"“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 25, 2007

MRAP delays -"Different things happen in the continuum and there are certainly going to be time lags associated,"

Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan invited the press to test-drive three mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) models at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it would fall short of its target of delivering 3,500 vehicles by year-end. To date, roughly 400 MRAPs have been delivered to Iraq and another 1,100 will arrive there by year-end, the military now says.
(MRAP Delivery Estimates Cut Over Half - Wired)

During a July 18 press conference at the Pentagon, John Young, chairman of DoD’s MRAP Task Force, ( Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ top program priority) had said — “ambitiously,” according to Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell — that 3,500 to 3,900 would be delivered to Iraq in that time.(Defense news)

The Pentagon has already ordered more than 6,415 MRAPs and plans to award a second round of contracts for these behemoths later this year.

Ladson, S.C.-based Force Protection Industries Inc. and Fairfax, Va.-based General Dynamics have received contracts so far worth over $1 billion to build more than 1,900 vehicles by February 2008. The UK have also placed orders with Force Protection worth over US$400Mn.

There are now 5 armored vehicle-makers delivering hundreds of MRAPs to a military facility in South Carolina, which is struggling to keep pace with putting all the necessary equipment such as radios and comms , jammers and armament on the volume of vehicles needed overseas which takes 15 days and then a further 35 days by sea.

Brogan said in fractured English "Different things happen in the continuum and there are certainly going to be time lags associated," said .

Shipping them to Iraq and elsewhere by military transport is proving more difficult and expensive than expected and Brogan had to explain that the Pentagon is looking at using commercial aircraft or ships as the volume of MRAP delivery increases to both Afghanistan and Iraq.

David Axe from War is Boring reports that when inquisitive reporters wanted details of specific examples of incidents where MRAPs proved resistant to roadside bombs, Brogan grew impatient. He said that he would not discuss operational details, and pointed out that all the press attention on this potentially $20-billion program was providing intel to insurgents and even encouraging propaganda-motivated attacks on MRAPs. "As we field these things, because of what all you are doing and how much you are touting the fact that they protect our troops ... these are becoming symbolic targets," reports Reuters.

"Imagine if I'm a football coach and I've developed a play that's going to score every time I run it," he said ..."I sure don't want to hand it on in writing to the opposing defense," Brogan said. Ih he has a play that score every time the Colts want to have a word with him... the street bombers making their IED's don't need telegraphing anything about these big mother fucking trucks cruising their streets.

On reflection it seems a curious reaction if they had invited the press along to have a look at their massive US$20Bn program which is way.way,way behind schedule.... good job they didn't ask about the Albatross Osprey program and their much (and many) heralded arrival in Iraq,last year, spring, summer, fall.

At least 14 other companies to submit test vehicles for this highly lucrative market by mid-September, including AM General Corp., the maker of armored Humvees, Oshkosh Truck Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., Ceradyne Inc., L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. and Textron Inc., and two international companies, including Regis Trading International of South Africa and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann of Germany. Contractors will be selected in early December.

Looks like more gravy for the mil-industrial complex.

PS : If you are yet another visitor from US Marine Corps at PensacolaFL. Hi !

Paxo - BBC obsessed with the copper wire and not about the electricity

The Daily Telegraph have very sensibly printed in full the James McTaggart memorial lecture by Jeremy Paxman.."Never mind the scandals: what’s it all for" at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival

"...We have become obsessed with how the copper wire is organised, and forgotten about the electricity"

"Now this is new. For most of the media, most of the time, the motivation has always been pretty simple: you grab as much of the potential audience as possible, in order that you can screw the maximum amount of money out of them. Television was different because those who made it had a different sense of intention. In those more innocent days – and it applied to both the BBC and the commercial sector, producers made programmes because they were passionately engaged with the world and wanted to communicate what they’d found out. Too much of the time now they simply pick things from the world which look as if they might make good television, regardless of whether they do anything other than meet the demands of a format. To put it simply, people at the top are less concerned with content and a lot more concerned with bottom lines. There are too many people in this industry whose answer to the question what is television for? is to say ‘to make money.’

"Of course, the BBC’s got problems of its own, and they also come down to money. It was comprehensively outmanoeuvred by the Treasury in the last licence fee settlement, so that it is now committed to spending nearly one and a half billion on things – whether they be the cost of digital switchover, on-demand, building office blocks in Salford – which have nothing much to do with sole purpose of its existence, which is to produce worthwhile programmes. Even so, quite how these obligations produce a budget crisis in an organisation with an assured income of three and a half billion pounds is still something of a mystery to me.

"But the bigger question is whether the BBC itself has a future. Working for it has always been a bit like living in Stalin’s Russia, with one five-year-plan, one resoundingly empty slogan after another. One BBC, Making it Happen, Creative Futures, they all blur into one great vacuous blur. I can’t even recall what the current one is. Rather like Stalin’s Russia, they express a belief that the system will go on forever."

No great admirers of Paxo or his cast of late night entertainers but at least one of the cast has finally found a voice to expose (some of) the failures of the Televisual media ... You Tube, Blinkx, finally opening a few people's eyes ?

A must read for anyone interested in understanding how the public view Television...although he failed tomention the squillions spent by the BBC on "idents", those irritating Chanel identities that save making programmes but fill air time.

See also Independent Guradian and The Rest / Pic is of Newsnight's . Emily Maitlis who outshines Paxo in every department. We had a toss up between her and Mark Urban for which pic to use.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office refuses to disclose just the Names and Job Titles of the diplomats expelled over the Polonium-210 murder affair

Spyblog publishes correspondence on Freedom of Information Act request for details of the radioactive Reds. File under Funny but True.

Dan Robinson improves his IAAF Marathon performance

Luke Kibet of Kenya won the IAAF World Championship Marathon in Osaka in 2.15.59 - Dan Robinson was 11th at 2.20.30 - he was 12th at Helsinki 2 years ago and picked up the bronze in last year's Commonwealth games.

Dan was 7th in 2.14.14 in the London Marathon this year which gives an idea of the gruelling conditions of heat and high humidity they faced in Osaka...even starting at 8.00 am.

Quebec Police go undercover at Montebello SPP protest - memories of the same 44 years ago

Quebec provincial police have admitted that 3 officers disguised themselves as demonstrators during the protest at the North American leaders summit in Montebello, Quebec but denied they were acting as agents provocateurs - to provoke the crowd and instigate violence.

The official Police line after Trade UNion officials identified the bandana wearing, rock carrying crew was that the officers were only at the protest to locate and identify non-peaceful protesters in order to prevent any incidents. (see You Tube video of their unmasking)

How were they identified ?

They were all wearing standard Police issue boots.... which makes you wonder what the real agents provocateurs were wearing.

Those of us with long and happy memories of dissent will recall the visit in April 1963 of King Paul and Queen Frederika of Greece - Prince Philip's "favourite aunt" who had been in the Hitler Youth and whose 3 brothers served in the Wehrmacht.

On an earlier visit that year when she came alone, Frederika was met by hostile crowds of protesters including the wife of imprisoned Communist leader Tony Ambeteilos) calling her the "Nazi Queen" and cries of "Seig heil" (Post modern irony had started even then).

Detective Sergeant Harry Challenor, Freemason and bent copper from West End Central who had acheived a certain celebrated notoriety for "finding " evidence, was exposed trying to frame a group of young demonstrators.

Pieces of household brick were "found" in their pockets, implying they could have thrown them at the Queen or police guarding her.

The accused were all cleared. No brick dust was found in their pockets. (reminds you of Barry George ?)

Challenor was put on trial for conspiring to attempt to pervert the course of justice. Three young constables who worked with him were jailed for three years. Challenor was found unfit to plead and detained in a mental hospital at her Majesty's pleasure - later it was determined (1)claimed he had planted evidence inn at least 26 cases.

