Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova formed GUAM on October 10, 1997 at the summit of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. In April 1999, at the meeting of GUAM states in Washington, during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of NATO, Uzbekistan was admitted into the organization, and it was re- named GUUAM.
In June 2002 Uzbekistan stated that it remains within GUUAM as an observer and reserves the right not to participate in some functions. The US in late 2000 the US allocated $45 million to the alliance's five members to be spent as they considered appropriate.
At the GUUAM summit in Chisinau, Moldova on May 5th Moldova assumed the chairmanship of the organization. Uzbekistan’s President lslam Karimov sent a message to Moldova’s president Vladimir Voronin on May 3 announcing about the withdrawal of his country from GUUAM. The explanatory letter claimed that “because of its geographic position Uzbekistan sees no ways for the realization of its interests in the areas of economy and security in the framework of the new initiatives and projects announced by GUUAM.”
The Uzbek leaders have stayed away from the GUUAM summit in Chisinau because, in Tashkent’s opinion, GUUAM has turned into a “political organization.” Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili supported by President Yuschenko of the Ukraine, made a call at the Chisinau summit for “a third wave of revolutions” in the post-Soviet space. The Georgian leader, together with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus -- who was present at the summit as an observer -- also called for adopting a resolution on the protection of freedom and democracy in Belarus although this was not supported by the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Moldova and Ukraine.
GUUAM's face has changed since this 2002 summit pic, Azerbaijan's Heidar Aliyev (GONE), Georgia's Eduard Shevardnadze (GONE) , Ukraine's Leonid Kuchma (GONE), and Moldova's Vladimir Voronin? Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov has meanwhile been and GONE.
Observers see the move confirming a geo - political turn by Karimov away from the US towards Russia and a way to diminish “revolutionary” pressure on his totalitarian regime. The March “tulip” revolution in Kyrgyzstan, seems to have heightened Karimov’s sense of political insecurity.
The Uzbek decision was not a surprise, in recent years they have consistently ignored GUUAM and after a visit to Tashkent on April 17/18th Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli, told reporters that Uzbekistan would not be participating in the forthcoming GUUAM summit in Moldova.
It must be noted that The Presidents of Lithuania, Romania and Poland, as well as Steven Mann U.S. Department of State senior negotiator for Eurasian conflicts and Caspian energy issues were present as observers at the summit. Many observers see this as a preparatory stage to extending membership of the organisation.
Interestingly, on May 12th the US senate passed without a vote a resolution (S. Res. 139) expressing support for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia and proposed by Republican Senior Se, Frist. Senator Reid (D) summed up the bi-partisan feeling of the House .. ” Georgian sovereignty and independence has been put at some risk recently through the continued basing of Russian troops on Georgian soil. Previous agreements negotiated with the Russian government calling for the complete withdrawal of Russian troops have been ignored. Some 3,000 Russian military personnel still remain in Georgia. It is time for them to go. I am confident that President Bush carried that message to President Putin during his recent visit.”
In Moscow the Head of the State Duma committee on international affairs Konstantin Kosachev is reported (Novosti) that there is no reason to talk of a “velvet revolution” being schemed currently for Uzbekistan.
"Talking of a “velvet revolution” scheme is premature. It is rather a popular reaction to what is going on in Uzbekistan and the adjacent states," Kosachev told journalists, having noted that there were "no grounds" to talk of third countries being involved. However Alexei Makarkin, deputy general director of the Russian Center of Political Technologies said that the blame for the export of "colour revolutions" is traditionally put on the West, Makarkin claims that the situation in Uzbekistan is completely different. The West, including the U.S., will not benefit from destabilization in a country so close to Afghanistan.
Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili and Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov are to hold talks about withdrawal of Russian military bases in on the sideline of the Council of Europe Heads of State and Government Summit in warsaw on May 16-17th.
Pissing on their Allies ... an ane old song.
The US hung on to the Shah, to the bitter end, but Noriega, Saddam,(who sold his oil in Euros not US$'s) ceased being “our sonofabitch” – maybe Mr Karimov can see the writing on the wall. It will be interesting to see who ends up in the slammer soonest, Frist or Karimov.
NB Meanwhile in Moscow there are calls for the share of the Euro in the Russian gold and foreign currency reserves to be increased to 50 % which is calculated to have a very unsettling impact on the US Dollar / Euro exchange rate on Monday 16th May.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Iraq. In nome del petrolio. Un'inchiesta di Rainews24 sulla presenza italiana a Nassiriya
“Un dossier commissionato dal Ministero delle attività produttive sei mesi prima della guerra. Vi si indica il luogo migliore per una presenza italiana: è proprio Nassiriya. E si parla dell'oro nero e di un affare da 300 miliardi di dollari……..” with link to video dowload of whole report.
In November 2003 in a suicide bombing against Italy’s base in Nasiriyah 19 Italians, mostly soldiers died..
RAI News 24, the all-news channel of the Italian state-owned network, have broadcast a 20 minute program report (13/5) by Sigfrido Ranucci ,that claims, on the basis of interviews and official government documents, that the Silvio Berlusconi administartion chose the Nasiriyah area to safeguard a 1997 deal signed by Italy’s largest energy producer, ENI, (23 year project AGIP and repsol) and former dictator Saddam Hussein. Previously unseen film and photos show Italian soldiers busy protecting a refinery and a local pipeline in Nasiriyah. Benito Livigni a Director of ENU is interviewed and confirms the details of the story.
A government report compiled months before the war broke out is said to recommend that Italy, (if Iraq is invaded), should secure the region of Nasiriyah and the nearby area of Halfaya, south of Baghdad, so as to secure “a deal worth 300 billion dollars”.
The Italian government has always said that the 3,000 troops sent to Iraq were for “purely humanitarian reasons.”
From a BBC News report 15/11/03
"The bodies of 18 Italian soldiers and policemen killed in a bomb blast in southern Iraq have been brought back
to the capital Rome.
Military sources said the men were due to leave as part of normal rotation plans, but their departure confirmed the government's intention to maintain a full Italian presence in Iraq despite the attack.
