"“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, August 18, 2007

Putin, Muscleman, muscular diplomacy - rattling the sabre and tweaking Uncle Sam's beard

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Chebarkul after the joint Chinese / Russian military exercises which cost an estimated Russia 2 billion rubles ($80 million) dissmissed as irrelevant, allegations that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a military bloc, and highlighted its increasing role in economic cooperation.

Later the increasingly popular Russian president, whose recent exposure to the Russian TV audience, as an outdoor hiking, wholly to their linking, outdoorsman (Pic Putin showing how he handles his tackle) , proposed holding counter-terrorism exercises on a regular basis. He focused on the need for a multi-polar system for international security, and spoke out against attempts by any one nation to take global security into its own hands.

This followed on his thinly veiled remarks ;

"It is essential to continue forming anti-drug security belts around Afghanistan, which could be complemented with financial security belts supervised by SCO financial monitors"
The president said ;
"This will improve the effectiveness of measures to counter both drug trafficking and money laundering."
He said given that all SCO member states were interested in ensuring stability in Afghanistan, a special conference should be held to discuss means of helping the country (remember President Kharzai was of the company in Bishkek). He proposed that SCO countries' foreign ministers make corresponding preparations - a suggestion that will be met by a very large raspberry in Washington DC.

In the summit declaration that was released on Thursday evening , the SCO leaders said no outside assistance was needed to ensure regional stability and energy security, and that the organization's regional antiterrorism structure had sufficient resources to fight terrorism, separatism and extremism in Eurasia...which was a polite way of saying to the US that they should keep their tanks off the Eurasian lawn.

Member states "pledged to push forward with creating a joint mechanism to counter threats to regional peace, stability and security, and to deepen cooperation in fighting drug trafficking and illegal migration. "

Meanwhile a Russian long range Tu-95MS bomber, from a base near Blagoveshchensk -bomber flew over a US naval base on the Pacific island of Guam on Wednesday (a 13 hour round trip) and "exchanged smiles" with US pilots who had scrambled to track it after Tornadoes had been scrambled to ensure similiar "Bears" didn't penetrate UK airspace the previous week.

President Putin took the opportunity whilst at the manouevres in Chebarkul to announcein a muscular statement that Russia had permanently resumed long-distance patrol flights of strategic bombers. Suspended as a cost and fuel saving requirment after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"I made a decision to restore flights of Russian strategic bombers on a permanent basis, and at 00:00 today, August 17, 14 strategic bombers, support aircraft and aerial tankers were deployed. Combat duty has begun, involving 20 aircraft."

UK rail freight grows and buys trains, special high capacity, hi-tech trucks from overseas

EWS Construction is the dedicated rail operator for the construction and waste markets and is part of English Welsh & Scottish Railway Ltd which has now been re-nation alised - this time by Deutsche Bahn the German state owned Railways.

They have just ordered 34 new aggregate hopper wagons adding 600,000 tonnes of additional haulage capacity per annum - In the last five years the aggregate rail market has grown by one billion freight tonne kilometres.

This requirement is to help meet the demands of contracts recently placed with SWS by CEMEX UK (The 100 year old US cement manufacturer who took over Ready Mixed Concrete/Rugby Cement in 2005)

The wagons have been built in Poland by the huge US group Greenbrier's European plant at WagonySwidnica S.A., in Swidnica Poland. They will be fitted with "track friendly suspension systems" supplied by Axiom Rail ( a subsidiary of EWS formed from their takeover of Probotec Ltd of S. Wales in 2005) , for delivery in spring 2008.

GB Railfreight was formed in 1999 and is part of FirstGroup plc, their current (and fast growing) buk frieght includes the movement of desulphogypsum (DSG) for British Gypsum from West Burton power station in Nottinghamshire to Kirkby Thore in Cumbria, and natural Gypsum from East Leake, Leicestershire and Robertsbridge in East Sussex.

(Desulphogypsum (DSG) is a by-product of Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) plants, installed at some coal fired power stations in order to reduce sulphur emissions, and is now used to substitute natural gypsum. Although DSG cannot replace the high quality mineral in terms of range of end-uses, it has proved suitable for plasterboard manufacture accounting for about half of total demand.)

GBFr will be operating at 100% capacity for coal hauling by mid 2008 and so have ordered 72 new high capacity (74.5 tonnes) coal hopper wagons and used for hauling (by the new Class 66 trains made in Canada by General Motors) from Welbeck and Thoresby collieries to West Burton and Cottam Power Stations.

GBRf also won 2 coal contracts for handling imported coal in less than a year.

1. Drax Power Limited, for the movement of imported coal from the Port of Tyne to Drax power station near Selby North Yorkshire started April 2007.
2. EDF Energy (French National Energy Company) for movement of coal from the Port of Hull to Cottam and West Burton power stations in Nottinghamshire to started July 2007.

The order has been placed with IRS (Roumanian rail company based in Luxembourg) and be built by the recently acquired Astra Vagoane company in Arad, Roumania which started making trains in 1891 (and where the first electric train system in eastern Europe was developed in 1913) and deliveries commenced in February 2007 These trucks with low track force bogeys can operate anywhere in the UK.

UK coal production in Q1 2007 fell 28% to 4..0 Mn. tonnes (opencast by 42%) coal imports were 12.2 Mn tonnes of which 84%, was steam coal for the power station market.

So the UK mines less coal, imports more (75% of demand) to be used in power stations increasingly foreign owned (often nationalised utilities) to be hauled by Canadian trains, using Polish and Romanian waggons by the German State Railways (excepting the new GBRf company).

This is what the UK Gubment presumably calls their energy security policy.
Photograph of a GB Railfreight GBRf Class 66 66712 at Pelaw with 6H90 Port of Tyne - Drax power station imported coal train.Photo Ian Britton.

Mayan crop circles, MI5, Messiah Shayler and NI Police Fund - cosmic coincidences ?

This crop circle was seen on August 13th , 2007 at Stanton St. Bernard, Wiltshire, England - this represents the Mayan digit 6 which presages August 18th. The "filled"circle has on close inspection, 12 small and 1 central swirlproducing a total of 13 mini-swirls.

"Taken together, both observations lead one to believe that those crop artists are trying to tell us about '6 days' from their ancient 13-month calendar (based on motions of Venus and the Sun), where any month contained 20 days, and any year contained 13 x 20 = 260 days. "

"The Sun and Venus are moving towards an inferior conjunction on August 18, thereby ending their current 260-day Sun-Venus calendar, and beginning another."

This coincides with a report in the Belfast Newsletter today that the new £20Mn. MI5 HQ in Northen Ireland at Palace Barracks , Maryfield, near Holywood, Co. Down, with room for 400 staff is now finished.

Nationalists and republicans have objected that MI5 will assume overall responsibility for national security in the Province as the lead agency in counter-terrorist activity and intelligence gathering which had been in the hands of police Special Branch.

The Police Service of NI will, however, continue to have a role in local anti-terror operations and maintain close liaisons with MI5.

Those who support the NI MI5 operation ( like Privy Councillor, DUP MP and Policing Board Member Jeffery Donaldson) claim the fight against al-Qaeda extends to Northern Ireland, highlighting the happy coincidence of the Glasgow incendiary jihadist who had studied in Belfast.

Perhaps we should consult Messiah Shayler and ask if there is any significance in the coincidence of these events.

Those who follow events closely in Ulster will remember that under the Patten plan a Northern Ireland Police Fund which is funded largely by the government to help injured police, retired officers, widows and families and was set up at Police HQ based at Maryfield near Holywood .

On Thursday December 4th 2002 a number of computers and files disappeared and there was concern that personal details of officers may have been leaked to republican terrorists, although their database was somewhat limited.