The Home Office Minister at the time was Henry Brooke a favourite target of the then new Private Eye and he was also parodied on BBC's "That Was the Week That Was" who called him "the most hated man in Britain" and ended a mock profile of him with the phrase (long before de Menezes) "If you're Home Secretary, you can get away with murder". It was during his time that new anti-drug laws were introduced for possession of amphetamines and the growing of cannabis.

(1) James Report (Home Office appointed Inquiry into the Challenor Affair), HMSO 1965. See also - Mary Grigg, Challenor Case, Penguin 1965.


Wonderful Collectionion of pics from Montebello CUPE National Photo Gallery Demonstration in Montebello : Monday August afternoon. Here is one pic showing the agents provocateurs being "arrested"...Examine the boots of the arresting goons and the unlucky "protestors".

Friday, August 24, 2007

Gorbachev is the new Face of Louis Vutton

Annie Leibowitz has been hauled in by Vogue to make ex President Gorbachev the new Face of Louis Vuitton this Winter - pictured here against the Berlin Wall with a chunky duffel bag.

On the other hand Scarlett Johanssen might just encourage you to look a little close at what is on offer...

Vuitton has said it was making donations to former Vice President Al Gore’s The Climate Project to fight global warming and Geneva based Green Cross International, founded by Gorbachev to promote sustained development.... whose Mission Statement is ...."We desperately need to recognize that we are the guests not the masters of nature and adopt a new paradigm for development, based on the costs and benefits to all people, and bound by the limits of nature herself rather than the limits of technology and consumerism."...

Which evidently includes promoting obscenely expensive luggage.

Eurofighter Typhoon weaponry - An Apology and an Explanation

Lord Patel apologises for the state of the world today, gun crime on the streets of Liverpool, piss poor GCSE results, and for mis-informing readers (see here) about the state of weaponry on board the squillion pound , 22 years in development Eurofighter Typhoon.

We understood that Geoff Hoon when Minister of Defence (but not then a war criminal) in May 2000 removed the weapon to save money - he did..... but things moved on....

Hoon the Fearless'MoD announced that Tranche-2 and 3 Eurofighter's in RAF service would not be fitted with any cannon whatsoever, while Tranche-1 cannons would not be utilised. The recommendation for this was made by the Equipment Capability Organisation (ECO) which was tasked with finding the most appropriate mix of weaponry for combat systems. The official Government line was that the capability offered by ASRAAM equipped Eurofighter's leads to the cannon becoming operationaly and economically unviable. However, the British MoD has so far spent £90M on the BK-27 while annual savings from not using it are put at a mere £2.5M (the costs of removing it are put at £32M). This cast doubt on the economic merits of cancelling the weapon.

The Typhoon is equipped with a single MauserWerke GmbH developed BK-27 mm cannon mounted internally in the fuselage forward of the starboard wing it is also fitted to Tornado, Alpha-jet blister pods and SAAB/BAe Gripen. It has a maximum firing rate of some 1700 rounds a minute of 27mm HE shells and each aircraft will carry 150 rounds - that's a little over a single 5 second burst (!). Several different types of shell are available.

Weighing only 100Kg (220Lbs,) this provides significant firing velocity of a large shell - it compares badly howwver with for example the U.S. M-61 with a rate of fire of 6000 shells per minute but provides instant firing .The Mauser will have fired over 4kg of projectiles in 0.5 seconds while the M-61 scores around 2kg. The M-61 will only exceed the BK-27 after a full second of firing, by which time the target may well have moved.

The compact system has proved to be robust in service (even if not used) Mean Rounds Between Failure (MRBF) of over 23,000, the MRBF for the unit plus ammunition is over 14,000. In addition the manufacturer also claims the gun, with a projectile weight of 260g and a fuse function to 85° impact angle out performs all other lightweight fighter cannon systems. The particular installation on the Eurofighter features a new linkless closed ammunition feed system with case recovery. This is a first with a revolver gun and provides a 60% reduction in the volume of installed ammunition.

As with the external weapon loads, targeting of the cannon is done through the HUD. When the cannon is selected a firing predictor is projected onto the Head Up display. This depicts a moving line, or snake which predicts where the next few rounds of cannon fire will go. The system also incorporates auto-fire, whereby a burst of fire can be automatically engaged when the target passes through the sight.

Quite whythis compact but lethal equipment providing all of 5 seconds burst of lethal shells is installed is difficult to understand judging by the answer of Sir Jock Stirrup KCB AFC ADC (see pic Biog) to a question from Mr Viggers MP (Con. Gosport) Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence Wednesday 20th October 2004

Q101 Mr Viggers: And the latest on the gun saga, the cannon which was phased out and replaced by a lump of concrete and now we are getting the gun back again, what is the latest position?

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup: I think the position with the Typhoon gun is an excellent example of where we want to be across the board with our equipment capability. We cannot foresee with any accuracy the nature and/or scale of all the threats and challenges we might have to face in the future, so for us adaptability and agility, the ability to react to an unforeseen future is crucial. We cannot do that by investing in everything we can think of because we certainly will not need all of those things and anyway we could not afford them. Our thinking up to now on the Typhoon gun has been that we will not require it because of the advances in short-range missiles and various other tactics and techniques and procedures, but we could get to a situation which we have not foreseen where we will require it. Well, we have a gun in Typhoon and we are not planning to fire it because it would cost us quite a bit more money in terms of ground support equipment, fatigue on the air-frame and so on, but if we decided that actually we did need it for something, we could bring it into operation in very short order, so we have complete flexibility as far as the Typhoon gun is concerned.

See an interesting post re the use of such amarment, "RAF Who needs guns?" and the possible future deployment of Typhoon in Afghanistan (???) at the new to us, and fascinating blog "War is Boring"

Apologies again, we regret that the military mode of thinking is way, way, way beyond us....Well, we have a gun in Typhoon and we are not planning to fire it ....WTF?

More Wit and Wisdom from Sir Jock (now God Forbid from May 2006, the Chief of Defence Staff) at Chatham House 25th June 2007 also see what he told BBC World at One July 27th 2007 ... "the British military has "succeeded" in its mission objectives in southern Iraq. " Sir Jock also said while the operation in Afghanistan was "entirely winnable" it was "entirely loseable" too. ... and if you have guns and don't fire them the latter is the most likely result....unless you know different.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar - Where are They Now ? Part 375

Now Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has had the chance to apear on both Channel 4 News and More4 News tonight calling for the NATO infidels to leave Afghanistan it might be worth re - reading this piece Investigating New Imperialism published 22/12/04 “Official” Terrorist lights fires of resistance in Afghanistan"

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar leads the Mujahideen faction, of fundamentalist Sunni Muslim Pashtuns, the Hezb-e-Islami, which was one of the groups that ended the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. His forces were a main beneficiary of the 7 mujahideen groups recognised by Pakistan and US intelligence agencies for the channelling of money and arms during the 1979-89 war. Among those arms were Stinger surface-to-air missiles. (The first Stinger was fired by a Hezb-e-Islami soldier near Jalalabad on September 25, 1986. The Stingers traced back to the Afghan Mujahedin have since been located in Chechyna, Tajikistan and the Philippines.) Mullah Omar supported him during this period.

Hezb-e-Islami clashed with other groups but refused to share power with Burhan-ud-Din Rabbani and Ahmed Shah Masood of the Northern Alliance for control of the capital, Kabul. As a result the The Hezb-e-Islami ( who with General Dostum) was blamed for the violence and destruction of that period, and Hekmatyr was called the butcher of the Muslims. Many Afghan observers accuse Hekmatyar of killing more Mujahideen members than Communists. After losing support from the Pakistan ISI and the Saudis he was forced to flee Kabul when support shifted to the Taliban.

Hekmatyr ended up being given refuge in Tehran where the Iranians saw him as a useful Pashtun bargain counter. However his very vocal opposition to the US and their man Kharzai , became an embarassment and he was expelled and his offices closed on Feb 26th 2002.
Late in 2002 it was reported that Hekmatyar was giving full support to Karzai administration, although the warlord’s whereabouts were unknown. Soon after Afghan administration arrested 160 people in Kabul in a suspected anti-government plot who were said to be members of Hezb-e-Islami.

