Swiss investigation against Bhutto for alleged money laundering closed, lawyer says
AP in IHT December 28, 2007
GENEVA: A Swiss investigation against the late Benazir Bhutto for alleged money laundering was declared closed, her lawyer said Friday.
A parallel investigation against her husband continues, however, said Alec Reymond, Bhutto's lawyer in Geneva., there is allegedly a third un-named suspect.
A Geneva magistrate convicted Bhutto and her husband in absentia of money laundering in July 2003 under a Swiss law that empowers high-level investigators to impose penalties without a court hearing.
They received six-month suspended sentences and were ordered to pay US$11 million (€9.1 million) to the Pakistani government, but the conviction was automatically thrown out when the pair contested it. They were then charged by another Swiss magistrate, Vincent Fournier, in July 2004 and the case was reopened.
Swiss authorities said in 1998 they found about 20 million Swiss francs (then US$13.8 million) in Swiss accounts belonging to Bhutto and her family. The accounts were frozen at the request of Pakistan.
Bhutto said she has no connection with the accounts.
"Miss Bhutto has always said that this was not her money. The accounts were not in her name," Reymond told The Associated Press.
Swiss and Pakistani investigators allege much of the money came from Societe Generale de Surveillance, or SGS, one of the world's largest customs inspection companies, in exchange for business with the Pakistani government when Bhutto was in power. SGS has consistently denied the claims.
The case against former prime minister and Chairperson of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Benazir Bhutto and her spouse Asif Ali Zardari in the Swiss court was set for September 28th 2007 has been adjourned for the time being on the request of the government of Pakistan.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Swiss investigation against Bhutto for alleged money laundering closed, lawyer says
Friday, December 28, 2007
Christmas Terror attack strikes at home of Ex Sea Lord - Swiss connection being investigated - Amazing Pictures
Guests and family were enjoying a traditional Christmas fondue party at the elegant Shedfield, Hampshire, home of 74 year old Sir Julian Oswald, a former First Sea Lord yesterday. (when he had more ADmirals than ships)
As the guests compared notes on their christmas presents and the beautiful lights outside the village church. The Gas CANISTER USED FOR HEATING THE BOILING VAT OF EXOTIC SWISSS CHEESE VIOLENTLY EXPLODED.
With remarkable luck no guests were killed in this horrific terror attack althugh several required treatment for life threatening burns which can disfigure and the leave the victima life os solitary misery.
An ashen faced but distinguisged surgeon, Sir Feinne Stilton world expert in Emmenthal cheese burns said that there was no cause for concern and he would be flying back from Barbados as soon as possble.One of the few remaining 40 year old RAF VC 10's is standing by for an emergency mercy dash.
Peter Clarke the Sphincter of the Yard arrived on the scene rapidly with his trademark lunch pail and was able to retrieve some of the remains of the delicious (but cooling) cheese sauce. He is reported to have said that it really required a little more Paprija (believed to be a new secret bomb ingredient about which military soucrces are remaining tight lipped).
The Gas cylinder (purchased it appears from Asif Patel's corner stores in nearby Meopham has been rushed to FBI lab's in Virginia for "expert " examination.
Neither No 10 nor the Foreign Office have made a statement. President Bush has been informed.
Source (National Enqirerer)
TRAVEL - Tourists from Switzerland frisked for fondue fork
FOOD - Danger on the Dinnertable - Fondness for Fondue - piling on the pounds
HEALTH - Paprika the wonder ingredient
SCIENCE - Paprike - os this the terrorist's new weapon ?
TERROR ALERT - Dining Out - Hidden Dangers
Nextr week Gluhwein - the sinister new drug killing our kids ?
Amazon.com Inc has signed up Warner Music Group Corp onto its music download service. The latest major record label to join the competitor to Apple's iTunes store.
Available from Thursday on the Amazon MP3 service, users purchase the tunes and download them to Apple's popular iPod or many other digital music players thst plsyd MP3 format digital files.
Both companies said they will also offer exclusive tracks and special album bundles from Warner, the world's No. 3 music company.
See previous post Monday, December 03, 2007
MP3 Music Downloads - the new black in the 2008 record biz
Billboard say that Pepsi and Amazon have been planning for 12 months for a massive joint download promotion which is expected to be announced on February 3 during the Super Bowl, in Arizona.Expect an announcement from Sony BMG Music Entertainment real soon now. (owned 50$ each by Bertelsmann and Sony Corp.America)pic Sony Star Jennifer Lopez
Amazon are nearly back to the all time highs of just over US$100 in 199 when they had 2 share splits.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Another Dead Bhutto, General Gul, Hekmatyr, ...the ISI and the CIA - tangling the web and practising deceit.
It is early days to ascribe responsibility forBenazir Bhutto's assassination ...but .... the first guy that Pervez put behind bars when he declared what was effectively martial law was ...
Former ISI chief Hamid Gul arrested
Updated at Sunday, November 04, 2007 1305 PST
ISLAMABAD: The police on Sunday arrested Hamid Gul,(Urdū: لیفٹننٹ جنرل حمید گل) an outspoken former chief of Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's premier spy agency, during a small public gathering.
I am going to break a news that Former ISI chief Lt General (Retd) Hamid Gul has been arrested,� said, the senior analyst of Geo Television Network Dr. Shahid Masood.
"It is not an emergency, it's martial law. One man has put the country at stake to save his rule," Gul said before he was pushed into a police van and whisked off.
Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, PML-Q politician and chief minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, and Ijaz Shah, the director general of the Intelligence Bureau, another of the country’s intelligence agencies.
... are names to watch ..General Gul a favorite of CIA Station Chief Milt Bearden and US ambassador to Pakistan Arnie Raphel, (who died in the crash that killed President Zia ul Haq) who view him as an ally and a potential national leader of Pakistan.
Milt Bearden is now retired (?) from the CIA and is a frequent contributor to the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and has contributed to Foreign Affairs and to the book on September 11, 2001, How Did This Happen?, published by Public Affairs. He is a consultant for CBS News.
The BBC reported in January this year that a captured Taliban spokesman, Muhammad Hanif, said their leader Mullah Omar is living in the border town of Quetta in Pakistan under the protection of its ISI intelligence agency. He also claimed former ISI head Hamid Gul is supporting the Taleban against Afghan and foreign troops.
The ISI was instrumental claimed the BBC in backing the Taleban after civil war swept Afghanistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989.
Wit and Wisdom of General Gul
"We are not afraid of the Americans; they can't fight on the ground. We are only concerned about their high-altitude bombers."
