The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has a population of over 85 million, a Communist Government and GDP growth was estimated to hit a ten-year high record at 8.44% in 2007.
Although still a poor country, it is the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia with output of 400,000 barrels per day. Vietnam is one of Asia's most open economies: two-way trade is around 160% of GDP, more than twice the ratio for China and over four times India's
Vietnam was accepted into the WTO on November 7, 2006.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
U.S. Navy Breaks Electromagnetic Railgun Power Record
The Office of Naval Research test fired an electromagnetic railgun (EMRG) at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, Va. on Jan. 31, 2008, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. EST. The gun was fired at over 10 megajoules of energy – a power level never before achieved by an EMRG. The previous test firing was at the same site on October 2nd 2006.
The EMRG is one of the Navy's newest toys (just one more one in a family of the Office of Naval Research’s Innovative Naval Prototypes (INPs)) (see more Navy pics)It uses electricity, rather than chemical propellants, to launch projectiles at long-range targets
The launcher or barrel contains a pair of metal, electrically conductive rails . These are contained in a composite structure. Very strong opposing magnetic fields are generated within the launcher by a high current pulse that flows through the rails and a bridging armature positioned behind the projectile when the rail gun is fired. Propulsive force is created which accelerates at an astonishing speed propelling botht the armnature and its projectile.
After release from the armature, the projectile , travelling at a muzzle velocity of 2500metres per second (compared with 800 m/s of a standard 5" 54 or 62 gun )and is guided by a GPS system as it leaves the earth's atmosphere, beyond reach of electronic jamming. (Well thaty's the theory driving a 10-15 year research project)
Alternatively, fired directly (1 - 40 Km. range - current gunnery has limit of 20 miles) a 15 KG projectile woud arrive on target at Mach 5 (1500m/s) with 17 Megajoules of energy., twice a conventioal warhead at half the weight.
It is anticipated that with an available 80 megawatts of installed electrical power, a ship like the DDG-1000 could have the power to sustain a firing rate of 6-12 rounds per minuete.
An exotic weapon if it can be made to work reliably. There are big questions yet . Barrels wera out at present after 4 rounds, building suitable pulse networks are available to maintain direct fire weapons, but indirect fire guns with 200 mile range are still a distant possibility.
The test on January 31 st was successful .. er .. The test firing recorded at 10.64 MJ, shot an aluminum projectile 72 feet in 10 milliseconds.It takes a power of 1 joule to send an apple 1 meter up into the air. ( it was watched by Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Gary Roughead, brother to Ronald , visitor to one of Mrs Palfreys working girls)
Dr. Elizabeth D´Andrea, ONR´s Electromagnetic Railgun Program Manager (see pic) emphasises the safety aspect of the rail gun - On Board safetey is improved as explosives and explosive rounds need not be stored.
So far the Navy have spent 237 Mn. taxpayers dollars.
Work so far has involved engineers from Boeing, Charles Stark Draper Lab, Inc., General Atomics, Department of Energy (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), U.S. Naval Academy, Naval Postgraduate School, Naval Sea Systems Command (PMS 500), Naval Surface Warfare Center – Carderock and Dahlgren Divisions, the U.S. Army and United Kingdom.
The program´s goal is to demonstrate a full capability, integrated railgun prototype by 2016-2018. ...don't hold your breath. Stratfor Status report on the project after the test... and Popular Science
Wudja bleeve that ? Fox reported WTC 's collapse on 9/11 before it did , followed by live footage of it collapsing
The Fox and BBC reports were about approx 1657hrs - WTC hit the deck approx 1720 both EST.
Put up on You Tube today - get your copy before, Like Larry Silverstein did with WTC 7 they "pull it".
You can see the BBC version / You Tube of this outstanding event here .
Also read Richard Porter head of news, BBC World attempt to explain it all away on the BBC Blog here."We're not part of a conspiracy. Nobody told us what to say or do on September 11th. We didn't get told in advance that buildings were going to fall down. We didn't receive press releases or scripts in advance of events happening." Ho.Ho.Ho.
We no longer have the original tapes of our 9/11 coverage (for reasons of cock-up, not conspiracy). yeah, yeah it's like the since the war and we lose the fillum ?
Judge for yourself. You certainly cannot rely on the 911 Commission.
Feb. 6 airpower summary: F-15s hit enemy combatants
An F-15E Strike Eagle dropped a guided bomb unit-38(1 tonne HE) onto a position where enemy combatants were located. JTAC = successful.