Another report claimed the CIA reportedly spotted him in the Shegal Gorge, near Kabul, and tried (unsuccessfully) to kill him with a modified anti-tank missile from a Predator unmanned spy plane. The US still had him in their sights and were said to be behind the arrest in Islamabad in October of his son, Ghairat Baheer.

On February 19, 2003 American tolerance snapped and the US DOS designated Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as a Terrorist.

All has been quiet so far this year, whilst the poppy harvest have been rolling in and the pipeline of drugs packed in bales of cotton shipped by Karimov’s daughter, to the West through Uzbekistan keeps rolling on. Now the warlords see an opportunity to remove the puppet US administration in Kabul, whilst an increasingly desperate Kharzai is asking his US protectors to set up bases in Kabul and elsewhere.

There are reports that five parties met last week near Mazar-e-Sharif (N Afghanistan) and agreed to support the mass mobilisation of people against the US presence.and to turn it into a political movement. Among those present was former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, Ittahad-i-Islami Afghanistan, a representative of two local Tajik groups and a group from neighbouring Uzbekistan.

Whilst Western Press reports have been anxious to suggest that the Afghan rioting last week was directly related to the Newsweek report of Koranic toilet douching ( a widely read weekly in Kabul ?) The Taliban radio and prayer leaders at local mosques, were asking Afghans to rise up against the American presence in the country. A prayer leader at a local mosque in Kabul, Maulvi Habibullah Shariati, was arrested when he told those who had gathered for the prayers to kick out the American forces from the country.

The Hizb-i-islami Afghanistan, a Taliban movement led by Maulvi Younus Khalis, as well as Gulbadin Hikmatyar’s Hezb -e- Islami were the most active segments within the Pashtun-dominated cities of Kabul, Jalalabad, Khost, Asadabad and Kandahar, that were asking for a massive mobilisation against the US presence in Afghanistan.

Diplomatic sources in Kabul see a strong spring offensive that the Taliban fighters have launched, with a much wider and popular a wider political movement against the US.

UK / NATO military observers were seen in the region last week considering a call from the White House (Condi / Rummy et. al. as the ordure hits the aircon) to plunge UK troops into this bloody cauldron.

Watch this space for an announcement about troop movements from the Scotsman John Reid AKA Minister of Defence – augmenting NATO forces (now approx 500) – beefing up the response – sharing the burden – spreading the load – part of a widening response in the War on Terror – blah blah … pulling US chestnuts out of the fire – re-run history reel .. Terrorist aided by US bites the hand that feeds … Osama ? Hekmatyar ?

Get yer placards out.

Well John Reid sent our soldiers to a certain death, under-equipped and without a clear military or political objective - and then sent more . Hekmatyar survives despite reports from CIA front blogs that he has been captured.

"There are no thermobaric weapons in service with the British Army and we have no plans to procure any"

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what thermobaric weapons the British Army uses; what assessment has been made of their capability; and if he will make a statement on the extension of the technology. [84849]

Dr. Moonie: There are no thermobaric weapons in service with the British Army and we have no plans to procure any. However, in view of the threat such weapons pose to our own forces (particularly when fighting in built-up areas or in caves), we are examining with industry the scope for technological advances in the area of enhanced blast explosives.

5 Dec 2002 : Hansard Parliamentary Questions ; Column 932W

That was then and this is now. So when the usually well informed Richard Norton-Taylor writes in the Guradian today that defence officials have said that , "British soldiers in Afghanistan are being supplied with a new "super weapon"... and that " The "enhanced blast" weapon is based on thermobaric technology used in the powerful bombs dropped by the Russians to obliterate Grozny, the Chechen capital, and in US "bunker busters", the reader might (understandably) become confused.

A confusion not made any clearer when RNT goes on to report that "Defence officials insisted yesterday that the British bombs were different. "They are optimised to create blast [rather than heat]", one said, adding that it would be misleading to call them "thermobaric".

The MOD defence News Blog says in explanation in relation to an item on Channel 4 news on Monday , "The MOD is purchasing a small number of enhanced blast munitions for use on operations. These have been procured in full accordance with the UK's obligations under international humanitarian law. It is important to us that our forces can choose from a wide suite of weaponry so they can respond appropriately and proportionately to any threat." - Channel 4 news had said , "The Ministry of Defence has told MPs it urgently wants old shoulder-launched weapons replaced with some that can carry enhanced blast devices."

Presumably these items refer to the M72A7 Light Anti-Armor Weapon’s (LAW) that comes equipped M72A9 Light Anti-Armor Weapon Anti-Structure Munition (ASM) rounds made by Talley Defense Systems, Mesa, Ariz., who have just taken an US$8Mn. order (non-competitive) for same for the US Marines.

These are described by the manufacturers as
..."The M72 LAW is a 66mm man-portable, lightweight, direct fire weapon that consists of an in-tube burning, free flight rocket prepackaged in a disposable launcher. The launcher is a lightweight, telescoping, single shot, throw away item consisting of an aluminum inner tube, an outer tube, a tube detonation device, a mechanical sight system, a firing mechanism, safety interlocks, an integral rear cover and shoulder rest and carry sling with front cover."

.. which are said to retail for some US$2,500 (£1,250) a shot. See 2 articles about the use of these in US military forces at these two posts - http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/us-military-begins-to-experience-the-law-again-01241/http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/marines-fought-the-law-and-the-law-won-0151/

Thermobaric weapons

These are explosive, bombs, grenades, missiles that rely upon natural atmospheric oxygen, and do not contain an natural oxidant in the explosive mixture.They are also called high-impulse thermobaric weapons (HITs), fuel-air explosives (FAE or FAX) or sometimes fuel-air munitions, heat and pressure. They produce more explosive energy for a given size (and therfeore weight, making them more easily portable on the batlefield) than do other conventional explosives, but are less precise in use and may have have unpredictable effects.

Initially these were two stage weapons, a volatile liquid or a finely powdered solid, which could be an explosive or metal powder would be dispwersed at a given distance / height and then a second charge would ignite it

Newer types of thermobaric weapons do not disperse the fuel before igniting it, but are single-stage bombs having one explosive charge that both ignites and disperses the fuel, which mey be in a gel not a liquid. (See Wikipedia)

The heat and pressure effects are formidable - soldiers (civilians, children, dogs) caught in the blast could have the air sucked from their bodies and even their internal organs catastrophically destroyed.

The above pic shows the missiles supplied by Talley defense Systems.Follow-Through Grenade (FTG ) Common Practice Round (CPR) an Inert training round with full caliber rocket duplicating live round weight, CG and flight characteristic s.

High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP): “Fire and forget” target-sensing fuze allows warhead to detonate at optimum moment

Novel Explosive (NE):
Dual purpose, dual safe, self discriminating warhead for urban destruction - this "Novel Explosive" is the thermobaric missile .

They may also refer to a related type of newer weapon the SMAW-D Type Classified and in production as the U.S. Army's Bunker Defeat Munition (BDM) which is a Single shot, disposable version of combat proven U.S. Marine Corps’ Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) described above.

Same massive target over-match effects against field fortifications, urban structures, and lightly armored vehicles as the SMAW High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP) rocket successfully employed by USMC during Operation JUST CAUSE, and both Army and Marine units in OPERATION DESERT STORM, OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM and OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. This is packaged in a light weight, rugged, disposable launcher, Simple to place into operation under any battlefield condition; airdrop certified and easily transported by one soldier

Each round has a unique fuze that automatically selects proper detonation mode to maximize warhead destructive effects on soft or hard targets
Soft Targets - Fuze delays warhead detonation until rocket is buried deep into target

Hard Targets - Fuze detonates immediately upon impact with target

Produces enormous target holes, propelling large fragments inside a vehicle or behind a wall - Unrivaled destruction against earth and timber bunkers - Can breach 8-inch reinforced concrete walls and 12-inch triple brick walls and Provides devastating effects against light armor - technicals.

