"“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, March 24, 2007

Woolmer Murder Mystery - Plod plods : Amazing pictures

"Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still"
W H Auden Muse des Beaux Arts

Lord Patel had reason to employ a private detective. He chose an ex Greater Manchester cop with excellent Masonic credentials - he had retired from the force after having returned from UK Home Office secondment the Caribbean to interdict drug supplies using the island as an entrepot port on the way from South America to the USA and Europe.

He told Lord Patel how he arrived and discovered a history from his predecessor of missed arrests, arrivals too late to catch the the smugglers red handed, unexplained losses of evidence, documents ..

Bright eyed and bushy tailed he set to work and soon the captures soared and a few boat drivers and low lifes were cooling their heels. London were thrilled.

Interrupted one day , some 6 months into his 2 year contract, by a phone call from a man with a direct manner, but courteous and with a distinctively South American voice, he was pleased to be congratulated on his success. His surprise caller then went on to detail his wife and children, the schools they went to, their cars, their routes to school, trips to the beach.

"What did you do ?" asked Lord Patel inocccently.
"Well, what would you do?" he said.

So 18 months later having done what Lord Patel would have done, he returned to the UK, with a sorry tale of missed arrests, arrivals too late to catch the the smugglers red handed, unexplained losses of evidence, documents ..

All of which makes one wonder about Deputy Commissioner Mark Shields in Jamaica, (Shields of the Yard) from the Met., 6' 6", square jawed and masonic in outlook who took 5 days to discover Bob Woolmer had been strangled to death.

“We’ve been speaking to the doctors and we think it is either stress or a heart attack,” Russell Woolmer, his elder son, said on Wednesday. “There was a lot of stress in his job and it may have been stress that caused it.”

The Times reports today (Saturday) (pic AFP date 19/4/07)...

" .....a struggle of such violence that, when he finally lay lifeless on the white-tiled bathroom floor, the walls were splattered high and wide with vomit, his body was surrounded by pools of blood and excrement, and a bone in his neck had snapped."

"Last night Jamaican police were focusing closely on a possible match-fixing connection." says Mr Shields said that results from an examination of tissue and fluid samples removed from his body had yet to be delivered to police, refusing to be more specific, " looks like the pathologists don't jump to conclusions either.

Another report just in says ...2 hotel maids from the 16th Floor, have been sent on holiday and have been told by Police not to talk to anyone about what they have seen.

Readers will recall Lord Patel remarked early in the week, upon the proximity to sunny Jamaica of bookie Khwaja Arif Pappu who is a man who has frequent contact with gangster Dawood Ibrahim... and the clearly organised mobs in Multan, burning effigies of Woolmer and Imzi and calling for their death.

Dawood Ibrahim

Tricky customer yer Mr Dawood Ibrahim - Wikipedia will give you a life, but don't believe too much. Anyway he may be 5' 4'' tall and have a "mole on his left eyebrow" and that he is also "involved in extortion, forgery and cheating".

His early life is fuzzy and he has been connected to the Mumbai underworld don Karim Lala in his early years with the mob. Taking over he is claimed to run multi-billion dollar vice empire covering prostitution, gambling and drugs.

He has been blamed for the Mumbai bombingsd in 1993, when 257 people died and over 700 others were wounded. The bombings were believed to be carried out in revenge for the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in riots in 1992 blamed on the right-wing Hindu Shiv Sena party.

He also runs Bollywood - nobody has refused an invitation to star in one of his fillums.

His Bollywood connections were on open display when he was seen on television sitting with a number of leading stars and watching international cricket matches in the Gulf city of Sharjah in the 90's - but no photographs seem to have survived.

If this were not enough he is also a (according to the FBI / CIA / MI6 and THE Lady dame Pauline Neville Fan Club) a leading light behind Al Quaeda. What is certain is that he was certainly behind the massive VAT carousel fraud which caused Dubai's £200 MN jump in exports to the UK in 2006 starting in May.

Javed Miandad

The former Pakistani cricket captain is remarkably close to Dawood Ibrahim. Simply his son, Oxford educated Junaid Miandad married Mahrukh Ibrahim in Karachi / Dubai in July 2005 (BBC) It was the cause of comment that the President pervez Mushariff snubbed the wedding party - through whom he had connections through his deputy Aziz, a frequent companion of Dawood at the racetrack.

For those anxious for deatil which can be relied upon , the marriage proposal was first mooted in December 2004 by Dawood's wife, Mehajabeen alias Zubeena Zareen, to the Mrs Miandad. "We Muslims believe that marriages are made in Heaven and we don't challenge destiny" Mr M was to say later. An offer she found impossible to refuse and it was swiftly followed by a low profile engagement ceremony in Karachi.. The engagement was not made public since Dawood Ibrahim is not meant to be residing on Pakistani soil after being declared a globally designated terrorist.

This liason was certainly fated because the 2 families have had close connections for decades. Mr D had invested (laundered) a huge chunk of his black money in the business and industrial ventures of the filthy rich Sehgals of Karachi, good old Javed Miandad's in laws.

The Sehgals strongly refute having been involved in any business deal with Dawood .. naturally .
Dawood's underworld connects and business ventures are extensive, and he sublets his name in Pakistan, Thailand, South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries, to franchises in the fields of drug trafficking and gambling dens.

Dawood got involved in match-fixing over a decade ago, and had many Pakistani cricket players were on his pay rolls , who earned and gambled huge sums of money.

His interest in cricket apparently remains undiminished and after his glamorous appearances in Sharjah one-dayers when he had top Indian actors and actresses at his beck and call, Dawood now calls the shots in Pakistan.

With Dawood's backing Miandad was able to survive as captain of the Pakistan cricket team for a long time despite facing tough opposition from other players and his being named in several match-fixing scams. The committee headed by Justice Qayyum, had established a direct link between Dawood and many of the Pakistani players.... but of course did fuck all about it.

Javed Miandad - gave evidence and was asked why he quit the job abruptly before the World Cup after guiding the team to victory in Sharjah. He then claimed that during Pakistan's second match against England, he got a call from someone (whom he did not , or did not want to want to name), who told him the game was fixed and that Shahid Afridi, Moin Khan, Azhar Mehmood, Salim Malik and Inzamam-ul Haq had taken money to throw the match.

Miandad told Qayyum, that "he was so angry he forced Akram to talk to the man immediately."

Akram, in his evidence before Qayyum, admitted he did talk to someone called Dawood Ibrahim on the phone and was told the match was fixed. Miandad asked Akram to make the players take an oath on the Koran, but Akram did not do so because it was not available at the ground.

Miandad has deposed that he was furious at the team during the break as England, who were struggling at 40 for five wickets and had scored 206. He also said before he realised what was happening, five Pakistan batsmen were out and the team was bowled out for 144 runs in the 35th over.

Passions run high in Asian cricket and amongst it's followers... there is a All India Anti-Terrorist Front and when the Miandads and the Dawood marriage was to happen they sought a ban on the entry of Javed Miandad

"If ever Miandad enters India, the Front will take its own course of action to stop him. The Front warns the Indian Government that Miandad should never be allowed to enter into India,"
It might also be worth remembering that when Woolmer was brought in 3 prominent Pakistani cricketers objected ... Javed Miandad,(married into the Mr D clan) Imran Khan, (“What could be the motives for killing Bob Woolmer? he said to Reuters) and Sarfaraz Nawaz. (who was claiming on Monday it was a Mafia backed murder, part of a match-fixing plot)

The Times ... again ... "Yesterday police were studying CCTV footage of the corridor leading to Woolmer’s room in an attempt to learn who killed him and why. Mark Shields, Deputy Commissioner of the Jamaica police and a former Scotland Yard detective, conceded to The Times that it was proving inconclusive."

