimately producing the product of their efforts. At the moment the Conservative party looks to all the world as though it is but chewing the cud in a very leisurely way.

We know, therefore, what there is to attack on the Labour side but I confess that it is very difficult to be writing on and advancing Conservative ‘policy’ since I have in many instances no clear idea what policy is: are we for the abolition of inheritance tax or its reform or doing nothing? We say that we want to repeal the Human Rights Act 2000 and replace it with a UK Bill of Rights: how is that to be achieved bearing in mind that we are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights? We say we want to repatriate powers from the EU: which powers and how are they to be repatriated if the EU says ‘No’? Is it policy to have VAT on fuel used for domestic flights? If so, at what sort of rate? What is our policy on …..well the list is very large and others may supply their own items.

It is all very well for these policy groups to be reporting, one by one and attracting some good (and some indifferent and some bad) headlines, but too often this or that idea appears at one moment to be flavour of the month, only for us to discover a couple of days later that it actually is merely an ‘interesting’ idea. Those of us who would wish positively to advance the cause of the Conservative party are somewhat hamstrung, therefore, because it is difficult to say with coherence what a given position is.

Although I remain unconvinced by the thought of an Autumn election (which is probably a signal for Brown to ask the Queen for a Dissolution!), it remains a possibility. It may be that the swan is paddling furiously below the surface of the water, but one does not have a sense of great urgency.

Tomorrow may, as always, be too late.

Rod Liddle opines (here) today on Paxo’s biting of the hand that feeds him at the annual MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh Festival.

Paxo is, rightly, unimpressed with the BBC which has many features with which to be unimpressed. Paxo understands, however, that which Liddle does not, which is that the BBC Licence Fee (or The Television Tax as it should, properly, be known), is hopelessly outdated and will soon have to be replaced as a means of paying for the BBC (though it is unclear with what). Liddle says that changing the BBC is down to us, the viewer:

“The public, not the likes of Paxo and Marr, will force the networks to clean up their acts.”

Sadly that is not going to happen whilst the BBC is funded by a compulsory Tax which those who wish to watch television have no option but to pay. This the BBC knows. This the BBC also believes will go on for ever as they calculate that no politician has the guts to reform them nor any political party the guts even to threaten to reform them.

Only abolition of the Tax and the break up of the institutionally leftist BBC will draw its poison.

I freely confess this morning to being a dinosaur. A very angry and irritated dinosaur, mind you.

Yesterday morning my family awoke to discover that during the night a mindless drunken yob had assaulted my wife’s car causing considerable damage, rendering it undriveable. From the nature of the damage it is evident that he had to get onto the bonnet to cause some of the damage. The perils of having only on-street parking are obvious but unavoidable where I live. As a result of this assault our entire weekend plans have gone up in smoke. The details matter not, but we are not now doing the pleasurable thing we had in mind for the weekend but instead spent most of yesterday sorting out the mess.

Of course our problems are minuscule compared to those of the Jones family in Liverpool, but one can be forgiven for thinking that incidents such as these are all part of a piece. If I am thought to ignore them, I do not mean to do so but instead opt to concentrate on where we might make a start.

Labour’s twenty-four hour drinking ‘experiment’ (they are the scientists, we are the lab rats) is a bonkers idea. We are never going to have a Continental-style café-culture. Our weather is against it. The nature of the economics of High Street property are against it. The arrival on the market of the Café Nero/Starbucks etc. type cafés has not brought with it any apparently successful spread of Continental-style cafés. Our drinking culture is against it.

Instead we have witnessed the rise and rise of huge drinking emporia which exist solely to remain open as long as possible, to pour as much alcohol as possible into as many young people as possible in order to extract as much profit as possible. No attempt is made to ensure that hose who are drunk (and obviously drunk) are given no more, for the sanctions for so doing either do not exist, are not enforced or are inadequate. Control of licensing has been passed from a Judicial body (The Licensing Justices) to an administrative body (The Local Authority), a move that must have been dreamt up by a particularly half-witted Civil Servant and carried into execution by a more than usually bovine Minister. Any sense of a culture of supervision of Licences has disappeared in a puff of smoke.

I am afraid I now belong to the ‘Killjoy’ party. I do not give a monkeys for all the howls of protest there will be at my proposal as to how we can start (note: ‘start’ and not ‘finish’) rolling back the tide of alcohol and alcohol infused youth from our streets, but actually I do not care. I have had enough.

Licensing must forthwith be returned to Licensing Justices. They shall be supervised by the Resident Judge for the local Crown Court centre. They will have wide powers to remove licences not just from individuals who fail properly to control the amount of alcohol consumed on their premises but from the premises themselves, so that the brewers, pub chains etc. have a significant financial interest in ensuring that the law requiring proper control of drunkenness within licensed premises is observed. Such laws should be backed by offences for which non-custodial sentences are the exception rather than the norm for licensees and should be so crafted as to expose the executives and managers of pub owning companies to the possibility of going to jail if they fail to exercise proper supervision over their managers. This must be reinforced by a willingness to lock up people found drunk in the street and to have them convicted of crime for being so found instead of just being tipped out in the morning when they are sober.