An RAF GR-7 Harrier conducted shows of force in the vicinity of Kajaki Dam (which NATO forces took in February 2007) in order to deter enemy activities in the area. JTAC = successful.
In total, 33 close-air-support missions were flown as part of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.
In Iraq, F-16 Fighting Falcons used a GBU-12 (500lbs HE) and GBU-38s (1 tonne HE) to successfully destroy a house-borne improvised explosive device, an enemy combatant command and control building and an enemy weapons bunker. The strikes took place in the vicinity of Baqubah.
A Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet dropped GBU-38s(1 tonne HE) onto a car that had been destroyed and was filled with ordnance. JTAC = successful.
In Basrah, a RAF GR-4 Tornado successfully destroyed enemy mortar rocket rails using cannon rounds. Additionally, the GR-4 Tornado conducted a show of force to deter enemy activities in the area.
In Mosul, F-16s dropped a GBU-12 and GBU-38s onto an enemy building that coalition forces had been taking fire from. JTAC = successful.
In total, coalition aircraft flew 65 close-air-support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom
Benjamin Lowy, USA, VII Network.
Kabul market, Afghanistan (cropped)
Daily Life Singles prize World Press Awards this week (More award winning pics here)
18-month-old boy killed in car accident at family home - The Guradian today.
"An 18-month-old boy has died after he was accidentally run over by a 4x4 car believed to be driven by his father. Jake Younger became trapped under the wheels of the Land Rover Freelander on Thursday afternoon as it reversed towards the driveway at the family home in Kibblesworth, Gateshead.
Neighbours say they heard the child scream and moments later saw his father, Neil Lawson, 28, running down the street with the toddler in his arms and shouting for help. "
See Post Paturday, June 10, 2006 SUV's are a hazard to children
University of Utah Study Shows Minivans, Trucks Pose Greatest Risk of Backing Over Children in Driveways
See Post Friday, October 07, 2005 SUV 's... kill kids and slays the old.
"Small children are over represented in driveway accidents with SUV’s, probably a result of the increased height of the vehicle and the driver's reduced ability to see things immediately around the vehicle. An Australian study in New South Wales (2004) showed that typically, the injury involved a parent or relative reversing a motor vehicle in the home driveway over a toddler or preschool-age child in the late afternoon or early evening. Four-wheel-drive or light commercial vehicles were involved in 42% of all injuries, such vehicles were associated with a 2.5-times increased risk of fatality. In 13 of the 14 deaths, the cause was a severe head injury not amenable to medical intervention."
Accidents happen .... yeah... totally unforeseen. Act of that cruel God maybe.
UPDATE : Toddler killed as her father reverses car down the family drive - the second child to die that way in a week Daily Mail 10/2/08
An inquest into Greta's death was opened and adjourned by the Herefordshire Coroner on Thursday.
Well informed Bernhard at Moon over Alabama says - "A new phase of the war over Iraq has started. "
It has been telegraphed for some time as Local news reports have been full of plans for Mosul and the numbers of troops heading there for battle for at least the last two / three weeks.
"The coming fight over Mosul will get bloody. As the Arab media will now be censored, it might take a while until we get a somewhat true picture of it.
Mosul is for some time now a hotbed of resistance activities in Iraq.
It is the capital of the Ninawa Governorate near to the Kurdish area in north Iraq. It lies on both sides of the Tigris with five bridges connection these parts. At least two of these bridges have earlier been under attack. Mosul has nearly 2,000,000 inhabitants.
Maliki has ordered a huge offensive against Mosul involving a three brigade size (10,000-15,000 troops) force of Iraqi government troops and U.S. support (likely one brigade - 3,500 troops).
The attack will start in the next few days."... More ..
The unlikely bulk of ex marine and child molester Scott Ritter looms - " Iraq's Tragic failure" at Truth dig .....
"If the president is free to pursue his policies, it could lead to direct military intervention in Iran by the United States prior to President Bush’s departure from office or, failing that, place his successor on the path toward military confrontation. " ... lay off it Scott you've been forecasting the Iranian invasion since June 2006.