.. but maybe they have some good pictures of a murder by Police in Stockwell tube station perhaps.

Anyway, they have taken the DNA samples from the Pakistan team and they are free to escape return to Pakistan... let's just hope they don't lose them, or get them contaminated, or mix them up.

The ICC, and the Boycotts, and the Aggers, like to present the image of a clean game for the paying public .... but to choose at random, West Indian swashbuckling and electrifying batsman Marlon Samuels was key to the West Indies' fortunes at the World Cup.

He was recorded talking to an Indian bookmaker who was already under surveillance for his links to a renowned Indian gangster ... well , well, well it was Dawood Ibrahim.

Transcripts show Samuels revealing details of the make-up of the West Indian team, including that he was to be bowling in the "17th or 18th" over of a one-day match against India in the city of Nagpur.

Samuels, was allowed to play (by the ICC !) in the World Cup and he vehemently denies ''match-fixing'' .... the Windies unexpectedly beat Pakistan.

A notorious gangster, Bab - loo Srivastava, has appeared on one of the many Indian TV channels on Thursday and said Dawood Ibrahim, was behind Woolmers's murder. "The Pakistan-Ireland match must have been fixed," Srivastava said. "The D-Company (Ibrahim’s gang) may have lots of money at stake. Woolmer may have got an inkling of the fixing and hence he was killed."

Now Lord Patel is founder of Sceptics Anonymous, " he may not know much about cricket but he knows when something is not right". Woolmer was there, and knew a lot of what went on during the match fixing scandal in which Hansie Cronje was nailed and named and shamed his colleagues. The King Commission never called him ..... yet his team were taking bribes amounting into 100's of thousands of US$'s

Fixed fixtures, bent batsmen, ball tamperers, they seem to dog his tracks ...

.. and now we have the "painstaking patience" of Shields of the Yard.....

A ragged urchin, aimless and alone,
Loitered about that vacancy; a bird
Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone:
That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
Were axioms to him, who’d never heard
Of any world where promises were kept
Or one could weep because another wept.


September 1, 1939
W H Auden

Harmless Flutterers Part 2 : Brown takes the Bookies for a ride

Currently the UK Gubment raises revenue from gambling by 6 different duties (taxes by another name)

1. General Betting Duty applies to bets made with bookmakers, betting exchanges and the Tote.
2. Pool Betting Duty applies to the football pools and fantasy football competitions.
3. Gaming Duty applies to casino games played on licenced premises.
4. Amusement Machine License Duty taxes dutiable amusement and gaming machines.
5. Bingo Duty applies to commercial bingo.
6. Lottery Duty is paid by the National Lottery.

Anyone resident in the UK can access, and play, so called Remote Gaming. This involves dealing with overseas based operators and basically refers to the activities of Internet / Web based organisations - which US residents cannot legally do due to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Lightly regulated (if at all) they are based in such exotic locationsd as Kahnawake, Antigua and Barbuda, Costa Rica, Netherland Antilles, but also in EU countries such as Gibralter, Malta and Cyprus. (Chart shows language / sex / age of internet gamblers)

The Gambling Act 2005 (which does not cover NI) will make it legal for a remote gaming operator to locate in Great Britain, and be regulated under UK jurisdiction, for the first time. This reflects the obsession by Mrs Tessa Jowell's Department for Culture, Media and Sport to extend the scope and accessibility of gambling to UK residents. There are incidentally 5 such gambling organisation registered in the Isle of Man where they pay a licence of £35,000 and then tax that is paid on gross gaming yield in 3 bands 1.5% on £20 million, 0.5% on £20-£40 Mn and 0.1% over £40 Mn.

For some extraordinary and no doubt historical reason gambling is regulated under the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Order 1985 in Northern Ireland.

Faced with the prospect of remote gambling being located in the UK the nose picking Chancellor (Brown the Bogyman) was faced with the potential to rake in more money and saw there were three avenues to participating in this new group of potential taxpayers.

A: Do nothing. Ho.Ho.Ho.
B: Extend the scope of the existing gaming duty regime to capture remote gaming activity on the net receipts (payments received minus winnings paid out).
C: Create a new duty of excise known as ‘remote gaming duty’ on the net receipts (payments received minus winnings paid out).

He decided on the third option and the primary legislation for Remote Gaming Duty was planned (after "consultation" with the "industry" to be contained within the Finance Bill 2007.

Well it was ,and the gamblers of the world were united in their grief when Gordon did 2 things.

1. He set the Remote Gaming Duty in line with land-based bookmakers and bingo firms at 15 %. The major bettors had been gambling on rates of 2/3% as promised by Mrs Tess Jowell and her legions of demented supporters.

2. Having upset the Remote Gamblers he also hit the smaller casino operators and scrapped the lowest Gaming Duty rate for the smallest casinos and created a new, higher, 50 % tax band for the most profitable ones

Internet gambling firms looking to locate back to Britain from tax havens such as Gibraltar and Cyprus were dismayed at the 15% tax rate... but Remote gambling will not be liable for VAT - which seems a curious concession, sitting alongside fod and children's clothes.

Some had predicted Remote Gaming Duty would be as low as 2 or 3 percent after having listened too closely to Mrs Tessa Jowell and her demented advisers. Oddly, the Daily Torygraph (the Punters Friend) had been peddling "unsourced" stories on Friday February 23rd, that the duty would be in the range of 2/3 %.

"The Remote Gaming Duty has been set breathtakingly high, it will do nothing to attract the existing offshore industry onshore and it may indeed have the contrary effect,"
BDO Stoy Hayward tax principal Martin Dane is quoted in the Scotsman. Well thank the Lord for that.“This sounds the death knell for the Government’s aspiration to be the world leader in regulated remote gaming.” he added. Good.

There is a body called the Remote Gambling Association and it has a chairman called John Coates, not happy man ....."With the additional VAT and corporation tax for most companies, it would be almost impossible for a UK-based operation to compete with offshore businesses, especially those located in other EU jurisdictions," (seeming it appears to have missed the VAT concession - but who says gamblers have to be honest ?)

"This decision means that the UK has effectively turned its back on the industry," he added. Clive Hawkswood, its chief executive, said the Government "has missed a real opportunity to lead the way in terms of international regulatory standards".Good.

Having upset the Remote Gamblers he also hit the smaller casino operators and scrapped the lowest tax rate for the smallest casinos and created a new, higher, 50 % tax band for the most profitable ones - which will send the Las Vegas style gamblers back to their pocket calculators , to do their sums again. Last year the Treasury take on gambling duties from casinos was £175 Mn. Next year Treasury hopes to raise an extra £35 million a year from the increase in gaming duty from current casinos and increase of 20%.

An immediate consequence was, Rank warned , that the changes would wipe 20 percent off the annual profits of its casinos... for example its Grosvenor Casinos, - Gross Profit £39.5 million pounds in 2006, would fall by 8 million pounds a year as a result of the higher taxes. Rank's shares slumped more than 8 percent ... 240p to 212 at the weekend. See chart (Yahoo). They have 33 UK casinos and 130 UK Bingo clubs - profits 2006, £44Mn. on TO of £560Mn. with 24,323 employees - down 1,000 on the year.

The level of Remote Gaming Duty will also scupper talks that Ladbroke have been having to acquire 888.com "The Worlds No 1 Onlone Casino and Poker Room", to hit the ground running for a UK based businesse.

