Thursday, 31 July 2008


The remains of 5 children have been recovered from the former children's home Haute de la Garenne on the Channel Island of Jersey. These include 65 milk teeth and over 100 bone fragments. The milk teeth were determined to have come out after death.

It is suggested that there is sufficient evidence to mount a case for prosecution, except that apparently steps have been taken to ensure that such a prosecution would fail - apparently to preserve reputations. An investigation will be mounted into the separation of powers (legislative, executive and legal) in Jersey, which are allegedly too intimately intertwined. The abuse could easily be proved. More on this here.

It should be borne in mind that Jersey, although part of Great Britain, has a large degree of autonomy from mainland Britain. London takes care of matters like foreign affairs and defense, but Jersey has its own laws.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Tropical cyclone humour

Rainy evening

It's been raining all evening and it's cooled down a bit. Have posted some pictures of Monday's cruiseliners on a forum related to AIS (the ship tracking system), which elicited some positive responses. Will see if I get round to do alerts this evening, am not sure.

Wednesday 30 July

Quite a nice day, but with a steady deterioration in the weather. Mind you, it is still quite bright, but you'd have a job to find the sun. No complaints about the temperature, which is a pleasant 21C / 70F. Went to town this morning to get the newspapers. There was a European street market in Point Street and the lower part of Francis Street, selling a lot of continental-type food as well as a variety of teas (leaves), crockery and other little things. Very nice - will be here until the weekend. It is carnival weekend, so the funfair was already in place.

MV Muirneag is on its way home. The ship ran aground on Friday morning, nearly knocking over a jogger who was out for an early-morning run on the shoreline path between Cuddy Point and the Creed. Fancy having to dodge a 5,800 tonne ship coming straight at you!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Tuesday 29 July

First week back is over and done with, and the weather remains anything but Hebridean. Although we got a downpour at 11 am, the sun got back out and it became quite acceptable. Not been doing much today, apart from sorting out my pictures of gravestones (have more than 150). It is turning grey and overcast again as I type.

Soufrière Hills

This volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat erupted without warning during the night. Large plumes of ash and smoke are emitted by the volcano, rising to 40,000 feet in the atmosphere. Ashfalls are occurring over surrounding areas of the Caribbean. Apparently, the lava dome that had built up in the volcano collapsed, sending a so-called pyro-clastic flow out towards Plymouth, the island's capital.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Monday 28 July

The fog took until 5pm to clear, after which we had a brilliant evening. Sunset at 9.45pm, meaning we've already lost 50 minutes since the summer solstice. The normal ferry is covering for the freight ferry, which is in dry-dock in Aberdeen for repairs.

Both cruiseliners left at or before lunchtime. I only got very foggy images of both of them, a pity, as I had not previously seen them here in Stornoway before. The fog also put paid to the delivery of newspapers, which failed to appear in the shops today (as far as I know).

Foggy morning

It's foggy this morning, with a visibility of about 400 yards. The fog came drifting in at sunset time last night. Awoke earlier on to the dulcet tones of two ship's horns, blasting nearby. A glance at the ShipAIS site showed two cruiseliners, the Christopher Columbus and the Maasdam. The Maasdam is more than 3 times the size of the C.C.; neither of them are currently visible from my position.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Radovan Karadzic

A reminder, if one were necessary, why the former leader of the Bosnian Serbs is sought for alleged genocide. This indictment does not make for cheerful reading. Karadzic's lawyer has lodged an appeal against his extradiction to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, an appeal that is expected to fail.

The Rook's Hawk

Your result for Which Chess Piece are You Test?...

The Rook's Hawk

Congrats! Only 12-16% of the population score this!

The Rook’s Hawk is like a judge. They have a great sense of right and wrong especially in their area of interest or responsibility. They are devoted to duty. They are punctual. People who set their clocks on others are typically measuring their time with the Hawk. It is common to perceive that the Hawk is cold or aloof. They frequently protect their emotions via practicality.

They work systematically to get the job done. When a new procedure is proven, they can be depended upon to carry it out. The Rook’s Hawk is deeply frustrated by the inconsistencies of others, especially when it comes to commitments. They will keep their feelings to themselves – but when asked expect truth over tact. They are quite able to make the tough call and carry it out. You will find the Rook’s Hawk at home in government, schools, military or any other organization which maintains strict hierarchy. They are the traditionalist and are perfect for balancing out the idealists of other types.