Two members of staff were arrested one under the Terrorism Act , released and then chairman of the fund Sir John Semple said ; "I was advised that there are serious allegations, including financial irregularities, in respect of the Police Fund.

"In accordance with normal practice, two members of staff have been suspended."

This theft had of course nothing to do with the recently reported theft of computers and other IT equipment (and a reported Database of top-secret police phone taps ) from a private firm Forensic Telecommunications Services Ltd in Sevenoaks, Kent, whose clients include Scotland Yard, The Police Service of Northern Ireland etc.,

Nothing at all.

Dubya's grammatical solecisms - it's all Barbara and George Snr's fault

Language Log is a treasure trove of anecdote and example of the precise use of the English language, it's history, development, etymology and often its current, sloppy and imprecise use.

Guru Mark Liberman ***(University of Pennsylvania Linguistic Data Consortium) brought our attention yesterday to the recent remark of the future ex-employer of Karl Rove;

"It surprised me, frankly, because the impression you get from people who are reporting out of Iraq is that it's like totally dysfunctional -- that's what your -- I guess your kind of -- your friend or whoever you talked to is implying. "

Keen followers of the President's more memorable public speeches will remember this was on the occasion of the White House Press corps harassing him after he had signed into law the COMPETES Act on August 9th when he more memorably opened his remarks with ..

"Good morning, thank you. When I came into office in 2001, our nation was headed into a recession. So we cut the taxes across the board......the American economy is the envy of the world"

From inanities to insanities in the course of a few minutes.

Anyway,back to Mark who had a friend who queried the claerly ageing ( he's 60) President's use of what we have become accustomed (we think, but read on) to hear from more youthful destroyers of their mother tongue.

Mark provides a detailed, clear account of his researches which commence with an appropriate record of the actual solecism ..

He includes other examples ;

On July 19, 2007, President Bush said:
"And the reason I say that, it just shows how difficult it is to do what some assume can be done, which is, like, totally seal off the border. "
And on April 2, 2004:
"I mean, I think it's a wonderful story about a mom and a wife who, instead of getting, like totally distraught with the circumstances, says, I'm going to go back to school."

He points out, that we are accustomed to frequent usage by what he describes as "Valley girl" (an anthropological distinction which is not apparent to us goddam limeys - but we like get the idea) as an emphatic adverb meaning something like "definitely", e.g. "omg, that's totally going on my myspace".

He starts by exemplifying the usage as "an occasional modifier of gradable predicates" (like dysfunctional), totally with an illustration from Jane Austen's Emma, the 1950's beat generation ("it's like nowheresville, man") 1960's hippies ("it's like psychedelic, man") making a shrewd guess that the current generation probably learnt it from their parents, rather than the reverse.

He also quotes from an academic paper by Muffy Siegel Like: The Discourse Particle and Semantics in the Journal of Semantics in 2002.

"Using data from interviews with high school students, I first adduce evidence that lends support to Schourup's (1985) claim that the United States English adolescent hedge like is a discourse particle signalling a possible slight mismatch between words and meaning."

In an update today, as a result of reader's comments he has undertaken some more research and searching an academic treasure trove (from the Linguistic Data Corporation dated from 1975-1977) of transcribed telephone conversations ( is this what warrantless surveillance is for ?) of 15,672 female speech and 12,571 conversational sides where the speaker is male.

He makes the surprising finding that there is a considerable sexual distinction in the use of like ; 184,184 for women and 156,799 for men.

Furthermore an analysis of the use of "like" in various word associations reveals an even greater and unexpected sexual divide ...

"In this collection, women used the expression "like I say" 545 times, and the expression "like I said" 2,264 times. But men used "like I say" 563 times, and "like I said", 1,302 times.

For women, the ratio of "like I said" to "like I say" was 4.51 to 1,, whereas for men, it was only 2.3 to 1. "

All this leads him to conclude ;

1. Adults were using discourse-particle like fairly frequently in professional settings, even a decade ago;
2. Contrary to stereotype, men apparently use it more than women do.

Taught the principles of constructing an English sentence at Altrincham Grammar School by the lofty and haughty Mr Brian Millard ( for whom we had the hugely original nickname of Milord), who used to scatter red ink exclamation marks across our work, for the incorrect use of gerunds or a hanging participle, as he scoured (and scored through) our essays with the enthusiasm and skill of a hungry truffle hound. Lord Patel will now, thanks to Language Log have an ear finer tuned to the usages of "like" amongst 60 year old men approaching their retirement.

Also with a little more tolerance of a younger generation, to whom one of their more irritating spoken solecisms of our language, has evidently originated long before their birth.

So we can therefore blame Barbara and George (Snr.) for their son's mangling of the language - and we had always blamed the booze, drugs and dissolute lifestyle as a rich, spoilt kid who never really grew up after his adolescence.

***Responsible for ..(2004) "The Simpsons has apparently taken over from Shakespeare and the Bible as our culture's greatest source of idioms, catchphrases and sundry other textual allusions." (see Times 11/8/07)

This drawing illustrating the above has been stolen from Mr Murdoch

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Decider makes a decision

You Tube

Olympics 2012 - In Xanadu did Khubla Khan ... getting you to East London .. on time

If your mind is easily boggled - cop this ....there will be 7.9 million spectators in 16 days for the Olympic Games 2012 and 1.5 Million over 11 days for the Paralympic Games....every working day London’s transport systems carry 11 million passengers, with 3 million on the underground and 1.8 million passengers on national rail services.

"London 2012 organisers aim to have all spectators either walking, cycling or taking public transport to the Games. "

That is what the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) said in their draft Transport Plan (30/10/07) although athletes and other members of the "Olympic Family", in particular, media and officials, will be transported by fleets of cars, vans and coaches along the 240 km Olympic Route Network (ORN) - including 100Kms of public roads denied public access.

Members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) (some who has a quiet chat with Tony Blair in his bedroom just before voting) will (quite naturally) be staying in hotels in Park Lane in central London - 22 minutes from the Olympic Village to Hyde Park Corner in normal traffic in the middle of the day the Select Committee on Transport were told (Q 257) Raise eyebrows here, and ponder sellling the idea to "Top Gear" of a new Olympic Event, get from Park Lane to Stratford in 22 minutes in the middle of the day without Police outriders and without breaking speed limits.

The London Olympic Park will be served by ten overland railway and London Underground lines by 2012 - 78% of spectators are expected to start their journeys in London. When all the planned transport projects are complete, 240 trains will deliver spectators to Stratford East Station ****to serve the Olympic park every hour. (Eurostar will miss out Stratford for the duration of the Games - so if you are coming from Paris - forget it)

The "Olympic Javelin" high speed shuttle rail service, will take 7 minutes from King's Cross, St Pancras to Stratford International station carrying 25,000 passengers per hour (Raise eyebrows here) with 1,200 passengers on each 6 carriage train. Pause here to note that the the new high speed trains will be of main line design with fewer doors than suburban rolling stock access will be relatively slow - especially for disabled visitors for Paralympics. They also have 354 seats in single class accomodation.(BBC)

Those passengers not disabled or with children in prams, will presumably be carrying, rugs, cushions, bags with food, drink, newspapers, binoculars, cameras, jerseys, waterpoofs, umbrellas to add to the fun of the event.(Raise eyebrows here)

The good news is that the first of the Hitachi made "Olympic Javelin" ( romantically called Class 395 in the UK) trains which are being supplied in a £250Mn contract for 28 trains based on the Japanese Shinkasen trains for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link has shipped from the Kasado factory. It should arrive in Southampton at the end of this month followed by 3 more before the end of the year and the remainder by end 2009.