No doubt another consequence will be a distinct froideur between Mrs Tessa Jowell and her chums in the gambling "industry" - and, one might reasonably guess that Presbyterian, son of the Manse, Gordon won't be welcome to those fabulous "swinging parties" the Jowell's were / are, renowned for, at their modest country mansion.

Gordon also managed to upset the fragrant party loving Lady Cobham and mistress of David Mellor, chairman of the British Casino Association, who said the Budget changes would cost operators GBP100 million over three years - which is exactly in line with Treasury expectations. Evidently she didn't appreciate what such a sterling job her members were doing according to Gordon .."“to ensure that this vibrant and expanding sector continues to make a fair contribution to tax receipts”.. no doubt she can relax and enjoy the benefits of being a Director with her Mellors of Partridge Fine Arts, of New Bond Street, once purveyors of fine Antiques to Queen Mary ... and there is an ane auld tale , .... Partridges going for a song.

Should you want to see Brown the Bogyman pickin' his nose and chewin' it try this on You Tube ugghhh!!

Or visit 888,com and ...

Friday, March 23, 2007

21/7 Bombers - Kamlish..What did he know and when did he know it.... who is Mr Asiedu Marquaye Abubakari ??

Stephen Kamlish QC (Tooks Chambers - Prop. M Mansfield)was a counsel to the Stephen Lawrence family, and represented Dr. Harold Shipman. He is acting on behalf of Manfo Kwaku Asiedu 33, who appears to be separating himself physically (he is now sat elsewhere in the dock) andlegally by providing evidence that is unhelpful to his co- defendents in the 21/7 bombing case at the Old Bailey.

Encouraged by his brief, Kamlish, Asiedu said that Muktar Said Ibrahim 29, wanted to carry out something "bigger and better than 7/7".

Stephen Kamlish QC said he had documentary evidence proving Mr Ibrahim, Khan and Tanweer were all in Pakistan at the same time. he asked Ibrahim who he describes as the "emir" of the plot...

"Has there been any discussion between you and them on how to make effective bombs to start a bombing campaign in this country, the first of which was 7/7, the second of which was going to be 21/7?" he asked - which suggests that he is acting more for the prosecution than the defence.

Ibrahim replied: "No."

He then went on to say

"The only two occasions on which the authorities in this country had ever come across an improvised explosive device made from hydrogen peroxide and an organic substance was the 7th of July and the 21st of July."
"Yes," Mr Ibrahim replied.

Which is very curious because there has never been any evidence produced from the scene of the crimes on the tubes or the bus in Tavistock Square that the devices used were based on peroxide based explosives.

There has been much talk of such devices and a lot of hocus pocus, including photographs of devices allegedly found in the boot of a car (which car seems very unclear) at Luton Station - evidence which surfaced curiously in America and not from the Metropolitan Police... and about which Sgt Clark the Sphincter of the Yard remains curiously and resolutely silent.

Curiously Clifford Todd, principal forensic investigator, head of the Forensic Explosives Laboratory in Kent was in charge of dealing with the unknown explosive material (found in the bags on the trains and bus). When first alerted to the four scenes of crime he said there was very little scientific evidence to go on he explained to the court on 8th March 2007.
"Uppermost in our minds were the events of July 7. At that time we were reasonably sure that hydrogen peroxide and organic fuels were concerned in that case. "It looked as though it might be similar, but we had no actual evidence." The forensic specialist, who has 20 years of experience, said he had never come across hydrogen peroxide-based bombs before. BBC 9th March 2007

Clifford Todd, principal forensic investigator, head of the Forensic Explosives Laboratory in Kent with 20 years experience was "reasonably sure that hydrogen peroxide and organic fuels were concerned in that case" ... "he had never come across hydrogen peroxide-based bombs before."

So will someone ask Mr Ibrahim;

1. Where he obtained the evidence that the 7/7 bombs were "improvised explosive device(s) made from hydrogen peroxide and an organic substance"

2. Who provided it to him.

3. When it was provided to him.

Because it appears,he knows something that the Metropolitan Police and Mr Todd don't know... . The kicker is of course, given that Ibrahim agreed with Kamlish's proposition, that HE also knew that the 7/7 bombs were peroxide based.

A point that the highly trained, Rolls Royce mind of Mr Kamlish QC, passed over... and the same with Ibrahim's sleeping brief Mr Carter-Stephenson QC (he acted for an acquitted defendent in the hilarious "Ricin" but no "ricin" plot / laboratory case).

Curious man Mr Manfo Kwaku Asiedu - a man described in court as of "no fixed abode" but who was at the time of arrest living with Yassin Omar. At whose flat MR Asiedu has helpfully explained there was a booby trap bomb which would set London alight.

The prosecution say he came to the UK in 2003 from Ghana on a passport in the name of George Nanak Marquaye ... but they say he may also be Sumaila Abubakari but his nationality is unclear - looks a handy man for the prosecution to know all about.

Oddly there IS a Mr. Kwaku Asiedu Manfo, who is the the son of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Dr K.K. Manfo, in Ghana, who lives in London who is mightily embarassed at the use of his name as it appears somehow the bogus Mr Manfo Kwaku Asiedu has appropriated it and used it to secure a parking permit in Finchley. He lives in a hostel and appears to have mislaid his passport.

The Hydrogen Peroxide was purchased by Asiedu (accompanied and caught on CCTV (one that worked) with Ibrahim, at Sally's Hair and Beauty Supplies in Finchley, which he visited 4 times and bought hundreds of litres of the fluid hair bleach)

All very, very odd.... Perhaps someone should ask Mr Todd back to tell us all exactly what the 7/7 bombs (all of them) were made of.

Very, very odd.

This information about the exchanges in court today, came from BBC 2 Newsnight tonight and the Guradian story , the background from previous BBC / Press stories in UK / Ghana etc wher not linked.,.

A revised system for harmful Drug classification

Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse -The Lancet 2007; 369:1047-1053 23rd March 2007
Prof David Nutt , Leslie A King PhD , William Saulsbury & Prof Colin Blakemore


The capacity of humans to harm themselves with self medicated drugs, legal or illegal is remarkable. In response their use is regulated by a byzantine system that is somewhat like Topsy .. it er ... just growed.

Harmful drugs are now regulated in the UK and eslewhere according to statutory classification systems that purport to relate to the perceived harms and risks of each drug. It is evident that the system in use is not systematic. It is not evidence based. It is illogical and irrational.

e.g Evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Para 83

On the matter of why psilocin, one of the hallucinogenic compounds found in magic mushrooms, was in Class A, Sir Michael told us: "it is there because it is there […] there have been very few publications on psilocin. It has hardly been investigated at all"

Drug misuse is a major social, legal, and public-health problem and it places a huge burden on cash, resources and manpower. In the UK this is estimated at £10-16 Bn a year.

Current methods to counter drug misuse are;

1. Interdiction of supply (Police / Customs / NHS monitoring)
2. Education - although it is not directly the responsibility or function of any department of State - much of it is done by private charities.
3. Treatment - which is handled by a mix of NHS, Social Services, prisons, and private charities.

Currently all illegal drugs are classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971 A, B, and C— intended to indicate the dangers of each drug, class A being the most harmful and class C the least. The consequences of this affect both the determining of the legal penalties for importation, supply, and possession, but the degree of police / prison effort targeted at restricting its use.

Elsewhere drug classification systems are used that purport to be structured according to the relative risks and dangers of illicit drugs. The process of classification is unclear ill-defined, opaque, and apparently arbitrary.

The authors have attempted to arrive at a novel, logical, consistent ascending/descending classification for the most frequently used drugs in Western Society.