Some 2,400 Italian soldiers are carrying out mine-clearing,policing and humanitarian work in southern Iraq which is under the overall military control of the British.
Italians form the third largest force within the Iraq coalition, after the Americans and the British."
FCO Travel Advice "Know before you go" - Updated: 13 May 2005
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary and Terrorism section. We now advise against all travel to Andizhan in eastern Uzbekistan. (Lady Amos your unelected representative wants you to Know before you go)
1.We advise against all but essential travel to Andizhan in eastern Uzbekistan until further notice. An armed gang attacked a prison and a military unit in Andizhan in eastern Uzbekistan on 13 May 2005, releasing inmates, amongst them political prisoners. Reports vary widely on the numbers released. Uzbek TV reported nine dead and over 30 injured in Andizhan. Around 2,000 protesters reportedly gathered in Andizhan town square, some occupying the Mayor’s office.
2.Uzbekistan’s borders are potential flashpoints and some are mined. You should avoid all but essential travel to areas bordering Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
3.There is a high threat from terrorism in Uzbekistan. Indiscriminate attacks could occur in public places where foreigners may gather including, but not limited to, bars, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and bazaars. Pay attention to any security announcements by the Uzbek authorities.
4.On 13 May 2005, a suspected suicide bomber was shot dead outside the Israeli Embassy in Tashkent.
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Statement before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State,
Foreign Operations and Related Programs
May 12, 2005 - Dept of State Website
“...In Kyrgyzstan, the change of government precipitated by popular discontent over election fraud and government corruption will be followed by new presidential elections July 10. These elections offer Kyrgyzstan the opportunity to establish new democratic benchmarks for Central Asia. Working closely with our OSCE partners, we will provide assistance to ensure the elections are conducted freely and fairly. Beyond the elections, we look forward to working with a legitimately elected government to establish the basis for prosperity and stability for Kyrgyzstan and the region.”
30 More AP pics >
UNEP 3D map of Ferghana Valley>
But there is no sign that the protest in Andijan is anything other than spontaneous. Nor is there any indication that the protesters had help from outside.
"We are concerned about the outbreak of violence, particularly by some members of a terrorist organisation that were freed from prison," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. The Scotsman adds he said "We urge both the government and the demonstrators to exercise restraint at this time,"
Interior Minister Zakir Almatov appears to be in charge of negotiations, although Karimov is said to have taken personal charge in the town, although he has not been sighted.
Two of the dead were children, Sharif Shakirov, a brother of one of the defendants told The Associated Press and said the rising strated when the army started rounding up supporters on Thursday night.
Craig Murray has been interviewed by the BBC (they didn't want to know him when he stood against Jack Straw in last wek's Parliamentary Elections) and is widely quoted throughout the world predicting a crackdown by the Karimov regime.
The UK Government are officially silent. Having colluded with "rendering terrorists" and happily receiving the resulting "intelligence" from torture, the recently re-anointed Foreign Secrtary Jack Straw is understandably unwilling to comment upon the repression of the Uzbek Muslims - his unelected satraps in the House of Lords, Baroness Amos and Lady Simons are similiarly mute lest the fate of the Chagos Islanders they have creully cast aside be remarked upon as an example of state repression.
Meanwhile it is evident that Her Majesty's representative on the spot hasn't a clue what is going on, or what to do.
Muslim Uszbekistan website in English >
Describing the unrest as an "internal affair" Moscow demonstrated serious anxiety about events in Uzbekistan. Alexander Yakovenko, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said the Kremlin was concerned about government resignation demands being advanced by protesters in Andizhan, in the Uzbekistan's fourth largest city with more than 300,000 people, where only about 80 Russian nationals reside.
"We hope stability and legal order will be restored in this city in eastern Uzbekistan," said early on Friday the senior Russian Foreign Ministry official.
"Karimov is now making it clear that the preservation of power is his main goal. Karimov will re-establish law and order, disregarding the price," Sergei Mikheyev from the Center for Political Technologies is quoted.
"Disorders in Andizhan in eastern Uzbekistan are a well-planned action", according to an anonymous Russian international terrorism “expert.”
"The primary analysis of these events shows that the seizure of the police station was well planned and prepared," he told RIA Novosti.
Unrest in Andizhan Uzbekistan can destabilize the situation in Central Asia, said Dina Malysheva, a leading researcher at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
"In case of need, Russia may help the authorities in Uzbekistan solve the crisis in Andijan", Viktor Khristenko, the Minister of Industry and Energy in Russia, said very frankly. Minister Khristenko added that Russia couldn't remain impartial to what happens in Uzbekistan.
As the tension was heightening Russian officials seems became more nervous. State Duma deputy, director of the Institute of CIS Countries Konstantin Zatulin openly hinted Uzbek authorities to hasten to solve the problem. "If the Uzbek government does not take prompt measures disorders may begin in other towns of Uzbekistan" he said. Speaking about the reasons of Andizhan turmoil Zatulin stressed that some external factor might be behind the scene.
"Uzbekistan recently gave up the US support and started pursuing careful policy. After the events in Kyrgyzstan they [the Uzbek government] decided that Americans did not back local interests," the deputy said.
In his opinion, repressions against the opposition can be following the suppressed rally in Andizhan. "It will cause ambiguous reaction in the regions where Karimov is very unpopular. External forces, including the US Congress, may try to make use of the situation," Konstantin Zatulin noted.
Friday, May 13, 2005
Wireless lap top user ? – in a strange town, strange place? Wouldn't it be great if you could find closest WiFi hot spot by just pushing a button?
Without having to boot-up your computer, the WiFi Seeker will find the strongest wireless (802.11 b/g) signal. Without fail. Time is saved, money is saved, and frustration is totally avoided. It's that simple.
WiFi Seeker is a compact and convenient network locator small enough to fit on a keyring. Press the seek button and it detects (and ignores by clever RF filtering, Bluetooth, mobiles, secret service signals, microwave ovens, hair dryers etc.,) and shows with a 4 stage LED the strength of nearest network up to 300 feet away!. The Internal directional antenna locates the general location of the access point as you move it about.