The Rook’s Hawk thrives on organization. They keep their lives and environments well-regulated. They bring painstaking attention to detail in their work and will not rest until satisfied with a job well done. They are obviously hard workers. They will sort through ideas and find the most practical ones, again revealing how common sense prevails in this type. This ‘Pawn’ is the cornerstone of an ethical working society. They are centered on dealing with the present and most practical affair. They observe life and promote consistency in society. They value loyalty and others are best to acquaint themselves with this type if they wish to gain a fruitful insight to what makes the world tick.

Summer continues

It looks as if the summery conditions will continue for a few days yet, until a breakdown moves up from the south on Tuesday or Wednesday. Temperatures here in Stornoway have been pegged back a little, to 19C as opposed to the 23C seen yesterday, by a moderate northeasterly breeze. Elsewhere in the country, the mercury has sped past the 80F mark without any impediment.

Sat outside for a while around the midday mark, but just managed to add more sunburn to what I had already acquired in Holland over the past few months. The sea haar that plagued us through the night and into the early hours of the morning was quickly dispersed by that northeasterly.

Four die on A9

The A9 has seen yet another fatal accident. Yesterday afternoon, a pick-up truck collided with a Dutch registered Volvo estate at the Slochd summit, half way between Aviemore and Inverness on the A9 Inverness to Perth road. The pick-up apparently swerved across the carriageway, barely missing one vehicle before colliding head-on with the Dutch car. This burst into flames, killing a man and a baby; a woman and a girl were injured and transferred to hospital in Inverness. A man and a woman in the pick-up also lost their lives in the smash, together with 3 of their 4 dogs. The road was closed for 7 hours; the cause of the crash is being investigated.

The A9 is a 110 mile accident blackspot, notorious for its intermittent single- and dual-carriageway stretches.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

MV Muirneag

Our freight ferry, MV Muirneag, met with a wee bit of an accident on docking at Stornoway yesterday morning. Muirneag takes cargo vehicles across the Minch in an overnight run between Stornoway and Ullapool. Yesterday, she was preparing to dock along no 1 pier here when an apparent technical fault caused her to run aground at Priest's Island [shown on the left of this picture], off the Castle Grounds. The ship refloated half an hour later on the rising tide and docked successfully shortly afterwards. Conditions were clear with light winds. The cause of the incident is being investigated. Earlier this evening, the ship was seen leaving Stornoway, and the AIS ship monitoring site showed her passing Cape Wrath at 8pm, bound for Aberdeen.

Blogger returns

Kate went private back in March, but has gone public again and would like to welcome back any previous readers!

Fox and chickens

Dirk touched on the fraught subject of the teaching of Spanish in American schools, resulting from the number of illegal Latino migrants in the States. I could not disagree more, so I'm going to engage in an exercise of putting the fox in amongst the chickens and wait to see the feathers fly.

As you know by now, I am Dutch, and was taught 4 languages at school - Dutch, English, German and French. Dutch being a minority language in greater Europe, this makes sense. I think that it is beneficial to anyone to speak more than one language, as it creates greater opportunity in the world at large. Spanish is spoken by many of the residents of the American continent (both South, Central and North), and represents a rich cultural heritage. Who has not heard of Cervantes' Don Quixote, or Picasso's Guernica?

I feel that English speakers should drop that arrogance that you only count if you can speak English, and the rest does not count. Don't forget that there are more Chinese speakers (1,200 million) for a start. If your children can speak Spanish, at least they are able to communicate with more people, who are there in the US whether you like it or not. Here in Europe, we also have problems with illegal immigration, but don't go all xenophobic over it.

Please don't forget that if you ostracise a sizeable section of your community, you start to tally up problems that will come back to haunt you in the future. It happened in Europe in the 1950s and 60s, when "temporary" migrant workers were attracted from the Mediterranean (Morocco and Turkey e.g.), who were not invited to integrate into society. The migrants are still there, 40 to 50 years later, not speaking the local languages, and a fertile breeding ground for religious extremism.