Launcher has permanent night vision device mounting bracket permitting quick attachment of the AN/PVS-4 night sight, AN/PAQ-4 or AN/PEQ-2 laser aiming lights, or similar devices with rail grabber attachment

NAMMO acquires Talley.

Nammo AS, (The Nordic Ammunition Company) Raufoss, Norway, announced the completion of the acquisition of Talley Defense Systems Inc., Mesa, Arizona, effective March 30, 2007.

Nammo is a world leading supplier of ammunition, missile products and demilitarization services. The Nammo Group has subsidiaries in Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA. Nammo has 1200 employees and annual sales of over $300 million. Nammo's shareholders are the Norwegian State represented by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) and the Finnish Aerospace and Defence Group, Patria Oyj, with 50/50 shared ownership.

The Group continues its focus on niche products with high technological content that has an increased demand in the defence market.

Now it is entriely possible that Nimmo / Talley have already received one order' placed for 2009 delivery - and it is rumoured one for more immediate delivery.Channel 4 News has learnt the army also wants Britain's new Apache helicopters - at use for the first time in Afghanistan - to have their missiles equipped with another form of thermobaric device, called a metal augmented charge.

When Channel 4 approached the MOD June, a spokesman said they were not buying enhanced blast devices, but were interested in them. When they admitted to MPs they had already bought two batches, they then told us these were not thermobaric weapons.

That claim was withdrawn five hours later and the MOD refused to put anyone up for an interview.

British and NATO troops are fighting a modern version of old trench warfare in Afghanistan. Intense firefights with the Taliban, leaving, reports said this weekend, nearly half of some units needing medical treatment.

They need the new devices, they say, to get at militants hiding away inside bunkers.

Remember John Reid telling us in March 2006 that British troops were going in as peacekeepers and would probably "leave without a shot being fired." ?

Sounds awfully like we are about to use the most lethal weapons on the battlefield the clever chemists and weapon technologists have yet devised. At £1,1250 a throw that's good business for our friends in Oslo.

No money in sending troops - just pass the ammunition.

French Farce - President Sarkozy, a pliant French Press, tangled love lives and hiding the poignees d'amour

Arnaud Lagardere is a close friend of French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. His media empire (Lagardere Active Media LAM ) includes Paris Match - and Elle, Europe 1 TV, and the Journal du Dimanche... On August 25th 2005 Paris Match had a scoop.

The tall, elegant, somtimes wife, Cécilia Sarkozy was pictured on the cover on a New York visit with her then boyfriend, the advertising executive and Frech Moroccan Richard Attias CEO of Publicis the massive global advertising agency ......and sales soared to a record 900,000 copies - outselling the issue reporting the death of Pope John Paul II.

The cooing lovebirds had both consented to the photography and its publication. Meanwhile jilted hubby, Sarko was consoling himself with a 47 year old brunette , Anne Fulda a right wing journalist from Figaro (see pic . Who had published a biography of Jacques Chirac) - and spent a sunny Christmas with her on Mauritius. It was at this time that Tony Blair cancelled a planned Downing Street session with him and met him briefly at a hotel instead because he was meeting President Chirac and Downing Street met the demands of the Elysée Palace that M Sarkozy must not be entertained at No 10. The talks were swiftly and diplomatically moved to a Marriott Hotel..

Le Canard enchaîné -- reported that the cuckolded (and not a little upset) pint sized French Interior Minister demanded that his friend Arnaud Lagardère dismiss Paris Match's editor-in-chief since 1999, Alain Genestar. He was offered an Irishman's rise - sideways promotion, he refused and left .(Lagardère insists his exit was due to declining circulation. Ho.Ho.Ho)

"Between the Heart and Reason " ("Entre le coeur et la raison"( -- was a thinly disguised novel of the affair cobbled together by Paris journalist Valérie Domain, with the help and approval of Cecilia Sarkozy. The first print run of 25,000 copies was pulped on the orders of the apoplectic Minister of the Interior. (The same one who, a few weeks later, when asked about the row over the Prophet Mohammed cartoons, said he preferred that people's feeling were hurt to imposing censorship.) It was eventually published in February 2006 by new publishers, Fayard who cleaned up with sales of over 86,000 copies in hardback.

Now Paris Match is under fire again for having taken Photoshop to the expanding waistline of the President in a pic of him canoeing in on holiday recently in New Hampshire.

Rival newspapaer L'Express gleefully published the original retouched pic clearly showing Sarko's poignees d'amour spilling out of his swim trunks whilst canoeing, comparing it with with the doctored digital image used by Paris Match.

For decades, it has been an unspoken rule in France that the press had no business delving into the private lives of politicians - although everyone knew that President Chirac could not be contacted the night Lady Diana died because he was holed up with his mistress... or that Mitterand had a daughter, Mazarine from one of his mistresses Anne Pingeot, housed and protected and paid for by the State ... or that the elegant Giscard D'estaing had a string of enchanting paramours.

However Francois Fillon's government has good Press contacts - who will watch out for Monsieur Le President. Catherine Pégard the top political writer at the conservative weekly magazine Le Point, - who has enjoyed face to face access to Sarko for years has taken up a role as a "special adviser" at the Elysée. Fillon has also hired Myriam Lévy, a reporter for Le Figaro, as a "communications adviser". (During the Presidential campaign, Lévy steadily produced biting and bitchy coverage of Socialist presidential candidate Ségolène Royal.)

However the French Press are facing huge declines in circulation and the stories surface or nearly do... reporters at the Lagardere's Journal du Dimanche, discovered errant sometime / on-off wife , Cécilia Sarkozy, hadn't bothered to vote inn the Presidential run-off on May 6. An article was prepared backed up with a pic of the public-vote roster - it never went to print.

Cecilia's maiden name is Albeniz and she is a great grad daughter of the pianist and composer of that name. This pic shows she did not vote - the registers are publicly displayed.

Ex staff of left wing Liberation run blog Rue89.com, broke the story (Cécilia Sarkozy n'a pas voté... scoop censuré du JDD) about the article's nonpublication claiming Sarko's pal Lagardère had it spiked. Naturally Lagardère denies this , and editor, Jacques Espérandieu, told Agence France Press that the story was killed because of a faiure of Mrs. Sarkozy to speak to them.

Espérandieu did admit however that he had received calls from Sarkozy's entourage (ex-director of the presidential campaign, of Laurent Solly, ex-chef de Cabinet of the Minister of Interior Department, and of Franck Louvrier, a PR helper ) arguing that publication would violate the family's privacy.

Then .."Espérandieu résiste à ces pressions. Jusqu'au coup de téléphone d'Arnaud Lagardère, patron du groupe, qui exige que l'article soit remisé dans un tiroir.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Toll brothers, US premium Housebuilders profits sink 85%

Horsham .Pa. based Toll Brothers Inc., largest builder of luxury homes in the US ,(no sub-prime lenders buy their swish places Us$1 Mn. and upwards) said today its Q3 profit dropped 85 % as the housing downturn and credit worries triggered cancellations and hefty writedowns, on sales down 21% from US1.53 Bn. to US$1.21 Bn.

The quarterly cancellation rate, which rose to nearly 24 percent, was greater than at any point in the 21 years the company has been traded publicly.

Earnings for the Q3 ending July sank to US$26.5 Mn. or 16 cents per share, from US$174.6 million, or US$1.07 per share.

The company, which operates principally in Maryland, was forced to write down property at a cost of $88.5 million, or 54 cents per share, compared with $14.6 million, or 9 cents per share, during the year-ago quarter. Excluding writedowns, earnings were 70 cents per share.

Russian Air power on Show at Zhukovsky airfield. MAKS 2007

It was on July 7th that we noted .... Nikolai Yegorovich Zhukovsky honoured - massive Moscow airport / airbase / research centre named for him .. and looked forward to MAKS 2007 airshow.