However with his ear well close to CIA sources he does provide a timely reminder that the fag end of Saddam's Baathists have survived Bremer's brave boys and reports that in October 2007 the Iraqi Baath Party held its 13th conference, in which it formally certified one of Saddam’s vice presidents, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, as the supreme leader of the Sunni resistance in Iraq.... and then proceeds to punt this guy as the head honcho for Al Quaeda in Iraq (AQIQ).
He sees the coming strife in the North as a reflection of the Tet offensive.... watch this space.
"Saddam may be dead," says Scott, speaking for his paymasters, the CIA " but not so his plans for resistance. The massive security organizations which held sway over Iraq during his rule were never defeated, and never formally disbanded."
Are we to see the resurgence of the (rumoured dead) Nizar al Khazraji and his grisly pals (so popular with the CIA pre illegal invasion) ex Saddam's Information Minister Mohammed Sahaf, (not so Comical Ali) Health Minister Umid Mubarak and Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Al-Hadithi, 59 ... or even the arrival from retirement of Mr Aziz ?
PS : BBC World News briefing at 5.30 GMT says the Taliban have been re-branded for the Spring (Tet ?) offensive as the "Mujahadeen" and are gathering strength in Qetta on the Pak borders - they talk of 1.5 million madrassa studentswilling to fight for the legendary Muja.
USA Today 11/2/08 - Al-Qaeda tries to salvage image
ISN 10/2/08 - Questioning the Mosul offensive -"The military buildup in Mosul is part of a large-scale offensive involving 24,000 US soldiers and 130,000 Iraqi troops, designed to root out purported al-Qaida-linked militants in several provinces."
This Fucking War - No Local Allies in Wings for Mosul Fight - " Iraqi and American commanders are preparing for a prolonged - and possibly pivotal - fight against al-Qaida in Iraq in this vital northern hub. They are missing an essential tool used to uproot insurgents elsewhere: groups of local Sunni fighters - the so called Awakening Councils. "
"...creating ties with Sunni militia allies is a dangerous option. "It's just politically very delicate and the U.S. military would be in danger of breaking with its Kurdish allies if it went in that direction"
Captains Journal - Looming Battle for Mosul 10/2/08 see also Last Stand in Mosul 29/11/07
Friday, February 08, 2008
The Financial Times headline today (9/2/08) spotlights mortgage fraud. Which may be related to what Lord Patel discovered in a conversation with a long standing Asian Financial Wizard and friend at the gym.
In Jan - June 2007, 60% of his business was arranging mortgages with (mainly) Asian self employed businesmen mortgaging property with Northern Rock.
It worked like this. Mr Q is a prosperous self employed businessman and seeks capital to expand. Northern Rock intoduced a new principal and wizard wheeze for their mortgages to help such cash strapped souls, build business and pay handy fees to sales staff and agents and fund the bonuses of main board Directors whose salary and bonus was based on sales growth.
It also explains why sales increased in the first 6 months of 2007 and profits only rose 1%. (That they could fund and pay a rise in the divvy of 33% is another story) Note that the first starred feature of their Interim results on July 26th said ...
Record H1 gross lending of £19.3 billion - an increase of 30.5%, with record H1 net lending of £10.7 billion - an increase of 47.3%
and somewhat lower down and hidden away..
Statutory profit attributable to equity shareholders of £188.2 million, up by 0.2%
Hmmmmm. ?????? net lending up 47% and only a 0.2% increase in profits how so ?????
Mr Q has a house let us say with a valuation £800,000. He takes out a mortgage of say 75% , say £600,000, ( loans were not really considered below the magic £1/2 Mn.) A loan was arranged for £600K, based on self declared earnings.
As soon as the mortgage is provided it is immediately paid back less £1. This leaves Mr. Q with a facility of £600K which he can call down and a mortgage with a balance of £1 to pay. Mr Q has £599,999 available in total or part at any time by making a phone call and receiving funds in 3 working days.
My friend gets 0.85% for arranging what he describes, is, for his extensive clientele a "no brainer". Luvvly jubbly, trebles all round.
Any such loans of course fly right under the radar when audited - loans which exceed asset backing, or payment arrears. (e.g Northern Wreck Interim results - Credit quality remains robust. 0.47% of mortgage accounts 3 months or more in arrears (31 December 2006 - 0.42%) - around half of industry average )
Of course the first tricky bit is how all this (and my friend was handling £1 -2 Mn mortgages / loans a week) you deal with this on the balance sheet at Northern Rock.