Mr Obama at least had the sense to realise that, and if the Hispanics cannot learn English (because they are ostracised from and by society), well, the English speakers will have to come the other way. As the Muslims say, if Mohammed cannot come to the mountain, the mountain will have to come to Mohammed.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Hurricane update - 25 July

Dolly has disappeared off the charts as a formal tropical cyclone, and its remnant is fizzling out over northern Mexico. Therefore, I swing my glance across the Pacific where tropical storm Fung Wong is winding up towards typhoon strength. Fung Wong will be making a beeline for the east coast of Taiwan, which it will strafe with winds of 85 knots, that's a mere 95 mph, on Monday.


Now that 75F may not seem much to some, but it was warm today in the Hebrides. The sun was out, and everybody mentioned how warm it was. I took myself off by bus to Ness, 25 miles north of Stornoway on an errand: to continue photographing wargraves. To this end, I went to the old and new cemeteries of Ness. The downside of the nice weather was the plague of flies which greeted me the moment I left the village of Swainbost, where I alighted from the bus. The fares had gone up, so I'm now paying £4.60 for a return (about $9) covering a 25 mile stretch.

The old cemetery is a wee bit messy, full of stones, flies and dead rabbits. I'm not blaming the bunnies for the flies (they were omnipresent), but it did not help. The gravestones in that churchyard are the hide-outs for snails, measuring almost an inch across. I found 8 gravestones in addition to the ones I had already located in April 2007 related to the Iolaire disaster. A short hike up the hill brought me to the new cemetery, where 8 military graves were found. At one point I feared I was photographing the flies rather than the stones. I beat a quick retreat and went to the beach, which lies half a mile away. Eoropie Beach is famous - see the pictures - and very busy this afternoon. Many young families taking advantage of the nice weather.

Beyond the beach I trudged round the headlands to the Butt of Lewis lighthouse and back to Eoropie village. The bus appeared at 6.20pm to take me back to Stornoway.

Another feature that struck me today was the wealth of wild flowers that turned the area above the shoreline into a sheen of yellow. The machair is a habitat, unique to the islands. It is created when sand is blown onto peat. Peat is acidic and not conducive towards growth of many plants. However, the finely ground shells in the sand neutralise the acidity, leading to a wide variety of multi-coloured flowers.

I have uploaded the pictures, but you'll have to call back for the annotations tomorrow.

Friday 25 July

Another bright and fairly sunny day, which is going to be pretty warm again as well. There is a lot of high cloud about, which heralds a change in the weather. Tomorrow will probably see more in the way of showers as an Atlantic front moves up from Ireland in the night.

Major news in the UK is related to a by-election (interim election) for the UK Parliament in a constituency in Glasgow. The seat was previously held by the Labour party, currently in government, but their 13,000+ majority was overturned by the Scottish National Party. It is the latest in a series of bad election results for Labour, which is currently in government. In Scotland, the SNP has been in office since elections to the devolved Scottish Parliament in May 2007.

A plane, en route from London to Melbourne, was diverted to Manila, Philippines, after an 8 by 10 ft hole appeared in its fuselage below the wing. This was also noticeable to the passengers, because pressure was lost in the passenger cabin, the floor and ceiling collapsed and winds began to blow inside. On landing at Manila, passengers saw the hole for themselves, making some of them physically sick.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Soup-resistant laptop

The Onion has announced that a laptop is on stream which is resistant to soup, poured directly into the Ethernet port.

Warm day

By Hebridean standards, any temperature of 20C or more means the day was warm if not positively hot. It was 20C this afternoon. Today started cloudy, but the sun came out at lunchtime. Went into town at 2pm, but away from the seafront it really was quite warm. Following all the building and refurbishment work, carried out during my absence, a little clearing up was done. You've got to take advantage of the nice weather.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


This video is not in English, but it doesn't matter. As you start to watch, ask yourself the question: what is this all about.

J-land Angels 2 / Silent Keyboards

Jeannette [jeanno43] has started a new journal J-land Angels 2 / Silent Keyboards, due to problems with the original J-land Angels. It is a shared journal, to commemorate J-landers who have passed away. Please put this on alerts / feeds.

Wednesday 23 July

Day is gradually improving in terms of weather. It started off overcast, but the sun is out and there are broad swathes of blue sky. No complaints about 16C/ 60F on the thermometer.

Yesterday, the new Tesco supermarket opened up the road. Somerfields closed on May 3rd and it took all this time to revamp the premises ahead of the opening. Yesterday, all islanders crammed through their doors to have a look. When I went shopping, it took me half an hour to get round the store. Mayhem. Today was much better.