"I turned against America because they betrayed the Afghan nation." (rediff.com Feb 2004)
"Mossad and its accomplices [are the 9/11 culprits]. The U.S. spends $40 billion a year on its 11 intelligence agencies. That's $400 billion in 10 years. Yet the Bush Administration says it was taken by surprise. I don't believe it. Within 10 minutes of the second twin tower being hit in the World Trade Center CNN said Osama bin Laden had done it. That was a planned piece of disinformation by the real perpetrators." (UPI United Press International, Sep. 26, 2001).
"The Muslim world must stand united to confront the U.S. in its so-called war against terror which is in reality a war against Muslims. Let’s destroy America wherever its troops are trapped." PBS
My Enemy;s enemy is my enemy ?
US Is Said to Be Relying on ISI for Intelligence in Afghan War The US, lacking local agents and intelligence in Afghanistan, is said to be heavily reliant on the ISI for information about the Taliban. The US is said to be confident in the ISI, even though the ISI was the main supporter of the Taliban up until 9/11. Knight Ridder Newspapers comments, “Anti-Taliban Afghans, foreign diplomats, and Pakistani government security officials say that pro-Taliban officers remain deeply embedded within ISI and might still be helping America’s enemies inside Afghanistan.” A leader of the resistance to the Taliban says, “There are lots of (ISI) officers who are fully committed to the way of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.” Former ISI Director Hamid Gul says, “It is a foolish commander who depends on someone else’s intelligence, especially when that someone doesn’t like him and was once friendly with the enemy.” [Knight Ridder, 11/3/2001] Later in the month another article notes that the CIA continues to rely on the ISI for covert actions against the Taliban. One CIA agent says, “The same Pakistani case officers who built up the Taliban are doing the translating for the CIA. Our biggest mistake is allowing the ISI to be our eyes and ears.”
Nov 15 2007 : Dawn newspaper reported ... Former ISI Chief Gen (retired) Hameed Gul, his son and two other detained people were released after government withdrew detention orders here on Thursday.
Earlier, there was a report that Saudi government has intervened to secure the release of former ISI chief. The report was not denied by the Pakistani government.
On Wednesday, Gen Hameed Gul and his son were shifted to their Chaklala residence, which had been declared as sub-jail. However, the personnel of law enforcement agencies were removed from his house on Thursday after the withdrawal of the detention order.
A senior officer of Islamabad administration confirmed to Dawn that the city management had withdrawn the detention orders of Gen (retired) Gul, his son Abdullah Gul, a political activist and a lawyer of Islamabad Bar Association.
Wilfred Sheed was born this day, 70 years ago in London. A survivor of polio which hit him at the age of 14 , a reformed alcoholic and pill addict, and victim of cancer.
A little regarded known but gifted writer who recently chronicled the American songwriters of the Golden Age in "THE HOUSE THAT GEORGE BUILT - With a Little Help From Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty." Random House. $29.95. Published: July 22, 2007 and reviewed by Garrison Keillor, NYT
His first book "A Middle Class Education " (1961) was about his time as a student at Oxford and amongst many others, My Life As a Fan (1993), about his love of baseball especially the Mets.
Also responsible for the penetrating observation "The American male doesn't mature until he has exhausted all other possibilities."And this, his opening line from a review of A. Alvarez’s The Savage God: “Books about suicide make lousy gifts.” On Organized crime: “As with God in the last Middle Ages, all that there is to know about the Mafia seems to be known by now, except whether it actually exists.” (Essays in Disguise)
Books available at Amazon here New York Review of Books Bibliography here many more quotes here
PS Barbara Olson was born 52 years ago, she was a passenger on Flight 77 on 9/11.
Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi - 5th Prisoner at Gitmo to be charged gets details given to him of his offences
The Office of Military Commissions announced today that charges have been sworn against Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi of Saudi Arabia (AKA Ahmed Mohammed AL DAf~BI; Ahmed Mohd Ahmed AL DARBI; Ahmad Muhammad Haza AL DARBI; Abed AL AZIZ; Abdel Aziz AL MAKKil; Abdel Rahim Abu Hudaifa AL MAKKI; Abdel Rahim AL JANOUBI; Abed Rahim AL JANOUBI; Mohammed HA2~; Abd AI Aziz AL JANOUBI; Ahmad Muhammed Ahmad HAZA'; AbdalAziz ALDARBI. The accused, al Darbi, (was born on January 9, 1975, in Ta'if, Saudi Arabia ?) is the brother-in-law of the Flight 77 hijacker al Mihdhar. Flight 77 is pne of the the planes that hit the Pentagon on 9/11.
He is the fifth prisoner charged in the revised Guantanamo tribunal system created in 2006, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an earlier version as illegal.
The sworn charges are: Conspiring with others , to attack civilians, to murder in violation of the law of war, to destroy property in violation of the law of war, to hazard a vessel and to commit terrorism, and Providing Material Support to Terrorism. Mr. al Darbi was allegedly involved in planning attacks on a vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and off the coast of Yemen.
It is alleged that the accused, al Darbi, traveled to Jalalabad and met with U(O) sama bin Laden, trained at al Qaeda’s Jihad Wahl training camp and later served as a weapons instructor at another al Qaeda training camp. From 2001 through 2002, is also alleged that al Darbi moved money from al Qaeda into financial institutions for expenses related to a plot to attack a vessel in the Strait of Hormuz or off the coast of Yemen.
It is further alleged that al Darbi joined in preparations for an al Qaeda terrorist operation in traveling to several countries to purchase a GPS device, a boat, and other equipment in late 2000 or early 2001. The boat, named “Adnan would be loaded with explosives for future terrorist operations The accused, al Darbi, ultimately registered the boat in his name as the “al Rahal” under the Sao Tome flag, and also purchased an additional boat to instruct Yemenis how to swim and operate a boat. In the spring of 2002, al Darbi departed the UAE on board the boat “al Rahal” destined for Yemen, diverted the boat to Somalia due to concerns with his own passport, and during this discussed travel plans by satellite phone with Walid al Shiba.
In accordance with the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the Manual for Military Commissions, sworn charges must be forwarded for review by the Legal Advisor to the Convening Authority. The Convening Authority may then refer any or all charges to trial by military commission, or may dismiss charges or specifications. If the Convening Authority decides to refer the case to trial, she will designate commission panel members. A military judge and trial dates will be designated at a later time.
Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann, Legal Advisor to the Convening Authority, has stated that these War Crime courts are now moving intensely forward in open courts and with more due process than any war criminal has historically received. As the Military Commissions continue, our uniformed service members, including judges, prosecutors and defense counsel, will conduct these trials with the dignity, fairness, and respect for law that defines American military justice.