First they identify 3 principal factors -

Physical Harm

Damage to organs or systems— effect on physiological functions—eg, respiratory and cardiac—is a major determinant of physical harm. The mrthod of administration is relevant intravenous use —eg, heroin—carry a high risk of causing sudden death from respiratory depression. Tobacco and alcohol cause illness and death as a result of chronic long term use. Long-term cigarette smoking reduces life expectancy, on average, by 10 years. Tobacco and alcohol together account for about 90% of all drug-related deaths in the UK.

Dependence

The pleasure induced by drugs has essentially 2 components - the initial, rapid effect (the rush) and the euphoria that follows this, often extending over several hours (the high). The rush's intesity is directly realted to the speed the drug hits the brain - hence the street response to formulate drugs in ways that allow them to be injected intravenously or smoked - so the hit only takes 30 seconds. The nasal mucosa provides an amazing rapid response for cocaine. Medically many drugs are supplied as anal suppositories as the rectum is rich in blood vessels and provides fast uptake (often used for Valium) - there doesn't appear to be any such formulations in use ...yet.

Social effects

Intoxication, however induced damages the person, their ability to work, their family and has widespread effects and costs borne by health care, social care, and police.

Drug use leads to accidental damage to the user, to others, and to property directly or indirectly by driving motor vehicles, using machinery. Addiction leads to criminal activity to fund the habit and has secondaru effects on family life, nutrition and ability to work.

Use of drugs causes immense health-care costs. Tobacco is estimated to cause up to 40% of all hospital illness and 60% of drug-related fatalities. Alcohol is involved in over half of all visits to accident and emergency departments and orthopaedic admissions.

Intravenous use of drugs helps also spread needle borne diseases, HIV, MDRTB, and Hepatitis with further consequences and costs for society.

Designing the system

Assessment of harm

The authors designed a straightforward2 dimensional matrix with 12 risk factors - created by dividing each of the three major categories of harm into four subgroups, described above. A four-point scale, with 0 being no risk, 1 some, 2 moderate, and 3 extreme risk is 4 .

Experts were then asked to score the drugs surveyed and a remarkably coherent view was reached, which although to a degree subjective and arbitrary was undertaken by a standard route. The average of the results obtained is given.

The results show that the current system in use in the UK is not consistent - as the authors conclude -

"The results of this study do not provide justification for the sharp A, B, or C divisions of the current classifications in the UK Misuse of Drugs Act. Distinct categorisation is, of course, convenient for setting of priorities for policing, education, and social support, as well as to determine sentencing for possession or dealing. But neither the rank ordering of drugs nor their segregation into groups in the Misuse of Drugs Act classification is supported by the more complete assessment of harm described here."
There three charts provided, that are the most useful way to understand their method and results.

1 Mean harm scores for 20 substances

2. Mean independent group scores in each of the three categories of harm, for 20 substances, ranked by their overall score, and mean scores for each of the three subscales
3. The 20 substances assessed, showing their current status under the Misuse of Drugs Act
Other organisations (eg, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (A) and the CAM committee of the Dutch government(B) are currently exploring other risk assessment systems, some of which are also numerically based.

Let us hope that this will lead to a more rational understanding of the problems drug use, both legal and illegal, and bring to the discussion of public policy and the associated plans for dealing with it, by the law, health, prison and educational systems.

(A) EMCDDA. Guidelines for the risk assessment of new synthetic drugs. Luxembourg: EMCDDA, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1999.

(B) van Amsterdam JDC, Best W, Opperhuizen A, de Wolff FA. Evaluation of a procedure to assess the adverse effects of illicit drugs. Regul Pharmacol Toxicol 2004; 39: 1-4.

This paper was prepared as Appendix 10 to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Drug classification: making a hash of it? Fifth Report of Session 2005–06, 2006 (see also here Nick at the Scientist Activist)

US housing stocks 20% higher than 1 year ago - coitus interruptus - a messy way to go

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) report Total US home sales were at 6.94 million-unit per year rate in February 2006 and has dropped to 6.69 Mn, this year.

US Housing stock rose to 3.7 mn ( 3.0 Mn in Feb 206) existing homes for sale equivalent to a supply of 6.7 months sales . Current inventory is way down from October's record of 3.86 Mn.

The 5 year nationwide housing boom expanded home - ownership to a record number of U.S. households - a record 69.3 % of U.S. households are home owners. Now the defaulters are kicking in , failing uber optimistic subprime mortgage companies are going bust or being sold at deep discounts.....and those unsold houses keep stacking up. 3 Mn. 12 months ago, 3.75 Mn. today.

Reality Bite No 1-From July 1989 to January 1991 new house home sales slumped 45% and about 1.1 Mn. jobs or 1% of all U.S. jobs were lost.
Subprime lenders :
Ameriquest Mortgage Co. in Irvine
California; Ownit Mortgage Solutions LLC
WMC Mortgage Corp., a subsidiary of General Electric Co., in Woodland Hills, California Mortgage Lenders Network USA Inc. in Middletown, Connecticut
Fremont General Corp (U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. stopped them making loans 2 weeks ago)
..... have between them slimmed payrolls by more than 5,600 workers in the past year and many more are going daily.

It is now increasingly accepted that the aggressive sub prime market is going to see foreclosures between 1.5 Mn and 2.00 Mn in the next 18n months. The main causes ;

1. Borrowers didn't have to provide tax returns or other evidence of income
2. Finance exceeded 100 % or more of the home's value
3.
Adjustable-rate mortgages with artificially low introductory “teaser” rates
4. "Option” payment plans that allowed borrowers to defer interest
5. Fraud by purchasers who
misrepresented themselves or their finances to a lender - often buyers "flipping" sales to generate capital returns.
6. Re-mortgaging , so folks could treat their house as an ATM - buy that boat, take that break, pay for the bride's dress etc., (variation on point 2 above) Cry of "this one's on the House!"

Reality Bite No 2-
Outstanding mortgage debt has increased by $9.5 trillion in the past 4 years

Securitisation and Credit Derivatives

Of course the debt starts with Mr & Mrs John Doe - it leads to a long trail of what the Wall Street Money Jugglers called credit derivatives and a strange beast called collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs.

Apparently it all began many years ago when a smart guy called Lewis Ranieri, was working as an investment banker at the old Salomon Brothers. His BIG idea was to buy mortgages from bank lenders, bundling them up and issuing bonds.

The bonds were "secured" on property - monthly payments from homeowners was used to pay interest on the bonds, and, hey presto!, when the bonds matured the principal was repaid once all the mortgages had been paid down or refinanced.

Great idea and it worked well, but like all good ideas it got copied and now those parcels of mortgages, sliced'n'diced up into parcels (or collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs) of AAA down to -ZZZZ and sold on, and on, offering higher yields and greater risk all along the way. (The other trick was to call these things asset-backed securities AKA ABS's made the people who handled these things..well..happy, if not secure)

Great idea, but like all great ideas it was based on certain market assumptions - the principal assumption was based on an ignorance that the sub-prime market was set to explode - for a really good explanation go here to Sudden Debt how Mr & Mrs John Doe's mortgage fed the flames kindled by the Financial Engineers in the back orifices of Wall / Threadneedle Street.

The reason this market has exploded was simple ... there was no other way to keep the market afloat while everyone was seeing the purchasing power of their (frozen) pay cut as the twin deficits soared and latterly as the Fed stepped up and doubled interest rates.

The result ? Predictable and predicted -from bubble creation to bubble popping .. it has imply been just another one way funnel to channel wealth to the elite It has been intentional ... those in the know made out like bandits - the trick now the market is well and truly fucked ... is coitus interruptus - just judging the right time to pull out.