Had a brief amble round town just now, and not much has changed.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Alive and wrestling

A man went canoeing on Loch Fyne in Argyll over the weekend, but was tipped out of his canoe. He left everything in the water and swam ashore, as he was due to take part in a wrestling match at a Highland Games at Inveraray. Meanwhile, his floating equipment was spotted by a member of the public, who rang 999 and the Coastguard came out to search. Ashore, police also made inquiries and located the man at the Highland Games. The Coastguard politely reunited him with his canoe and paddles.


I have not done the rounds today, as I am rather busy settling back into the old SY routine. I shall endeavour to catch up tomorrow, but am not promising.

Anyone in the path of Dolly - landfall is expected within 24 hours; more details on the location from NHC. Updates from them every 6 hours.

Hurricane update - 22 July


Tropical storm Dolly is in the Gulf of Mexico, some 200 miles southeast of Brownsville, TX. This system is moving slowly northwest and will intensify to a category 2 hurricane, with winds up to 80 knots (90 mph) by landfall. The exact location of landfall, expected sometime tomorrow, is not yet certain, but will be in the area of the US / Mexico border.
I copy the 1500 GMT / 1000 CDT warnings from the National Hurricane Center.

A HURRICANE WARNING is now in effect for the coast of Texas from Brownsville to Corpus Christi, and for the northeastern coast of Mexico from Rio San Fernando north to the border with the USA.
A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected in this area within the next 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING is now in effect from north of Corpus Christi to San Luis Pass.
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area within the next 24 hours.

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING and a HURRICANE WATCH is in effect from La Pesca to south of Rio San Fernando.
A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 36 hours.

New community journal

Jeannette [jeanno43] has created a journal, These We Have Loved, remembering those that have passed on. It is a shared journal, so everybody can make an entry.


Pictures of the journey from Amsterdam to Stornoway can be viewed here.

Tuesday 22 July

Today started bright and fairly sunny, but as I type there are spits and spots of rain on the brisk wind. We went to the newly opened Tesco supermarket, which has taken the place of Somerfields. The supermarket was heaving, in a word. Impression favourable, but I'd have to go back at a quieter time to really see what it is like. Tesco are employing a lot of folk that used to work at Somerfields.

Otherwise, I'm keeping a quiet day, as I'm still pretty knackered following my long journey yesterday.

Monday 21 July

Yesterday, I returned to Stornoway by plane at 5.50pm. I left my father's at 7.50 am (local time) to go on the train to Schiphol Airport. It was pouring with rain in Holland. Schiphol was heaving, and it took a while to go through check-in. The plane left a smidgen late at 12.30, and very quickly rose above the rainclouds. These extended halfway across the North Sea, but on reaching the North Kent coastline at Birchington the sun was out, and remained out all the way to Gatwick. It was a scenic end to the first leg of the journey.

At Gatwick, I had to transfer from the North to the South Terminal by rail shuttle. At the South Terminal, there was some time to spare before the 2.35 flight departed for Inverness. This proved to be a lesson in geography, as the aircraft flew the length of the country, with good views out over the western coastline. The northern coast of Wales was laid out beautifully, with Anglesey, Great Ormes Head and the Wirral. Further north, Blackpool, Lancaster and southern Cumbria moved into view, until high cloud obscured the outlook. On descending over the Highlands, the plane left the clouds over Loch Ericht and Dalwhinnie, following the line of the A9 north to Aviemore, thence over Culloden Moor to Nairn and Inverness airport.

It was sunny and mild at Inverness, with a pleasant smell of heather and wild flowers. The staff were most helpful, pleasant and polite, and made sure that my bag had followed me all the way from Amsterdam. The wee plane to Stornoway departed on time at 5.10. The pilot promised us a delight of views, but the only good view was had over the city of Inverness with Loch Ness and the Kessock Bridge. A little further west, we sat in clouds all the way to Stornoway.

It was cold and very windy in Lewis, and I was freezing by the time the wee service bus turned up to return me to Mrs B. in the town.