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The easy-peasy lemon squeezy wireless finder – indispensable.
e-mail for more details ….. firstname.lastname@example.org
22 prominent Muslim businessmen were put on trial on Feb 11th in Andijan, Uzbekistan, just across the border from OSH in Kyyrgistan, the seat of the uprising earlier and "tulip", blue/red/green/yellow" revolution . They were accused of being associated with the banned Hizbut - ut - Tahrir and Akramia, a sect or group associated with “dissident” Akram Yuldashev.
On March 2nd the hapless and gormless Bill Rammell who was then a Foreign office Minister was refused entry to Uzbekistan – he subsequently retained his seat in the elction by a nerve tingling 92 votes and is now a back bencher. He allegedly wanted to discuss Human Rights with President Karimov, although he steadfastly refused to even reply to letters about the Chagos Islanders removed from their homes on Diego Garcia by a previous Labour Government. The Foreign Office are of course relieved of the services of their Ex Ambassador Carig Murray.
On Wednesday 4th May a demonstration about the trial in Andijan outside the US Embassy in Tashkent, of 11 men, 13, women and 19 children was broken up by armed forces.
During the week 1,000's of silent protestors (see pic AP) have sat silently and peaceably in Andijan. Last night the jail was breached and some 1,000 prisoners escaped. Rioting has ensued with the state military foring on the crowd and blocking all access to the town. The numbers of dead reported, range from 9 to 20 and those injured from 30 upwards. News organisations have been blacked out and firm news is scarce.
In Tashkent in what appears to be an unrelated event a man was shot dead outside the Israeli Embassy.
Violent anti-American protests, the worst since the fall of the Taleban on 13 November 2001 have erupted in Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar Province. Tens of thousands of Afghanis poured into the streets on Tuesday and Wednesday shouting Death to the United States! Death to George Bush, Long Live Islam, Long Live the Koran! President Bush was burned in a pretty poor effigy - not Jack S regrettably. Witnesses reported on websites in ME say protestors attacked buildings symbolizing the US presence. The United Nations HQ,several NGOs and the Pakistani Consulate were partially burned to the ground. Police and Afghan Army forces, supported by US troops, fired on the rioters, 4 dead and 70 (ish) demonstrators wounded, including six police.
Forces and funds are at work de-stabilising the region with the aim of dragging in the US military to provide “assistance” to President Karimov – the “body boiler”.
No doubt the US Embassy CIA section in Tashkent is very active and the 185 Peace Corps Volunteers in Uzbekistan are keeping their heads down. As ever the UK Secret Services are clueless, and assetless in this territory.
David Noran UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan was interviwed on BBC "PM" and says we must be cautious, stability is "important", "news is difficult to obtain",... basically we haven't a clue what is going on..or if we do we are not going to tell you. Their website has no news, no contact details for relatives, etc., for God's sake don't ask him about boiling dissidents alive... Contact the Tashkent Embassy website >
Watch this space ....... e-mail with news
Ferghana valley news ex Moscow >
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Waves of suicide bombers and IED attacks - result - 72 deaths in Iraq yesterday. Since the new “government” was announced 2 weeks ago, nearly 400 people have died.
In Tikrit, a car bomb exploded at 6:30 a.m., killing 32 wounding 90 more, according to doctors at Tikrit General Hospital. A sniper fired on Iraqi police who arrived on the scene.
In Hawija, Police Col. Abdul-Fattah Obaidi said a man jumped out of an Opel car and ran toward a line of army recruits, blowing himself up as they waited to fill out applications. The blast blew out windows of Hawija Hospital. Police closed streets nearby afterward and imposed a curfew.
The number of “insurgent” attacks has almost doubled since March to at leastv a reported 70 a day.
As the suicide bombers were at work a massive U.S. Marine offensive near the Syrian border in western Iraq continued into its fourth day. In a string of villages near the town Rummana, north of the Euphrates River, commanders reported “insurgents” and foreign fighters had largely dispersed.
''The area appears devoid of military-aged males. It's mostly women and children,'' said Col. Bob Chase, operations chief for the 2nd Marine Division, leading the assault is reported to say in the Washington Post.
Chase said no Marine casualties had been reported as of Wednesday evening although saying he had received unconfirmed reports of mine and improvised bomb explosions and that casualties could have resulted.
The insurgent group Ansar al Sunna (Arabic ; انصار الاسلام, Supporters of Islam) showed an Identity card with photographs accompanying the statement giving a Japanese hostage’s name as Akihiko Saito.
Images posted on the group’s website show an injured Aikito Saito, who is a 44-year-old consultant for Hart Security Ltd. (Hart Security was founded in 1999 and has offices in London, New York, Singapore, Moscow and Kuwait and a forward Iraq base in Cyprus), with 2 years experience in the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force's (GSDF) airborne troops, and 20 years with the French Foreign Legion.
Saito was apparently authorized to carry a weapon in Iraq. He was helping transport cargo from Baghdad to a U.S. base in Al-Asad 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Baghdad and was ambushed after leaving the camp, “The ambush was complex and well planned, incorporating the use of multiple improvised explosive devices (IED), Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG), machine gun fire and small arms fire.” Say Hart Security. The attack took place at 6:30 p.m. local time in Iraq on Sunday. Saito was the only Japanese employee of the company.
Sato is the only foreign survivor of the ambush. Reuters claim a video will soon be shown of him by the Army of Ansar al-Sunna. Hart Security say he may have died from his injuries.
Interestingly Hart’s founder, Hart's founder, Lord Westbury, (Richard Bethell, Old Harrovian, a former SAS and Scots Guards officer, also CEO of the mysteriously well connnected Defence Systems Limited (DSL) ) admitted in a Radio4 File on 4 program in May 2004…“conditions were tough”, but said ,“his firm would never jeopardise people's lives."
"You cannot guarantee in a new country with very poor infrastructure that your communications are going to be absolutely brilliant," he said. "But we have had no problems with communications that have caused anything to go wrong at all."
