"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lord Scarlett of Baghdad ennobled

Sir John Scarlett (see picture of him ..er ... "relaxing") the man at the top of spooky hole, the spy's palace in Vauxhall, the man who dodged up the sexy dossier in 45 minutes .. then lied to the Barbara Hutton enquiry into "this and that", has been recognised by the Queen.

"As soon as I saw him in Tony Blair's trousers in the toilets - I instantly recognised him," she told Lord Patel at a levée for the Cairn Energy 3, and John "Johnny" Irving. "Privy Counsel ! all my eye and Tommy Martin!" She cried out, "Arise Lord Brownose of BigDaddy ! " adding , as an afterthought, on caught with your trousers down etiquette..." immediately adjust your Serge Trouserin'".

Sir John Scarlett Blush is 64. As is Miss Lezzy Majésté.

US President - Amazing pictures !!

Sorting through some photographs, a staff archivists came across this snap taken by Lord Patel - one of these three men as a President of the United States.

Identify him and win a weekend for 2 - 0824 446 9261 - calls cost £1.50 a minute.

Saddam killed like Jesus

Saddam Hussein' was, like Jesus, after a controversial trial finally killed with two other criminals - on the eve of the Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, the moment of greatest forgiveness in the Arab world ;

Barzan al-Tikriti his half-brother and former Iraqi intelligence chief (Mukhabarat) and former representative to the UN.

"BARZAN AL-TIKRITI personally tortured them, pulling out their nails, administering electric shocks, stretching their limbs apart, throwing boiling water over them, and using electric cables to beat them. BARZAN AL-TIKRITI was also present when the British journalist FARZAD BARZOFT was executed."

Awad Hamed al-Bandar , a lawyer, was the former head of the Iraqi revolutionary court which issued death sentences against 143 Dujail residents, in the aftermath of the failed assassination attempt on the President on 8th July 1982.

On 3 December 2006, the defence team lodged an appeal against the verdicts for Saddam Hussein, Awad Hamed Al-Bander and Barzan Ibrahim Al-Tikriti, who had been sentenced to death.

On 26 December 2006, the High Tribunal Court which has a nine-member appeals chamber confirmed the death sentences.

And on the third day ....

Three links of interest here BBC Saddam Village in Sr Lanka and Christian parallels here and here

Saddam Film - BBC pay 600,000 Euros

The BBC have bankrolled The Team Production film company, led by producer Mette Heide and director Michael Christoffersen,with 600,000 Euros to film Saddam's trial.

'The idea was to describe historic events behind the scenes so you understand what processes are involved. That hasn't been tried before. Think if you could have done the same during the Nüremberg Trial after the war. Now you don't have to wait 30 years on historians but can document the events while they are still happening,"they told the daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende.

'The film looks at the case both from both sides, and you also sense the Americans' role. The frustrations, setbacks and victories when several of Saddam's defence lawyers were killed,' said Christoffersen.

Christoffersen made 'Genocide: The Judgement', in 1999, documented the trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu for his role in the Rwandan massacres at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, for which, on October 2nd 1988 he received a life sentence.

The judgement can be accessed here ...this is an example of the hefty UN documentation ...

"On the morning of April 19, 1994, following the murder of Sylvere Karera, Jean Paul AKAYESU led a meeting in Gishyeshye sector at which he sanctioned the death of Sylvere Karera and urged the population to eliminate accomplices of the RPF, which was understood by those present to mean Tutsis. Over 100 people were present at the meeting. The killing of Tutsis in Taba began shortly after the meeting.

At the same meeting , Jean Paul AKAYESU named at least three prominent Tutsis -- Ephrem Karangwa, Juvénal Rukundakuvuga and Emmanuel Sempabwa -- who had to be killed because of their alleged relationships with the RPF. Later that day, Juvénal Rukundakuvuga was killed in Kanyinya. Within the next few days, Emmanuel Sempabwa was clubbed to death in front of the Taba bureau communal......

..........On or about April 19, 1994, Jean Paul AKAYESU took 8 detained men from the Taba bureau communal and ordered militia members to kill them. The militia killed them with clubs, machetes, small axes and sticks. The victims had fled from Runda commune and had been held by Jean Paul AKAYESU."

The Team company have also worked on the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the ICC in Hague, which was closed on his death.... by natural causes. It isn't known if they consulted the beautiful and glamourous BBC Governor, Dame Pauline Neville Jones, spook and previously head of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) who with former Tory Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd worked with the (then) National Westminster Bank. The bank's investment arm worked with Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic to privatise the country's telecoms industry. Both had meetings with Milosevic in Belgrade in 1996 on Serbia 's foreign debt and the privatisation of state assets which considerably enriched him and his political allies.

More about Team production films here from the Danish Film Institute. Plus info from Danish TV2 here

If you really want the nastiest film of the hanging of Saddam with a detailed explanation of what is going on go to Robert Linsay blog here.

Saddam, Tikriti, Bandar hung - Amazing pictures - video

You have been misled by Google - this posting relates to the execution of Sadam and included the (we subsequetly discovered) erroneous information that he was lynched with Barzan al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar .

However if you want to see the gory removal of Tikriti's head and have a purely prurient interest in his beheading go here. If you want to see Saddam when he is dead revealing his injuries etc., go here

This is the original post :-

Curtis Doebbler, An American attorney (one of two on Saddam Hussein's Dujail trial team), has condemned Saddam Hussein's execution minutes after his client was hanged in Baghdad at dawn....Saddam's half-brother and former Iraqi intelligence chief Barzan al-Tikriti and former head of the Iraqi revolutionary court Awad Hamed al-Bandar - were also executed, Saddam first, then Tikriti and finally Bandar. Video here Warning tough stuff!!

"The execution of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is an unfortunate display of arrogant aggressor's injustice by the United States of America under the leadership of American President George W. Bush. It sets back achievements in international criminal law many decades and sends a clear message to people all over the world that the United States' aggression cannot be stopped by the law. It is truly a sad day for international justice and sad beginning to a new year.

One cannot imagine a greater inspiration to violence against America and her allies than the action taken this morning. The way that the former Iraqi President, and now brave martyr, stood up to the most powerful, deadly and lawless army in the world almost single-handedly for more than a decade will undoubtedly contirbute, as an inspiration, to violence against American interests all over the world.

One can only hope that a new year will bring the prosecution of those who have perpetrated this violation of international law starting with the American President and his governmental allies to the American jurists and their colleagues who willingly worked to ensure an unfair trial and an extrajudicial and summary execution. One can also not but hope that those who pursue these individuals will not use the same illegal means to bring them to justice that they have encouraged by their example, but rather that the law will be used to bring them to justice and restore the integrity of the law that has been lost by this illegal action.

My heart felt sympathies go out to the family of the President and all the Iraqi people who suffer yet another injustice at the hands of American aggressors."

During the Trial 3 lawyers were killed ;

Lawyer, Saadoun Sughaiyer al-Janabi was abducted 20th October 2005, the day after the trial commenced by 10 masked gunmen wearing Iraqi Police and his dead body was found in the street near Baghdad's Fardous Mosque Diaa al-Saadi.

