Another stolen generation. Another depressing tale of a generation of stolen children — this time from Spain. Seventy years after the end of the civil war in 1939 in which more than 350,000 people were killed, the Spanish are gathering the courage to undo the agreement between General Franco’s friends and foes, which followed the dictator’s death in 1975, often dubbed the “pact of forgetting”, in which both sides agreed a mutually beneficial amnesty to paper over their divisions in order to move forward to a modern, democratic Spain.

Exhumations of the mass graves are taking place all over Spain as the old horror of the Civil War is exposed to the gaze of a new generation. And among the sad stories being told is how 30,000 children were forcibly removed from their parents, given to childless pro-Franco couples or put into institutions.

The BBC television program Newsnight, which went to air this week, tells the horrifying story of how many of these children were brainwashed and cruelly abused.

The rising Afghan casualties. By comparison with the death toll in Vietnam, the casualties suffered by NATO and other international forces in Afghanistan are really quite minuscule. As of the start of this week the number killed in Afghanistan was 1341, of which 802 were American and 11 Australian. In Vietnam, US deaths had reached 58,193 when the retreat was sounded. By that measure it is interesting that we are already seeing headlines like this in American newspapers:

The front-page Washington Post story describes how President Obama is caught between two important constituencies as he recalibrates his policy on Afghanistan — the generals who want more troops and the base of his own party, whose tolerance for a worsening conflict is quickly evaporating. Congressional Democrats, in particular, says the Post, have begun to question the wisdom of further reinforcements on top of the 62,000 US troops already deployed in Afghanistan, with an additional 6000 scheduled to arrive by year’s end. The criticism comes as international fatalities in Afghanistan have risen to historic highs after a presidential election undermined by Taliban violence and low voter turnout.

One to watch. It did not make the front this morning but watch this one progress to page one as the game of industrial bluff brings us closer to the last Saturday in September. Security guards win right to strike on AFL Grand Final dayHerald Sun this morning. Imagine the hysteria of a headline saying “Grand Final may be off”.

Blame the young. Beware of 17-year-old boys from the Northern Territory if you want to keep out of harm’s way is the short summary of material from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released this morning on Recorded Crime Offenders in 2007-08.

Peter Fray

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