It is understood that Operatives of Saito's experience would expect to be paid (tax free) £400 per day when working in Iraq.
In the same programme (then) Foreign Office Junior Minister Bill Rammell said it was sometimes necessary to use private contractors.
He added, “ that any allegations of misconduct or inadequate training among security operations under contract to British authorities would be properly investigated. “ The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the Britons' deaths on recently reported (12 in the previous 12 months according to the FO) were ,"shocking and showed the risks civilians had to take in Iraq."
Five Japanese have been killed in Iraq since on Nov. 28, 2003, two Japanese diplomats -- Katsuhiko Oku and Masamori Inoue were seized and later killed. Freelance journalists Shinsuke Hashida and Kotaro Ogawa were killed in Mahmoudiya, 30 km south of Baghdad on May 27, 2004. and On Oct. 26, 2004, film on a website showing Japanese civilian Shosei Koda with Islamic extremists, who threatened to behead him unless Japan withdrew its troops from Iraq within 48 hours. A body identified as his was found Baghdad on Oct. 31 2004.
Japan has about 500 troops in the south of Iraq helping in reconstruction and peacekeeping efforts following the U.S. invasion in 2003, a move that has been unpopular among the Japanese public.
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority will visit Japan from 15 to 17 May and meet the Prime Minster as will Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Abdullah of Afghanistan who will be in Japan from 17 to 19 May.
" Kidnap and Ransom Response -Through prudent measures the risk of kidnap can be greatly reduced, but should the worst happen, carefully thought-out actions will ensure the greatest chance of the survival and safe return of the victim. " Hart Security Website
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
In 1999 Col. James C. Hiett, was the commander of the US anti-drug operations in Columbia. His lovely lady wife, Laurie Ann Hiett, pleaded guilty to shipping $700,000 worth of heroin and cocaine to NY City in Diplomatic bags, she got 5 years in prison.
Subsequently it became apparent that Laurie had previously been treated in an Army hospital for drug addiction. It was some time later that Col. Hiett was named by the Army as head of the U.S. Military Group, based at the fortresslike U.S. Embassy building in Bogotá , which trains Colombians in the finer points of drug interdiction. The couple went -- even though Laurie had lapsed back into addiction, snorting cocaine in front of her husband.
The couple's Colombian chauffeur told U.S. investigators that while the Colonel was at work, Laurie Hiett asked the driver to help her score hard drugs in Bogotá's trendy Zona Rosa district. Then, last May, a random search of cargo at Miami International Airport uncovered more than 2.5 pounds of drugs in a brown-paper package bearing Laurie Hiett's return address. This proved to be heroin and six further packages were discovered. Initially She has denied the charges, claiming she sent the parcels without knowing their contents as a favor to the chauffeur, Jorge Alfonso Ayala, who dropped out of sight in Colombia after talking to U.S. investigators. Hiett was originally released on $150,000 bail.
Judge Korman contrived to sentence Laurie Hiett to two years less prison time than called for in federal sentencing guidelines, and Col. Hiett himself was indicted for the smallest offense prosecutors could find on the books. Laurie Hiett's "mule," Hernan Aquila, a Colombian-born resident of Queens recruited to transport her coke after its arrival in New York, received a longer prison term than her employers for initiating the scheme.
James fell on his sword and pleaded guilty to helping his wife launder $25,000 in illicit profits and was given a five-month prison term although the military recommended that Col. Hiett receive only probation.
On the 28th March 2005 Five U.S Army soldiers were arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle 32 pounds of cocaine.The five U.S. Army personnel were arrested after 35 pounds of cocaine were found aboard a U.S. military plane that flew to El Paso, Texas, from a base in Colombia. This was confirmed by Lt. Col. Eduardo Villavicencio, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Southern Command in Florida. He claimed the the five were being held, "in the United States."
The U.S. ambassador to Colombia ruled out extraditing American soldiers accused of cocaine trafficking to stand trial in Columbia, citing a treaty that gives them immunity from Colombian laws. (There is regular traffic in drug dealers being extradited to the US from Columbia)
William Wood said a bilateral agreement provides U.S. military personnel stationed in Colombia the same “privileges and immunities” as U.S. diplomatic staff. He insisted that any soldiers implicated in drug smuggling would feel the full force of the U.S. justice system.
“We do not tolerate corruption,” Ambassador Wood said in a statement Wednesday.
Colombia's Defense Ministry the basic details but would not discuss any further details.
Jairo Clopatofsky, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, claims that some of the soldiers were originally detained by US Authorities in Columbia and then whisked away to the United States to be arrested, which he said flies in the face of international law.
Last week 2 Green Berets were arrested and accused of selling thousands of rounds of ammunition to right-wing death squads. Warrant Officer Allan N. Tanquary and Sgt. Jesus Hernandez - members of the 7th Special Forces Group based at Fort Bragg, N.C. - were arrested last week at a luxury gated estate where authorities discovered more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition allegedly destined for a paramilitary group, which considered a terrorist organization by the United States. The outlawed paramilitary factions have been waging a dirty war against leftist rebels and their suspected collaborators.
They are said to have have diplomatic immunity and were flown to the United States.
This week Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, head of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)during a visit to Sumapaz, a high-plains region south of Bogota, where he toured a Colombian army base and inaugurated a new elementary school partially funded by the United States head of U.S. Southern Command, insisted the arrested soldiers will face justice.
``I can assure you that within the U.S. military investigations will be thorough and complete,'' said the commander of all U.S. military operations in Latin America and the Caribbean. ``The required persons will be held accountable.''
``We are initiating a complete review of our procedures, processes and security standards in order to preclude any recurrences'' of wrongdoing by U.S. service members in Colombia, Craddock told reporters.
Craddock, wore a dark beret and immaculate combat fatigues, chatted to smiling school kids, patted Colombian soldiers on the back and whispered words of encouragement to them. Colombian forces, aided by billions of dollars in U.S. aid and training, are battling a 40-year-old leftist insurgency fueled by drug trafficking.