It has and Mr Putin has not stinted on spending roubles to demonstrate the expansion in number of new aircraft and technical skills that have been developed.Or on his Ray Bans either.

The Russians build components for the A320 in Voronezh and Irkutsk. In a newly formed joint venture with Airbus, they will convert about 30 A320 passenger aircraft into cargo planes at facilities in Dresden and Siberia beginning in 2011. The Russians hold a five-percent stake in EADS's problem child, the new A350 long-haul jet.

Alexey Fyodorov, 55 responsible for that 5% holding is anxious to have more involvement and a bigger share in the Airbus parent company, EADS. "But you'd have to ask the German and French shareholders about that," he is quoted in der Siegel , shrugging his shoulders. "Sometimes they tell us one thing, sometimes another." Then he adds: "But if the Europeans want us, we will react swiftly and positively."

The Air Show is well under way and the Knights aerobatic team with their stunning Su-27 (NATO "Flanker") wows the crowd. This long-range air superiority fighter and interceptor performs the same role as the F15-Eagle. This was the direct result of the PFI (perspektivnyi frontovoy istrebitel, Advanced Frontline Fighter) program to design an aircraft to match the F15 Eagle.

The Su-27's widely spaced twin Lyulka AL-31F turbofans, help provide greater lift, and reducing wing loading. makes for an exceptionally agile aircraft, controllable even at very low speeds and high angles of attack.

The Russians love showing it off at airshows (Dubai last year) demonstrating the famed Cobra (Pugachev's Cobra is named both after the first pilot who perfected the idea and after the sinister and lethal hooded snake) see in pic topmost plane is in this "stalled" mode of dynamic deceleration (note dirty exhaust as engine strains to hold the huge plane) the - briefly sustained level flight at a 120° angle of attack which it is claimed makes pursuers overshoot and then they follow in for the kill.

Thrust vectoring has also been tested (and is incorporated on later Su-30MKI and Su-35 models), allowing the fighter to perform hard turns with almost no radius, incorporate vertical somersaults into level motion and limited nose-up hovering. (Go here for stunning Cobra video and lengthy detailed and authoritative correspondence on the Su-24 aerobatics)

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is also now in charge of Russia's military and industrial policy, (and set to follow Putin) plans to capture 10 to 12 percent of the world market for passenger aircraft by 2024. Russia's current market share is less than one percent.

The head of Russia's state arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport, Sergei Chemezov,told reporters that Russia had a "strong second place" in the military aviation market after the United States.

Rosoboronexport has already signed contracts worth US$ 2.5 Bn. this year for military aircraft will be supplying the air forces of China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Venezuela.

On the sidelines of the airshow, Chemezov signed a deal worth US$330 Mn. (Euros 244 Mn.) with Indonesia to supply six Sukhoi fighter jets in the biggest ever defence contract between the two countries.

Phelps Dodge / Freeport-McMoRan Company - why they hate the smell of formaldehyde 24/7 in Morenci, Arizona. Cost of copper and capitalism

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided trailers for Katrina refugees. It was discovered that unsafe levels of formaldehyde, a componeent of the glue used in the wood ply to make them was perfusing some of the 120,000 they had purchased.

Revelations of high formaldehyde levels caused the government to offer to buy back or replace trailers sold to evacuees at a discount under a federal program. As of May, FEMA had received 140 complaints and replaced 47 trailers. It also said it would not continue to put storm victims into the trailers.

So they sold 60 of them them to copper company, Phelps Dodge ( from March 19th 2007 a Freeport-McMoRan Company - "the world's largest publicly traded copper company" who took them over) ,to house their copper mine workers in Morenci and Safford, Arizona. Employees live rent ree and the company pay the utilities. Estimated median household income in 2005: $42,600 (it was $46,010 in 2000)/ Estimated median house/condo value in 2005: $0 (it was $0 in 2000)

For US8$ you can have a company guided tour round the open pit mines - the largest in the world - "The orientation also will cover safety while on the tour. " - so no chance of seeing the trailer park then - not even for kids, " Because of safety regulations, children younger than 9 are not permitted on a tour."

Employees living in the ex FEMA trailers complained of the smell, irritation causing watery eyes, sore throats, nausea and breathing difficultis in both adults and children.

Formaldehyde testing was conducted in 9 trailers by Associated Consulting Technologies Inc. of Tucson for the company . In a letter to Phelps Dodge, industrial hygienist William Martin wrote, "Mitigation of the formaldehyde exposures is recommended," placing the last word in italics for emphasis.

Random tests conducted on July 30 had found levels ranging from 0.08 to 0.68 part per million, about half of the level found in FEMA trailers. That is below 0.75 ppm, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's permissible level for workplaces. OSHA's regulation is designed to protect adult employees working eight-hour shifts. Travel trailers, described as "temporary housing," have been home to some miners and their families for six months.

The level was 3 times what the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allows for components in manufactured homes. HUD has no rule for trailers.

Paul Boman, Phelps Dodge health and safety manager, as a result sent a letter to the trailer families on August 16th describing the test results and suggesting they could reduce concentrations of the chemical by keeping windows open and running fans or air-conditioners 24 hours a day. (the company pays utilities)

Finally he ended the letter ;

"If you are uncomfortable with this situation, please remember that you may, if you wish, find other living arrangements,"

The reason they are living in the trailers is that there is no other housing available in the area.

Here is the copper price over the last 5 years which explains why Phelps Dodge are digging it out as fast as they can. ..and here is the Freeport-McMoRan Company (FCX) share price over that period.

.. and this is what Zero and beyond - the safety policy which Paul Boman, Phelps Dodge health and safety manager is paid to implement..

...and that's zero fucking true.

More at azcentral.com by Dennis Wagner

NB: FCX closed Aug 22nd US$ 85.59 up US$ 4.30 (5.29%) see this investor discussion forum

"The long term impact of the Internet" - how Lady Dame Jane Pauline Neville Jones' Fan club got to think about it

The Ditchley Foundation is one of those curious, reserved bodies that have much influence but who remain little known and their purpose even less understood - although they have a very elegant, clear, well illustrated and informative website.

Founded and funded by the donations of Sir David Wills and based at Ditchley Park in north Oxfordshire which he acquired in 1953. It , "organises private and highly focussed conferences of senior international experts to address issues of transatlantic and indeed global interest."
For readers here , one of the most interesting this year was held the weekend of June 1st - 3rd on the subject of , "The long-term impact of the internet" which was chaired by Mr Tim Gardam.

"Ditchley’s style and programme provide an opportunity for brainstorming unique in international affairs. Small invited groups of about 40 distinguished men and women are brought together from senior levels in the worlds of politics, business and industry, academic life, the civil service, the armed forces and the media. Conference subjects are carefully chosen in response to new international challenges arising from issues of concern to democratic societies. Conferences stress open, informal discussions that reflect personal thinking and take place under strict rules of confidentiality." says the website.

It would be fascinating to know who attended and what was said at that particular secluded chat. Mr Tim Gardam is of course Principal of St. Annes College, Oxford. A product of Westminster School, Gonville and Caius (Double first) BBC, inventor of Newsnight and Timewatch, and also once a Director Channel 4 who undertook for Tessa Jowell a study of digital TV in Britain.

The Foundation has a list of Governors constituting both the great and the good and many members of the Lady Dame Jane Pauline Neville-Jones Fan club - indeed, surprise, surprise she is one of the Governors. As is Sir Rodric Braithwaite , GCMG once our Ambasador in Moscow whose dulcet tones we so frequently hear on the BBC along with Ms. doe eyed ex Home Office, Director of Liberty Sami Chakrabarti, Oxford know all quasi historian Tim Garton Ash, Peter Hennessy, Peter Mandelson, the mysterious Dr Matt Ridley, Sir Crispin Tickell, Baroness Warnock, and that ever present psephologist Sir Bob Worcester.