The sworn charges are only allegations that the accused has committed a war crime under the Military Commissions Act, and the accused is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Complete charges in pdf 14 pages here in English and Arabic - this is the first time these have been made public and are worth considering.
1. You are hereby notified that criminal charges were sworn against you on the 20th day of
December, 2007, pursuant to the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) and the Manual for
Military Commissions (MMC). A copy of this notice is being provided to you and to your
detailed defense counsel.
2. Specifically, you are charged with the following offenses:
PROVIDING MATERIAL SUPPORT FOR TERRORISM
Al Darbi was held in the Bagram Collection Point during the period of time members of Alpha Company of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion routinely brutally beat their captives, resulting in the murders of two prisoners on December 4, 2001 and December 10, 2001. Al Darbi identified Damien M. Corsetti, a soldier nicknamed "the King of Torture" by his fellow GIs, as one of his abusers. al Darbi was able to identify was able to describe Corsetti's tattoos in detail one of which was across his stomach of the Italian word for Monster.
Corsetti's lawyer asserts that Al Darbi's claims of abuse are not credible. He repeats the meme al Qaeda training manuals instruct captives to lie about abuse, and asserts that Al Darbi is following those instructions.Department of Defense spokesmen have announced that Al Darbi will not be allowed to testify at Corsetti's court martial
Moazzam Begg described Corsetti as a friend, who gave him a copy of the classic anti-war novel Catch-22. Begg said that Corsetti never abused him, and would stop for friendly conversations, and that he was one of the friendly GIs who had helped him endure his imprisonment. However Begg expressed the opinion that while Corsetti's superiors deserved a heavy load of responsibility for the abuses at Bagram and Abu Ghraib, low level soldiers like his friend Corsetti couldn't escape all responsibility if they committed illegal acts. He also explained how al Darbi described the abuse by Corsetti to him whilst in Bagram.
On 01 June 2006, PFC Corsetti was found not guilty of all charges.
On 2 October 2006, PFC Corsetti was honorably discharged from the United States Army.
In his defense, Corsetti's lawyer is reported to have said: ``The president of the United States doesn't know what the rules are. The secretary of defense doesn't know what the rules are. But the government expects this Pfc. [private first class] to know what the rules are?"
Postman Patel Wednesday, January 03, 2007 The Mysterious case of the disappearing M3 is worth re-reading. Containing as it does Your New Year Cut out 'N' Keep New year supplement for 2007".
It also contained the laughable quote ...
"If you live in the US ... the only thing you will buy cheaper in a year's time is your house."
Daily Telegraph today , "House prices in US fall at record rate"
"The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index through October (i.e not yet including Nov/Dec) of 10 metropolitan areas fell 6.7pc compared to October 2006, a record decline. The previous biggest fall was a 6.3pc drop recorded in April 1991 just after the recession of the early 1990s." ...." The index has fallen every month in 2007 ... etc., etc., "
..and the grisly details ..
Click images to enlarge ...
Miami being the high (that is low) spot you might like to look at this on record Miami foreclosures and this from the NYT about cut price luxury condos in Palm Beach.
Pic by Documentary photographer Dorothea Lange b.1895 - d. 1965 from the Depression in the Dust Bowl. "Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still."
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
HPAI A(H5N1) = "highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type A of subtype H5N1" - Cause for concern with new cases reported
The inevitability of a wide scale flu pandemic seems to be getting clearer and the details of the jigsaw of the global spread from birds to humans of H5NI virus and its variants seems to be more clearly etched as DNA sequencing reveals the tale and trail of the virus.
There have been eight cases of the H5N1 bird flu virus in Poland this month. H5N1 is a subtype of the Influenza A virus which can cause illness in humans and many other animal species. The strain that had adapted to grow in birds is technically decribed as called HPAI A(H5N1) = "highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type A of subtype H5N1"
There have now been 3 recent reports of infected poultry in Brandenburg, Germany , the latest on a small farm in the town of Blumenthal in the Ostprignitz-Ruppin district had tested positive for the virus.
Earlier in December two chickens in the Oberhavel district further west tested positive for H5N1 and another in the town of Bensdorf in the Potsdam-Mittelmark district.
Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza emerged in Hong Kong in 1996–1997 (1) and by early October 2006 had subsequently caused outbreaks in poultry or wild birds in 53 countries and 256 human cases, including 151 deaths (www.who.int/csr/disease/avianinfluenza/en/).
Hundreds of millions of chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese have died or have been culled to prevent the spread of the virus. Coupled with export bans on affected countries the disease has had an economic impact of US$10 billion
The samples from Blumenthal were immediately transferred to the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) and National Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza at the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut. Real-time RT-PCR specific for Qinghai-like strains of HPAIV confirmed the presence of HPAIV H5N1 in these samples.
Preliminary results of the sequencing analysis of the HA-gene showed a close relationship to HPAIV H5N1 isolates detected earlier in 2007 in Germany (HPAIV H5N1 subclade 2.2.3; Starick et al., 2007).
The above comments on initial sequence data from the H5N1 isolates from Germany indicate that the sequences are related to the Uva Lake sequences detected throughout Europe since the summer. These results are not a surprise. The sequences were first reported in a massive wild bird outbreak in the summer of 2006.
It appears that these outbreaks were related to contact with wild brid populations - this summer , the Uva Lake strain was first reported at a poultry outbreak in the Czech Republic which was quickly followed by detection in wild birds in the Czech Republic and Germany. The detection in Germany spread to multiple locations in central and southern Germany. Although all outbreaks were related to Uva Lake, each location represented an independent introduction.
These outbreaks were followed by wild bird outbreaks in France and domestic poultry in Germany. In the fall H5N1 was reported in poultry and wild birds in Krasnodar. The whooper swan and chicken sequences from Krasnodar were published and were 99.95% identical. The were also the Uva Lake sub-clade and were closely related to sequences from three of the wild bird outbreaks in Germany.
More recently, the sequences from an outbreak in turkeys in Suffolk, England were described, and these sequences were also Uva Lake sequences closely related to the earlier outbreaks. The proximity of the farm to a large ornamental lake and the lack of new bird introductions was highly indicative of infection of awild bird source.
This was the first reported case of H5N1 in free range poultry in England.
The data described by the Fredrich Loeffler researchers indicates H5N1 in northeastern Germany is also the Uva Lake strain, which suggest that the recent outbreaks in adjacent Poland will also be the Uva Lake strain.
The first H5N1 case this season in Egypt was reported days ago - Oula Yunes Ali, 25, died on Tuesday after being admitted to hospital on Friday with a high fever, Health ministry spokesman Abdel Rahmane Shahin said. She had worked with poultry.