As a nation we have proved that we are not responsible enough to have licensed premises open 24 hours a day. During the week we should revert to the old system of pubs closing at a particular hour. I suggest 2300 hrs. During the week pubs will also close in the afternoon, from 1415 hours to 1800 hrs., having only opened at 1200. Restaurants can continue to serve alcohol to bona fide diners until midnight. No special rules will apply to night clubs and the like which will also have to have entertainment licences supervised by the licensing justices, which licences will be just at risk of removal as the drinks licence. They will observe the same rules and same hours as public houses. If the young complain at this, tough. They have surely demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to behave responsibly in the present framework.

It may be that some touchy-feely politicians will blanch at the prospect of offending the ‘yoof’. If so, let them give way to other politicians who are not ‘touch-feely’. Let us nail responsibility for the present Licensing shambles squarely on the shoulders of the party responsible for it: Labour. It is their shambles, let them pay an electoral price for it.

But above all, give us a Licensing framework which will give us the tools to start getting to grips with this problem. We cannot, surely, go on like this.

To all the scoffers out there, scoff all you like. The old system worked. I worked in pubs when I was aged in my early 20s. I was told when I started what the law was and what my duty as a barman therefore was . Knowing what the law was and that it would back me up I had no qualms about telling, on one occasion, a titled local worthy in his cups who had gone beyond being a pub bore that he had had enough and was not going to have any more. When he protested, offensively, my landlord came in and barred him for life. He then had to drive three miles for a drink and was soon nabbed for drink-driving. Even though this was a remotish village pub, we closed on the dot, because we did periodically get a visit from the local Sergeant whose job it was to monitor licensed premises. We knew the law, that failing to obey it had grave consequences and that the police would enforce it.

I may be a killjoy dinosaur, but hands up all those who would, with me, this morning vote for the ‘killjoy dinosaur’ party.

Not having been near an NHS or any other doctor for some twenty years, for my own health that is, my recent experience as a consumer is necessarily out of date. There has been the odd visit with my son over the years, the most notable being when he rolled over as a small child and hit his head on the corner of a stone hearth opening up a nasty 2 inch cut to his head which need, as I judged, stitching or as the A&E doctor judged, gluing. The said doctor plainly thought we were child-beaters and started to ask some thoroughly poisonous questions. He stopped doing this quite quickly, however: whether it was my tone of voice that put him off his stride or my balling my fist as I spoke, I shall never know.

Last year, we had to go through the business of my wife having breast cancer. The details matter not but I did get a ringside seat as to how the NHS deals with the life-threatening as opposed to the lifestyle ill-health. In fact we had nothing to complain about at all and one was thoroughly impressed. Having come from a medical home where the old-fashioned ‘talk down at them’ approach was the order of the day, I was pleased by the direct yet compassionate approach of the consultant surgeon. The nurses on the ward were quite excellent and the specialist nurses too. This I account a good experience. Yet one has heard so many less than wonderful stories of the NHS. Perhaps it is because it really pulls the finger out for the life-threatening but with lesser ailments sometimes they do not get it right.

Anyway, I have damaged a knee and went to the GP. Having not been near a GP in the best part of twenty years (and why I last went I cannot recall), this was a novel experience. I had to fill in a multiple choice questionnaire, which I was told goes to the NHS. Having as yet had no service at all, the questions about service were meaningless so I just ticked ‘jolly good’ all round. To one question, about my ethnicity, I added the rider that I resented being asked this question. It is none of their business and makes no difference to my answers and no difference to the treatment given, so why ask it?

In the event I have to see the orthopædic surgeon. To get an appointment I have to telephone the local hospital and give not just a PIN number but a code number as well. This enables them to look at my computerised record, I suppose, but that does not happen when you ring up, but some time next week, when the orthopædic team will look at what the GP has said and decide what to do. Then I have to ring again next Friday to be told what the determination is. At that point I will get an appointment. Sometime.

I used to work as a temporary acting unpaid secretary for my father sometimes. On occasion I had to ring the hospital to make an appointment for a patient with the surgeon. My father would tell me that Mrs. Smith needed to see Mr. Jones make an appointment and a brief resume of the problem would be given. I would telephone there and then and an appointment would be given there and then, usually within seven days. Total time: five minutes from diagnosis to getting an appointment.

Which is the better system?

Answers on the back of a beer mat, real ale only, please.

The Guardian (HERE) reports that as many as 100 Labour MPs may be planning to vote in favour of a referendum. If so Brown’s majority would be well down the pan and a vote on the EU would become inevitable.

One should not, I feel, put too much store by the figures for the moment. But what it does suggest is that the clear and unambiguous evidence of the opinion polls (82% in favour of a referendum at the last count) is perhaps beginning to translate into discontent on the doorsteps so to speak and Labour MPs are doing no more than reflecting what is being said to them, back in their constituencies. In addition Union-sponsored MPs may have had their ears bent in recent days by their Paymasters, the Unions.