Lawyer Adel al-Zubeidi, was shot dead Nov 8th 2005 a colleague Thamer Hamoud al-Khuzaie, also in the car was injured. It was claimed the killers arrived at the scene in a Government car.(Pic of accident scene)

On 20th June this year lawyer Khamis al-Obeidi's (married with 6 children) body (see pic) was found dumped in Baghdad, hours after he was abducted from his home. This precipitated a hunger strike by Saddam Hussein and a call to the UN by the defence for the trial to be moved.

You can read what President Bush said today here..."Today, Saddam Hussein was executed after receiving a fair trial ...." blah blah blah

Friday, December 29, 2006

EU what for want of a better expression we will call POLICY

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will unveil , "An Energy Policy for Europe." on Jan. 10, 2007. the result of intensive discussion and analysis by ,”a small group of experts” in EC headquarters in Brussels. This is apparently talked of by EC insiders in their natural style of hyperbole as, “ the dawn of a new industrial revolution." German industry probably will see it as the sunset of their domestic industry. Viewed from here it is difficult to determine whether it's authors heads are ;

1. In the sand
2. In the clouds
3. Up their arse

Der Spiegel (EU Energy Plan Calls for Radical Emissions Reductions By Frank Dohmen ) claims to have access to a 25 page “Confidential” draft which is said to address 3 principal areas of concern ;

1. To establish ambitious climate protection goals in terms of reductions in so called greenhouse gases - a 35 percent reduction in CO2 emissions in the EU by 2035, and 50 percent by 2050.

2. To promote renewables (solar, wind and biomass ) as part of an EU wide energy security strategy – with renewables supplying 20% of electrical energy by 2020 . Biofuels to be equivalent to 10% of usage of fuel oils (by the same date?)

3. To promoting competition in energy markets by separating energy producers from distributors and transmission utilities, and encouraging a greater level of open market access to energy suppliers.

4. A more permissive view of what is seen as environmentally friendly nuclear power to generate electricity.

It is assumed that this will form a framework (if not a blueprint) for final ratification at the summit meeting of European heads of state in March 2007 - 50 years since the signing of the Treaty of Rome.. Under the rotating Presidency this will be presided over by Angela Merkel the German Chancellor – she starts the job next week having chosen the curious leitmotif to characterise her job as "succeeding together" (?).

Ms Merkel will need skills of a high order to arrive at a consensus on the basis of this naive and simplistic dpocument, evidently prepared by economists with blinkers. Whilst Foreign Minister Steinmeier has recently talked of used the term “selbstbewusste Bescheidenheit” (self-confident modesty) to characterize German foreign policy (explaining the modest achievements of the German troops used by NATO in Lebanon and N.Afghanistan no doubt) this which hardly suggests any change from Klaus Kinkel’s “Kultur der Zurueckhaltung” (culture of restraint) government’s foreign policy.

In selling this mild pabulum Chancellor / President Merkel will find the strongest criticism from within her own country – which has set it’s face decidedly against nuclear power, and even more firmly against reality - as has Tony Blair and his long (and lengthening ) line of Energy Ministers - who promises us yet another Energy review in the Spring - or some time soon.

Apparently Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Competition has has been busy for months gathering evidence of the questionable competitive practices of Europe's energy giants to confirm her view that , major utility companies like Germany's RWE and E.on and Sweden's Vattenfall will be required to sell off their electricity and natural gas networks.

This clear separation between power production and power transport through the networks is a typical bureaucratic reflexive response which provides zero benefits and will add costs for the consumer rather than reduce them by allegedly stimulating competition – viz power prices in the UK where there is a very distinctive separation which has resulted in domestic and commercial prices almost double in 2 years in step. A function of global price rises of oil, gas and coal rather than internal costs. cf : International cost comparison chart of gas from WAPO

Naturally the established and massively powerful coal based utilities in Germany have already been active in lobbying Merkel’s office. Apparently The Commission sees that the currently nationally based networks create border bottlenecks as utilities have kept power and gas lines undersized, effectively preventing foreign competitors from gaining access to domestic markets.

An EU regulatory agency with extensive powers would monitor the new system, ensuring that energy prices are based on supply and demand and national governments are prevented from intervening.

This supra - nationalistic meddling is anathema to the German power giants who have already been protesting against Brussels' plans in Phase 2 of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for German industry to cut annual CO2 emissions by 12 million tons to 453 Mn tons for the 2008/12 period from the proposed 465 Mn tons.

On top of this the EC sees the EU should assume a "global leadership role in climate protection" and in the "development and use of efficient energy technologies." More bluntly this involves a 35 % reduction in CO2 emissions over 1990 levels by 2035 and a 50 % reduction by 2050…. And that means massive costs to the producers which trickles down as higher prices to the consumer and industrial user – with huge implications on global competitiveness.

It appears that nobody has noticed that the Emissions Trading Policy (ETS) has collapsed with a unit trading at it's lowest ever of just above Euros 6. The cost / utility of wind energy are now becoming evenb more apparent with experience of usage.

At a meeting of European heads of state two weeks ago, Spiegel claims Chancellor Merkel indicated that she is unwilling to accept the EU energy concept in its entirety. These are delicate issues, Merkel said, which revolve around the "tough representation of interests -- also for Germany."

Meanwhile we learn that Putin / Medvedev / Gazprom’s theft of over half the Sakhalin project involved more hidden costs (US$3.6Bn.) to Shell and their Japanese partners. The stand off between Russia and Belarus over gas supplies / prices is also focussing (as if it were needed) the alarming dependence of Europe, now and forever, on Russian Gas and oil and it’s fickle and undiplomatic owners.

For the record Ukraine has now agreed for Gazprom gas supplies @ US$135 per 1,000 cubic meters (US$3.82 per cubic foot)for 2007. Georgia will pay US$235 per 1,000 cubic metres (US$8.07 per cubic foot) and Gazprom are now asking Belarus to pay US$105 per 1,000 cubic meters (US$2.97 per cubic foot) a rise of 123% on last year – and Gazprom wants the internal distribution pipelines.

(On the New York Mercantile Exchange today gas closed down @ US$6.113 per million British thermal units = approximately 1 cubic foot. It has been as high as US$15 – typically the hub price quoted above is 50% of the cost to the domestic user.) (See table for mid 2005 comparable gas prices worldwide from WAPO - click to see enlarged version)

Europe has more to worry about, over sources and global energy costs than the niceties of internal transfer costs and squeamishness about nuclear energy.

If you want to understand what the Russkis are up to listen to this.


The Daily Torygraph 30/12/06 "Fears of high gas prices in Britain this winter have returned after a "second gas war" broke out between energy-rich Russia and one of its neighbours in eastern "Europe.

A spokesman for the Department of Trade and Industry said: "We would not expect to it to have any impact on the UK's supplies but we can't anticipate prices."

There are people children who couldn't anticipate the problems we face now, several years ago....so if gas prices rise - warm yourself with the thought that the DOT (Dep of Energy ?) couldn't anticipate the rise in prices.

The New York Times today has a brief but telling OP ed piece

Obstacles in Turkey’s Path

"Turkey is also becoming an important hub for transporting oil and gas to Europe from Russia and Central Asia, making it crucial to Europe’s energy security."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

"The Creative Generation" - Lord Adonis's mystery program for the top 10% - with a whiff of Abu Ghraib

"The brightest 800,000 pupils in England are to have vouchers to spend on extra lessons as part of a national talent search that starts next week." is the arresting opening sentence to a headline Daily Telegraph story today.