Birds migrate through Egypt at this time and there was a cluster of such cases last year. (see below)
OIE reports define 5 outbreaks surrounding Riyadh (see Satellite map). Media reports have described several outbreaks, which are largely concentrated in Riyadh and surrounding suburbs. Media reports have also described culling of more than 4 million birds in Riyadh.
AP reports that Iran has started to cull out birds in Tehran, Eastern Azerbaijan and Zangan Provinces although authorities deny existence of any bird flu.
With H5N1 evidently spreading in Germany, Poland, and Rostov(A fifth case of bird flu has recently been confirmed at a farm in the Rostov Region, south Russia, close to the site of previous outbreaks last year.) H5N1 has been confirmed in western Turkey, Romania, and Ukraine. This possibly signals migration of H5N1 into the region.
A reported outbreak in the NW Border provinces of Pakistan (AP report) also suggests new human cases in the Middle East are to be expected. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 18th , the eight people in Pakistan who became infected with the H5N1 bird flu strain probably got ill as a result of contact with poultry and some degree of human-to-human transmission. The WHO stressed that nothing has been confirmed yet. Human-to-human transmission of H5N1 bird flu is extremely rare, but not unheard of.
See local Pakistani press stories of the outbreak being suppressed NWFP caretaker Health Minister Syed Kamal Shah "....poultry is a big industry with many stakeholders, some of whom may want to hush up the issue."
Pakistan has alerted hospitals to human cases, while Egypt and Jordan have raised alert levels for infected poultry, while Azerbaijan has banned poultry products from Iran based on rumored H5N1 infections. Iranian Health Minister Karman Bagheri affirmed on 24th December that no bird flu case has been discovered in the country so far.
Which all leads to the conclusion that H5NI strains with Uva Lake sequences are circulating in the Middle East, are infecting humans and will proably infect birds flying northwards again in the spring.
There is some concern that Osletamivir (Tamiflu - Hoffman La Roche ) is very widely used in Egypt and could lead to the selection of Tamiflu resistant strains circulating in the area.
Last year Egypt reported the largest H5N1 cluster in Gharbiya. The H5N1 sequences from the cluster gave cause for concern. In addition to two receptor binding domain changes, which could lead to more efficient transmission, the NA sequence also had N294S, which is linked to resistance to Tamiflu - the changes have been independently confirmed by the CDC in Atlanta.
Elsewhere Indonesia, the worst hit by the H5N1 virus, announced on 14th December its 93rd death and the 115th Indonesian infected with the disease. Siti Supari, the controversial Indonesian Health Minister has not made things easy for her country, by taking on the WHO and other global agencies by refusing to let the world scientific community have the tssue samples, from the Indonesian victims of theBird Flu virus.
In the UK, Health Authorities are on the ball and Benin (Nigeria) has been added to the list of statutory reporting requirements for travellers presenting a febrile illness on arrival. (Dec 18th) see HPA Guidelines
With the approach of Christmas and Muslims marking Sallah, poultry consumption in Nigeria is expected to reach an all-time high this month. As Gilbert da Costa reports for VOA from Abuja, recent reports indicating the virus remains entrenched in Nigeria (first reported in Nigeria nearly two years ago) and an outbreak in neighboring Benin have prompted fresh concerns about bird flu infecting humans in Nigeria.
UK DeFRA Home Page on Avian Flu
Useful site for world news stories on Bird Flu "Bird Flu NewsFlash" also "Bird Flu Breaking News"
The Department of Defense, in coordination with other government agencies, has developed some very curious Terrorist Recognition Cards in order to increase awareness and recognition among U.S. Forces of high-threat terrorists at large. The cards have images of terrorists and related biographic information. Included are terrorists from five different geographic regions: Afghanistan / Pakistan Iraq The Horn of Africa Arabian Peninsula SE Asia
This is one of them for Afghanistan / Pakistan ....
Which is odd because the BBC report that ..."the Daily Telegraph, (Britain in secret talks with Taliban) reports that members of Britain's secret intelligence service, MI6, held meetings during the summer with senior Ta(i)leban members in Afghanistan." ...one of which was Gulbuddin Hekmatyr...and 2 people one British, one Irish,One man is a political adviser to the European Union the other is employed as a political adviser to the UN mission in Kabul have been kicked out of Afghanistan and both are MI6 employees with a great deal of experience in Afghanistan. Meetings are said to have been in houses on the outskirts of Lashkah Gah and in villages in the Upper Gereshk valley, to the north-east of Helmand's main town up to 6 times this late summer.
See Postman Patel Thursday, August 23, 2007 Gulbuddin Hekmatyar - Where are They Now ? Part 375 Saturday, April 22, 2006 What is Hekmatyar up to? Sunday, May 22, 2005 "Official" Terrorist lights fires of resistance in Afghanistan
also I'n'I 22/12/04
Shirley as Aleem Siddique, of the UN in Afghanistan, the BBC reports saying the affair was all a dreadful misunderstanding, which he hoped would be resolved. Mr Siddique denied that the diplomats had been talking to Taleban militants and that they had been, " discussing the Afghan situation on the ground to help the country's stability."
Nor will this bear any relation to the Prime Minister telling the House of Commons: "We will not enter into any negotiations with these people." just over 2 weeks ago.
Britain and Gordon wouldn't undermine the US backed Karzai Gybment would they ? ...???
This has nothing to do of course with Postman Patel Thursday, December 21, 2006 The Great Game - Colonel Mustard in the woodshed with the cipher clerk
Corporal Daniel James, 44, a military intelligence officer has been charged under section one (1) (C), of the Official Secrets Act 1911 - that on 2 November this year, for a purpose prejudicial to the safety of the state, he “communicated to another person information calculated to be directly or indirectly useful to the enemy”.........
This resulted in allied squabbling (Update - relying on tribal elders to control the Taliban,) and the sacking of Mohammed Daud as governor of Helmand by President Karzai on 7th December, which was engineered by US forces - some claim the foul hand of the CIA was involved. Daud was instrumental in UK inspired surrender of Musa Qala to the Taliban which Lieutenant General David Richards, (pic)(then ) the commander of the British contingent of Nato forces in Afghanistan. Richards was involved in - and some say Welsh Rentagob Howell was anxious to pursue, whilst newly installed GMILF Margaret Beckett (Described variously as Foreign Secretary) looked the other way... did her knitting, planned her next trip to Albi ....
This unseemly row amongst the allies led to the American supreme commander of Nato, General Jim Jones, letting it be known, that Lieutenant-General David Richards "would have been sacked if he had been an American officer". and that he was "too political".