The kicker is ... this bust coincides with the biggest and costliest fuck up in US Foreign Policy. This bust isn't like 1991 - then the US had won the Cold War and went on to win the Gulf War.
Now it's hard to find anything the United States is in the process of winning.

The good news is that Dubya is safe (asassinations / impeachment excluded ) for another 2 years... just keep your eyes on the Bond auctions and the Euro/Dollar/Sterling rates.




UPDATE

Nouriel Roubin @ RGE Monior has a succesion of recent and worthy articles about the sub-prime fall-out....

“I Am Shocked, Shocked to Find that Abusive Lending, Fraud, Predatory Lending Fueled the Subprime Disaster!”

"Effectively measured subprime, near prime and dangerous lending was close to 50% of mortgage originations in 2005-2006"

"From the Subprime Mortgage Carnage to the Coming Subprime Credit Cards and Subprime Auto Loans Meltdown "

" .....already serious signs of contagion to other credit spreads (CDS spreads on major brokers being now near junk, CDX, Itraxx, CMBX, swap spreads all significantly up); and increases in all sorts of measures of market volatility and risk aversion."

"Who is to Blame for the Mortgage Carnage and Coming Financial Disaster? Unregulated Free Market Fundamentalism Zealotry"

"The bubble party is over. It will be a bumpy ride from now on for global financial markets and for the US and global economy.

Harmless fluttering ?

MANSION (Gibraltar) Limited, Europort Complex, Gibraltar, reg. no. 90318, registered with the Registrar of Companies of Gibraltar located at 315 Main Street, Gibraltar.

MANSION is licensed, headquartered, and operating in the British dependent territory of Gibraltar.

Imagine. Ireland is about to celebrate St. Patrick's day and they are playing world class Pakistan and the bets simply pour in ..... after all they lost (unexpectedly) to the Windies ....?

Mrs Jowell, (whose (ex?) husband is facing serious fraud charges currently with Tony Balir's great friend ex Prime Minister Senor Berlusconi) is evidently keen that the UK citizen can gamble 24 hours a day. The City, gamblers to a man, see no reason why Internet gambling cannot float on the market where a Man's word is his Bond ....... may perhaps just be pausing for thought about just where unbridled global gambling takes us ... BTW gambling is illegal in Islamic Pakistan.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

General Bantz Craddock of EUROCOM Validates his posture : Amazing Pictures

No day isn't complete without Toni Fabuloso brightening my morning by ripping out the spiffing yarns from The Stars and Stripes for my perusal. Today is therefore brighter already for having been alerted to the fact that my favourite military hero, Bantz Craddock - late of SOUTHCOM is now EUROCOM.

Bantz ran SOUTHCOM (South America and the Caribbean) from the safety of Florida - mind you there are more accredited terrists in Florida than probly anywhere else in the world - but, thankfully, all in the pay of Uncle Sam.

Now , most of the time, Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock of the U.S. European Command, the U.S. military’s top general in Europee (since December) hangs around Brussels, but he was over last week in Washington telling the House Armed Services Committee what he and the boys got up to over in Europe.

“We try to shape the environment for the future. And that’s by engagement, that’s by theater security cooperation — not assistance, but we cooperate. We send our forces and they cooperate and train and exercise with partner nations.

“Our ability to do that now is limited because we don’t have the forces available since they are in the rotation to the other [missions],” he said.
Which as far as Toni can translate means , if you want help in military missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran , North Korea, taiwan, well sir, you are SOL.

Craddock, who took over command of EUROCOM in December, went on to explain that coalition-building was one of the military’s top priorities, (judging by the success of the Coalition of the Unwilling in Iraq and the Coalition of Nervous NATO and the Unwilling in Afghanistan - it's something they need to work on - real fast) but its ability to do military-to-military events in Europe and Africa has ... er .... waned.

2 months in the saddle and he had a sobering message for the armchair warriors of the House Armed Services Committee...

“Gennulmen , I will tell you that I reviewed all of the engagement opportunities over the last two years, the exercises that we do, and asked for a listing of everything we had to cancel and why. And it was surprising in its volume.

“In other words, there was more there than I expected.”
Which was enough to set the Committe back on it's heels. Then .... then his batman stepped up to the plate (as it were) with even worse news...

A Navy-led exercise called Adriatic Phiblex in the Adriatic Sea and the Army-led Victory Strike in Poland were among recent cancellations. Partner-unit engagements, troop exchanges and social opportunities also have diminished, according to a EUCOM spokesman speaking on background.
Take note Gennulmen , "social opportunities"... diminished. We may be over there, we may be overpaid, we may be oversexed but damn it all, social opportunities are diminished - wasn't like this in Palm Beach. No Sir!!!

Then as Toni breathlessly pointed out... the military mind in Excelsis, instantly seized the sitrep (Situation report)...

Craddock called the U.S. Europe-based troops — many of whom have been deployed numerous times to Iraq and Afghanistan — “an incredibly talented, veteran force.”

But he added that if they were somewhere else, they couldn’t help out in Europe or Africa should trouble arise.
That's right Gennulmen, even in this technological age .... dammit ... our guys cain't be in 2 places at the same time. Stands to reason.

Cannily Craddock , the Calculating military genius, encapsulated in the crisp way the military have, and do so readily, - giving the broad picture - the revealing review - the tour d'horizon...

Transformation plans in place (Plan B : Get outta Europe) demand reduction of forces from 62,000 three years ago to about 28,000, by 2012.The Air Force and Navy (The guys with the planes and boats) also have made "adjustments" to their forces in Europe.

“Let’s validate the posture,” Craddock said, “because it may well be that our ability to support the national military strategy and the plan we made in 2002 with the numbers of forces may need adjustment.”
"Let's validate the posture Fabuloso ",I said ... she shot me a glance.

7/7 The Street Theatre continues. Plod swoops.


Thursday's are always busy days at Manchester Airport. What remains of the PIA Fleet that is allowed to use UK airports takes of for Karachi - no cheap flights to Pak these days pal ! Mr Ryan could make a few bob if he started a flight to Islamabad. (Video of the new PIA Boeing 777-300ER landing at Manchester here)

It was even busier today as Plod (Unarmed (?)) West Yorkshire Police Counter Terrorism Unit and Scotland Yards finest Counter terrists led by Sgt Clark the Sphincter of the Yard) quietly arrested 2 men and lifted another in Leeds and sped them off to Paddington Green cop shop to discuss the 7/7 bombings ....

"We need to know who else, apart from the bombers, knew what they were planning. Did anyone encourage them? Did anyone help them with money, or accommodation?"
.... a Scotland Yard spokesman told the BBC. The men were arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation, or instigation of acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Which of course is what the lunaticha conspiracy theorists d said from June 8th 2005 (yes that long ago) but which Plod has been reluctant to admit or even consider.

This is Operation Theseus in full swing - the meme of airports still threading through this very public tale of derring do, forensic skill and relentless determination to clock up Plod's overtime. Any way the PIA 777 (any clue there Sarge ?) 30 ER , Flight 423 only in service since December lifted off at 4.32 on schedule taking all but 2 of their passengers off on time. See pic.

5 houses, and probably more are being investigated in the Beeston area of Leeds (see pics) guarded by unar,ed Gorgons and an array of spotty Police Community Support Officers - any evidence of the masterminds behind it having cleared their tracks and moved on a long, long time ago. A flat and a separate business premises are also being searched in East London.

"As we have said previously, we are determined to follow the evidence wherever it takes us to identify any other person who may have been involved, in any way, in the terrorist attacks."
... says Plod. Except where it involves looking at the fact that the 4 "bombers" didn't have a fucking clue that the bags they were carrying on 7/7 were bombs.