The tour by Craddock, recently appointed head of the Miami-based Southern Command, was clearly aimed at repairing the U.S. military's battered image in Columbia. Probably in his scheme of things a bit of high spirited entrepreneurial drug dealing and gun running beats looking sideways whilst they boil the odd terrorist suspect or two.
Hundreds of American troops are based in Colombia as part of a $3.3 billion, five-year military aid program to train local forces and provide logistical support and intelligence.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had a Police guard of 200 police when she passed by Bogota on April 27th on her drive by diplomacy trip taking in South America. Colombian Justice Minister Sabas Pretelt talked to her about US aid to build an air base in southwestern Colombia to step up a campaign to destroy illegal drug crops.
Since 2000, Washington has given Bogota $US3.3 billion ($4.25 billion) through the Plan Colombia aid package to fight drug trafficking and guerrillas.
The US has also financed Uribe's Plan Patriota, a 16,000-soldier military offensive targeting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia's jungle hideouts.
"It's a tough fight, but the United States has been providing: economic, and military, assistance of roughly $600 million a year. We would hope to sustain something like that because we know that this is a long fight. But we believe that we have a Colombian Government that is being successful in fighting these scourges against democracy,” she said to El Tiempo. R Castellanos Columbian Army with
U.S. Southern Command Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock during a visit to the Sumapaz region near Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, May 11, 2005.
R Castellanos Columbian Army with
German utility, Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW) announced the final closure today, after 36 yrs service, of of the country’s oldest working nuclear power plant, the 357Mw Obrigheim unit. The plant was one of most efficient in Germany operating between 80% and 95% capacity and supplying over 350,000 consumers. Baden-Württemberg relies on nuclear power for 56% of it's power and will be looking to import energy from French nuclear power stations. Tanja Gönner BW's Environment Minster says (Reuters) she wants a discussion on the possible lengthening of running times of EnBW's remaining nuclear facilities in Baden-Württemberg.
The company will dismantle the unit in three stages by 2023, under part of a nationwide deal by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats and their environmentalist Green partners (The so called Red/Green partners) in the ruling coalition, in to close all of Germany’s nuclear units by 2021.
Under the terms of this complicated 2001 deal, nuclear generators are permitted to produce a total of 2623TWh and operators had used up 31% of their remaining nuclear allowance by the end of 2004, according to the country’s radiation office (BfS).The 18 remaining nuclear plants are left to generate 1829TWh of power, +/- 15 years of production, given that the 18 remaining German nuclear plants generated about 158TWh in 2004.
The Stade plant a 630-megawatt unit owned by E.ON, in northern Germany was put out of service in November 2003.
These closures must be seen against a rise in German wholesale power prices of more than 30% in the past year, as rising coal, natural gas and oil prices and the introduction of a market for carbon-dioxide emissions this year pushed up costs for generators. Power prices have soared to a record 39.50 euros a megawatt-hour on , compared with 31 euros 12 months ago.
Germany's dominant partnership of E.ON AG and RWE AG, increased domestic prices for domestic and industrial users by between 4 percent and 10 percent - and they did with UK customers also. The German association of power consumers VIK , a consumer lobby group, has calculated additional costs for industrial users, totalling about 900 Mn euros next year for energy.
To the 20,000 MW of nuclear power Germany is committed to replacing (unless they reverse the decision) the country has another 20,000 MW capacity to build ,as elderly coal and lignite fired power units, reach the limit of their economic operating life. Some observers claim Germany, Europe's largest power consumer, will need to invest a total of about 40 billion euros by 2020 to replace a third of its installed capacity.
Scandinavian slimming down on course
Sweden’s 600MWe Barsebäck No 2 Boiling Water reactor (BWR) (Barsebäck is situated in the south of Sweden 19 km from Copenhagen) is due to follow the 1999 closure of its unit 1 by shutting down at the end of May. (No demolition work can start on Unit 1 until 2 is out of operation)This is operated by Vattenfall subsidiary Barsebäck Kraft, the facility is majority-owned by Vattenfall with Sydkraft (construction of two ASEA BWRs at Barsebäck commenced 1970)as minority partner through nuclear holding company Ringhalsgruppen.
Barsebäck Kraft, claim the reactor is in excellent condition and that 2004 was the best production year so far in the plant’s life.This mirrors US experience where production output increases annually with improved production efficiencies constantly being acheived.
However ...In 2004 about half of the electricity in Sweden was generated with nuclear power.
In 2005 Sweden's decades-long commitment to phasing out nuclear power is looking ever less likely to be carried through. Scandinavian media report that the four-party centre-right opposition alliance is now prepared to keep all but one of Sweden's existing nuclear power plants running. Meanwhile, the centre-left Social Democrat (SDP) government has reportedly approved a 1,65 billion Euro modernisation programme to increase generating capacity at seven of Sweden's ten remaining reactors
Vattenfall is in deep talks with the Swedish government over compensation for the closure despite a great deal of pressure from Swedish industry and finacing organisation, to reverse the decision. While the government and Vattenfall have a framework compensation agreement from the closure of Barsebäck 1 in late 1999 and the parameters for compensation for closure of Barsebäck 2, there are still issues to be resolved.
Sydkraft is to be compensated for the closure with additional shares in Ringhalsgruppen, decreasing Vattenfall’s stake for which the company will require extra compensation. In addition, the loss of revenue related to projected power prices up to 2017, when Barsebäck would have been running for 40 years !
So the Swedes pay the money but don't get the energy ? .....Meanwhile next door the Finns surge ahead with their new power station, the first to be built in the EU for many years.
In the UK, post election, secret plans are evidently advanced to prepare the public for the building over the next 10/15 years of up to ten power stations based on an original german gas cooled reactor, using pebble bed which has been further developed in China and South Africa.
So far it looks as though BNFL in conjunction with US based energy interests will develop a design licensed from China for a pebble bed design - but don't expect the Government to tell you that...the door is still open...decisions haven't been made...blah..blah..
Karen Hicks the campaign manager for failed Presidential candidate Hollerin’ Howard Dean, and national field Director for failed Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry, worked hard here in Rochdale for Lorna Fitszimmons.