The two MI6 (?) guys have been named as Mervyn Patterson, a British political adviser to the United Nations mission in Kabul, and Michael Semple, the Irish-born acting head of the European Union mission. a 9th string Taliban commander, named Mullah Abdul Salaam, os also claimed to have defected.
Multinational Forces Iraq have just confirmed it killed a senior al Qaeda in Iraq commander during a raid near Samarra on November 8th 2007 . The remains of Abu Abdullah, also known as Muhammad Sulayman Shunaythir al Zuba’i, have been positively identified. Abu Abdullah was said to be a close associate of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the deceased (and mysterious one legged (or maybe 2 legged) leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.Intelligence points to Abdullah also having historical ties to the Battle of Fallujah in 2004 ?
The following charts have been released of activity in Iraq. Iraq Significant Activities (SIGACTS)
It's kinda useful to compare this with the bombing raids see post Saturday, December 22, 2007 Massive escalation in aerial bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Massive increase in bombing and killing less people ????????????
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
The Lakota Indians, whose antecedents include the legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States, leaders said Wednesday. (They have also had their name used for the new Homeland overheating Eurocopter from EDS) See Postman Patel Monday, November 19, 2007 Lakota UH-72A 'copters - too hot to handle
From American CoprophagiaThe Lakota started to call for their freedom 33 years ago when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence -- an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England (and imitating the nation's Founders). the Lakota Indians are governed by their own set of laws. Hence, the tribal group has a separate political system, police department, education system, etc.
A delegation of Lakota leaders delivered a message to the State Department on Monday, DEcember 24th announcing they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the United States, some of them more than 150 years old. "This is all completely legal." See Declaration of Independence
The State Department has not responded, reports the Rapid City (South Dakota) Journal.
They also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and will continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months, they told the news conference.
Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. There are said to be 70,000, of whom about 20,500 speak the Lakota language. The name Lakota comes from the Lakota autonym, lakhóta "feeling affection, friendly, united, allied".
The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free -- provided residents renounce their US citizenship, long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means said.
Withdrawing from the treaties was entirely legal, Means said.
"This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically article six of the constitution," which states that treaties are the supreme law of the land, he said.
"It is also within the laws on treaties passed at the Vienna Convention (passed 1969) and put into effect by the US and the rest of the international community in 1980. We are legally within our rights to be free and independent," said Means.
On 13th September 2007 , the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples ***-- despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws.
Vote: 143 – 4 ( Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States dissenting - Surprise, surprise !! for the Aborigine, Maori and the Inuit as well as the earliest settlers in the US - follow link for explanation by colonialists Gubments decision to deny rights to indiginous people - eg Canada's representative said that, unfortunately, the provisions in the Declaration on lands, territories and resources were overly broad, unclear, and capable of a wide variety of interpretations)
"We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children," Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first international conference on indigenous rights in Geneva in 1977, told the news conference.
Oppression at the hands of the US government has taken its toll on the Lakota, whose men have one of the shortest life expectancies -- less than 44 years -- in the world.
Lakota teen suicides are 150 percent above the norm for the United States; infant mortality is five times higher than the US average; and unemployment is rife, according to the Lakota freedom movement's website.
AFP story See UPI story See Fox story and Lakota nation Freedom website Wikipedia entry
*** United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which sets out the individual and collective rights of the world’s 370 million native peoples, calls for the maintenance and strengthening of their cultural identities, and emphasizes their right to pursue development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.
A non-binding text, the Declaration states that native peoples have the right “to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties” concluded with States or their successors. It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them.
Here is a historic photograph with a wonderful caption ..
"Here for your perusal is a highly creative photograph of Villa of Brule the great hostile Indian camp on River Brule near Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Image Illustrates Hostile Lakota Sioux Indians. It was created in 1891 by , John C. H. Grabill, photographer.
The photo illustrates A Lakota tipi camp in background; horses at a White Clay Creek watering hole in foreground. Grabill's photographer's legend and caption appear in image."
From "Old Pictures "
John C. H. Grabill sent one hundred and eighty eight photographs to the Library of Congress between the years 1887 and 1892. This collection is considered the premier collection of western frontier photography in the United States today.
SEE also Postman Patel Saturday, March 10, 2007 Criticise this and I will call you an Anti-semite
One of the most striking similarities between the colonizers of the Americas and Palestine is their plan to cage the indigenous populations of the colonized lands, with the aim of exterminating them or at least uprooting them from their land. Black Elk of Lakota wrote: “My people looked pitiful. There was a big drought, and the rivers and creeks seemed to be dying. Nothing would grow that the people had planted, and the Wasichus had been sending less cattle and other food than ever before. The Wasichus had slaughtered all the bison and shut us up in pens. It looked as if we might all starve to death. We could not eat lies, and there was nothing we could do.." L. Frank Baum - Editor and Publisher, “The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer” December 1890
One difference between the two acts of colonization in Palestine and the Americas - nobody volunteered to coin a term for those who defend the “Red Indians”. As Zionists, and unfortunately, many Americans and Europeans do when somebody defends the Palestinian cause, and condemns Zionist crimes, those people are called “anti-Semites”, and if they happen to be of the Jewish faith, they are called “self hating Jews”.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Germans are not considered in the international lexicon of stereotypes as great humorists - they are however on the eve of taking the piss from the Brits big style.
Every New Year's Eve, a brief (11 mins) Black and white movie featuring Freddie Frinton as an inebriate Butler in "Dinner for One" is aired on German TV to an audience of millions and has been since 1972.
The short 1963 stage comedy sketch, has entered the record books as the world's most repeated television show (230 airings and counting in 2005). A prototype (or even archetype) Mr Bean as a squiffy butler represents the fading aristocratic colonialists lurching from year to year, unchanging and changeless.
Broadcast with its original English soundtrack, it is brilliant in its simplicity: Miss Sophie, celebrating her 90th birthday, sits down to dinner with four friends and is served by her faithful butler, James (Frinton).
There is however a problem. None of the old dear's guests — Sir Toby, Admiral Von Schneider, Mr Pommeroy and Mr Winterbottom — are there, they are dead. So it's down to James to hop from chair to chair and fill in for Miss Sophie's enigmatic erstwhile suitors.
Before every course and its accompanying splash of booze, the rapidly declining butler slurs: "The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?" And his aged employer replies: "The same procedure as every year, James." - which has entered the Tuetonic phrase book as a line producing great hilarity.
The German airline LTU shows it on all its New Year flights, and Dinner for One is now compulsive viewing from Austria to Australia - but amazingly never in the UK.
When the Daily Telegraph enquired last year, the haughty response from the BBC Press office was "I've never heard of it," ..and ... "I guess the nearest thing we have that you might call a New Year's Eve television tradition is the Jools Holland's show."