The curiously titled, Lord Adonis, the unelected (and maybe unelectable) Minister for Education is apparently the driving force behind this bold, new, and hitherto unpublicised and secretive policy. The Centre for British Teachers (CfBT), a non-profit education company, we are told, won a Government contract to run a programme this month which will require every secondary and primary school will be told to supply the names of 10 per cent of their pupils, who ... er ....best meet the new criteria for the gifted and talented programme when they fill in the January schools census.

Apparently this scheme is a result of the Government's disappointment (AKA Lord A's disappointment) with the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY) for which pupils have to prove they are in the top 5% in order to gain membership and access to its activities. (Hands up those who are familiar with NAGTY)

About 30 per cent of secondary schools have failed to nominate any pupil to the academy, with many teachers ideologically opposed to singling out gifted children for special help.

Several questions arise - which result in some curious answers

1. Who are the The Centre for British Teachers ? Who funds them ? Who runs it ? Who governs it ?
2. How did the CfBT obtain this contract ? Was there competitive bidding ?

3. Who are their participating commercial companies - Hedra, CACI and TwoFour Communications ?

1. Who are the The Centre for British Teachers ? Who funds them ? Who runs it ? Who governs it ?

Established 40 years ago CfBT Education Trust is a not for profit charity (company number: 867944 and registered office: 60 Queens Road, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4BS, UK and has an annual turnover exceeding £100 million and employs more than 2,000 staff worldwide who support educational reform, teach, advise, research and train.

CfBT Education Trust (previously "The Centre for British Teachers’" - name changed this year to reflect "being a symbolic statement of our renewed energy and our successful future.".)has 7 Trustees who make up the Council of Management , all of them have a solid background in the academic side of educational provision - but their biographies evidence little direct experience of teaching in schools.

One who has, is, Dame Mary Richardson a child of service people, who having trained as a teacher, immediately joined the Army and became a Head teacher much later in life. Her philosophy is expressed in a fascinating address she gave to the HSBC Forum in 2004 - small schools, small classes, discipline, hard work, politeness and co-ordinated effort.

The Annual Report for 2006 makes interesting reading. The Trust owns and operates Nursery Schools in Chorley, Bolton, Lancaster and Middesborough - the Manor Tree Group of five nurseries, three preparatory schools were absorbed in September 2005. in April 2006, Waverley, a co-educational school for three to 11 year olds in Finchampstead, Berkshire transferred to CfBT Education Trust.

The Trust also employs over 100 staff in teaching and ancillary roles in 2005/06 to improve the lives of under-18-year-olds and young offenders in the South East UK.

The Trust had an income of £145 MN in 2004/5 and saw a dramatic decline in 2005/6 to £85Mn due to a loss in "Strategies Turnover".

They also designed (?) and operate the creativegeneration website for the DfES (which exists to provide information, inspiration and support to teachers who work with and develop pupils who are gifted and talented in the arts) this is entitled "CREATIVE GENERATION " (and)"Is the arts portal bursting with regional and National information, designed specifically to support the teaching and development of Gifted and Talented students in the arts." ... which seems to be a list of local arts and entertainment and arts centres ... for example Manchester is represented solely by the Royal Exchange Theatre.

This site also contains Forum( ?s) ... which don't seem to be used - for example , when accessed it showed
2 members have made 0 Posts in 0 forums.
There are currently 0 Topics.
Our newest member is : admin Last Post 27 April 2006 16:30

There is also a site for "Success Stories" which when accessed shows ;

Success Stories

This is the section of the site dedicated to the successes of teachers, pupils and artists - use these pages as inspiration for your own work.

Feel free to submit your own case studies highlighting your own individual achievements by clicking the link to the left

If you choose to access the success stories that have been submitted ... er.. there aren't any.

Three graphic artists appear to endorse their aims - one Antony "Angel of the North" Gormley, pupil of exclusive Stoneyhurst College and child of a fabulously wealthy family.

It might also be added that this is a bafflingly complicated website, and would challenge the most talented child (indeed it could form part of a test of competence for joining the scheme) which has a search function that doesn't work - it would be fascinating to be told what it cost to set up / run the pointless website and how many hits it gets. One suspects very few.

2. How did the CfBT obtain this contract ? Was there competitive bidding ?

Very strangely this appiontment was publicised in a Press release on 13th December 2006 from the DfES - nobody seems to have found it of interest to publish anything until today... how very odd... it can be found here tucked away on the DfES site... this is the Introduction to it..

CfBT Education Trust to manage National Programme for Gifted and Talented Education 13th December 2006

Schools Minister Andrew Adonis (NOT Lord Adonis) has announced today that CfBT Education Trust will manage England’s National Programme for Gifted and Talented Education (NPGATE).

CfBT Education Trust was selected from a competitive field following a tendering process for the newly created role.

From January 2007, CfBT will manage the National Programme to improve the education of gifted and talented children and young people aged three-19 years old in schools and colleges throughout England.

No financial cost given - in fact precious little detail ... except "Contract clarification is currently under way, with a view to completion by February 2007." The BBC story now (20.00 GMT) is quoting a total cost including "management" of £64 MN which will produce a "voucher" of £80 per "gifted pupil."

3. Who are their participating commercial companies - Hedra, CACI and TwoFour Communications ?

The initial notification on the CfBT website (There is no Press release available) has links to Hedra and TwoFour Communications ?...but not to CACI.

Hedra plc - 60 Trafalgar Sq. London WC2N 5DS

"....a management consulting and technology service company. We are the largest independent consultancy working for both the public and private sector. Our clients come from Central Government, Local Government, NHS, Ministry of Defence Aerospace, Utilities and Energy, and a wide range of public service agencies."

They have an alliance with CSC who might be better remembered as Computer Sciences Corporation (NYSE: CSC) who were awarded a $1.7 billion (973 million pounds sterling), Local Service Provider contract on December 23, 2003 to run until 2013 with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) as part of the NHS’ national program to improve healthcare service for patients in the North West and West Midlands of England.

President is Lynton Barker, chairman of the Management Consultancies Association last year, with 28,000 mebers - he supports both Burnley (as does Alastair Campbell) and Manchester United.(Any relation to Anthony Charles Lynton Blair ?)

TwoFour Communications 5th Floor 6 - 7 Cross Street London EC1N 8UA

A First rate outfit that use "the power of TV and technology to help businesses and public sector organisations manage, educate,sell, entertain and build brands." Showreel here

CACI (acronym for California Analysis Center, Incorporated, CACI adopted 1985)

CACI is a fascinating US company with a UK offshoot. Their main website claims ,

" a company wide commitment to support our nation's vital national priorities....from victory inn the war on global terrorism to security for our people and homeland...". Readers of the report into the abuse at Abu Ghraib by Major-General Antonio Taguba will remember he reserved some of its harshest criticism for CACI employees, whom he accuses of being among those giving the orders in Abu Ghraib and described the abuses as "systematic"..