Karadzic captured

The former leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, has been captured in Serbia and is being processed for extradition to the Yugoslav War Crimes tribunal in The Hague. Karadzic has been on the run since the 1990s. Karadzic's worst crime is his alleged involvement in the massacre of 7,000 civilians in the enclave of Srebrenica in 1995. His henchman, Ratko Mladic, remains at large.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Hurricane update - 20 July

At 15.45 GMT (11.45 EDT), the National Hurricane Center declared tropical storm Dolly, located east of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The storm will traverse the peninsula and reemerge over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. There is a good deal of disagreement over the path of this storm, but it seems likely that it may make landfall near the Texas / Mexico border as a strong tropical storm or a hurricane, early on Thursday.


20 July

I shall resume blogging on this journal as of next Tuesday, 22 July. Tomorrow I am travelling for nearly 12 hours, so I'll be pretty knackered at the end of it all. I have immensely enjoyed my visit to Holland, although the reason that sparked it off was very sad. Nonetheless, time has come to return northwest. I'll see y'all on Tuesday.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Hurricane update - 19 July

Tropical depression 03 has formed off the coast of the Carolinas. Winds are increasing, but at the moment not exceeding 35 mph (force 7 on the Beaufort scale). This system will become a tropical storm later today, and will amble northeast, parallel to the coastline before being scooped up by a frontal system to the north.

Hurricane local statements are in force in SC, NC and VA, but I must stress that this is NOT a hurricane. The main problem with TD 03 is the amount of rainfall - 2 to 4 inches. Please check the NHC website for 6-hourly updates and further details.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Solar Eclipse

On 1 August, as Cathy reminds us, a solar eclipse will grace the skies of Europe and Asia. Starting at 08.04 GMT and lasting for 4½ hours until 12.36 GMT, the UK will see between 20% and 40% of the sun's surface obscured at around 10.15 am. More info on this official NASA site.

NEVER look DIRECTLY at the sun, with the naked eye, binoculars or darkened glass. Your sight may be irreversibly damaged or lost.

Hurricane update - 18 July

Everyone in the states of Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina should be aware that a low pressure system off southern Georgia could be turning into a tropical depression later today or tomorrow. The system is moving north northeast, parallel to the coast. Heavy rain is possible in these areas; please monitor bulletins from your local National Weather Service buro, as well as the NHC into the evening and night.


Thursday, 17 July 2008

Hurricane update - 17 July

The NHC are watching a low pressure system 75 miles east of Jacksonville, FL, which shows some potential to develop into a possible tropical system. It is not directly affecting weather in FL or GA, although a line of showers is draped along the eastern seaboard of both states.

The Netherlands Antilles are affected by a tropical wave, which will bring heavy showers and strong winds. A tropical wave is a seasonal weather phenomenon in the Atlantic, where bulges of moist air are released from the African continent. These waves tend to be the sparking points for hurricanes to form.

At this point in time, I'm monitoring 4 tropical cyclones around the world, as well as three pieces of weather that could become that. A typhoon has just passed near Taipei, the Taiwanese capital. Two systems in the Eastern Pacific, and tropical storm Bertha, which has been around for more than 2 weeks; NHC are currently on their 59th advisory. It could become one of the longest living storms in the Atlantic.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


The inflation percentage in Zimbabwe at the moment. Mugabe still in power, and likely to remain there until he goes to meet his Maker. Country in economic melt-down, but as long as RM is in power, all is well in his world. Everybody else can go hang - he used that quote in relation to the United Kingdom, but you can safely add another 6 billion or so people to that. I despair.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Monday 14 July

Olive Riley, the world's oldest blogger aged 108, sadly passed away at a nursing home in Australia last Saturday. With the help of a friend, she posted reminiscences on her life on the web. Her blog is currently inaccessible due to too high and interest; a satellite blog is available.

The president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, has been indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal of The Hague, for alleged crimes against his own population in Darfur. However, Sudan does not recognise the jurisdiction of the tribunal, so he won't be seen around The Hague just yet. He should be though, with the way things have gone in Darfur recently.

Alerts sorted

I seemed to remember that AOL Alerts cannot cope if you have more than 200 alerts outstanding. I had 217. So, I deleted all the alerts I am currently following through Google Reader, reducing them to a manageable 23, including the private journals. I hope these now work.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Alerts & AOHell

Those of you who have given me access to your private journals please bear with me. AOL is no longer permitting me to add new alerts to the list, and private journals cannot be read with a feed-reader. I'll just have to make a list in Firefox with the URL's. Sorry.