For Frinton, the illegitimate son of a Grimsby seamstress, and long forgotten music hall comedian his legacy is destined to live on anywhere but home.
This is the short (11 min) version from swiss TV in 1964.
Wikipedia has a lengthy and informative entry on the subject
Gazprom pays more for gas from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstani - Uzbekistan to follow ? Putin agrees to foil US /EU plans for Trans Caspian pipeline
In 2004 , in the wake of the Andijan masacres President Putin visited Tashkent and as a result LUKoil signed a 35-year agreement for more than 200 bln cubic metres of gas which is to be extracted from three gas fields in the southern Bukhara region of Uzbekistan and one in the north of the country.
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov , Lukoil OAO president Vagit Alekperov, was officiating last month at the launch ceremony of four gas fields by a joint venture controlled 90 pct by LUKoil and 10 pct by the Uzbek government. Ivanov said Uzbekistan should not let any countries other than Russia exploit its gas reserves.
Speaking at the inauguration of the vast Khauzak gas field, Ivanov said: 'Russian companies such as Lukoil respect the environmental criteria, unlike foreign companies operating in Russia. Why give companies from outside Russia the opportunity to make money?'
More than 200 bln cubic metres of gas is to be extracted from three gas fields in the southern Bukhara region and one in the north of the country.
This is the first production-sharing agreement in Uzbekistan, a country largely closed to foreign investors that has significant gas reserves and infrastructure dating from the Soviet era, to come on stream.
Chairman of LUKoil, Vagit Alekperov said 'For the first time, today, our company is autonomously operating a gas field, while until now Lukoil was considered an oil company.'
In total, Lukoil plans to invest about 3 bln usd in the project, which is expected to reach peak annual production of 11 bln cubic metres of gas in 2012 or 2013. To date activities aimed at drilling over 160 production wells and constructing over 1,500 km of pipelines, 40 km of railways and a gas processing plant with a capacity of over 8 bln cu m of gas per annum are to be implemented as part of Kandym -Khauzak -Shady -Kungrad project. To date over US$ 350 mln (over US$ 300 mln for Khausak gas field development) have been invested into Uzbekistan’s economy in work related to the project.
Uzbekistan, produced about 60 bln cubic metres of gas in 2006, of which 12 bln were exported.
Following an announcement that the state-controlled Gazprom would pay up to 50 percent more for natural gas imports from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstani officials announced December 5 they too intended to jack up the price of gas exports by roughly 36 percent. Russia seems ready to agree to the new Kazakhstani price of $190 per 1,000 cubic meters.
Days laterUzbekistan followed suit , with a source in the state energy company Uzbekneftegaz saying Uzbekistan also wanted to be paid more than the current $100 per 1,000 cubic meters.
"World prices are rising, the dollar is weakening. It's only logical that [Uzbek] gas prices should rise," the source said. "The question is by how much. But that is something to be discussed behind closed doors."
Moscow sees paying higher prices as part of the cost of maintaining its stranglehold over energy routes from the Caspian. Over the past year, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have both publicly expressed a desire to join a US-backed project known as the Trans-Caspian Pipeline project (TCP), which would allow the Central Asian states to link to Azerbaijan’s Westward-bound pipelines and, therefore, avoid Russia as an energy-export middleman (and the abilty to ibterfere with supplies to Europe) . Keeping the Central Asian leaders remain happy, and preventing them from making any firm commitment to TCP’s construction, is currently one of the Kremlin’s top foreign policy priorities.
Vagit Alekperov , head of LUKoil, paid a December 6 courtesy call to Astana to have a chat with Nazarbayev - reminding him that LUKoil has invested roughly $1.5 billion in various projects in Kazakhstan and that LUKoil would start drilling in the Tsentralnoye field in the northern Caspian as soon as this month.
To secure energy resources in the region the Russian strategy is to maintain its regional energy dominance with the Prikaspiisky Pipeline project, on which Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan reached agreement in principle last May - which has stalled currently.
Putin, along with Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov ( successor to dictator Saparmurat Niyazov) and Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev, were expected to sign a formal agreement on the pipeline upgrade in September
The deal would expand a spur of the pipeline network linking Turkmenistan and Russia, known as Central Asia-Center. Nazarbayev is involved because the so-called Prikaspiisky spur travels across a section of Kazakhstani territory. At present the Prikaspiisky route is capable of handling a relatively small amount of natural gas, about 5 million cubic meters per day. The deal outlined by Putin envisions a large expansion of the spur’s capacity, up to an additional 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) by 2012.
The deal, when (and if) completed, would appear to lock up the bulk of Turkmenistan’s gas production for export via Russia. Under an existing agreement, Turkmenistan is due to supply Gazprom with 60 bcm of gas in 2007 and up to 70 bcm in 2008. The deal between Ashgabat and Gazprom runs through to 2028.
Since the death of Saparmurat Niyazov , the United States, European Union and Azerbaijan have lobbied his successor, Berdymukhammedov, to commit to a trans-Caspian pipeline (TCP) that would circumvent Russia. However success of the Prikaspiisky pipeline’s export projections, as well as its other commitment to Russia and China, means that there would be there would be little gas left over from Turkmenistan to make a TCP route viable or profitable.
(At the end of the 1,760-kilometer-long US funded Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, pushed through by Clinton in the shadow of Turkey’s gleaming Ceyhan oil terminal, the village of Golovasi, previously revolved around fishing in the nearby Mediterranean Sea, but the arrival of the BTC pipeline effectively put an end to that. See more here With catches growing smaller, dozens of fishermen in the nearby village of Deveci Usagi have instead found jobs working for American military subcontractors in Iraq.)
The corrupt, ex soviet leaders of the CSU states play along with Putin - but cannily keep their options alive with Uncle Sam.
Watch this space.
One thing is certain - Lord King is absolutely fucking wrong, energy prices in the UK and EU are not going to go down, they are going to rise, and supplies become more difficult to contract for.... feeding inflation.
PS US Energy Information Adminstration (EIA maps of the pipelines in the region here
Central ASia briefing with manyn links to further information here
Miss France loses crown in sex scandal (having lost here innocence many years ago) - Amazing pictures
Gorgeous 5 foot 7 inches , busty brunette Valerie Begue, a 22-year-old student from the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion, returned home a hero at the weekend after her victory in the Miss France competition. (In 2005 the winner turned out to have posed for Playboy magazine and lost her cheap coronet)
Organisers have taken exception to photographs which have been published by checkout scandal mag Entrevue, which they claim to be sexually suggestive... such as seductively lapping up some spilt yoghurt, and floating in a swimming pool on a crucifix. (?)