Notably Mr. Steven Stephanowicz and Mr. John Israel who apparently in April 2004 were still at work there, although Taguba singled out for dismissal .. see more here

and Justin Raimondo "Who is John Israel? He could be one of the secret masterminds behind the Abu Ghraib outrage"

and also here

"In 2004, a major Philadelphia law firm, the Center For Constitutional Rights, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago School of Law, and a handful of volunteers a group of lawyers in the United States brought a civil suit on behalf of Mr. Saleh and the hundreds of others Iraqi prisoners abused and tortured by American contractors working for CACI and Titan. The thirty one count complaint accused CACI and Titan of a whole host of common law torts (such as assault and battery), as well as violations of international human rights, and a RICO (Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations ACT) conspiracy. The essential theory of the case was that CACI and Titan had a financial motive to increase the amount of interrogation they conducted. The longer the "interrogations" went the more they got paid. By 2004, Titan was earning 96% of its revenue from government contracts." (The indictment runs to 64 pages)

OK it's a stretch from Abu Ghraib to teaching the next generation of viola players and Turner Prize winners and CACI UK ..who are remarkably coy about their US origins and ownership on their website - they have after all featured previously in posts by Lord Patel - especially in relation to CACI being involved with EU telecommunications compliance (Telcos having to retain call data in a form for immediate access by secret services) - CACI selected as partner for the SenSage / EMC EU Data Retention Directive product - also ofshoring warrantless surveillamce operations in welcome new EU nations BUlgaria and Romania.

See Lord Patel Thursday, October 12 2006 - EU telephony details available on demand - terrist threats ... see both items

Now Lord Patel will go and lie down in a darkened room. He apologises for the lengthy and discursive post but this is a complicated subject - truly this story can be said to have "emerged".

One is left wondering (In the absence of prior, debate, discussion or demand for this service) quite why this has been set up.... and apparently still subject to ... "Contract clarification is currently under way, with a view to completion by February 2007." ..... How very, very odd.

Be sure to look at the Creative Generation website.

UPDATE 30th Dec

"the new criteria for the gifted and talented programme" .. when we find out what this means we will let you know ...or if you know what it means please contact us.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What a Christmas Gift - one to tell the kids

Here's a heartwarming Christmas tale Lord Patel shed a tear over, when he stumbled on it at Inactivist.

The original story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was written by Robert May in 1939 then a 34 year-old copywriter working for Montgomery Ward, a now defunct US department store chain. Ward printed 2.4 Mn copies to be used as a Christmas holiday promotional giveaway - atotal of 6MN copies were given away until 1946.

May's wife had died of cancer after a lengthy illness leaving May with a daughter (Barbara who is said to have christened the glistening nosed reindeer) to raise alone and a hefty pile of medical bills. So May approached Sewell Avery, President of Montgomery Ward and asked for the rights to publish the story commercially. Avery granted his request (he had originally been hesistant that the red nose suggested insobriety) and in January 1947 the copyright to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was given to May by his employer.

May published a book of the story commercially in 1947. A 9 minute cartoon was also produced and released produced by Austrian Max Fleischer (perhaps better known for Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman cartoons and inventing the bouncing ball to follow the words of the song on the screen) for the Jam Handy Corporation. May and his brother-in-law, the songwriter Johnny Marks (who penned "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" -a hit for Brenda Lee), also turned the story into a song "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer", originally sung by Gene Autry the cowboy film star andcountry and western songster and released for Christmas in 1949. IT sold 2 MN copies that year and is second in sales only to "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas".

Curiously this famous Christmas song was written by a Jew.

Fleischer died in poverty see a Popeye memorial site - superb

US Private Equity Groups find collective strength to meet DOJ probe

Douglas "Doug" Lowenstein has been elected as group President and CEO of the newly launched The Private Equity Council and starts work Feb.2007 . Eleven companies including the reclusive Washington DC based Carlyle Group, have created a new association to conduct research and advocate on behalf of the growing -- casg rich and cash ready -- private equity industry.

Other companies include , The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners. who worked with Bain to buyout Clear Channel for US£26Bn. Apollo Management - potentially buying out Harrah's Corp. for $17.1 billion currently, Hellman & Friedman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) romoured to be working on US$100 BN leveraged buyout of Home Depot earlier this minths with Texas Pacific, Chicago based Madison Dearborn Partners, and Silver Lake Partners from California.

"Doug" Lowenstein officially left the Washington D.C.-based Entertainment Software Association last week after 10 years.

The Private Equity Council intends to " launch outreach efforts in research, public affairs and government relations to increase the public awareness of private equity " what we used to call lobbying.

Sensing the criticism that is being levelled at the scale of their mega buyouts - over US$300 Bn in 2006, and mindful of federal interest, the new lobby group will no doubt aim to head off criticism.

Federal antitrust prosecutors opened an informal inquiry*** into allegations of anticompetitive bidding practices in the LBO business a few months ago . This antitrust probe is mainly on so-called club deals,
Harrah’s, Freescale and HCA etc., in which several private equity firms get together to buy out a company.

The DOJ lawyers want to determine if these "club deals" allow private equity firms to control and influence the bidding process by offering rival firms a chance to co-invest in other deals.
You scratch our backs and we'll scratch yours.....

***WSJ October 10th 2006 (A3) Private-Equity Firms Face Anticompetitive Probe
The Justice Department has sent letters to a number of private-equity firms requesting a range of information and documents related to deals and business practices. "

Standard & Poors issued a Leveraged Commentary & Data (LCD) note on this topic the same day.(subs) The note said S&P is not in a position to comment as to whether private equity firms are colluding to despress pricess, the historical record shows no rising tide of consortium deals, nor any difference in the average purchase price multiple of these deals, compared to single-sponsor transactions.

An interesting set of figures igure they produce shows the average purchase price to pro forma EBITDA ranges of multi-sponsored deals, vs. those with a single buyer.

Since 1997, with multi-sponsored deals averaging at at 7.5x and single-sponsor deals at 7.4x a difference of 0.1% return! So far in 2006 (Oct) , multiple-sponsor deals paid on average 9.3x for properties which is 1.2 % higher than 8.1x EBITDA that private equity firms working alone have paid. It also suggests that they are awash with cash.

Energy geo-politics - How Europe needs Iran / Turkey / Bulgaria / Romania

EU solidarity on energy plans and trade embargoes with Iran both have taken a severe blow with news from Teheran. It also emphasise the supreme inportance of a tiny village (pop 190) in Eastern Austria.

1. Nosratollah Seifi, the managing director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) has announced the transfer of transfer of 0.5 to 4.5 billion cubic meters of Iran’s gas intended to be used in markets like Italy to Switzerland with gas transfer via a pipeline passing through Turkey. The deal was signed 3 weeks ago. Turkey has agreed to the transfer across their territory.

2. Michael Peisser and Udo Raap, joint managing directors of Austrian EconGas have announced (EconGas is a joint venture between BEGAS (2.6%), EVN (15.7%), Linz AG (0.45%), OMV Gas International (50%),OÖ. Ferngas AG (15.55%) and WIEN ENERGIE (15.7%) ) they are looking to source 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Iran. Econgas currently supply industrial markets in Germany, Hungary and The Czech Republic.