These will be based at the Channel Tunnel Ashford depot and the first train will be trialled (it has already been fully tested in Japan) in early October. Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), is due to become fully operational on November 14 2007. .(Raise eyebrows here) All the trains are to be named after Britons associated with speed - preferably not enhanced by the use of drugs, so ruling out Linford Christie and Jockie Wilson.

****Outside the Olympics, Stratford East (cost £210 Mn.) will be a "ghost" station as it was originally designed that feeder trains from the North, Scotland, Midlands, for the Channel Tunnel railway would deliver passengers here for seamless onward journeys to Paris / Brussels etc., This plan was dropped in 2005 , one year after construction started as budget airlines stole passengers.

More than $30 billion will be spent on London’s transportation system prior to 2012. These include:

1. The extension of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in east London - 0% capacity enhancement and extension to London City Airport - Plane Crazy where are you ?
2. Extension of the East London line
3. Refurbishment and modernisation of all London Underground stations
4. 45% increase in capacity on the Jubilee Line, which will serve the main Olympic facilities.

The scale of the project, the logistics of passenger / spectator movement, the costs, are truly spectacular - for less than 3 weeks of drug fuelled "sports entertainment" - Lord Patel will be either 1) relaxing at one of his many residences, scattered worldwide 2) indoors watching it on a 76" HD Plasma TV recorded on his Skybox whilst he frolics in daylight hours with nubile girls on a sun soaked beach or one of his many luxurious gin palacesyachts.

Karl Rove - A grateful nation mourns the passing of a great Statesman

Karl Rove Memorial Dolls now available. - Inscribed on the base ..

"... it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."

British Energy Nuclear Fleet production down 17%, profits by 14%

British Energy have produced their Q1 2007/08 results ending 1st July.

BE once produced some 20% of the UK base electricity output - the results show an astonishing (unplanned) reduction of total output dropped 17% from 17TWh to 14TWh for the period.

Of these losses 4.5 (TWh) losses were attributable to Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B (Q1 06/07: 1.1TWh). This was due to a loss due to a combination of an actual 60% load (against "planned" 70% load resriction) late return to service and ..... "other losses on return to service" (?) of 0.5 TWh. ( that is, equivelent to the ANNUAL output of ALL UK installed windfarms)

Note also, output from coal fired plant halved (1.7TWh to 0.8 TWh) - although the realised selling price has risen 14% from £36 to £41 per MWh which has helped maintain EBITDA profits down 12% from £289 Mn to £253 Mn (netted down to £168Mn operating profit - a 40% drop ****) although that has been swallowed by increased operating costs rising from £22 to £27 per MWh.Nett sales revenue however declined from £730 Mn. to £670 Mn as total output dropped 17% from 17TWh to 14TWh for the period.

Forward contracts for 07/08 are all pre contracted at £42 MWH and some 50% of output for 08/09 at the same price.

Note that the Q1 loss of output of 4.5TWh plus (optimistically) a running Quarterly loss of (say) 2TWh = a loss of 10.5 TWh on the theoretical maximum of 78TWh = 13.5% reduction in output for the complete year. (Note on Page 9 this is very optimisticaly compared mean losses over 2000-2007)

This significant reduction in output, plus continuing concerns over plant reliability, (notwithstanding expected revisions on lengthening operating life due soon) is a major concern nationally - not that any poiticans have noticed.

The reduction in revenues and profits (despite 14% increase in price - BTW did anyone notice that the unexpected drop in the RPI was accompanied by a comment that energy prices had dropped ?) does not of course encourage investors being lined up (Centrica / Gazprom ?) to join the dodgy BE management in building new nuclear plant.

**** PR Bullshit merchants are boosting net profits up, from £75m last year to £179m - but £134m of that came from the Nuclear Liabilities Fund as a one off contribution after a government stake sale reduced payments into a fund for nuclear waste.

April 19th - a day that will live in infamy - just don't say you weren't warned

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Peterloo Massacre - Today 188 years ago.

60,000 people marched on St Peter's Field August 16, 1819, a site , on which the Free Trade Hall stood, the home of the Halle orchestra and which has been transformed into the extremely ugly Radisson Hotel.

The marchers wanted to hear Henry `Orator' Hunt, a popular political campaigner of the time and champion of parliamentary reform - when only 2% of adult males had the vote.

Henry Hunt, Samuel Bamford and others were put on trial at York assizes for conspiracy and sedition in connection organising the meeting which ended in the 'Peterloo Massacre'. Bamford defended himself, and his line of defence at times puzzled the judge. Bamford's star witness was James Dyson, a neighbour from Middleton. Dyson's description of the march as a kind of festive village outing ...

The wives of several of the party accompanied their husbands. There were several hundred of women with our party and the Rochdale party. I saw many of them at Manchester . . . the women who accompanied us were relatives of the men who marched in the procession. It is customary at our wakes and rush-carts in Lancashire to have banners and music; the rush-carts are held on a Saturday, and on the following Monday the men walk in procession, but they do not keep the step. Justice Bayley asked for an explanation of the term 'rush cart'. Mr Bamford explained , that it is an annual custom to have a cart in which rushes are neatly placed; this cart is drawn by young men decorated with ribbons, and preceded by young women, music, etc.
Panicking magistrates, fearing an uprising, ordered Hunt's arrest. They ordered the crowds to disperse. When they did not, the Yeomanry already drawn up in readiness, drew their sabres and charged - killing several protestors including a woman and child. 11 died and some 500 limped back home in jured . Click here for popular print of the day showing the scene - Published by J.Evans and Sons, 42 Long LaneWest, Smithfield, 27th August, 1819)

With the command to the Yeomanry Cavalry to 'have at their banners', and, as Samuel Bamford, vividly recalled, the contest for them continued throughout that terrible day. Peterloo banners that survived were regarded as sacred relics (see below) and often took pride of place among the banners and flags carried by the local Chartists.

Today on the 188th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, protestors led by Peter Fitzgerald, 46, gathered on the site to demand a new commemorative plaque (pic of suggested plaque) and a monument to those who fell.

Sir Richard Leese, Labour council leader, agrees the plaque should be replaced explaining the City also wanted to officially mark the Suffragette movement and the Abolition of Slavery.

Some of the flags carried that day (were ?) are to be seen in Middleton Public Library. Ben Brierley wrote of the graves of 5 of the dead in Queens Park cemetery in Harpurhey, north of the City. Lord Patel has tried to find them in the overgrown and neglected municipal cemetery - but the place is overrun in daylight hours with drug users / dealers, drunks and is none too safe to root around in.

Anyone interested in pursuing the identifying of their graves, cleaning and arranging for visotrs to find them should contact Lord Patel.

The Women at Peterloo: The Impact of Female Reform on the Manchester Meeting of 16 August 1819. M.L.Bush - History 89 (294), 209–232. doi:10.1111/j.1468-229X.2004.00298.x
"Central to the Peterloo Massacre in 1819 was the high public profile of working-class women who attended the parliamentary reform meeting that preceded it in all-female contingents, carrying their own flags, distinctively dressed in white and with their own women leaders prominently displayed on the speakers' platform."

... and an unbroken line to Annie Kenney, the Pankhursts and the Suffragettes.

"These persons bore two banners, surmounted with caps of liberty, and bearing the inscriptions: "No Corn Laws," "Annual Parliaments," "Universal Suffrage," "Vote By Ballot." Some of these flags, after being paraded round the field, were planted in the cart on which the speakers stood; but others remained in different parts of the crowd." More here

This is the Skelmanthorpe Flag (or banner) made in 1819 , not carried at Peterloo but embroidered and used in marches and protests around Skelmanthorpe near Sheffield.