The second tricky bit is how you find the funds, when ,let us say, every mortgagee decides to take up his "loan". This is why Old Adam Applegarth went to see the Bank of England on August 7/8/9 th ( less than 3 weeks after the half year results and issueing a 33% increased divvy!) asking for £30 Bn. as Lord King explained in his BBC4 Radio interview. The queues formed in the street when the , what we bankers call an , "empty till situation" arose and the word spread very, very, very quickly in the Geordie homeland of NR.
The third tricky bit is when someone discovers that these properties might possibly be slightly overvalued (or might not even exist) and the self declared income is probably somewhat lower than the mortgagee had anticipated.
The fourth tricky bit is when Mr Q disappears - or quelle horreur, doesn't seem to exist.
All this might explain why Mr Curran at Northern Wreck had such a bad headache it kept him off work until he decided (with some encouragement) to leave the company. It might also explain why there is so little enthusiasm by major players in resurrecting NR and why Mr O and his plas have politely withdrawn there declarations of interest.
However the gravy train rolls on, not quite at the same speed, with the same intensity (NR was writing 20% of all UK mortgages in the first 6 months of 2007) at the Halifax Bank with their Flexible Mortgage tailored to meet your "special" needs. Halifax are part of HBOS whose year end results are awaited. Shareholders are advised to bail out without delay. NOW..Pronto
Incidentally NR produced accounts in 26 days at the Interims .. it's February 9th and no sign of them .. the wel established rule that it takes a very, very long time to produce bad, very bad results.
Perhaps there is a clue in that the National Statistical Office maintains that the whole NR debacle should appear as a £100Bn. (ouch!!!) item on the Current borrowing requirement... somehwat slightly in excess of all the other magical figures previously published.
Curiously this note is added to their decision... just what does this mean ?
This decision also required ONS to examine the structures and arrangements used in Northern Rock plc’s borrowing programme, which involves securitisation of mortgage assets. The ONS judgement here is to also classify to the public sector the UK-resident special purpose vehicles used in the securitisation programme.
The ONS said its reclassification of Northern Rock was backdated to October 9 last year, when the Bank of England's support arrangements for the bank were amended to accept all of its assets as collaterol, including unsecured loans.
Wheat price surge raises inflation fears By Chris Flood Financial Times London
A fall in US inventories of wheat - February’s USDA ending stocks were 272 million bushels vs. estimates of 274 million and January estimates of 292 million; low end estimates 237 million and high end is 292 million. which represents a 60-year low drove prices of grain sharply higher on Friday to a fresh record, intensifying fears of rising global food price inflation.
US wheat futures jumped by their daily trading limit every day this week. Prices for benchmark flour making Minneapolis , (MGEX) rose 10.7 % on the week, extending its price surge since the beginning of 2008 to 50%.
The markets opened lock limit up and stayed there the entire session.Synthetically ( ie informal contracts) the market traded up to US$21 in the March (actual close US$15.53 and US$17.50 (close US$14.24) in the May....Synthetics are the name of the game for
To cope with the raised prices MGEX Contracts Committee (CFTC) approved raising wheat contract daily price limits from 30 cents to 40 cents effective with the Feb. 12 trading session. This weekend the CFTC are being asked to raise that to 60 cents.
Kansas City and Chicago followed Minneapolis.
This is serious. record low inventories, poor crops .. see Australia and soaring demand.
The flooded Ensham mine in Queensland.
The coal industry is worth more than Aus$18 billion a year to Queensland's economy and employs about 23,000 people in the state. Floods in January have caused major and massive problems - Coal giant Xstrata lost production at its Collinsville and Newlands mines, BHP Billiton has been forced to cut back production at different sites. Rio Tinto said production at its Kestrel mine had been hit.
Ensham Resources Pty Limited, is one of Queensland's largest and fastest growing thermal coal producers, they built the world's second largest dragline at their Emerald mine in the coal-rich Bowen Basin in central Queensland. It is a major source of coking coal for the steel industry.
Industry sources say that prices at the end of 2007 of US$ 95-US$100 pe tonne can be expected to rise to US$150 a tonne, as supplies are hit not only by flloding of mines but disruption to rail services to the coast.
On top of this, it is apparent that China's severe winter will impact on demand and consequently on already record global prices.
The bucket attached to the new Ensham dragline is of 143 cubic yard capacity - it can scoop out enough material to fill two backyard swimming pools in one go.
Now the dragline is in it's own swimming pool.