The supercharged, Internet whizz-kid, dame of the demographics, chomped chip butties and supped mugs of tea. Alas, in vain.
Lorna is quoted as saying in the US Press; " 'Get out the vote' is really an issue in this campaign," Because of Iraq. Because it's a third term."
"This is the first time we've had to work up support and organization in a big way," she added, with a nod to her American psephological superstar "Karen is my ace in the hole."
Karen was not an isolated import and her boss Zach Exley, another veteran of the Dean and John Kerry campaigns, worked on the nationwide “ e-campaign” , building up an extensive e-mail list of supporters and enlisting them to work as volunteers.
It will be interesting to see how these expensive imports made a dent in Lorna’s campaigning costs.
By the way Karen, "Ace in the hole" is a stud poker term, where you play with cards face down...unseen.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
This picture was taken in Whalley Range, Blackburn, on 30th April 2005 in the afternoon when a protest march was organised against Jack Straw.
The premises to the right, behind the ample police presence are those where the registrations of voters was remarked on in the Sunday Times. Imediately to the right of the picture is the greengrocer's, Akhtars(belonging to Councillor Akhtar) - you can just see the A of the surname on the blind. Anyone may make their own views as to the absence of curtains, blind, ornaments etc., which might suggest anyone is resident in the upper rooms....or not. The Lancashire Evening Telegraph on Monday 9/5/05 report Council Leader Cllr Kate Hollern claiming that the registration of 10 voters at the premises was a"clerical error".
"My understanding ..is people were registered twice ..it was due to a "clerical error " at the council.They moved out ... while it was refurbished and told the council such, but their names were not removed from the address.The people didn't vote twice."
Incidentally these premises were recently reported to be the subject of prosecution for several breaches of Food Hygiene regulations. see Lancs Evening Telegraph ...
Grocer fined for hygiene offences February 26th 2005
A shopkeeper was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £615 costs by Blackburn magistrates after pleading guilty to food hygiene and labelling offences. Akhtar Hussain, owner of Akhtar's Food Store, Whalley Range, pleaded guilty to four offences of selling food past its use by date and one of selling food which was not labelled as required.
The court heard that environmental health officers found cheese, baloney and salami on sale in the shop which was as much as 46 days past the use by date. Some soft drinks had labels in French.
A solicitor's letter (Mr Akhtar was in Pakistan at the time) read to the court said Hussain had been in retail business since 1972 and had no previous convictions. He had believed his supplier had responsibility for removing out-of-date goods but had now employed a part-time worker to ensure there was no repeat.
A little later the premises ran foul of the law again.... LET report 18th April 2005
A COUNCILLOR has been ordered to clean up his act by his council leader after committing breaches of health and safety regulations at his food shop. Council Leader Cllr Kate Hollern told Hussain Akhtar he should be setting a positive example- and that the case proved that councillors did not receive any special treatment.
He received a formal caution in relation to a routine food hygience inspection on March 30, when mouse droppings were found at Akhtar's Food Store, Whalley Range, Blackburn. He was also cautioned for obstructing the highway with pallets and boxes outside his shop.
Adam Scott, director of regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: "Mr Hussain was formally cautioned for offences under the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Highways Act 1980.
"The evidence collated by our officers will remain on file to be used should another infringement occur.
It isn't the first time Coun Akhtar has fallen foul of rules about blocking pavements. (Cotninued the newspaper report)
In 1998, he was forced to stop selling goods on the street after traders being prosecuted for similar offences following a clampdown pointed out his offences.
He had been due to appear in court but opted to accept the caution instead.
Monday, May 09, 2005
The Gubments of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have teamed up with the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) ($2Mn over 7 years) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to wipe-out medfly a nasty, damaging and economically damaging pest of peppers. USAID, through its Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) programme, has supported the three parties (Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories) with a $ 2.5 million grant from 2001 until 2005.
The female medfly ripening fruit and vegetables - by piercing the skin and laying its eggs inside. When the maggots hatch they feed off the fruit´s pulp. Losses were high, crops could not be exported because of disease control regulations.Total annual losses from medfly in the region amounts to around US $300 million despite use of costly insecticides . Infested produce lock farmers out of key export markets that are governed by tight regulations to stop the spread of this menacing pest.
A radiation technology known as the sterile insect technique (SIT) is now used to stop the medflies from breeding and is a proven, environmentally-friendly area-wide method of biological pest control. Medfly eggs are bathed in warm water - this kills female embryos – not males. In the pupae stage, the males are irradiated until sexually sterile. They are then released on mass in the Arava Valley on both sides of the Israeli and Jordanian borders. As many as 15 million sterile male medflies are let loose each week.These programs have been conducted on a massive scale elsewhere, the El Pino facility in Guatemala alone produces around 1.6 billion (1.6 x 109) sterile male medflies per week, primarily for use in California and Guatemala.
Despite its environmental benefits, SIT has, so far only been used against a few target pests. This is due to a fundamental problem with the system. Released insects are required to compete for mates with wild insects. However, the need to sterilize the insects by irradiation, causes a significant loss of fitness relative to the wild type, so that the released insects are quite ineffective at mating. Irradiated insects are less competitive and have much reduced life spans.
But the results so far have been effective in dramatically reducing the region’s medfly population and significantly reduced local farmers´ reliance on insecticides. The program is being extended to the Negev desert and will be extended further in future.
The IAEA/FAO medfly project is also a platform that is bringing Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian experts together in partnership to solve a shared problem. Atomic resources are being used to good effect to farmers throughout the region.
An International Conference on Area-Wide Control of Insect Pests: Integrating the Sterile Insect and Related Nuclear and Other Techniques is being held at IAEA headquarters in Vienna 9-13 May 2005
The Newspaper Association of America, reported that average daily paid circulation declined 1.9 percent in the last 6 months for 814 member newspaper titles (approx 1,700 titles nationwide) and the Audit Bureau of Circulation reported average Sunday circulation for 643 newspapers dropping 2.5 %. . Previous 6 month figures were 0.9% and 1.5%. Some major newspapers saw falls in sales. The Chicago Tribune fell 6.6 percent to 573,744. Hearst Corp.'s San Francisco Chronicle fell 6.1 percent to 468,739.