Theseus - slew the Minotaur with his bare hands .... that's why the officers doing the arrests in the full glare of Manchester Terminal 2 Passengers were unarmed. Although the boys who walk around with guns all day frightening the passengers must have taken time off to watch.

Bush and the Al Quaeda Recruting Office - unanswered Questions about groups of powerful Israelis

Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock) the courteous man who was so famously polite to Dr David Kelly (Dcsd) is asking some apparently odd Parliamentary questions of the fragrant Margaret, Secretary of State for Carvanners & Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. He apparently wants to know, " for what reason the practice by retiring ambassadors of sending valedictory telegrams has ceased."

Furthermore he asks, " would she place in the Library a copy of the valedictory telegram sent by Ambassador Sir Ivor Roberts KCMG on the conclusion of his ambassadorship to Italy and his retirement from the diplomatic service".

Few will forget that on September 14th 2004 the (Liverpool born , Oxford educated) career diplomat (now Master of Trinity, Oxford) Sir Ivor caused a knee tremble in Roman diplomatic circles when he was reported to have said to a closed conference of British and Italian diplomats who were gooofing off about who would win the upcoming Presidential elections :

" George W. Bush is the best recruiting sergeant for al Qaeda. If there is anyone ready to celebrate his eventual re-election, it is al Qaeda."
A curious view (if true) for a diplomatic representative of the Junior party in the Coalition of Lickspittles. The British Foreign Office quickly fired off a response saying that the comments "do not represent British government policy," and that the event , a British-Italian think-tank on terrorism, (guests included Chris Patten, former governor of Hong Kong, and Neil Kinnock), was covered by the so-called Chatham House Rules, which means that anything said by delegates should remain off the record.

Roberts, was attending what was clearly announced as an off-the-record meeting in Tuscany. Off the record, translated into Italian as ufficioso or perhaps loosely as sotto voce, may mean something different , as Ambassador Roberts was quick to point out ..."these remarks as reported do not reflect my personal views."

Leaving one to wonder where Corriere della Sera learned of the remarks and whose views they did represent.... Or indeed why Giuliano Ferrara, the editor of the conservative Il Foglio newspaper and the man closest to the pulse on Dubya's arsehole (former "adviser "to arch diplomat , and jointly in the dock presently with Mr Jowell) Silvio Berlusconi, had cancelled attendance at an Embassy dinner a couple of days later, observing in the pages of his right wing rag that ..

"The dinner unfortunately would be a complete waste of time and a grotesque hypocrisy, I would rather sup with the French ambassador, who loyally represents his government in Rome."

Curiously the Scotsman at the time (21/9/04) reported that the Corriere reporter, Moncia Guerzoni, added that Sir Ivor also said that the Bush administration was "conditioned and pressured by groups of powerful Israelis".

What is known is that sometime after this event and Sir Ivor's departure for Oxford, the Foreign Office (Observer 24th September 2006) abandoned the centuries-old tradition of allowing departing diplomats to speak their minds.... by issuing valedictory telegrams.

What on earth can the ordure agitating Mr Andrew McKinley MP be up to ?

Perhaps Pendennis in the Observer Feb 11th 2007 was making a useful point about crooked Italians, Prime Ministers, their love affairs , Tony Blair and the utility of fluent Ambassadors and their polyglot wives ? High table at Trinity must have taken on a C.P. Snowesque role of academic scheming of late perhaps ?

Watch this space.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Gambling on unlikely events - it simply isn't cricket

Who would bet on Ireland to beat Pakistan? Well, a good friend in Islamad tells us that some people did and not on Pakistan 8-1 against ( a source not a million miles from fast-bowler Sarfraz Nawaz claims that SA resident , coach Bob Woolmer had been murdered as part of a match-fixing plot). No wonder there is suspicion by the Jamaican Police about the unexpected death of an apprehensive cricket coach. "Did Bob know too much about the Bookies?" is the headline today in the Times of India today. (pic Bob with Hansie Cronje in happier times)

A former Pakistan Cricket Board official recently revealed that the deceased coach's forthcoming book, ‘Discovering Cricket’ may have exposed the cricketer-bookie nexus in Pakistan, India, and South Africa which has been known to exist for a long time and would cover and disclose fresh details about the Hansie Cronje match-fixing row. Bob was of course the coach of the South African team touring India at the time it all blew up. Hansie Cronje and Bob Woolmer were almost inseparable during Bob's stint as South African coach during the mid-1990s and always said he couldn't believe that Hans would have fixed matches.

'I believed that Cronje never fixed any match’ is the headline of a story in the Times online today with extracts from his forthcoming book ... even though Hansie admitted he had been dishonest to Ali Bacher, managing director of the United Cricket Board of South Africa. Mohammad Azharuddin introduced him to the match-fixer M. K. Gupta on South Africa's previous tour of India, in 1996, Cronje then got under the spell of Sanjeev Chawla. Cronje unsuccessfully approached Pieter Strydom to underperform - he didn't strike lucky even before the Second Test when he asked Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis and Klusener if they were interested in throwing the game for money. They put it down as another of Hansie's practical jokes. In the final one-day game at Nagpur that he struck lucky, getting Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams to play to plan for $US15,000 apiece. Gibbs was supposed to be out for less than 20 and Williams to concede more than 50.

It emerged that he told Chawla he needed $US25,000 for each player, so guaranteeing himself a $US20,000 cut, Cronje's greed was compliant with his guilt.

Granted immunity from prosecution, Cronje told the King Commission he took US$140,000 from bookmakers, including $US110,000 from Gupta for information on team selection, daily forecasts and when he would declare against India at Cape Town in January 1997 but denied ever fixing the actual result of a match. He also admitted telling the South African team, before the Mohinder Amarnath benefit game at Mumbai in December 1996, that there was $US200,000 (some sources said $250,000) on the table if they played badly. The team actually debated whether to accept the money before rejecting it; no one reported the matter to the authorities. Some of them were said to believe that the offer of a bribe reflected South Africa's coming of age in international cricket.

Cronje met Chawla in Durban and left his hotel room with some $US15,000 tucked in a mobile-phone container. That sealed his fate. Justice King didn't believe believed they had ben told the full story, but enough was known for Cronje to receive a life ban from all cricketing activities. Cronje was later banned for life and eventually died in a plane crash (aged 32) in South Africa on June 1st 2002 when a light plane with three people crashed in the Outeniqua Mountains in bad weather, near his home town of George in the Western Cape.

Apparently the book has details directly from a meeting on April 18th 2005 with the Delhi Police Commissioner KK Paul who was the a deputy commissioner of the Delhi police, who had taped South African captain Hansie Cronje's telephone conversation with a bookie (Sanjeev Chawla) seeking to allegedly "fix" a One-day International during that series.

Historically Pakistani cricketers are known to have had contacts with match bookies and an involvement with match-fixing scandals in the past. Some of these cricketers even had to pay for their links with bookies.

Pakistan's former captain Saleem Malik,Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1988, (pic above) who played for Essex, was the 1st cricket player to be banned from all cricket for match-fixing, when an enquiry in 2000 under Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum found him guilty of trying to bribe Shane Warne and Mark Waugh and Tim May to lose the Karachi Test of 1994-95 (they testified he did) . Australia lost the Test by one wicket. "Saleem Malik was one of the favourite players," the Judge said, "and if I wasn't 100% sure, I wouldn't have punished him.

Paradoxically although not finding them guilty several players also had to pay substantial fines ....Mushtaq Ahmad, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul-Haq (currently , well today at least the captain) Akram Raza, and Saeed Anwar .The Judge also cast suspicion over Wasim Akram (and fined him) ..