Old spoil sport 75 year old crone, Genevieve de Fontenay, a former model who has presided over the Miss France competition with a rod of iron since the 1950s, demanded that Miss Begue be stripped of her crown..."It is absolutely unacceptable. She must resign immediately, and if not we will make her leave. I wouldn't want to be seen touring the provinces with a girl like that," she said.
Contestants guarantee that they have never been photographed in compromising positions when they enter.
Residents of Reunion are insulted and held a demonstration in her home town of Saint-Leu and politicians dashed off a letter of protest to Paris.
Roman Catholic bishop Bishop Gilbert Aubry described her as “a victim in need of our help”.
The disgusting pictures published by Entrevue magazine can be seen here.... and here
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Rachida Dati rings to tell me she is fuming - Sarko organised a photocall at Paris Disneyland to introduce his latest 40 year old mistress ( and ex squeeze of Micky Jagger, Eric Clapton) to the press.
She is an Italian chanteuse / supermodel and wealthy heiress to a motor tyre fortune, Carla Bruni. Who really is a bit of a dish. ( Warning Adult pics) More rude pics here
L'Express reported on its website today and will publish images of the two in this week's editions, is running a front-page image of the Italian-French Bruni tomorrow (Monday) with the headline "Carla Bruni: The President's Girlfriend."
According to L'Express the Journal du Dimanche undertook a survey on October 18/19th of 964 people, 89% of the questioned people estimate that this connection must remain of a private nature, 11% to think that it acts against the public interest.(au contraire d'une "affaire d'ordre publique")
The vast majority of those asked (86%), said it did not affect their view of Sarkozy as Head of the State. For 11% of them, it worsened, for 3%, it improved.
Applegarth the crook is adulterer as well - while he took his eye off the ball, somebody had their hands on his
Whilst Northern Wreck was recklessly overextending themselves, 45 year old Adam Applegarth now ex CEO, was busily relieving the tensions of business life by shagging glamorous, fun loving, party going, brunette, beautifully dressed (and evidently frequently undressed) Amanda Smithson from the Northern Rock's buy-to-let division.
Someone grassed the secret affair to the Board in anonymous letters, also sent to fast car enthusiast Mrs Applegarth - The claims were put to Mr Applegarth 4 weeks ago (which was reported publicly but without any details) in the presence of other directors which he initially denied.
The balding Lothario would visit Washington DC up to 6 times a year staying in the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington or New York which coincided with Ms Smithson's holidays. They particularly favoured the Potomac Suite overlooking the historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal ( President John Quincy Adams tuned the first sod on July 4, 1828),and Rock Creek Park.
Ms Smithson's luxuriously appointed £200,000 flat in the Wills Building shares a fashionable address , and was funded with a Northern Rock mortgage. The Grade II listed building is handy for the raunchy Geordie nightlife and the company's head office in Gosforth - where they would often "work late " together.
"There were a number of reasons for suspecting they were having an affair," the source said. "She had quite a lowly job, but she was always wearing expensive clothes (and had a fondness Lord Patel can reveal for La Perla lingerie and Mr Karl Lagerfelds perfume with its curiously shaped and attractive bottles) and drove a 7 series BMW.
Widely known for her large mouth, and perfect orthodontics - "all the better to eat you with" she leads a very "active social life" in and around Newcastle...where she is (unsurprisingly) known as "Rndy Mandy"
Toni Fabuloso has had no hand in writing this post, and took the huff when it was suggested we could find the party going lass a position in our organisation.
UPDATE Sunday 7.40 EST
An Anonymous commentator to Guido Fawkes famous Blog on Friday, November 16, 2007 Gordon's Favourite Banker Resignsleft this tantalizing comment - no names no pack drill.
A man who cheats on his wife will not hesitate to cheat on his customers - in the US they call it moral turpitude - with good cause.
The atom, is the smallest particle of matter.
It consists of a dense nucleus which contains
Protons - positively charged protons
Neutrons - neutral
Surrounded by a cloud of electrons which are positively charged.
An element’s atomic number defines the number of protons - atoms have an equal number of protons and neutrons, isotopes may exist with an identical number of protons but a different number of neutrons, giving the atom a different mass number. An atom may have multiple unique isotopes each with distinctive properties - viz. Uranium..
How many neutrons can an atomic nucleus hold? Possibly a lot more than current scientific models predict. That's the conclusion a team of physicists reached after creating three ultra-heavy isotopes of magnesium and aluminum.(Nature Oct. 25 2007)
Theoretically Aluminum-42, which is composed of 13 protons and 29 neutrons, shouldn’t exist. The fact that Aluminum-42 does exist suggests the possibility of more neutron-rich isotopes than scientists previously considered likely or possible.
Now Thomas Baumann and his colleagues at Michigan State University’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) have created and detected three rare isotopes
Thomas Baumann and his colleagues shot nuclei of calcium-48—the heaviest naturally occurring calcium isotope—at a tungsten foil at about half the speed of light. Atomic collisions created all sorts of debris, including fragments from both calcium and tungsten nuclei, out of which new atomic nuclei occasionally formed.
Then they used a dual filtering process that detected and measured isotopes so rare that they represent only one in every billion million particles that passed by the detectors.This was one of the first uses of two-stage separation in the world
Hendrik Schatz, an NSCL physicist who was not involved in the experiment, points out that this result complicates physicists’ efforts to understand how stars and supernova explosions forge neutron-rich isotopes as intermediate steps toward creating elements heavier than iron.
These new results are more directly related to another astrophysical scenario. When matter falls onto a neutron star and starts sinking into its crust, pressures 10 trillion times as high as those at the sun's center force electrons and protons to merge, forming neutrons. The transient formation of these heavy isotopes could help explain certain anomalous flashes of X-rays that astronomers have observed coming from neutron stars, (first discovered by discovered by the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer satellite in 1996) Schatz speculates.
The research also suggests that other elements, higher in the periodic table, might also be able to accommodate more neutrons than expected.
Photo by Matt Hubball - species unknown or not named, in his album In album: Coron, Palawan, Philippines at Webshots - more awesome pics. Nudibranchs - of which there are at least 3,000 named species are also known as sea slugs ... remind me of some leading politicians. This one for some reason brings Tessa Jowell to mind.
Also Nick Hobgood's stunning East Timor Underwater Wonderland " a nudibranch grazing"
This looks like a Rasta slug ..Lee Jasper maybe ?
Wheat , corn, soya prices at record levels - demand exceeds world supply, fertiliser, farm and fuel costs rise - food costs jump and inflation follows
Dubya and Gordy Brown are struggling with inflation - the dumb bastards have avoided the stunning rise in grain prices which will hit even their rigged consumer price indices hard this summer as these costs hit the retail stores.