The motives of the Socialists will probably be, in some cases at least, similar to those of the Unions, who will be calling for an opt-in to all the worker ‘friendly’ stuff (actually it is not worker friendly at all but mostly liable to put them out of a job in sue course, but that is by the by) that The Town Rat Catcher has tried (probably unsuccessfully) to opt out of. Others are troubled (as well they might be) by the damage that the Rat Catcher’s dishonourable and deceitful position may be doing to them. They have also worked out that the Chindamo case, based as it is on a piece of EU law that Jack Straw as Home Secretary allowed on to our statute books without our say-so, is causing collateral damage to the party.

The mathmatics are of interest. The Labour party can muster on paper 353 votes and the combined opposition (in practical rather than theoretical terms) 284. It needs just 35 to vote with the opposition for that majority to disappear. Brown might just risk a vote but defeat would be more humiliating than an earlier ‘managed’ retreat (“we’ve just had some further legal advice and we have realised that….”) would prove to be. Brown’s position may, therefore, be on the cusp of becoming very tricky indeed.

Meanwhile Labour Whips are doubtless oiling their sjamboks and knouts as I write.

I place the following facts before the astute public.

  • Ken Livingstone is Mayor of London;
  • There is an election for the post of Mayor in May 2008;
  • For the first time Ken Livingstone faces a formidable opponent in Boris Johnson;
  • Crocodiles shed tears;
  • According to the Daily Mail Mayor Livingstone attended a slavery memorial event yesterday in London;
  • At this event Mayor Ken Livingstone broke down in tears as he apologised for London’s role in the transatlantic slave trade;
  • Most of London’s Afro-Caribbean voters are descended from slaves.

You figure it out.

Pro Referendum Rally

Once the month of August was the month of lassitude and ‘man bites dog’ stories. Any politician worth his salt was out of sight and out of mind, the Tories on the Grouse Moors and the Socialists at Butlins or under whichever stone from which they had crawled.

Meanwhile the following communiqué has been received.

Lt. Col. Cameron has, for reasons that have much to do with wounds received in action earlier in the summer, has come back from leave bent on mounting a Big Push to try and dislodge Herr Oberst Macavity from his top billing in the opinion polls.

Sadly the Big Push has already petered out. Lt. Col. Cameron has had to go back to the Casualty Clearing Station just behind the lines so that some pieces of shrapnel may be removed. Then he will go to Battalion HQ to raise a rumpus as to who it was whose poor staff work sent him over the top without the right kit. Meanwhile Major Lansley lies out in No Man’s Land, exhausted after twenty-four hours of continuous counter-attack by the Nulabour Fusiliers. All that is known is that he is badly wounded, but whether his wounds are fatal or not, none knows. All hang on for the sound of the single pistol shot that will indicate that he has decided to end his suffering.

On the other side of No Man’s Land, Herr Oberst Macavity has found himself faced with a Soldier’s Soviet, or rather two such. The first wants him to reinstate ‘forty weeks leave for the front line’ rule which has been abrogated by Army HQ in Brussels: Macavity is sure they will see sense and will loyally give up their campaign when they understand the true benefits of letting HQ run the show. The second comes from the awkward squad, the grumblers and the moaners. They recall something about being able to vote on whether to let their own commanders command or to let a foreign power have full control of the army. Even as we speak the Feldgendarmerie is fanning out over the countryside ready to hold summary courts-martial just behind the lines, at the end of which a few will be shot to make the point that Herr Oberst Macavity does not do democracy.

Fresh back from leave in the North, Herr Oberst Macavity has convinced himself that the Painted Picts can be held at bay, though he did notice that they seemed to be everywhere, whereas on his last visit in May it was his own troops who occupied all the key points. Clearly change was needed, so he has appointed himself a new Commander of the Northern Armies who, he believes, will soon drive the painted ones back. The old Commander asked to be relieved of his duties but, for him, all is not lost: instead of being retired on half-pay, he has managed to wangle himself a cushy number behind the lines as Liaison Officer to one of the smaller Allies.

The Emperor’s Reichskanzeller, Hausfrau-General Merkel, has just been to visit the Front and she dropped in to see Herr Oberst Macavity. She was gratified to hear him confirm that these little local difficulties will be put down with a firm hand and that his staff have ordered a ratissage to scour the countryside forthwith to deal with dissenters. Whilst she was in the Oberst’s bunker, however, she looked out and was appalled to see how they were in fact surrounded by the enemy. She is wondering now whether Herr Oberst Macavity has perhaps been telling a few porkies about how the war is going. Still, just to encourage him, she reminded him that if he should happen to fail, he too will be shot, for the Emperor brooks no failure. What she did not mention is that when the war is over, his promotion will be rescinded and he will go back to being a clerk in the Paymaster’s Corps, handing out small amounts of cash to the troops as pocket money.

Over in the Yellow Camp, all is sweetness and light. This is because they are all on leave, which they are assiduously spending harvesting nuts.

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