"This commission feels that all is not well here and that Wasim Akram is not above board. He has not co-operated with this Commission. It is only by giving Wasim Akram the benefit of the doubt after Ata-ur-Rehman changed his testimony in suspicious circumstances that he has not been found guilty of match-fixing. He cannot be said to be above suspicion."

Ata-ur-Rehman 31 when suspended and now 43 (see pic) , the star pace bowler was also banned for life for being involved in match-fixing but was later allowed back into the fold by the ICC to return to the game in May 2007.

The Accountability Board at the time compiled a list of bookies and made public their names. These included Pappu, Haneef Caddie, Zafar alias Jo Jo, Saleem alias Koki, Chaudhry Khalid, and Mian Kok all men of the highest distinction and probity.

Pakistani lost to Bangladesh during the 1999 World Cup amidst cries of match fixing but nothing substantial was ever proved.

In the latest instance, the Pakistan-Ireland game at the 2007 World Cup has also raised many eyebrows.

Meanwhile Khwaja Arif Pappu (Tariq Aziz, President Pervez Musharraf’s aide is a big pal where they are often seen together at Lahore Race Club where Aziz is President on a Sunday), from Lahore, a man never far from the centre of the storm over Pakistani cricket and match fixing is enjoying the West Indian sunshine. There is no (or well, very little, if any, possibly) truth that he has any connection with with gangster Dawood Ibrahim.

Pappu is a much misunderstood man and was an income-tax officer when Aziz served in the country’s Central Board of Revenue. He was later dismissed (totally unreasonably ) for corruption.... mishandling paper-clips etc.,

Pappu is also said to have close contacts with South Africa.

In a bizarre news item it is said that crowds chanted on Sunday, outside Pakistani captain Inzamamul Haque’s Multan residence and chanted slogans of "Death to Woolmer, Death to Inzamam". The crowds also burnt effigies of the coach and pictures of the captain and demanded that Woolmer and captain Inzamam ul-Haq be arrested on their return to the country

"Inzi" was of course cleared of ball tampering in the Pak v England Test - August 17-21, 2006 at the Oval.

There are some very interesting details that could come out of this story ... but don't bet on it.

UPDATE Thursday 3.00 pm GMT
Rohan Powell of Jamaica Radio says the Police will report Bob Woolmer was killed by strangulation - refuses to give sources. His wife Gill doesn't rule out murder.

UPDATE 20:00 GMT Channel 4 say they have been told that a murder enquiry is to start and the POlice are to make an announcement @ approx midnight GMT. A Florida based pathologist claims (or is reported to claim) that Bob Woolmer's neck was broken and he was bruised.

Bob W's wife Gill, now living in South Africa was interviewed on CHannle 4 and said murder could not be ruled out.. and seemed remarkably relaxed about the possibility.

UPDATE Midnight - Jamaican police looking for a murderer or murderers - Police statement in full here . Everyone saying what a great guy Bob was, but he just happened to spend a lot of time with folks who swung cricket matches.

Watch this space

Enfucell Oy's SoftBattery™ - a solution for a problem

Imagine a lightweight, paper thin (less than 1mm) , disposable yet environmentally friendly battery that provides stable, 15. volt 15 milliamp source operating from -25C to +60C that can be supplied on a roll of film which can be overprinted.... and which continue workinf if bent or crumpled.

A solution maybe that is looking for a problem ... it will for example power a singing greetings card non -stop for 30 days .... and not frighten postal X ray machine operators.

This is the SoftBattery™ ,the brain child of Dr, Xia-Chang Zhang of Enfucell Oy , a company with only 15 employees, based at the Innopoli building (pic) in Otaniemi Science Park in Espoo, Finland. CEO Jaakko Happonen, a chemist heads , 3 Chinese graduates of Helsinki University, one Algerian and one Dutch engineer in this polyglot hive of innovation.

After Zhang graduated in China as a biochemical engineer he arrived in Finland to work with Professor Aarne Halme, on galvanic cell technology - what we normally call batteries .. and obtained a Phd from Helsinki University of Technology and became a Finnish citizen 10 years ago. He met his Chinese wife who works for the financial department of Nokia and they are now settled firmly in Finland and have 2 children.

So far, Enfucell has operated on financing from national research funding, provided mainly by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES), and the Aloitusrahasto Vera fund.

TEKES expect the batteries will prove to be a major technological breakthrough and granted an unsecured loan of EUR 400,000 to the company in January but expect private funding to follow after the World Economic Forum in Davos named it one of its technology pioneers.

3 main product areas are currently being developed :

1. Cosmetics

Active transdermal therapies by the use of ionthophoretic devices - by the application of a small current - for example , the diffusion of pharmaceutical drugs becomes significantly more effective. Patient compliance and quality of life are improved. Also, drugs that are not robust to transport via the gut have a better chance of systemic success if delivered across the skin.

The small size ( and facility to design specific shapes) , and flexibility, make SoftBatteries™ an ideal power source for transdermal drug delivery, lifting the use of ionthophoretic applications to an previously unknown level of userfriendliness.

The company are currently working in close collaboration with a major cosmetic company to produce cosmetic patches.

Johnson & Johnson subsidiary ALZA have an E-Trans device (pic)which they describe as delivering drugs both locally and systemically by using low-level electrical energy to actively transport drugs through intact skin. E-TRANS® technology may be ideal for treating disorders characterized by episodic or sporadic symptom onset and for drugs requiring precise delivery in high transdermal doses.

Whilst this is the same sizein area of contact as ALZA's D-TRANS® patches it is obviously heavy (200 gms plus) , and moderately bulky, it has been used successfully for fentanyl analgesic delivery for the management of postoperative pain in adults following major gynecological or orthopedic surgery.

2. Logistics

Passive RFID tags are a well established tracking technology but Enfucell see potential in SoftBattery™ is in the design of semi-active and active logistic tags and they are working with RFID producers on both the full integration of the battery technology into the tag and the simple hooking up of individual batteries to the tag.

The SoftBattery™ is produced using silk screen printing and ideally combines with current RFID label production technologies.

Products with active or semit active RFID are available are available from companies such as European Antennae and Axcess especially for vehicle identification in road toll tracking and Axcess International. These tend to be larger palm type devices and provide a signal which can typically extend hundreds of feet and take their power source from on board the vehicle.

The ability to provide a low cost , disposable active device obviously has a place in short shelf life product tracking, especially in the food industry where low temperatures can affect passive tagging.

3. Paper products

Greetings cards have been designed for the playing of simple tunes for many years, the low environmental load these devices offer and the ease with which they can be introduced as roll fed adhesive products obviously makes them attractive. Greetings cards in the US alone an annual US$7.5 Bn. business dominated by Kansas City, Mo.-based Hallmark, with 50% of the market, and Cleveland-based American Greetings, with 35%.

Just as "scratch and sniff " has been introduced in glossy women's magazines for cosmetic products, maybe they could be introduced to provide sound samples in magazines, product catalogues etc.,

They may also be used to drive LED based paper like devices as well such as those from Plastic Logic or as they call them "flexible active-matrix displays" (learn more at the Flex-Idis seminar Kings College Cambridge 29th March 2007) See pic and read CBS news today, FT 14th May 2007, Time Magazine Feb 8th 2007, New Scientist 25th Jan 2007.

This is a must know technology.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rob Mulford : "Have you been to jail for justice? Then you're a friend of mine"


Stacey Fritz at No Nukes North in Fairbanks ,Alaska, sends a report of Rob Mulford . Rob has been inspired by Lt. Ehren Watada -the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the unlawful war and occupation in Iraq who said,

"As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must refuse that order."