"Skelmanthorp will not rest Satisfied with the Suffrage being anything but Universal."a claim / demand taken up by the Chartists. Their demand for Annual Parliaments remains.... (Original in the collection of People's History Museum, Manchester)

The event prompted Percy Bysshe Shelley to write the Mask of Anarchy...the last verse ...

'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.'

Daily Telegraph - 1 month late with all the news they are allowed to print

The Daily Telegraph under the headline Moscow 'unmasks' MI6 spy by Adrian Blomfield in Moscow reports today in an "exclusive";

"A British diplomat was named by Russia yesterday as an MI6 agent in the latesttwist in Moscows row with London over the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. "
This is the story of FSB operator Vyacheslav Zharko and the Moscow staff member which Lord Patel provided the whole story (and unlike the DT named the Embassy contact for Mr Z) on Monday, July 16, 2007 "UK expels 4 Russian spies - but pretend we don't have any, lies, deception by Foreign Secretary - Press act as Chorus", complete with a nice picture of Mr Zharko.

This was the day you might remember the Boy David acting as Foreign Secretary expelled some Russian "spies" from the London Russian Embassy.

Coincidence ?

Bloggers ? Fucking amateurs.

UPDATE Pic of Sergei Skripal who was imprisoned last year for spying for the UK who identified the MI6 contact - so many and varied are the names attributed it could be one guy or many. Pablo Miller is favourite.

Incidentally, Pablo was named in May Axis Global Chalenges Research ..." ...According to Grigoriev, today Tallinn is often used by the British intelligence. Kreml.org refers to ex-officer of the British intelligence, Richard Tomlinson, alleging that Platon Obukhov, who was sentenced for spying, had met his MI6 contact in the territory of Estonia. Another spy, sentenced in 2001 for seven years, the former KGB officer Valery Ojamae, was reportedly recruited in Tallinn by the British intelligence officer Pablo Miller with the participation of the Estonian Security Police or KaPo.

UPDATE Int. Herald Tribune names Pablo Miller even though UK Press / TV don't - Channel 4 makes a point of saying they won't name him. Self censorship or someone "suggest" it to them ? What bollocks - do they thik no-one has acess to the Internet ? ..perhaps they are planning for the day when we don't.

Teen Sex - A Modest Proposal

Dan Savage writes of "Savage Love" in the Nashville Scene.
Lamenting the failure of Dubya's abstinence program for tenagers and the rising rates of teenage sex, pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections he has a novel solution ...

"The time has come to take the fight to the hormones, Mr. President. The time has come to chemically castrate American teenagers.

Instead of wasting money on failed abstinence-education programs, Mr. President, put Depo-Provera and Tamoxifen, the two most effective chemical-castration drugs, into products consumed by teenagers—Doritos, Mountain Dew, lip gloss, and Axe body spray. (Some adults also consume these products, of course, but not any we want reproducing.) A chemical-castration program would not only be cheaper and more effective than your failed abstinence-education programs, Mr. President, it would also lower rates of sexually transmitted infections, decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies, save souls, prevent hurricanes, and spare elected officials who can't have kinky sex themselves anymore (thanks to fallout from the D.C. Madam scandal) from having to listen to teenagers brag about all the kinky sex they're having."

Well. It's an idea.

Daily Telegraph - Health Warning in Home Counties

The Daily Telegraph will be reporting the success of young, nubile, full breasted, happy, excited, respectable and talented girls with 14 A levels tomorrow morning , complete with many pictures.

Wives of elderly retired gents are advised to intercept the newspaper boy, or better still to hide the edition or to cancel delivery. Simply removing Page 3 will not be sufficient, they sneak them onto the front page usually.

But later editions of the DT Online today have not let us down. Do boys do 'A' levels ?

Small Earthquake in Peru - No Britons killed.

Actually a massive 7.9 on the Richter scale reports the U.S. Geological Survey (Spanish) at 6:40 p.m. (7:40 p.m. EDT - 23.40 UTC) off the coast 90 miles SE of Lima at a depth of 25 miles with 4 aftershocks 5.4 - 5.9 magnitude. 29 fatalities reported (so far). The USG site is well worth looking at for history of sesmicity in area etc.,

You can wait a life time for a headline like that.

By 7.00 pm today GMT fatalities are said to exceed 1,000 and rising.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Massive newly constructed bridge collapses in China , 23 dead and 23 missing - Amazing pictures

Bridges falling apart are in the news - a 40 year old 8 lane highway in Minnesota across the Mississipi and now a newly constructed bridge in China - not that you will have seen much published in the UK or US about it - Google News produces a single well informed AP article in the Guradian yesterday.

The four-arch Tuojiang River bridge was under construction to link Fenghuang City (means Phoenix)***,Hunan, a popular tourist spot (hometown of Xiong Xiling, first premier of the Republic of China), with Daxing airport in Tongren city, neighboring Guizhou Province. Construction began in March 2004 and had been scheduled to open to traffic at the end of the month.

The 328-meter-long, 42-meter-high bridge collapsed on Monday afternoon 13th August at 4.40pm local time when an estimated 123 workers were dismantling steel scaffolding.

64 workers escaped 22 are still in hospital receiving treatment for their injuries, there are 23 known dead and 23 still missing.

In Fenghuang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, three seriously injured workers are no longer described as critical after emergency treatment, according to hospital sources. Seventeen workers are receiving treatment in the hospital.

The contract for 12 million yuan (1.6 million U.S. dollars), belongs to Fengda company based in Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in western Hunan, with the contractor of the provincial Road and Bridge Construction (Group) Ltd. Co. (RBC). Police have detained Xia Youjia, a construction manager, and Jiang Ping, a project supervisor. All technical data about the bridge and financial accounts of the companies involved have been sealed for examination.

Premier Wen Jiabao toldlocal governments and government departments to "determine the cause of the collapse and severely punish those responsible". China's State Councilor Hua Jianmian Tuesday ordered an immediate investigation into the cause of the bridge collapse and was accompanied by Hunan's Communist Party chief Zhang Chunxian and governor Zhou Qiang
More than 1,500 rescuers are still searching the debris, but medical workers said there was little chance of finding survivors.

A 9 member team of experts has arrived at the site to take samples from the rubble so as to determine whether the bridge had quality problems.

Meanwhile, an investigation team under the State Council was established. The team, headed by Li Yizhong, director of the State Administration of Work Safety, consisted of officials from the communications, construction, health and supervision ministries.

The collapse also affected water supplies to about 700,000 residents in Fenghuang as the pipes of the local water plant were broken by the falling debris. The supply resumed on Wednesday afternoon.

Environmental concerns

A local official at the scene claimed that a "traditional and risky" type of bridge, made of stone and concrete, had been chosen over a steel structure to ensure "it remained in harmony with the natural environment".

In 2004 the Tuojing River was seriously polluted by a large amount of wastewater containing high-concentration ammonia and nitrogen was discharged directly outside the Sichuan Chemical Co. Ltd No 2 Chemical Fertilizer Plant ; the sewage entered Tuojiang River through its tributary Pi River and polluted the water seriously. The river fees into the Yangtse river.

1 /2 Mn Kilos of dead fish were found and nearly one million people had suffered from a 25-day break of drinking water supply and aquatic eco-environment of Tuojiang River underwent massive damage.

Sichuan Chemical Co. Ltd. was fined one million yuan penalty , and pre-compensated the fishery industry for the losses up to 11,798 million yuan. People liable for the accident underwent proper punishments by Sichuan Provincial government.

***Outside the Northern Gate of Fenghuang is Huxiao Shoal. Here, a narrow 100-meter-long wooden bridge supported by 15 stone blocks spans the Tuojiang River. This used to be the city's only exit, called the "Jumping Rock" by the local people. The bridge is so narrow that it must be crossed in single file. If two people cross the bridge from opposite directions, they must carefully turn and walk sideways.