..and it seemed like only yesterday that Clarence Mitchell of The Media Monitoring Unit (MMU), part of the Cabinet Office's Central Office of Information (COI), is considering how to add blogs and forum entries into its regular summaries of public policy coverage that are distributed to government ministers.

Hang on it was yesterday ...Government blog "monitoring" - first step to regulation, censorship ...

Now there is a coincidence.

You may be wondering what the picture of Clementine Churchill is doing here - well Winston Churchill when wartime PM used Dytchley as an alternative to Chequers in the war and the Dytchley website has some fascinating pictures of the GOM. This is the caption to the one above...

Clementine Churchill and Viscountess Cranborne in the Library. Viscount Cranborne was the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs 1940-42, and both he and his father, the Marquis of Salisbury, were allies of Churchill and staunch defenders of white-dominated administrations within the Empire.

Severn Power - Burning more gas we haven't got for electricity we probably won't be able to afford

Carron Energy is a private energy company founded in 2003 by Alex Lambie and Shezad Abedi . It was initially backed by Rutland Fund Partners the UK private equity firm that specialises in turnaround and recovery acquisitions .

How Rutland acquired the Uskmouth power plant for £33 Mn, from the Receivers of AES in 2004 and sold it on to Carron for £125 Mn in 2006 for £125 million and made over four times its investment in 20 months, generating an internal rate of return of 150 percent is a fascinating tale told here.

A Five year secured finance facility of £125m was arranged by Deutsche Bank with Strategic Value Partners and Trafalgar Asset Managers .

The three-year darkspread hedge (balancing the value of power against the cost of coal), agreed with Morgan Stanley will also deliver predictable income, further supporting the value of the funding raised.

The arcane and huge world world of energy wholesaling and trading is inherently risky, fundamentally affected by weather patterns, but also the volatility of those regions which supply oil, gas and to alesser extent coal. One US group, Amaranth Advisors, lost $6bn (£3.19bn) off the back of falling prices of natural gas when they bet the farm (firm) on a rise on natural gas prices and were wiped out - well their investors were.

If energy prices fall (see previous post) as a knock on from the US/EU Credit Crunch as demand is hit, many of these cute energy hedging schemes / carbon trading deals could turn VERY sour, may not seem such a good bet... but what do we know ?

Read about the exotic and risky world here of ,"Dispatchable independent power producer supply contract:", "Variable-quantity options "Fixed price per MWh multiplied by variable amount" - a game which it appears most players, use other people's money, butthose with very strong nerves use their own.

This fascinating article which interestingly enough quotes MrAbedi in a former role as, chief executive of Bright-Spark Energy Risk Consultancy in London, who , " sees the (energy) industry structure changing so quickly in the underlying markets that counterparties need margin to cover non-quantifiable or non-hedgeable risk. £

It also quotes Carlos Blanco, vice-president at FEA, a software firm in California who says, "Exotic options, when properly structured, hedged and understood, provide power market participants with a potent tool, giving them the flexibility to manage and transfer inherent business risks to other parties with natural offsets or different degrees of risk tolerance.”

Which sounds an awful lot like snake oil to some people around here.

It also quotes E-lecTrades Anil Suri, “Over the next few years, innovative deal structures will surface to rationally price and allocate the unique risk of power supply. That just means there are even more exotics to come.”

You bet, and we smell singed wallets in the air. ... a step along the road to selling mortgages on double-wides to Viet vets with a habit.

Having purchased Uskmouth A and B coal-fired power station, on the banks of the River Usk near Newport they set about the plan that AES had to install a gas powered station on the site.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform,(DBBA) formerly the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) (presumably because we have no more Trade and there is very little Industry left to damage or destroy, has given the go-ahead for Severn Power, - a wholly ownwed Carron Energy company to build a new £400 million, 800MW CCGT (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine) power station on the site of Uskmouth A power station - Uskmouth B a 360MW coal fired unit will continue to operate alongside to the proposed CCGT power station.

Site works have already commenced, to prepare the site for building and to create environmental landscaping features that are an integral part of the development. Severn Power is due to start commercial operation in 2010 following a 30 month construction (Siemens are the preferred bidder) period and four months of commissioning.

A gas supply for the new plant will be delivered by extending the local gas distribution network, which is owned by Wales and West Utilities. The pipeline will be connected using the latest below ground horizontal drilling techniques which will mean minimal disruption to the land above it the pipeline route. (it says in the Press release - but one has recall of a horizontal drilling in Iraq to tunnel under the Euphrates which went horribly wrong.)

It was only 15 months ago that Severn Power submitted proposals under the terms of Sections 14 and 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 (as amended) to the Department of Trade and Industry, which then conduct a consultation, including the local authority and other interested bodies. Section 36 covers the application for a permit to build a power station, and Section 14 the burning of gas.

So UK plc closes coal fired power - and build even more gas burning units and place even more national reliance on a product to heat and light our homes and power industry on what is increasing in price, and whose sources of supply we have negligible control.

.. and it's in the hands of folks who engage in darkspread hedging who trebled their money juggling assets from the receivers.

We hope it all works out nicely for them.

Big Pharma - Medicalisation being brought to a problem you might have

Big Pharma is getting worried, there are no Block Buster drugs coming down the pipeline. So they are desperately looking to find new reasons for doctors to prescribe drugs that have been cleared for human consumption. This branch of medecine (or marketing) is called medicalisation - in which health or behavior problems are defined and treated as medical conditions and thus require - and (it is often claimed) respond to chemical intervention - the research costs are low as well ..

The attraction of this expansion of the role of the doctor / confidant of the patient is that (especially in the USA) , consumer-directed advertisements instruct, suggest, advise patients to ask for a named drug. This creates both consumer confidence in the product and eases the function of the doctor in satisfying the patient / customer's perceived problems.

Increasingly the patients role has changed - once passive recipients of prodding, poking and eventually pills, patients can now occupy active positions as advocates, consumers, or even agents of change.

Increasingly the marketing departments of drug companies identify their target as the consumer not the clinician.

Cymbalta (duloxetine) is an Eli Lilly drug (annual sales US$1.3Bn.) which is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), it currently approved in the US for adults with major depressive disorder, and diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain, and was approved in February 2007 for use in generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) a condition which the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says,"affects more than 6.5 million American adults in a given year." The NIMH represents people who make their living out of dealing with (we'll hesistate to say cure) people who they determine have mental health problems - so they are not in the game to reduce the enormity or complexity of the problem.

It is believed (but not known or provable so far) that Cymbalta, as an SRNI acts on depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as its effect on pain perception by increasing the activity of serotonin and norepinephrine in the central nervous system.

Lilly have filed for FDA approval for the use of Cymbalta in the management of fibromyalgia and presented study data presented at the Congress of the International MYOPAIN Society (IMS) in Washington.D.C. on Tuesday which spent the whole day on considering the "Fibromyalgia Syndrome" - luckily a lunchtime Symposium was supported by an Educational Grant from Eli Lilly & Co.

As a result of a study for six month on 874 patients with fibromyalgia with or without depression who took Cymbalta experienced a greater reduction in pain, compared with patients who received placebo.

At 3 months, patients who received the drug had a significantly greater reduction in pain, compared to patients in the control group. The study was one of f5 submitted by Lilly as part of the expanded fibromyalgia application.

"Cymbalta seems to be a gatekeeper for how much pain message gets to the brain," explained Madelaine Wohlreich, a psychiatrist and medical adviser in neuroscience at Eli Lilly. "Nobody absolutely knows the mechanism of action, but the belief is that the two brain chemicals involved in depression are also involved in tamping down the signals of pain." Lilly is currently investigating Cymbalta as a treatment for lower back pain and arthritis.

Madelaine Wohlreich will also be presenting at the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine 54th Annual Meeting, November 14-18 Amelia Island, Florida .