Lord King Speech at the Mansion House 16th June 2007...
"Our central view remains that inflation will fall back this year as the rises in domestic gas and electricity prices last year drop out of the annual comparison, and the recent cuts in prices feed through to household bills."Well that was obvious nonsense and all the double firsts at the Treasury ciouldn't see the problems of the world grain markets either - or that they would feed through to inflation. See post Lord Patel Australian drought - poor spring rains - higher world wheat prices in prospect - low stocks and heavy demand and Nov 1st 2006 World wheat shortages loom - prices soar
In 1973 along with the oil shock , the world price for wheat went up six-fold. Wheat / corn/soya prices ricochet through the food supply chain -
1. Higher prices for cereal and breads eaten directly by humans
2. Higher prices for milk and meat produced from livestock fed a grain-based diet
3. Using corn as an ethanol feedstock has changed the economics of the corn market
4. Labour shortages in agriculture will be affected as farm jobs came in from fields and tend livestock in barns.
Winter Wheat futures at record levels
The Minneapolis Grain Exchange MGEX, established in 1881, is the only market for Hard Red Spring Wheat,which is one of the highest-protein wheats grown. It is found in bagels, high quality breads and cereals.
Director of Marketing at the MGEX Nancy Krull,said on November 29th that , :“Strong demand for wheat continues to drive increased volume in the Hard Red Spring Wheat contract,”
MGEX set a new daily trading volume on November 28th of 5,260 contracts traded bringing the annual total in excess of the Total volume for 2006 of 1,655,034.
The soaring price of wheats is reflected in the interest in trading, 2 memberships at MGEX traded last week at the new record high price of US$275,000 continuing the membership price rally that began last January when memberships were trading at US$73,000.
On 21st December near month March 2008 contracts closed at US$ 10.78 - they broke the US$10 barrier on December 5th which was then an all time high... they have settled back a little from a new all time high of US$10.98. (they were trading at around US$8/9 in early September.)
Canadian and US droughts in 2007.
In early December Statistics Canada trimmed their crop forecast from down from 526 Mn bushels to 503 Mn bushels....way down on the 684 MN bushels in 2006 but uin 2007 lower pantings and unfavourable heat reduced the crop dramatically. (MGEX futures jumped 30 cents in the day)
The rise in futures in September was driven by the USDA cutting the 2007/8 crop forecast from 500mn to 479 MN bushels.,,in the drought year of 2006 the US crop was down to 460 Mn bushels.
The Australian government on 5th December released a new estimate of the size of their drought-stricken wheat crop of 12.7 MMT (466.6 million bushels). That is up slightly from the October estimate of 12.1 MMT, but is still only about half of normal production.
World stocks low, production forecasts low, demand and costs up = higher wheat prices
With a reduced wheat crop and worldwide rise in living standards,...the rush to biofuels, and disappointing crop yields, foreign buyers are helping the price rise.The US Department of Agriculture forecasts global stocks of wheat will fall to a 47-year low of 9.3 weeks and corn (maize) will fall to a 33-year low of just seven and a half weeks.
India recently bought 12.6 million bushels of wheat for February delivery at US$10.89 per bushel.
Of course producer cost are rising .. diesel for farm eqipment, for driers and natural gas to produce chemical fertilisers - Urea has risen 86% in dollar terms over the past year (virtually all imported in the US) , and ammonium phosphate 150%.
Estimates for this year’s wheat production suggest the world is consuming more than it is producing. The International Grains Council estimates world production at 603m, ( a rise of 4% on last year) and consumption at 611m tonnes.
Soya bean prices are at a 34-year high - the price has soared by more than 30 % since mid-summer to over 11 dollars per bushel for many of the 2008 futures contract months. Corn (maize) prices are at an 11-year high...17 % up from mid-summer- although demand has suffered for ethanol production and livestock feeding have slowed because of reduced profitability in both industries.
Durum wheats, mainly for pasta production are are still in that $15-$16 range, and have been as high as US18 per bushel according to the North Dakota Wheat Commission. That's still about three times higher compared to the last several years and prices earlier this year.
This share price chart for US Panera Bread (company mission?A loaf of bread in every arm® ) shows the impact of higher costs ona very successful nationwide (US) retail chain as flour prices eat into costs.
Panera Bread Company owns and franchises 1,115 bakery-cafes under the Panera Bread® and Saint Louis Bread Co.® names as of September 25, 2007. With its identity rooted in handcrafted, fresh-baked, artisan bread, Panera Bread is committed to providing great tasting, quality food that people can trust. Highlighted by antibiotic free chicken, whole grain bread, select organic and all-natural ingredients and a menu free of man-made trans fat, Panera's bakery-cafe selection offers flavorful, wholesome offerings.
Panera Bread Q3 2007 Earnings Call Transcript October 24, 2007
"We are not currently committed forward for 2008 in our flour purchases. So, this commodity remains a potential source of earnings volatility for next year. Here is how the price of wheat flows into our cost. We expect to use approximately 140 million pounds of flour in 2008. That is equivalent to about 3.25 million bushels. So, a move of $1 in the price of a bushel of wheat translates into about $3.25 million change in our cost. Wheat futures for 2008 now average about $7.70. And our 2008 target assumes wheat at this price.
The $7.70 price is about $2.50 above the average we will pay in 2007. So this creates a potential of more $8 million hit to earnings or $16 per share. We think we’ll be able to offset much but not all of this potential impact through further price increases beyond those planned for November.
So, our target for 2008 assumes a net $2.5 million hit for increased wheat prices. If wheat prices are below our targeted cost of $7.70, we’ll take less price. If they are higher we will strive for a greater increase in order to keep the earnings impact to $.05 per share.
Now, when we cannot control the price of wheat, we can respond to it intelligently. So, our purchasing team continues to carefully monitor the market. We take some encouragement from the fact that wheat futures for late 2008 are now lower in price than for early in the year reflecting the market's belief that the prices will ease."See in previous years - "changes in the mix of products sold in the Au Bon Pain stores along withhigher flour prices reduced the manufacturing contribution per dollar of retail sales and raised percentage food cost. " (SEC Filing ) "These efficiencies were partially offset by increased ingredient costs (higher flour"(SEC Filing)
Panera also holds a 51% interest in Paradise Bakery & Café, Inc.®, owner and franchisor of 53 bakery-cafes as of September 25, 2007.
It may be of interest that Neal Yanofsky, President of the Company, has left the company effective January 4, 2008. Yanofsky is leaving the Company to pursue other career opportunities.