The Swiss are also considering other routes such as through Georgia and the Black Sea. Austria is also backing the Nabucco pipeline project to get gas from the Caspian area into central Europe, and Iranian gas could be fed into this.

The Nabucco gas pipeline will be 3,300 km (2,050 miles) long it should start carrying gas from 201 and will guarantee the supply of about 30 bn cm of gas a year to Central Europe by 2015. It will route Iranian gas via Erzerum (Turkey) , Istanbul, Bulgaria, Romania,Hungary to the Austrian Baumgarten gas hub. The pipeline is considered an alternative to the Russian gas supply to Europe.See EU map here

Baumgarten an der March is the entry point for Russian gas to Europe and takes advantage of using exhausted local gas fields as resevoirs - Matzen, Puchkirchen, Tallesbrunn, Schönkirchen Reyersdorf, Thann and Zwerndorf. Its role as a natural gas hub ( and therefore a supremely critical node in the security of energy supply in Europe) will increase further with the construction of the Nabucco pipeline.

The current Nabucco shareholders are OMV (Austria) MOL (Hungary) Transgaz (Romania) Bulgargaz (Bulgaria) BOTAS (Turkey) - Gaz de France and Total, and German E.ON Ruhrgas and RWE are also interested in a stake as well as Gazprom.

The EU on current projections will require an additional 200 to 300 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year in 25 years - i.e about another 10 Nabucco's.

Looking back words Looking for words

It's that silly time of the year for pointless quizzes, list, look backs, look forwards, sideways..

Here are some from the Oil Drum - a site everyone should keep an eye on in the next 12 months. Go here for their complete commented list. (Only if the office is really empty)

You don't need to know all the answers....no one is smart enough to ask you all the questions.

Global oil depletion is an opportunity disguised as a problem.

School is just society breaking the spirits of the stupid.

Nothing is as durable as a bad idea. - H.L. Mencken

The laws of physics trump the laws of economics.

The Laws of Thermodynamics, a la Ginsberg:
1. You can't win.
2. You can't even break even, either.
3. You can't get out of the game.

and it's child ...

1. Capitalism is based on the assumption that you can win.
2. Socialism is based on the assumption that you can break even.
3. Mysticism is based on the assumption that you can quit the game.

Physics : the definition - F=ma. The rest can be derived.

etc., etc.,

10 totally fucked and useless highly radioactive UK nuclear power stations for sale - great development potential

The British Nuclear Group's ageing fleet of Magnox rectors has been reduced by closure of 2 sites which take effect from 31st December 2006.

Sizewell A, nuclear power station , the largest of the Magnox fleet with twin reactors generated 440 MW of electricity. Construction began in 1961 and it became fully operational in 1966 and since then has produced over 100 million MWh of electricity to the grid.

Dungeness A (pic BBC)was a similiar unit whose construction was started a year earlier and began electicity generation in 1965.

This removes approximately 2% of UK electricity generation.

There are now two left operating - Oldbury (Bristol) is scheduled to cease generation in 2008; Wylfa (Anglesey) in 2010.

BNFL announced on December 21st that they have instructed NM Rothschild & Sons Limited to sell off a new wholly-owned business called Reactor Sites Management Company Ltd.,, which is responsible for the management of the Magnox reactor sites in the UK.

Magnox Electric Limited, which is the holder of a nuclear site licence for each of the NDA's Magnox reactor sites, will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reactor Sites Management Company and therefore will be included in the sale.

Interested parties, who can purchase the whole of the share issue should contact Richard Guest at reactorsites@rothschild.co.uk. this includes sites @ Dungeness A, Sizewell A, Bradwell, Berkeley, Hinkley Point A, Oldbury, Trawsfynydd, Wylfa, Chapelcross,Hunterston A.

That's a lot of real estate. Prime sites for a new generation of nuclear power stations ?

FCUKED website now open

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Perfidious Clinton / Hollingrooke /Galbraith / CIA New Year 1994 - Lest we forget

The trail of Tears, Serbians expelled and fleeing (over 250,000 in total) from Krajina by Croats with the covert guidance and assistance of the US in 1994

As the New Year looms it is worth remembering the way Hans Schwan the German military attaché at the German Embassy in Zagreb spent New Years Day in 1994.... and how the role of the US was played in the murder and ethnic cleansing of the Serbs was done by the Croatians (the Nazi Ustashe) with their help. Pause to think of General Ante Gotovina who is in prison in the Hague who was directed and aided throughout by the US forces covertly and by the staff of MPRI including Gnl. Jay Garner the 1st US pro-consul in post war Iraq who had half an hour on BBC radio 4 today to explain what went wrong in Iraq.(Listen here "Taking a Stand" with Fergal Kean - available for 7 days only)

In November 1994, the United States and Croatia signed a military agreement. Immediately afterwards, U.S. intelligence agents set up an operations center on the Adriatic island of Brac, from which reconnaissance aircraft were launched. Two months earlier, the Pentagon contracted Military Professional Resources, Inc (MPRI) to train the Croatian military.

The island of Brac was selected, as it could be well protected. There all the equipment and personnel led by the CIA experts, with the long range unmanned aircraft which could cover the entire territory of BiH to the Serbian corridor on the Sava River. The entire Krajina region in Croatia was also in its range. At that time, no one had any idea what was going on and what was being hidden on the island of Brac. Nor did the US allies, the Germans have any idea. They sent their military attaché there on 1 January 1994. He hired a rent-a-car and drove the outer fence of the base and began taking pictures, thinking that the alertness in the base had faltered on New Year's Day. However, he was quickly spotted by SIS and arrested. Only when he was brought into Gotovina for questioning was it learned that this was the German military attaché in Zagreb, Hans Schwan.

After this incident, the entire base was transferred to Šepurina near Zadar, and a triple line of defense placed around it. Equipment was brought in from the US overnight, and from Šepurina, the unmanned aircraft could cover every corner of Krajina and BiH. The Americans had a silent agreement with HV to hand over all the photos of the terrain and the Serbian troops, while the images were transferred via satellite in real time to the Pentagon. Three US and three Croatian officers monitored the situation at all times.

"Americans in military uniform, operating from a cream-colored trailor near the runway, directed the GNAT-750 (after later development known as the Predator) drone (pic) to photograph the Serb troop positions and weapons emplacements. The images were transmitted back to base, analyzed and then passed on to the Pentagon. According to top Croat intelligence officials, copies were also sent to the headquarters of the Croatian general in command of 'Operation Storm.' "
Newsweek, What Did the CIA Know?, Aug 27, 2001

More here and here
MPRI is now part of L3 communications.

Barking Dog - The Bigger the Bang, the Louder the Silence

Barry Wood of Voice Of America reports the comments of long time student of Russia, Marshall Goldman in Washington to the Jamestown Federation on the 7th December.

He says energy wealth and control over export pipelines have made Russia more powerful than at any time in its history. He said both eastern and western Europe have become dependent on Russia for oil and gas and that alternative supplies are not available. The recent boom in oil and gas prices, said Professor Goldman, has greatly boosted Russia's economic and political clout.