The Safety and Efficacy of Duloxetine Hydrochloride for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia: Results from a Six-Month Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Fixed-Dosed Trial

Principal Author: Madelaine Wohlreich, MD Co-Authors: I. Jon Russell, MD, Phillip Mease, MD, Timohy Smith, MD, Daniel Kajdasz, PhD, Daniel Walker, PhD, Amy Chappell, MD

Fibromyalgia is one of those rather indeterminate conditions of the human flesh - hence the description "Fybromyalgia Syndrome" this is how the world famous Mayo Clinic introduces it ..

You hurt all over, and you frequently feel exhausted. Even after numerous tests, your doctor can't find anything specifically wrong with you. If this sounds familiar, you may have fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points — places on your body where slight pressure causes pain. Fibromyalgia is more common in women than in men. Previously, fibromyalgia was known by other names such as fibrositis, chronic muscle pain syndrome, psychogenic rheumatism and tension myalgias.

or ....

Life's just much too hard today
I hear ev'ry mother say
The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore
And if you take more of those
you will get an overdose
No more running for the shelter
of a mother's little helper

(c) Jagger / Richards december 1965

Typhoons scramble in Cold War Mk II stand off with Russian Bears

The Daily Mail today adds further details about the launching of Typhoons on Friday from Coningsby, Lincs. on their first action sortie of the new Cold War.(MOD)

Two Russian Bear bombers were detected approaching British airspace on Friday across the North Atlantic, at high altitude. Unlike commercial airliners, they filed no flight plan in advance (BBC repeat this) - although Russian sources deny this.

Ground Controllers sent 2 armed Tornado GR3A fighters took off from RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire. The Russians Bear would not be moved and as the initial planes were running low on fuel, were replaced by a second pair.

Then it was decided to scramble 2 Eurofighter Typhoons, from XI Squadron at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, were sent up. Eventually,the Russian aircrew turned for home - without ever breaching UK air space.

It is interesting to note that the Typhoon pictured inthe RAF picture has the supersonic graded long distance fuel tanks - these seriously impair acrobatic manouevreing and speed. Have we no in-flight re-fuelling facilities ? The first Tornado's sent aloft were, "running low on fuel" as well.

The MOD announcement says, "Over the next nine months, the Typhoons will progressively replace Tornado F3s, the aircraft which have performed this duty for many years. "

Sat waiting in Hardened Aircraft Shelters the planes will take 4 minutes from shout to lift off - On July 11th Officer Commanding 3 Squadron, Wing Commander Lol Bennett said:

"The requirement for Typhoon was set in 1985 and today is a proud day because Typhoon is now ready to deliver. She is now operational in Southern England and is protecting the UK against potential agressors."

Chief of the Air Staff Sir Glenn Torpy said,"This is a significant day for Typhoon - the performance of the aircraft is stunning. Since 9/11 we have doubled the number of aircraft on Quick Reaction Alert to take into account possible attacks in UK air space that might be directed at centres of population and key installations. "

22 years ......and £ ? Mn's later .. and ready for Cold War Mark II.

Clusterfuck Nation - Hunter S. Thompson lives .... Fear and Loathing on Wall Street

The Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle by Jim Kunstler

August 20, 2007

"Hot Shots". The Federal Reserve seems to be manufacturing an impressive supply of "greater fools" to go along with the dribs'n'drabs of credit that it is dropping into the sucking chest wound that the economy has become for the body politic. The Fed's idea, I suppose, is that if they lend a little money to the geniuses who engineered the latest (and probably last) bubble of the cheap oil age to cover their present losses, then the US economy will "right itself." What I think they don't get is that finance has virtually become the US economy -- if you subtract it, there is nothing left besides hair-styling, fried chicken, and colonoscopies. By "righting the economy" do people mean the ability to keep running a transparently fraudulent set of rackets that have nothing whatever to do with financing real productive activity?

By "greater fools" I mean, of course, buyers willing to step up and purchase securities that other people are shedding as if they were smallpox blankets. But even the Fed's supply of greater fools may prove insufficient when it becomes evident how much bad paper really is out there, and how it has been allowed to contaminate every tradable niche in the banking and investment house of horrors. I don't think we've begun to hear the disclosures.

........Personally, I don't quite get how a financial industry based on bad loans would be helped by borrowing more money to bail out a hopelessly unwinding Ponzi loan racket of the type the industry had engineered for itself -- but maybe I'm lacking the gene for financial creativity that the Bear Stearns bonus babies were all born with."

If you seek an original view on the markets, a good read and something to stiffen the sinews as you clutch at your Starbucks squillion calorie nerve steadier ... read Jim if nothing else.

BTW the grand old Bank of England let it be known that on Monday a bank (one of 57 that have the facility) borrowed £314 Mn. at 6.75% which is said to be a "penal" rate but is actually only 15 points above London Interbank Rate at the time.

This is what bankers call "throwing good money after bad", when they give speeches to conferences of bankers.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Peak Oil/Credit Crunch/Housing Bubble Burst/Dollar Dives/ Fed panics - a simple explanation - with graphs and charts

There is a fascinating (and excellent article) posted on the Oil Drum on August 20th by Stuart Sandiford. US Peak Oil Adaptation: Prognosis in a Credit Crunch.

A unique and thoughtful analysis in which he combines current global and especially North American oil production and consumption and examines the possibility that the emerging current financial/credit crisis could cause a near-term collapse in demand for energy, energy prices, and investment in energy infrastructure.

Chart prepared by Stuart Sandiford showing Average daily production of crude oil from 2 industry sources of data - Oil and Gas Journal (red), and crude plus condensate from te US Energy Information Administration (EIA) (teal) - which produces the official Official Energy Statistics from the US Government. These are presented with with 13 month centered moving averages of each line, recursed once. Graph is not zero scaled to better show changes, click to enlarge. Source: Oil and Gas Journal, and EIA International Petroleum Monthly Table 1.1d. (Now do you think Peak Oil is a load of bollocks?)

For the US he shows that Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) has consistently grown each year until late 2005, when VMT flattened out and began to decline slightly which is broadly coincident with the plateauing of global oil supply. .... He suggested in 2005 that this drop in VMT growth would presage a drop in economic growth, and refined this at the start of 2006 to a prediction that the US economy would enter recession in 2007 (a prediction which was also based upon the widely forecast bursting of the housing market bubble - which he shared). He writes ..."I may have gotten the timing at bit wrong, but basically that still looks close, and we may get there by the end of 2007."

This is a highly original and stimulating paper which requires careful study and consideration .. go there NOW.

Meanwhile ...

US light, sweet crude settled $1.65 lower at $69.47 while Brent fell $1.16 to $68.69. The DOW ended down 30 at 13090. Realty Trac report a 93% jump in filings for repossessions on the same month a year ago in the US , and a 9% rise on June's figure.

Eurofighter Typhoon, 20 years in the making, finally seen in action

Last week 2 Eurofighter Typhoons F2's operated by Number 3 (Fighter) Squadron were scrambled for the first time from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire where they had assumed responsibility for the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) element of UK air defence in the southern part of the country on June 29th. They were sent to meet a single Bear-H aircraft after the early warning radar system detected it heading towards UK territory, according to the Ministry of Defence.(Pic obligingly provided by MOD - 2 Typhoons sent up so one could take a snap or two of this historic moment)

This encounter is thought to have ocurred before President Putin announced that 14 long-range patrols by its bomber planes would re-commence after having been stood down to save costs in 1992. His veiled threat was part of political theatre but emphasises how the Russian State is ratcheting up the pressure - especially in a way that the publics of the west can understand.

This is the first time that the Eurofighter Typhoon - a supposedly multi-role (but really only dual role) aircraft has been seen in an air-to-air role - it can now take off, fire missiles and land again. These are the result of what is known as the Retrofit 2 upgrade programme to what is known as Block 5 standard. Previously it could only operate in an air-to-ground role - ie. it could drop bombs. All Typhoons will eventually be dual multi-role capable. It has no weaponry for self defence and has a fly by wire system that even after 20 years development is plagued with problems. (Pic Jan 20th 2006 £50Mn. plane goes up in smoke on landing)

The Block 5 Typhoons are cleared for the 9g envelope as intended, with additional features such as sensor fusion; full direct voice input; enhanced global positioning system; defensive aids sub-system countermeasures including automatic chaff and flare dispensers; radar air-to-surface modes including ground mapping; and initial Forward Looking Infra-Red.