The Southern Great Wall built in the Ming Dynasty is 10 kilometers away from Fenghuang City, and takes about half an hour to reach by bus. Discovered in 2000 it was built on similiar plans to the Great Wall to defend the kingdom against the Miao people of the south.

Russia / China join in Anti-American Summit and Wargames, Bishkek

Terrism in Russia on the train

The crash of Nevsky Express Moscow – St. Petersburg (No 166) train at Burga – Malaya Vishera yesterday (14/8/07 9.43 am local time) has now been declared a terrorist attack by the Directorate of the Russian Prosecution General’s Office in North-Western Federal District who has taken responsibility for investigating the incident.

The cause of the explosion was a homemade (?) explosive device with power capacity equivalent to 2 kg of TNT according to police. The bomb was placed on the approach to a bridge presumably with the intention of inducing the train falling off and increasing the deaths / casualties and making rescue difficult.

It appears , that because the driver was observing speed restrictions approaching the bridge the plans for catastrophic failure and plunge from the bridge was prevented.

The blast derailed the electric locomotive and 12 carriages . About 60 people were injured, around 40 taken to hospital. Overall, there were 231 passengers and 20 personnel staff on the train.

President Putin has instructed Nikolai Patrushev , Head of the Russian Federal Security Service to take overall control. - meanwhile he was the last participant at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit to arrive in Bishkek airport, handily placed for the US air base.

Shanghai Co-operation Organisation Summit , Bishkek, 2007 and Joint SCO Wargames

Chinese President Hu Jin tao (bringing he said, "“new additional impulses to the development of good, neighborly relations” see pic .), Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rakhmanov, Uzbekistan’s cuddly body boiler, President Islam Karimov, Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguluy Berdymuhammedov, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Kharzai, Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmenadinejad have already arrived to the Kyrgyz capital.

India’s Minister for Oil and Natural Gas Murli Deora, Pakistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mian Kurshid Mahmood Kasuri and UN Under-Secretary General Lynn Pascoe will also participate in the summit.

The fact that the presidents of all six member states (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) are scheduled to attend is just one of several indicators of the organization’s rising regional importance.

Iran, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan and Mongolia have all expressed a wish to become full members of the SCO. However China and Russia aides have decalred that new members will not be admitted at this summit, as no acession system has been agreed yet. Adding more members may also dilute the organization’s anti-US orientation, as none of the aspirants – except Iran – share China and Russia’s determination to limit US involvement in Central Asia.
The Chinese and Russian leaders worry that allowing Iran in could ( and wil be) would be interpreted as an endorsement of Iran’s nuclear program. Beijing and Moscow also fret about being involved in any possible US / Israel /Iranian confrontation, as Tehran, as an SCO member, could (and probably would) invoke a mutual defense clause in the event of a potential US / Israeli attack on Iran.

For himself ,Ahmadinejad supports SCO’s efforts to check US influence in Central Asia. In particular, the Iranian leader will be anxious to obtain some assurance / guarantee from summit hosts Kyrgyzstan that an American air base outside of Bishkek would not be used for any potential US attack on Iran.

On Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Karabayev, the Kyrgyz foreign minister, said earlier this month that,"According to the agreement [between the United States and Kyrgyzstan], the (Manas) base can not be used for any [unrelated] military operations," . He has also been anxious to tell the diplomatic circus about the possible use of the US facility at Manas in a hypothetical strike against Iran and insists the lease terms call for the base to be used only in support of ongoing military actions in Afghanistan.

In many ways the prospect of a Chinese / Russian joint military action seems remote. There are however are large scale (6,500 troops - which would be a small scale op. in Baghdad) exercises under the auspices of the SCO coinciding with the Summit called Orwellian Style “Peace 2007″. (See China view review of exercises - some amazing pictures of Chinese weapons)

These involve mainly Russian and Chinese units and others from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which start in Xinjiang on the Chinese borders and then move to Chelyabinsk, in the Russian Urals finishing August 17th. Remarkably these manouvres have historic significance and whilst they will certainly be the object of much examination from afar and upabove,they are worth more attention than the Western media have exhibited so far. (See Videoclip from CCTV via Foreign Policy Association here)

Whilst China is anxious to maintain oil supplies from Russia unaffected by maritime problems they are poised for strategic competition with Russia despite any temporary shared interest they may currently have in containing Islamist activities and stopping US influence in Central Asia.

Meanwhile Bishkek has been enjoying a massive clean up for 6 months for the arrival of the VIP's which includes whitewashing trees and facades of buildings on the road from the Manas Airport to Bishkek and the principal thoroughfares.

Fantastically residents of all houses facing the elegant Philharmonic, where the SCO summit will take place, have been forbidden to open their windows and balcony doors from August 14 until the end of the summit - the Police explain "because everyone who appears in the window will be at risk of beeing shot. There will be Russian snipers around"

Pic from China view of Chinese soldiers attending the 2nd phase of "Peace Mission 2007" anti-terror drill in the Chebarkul range near Chelyabinsk of Russia, August 13, 2007
(Is this a Sikorsky S-92 military variant that Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Co. Ltd. (CAC) are building under licence - Chengdu are building the Boeing Dreamliner rudder - the rudder -- a key component of the vertical fin that provides stability for an airplane's directional control. )

Curious alliances War, Peace and Commerce bring.

FDA issue "Black Box" warning for Diabetes Type II drugs, Avandia and Actos

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have determined that a "black box" warning highlighting "may cause or worsen heart failure in certain patients" has to be added to thiazolidinedione class of type 2 diabetes drugs, including GlaxoSmithKline's Avandia (rosiglitazone) and Takeda's / Eli Lilly Actos (pioglitazone). See this website for SKF/Avandia official response and here for Actos - July 30th Press Release from Takeda here.

This decision results from an FDA review of post-marketing reports that showed warning signs of heart failure found - significant weight gain and oedema, which associated with poor outcomes, including death, the agency added. This follows a "meta-analysis" published by Dr. Steven Nissen, chief cardiologist for the Cleveland Clinic, in the New England Journal of Medicine which detailed a major study showing inc reased risks of heart attacks, especially amongst Diabetes Type II patients without other signs or indicators of heart problems..

GlaxoSmithKline's Avandaryl (rosiglitazone plus glimepiride), Avandamet (rosiglitazone plus metformin), as well as Takeda's Duetact (pioglitazone plus glimepride) will also carry the new "black box" warning.

An advisory panel had earlier in June voted 22-1 to recommend that GlaxoSmithKline's type 2 diabetes drug, Avandia (rosiglitazone), should remain on the market, despite data suggesting that it increases cardiovascular risks. The panel had also recommended that the product's label should be updated with new safety warnings.The advisory panel had reviewed a 436-page report which was a compendium of reviews released in advance of an advisory panel hearing held on Monday June 30th.

In 2006 Avandia sales totalled $3 billion. Barbara Ryan, analyst for Deutsche Bank North America, said in a published report that US Avandia prescription volumes were down 50 % in the week ended July 20, compared to the week preceding May 18, when Nissen's article was published. For those same time periods, Actos US prescriptions were up 19 %. Glaxo shares rose 4% on Tuesday after the news.

Diabetes drugs to get stronger heart-failure warning - (Bloomberg)
FDA to strengthen diabetes drug warnings - (CNN)
GlaxoSmithKline Updates Prescribing Information for Avandia - (Pharmalive)

If you take Avandia or Actos you should inform yourself of the risks involved - Actos / Takeda / Lilly say "Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience rapid weight gain, fluid retention, or shortness of breath while taking ACTOS. " - I did and I spoke to the Doctor.