"It's really a scene of utter devastation", says Peter Westerhuis general manager of the mine, "the Ensham mine has got the Nogoa river running almost through the middle of it. It's burst it's banks and engulfed the entire centre of operations. The pits are up to a hundred metres deep, and the ones that have been completely inundated are about three kilometres long each, and full of water. We estimate a hundred thousand megalitres has gone into those pits.
"We had some indication of rising flood levels in the Theresa creek, which feeds into the Nogoa river. Literally, twenty four hours later we were faced with this devastation.
The Queensland Resources Council says it could be weeks before the mining industry returns to normal production after the widespread flooding through the central highlands at a cost to the industrysaid to be over Aus$200 Mn.
"The mine is constructed with levees in appropriate places. They are classified as levees suitable for a one in a hundred year flood, in excess of anything that's happened here before. But the flood levels have gone completely over the top of the levee, it's really an unprecedented, and unexpected event that no one could predict." (Just compare the size of this mutha with the pic at the top)
Might be an idea to send details of this to the boffins at the bank of England ... perhaps if they had read about the storms in Newcastle in June they might have been ready to forecast the rise in world coal / energy prices. Saturday, June 09, 2007 Chinese Coal carriers grounded off newcastle,NSW, Australia
Newcastle Coal Trades Near a Record as Demand Rises (Update1)
Dec. 31 2007 (Bloomberg) -- Coal prices at Australia's Newcastle port, a benchmark for Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, traded near a record on concern that demand is outpacing supply.
Power station coal, excluding shipping cost, for delivery within three months posted its second weekly gain, settling at $89.69 a metric ton in the week ended Dec. 28, according to the globalCOAL NEWC Index, an Asian benchmark calculated each Friday. Prices are up 85 cents from the previous week and near the US$89.76 record set earlier this month (nbspNEWC Index up from US$67.72 in September).
``It's going to be a situation of restricted supply throughout 2008, so that will keep spot prices near record levels,'' said Gavin Wendt, a senior resources analyst at Fat Prophets Funds Management in Sydney. ``The miners just can't get the stuff out and onto a ship.''
The queue of ships waiting outside Newcastle port to load coal reached a record 79 in June after storms disrupted operations. There were 34 vessels waiting to load as of midnight, Dec. 30.
Chinese coal imports rose 39 % to 46.68 million tons in the first 11 months of 2007.
Must be very difficult to calculate global energy price trends faced with that sort of information. Evidently judged by the performance of the wankers at the Bank of England.
UPDATE Midnight : The FT has just hit the streets ....
Wheat price surge raises inflation fears By Chris Flood in London
A fall in US inventories of wheat to a 60-year low drove prices of the grain sharply higher on Friday to a fresh record, intensifying fears of rising global food price inflation.
US wheat futures jumped by their daily trading limit every day this week. Prices for benchmark flour making Minneapolis , (MGEX) rose 10.7 % on the week, extending its price surge since the beginning of 2008 to 50%.
To cope with the raised prices MGEX Contracts Committee approved raising wheat contract daily price limits from 30 cents to 40 cents effective with the Feb. 12 trading session.
The Annual Prayer Breakfast is (not as commonly imagined an event planned by the White House) organized by the shadowy and powerful tax free Fellowship Foundation, an organization that was founded by a demented Norwegian and Nietzchist, born in 1886 a year before Vidkun Quisling, called Abraham Vereide in 1935.He was also associate with the barmy but highly influential inter war years Moral Rearmament Movement and its leader Frank Buchman.
The Fellowship (with at least 33 members of Congress ) maintains a three-story townhouse at 133 C Street in Washington, D.C., near the United States Capitol.The Fellowship operates a retreat center as an "unofficial headquarters," at the end of 24th Street North in Arlington, Va. Called "The Cedars," it was purchased in 1978 through donations from, among others, Tom Phillips, CEO of arms manufacturer Raytheon; and Ken Olsen of Digital Equipment Corporation.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is a member of the Fellowship and her husband in his autobiography, My Life, brags that he never missed a National Prayer Breakfast as President.
The Fellowship have Renaissance Weekends, strange events by all acoounts - it was at one such eent Bill Clinton’s and Tony Blair’s idea of a “Third Way” between capitalism and socialism was developed. A Weekend in Charleston, South Carolina was attended by Newsnight's favourite crooked pollster Frank Luntz.(see Who the Fuck is Frank Luntz?)