Well Rob, who has had his in and outs on trespass with the local gendarmerie in Fairbanks, decided to to petition the government for a redress of grievance (i.e. the illegal, immoral war on Iraq).

So armed with a copy of the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights to show to the officers the authority that gave him a right to be on public property "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." (First Amendment) --------------- he was arrested approximately 1:30pm March 13th ( Temp: About -30F, Ptly Cloudy Skies) for entering the doorway just inside the Federal Building in Fairbanks. The security officer said Rob was trespassing. The guard stated this because he Rob had been charged with trespass before.

You can imagine the rest ... but follow the story with pictures here and if you want send an e-mail in support to Rob mulford.rob@gmail.com After 24 hours he was released on bail of US$250.

Here's a damn fine song Anne Feeney wrote to commemorate Rob Mulford's attempt to redress a grievance in the US of A.

Was it Cesar Chavez or Rosa Parks that day?
Some say Dr. King or Ghandi
Set them on their way
No matter who your mentors are
It's pretty plain to see
That if you've been to jail for justice
You're in good company

Have you been to jail for justice?
I want to shake your hand
'Cause sitting in and laying down
Are ways to take a stand
Have you sung a song for freedom
Or marched that picket line?
Have you been to jail for justice?
Then you're a friend of mine

You law abiding citizens
Come listen to this song
Laws are made by people
And people can be wrong
Once unions were against the law
But slavery was fine
Women were denied the vote
While children worked the mine
The more you study history
The less you can deny it
A rotten law stays on the books
'til folks with guts defy it!

Have you been to jail for justice?
I want to shake your hand
'Cause sitting in and laying down
Are ways to take a stand
Have you sung a song for freedom
Or marched that picket line?
Have you been to jail for justice?
Then you're a friend of mine

Well the law is supposed to serve us
And so are the police
When the system fails
It's up to us to speak our piece
We must be ever vigilant
For justice to prevail
So get courage from your convictions
Let 'em haul you off to jail!

Have you been to jail for justice?
I want to shake your hand
'Cause sitting in and laying down
Are ways to take a stand
Have you sung a song for freedom
Or marched that picket line?
Have you been to jail for justice?
Then you're a friend of mine
Have you been to jail for justice
Have you been to jail for justice
Have you been to jail for justice
Then you're a friend of mine

House loans UP, Cost of Living UP, Interest Rates UP

The Fed OMC meets now - Lord Patel predicted a rate rise of 1/4% a month ago, and expected the UK to follow suit - in the UK the CPI jumped 0.7% on the month and 4.6% (it was 2.8% a year ago today) on the year, a 15 year record, as mortgage interest payments, energy bills, soared. In the markets British government bonds and interest rate futures fell in expectation that the bank will raise interest rates to at least 5.5%.

Despite this, more money was handed out in home loans last month (£24.6Bn.) than in any February since records began, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

CML Director General Michael Coogan says that we still expect gross lending to reach around £360 billion this year. (2006 £345 Bn. 2005 £ 288 Bn. )

Minutes from the Bank of England's March policy meeting will be released tommorrow at 0930 GMT so the tea leave soothsayers can drool over them - save the trouble , read Lord Patel.

UK MOD announce scrapping of "Dumb" cluster bombs ... don't worry we are keeping the "Smart" ones

The MOD in the UK has stockpiles today of :

755 RBL cluster bomb dispensers each has 147 sub munitions (bomblets) Total = 111,000

43,200 MLRS M25 (not to be confused with guided MLRS which is being deployed to Afghanistan ) rockets, each rocket has 644 sub munitions, equals 27,820,800 sub munitions - that's one for every other person in the UK (ish)

Minister of Defence , ashen faced, Des Browne has announced today that they are all to be scrapped. Which in an Answer to Parliamentary Question on Cluster Munitions by Adam Ingram, Hansard, Column 504W, February 1, 2007 we were told would be phased out. These are so called "dumb" cluster bombs - the one's left are "smarter" and are supposed to self-destruct on a timer... he declined to say how many of those we hold. .... The UK purchased 59,364 L20A1 DPICM projectiles between 1996 and 2004. The L20A1 projectiles, 2,100 of which were used in the 2003 invasion of Iraq contain an M85 grenade, (Qty unknown) these were manufactured by BAE Systems Royal Ordnance under license from Israel Military Industries, tests showed a failure rate of bomblets of 2.3%.

He is keen however to make clear that remaining cluster munitions as with all our weapons will continue to be regulated by rules of engagement and internal scrutiny procedures designed to adhere to international law and reflect humanitarian values.

Lord "Alf" Dubs, a man who refelct the finest humanitarian values, introduced the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill [HL] on 23 Nov 2006 : Column 431 Hansard which was read and ignored. The bill would prohibit the use, development, production, acquisition, possession, and transfer of cluster munitions. The bill’s definition of cluster munition excludes containers with sensor fuzed submunitions “which autonomously detect and engage military targets and which self-destruct, self-deactivate or self neutralise.”

(Alf is a remarkable man, and a sincere humanist. he was born in Prague, (then in Czechoskovakia,) he was (unknowingly) one of 669 Czech, mainly Jewish children saved by English stockbroker (now Sir) Nicholas Winton (then 29) on the Kindertransport. to be joined in London by his mother the day before the war broke out. Which he was only to discover late in life when a relative saw his name on an Esther Rantzen TV programme.)

The Handicap International charity said civilians accounted for 98% of cluster-bomb casualties.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere (pic) called for a conference when the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) failed in November 2006 to agree on a mandate and convened the Norwegian Initiative Conference which was was held in Oslo , 22/23rd February.

The Norwegian Armed Forces have utilised two kinds of "smart" cargo ammunition: DM 642 and DM 662. 155 mm artillery Howitzers deliver both types. There are respectively 63 and 49 bomblets in each type of shell.

Tests showed a failure rate if at least 1% and they have withdrawn their use until an international agreement has been made on the use of such munitions.

Finland has decided to continue to use them, there tests have shown a failure rate of 0.2%.

The Human Rights Watch report on Cluster Weapons makes fascinating reading ....

Cluster munitions are particularly ubiquitous in the stores of US ground forces. According to the DOD report, the Army has about 638.3 million cluster submunitions (88 percent of the total inventory) and the Marine Corps has about 53.3 million (7 percent). The report states, “Cannon and rocket artillery cluster munitions comprise over 80% of Army fire support capability,” and they “comprise the bulk of the Marine Corps artillery munitions.”294 The Air Force stockpiles about 22.2 million air-delivered cluster bombs (3 percent of the cluster inventory) and the Navy about 14.7 million (2 percent).

Of the 728 million submunitions, only 30,990 have self-destruct devices (.00004 percent).295The DOD report cites failure rates of 2 to 6 percent for most of the submunitions, based on lot acceptance testing and stockpile reliability testing. Previous DOD documents have indicated much higher failure rates for the most common submunitions.296 Organizations involved in unexploded ordnance clearance in various countries also cite higher failure rates.

294 - Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, “Report to Congress: Cluster Munitions,” p. 2-3.

295 - These are CBU-97 and CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons (SFW) held by the Air Force and Navy. The Army’s SADARM cluster munitions, which are similar to SFW, are not included in the DOD report.

296 - See Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Department of Defense, “Unexploded Ordnance Report,” undated, table 2-3, p. 5. Transmitted to the US Congress on February 29, 2000.

The Israeli contribution to the manufacture (and use) of these weapons that are so lethal to civilians is quite fascinating.... Read it.

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