My Doctor says (God Bless her), "We are going to ignore the Nissen report".. what do you do ? Change Doctor, Flip a coin ? Fuller discussion of the Nissen report here in an earlier post.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Massive 4 car bomb suicide attack aimed at Kurdish Yazidis

The Yazidis are a curious, ancient and separate sect allied to Sufism who believe in angels (and are said totally erroneously to pray to Satan) and especially pray to the peacock angel Melek Ta us ملك طاووس (pic) . Lord Patel posted about them in Jan 2006 when they obtained a single seat in the Assembly in Iraq last year - remember that it took 5 weeks for the results to be worked out, which makes Dubya's 2000 victory look fast.

Now four suicide bombers in cars have hit the Yazdis in Qahataniya, 75 miles west Mosul in what is now Kurdistan, killing at least 175 people and wounding 200 others, said Iraqi military and local officials in northwest Iraq.

The death toll was the highest in a concerted attack since Nov. 23, when 215 people were killed by mortar fire and five car bombs in Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City.

At least 30 homes were destroyed in the bombings.

As per this is blamed by the Government on Al Quaida. .... and now (Wednesday am) The Daily Telegraph report that in April a mob of Yazidi men stoned to death Doaa Khalil Aswad, 17, after she had run away to marry a Muslim and their previously good relations with Sunni groups has deteriorateed.

The savage and mediaeval killing was captured on mobile phone video cameras, (there is a paradox) prompting Sunni revenge attacks. In one, a bus carrying workers home to the dead girl's village was stopped by gunmen who dragged out 23 men and executed them.

Thus it takes a massive event to identify the many (unreported) strands of sectarian / religious / tribal divides that have festered and are erupting daily since we illegally invaded their country.

de Quincey's birthday, Opiates, Dalrymple and pointless drug "treatment"

"It is so long since I first took opium, that if it had been a trifling incident in my life, I might have forgotten its date: but cardinal events are not to be forgotten; and from circumstances connected with it, I remember that it must be referred to the autumn of 1804. During that season I was in London, having come thither for the first time since my entrance at college."

Thomas de Quincy, English author born on August 15, 1785; - opening lines of Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy by Theodore Dalrymple Amazon

Well known and respected doctor and writer Theodore Dalrymple argues that drug addiction isn't what it has been made out to be. He claims that addiction has been romanticized along with the withdrawal from such drugs as heroin.

Dalrymple use of his own background as a practicing physician and of literature as well. For example, one of the classics of drug addiction is Nelson Algren's "The Man with the Golden Arm." Along with this and the books of Coleridge, Burroughs and de Quncey's "Confessions" others which make much of withdrawl. Dalrymple defies this romanticism and says it isn't true. It may be romantic to think of addicts suffering terribly when forced to withdraw, but according to Dalrymple - and he provides medical literature to support the point - withdrawal is about as bad as a case of the flu.

He has extensive experience, including working as a prison doctor and takes the view after a lifetime of face to face experience that the bottom-line is that drug takers enjoy their drugs, an entire support industry has grown up around drug addiction and a lot of people are lining their pockets at the expense of the taxpayer.

It was reported in June that nationally, the Prison Service paid £2.5 million in compensation to prisoners in England and Wales, and of that £750,000 was to drug addicts.

Almost half of the £2.5 million was paid out to prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs, London, and Northallerton Young Offenders’ Institution, in North Yorkshire.

According to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act,in 2006, 9 payments totalling £34,264 were made to heroin addicts whose treatment was withdrawn or cut short whilst jailed in Manchester Prison, formerly known as Strangeways.

In Rochdale (for example) there is a Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) which claims there are 1,500/1,800 problematic drug users (PDU's) which is princially heroin users but increasingly crack cocaine .70% are male and white and 70% of those are in treatment for 12 weeks or more. In the last year for which figures are available - 2005/6 the total costs of the program was £3.1 Mn.

For a population of 50 Mn that totals an expenditure of £600-700 Mn.annually, not including the cost of the drugs prescribed, benefits payments etc.,

In 2003/4 1329 users were "treated" which was said to represent 74% of PDU's and in 2007/8 it is expected that 1663 users will be "treated" which will represent 92% of PDU's and a growth of people being treated of 25% which suggests treatment is not successful - unless measured by the number of people engaged in "treating the addicts or the money spent in treating them.

How the State educates us silently, by Press Release, TV ....

The silent and frquently non-working Talk - Talk cyberpost has fluttered 2 Gubment e-mails through my letter box - which neatly illustrate in different ways how the State is now designed to constantly manipulate our lives and minds.

1 . The Department for Culture, Media And Sport (National) (DCMS) send the first, James Purnell who we are suprised to learn is Culture Secretary has found £1Mn. in the back of a drawer to "boost Rural Tourism"

£750,000 of this bonanza goes to VisitBritain, to promote rural destinations and visitor attractions - " vital to the economic health of local communities." which added to £1/4 MN they already have is going to be pissed up against the wall - fund from this weekend (there's planning for you) a targeted marketing campaign for the regions of England and businesses such as B&Bs, caravan parks and attractions. (We will just overlook the DEFRA PR note about Foot and Mouth precautions being taken in Kent - miles from the Surrey outbreaks received as we speak)

Mr Purnell is today visiting the Courtyard Theatre, home of The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Hatton World Farm Village in Warwickshire are lucky enough to have Mr Purnell visit them today - "Britain is open for business. Right across the UK there are fantastic cultural and tourist attractions putting on high quality events." he said.

"Government commitment to additional marketing funds comes at an opportune time for England and particularly rural destinations" which means that the NFU has been given us a hard time about FMV and the Floods so we'll spread a bit more largesse to help the rural poor (and ITV) - TV advertising will be brought forward while the launch of Britain's Favourite View on prime-time national television is also helping inspire day trips and longer holidays throughout the English landscape.
Which makes you wonder if Mr Purnell has been listening to the Happy campers of Heathrow or Mrs Beckett the Happy Caravanner...isn't there something sinister how the Gubment want to spend out money telling us where to go on holiday ?

2. The Department for Work And Pensions (North West) (DWP) under the odd title "Working parents do their kids proud", tells us they asked almost (?) 500 primary school kids (kids - is that we used to call children) how they felt about their parents having jobs, and nearly three times as many children (46%) said that they actually liked their mum or dad going to work, compared to those who didn't (16%). In fact, almost a third (31%) said that the fact that their parents worked made them feel proud.

Other research carried out by One Parent Families (AKA Gingerbread **** Pres. J.K.Rowling) on behalf of Jobcentre Plus among lone parents, had highlighted that 49% of those who were back at work felt more worried about their children as a result blah , blah, blah

Denise Nixon, a specialist Lone Parent Adviser at Jobcentre Plus, is quoted but I won't bore you, read it here

So my dear, if you feel guilty - don't worry , we've asked 500 kids and they loved missing you out at work ... if you are working as a hotel chambermaid on the Minimum Wage the Gubment are also spending £1Mn driving customers your way.

The UK Gubment through it's incredible range of agencies is the biggest advertiser in the UK - insidiously these pompous patronising Jobs worths are producing this pulp fiction, ready for instant sub editing by the unthinking, uncaring press.

GingerBread ****
"Half of all children living with a lone parent are poor, twice the rate of poverty in couple-families. 41% of lone parents have gross weekly household incomes under £200, compared to 8% of married couple-families and 11% per cent of cohabiting families."

"Most single parents are already working and those who are not either want to, but can't find affordable childcare or a job that fits with school hours, or have very good reasons for deciding that their children need a parent at home to guide them for a time. "

"Wherever there is a one parent family there is a child who does not deserve to be poor or to be stigmatized, a child who deserves to be raised with the same love and attention and receive exactly the same life chances as any other child."