Saturday, 12 July 2008


As several of you will  have found out by now, I've decided to resume reading everybody's journals. I think I have all stations covered, except the private journals. Can all whose private journals I read please email me direct. I have visited a couple tonight, but there are quite a few more. I made a list, which I unfortunately left in Scotland. I will not be posting much just yet, more likely on the Shell Gallery journal. See you around!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Technical advice

If you hear of any people suddenly losing Internet access after July 8th who are using a ZoneAlarm firewall, please tell them to access the Net from a different PC (one that does NOT use ZA) to view this advice.

Apparently, a Windows update clashes with ZoneAlarm, causing it to deny all Internet access. Basically, the best thing to do is to un-install the update (through Add Programs on your Control Panel). It does NOT apply to Windows Vista.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Five Years of J-land

Donna very kindly made a tag for our 5th anniversary. Please note it's an animation, so you CANNOT store it on AOL, 'cause it will not work. Feel free to snag, if you haven't already got it.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Alerts and all that

Officially, you should receive alerts as pop-ups and/or emails. When you go to, and click on My Alerts, you'll see the names of the journals you've subscribed to. Personally, I find this list less than helpful. If they but put the blogs on as URLs, I'd be a lot happier. Anyway, an icon like the AIM logo should show in bright red, and a little envelope should appear in blue, indicating that these are the methods by which your alerts are delivered. You can switch an alert on or off that way.

Google Reader is what is known as a feed-reader. Every time a site (such as a blog) is updated, a signal is released from part of the code that this has happened - a feed. Feed readers can receive this signal and flag up the new entry on a blog on a site like Google Reader. There are plenty of other websites that can do the same.

For Reader to work, you need the URL of a journal. When you view a blog, the address bar should show that (the bit starting with or Highlight the URL and copy it (press Ctrl-C), then go to the feed reader and add the URL (by pressing Ctrl-V) in the bit where you can add a subscription.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


I've decided to ditch AOL's New Entry alerts. When I come back, I shall be monitoring new entries through Google Reader, which appears to be slightly more reliable. Comment alerts I shall continue to receive, although I have to go to a non-AOL email to collect those. Don't even think of asking.

Sunday, 6 July 2008


I am slowly resuming topical entries on Northern Trip to get back into the swing of things. I am not yet resuming my J-land activities, as I am not ready for that at this point. Thanks to all for welcoming my return here.

Don't forget I'm currently running the Shell Gallery blog as a personal journal.

Piper Alpha

6 July 1988

A black day in the history of North Sea oil exploration.

167 men die on board the Piper Alpha platform in the North Sea after a gaspipe ruptures, causing a huge fire. The horrifying images are etched on the minds of all who work in that industry, as well as of their relatives, friends, neighbours and communities. The BBC has published a good but chilling account on this page. Lessons have been learned, but those that died will not come back. Those with scarring, physical or emotional, will not be much helped by that.

I know one or two people who work in the oil industry, and their tale is one of money before men. On one rig, a man was killed instantly in an accident. His corpse was covered in a tarpaulin and his co-workers ordered to continue operations over the body. The production of oil may not be interrupted without serious cause, as national interests are at stake.

This entry is dedicated to the memory of those who died on Piper Alpha.
This entry is dedicated to those who suffered injury of whichever form there.

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Saturday, 5 July 2008


Ingrid Betancourt, Colombian politician of French/Colombian extraction, was finally freed from captivity earlier this week. The subterfuge employed by the Colombian armed forces to do so without bloodshed deserves the credit it merits. The political pressure, brought about by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French head of state, appears to have attracted a lot of praise too. Whilst being happy for Mrs Betancourt that she is out of the hands of those who held her against her will, I don't see what all the fuss is about. The FARC movement are holding more than 700 hostages, most of them not as high profile as this lady, and several were previously freed or released.

Ingrid Betancourt was seized in 2002 when she was campaigning to become president of Colombia. As such, she tried to engage the FARC movement in an effort at national reconciliation - and FARC seized her, as it has taken hundreds hostage. It was almost to be expected. The Colombian rebels have been severely weakened in recent times, not least because several of their leaders have been killed or died naturally.

I just hope that this spectacular action will be the prelude to the release of all of FARC's hostages, and the dissolution of the rebel movement. Methinks Colombia should be united in its battle against the cocaine barons, not divided.