See ; Jesus plus nothing: Undercover among America's secret theocrats by Jeffrey Sharlet Harper's March 2003.
EXPOSÉ: THE “CHRISTIAN” MAFIA Where Those Who Now Run the U.S. Government Came From and Where They Are Taking Us By Wayne Madsen Insider magazine
At the same time that Dubya was telling us all how each one of us was precious his mouthpiece Tony Fratto was talking to the Press in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House and was asked this Question ..
Q . Tony, waterboarding is, as you know, explicitly forbidden in the new Army Field Manual. One of the rationales that military officers tell me is the reason for that is that what we do to people in other countries, they will eventually do to Americans. Doesn't allowing waterboarding and not forbidding it in all circumstances essentially say that it's appropriate for U.S. troops to be waterboarded by other countries under similar circumstances?
... and started digging a hole....
MR. FRATTO: No, it doesn't. But in terms of the operational use of any enhanced interrogation technique, I'll let the agency comment on that -- the Central Intelligence Agency runs the program and I'll allow them to comment on it. I think it's important to note, as General Hayden did and I believe Attorney General Mukasey, that that technique is not part of the current program, it hasn't been for a long time. If there would be any change in authorized techniques within the program, it would go through a process that includes a legal review that would be conducted by the Attorney General. And then a decision would be made by the President based on the circumstances and the advice of his senior advisors.
Then things got a bit tough for Tony whose Boss was just down the street telling us all about our preciousness... and he ignored the law of holes... when in one, stop digging.
Q Does the President think he's above the law in breaking the law on torture?
MR. FRATTO: No, the President believes he should always seek counsel of those who speak for the law, which would be the Department of Justice and the Attorney General. And that is what he has always done.
Q He's read enough about waterboarding now. Does he think it is torture?
MR. FRATTO: I'm not going to speculate on --
Q He knows about it, though. He knows how it's been applied.
MR. FRATTO: No, I don't think I can give a good answer to that question.
Q Tony, if al Qaeda were to use waterboarding on an American prisoner, would the Bush administration consider that to be torture? ... More here nice to see the Press giving the White House apologists a hard time
Very entertaining of course but the fuckers will do what they want ... shit they trashed habeus corpus in 2001.
Tony Fratto by the way was Communications Director for young (46) Senator Rick Santorum (a Roman Catholic and now Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference Committee - with Presidential ambitions) attack dog of the moral Right who hates gyas and abortion, named by TIME this week as one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America and wudja bleeve it .... member of the Fellowship Foundation and good buddy of the head honcho of FF, Douglas Coe, 76 .
Lord Patel's favourite buttress of FF are the husband and wife tag team of Rev. Tim and Beverly LaHaye, 78 and 75, wihout whom Jerry Falwell would be washing dishes. Rev Tim wrote Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days (and its 11 sequels have sold more than 42 million copies), setting an image about how the world will end.
Beverley is not slouching towards Jerusalem either , she founded Concerned Women for America, (CWA left) one of Washington's most influential anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage organizations.
Readers with a long memory will recall that Lord Patel wrote to Lord King at the Bank of England on Friday January 4th 2008.
Lord King Chairman of the Bank of England. 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."
… that your staff are inadequate readers of the energy market, in relation to the npower announcements today. (They anounced massive rise of 17.2 % in domestic energy prices - which have been followed by others, E.ON followed suit yesterday)
Can someone explain how the consistent and constant rise in global and especially EU energy costs had been ignored / overlooked when Lord King made his speech ?
Regards Lord Patel
PS An early response would be welcome.
Well, mindful of the final request, an answer has plonked into our e-mail in tray this afternoon.
From: Enquiries [mailto:Enquiries@bankofengland.co.uk]
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2008 9:56 AM
Dear Lord Patel
Thank you for your e-mail of 4 January concerning the Governor’s comments about energy prices and inflation. Your e-mail has been passed to me to reply on the Governor’s behalf.
