THE US spent £165 million on the biggest war game in military history earlier this month. According to one key participant it was rigged to ensure that US forces beat their 'Middle Eastern' opponents. 'The exercises were almost entirely scripted to ensure a US win,' General Paul Van Riper, a retired marine lieutenant-general, told the Army Times.
Van Riper was the commander of the enemy forces, which bore a strong resemblance to Iraq. He was instructed to make sure his troops didn't give the US forces too hard a time. 'We were directed to move air defences so that the army and marine units could successfully land,' he said. 'We were directed to turn air defence systems off or move them.'
Even as a commander of a low-tech army Van Riper continually outwitted US forces. He sent orders with motorcycle couriers to evade electronic eavesdropping equipment.
When the US fleet sailed into the Gulf he instructed his small boats and planes to move around in circles before launching a surprise attack. This sank a large part of the US navy. The game was stopped and the ships were refloated so the US forces stood a chance. Maybe George Bush shouldn't be so gung-ho about invading Iraq after all.
MORALE IN the US Pentagon section dealing with policy has collapsed, according to the Washington Times. Staff are complaining about overlong hours, a stream of contradictory initiatives and top managers who shout at them. 'It's near a crisis,' said one Pentagon employee.
Cash for empties
THE MINISTRY of Defence has spent over £100 million renting empty homes. This waste of money is down to a deal between the former Tory government and private company Annington Homes. In 1996 the ministry sold most of its family accommodation to Annington for £1.6 billion.
The Ministry of Defence then rents homes back from Annington. Nearly 9,000 of the homes rented by the ministry were empty this July. The goverment still pays Annington for the empty homes.
It has spent £129 million renting private accommodation over the last four years because Annington is not providing enough housing that is up to the required standard.
Officers from Humberside police's Major Crime Unit were drafted in to help retrieve Chief Constable David Westwood's £30,000 BMW, stolen from outside his home. Detectives from the unit, which deals with murders, rapes and drug dealing, were called in to recover the vehicle.
The police found the car the next day. 'It shows the difference between the chief constable's car being taken compared with a member of the public's,' said one police officer.
Many thanks to Geoff Collier from Hull
What's french for a wall of class?
A WEALTHY community in France has done what the rich everywhere seem to want to do - put up a huge steel barrier to separate them from the poor. Residents in Cuincy in northern France have erected a fence to keep out the residents of a housing estate in the nearby town of Douai.
Estate residents now have to take a mile-long detour to reach the nearest shops, bus stop, doctor's surgery and primary school. 'It's a wall of shame - a barrier of incomprehension and prejudice,' says Brigitte Robilson. 'My neighbourhood has been turned into a ghetto.'
The key supporter of this proposal is the mayor of Cuincy, Bernard Wagon. He is a member of the Socialist Party, France's equivalent of Britain's Labour Party.
ONE SECTION of British business doesn't want the US to attack Iraq. It has nothing to do with the devastating effects on the Iraqi people though. They are concerned with selling loads of profitable products to Iraq. Orient Exhibitions and the Middle East Association are organising the British Pavilion at the Baghdad International Fair in November.
It is inviting British firms in water, energy, construction, oil, transport, agriculture and other industries to attend. 'Our European competitors have actively participated at this exhibition and have secured a large portion of the Iraqi market for their goods,' says the brochure. 'There is plenty of scope for British companies quite legally to sell their goods into this market.'
Keeping all the bases covered
THE START of the Italian football season was delayed after the collapse of talks between the top clubs and the state TV station, RAI.
This was over the money to be paid for television rights to screen games. Italian prime minister Berlusconi owns AC Milan, one of Italy's top teams. Because he is prime minister he controls RAI. And as owner of the largest commercial TV channel, Mediaset, he stands to pick up any television rights thrown away by RAI.
BOSSES at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary have been asking nurses to work for free. They told nurses on one surgical ward that the money had 'run out completely' and nurses would have to work extra shifts without pay. 'Staffing levels are absolutely desperate and we are being emotionally blackmailed into working for free,' said one nurse.
'I was told I was a bad nurse and didn't care about patients just because I wanted to spend more time with my family.'
Things they say
'ALL OF us are millionaires now.'
Sunday Telegraph editor DOMINIC LAWSON on why the paper is banning the word 'millionaire'
'AMERICAN air power has mystique. When presidents use it, they should either hurl it with devastating lethality against a few targets or extensively enough to cause sharp and lasting pain to a military and a society.'
ELIOT COHEN, in Supreme Command, the book George Bush has taken on holiday with him
'THE Palestinian threat harbours cancer-like attributes that have to be severed and fought to the bitter end.'
New Israeli chief of staff LIEUTENANT-GENERAL MOSHE YAALON
'THERE ARE really serious areas where their performance has been deplorable.'
JONATHON PORRITT, Blair's chief adviser on green issues, slams New Labour's record on the environment
'IF ROUTES can be found avoiding UK airspace then rerouting is strongly recommended.'
EUROCONTROL, the European air traffic control centre, July
'IT IS understood that Sir Ken will be given a peerage next summer. It has been made plain to him by the PM that he still has a career in public life.'
PARLIAMENTARY SOURCE on how Blair will reward ousted union leader Ken Jackson for his loyalty
'THE authority continues to see a substantially high number of complaints of discourteous and rude behaviour and language, a significant number of which lead to disciplinary action.'
IAN BYNOE, deputy head of the Police Complaints Authority, on record levels of offensive behaviour by police officers