The recent increase in Russian oil production accounts for approximately 40% of the world's increase in oil production. The result is that Gazprom is now the third largest company in the world in terms of capitalized income, behind only ExxonMobil and General Electric. Last year the US imported 8Bn. worth of Russian oil.

While France, Germany and Italy have 30 %, 32 % and 40% of their energy imports originating from Russia, respectively, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have 63 %, 72 % and 91 % of their total energy imports coming from Russia. The Baltic States and Finland are completely dependent on Russia. This is putting a strain on the EU as the Western most states remain quiescent and compliant with Russia as they become increasingly reliant on gas for their energy needs.(UK especially) As Goldman puts it, Russia is becoming the Saudi Arabia of Europe.

Goldman says Russia has a long history of using oil and gas as a foreign policy tool.

"In the Soviet era they cut off the flow of oil to Yugoslavia under Tito, to Israel after Sinai, to China after Mao broke away, to Cuba, to Finland, and more recently to Lithuania because there is a dispute over who is going to control the refinery there that Yukos is trying to sell," he explained.

Goldman attributes President Vladimir Putin's popularity to the economic resurgence that the country is enjoying because of its high priced energy exports. Russia now has the world's third largest foreign currency reserves, after China and Japan. Mr. Putin's re-nationalization of state assets and moves against the economic oligarchs who wielded enormous power under Boris Yeltsin have been immensely popular - although the "siloviki," or Putin's close allies are now in charge. Putin has also nationaised the TV network and controls many newspapers, taking advice from Usbekistan's Karimov he is demanding registration of NGO's.

Professor Goldman says Russia's geographic position between Europe and Asia may make energy-hungry China vulnerable to Moscow, primarily because so many energy pipelines run through Russia.

"Just as the Europeans have become dependent on Russia for its gas, if the pipelines are built to China, the Chinese will become equally vulnerable," he added.

Russia, concludes Goldman, in just nine years has made an extraordinary transition from economic weakness to great strength. He credits President Putin with restoring national pride and ending the threat of political fragmentation within Russia.

Marshall Goldman
discusses his book, (Audio real Player or downloadable MP3) Putin, Petroleum, Power and Patronage: The Dog Barks but the Caravan Moves On. HERE (Wellesley College - Monday, April 10, 2006) he also wrote the Piratisation of Russia.

This is a very important talk (and covers most of what he said to the Jamestown meeting) if you wish to understand what Putin's Russia is doing - very rapidly, to exercise it's muscles.

Putin (in theory) cannot run for re-election in 2008 .... don't put your mortgage on it.

Massive (Richter 7.1 and 7.0 ) Earthquakes on Taiwan and Chinese Coast near Qemoy

This happened at 12.26 UTC (Top map 7.1 R ) and 12.34 UTC (bottom map 7.0 R)which is 8.34 local time (13.34 GMT)at a depth of 10 Km. The map shows quite low level shaking on the surface more here

Japan's Meteorological Bureau reports a one-meter (3.3-foot) -high tsunami triggered by a powerful quake off Taiwan was headed toward the east coast of the Philippines.

"There is a possibility of a destructive local tsunami,'' the bureau said, saying waves were expected to hit Basco in the Philippines.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said the quake struck at about 8:34 p.m. (1234 GMT) and measured magnitude 6.7, while the U.S. Geological Survey put it at magnitude 7.1.

Chorus of Disapproval

Basra street cleaners clear up after Major "Basra" Burbidge's Police Station clearance

The BBC airwaves have been clamorous with the excited views of Major "Basra" Burbidge about the sacking and desctruction of al-Jamiat Police Station in Basra.

The assault force is now reported to have now grown to include 600 Iraqi soldiers as well as five Challenger tanks and roughly 40 Warrior fighting vehicles, plus a combat bulldozer. The number of prisoners released and transferred, vary wildly but has seemed to settle at about 127. The number of escaped prisoners is unknown.

On BBC4 News at 1300 GMT 26th Dec. Stephen Gray reported that the much feared Specialist Crime Unit was actually a product of UK "mentoring" and that as long ago as February 2004, it was reported that the station had become a focal point for the most corrupt elements of Basra's new British-trained police forces.

There has been no evidence that any of these renegade Police were apprehended on the day - although much documentation / computers had been retreived. It is evident however that the assault was expected and the New York Times reports that ...several dozen,(members of the serious crimes unit ) according to the British military, fled and were not caught.

What is now evident is that this massive and anticipated 3 hour military effort -
“We received information late last night,” Major Burbridge said Monday, “that the crimes unit was aware this was going to take place and we received information that the prisoners’ lives were in danger.”

..... is receving no public support, approval, explanation or even acknowledgement by anyobody in the US / UK ,ilitary establishment, or political empires in London or Washington.

Even FCO mouthpiece "Rentagob" Howells has remained silent.

Meanwhile out there we have the armed renegades running wild, running loose. Running the streets, which are now vacant.

A History Lesson or 2

Training of Iraqis proves easier said than done
December 5th 2006 Financial Times Special report on Iraq after Baker report published - some relevant quotations

Duncan Anderson, head of war studies at the UK’s Sandhurst military academy, said large numbers in the army are not being paid. .......

Mr Anderson said there are too many police: Basra, which was assessed to require 6,000 policemen, has 37,000, a majority of which are worse than useless. He suggests the solution is to disband the police force – paying suitable financial incentives – and rehire a smaller, more professional force.

Antony Cordesman, a former US military intelligence officer now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told an audience last week.....

" ....his assessment of the police was even more negative. The department says it has no way of knowing how many people are in the police or how effective they are."

Anthony Cordesmann wrote the highly important "Planning for a Self-Inflicted Wound: US Policy to Reshape a Post-Saddam Iraq" December 31st 2002 (ie months before the invasion) about post war Iraq and foretold with terrible accuracy the dilemma that the US now finds themselves in - months before the invasion.

A vital document to read to fully understand how the seeds of defeat were sown before the illegal invasion.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Bananas - the EU the Euro - Straws in the Wind

The impact of recent changes in banana importing into the EU and the decline of the dollar have had a noticeable impact on the market.

Chiquita Brands International are the world's leading banana producer. Despite Q3 sales growing 8% to $1.03 billion, and North America price rises of 5% the company reported losses of US$96 MN or US2.29 per share.In Banana segment, year-over-year sales rose 8% in the third quarter to $444 million, up from $411 million the prior year. This segment incurred an operating loss of $43 million,

In the first 9 months the company reported EU sales down 2% - Premium Chiquita brand bananas volumes rose by 4% but second label fruit sales were down 35% as the new EU banana regime began to take effect.

The company report ..

Regulatory changes have encouraged new entrants and more intense price competition in the European market, especially at the low-end of the price spectrum. Because most of the new entrants do not have established customer relationships they’ve been forced to sell their products through brokers at very low prices. ..... In addition, the firm suffered $19 million of net incremental cost associated with higher banana import tariffs in the European Union.

All this is set against a lower market as in the warm summer customers seek juicier fruits in the warmer summer - as well as determined EU producer effort for expanding the length of the growing season for EU grown soft fruits.