Before turning to address your particular points, I thought that it was worth explaining the remit of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). The MPC’s task is to set interest rates to meet the Government’s inflation target of 2% (as measured by the 12-month increase in the Consumer Prices Index). Only by keeping inflation low can we avoid the cycles of high inflation, high interest rates and recession which characterised previous decades. In setting the official Bank Rate, the MPC has to judge the outlook for the economy and inflation, and to decide what level of interest rates will ensure inflation remains low and in line with the target of 2%. MPC decisions involve difficult judgements about the direction of the economy, the state of overall demand and the pressure on prices. There is inevitable uncertainty about the future. (You don't say !)At any time, there will be some factors that may in themselves point to higher interest rates, while others suggest lower rates, or no change. ( Without enumerating or identifying these factors present in mid-2007)
In reaching decisions, each of the 9 members of the MPC votes independently on Bank Rate, having considered all of the available evidence. You should note it takes around two years for changes in interest rates to work through fully to inflation, and so MPC decisions are based on the Committee’s expectations of inflation, and not on the current rate of CPI inflation. (So, if true, evidently they did not expect any inflationary pressures)
As the Governor indicated the energy price rises seen in 2006 did indeed drop out of the annual inflation comparison in the second half of 2007. In fact, in the first half of 2007 CPI inflation averaged 2.7%, whereas in the second half of the year CPI inflation averaged 2.0%. (Taking no account it appears of rapidly rising costs of gas, oil and electricity in the EU - and the fact that it was only months since the last energy price rises)
There have of course been further energy price rises since the speech to which you refer and the Governor has already addressed these matters in a speech he gave on 22 January this year. In particular he said “2008 is likely to see higher energy prices, higher food prices and, with a lower exchange rate, higher import prices, pushing inflation above the 2% target. It is possible that inflation could rise to the level at which I would need to write an open letter of explanation, possibly more than one, to the Chancellor. Although there is little we can do now to avoid some rise in inflation this year, the task of the Monetary Policy Committee is to ensure that it is short-lived. If inflation expectations were to pick up in the wake of a rise in inflation this year, then only a more prolonged slowdown would allow inflation to return to target. But if the rise in inflation does not affect longer-term expectations, then inflation could start to fall back towards the end of the year. We are determined to keep inflation on track to meet the 2% target in the medium term.”
Thank you once again for writing to the Bank. You might like to know that the Governor is made aware of all correspondence addressed to him along with the points that correspondents make.
Kind regards, Roger Beaton, Public Information & Enquiries Group, Bank of England, Treadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AH T: 44 (0)20 7601 4878 F: 44 (0)20 7601 5460 E: email@example.com
Which seems to somehow not address the point about the BOE and it's double first encrusted staff of economists, econometricians, statisticians, modellers etc., managed to deal with the question how the, " consistent and constant rise in global and especially EU energy costs had been ignored / overlooked ".
Naturally Lord Patel has not only asked for an elaboration on this point, more specifically as to the need to forecast events rather than react to them retro-actively. He has, naturally ( and with all the modesty his rank alloes) offered not only to provide a forecasting service and also explained that he would be happy to accept an invitation to sit on the Monetary Policy Committee.
Anyone who thinks that would be a good idea, might wish to suggest the same to Mr Roger Beaton, who will no doubt deal with your correspondence with his customary promptness, courtesy and care.
The picture is of Lord Mervyn King speaking at the Mansion House on June 21st 2006 ( a year earlier) which was memorable for him pledging his support for the Trident missile program upgrade whith an estimated capital cost of £15 to £20 Bn.£65 Bn - less than the amount he , the PM and Chnacellor pissed up against the wall in one weekend in September throwing money at the Northern Wreck black hole - now we learn to be writtten into the National Accounts at a mind blowing, jaw sagging, eye watering capital cost of £100 Bn. That is (only one of the many) the reason why we call him a cunt. He is now a fixture for the next 5 years.
If you work at the Bank of England this handy graph of UK energy costs may act as a handy aide memoire or cut out 'n' keep crib sheet how prices have been moving.....
When Lord Patel attends his first meeting of the MPC he will hand out shiny waterproof encapsulated copies to the remaining members.
To see how food prices had been soaring the BOE might usefully read Lord Patel's post Wednesday, November 01, 2006 World wheat shortages loom - prices soar and the point made 8 months before Lord King's speech to the City in June 2007, that ... Wheat 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. Changes to the economics of using grain as feedstock to ethanol
Now you don't need a double first in PPE to understand that.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Thompson have an Ulster solution for Boosting airline capacity and customer satisfaction - DELTA lead the way
Survivability in an aircraft crash is affected by the orientation of the passenger - it is for this reason that cabin staff are seated facing the rear when landing and taking off - unlike their passengers.