Some Editors blame the Federal “do-not-call” regulations, effective from the start of the year, playing a major role in decline in circulation. In 2000, telemarketing accounted for 43.4 percent of all new newspaper subscribers, falling to 39.1 percent in 2002 and 30.9 percent last year.
As circulation declines, newspapers have tried to reach a new audience, especially younger readers who are more likely to go online for news and information. They have invested in websites and launched free editions.
Several publishers are also launching Spanish-language editions in an attempt to reach out to growing immigrant communities.
Some in the industry think that newspapers cannot, or will not, adapt fast enough to the migration of readers from print media to the Internet.
Internet search for revenue
Last month Rupert Murdoch, of the media conglomerate News Corp., told a gathering of news executives that newspapers have "sat by and watched" as a new generation of readers gravitated to the Internet for news.
"Unless we awaken to these changes which are quite different than those five or six years ago, we will, as an industry, be relegated to the status of also-rans”.
Trying to catch the advertising dollar, several major newspaper companies have spent heavily to acquire online news / information providers recently. Dow Jones bought MarketWatch Inc., a financial news and information service , for about $500 million in cash, and the New York Times Co. paid $410 million for the well established family oriented About.com.
UK news organisations take note....
Hiroshi Okuda chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. said they are open to supplying its hybrid technology to General Motors Corp, he will meet GM CEO Rick Wagoner when he is in Tokyo in mid May. (Forbes reports that A GM spokesman pooh-poohed the reports: "There is no truth to that whatsoever," he told the Associated Press. The spokesman confirmed that Wagoner (see pic) is indeed headed for Aichi, where Toyota is based, but only to visit the 2005 World Expo fair.) ...so no truth in that story eh ?
Hiroshi Okuda said 2 weeks ago he was concerned about the health of the U.S. auto industry, saying voluntary price hikes and technical tie-ups could be ways to help peers like GM and Ford Motor Co. catch their breath as they lose market share to foreign brands.
Such an agreement between GM and Toyota would give the Japanese auto access to GM and DaimlerChrysler's two-mode hybrid technology, while GM could soon introduce smaller ( i.e less gas guzzling) hybrid cars that the US market wants.
Global realities are kicking in as wars, and resource shortages start to loom. GM rescued by the folks who brought you Pearl Harbour ?
Paul Anderson of Duke Energy (NYSE DUK) Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has made a move in what promises to be a start of a re-shaping of the US energy / resources industry. The company has a portfolio of natural gas and electric businesses, both regulated and unregulated, and an affiliated real estate company. Duke Energy supplies, delivers and processes energy for customers in the Americas. The merger is a non cash all share deal with the offer of 1.56 Duke shares for Cinergy shares. ( a lip smackin' $9Bn deal in total)
Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cinergy (NYSE CIN)has a non nuclear generating portfolio consisting of two core businesses: regulated operations and commercial businesses. Cinergy's integrated businesses make it a Midwest leader in providing both low-cost generation and reliable service.
Here's a pic of the tieless head honchos shakin' han's on the deal
This merger will combine generating assets of 46Mw with 29,000 employees with 3.7 MN customers and joint sales of $29.5Bn and according to EPA figures for 2001 a total of 107,4 Metric Tons of Co2 which will put them in 4th place in the US behind American Electric Power Co Inc 225.88 MMT Southern Company Inc 149.60 MMT and Xcel Energy Inc. it promises also to start a shake up in the way energy and water resources are supplied.
Paul M. Anderson will chair the new company, he was previously with Ford, the Duke and left for Australia to work with BHP and Billiton. He re-joined Duke in 2003.
Outspoken and forward thinking he shocked energy suppliers in the US last week on the back of record Q1 earnings results, by calling for a direct carbon tax in the US. Coming just after these remarks, this merger will excite a great deal of interest.
The company has successful investments in Brazil, Guatemala and Peru and Mexico.
Duke have 3 nuclear plants in the Carolinas and generate 7K Mwatts. Few people realise the importance of water for cooling nuclear power plants, for example the McGuire Nuclear Station is located on North Carolina's largest man-made body of fresh water, Lake Norman (see pic). The lake was built by Duke Power in 1963 by damming the Catawba River with Cowans Ford Hydroelectric Station. The lake provides cooling water for both McGuire and the coal-burning Marshall Steam Station. Cinergy have no nuclear plants, but have 27 energy supply projects including Combined Heat & Power .
Last summer French nuclear plants on the Rhone had problems with cooling due to the hot summer and low river levels.
It’s official ! Ford and GM bonds are now rated junk – Gm Stock Market Value = $18 Bn has $291 Bonds which will now head south at a lick. As are their sales.
April sales figures for the US automakers
Full-size SUVs dropped 19% during the first four months of 2005,
GM's full-size SUV sales dropped by 24% = 79,790 vehicles
Ford's by 21.5% = 40,016 vehicles
April sales in US = 20,974 in April more than 3 times last year = 6,832
With Toyota Prius dominating the market = 11,345 (Now on sale in the UK) (selling for >$5,000 over sticker price = $21-26K)
The Fairmont San Jose Hotel CA offers free overnight parking to guests with hybrid vehicles (normal charge $22).25K cars reg. In CA in 2004 102% sales increase in hybrids increase on ‘03 - even so hybrids = 1% of total US market of 14Mn!
Toyota is reported to have decided to start building the long-expected hybrid Camry in the US sometime in the second half of 2006. Hyundai and Kia will follow with vehicles next year.
In Japan, Isuzu introduced a new diesel parallel hybrid model to its lineup of Elf low-pollution light-duty trucks
A fascinating use of GM technology developed by Prof. Lonnie Ingram at U of Florida cloned E. coli bacteria organisms by inserting the genes needed to direct the digestion of sugars into ethanol, from yeast. This eliminates the normal and unwanted production of acetic and lactic acids as fermentation products. Production of ethanol from biomass sugars with 90%-95% efficiency is claimed. A commercial plant is planned in Jennings La. using corn waste as primary fuel.