On December 16th British Summer Fruits, the industry body representing UK growers who supply over 92% of soft fruit sold in UK supermarkets report record sales for 2006. The last of nine years steady growth. Blackberries showed the greatest increase with sales soaring 31% to £4 million. Raspberry demand was very strong , with sales up over 26% to £35million. British strawberry sales rose by 5% to over £165 million. The British berry industry receives no price support subsidies from the EU or DEFRA.(Pic BSF)

In a fascinating view of a major EU trader's outlook , Chiqiuta has hedged with put options approximately 75% of its estimated net Euro cash flows 18 months into the future. For 2007, the firm recently reset its put option positions at an average rate of $1.28 per euro, which has effectively locked in anticipated year-on-year currency benefits of approximately $15 million. For 2008, the firm is approximately 30% hedged at an average rate of $1.27 per Euro.

The firm also hedged a significant portion of its fuel exposure on ocean shipping.

Australians marry animals ? Sensational pics !

It had to come. Animal marriages. Proof from the Oz Google logo which mysteriously changed late today... Is there something we should know ? We think we should be told.

Georgia's gas is still playing cold - Turkey to settle price / volume.

International news media are reporting that Georgia has secured the Turkish element of the Azeri gas from the Caspian Shah Deniz fields, that will soon be filling the Baku -Tbilisi -Erzurum pipeline. (This follows the Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline for a great deal of its journey.)

It now appears that Georgian Energy Minister Nika Gilauri's plans are no slam dunk. Further talks are to be held in Baku after Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli met with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev whi have agreed on supplies of 1 Mn cubic metres to determine the origin and price of natural gas deliveries from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field.(Pic Azebaijani students, thrilled at news)

Initial deliveries in September were postponed because of construction delays on a new pipeline in Turkey, the State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan said last month.

``Technical problems'' continue to hold up deliveries,said Energy Minister Gilauri's spokesman Doliashvili ``When the project goes online, we'll start getting gas from Shah Deniz.'' BP PLC, Friday said that output had been halted at the offshore field (10% owned by Russian LUKoil) because of "unspecified technical problems." Production began just under two weeks ago.

A meeting early this week in Istanbul at a trilateral meeting in which Azeri dynastic President Ilham Aliyev will take part will decide by whom the gas to Georgia is supplied, volumes and transfer prices.

It is difficult for an outside observer to see why that price will vary from the agreed Gazprom price of US$235.... although of course the announcement (if made) may confuse, obfuscate the agreed costs.

It is, after all, in all supplier's interest to maintain higher prices..... which will impact in the long(er) term on Western Europe .... and on the Norwegian Government Pension Fund.

There is a useful post at The Reliant with many detailed press links that highlights the closure on December 23, of the Russian military headquarters in Tbilisi to the Georgian government, following the completion of the withdrawal of Russian military hardware from Tbilisi on December 14 (BBC report) . Final vacation of the installation became complete with the departure of the last personnel on December 25. The closing of the installation and of its staff of 340 employees will represent the end of any formal Russian military presence in the Georgian capital - an event which has been described as a "historic moment" by Georgian deputy defense minister Levan Nikoleishvili.

Watch this space,

Where are they Now ? No 234 Monica Lewinsky

Glamorous, slim, lissome, bubbly former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, whose sexual relationship with U.S. President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment graduated from the London School of Economics, her publicist said on Wednesday.

She completed a thesis entitled "In Search of the Impartial Juror: An exploration of the third person effect and pre-trial publicity."

She is looking for a job.

Christmas Day fun for UK troops in Basra

Basra Police Station reduced to rubble by UK forces(AP photo)

Over 1,000 British troops raided Jamiat Police station in Basra said (BBC Radio 4 0800 GMT) to be notorious as a "centre for corruption , torture and killing ", they took 76 prisoners held there and moved them to an alternative Iraqi detention facility and then (as part of the re-construction program?) blew up the Police Station.

Major Charlie Burbridge,said there were "very few" officers at the station when the raid took place and that, while there had been no resistance as yet, the British force was prepared for and expected retaliatory attacks from local gunmen.

Over 800 British troops backed with armoured vehicles recently arrested a senior officer in the Basra Serious Crimes Unit who has been accused of ordering the murder of 17 staff at a British-run police academy. "The Serious Crimes Unit is in the process of being disbanded," added Burbidge.

There may well be a serious, rational explanation of how the Coalition of the Willing introduce Laura Norder to Iraq, by blowing up Police Stations - but then, the UK forces have a record of smashing up Police Stations in Basra ? (it was indeed this one)

This is my child what we in the West call exporting Democracy.

Update 26th Dec.

BBC report "UK raid angers Basra politicians"

Mohammed al Abadi, head of the city's council, said the raid was provocative and illegal and local officials had not been informed of the operation. He also said it violated earlier agreements to move the prisoners without military action.

Major Burbidge said ..." we're pretty confident we've done the right thing here."

The Torygraph report Basra's police chief, General Mohammed al-Musawi, claiming they had lost track of 20 of the most dangerous criminals in Basra.He condemned the raid which was carried out without warning after two days of talks on moving the unit's headquarters.

An Iraqi army commander, Gen Ali Ibrahim, branded the raid "illegal". The Torygraph hav an interesting video.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Major Taliban leader killed .... or not killed

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani, (AKA Usmani) the Taliban treasurer, chief of military operations in the provinces of Uruzgan, Nimroz, Kandahar, Farah, Herat and Helm and a chap played a central role in facilitating operations involving Taliban, al-Qaeda and a group led by Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani (also chum of Mr Hekmatyr) was on his satellite telephone when an RAF R1 monitoring aircraft tracking him down. Working with an elite US special operations team, including members of the elite Delta Force, plus elite intelligence specialists from an elite unit known as elite Task Force Orange were able to call in a US elite plane (A-1o, Predator drone ?) to drop a smart bomb (missile?) onto his 4 x 4 as it left a village in the Zahre area.

This killed him, and 2 deputies with him.

The Kuwait News Agency say Coalition spokesman in Kabul Colonel Tom Collins claimed Usmani was a senior member of the Taliban inner circle,a member of the Taliban's Shura Majlis, or executive council, and the former foreign minister for the Taliban. He said, this was ,"a major achievement in the fight against extremists and their terrorist networks". CNN report that The military is "very sure" it killed Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani although it can't provide visual proof as his body was "obliterated" in Tuesday's attack on the vehicle .

"He was hit by a precision air strike. The vehicle was destroyed and all the occupants were obliterated," Tim Collins said. "We had him under observation for a good while, we knew he was in the vehicle. When that vehicle moved out of that built up area he was in, that's when we hit it."

Collins said Osmani was identified through forensic analysis, but not through DNA tests. He said the type of analysis performed was classified information.

Confusingly al Jazeera report that "Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Osmani was really killed with his companion Maulavi Abdul Zahir Baloushi and a third unidentified person."

The Taliban through Qari Yousef Ahmadi deny reports of Osmani's death but not the incident, when they claim a low-ranking commander Mullah Abdul Zahir had been killed with 3 other Taliban fighters.

Osmani was captured in 2002 but was released by "mistake" 4 weeks later.

Osmani is from from the Taleban spiritual capital Kandahar, and taught in the same madrassa that Mullah Mohammed Omar used to teach in before the emergence of Taliban in 1994.