. President. One Parent Families

Iraq's power grid has collapsed

Whilst the Press fills the pages with UK soldiers dying it remains largely blissfully ignorant of what life is like for the man in the street in Iraq after 4 years of occupation and brutal repression.

Electricity Ministry spokesman Aziz al-Shimari is quoted (4th August)saying the national power generation is only meeting half the demand, and there had been four nationwide blackouts over the past two days - with daytime temperatures hitting 120 degrees.

Baghdad has had sporadic electricity supplies all summer - now down to just a few hours a day, if that. This has also affected electrically powered pumps in water and sewage stations. There are 17 high-tension lines running into Baghdad but only two are operational. and the remaining lines have been sabotaged.

Provincial spokesman Ghalib al-Daami in Karbala the Shiite holy city reports that a 50-MW power station had been shut down because of a lack of fuel, causing the entire province to be without water and electricity for the past three days. To add to the problems (remembering the heat)sewage is rising above ground in nearly half the provincial capital because pump trucks used to clean septic tanks have been unable to operate due to gasoline shortages. The raw sewerage is a health threat and contaminates local crops.

The Iraqi National Grid worsens daily as provinces disconnect their power plants, reducing overall supply making load balancing a major problem and forcing more shutdowns.

"Many southern provinces such as Basra, Diwaniyah, Nassiriyah, Babil have disconnected their power plants from the national grid. Northern provinces, including Kurdistan, are doing the same," al-Shimari said. "We have absolutely no control over some areas in the south," he added.

"The national grid will collapse if the provinces do not abide by rules regarding their share of electricity. Everybody will lose and there will be no electricity winner," al-Shimari said.

Najaf provincial spokesman Ahmed Deibel confirmed today that the gas turbine generator there had been removed from the national grid. He said the plant produced 50 megawatts while the province needed at least 200 megawatts.

On the street gas (which has to be imported) is now US$5 a gallon and beyond the reach of most to fuel their portable generators. Many people who normally would rely on small home generators for electricity can't afford to buy fuel.

Meanwhile a suicide truck bomber struck Thiraa Dijla bridge in Tajia near a U.S. air base some 12 miles north of the capital, sending cars plunging into the river and killing at least 10 people in the second attack on the span in three months.

The attack came as 16,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops began Operation Lightning Hammer, with an air assault which was was part of a broader U.S. push "to build on successes in Baghdad " ... blah blah ... and boy is it hot out there also see AP video about private power supplies - see pic at top of power wires are strung from private generators.

UPDATE - see article on power problems in LA Times today

North Korea - first famines, now floods and some remarkable pictures

Massive storms have been sweeping North Korea in the last few days and the official Korean Central News Agency says the consequent flooding has left "hundreds" dead or missing , and destroyed more than 30,000 homes.

"The heavy rain destroyed at least 800 public buildings, over 540 bridges, 70 sections of railroads and at least 1,100 vehicles, pumps and electric motors," KCNA said.

Farmland has also been damaged in the Pattangong delta where the capital Pyongyang is located (see pic of main street outside Koryo hotel which is near the railway station)

This is the second year of such widespread flooding which is said to have been aided by the denuding of hillsides to develop new land areas - only 26% of the land mass is cultivable in this mountainous and desperately poor country.

More than 2 million people were said to have died after the famines of the mid 1990's , blamed by the DPRK government on natural disasters but was also related to antique farming methods and machinery , as well as the loss of the country's Soviet benefactor and customer. North Korea still relies on outside food aid to help feed most of its population.

It was also precipitated quite deliberately as the West denied them agricultural chemicals - insecticides, fungicides, fertilisers as they ramped up export and banking controls . Whilst the US persisted in telling lies that the DPRK, to whom a washing machine would present a challenge to repair were supposed to be making atiomic weapons.

The BBC report that food aid from neighbouring South Korea is currently suspended after talks between the two sides collapsed last week in the wake of Pyongyang's 5 July missile tests.

South Korea has also been hit by the seasonal storms, with around 60 people dead or missing after days of rain.

Let us hope that the new detente will see the end of the old criminal gang running the place and substantial international effort to develop their native agriculture instead of merely sending them our food surpluses. Go here for latest news.

If living in London you can visit what sounds like a fascinating exhibition of North Korean artsists assembled by David Heather - Artists, Arts and Culture of North Korea runs at La Galleria, 5b Pall Mall, London SW1Y 4UY, until September 2. More here and Time Out review here

Tesco feeds the workers

TESCO, a grocers , in which Lord Patel has vast shareholdings, saw their shares peak in May at 478p and finished yesterday at 428, have discovered that the country is flooded with Polish plumbers.

Rochdale, has had a substantial Polish / Ukrainian population since the Displaced Persons (DP's as they were called) filled the textile mills during and after the war - to be subsumed under the wave of Pakistanis later. The denizens of Poland brought with them Polish / Ukrainian / Catholic clubs, private distillers of vodka and market stalls selling Polish bread, sausages and saurkraut.

Now, belatedly, Tesco have a whole section of Polish made products to make them feel at home. Pictured is a delightful apple/mint drink you drink straight from the fridge.

My friend Polish Pete says the tomato juice should be prepared this way ;

Tall 10 oz glass with 3 large cubes.
1/2 full of juice
1/4 full vodka
Pepper and salt to taste
Dash of Worcester sauce
Dash of tabasco sauce

An ideal breakfast. Consume in large quantities please and help the share price.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mikhail Gutseriyev - Russian Oligarch / Billionaire flees leaves Russia

When Khodorkovsky's Yukos couldn't pay tax and he was thrown in the slammer, there were odd bits of his empire that the Russian State couldn't reach. This included Netherlands based Yukos Finance who owned 49% of the Slovak state - controlled Transpetrol. This company controls the critical Slovak section of the Druzhba (Friendship) oil pipeline to the Wstern customers for Russian oil.

In early 2006 Russneft, an oil company owned by Mikhail Gutseriyev (and his nearest and dearest) attempted buy this stake - a move that has been widely interpreted as being disloyal to Putin and the siloviki.

Since then things haven't gone too well for Mikhail and Russneft and on July 30th he announced he was leaving Russia - presumably before he was buried in it.

Saying goodbye to his 25,000 staff , Gutseriyev claimed that by standing down he was saving the company and interpreted the state attacks as being directed at him personally.Later it beame public knowledge that he had done a deal selling his and his famil's shares in Russneft to Oleg Deripaska's Basic Element, a holding whose major component is the world's largest aluminum producer, United Company Rusal. Unverifiable reports say the sale price was US$6-10 Bn. including approximately US$3 Bn.for Gutseriyev.

Business Daily Vedomosti reported Rusal will absorb debts of US$2.8 Bn. and tax arrears of close to US800 Mn. They also report that opposition member of parliament Gennady Seleznyov saying :"If Gutseriyev had continued to resist, he would have met the same fate as Khodorkovsky ...... I would not rule out the shares that are with Deripaska today could be with Rosneft tomorrow," referring to the state-controlled company that is Russia's largest oil producer.

"They told me I could take the easy way out. I refused," .. now he has decided to take the easy way - ie he gets out alive. Senior vice-president Oleg Gordeyev has now assumed the role of acting head of the group as Oleg Deripaska, gets approval from the the federal anti-monopoly committee for Russneft to be absorbed into its energy subsidiary, which will rule in a month.

It all went sour in May when Mikhail Gutseriyev, the company’s vice-president Sergei Bakhir, and heads of its subsidiaries Viktor Kurochkin (Nafta-Ulyanovsk oil company) and Igor Elansky (UlyanovskNeft oil company) received summons to interrogation to the Investigative Committee at the Interior Ministry.