The bioconversion technology, selected by the U.S. Department of Commerce to become Landmark Patent No. 5,000,000, is being commercialized with assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). BC International Corp., based in Dedham, Mass., holds exclusive rights to use and license the UF-engineered bacteria.
The Panda Group is building a $120-million, 100 MN gal. Per yr. Ethanol fuel plant in Hereford, Texas using corn and sorghum grain and use heat from cattle manure and cotton gin wste bio mass and so save the equivalent of 1,000 of oil barrels equivalent ((OBE) per day .
White Energy are building one of 100 MN gal.pr yr capacity in the same town and one of 30 Mn capacity in Dumas TX.
A new biodiesel plant has been started in Brazil where the president wants the country to become the largest supplier of renewable fuels in the world market and make biodiesel the second energy source after hydroelectricity.
Cummins and the US Dept of Energy have developed a highly efficient heavy duty diesel with the highest Brake Thermal Efficiency (BTE) of 45% with concomitant emissions reductions to levels associated with the future 2007 EPA requirements.
Brake Thermal Efficiency represents in percentage terms the amount of energy converted from fuel into useful mechanical work by the engine. A engine with a higher BTE level is more efficient, offering the potential for increased fuel efficiency and associated reductions in CO2 emissions.(GCC)
Japanese materials manufacturer Ibiden is quadrupling the production capacity of its silicon carbide (SiC) diesel particulate filters globally to 3 million units per year to meet growing demand for diesels. Particulates from diesels are the worst form of urban pollution affecting millions of asthma sufferers.
In the first use of a much boosted urea /SCR technology, 6 waste collection trucks in the Brooklyn and the Bronx in New York inject small amounts of urea (from animal wastes) into the exhaust air stream. This reagent decomposes to form ammonia and carbon dioxide. Ammonia mixes with the NOx and passes over an SCR gas catalyst to turn ozone-forming NOx into water and nitrogen = pure air.
10 US states now have adopted legislation on emissions and biofuels to conform with the State of California.
Illinois increased the level of EPA fuel rebates encouraging the use of biodiesel.
Montana are moving to a law requiring use of 10% ethanol in all gas sold in the state.
New Zealand Carbon Tax details announced
The worlds most sensible answer to excess carbon rpoduction , a direct tax on consumption, a carbon tax will be set at NZ$15 (US$11) per tonne and introduced in April 2007. First announced in 2002, this will cost -
Per Unit of electricity = NZ$0.01 (US$0.007)
Per litre of Gasoline about NZ$0.04 (US$0.03)
To a 9KG standard LPG gas bottle NZ$0.46 (US$0.34
Tom a 20 kg (1/2 cwt) bag of coal NZ$0.68 (US$0.50)
NZ Gubment estimates a weeklycost per NZ “ typical” New Zealand household of about NZ$4 (US$2.90) per week for electricity, gasoline, and other fuels.
One of the many obstacles to the heavily boosted “hydrogen economy” is the storage of hydrogen gas, either for static or mobile use. At the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) claims have been made that “theoretically” carbon nanotubes "decorated" with titanium or other transition metals can latch on to hydrogen molecules in numbers sufficient for efficient hydrogen storage Calculations suggest hydrogen could be stored in amounts equivalent to 8% percent of the weight of "titanium-decorated" single-walled carbon nanotubes. That's one-third better than the 6 wt.% minimum storage-capacity requirement set by DOE for 2010. (The target is 9 wt.% for 2015.) Don't get excited - The Hydrogen economy might keep your grandchildren on the move.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
American Forces Press Service Monday 9th May
1 Task Force Liberty soldier dead , 1 wounded when an IED detonated next to their combat logistics patrol near Samarra, Iraq, today.
2 soldiers killed, assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), today during combat operations near Khalidiyah, Iraq by IED.
3 US Marines and 1 sailor were killed in an attack by coalition forces on a civilian hospital in Hadithah May 7. A number of terrorists reportedly were killed.
1 US Marine killed assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, died from injuries received when an IED May 7 detonated.
Pic scene from triumphalist video - you can hear the ring tones of the mobile phone used.
No names have been issued until relatives have been informed.
Pics by Roy Saad
No wonder Jack "Votes by the Sack" Straw looked worried on Thursday night......
1. Hussain Akhtar, is a Blackburn Labour councillor seen often in the company of Jack Straw throughout the elction campaign.
2. A deserted property he owns in Whalley Range was boarded up with “Vote Labour” placards during the election campaign.
3. 10 voters are registered (including Labour Councillor Hussain Akhtar) at this empty uninhabited property.It is rumoured that the "voters" are part of Labour Councillor Akhtars "extended family".
4. A registered tenant at this property in 2002 was Afrin Hussain.(record is actually Afrian Hussein) on the computer record.
5. Afrian Hussein moved out 5 years ago and lives elsewhere with her husband where she is registered to vote.
6. It is not known at this stage if any of these votes were used in the election.
Tony Melia, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Blackburn who came third in Thursday’s poll, said: “I have made a complaint about this matter to Jack Straw.
“We need to know why these people are registered at this address, who registered them and, most importantly, whether they voted. I am particularly concerned at voters who are registered and moved out some years ago.” he is seen here with his agent discussing the chances of voter fraud - outside can be seen Craig Murray's Green Goddess with spying equipment. David Shayler was lurking about the cafe at this point.
Only 66% of the registered postal voters in Blackburn used their vote it was stated at the count on Thursday night by the Returning Officer.
Claims have ben made that Police attempting to investigate complaints have been discouraged from pursuing them by Council Officials.
Labour Councillor Akhtar can be contacted by e-mail or Tel (01254) 52859
"Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States
A black marketeer ready to peddle petrol.
Iraq now pumps less than 50% less oil than before the invasion, and cannot refine enough oil for it's domestic market. Meanwhile the US forces fly in petrol for their forces and are seeking to boost their transport hub for fuel at Incirlik in Turkey.
This is progress?
Pic (c) AFP May 8th 2005