Mullah Akhtar Usmani appeared (see pic) on Pakistani television, on June 15th, 2005 and claimed he was in touch with Mullah Omar and he said bin Laden was, "thanks be to God … absolutely fine, in good health and fit," Usmani also said the Taliban is reorganized and it,

"is in all areas [of Afghanistan]. In some areas, it is working more; in some areas, it is working less. However, it is present and working in all provinces… Almost 80 percent of the [Afghan] people are with us; they were not in the past, but now they are because when they consider U.S. atrocities and actions, they come to understand the United States is their enemy… Now our fighting is increasing. It may increase manifold this year... We also have weapons. We do not need anything."

His aide Abdul Latif Hakimi frequently gives interviews from the Pakistani city of Quetta. This has caused the US Ambassador in Kabul Zalmay Khalilzad to ask rhetorically why , “If GEO TV can get in touch with them, how can the intelligence service of a country, which has nuclear bombs and a lot of security and military forces, not find them?” [Reuters, 6/18/2005]

Students of the writings of Osama bin Laden will recall his words published in the Al-Jihaad Newsletter, Issue No. 4, 22 June 2000.

"Any aggression by the United States today against Afghanistan would not be against Afghanistan itself, but against the Afghanistan that hoists the banner of Islam in the world, the true, mujahid Islam, which fights for the sake of God… Allah has blessed Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan… They were able to unify the country under the Taliban and under the leadership of Amir ul-Mu'mineen [Commander of the Faithful] Mulanna [our Mullah] Omar. So today, Afghanistan is the only country in the world that has the Shari'ah. Therefore, it is compulsory upon Muslims all over the world to help Afghanistan. And to make hijra to this land, because it is from this land that we will dispatch our armies to smash all kuffar all over the world."
bin Ladin said Afghanistan would be the site of "one of Islam's immortal battles." "Under the leadership of our mujahid Amir … Mullah Muhammad Omar," bin Laden wrote, "we are firm on the path of jihad for the cause of God. The United States was(is) not against me. It was not even against the Taliban. It was(is) against Islam."(see PBS interview......)

Do you have a message for the American people?

"I say to them that they have put themselves at the mercy of a disloyal government, and this is most evident in Clinton's administration ... . We believe that this administration represents Israel inside America."

Earlier this week the French government announced that it would withdraw its 200 special (elite?) forces (FFL) from Afghanistan at the start of 2007 . This coincides with the announcement of a TV documentary,"Bin Laden, the failings of a manhunt", by Emmanuel Razavi and Eric de Lavarene to be aired on cable TV in March 2007. It is claimed this film shows French special forces in Afghanistan had al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in their sights twice about three years ago, but their U.S. superiors never ordered them to fire.

French armed forces spokesman Christophe Prazuck said "that never happened" when asked about the bin Laden sightings.

Emmanuel Razavi is French (pere) / Iranian and left Teheran with the Shah, he published by Paris Match,(pic) "Afghanistan, the French on the track of Bin Laden" for which he was nominated for the prestigious Prix Bayeux Calvados of the War Correspondents in 2004. He has also published "Moslem Brothers: the threat " Editions Jean Cyril Godefroy December 31, 2004

Pic of FFL Para regiment with camouflage painted M82A2 Barrett specially adapted sniper rifles which use 1/2 " BMG (12.7 x 99mm)rounds and is lethal over 1800 metres.

UPDATE 27/12

Robert Lindsay has more information here but the proof of Osmani's death still relies on unconfirme claims by US forces.

Northern Ireland - season of goodwill kicks in

At this season of goodwill Nigel Dodds (like Tony a barrister and ex St.Johns Coll.) the North Belfast DUP MP and member of the NI Assembly has rejected the timetable of May 2008 to transfer policing and justice powers to Stormont proposed by the "man with the tan from the can" and wannabe New Labour Deputy Leader wannabe Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Oreland Peter Hain MP.

Our Nigel demands the Unionists must first be satisfied by removal of all paramilitary structures, addressing continuing republican criminality, introducing legislation for a sanctions mechanism to punish any republican defaults during devolution and a range of equality issues for the unionist community.

Meanwhile the IRA's Gerry Adams has to face the need call this weekend a meeting of his national executive.If the executive approve a special conference next month on policing, Gerry will have to secure a two-thirds majority to change the SinnFein policy on publicly supporting the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Which isn't going to happen.

Hardline republicans organised a "well attended" (250 people) public debate in Toomebridge on 14th December, have anounced that a series of meetings are to take place across the North.

A 12-strong 'focus group' made up of representatives of the IRSP, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, (the political wings of the INLA and Real IRA respectively) independent republicans and what are being described as "disillusioned Sinn Fein members"is organising the meetings. in an attempt to highlight what it regards as a Sinn Fein "sell-out".

Willie Gallagher, a Strabane-based IRSP representative on the group ( and former republican prisoner and hunger striker), said a number of items will be up for discussion at the gatherings, with Sinn Fein's proposals for policing at the top of the agenda.

"Republicans in all areas are crying out for meetings on the issue. It's been suggested that after Christmas there'll be public meetings in East Tyrone, then possibly Derry City and then Strabane." claims Gallagher. An outline of their manifesto or arguments is available here.

Meanwhile the BBC report that the highest annual house price rise is in the fiercely republican border town of Newry - 54% - this has nothing whatever to do with the criminal success and related cross border illicit traffic .... as the top ten towns in for house price rises in the UK were all in Northern Ireland.

Organised Crime Task Force in Northern Ireland

The OCTF website claims that annual losses for Northern Ireland (1,685,267 (Census 29 April 2001 UK total 58.8 Mn. NI = 2.9% of population, NI has 627 thousand households)

1. Intellectual property theft (counterfeit DVD's etc.,) is estimated at £200 million (£300 per household)
2. Drugs worth over £7 million were seized by PSNI in 2005/06 - including the biggest haul ever in Europe of 3.5 tonnes of cannabis resin. (Heroin users contacting services increased 40% in 2006, Cocaine users doubled)
3. 35 million cigarettes were seized during the year equivalent to a loss of revenue of £7 - estimates are that 50% of cigarettes consumed in NI are stolen , smuggled or counterfeit.
4. The revenue loss from fuel smuggling and illegitimate cross border smuggling is estimated at £245 million. (£365 per household)

Where are they Now ? Condi Rice - so famous they named a supertanker after her!

Many folks may need reminding that the famous pianist, writer, historian and frequent weekend visitor to the Gubernatorial Mansion in Austin, Ms C. Rice is the current Secretary of State - AP sent along top diplomatic writer, Anne Gearan again (2005 chat here) to chat with her at this busy seasonal time....

"...... this is a country (Iraq) that is worth the investment because once it emerges as a country that is a stabilizing factor, you'll have a very different kind of Middle East. And I know that from the point of view of not just monetary costs, but the sacrifice of American lives, a lot has been sacrificed for Iraq, a lot has been invested in Iraq. But the President wouldn't ask for the continued sacrifice and the continued investment if he did not believe and in fact I believe as well that this will in fact -- we can in fact succeed and that it's imperative that we succeed."

Here's a (very) small part of that investment;

Bring them Home Now

(C) Very Seriously Disorganised Criminals 2002/3/4/5/6/7/8/9 - copy anything you wish