The Block 5 Typhoon will be equipped with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, plus laser-guided bombs. External fuel tanks are certified for supersonic flight, while air-to-air refuelling is cleared for all customer-specified tanker types.

These do not of course have the Head Tracker Systems which BAE Systems placed a US$3.4 million (approximatelyR24 million) order for with SA based with Denel Optronics (now part of Zeiss) to complete the industrialisation of the optical head tracker system. Denel claim evaluations (unstated authors) have shown the system to be superior to any similar available in the world.

These HST's are designed to designate and exploit the pilot’s LOS (Line Of Sight) for the purpose of slaving the aircraft sensors and systems and thus enabling the pilot to achieve lock-on of sensors, avionics systems and missiles, simply by looking at the target - the Yanqis use an Israeli system from Vision Systems International (VSI) which does the same thing but is called (confusingly) a Head Mounted Display (HMD) which is now installed in F-16's. See here and here for previous posts on these systems.

RAF Coningsby is now the " home" of the Typhoon of which the RAF now has had 43 delivered to Coningsby by June this , and there are now 2 operational squadrons - No 3(F) and XI Squadrons.

The base also houses the Operational Conversion Unit (No 29 Squadron) and the Operational Evaluation Unit (No 17 Squadron). Now that 3(F) Squadron is operational, the fourth Squadron, Number XI, under Wingco Gavin Parker is in the process of building up to full strength.

This is the lead unit for Typhoon's ground attack function, and is expected to be fully operational in both the air-to-air and air-to-ground roles during the course of 2008. All Typhoons will eventually be multi-role capable. Forty three Typhoons were delivered to RAF Coningsby at the end of June this year.

Stickler - can the MSHA produce an honest, report about the Crandall Canyon mine disaster with him in charge?

Richard Stickler is the man who will oversee the federal government's investigation into the disaster that has trapped six workers (3 Mexicans) in the Crandall Canyon coal mine in Utah for 15 days and in which 3 would be rescuers have died. He was appointed less than a year ago...This is what Lord Patel said at the time... Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2006 Bush the Infallible, the Immaculate... does he have divine guidance ?

" ....KING George has now appointed Richard Stickler to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in deliberate defiance of the Senate, which he is allowed to do without Senate approval , when Congress is out of session.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was forced to cancel a vote on Stickler's confirmation last June due the lack of Senate support for Stickler's nomination. Then in August, in an unprecedented action, the Senate returned Stickler's nomination to the White House before it went on break. Refusing to take the hint, the President renominated Stickler at the beginning of September. The Senate unamused and unmoved by this direct confrontation on their authroity again returned the nomination to the White House.

Senators Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd have led the opposition to Stickler, citing his industry background and the lack of commitment to MSHA reform that he displayed at his confirmation hearing. The AFL-CIO, United Mine Workers of America, United Steelworkers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the International Brothers of Boilermakers have all called on Bush to withdraw the nomination.

Kennedy called for a new nominee:

“We are in the midst of a mine safety crisis — 58 miners have already died this year, more than any year since 2002. (See actual figs from Dep of Labour)

Thirty-eight coal miners and 20 metal/non-metal miners have died in the workplace this year which began with the tragic January 2 Sago Mine disaster in which 12 coal miners died."

On his website Senator Kennedy said of Stickler

"Mr. Stickler has spent the overwhelming part of his career as a coal ndustry executive, focused on profits and production, not on worker safety. In fact, mines where he was in charge had injury rates far above the national average.... During his tenure as head of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Deep Mine Safety, he was well known for granting exceptions from safety rules for mining companies. He even bent critical rules designed to prevent mine fires on conveyor belts and to guarantee that miners could reach safe places to protect
themselves from runaway railcars......

...... read on at the website how mining company interests were protected
and promoted

Bush as ever , was not listening. His nominee, with an appalling record of overseeing mines with incredibly poor safety records stood for nothing.. nobody was going to tell George Bush what to do. Fuck the Senate - they only represent the people. It was a dialogue of the deaf on his side.

Read more here by Max Follmer at Huffington Post August 15th " Mine Safety Czar Richard Stickler: Another Bush Fox Guarding the Henhouse "

Liberal Avenger also reminds us that it is a company Murray Energy Corp,(36 mines onlyone unionised - with UMW) run by Robert Murray that operates the mine that collapsed in Utah (he purchased it in August).The safety record of his mines is abysmal, by spreading money around Washington, he was able to continue operating mines that repeatedly violated safety regulations

Murray is a man with a lot of political influence and as Tim Thompson has found out, now an ex district manager for the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, a lot of clout which he has been happy to use to obtain his removal from the MSHA.

Facing Thompson at a meeting in Morgantown.Va. Murray said...“Mitch McConnell calls me one of the five finest men in America, and last time I checked he was sleeping with your boss,” ... referring to the senior GOP senator from Kentucky. The quote was repeated in an Oct. 2006 Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader article on McConnell’s political influence.

McConnell - the Republican leader in the Senate - is married to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, who oversees MSHA, has an MBA from Harvard, the first Kentuckian in the President's Cabinet since 1945, and the first Asian nominated by George Bush and has more honorary degrees than you can shake a stick at.

The Obfuscation Report posts .... "Murray's mines produce more than 20 million tons of coal annually ( UK will produce approx 40 Mn. tonnes this year) , according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. His companies include Ohio Valley Coal Co., Maple Creek Mining, Inc., KenAmerican Resources, Inc., American Coal Co. and PennAmerican Coal.

Robert Gehrke of the Salt Lake Tribune reported this week that Murray's Galatia mine in southern Illinois has racked up 2,787 violations over the past two years. MSHA has proposed more than $2.4 million in fines at Galatia, according to Gehrke's reporting. (Murray routinely challenges government fines and many are now on appeal. He has paid $588,000 and is delinquent to date on $116,000. Of those, 660 violations were considered significant and substantial, meaning the hazard could "result in an injury or illness of a reasonably serious nature." MSHA issued 94 orders requiring safety issues to be fixed immediately.

Another Murray-owned company - Ken American Resources - and four of its top employees were convicted in a federal court in Kentucky of conspiring to violate federal mine safety rules. 4 mine officials were convicted of 10 counts of illegally using improper ventilation, using two continuous mining machines and lying to federal investigators about the practice. KenAmerican was ordered to pay a $306,000 fine.

A judge later threw out part of the verdict, but the company was ordered to pay $306,000 in fines, an amount federal prosecutors considered too lenient. "

See also his early history from the UMWA files. Promises Made, Promises Broken - Exposing the Real Robert Murray

Alicia Colon in the New York Sun April 3rd 2007 in an article "A CEO with Spine"
quotes his testimony on March 20 before the House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee, titled "Toward a Clean Energy Future: Energy Policy and Climate Change on Public Lands."

" America is dependent on our coal because it is abundant, with some of our best deposits located on public lands; it is affordable; and it is critical to our energy security to protect all Americans from the hostile and unstable governments from which much of our country's energy is currently imported."

He may have a bad record on mine safety, but he knows where that thar coal is.... anyone taking bets that he doesn't get his hands on it, the same way as as the loggers in Oregon ?

Government mine inspectors have issued 325 citations against the Utah mine since January 2004, according to Federal MSHA online records. Of those, 116 were what the government considered "significant and substantial," meaning they are likely to cause injury.

Murray testified in June this year in a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Challenged on his safety record by the feisty Californian heavy user of the lip gloss industry, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. he retorted "My employees are important to me and I take their safety to bed every night," Murray said. He wagged his finger at his carefully coiffured tormentor , "My safety record today is one of the best in the coal industry."

Hands up thos who think Stickler is going to say any different.

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