Gutseriyev and his subordinates with “illegal business activity with deriving revenue in especially large amount” (Part 2, Point B, Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Russia). The investigator’s resolution says that Nafta-Ulyanovsk and UlyanovskNeft extracted oil in 2003-2005 violating license agreements etc., etc., . Nafta-Ulyanovsk caused damage of 700 million rubles, and UlyanovskNeft – of nearly 2 billion rubles etc., etc., . Another Russneft subsidiary, Aganneftegazgeologia, etc., etc.,

Article 171 of the Criminal Code provides for 5 years in jail to Gutseriyev and his subordinates etc., etc.,

On July 30th He took the hint and left - alive. His wherabaouts are not known at present but Switzerland having a chart with his pals at Glencore is a reasonable bet.

Analysts in the West ponder what this move means as the Putin backed authorities remove a strategic asset from an owner perceived as being uncooperative / iunhelful / disloyal. The Kremlin's classification of acceptable / unacceptable owners is an open question, as is the extent to which the authorities will want to control assets beyond the oil industry.

Russneft a brief History

Russneft, registered in 2002, is owned entirely by Mikhail Gutseriyev and his relatives. It's wensite claims it produces 4% of Russian oil production with an annual production of 17 Mn. tons of crude oil and have "Recoverable reserves" of more than 630 Mn.. tons . They have 3 refineries, 1 transportation company serving 300 Petrol Stations and is active in 23 regions of Russia and the CISand employs some 20,000 people worldwide.

Growing by over 500% in 5 years , such dynamic development would not have been possible without the Kremlin's knowledge and approval. The siloviki are particularly interested in the energy sector, bringing the most important gas and oil establishments under state control / Putin's cronies; and expecting private companies to be loyal, and restricting foreign investors' access to the sector.

This rise has, however been tarnished and Rusneft / Gutseriyev, have been connected to numerous economic scandals in Russia and has escaped any penalties ... so far. But his services have not been unrewarded and Gutseriyev has been awarded many medals and state distinctions (including for his participation in special operations).

Embarassingly Russneft benefited a great deal from the UN's Oil for Food programme for Iraq. Charles Dolfer's CIA report claimed that Saddam Hussein had personally granted Gutseriyev quotas for the export of nearly 12 million tons of Iraqi oil.

Russneft was initially built on assets (oil fields, chemical plants) taken over from the Russian-Belarusian company Slavneft, of which Gutseriyev was head until 2003.

Within just over 3 years, the company managed to acquire over thirty small production companies, three refineries and a chain of petrol stations. In 2005 its production increased from 10 million tons of oil (2004) to 17 million tons. As Gutseriyev was starting up the present business, he co-operated closely with the Swiss-registered Glencore, an intermediary company trading oil and oil products (it controls about 3% of world oil trade) and metallurgic products.

Their website still says in addition, subsidiaries of Glencore have entered into the upstream Russian market with its strategic partner OAO Russneft with ownership in a diversified portfolio of oil producing assets.

Russneft has also benefited from the collapse of Yukos, as it took over that company's smaller assets, including its contract with Hungary's MOL for oil production in the Zapadno-Malobalykskoye field.

Building private fortunes using political power is an established business practice in today's Russia . The present team came to power claiming that state interests were superior to private interests, that it was necessary to develop "state capitalism," that the state needed to take control of the most profitable sectors of the economy, and that it had to eliminate those intermediaries who had been stealing the state's profits.

As most assets in Russia have already been divided, the future will not be smooth as various interest groups will compete for the assets available, and new fortunes will develop at the expense of existing empires.

Mikhail Gutseriyev is a tough looking character, used to some of the vagaries of business - no doubt this will not be the last we hear of him.

Paedophiles - unchanged spots - a lifetime and ineradicable habit ?

WARNING UNPLEASANT SUBJECT!!! -David Arthur Joy, 66, who had been a teacher was a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE). He pleaded guilty at Leicester crown court today to 11 counts of making or possessing indecent images of children.

Judge, Michael Pert QC handed him an indeterminate prison sentence and told him must serve a minimum of 18 months before he can be considered for parole and added that given Joy's beliefs, that day "may never come".

The court was told he had a string of previous convictions for child sex offences dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, including the attempted rape of a young girl and indecent assault.

This follows the case of Thomas O'Carroll, 61, from Leamington Spa, who taught at Caludon Castle School in Wyken, Coventry in the 70's lost his job when parents complained he had pestered their son after becoming infatuated with him. he had 50,000 images of child abuse and admuitted two charges of distributing child pornography in court. Over 100 Police were involved in the case over a lengthy period.

O'Carroll, who was living in Shilden, Co.Durham had, with his accomplice, built up a collection of 50,000 images of child abuse, a hearing was told at the Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court in September last year - he admitted two charges of distributing child porn.

His co-defendant, millionaire Michael Studdert, aged 67, a former Anglican minister from Surrey had a secret vault in his country mansion in which police found a vast array of magazines, videos, photographs and slides. He also had property in Poland where he spent lengthy periods.

O'Caroll became a press officer for the Open University, but was sacked in the late 1970s for being the chairman and founder of the Paedophile Information Exchange, (PIE) which campaigned to decriminalise sex between adults and children. His (lengthy) explanation of the formation of the development and growth of the PIE can be found here as part of what is claimed to be an academic study by International Paedophile Child Emancipation Group (IPCE) the successor body O'Carroll set up when PIE failed.

His case was, at the time a cause celebre and was seen as a great tussle over rights of free speech....if memory serves correctly he was actually sacked for using an OU photocopier for personal purposes, although it was also claimed he had brought the OU into disrepute.

At the time Sir Frederick Warner, Chairman of the University Council , Pro Vice Chancellor and Old Bancroftian, *** was embarassed as the event coincided with a great many OU staff "outing" themselves as homosexuals - greatly aided by O'Carroll who was OU Press Officer (also homosexualist) and edited the OU staff newspaper,Open House.

In 1981, O'Carroll was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for conspiracy to corrupt public morals after he published Pie's worldwide contact list to try to encourage sexual contact with children.

In August 2002, O'Carroll, was jailed for nine months for smuggling indecent pictures of naked children from Qatar. But after a hearing at the Court of Appeal, the prison sentence was overturned.

In September Michael Studdert, was sentenced to four years and Thomas O'Carroll two-and-a-half years and received the first ever such order ever issued banning him for life from using the internet.

It is no coincidence that Joy, O'Carroll and Studdart were prosecuted as the Police had infiltrated the International Paedophile Child Emancipation Group founded like PIE by O'Carroll and a group called Gentlemen With An Interesting Name. Both campaigned for the legalisation of sex between adults and children.

Evidently paedophiles are serial recividists, they justify their depravity by arcane and unacceptable arguments and are impervious it appears ,to either prison or treatment. The internet offers them a new arena for their activities.

**** Sir Frederick Warner was a very successful industrial chemical engineer whose talents would be well used today as he had extensive knowledge and experience of coal gasification and production of fuels.

He was involved in the SCOPE / REDPATH committee which had a special focus on examining the data from the fall-out from the explosion at the Chernobyl reactor in 1986. had a special focus on examining the data from the fall-out from the explosion at the Chernobyl reactor. This work led Warner to suggest the establishment of a voluntary organisation of engineers and scientists over the age of 65 willing to risk ionising radiation in order to make initial damage assessments in the event of a nuclear accident. He met with a positive response. Volunteers for Ionising Radiation (VIR) was established and although the idea did not meet with approval in all circles, the VIR were incorporated into the emergency provisions of the Order of St John.

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