In military transports the the seats are often (but not always) configured for passengers to face the rear.
Apart from this there has been no major changes in aircraft seating in the post war, modern pressurised passneger jets and seats have always been placed in strictly straight transverse rows . This configuration places strict limits on passenger numbers and available space. in all passenger classes.
Ulster Brains and Ulster Engineering
Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884) of sound Ulster stock patented his horse drawn reaper in 1834. In the mid west where land was plentiful and cheap labour was short.In 1847 a move to Chicago was decisive and his (then) much improved machinery conquered not only the west had won acclaim at London's Crystal Palace exhibition in 1851 and was by 1856 famous worldwide.
In a simple, straightforward but very clever way a small Ulster Engineering company, Thompson Solutions of Kilkeel, Co.Down have designed a way of providing more passenger room, and greater comfort without reducing passenger count - which should and possibly will, have similiar world wide success.
The competition for airline passengers is intense .
There is a dichotomy in approach by airlines to gain (and keep) passengers revenue and profits.
One route is to generate volume and revenue by low prices and and frequent flights with "no frills" barebone service, especially on short (up to 3 hours) flights.
The other route is to improve the passenger experience , especially on longer flights and for the commercial passengers prepared to pay to allow well paid staff to hit the ground running when they arrive at their business destination.
At one level there is the relentless advance of hi tech services , of on board video and music on demand, provision of power for lap tops, and shortly, for in flight mobile e-mails, texts and internet surfing, to which mobile phone connectivity has just ben added on one Air France plane.
At another level the twin requirements are the more basic human requirments for food and rest. Special foods, in flight chefs, fine wines and every cuisine imagineable are provided ... followed by some peaceful shut eye on a comfortable FLAT bed.
On the largest and most expensive services, such as the new Airbus 38o curently in service with Singapore Airlines there has been a revival of private cabins not unlike those of the old colonial airboat services.
Such luxuries are space hungry, so Thompson Solutions have produced a simple re-jigging of spaces both laterally and horizontally come up with a world beating formula for business class users, which is now being installed as part of a multi million dollar contract with Delta Airlines.
This clever and ergonomically sound solution provides, embodying clever and sound engineering results in seating modules incorporating a fully flat adjustable Horizontal bed/seat up to 80" long, with no lost seating capacity compared with 60" angled bed/seats, and full aisle access to all seats, a third of which are single seats.
This is done by staggering the seats so that the extended bed fits into the seatside large footwall of the preceding seat (3d Quicktime view)
For example their B767-300 plans, a favourite plane for the business only class airlines (hitting a nasty patch at present however) shows a neat way to offer'all business class cabin' with 108 seats with 75" x 26" bed seats each with 17" monitors, 2 seats each side of the central aisle which with a removal of the overhead bin elevates the cabin to a superior first class zone.
This also improves staff working conditions with better aisle access, to seats with more individual space, more storage / leg room room for larger TV monitors all with no loss of seating capacity - or revenue with the big plus of happier customers.
This same principal applied to economy seating, by staggering the seats and overlapping the armrests will provide for 15% more capacity 132 instead of 120 seats or it can be translated ionto a 2" wider seat - which can be improved further by installing triangular toilet rooms on new build aircraft.
Thompson have 40 staff and with orders in hand will need to take on at least 100 more staff and look for more manufacturing capacity.
Just as Cyrus McCormack took a basic requirement and used simple mechanical skills to meet a clear human need Thompson have provided a small but quiet revolution to the way airlines can improve service, retain and build customer returns and sell Ulster engineering expertise worldwide.
It's no surprise Thompson Solutions are talking to many other major airlines and their passenger load configuration plans for the Airbus and Boeing fleets must be causing many airlines to re-consider the best way to use internal space.
Delta have had a torrid time since 9/11 and emerged from bankruptcy and were re-launched only last May. Since then the shares have swung around the offer price but have seen a strong run this last month against a plunging market.
Associated Press said yesterday that Delta Air Lines (DAL) and Northwest Airlines (NWA) are getting closer to the much heralded merger agreement. Delta's board of directors is expected to meet during the next several days, according to their source, and a deal could be announced as early as next week. A Delta-Northwest merger would create the nation's largest carrier, with Delta boasting strength in the Atlantic region and Northwest holding sway over the Pacific. Delta has already stated, though, that its CEO and chairman would have to remain at the helm if it were to accept any merger deal, which might leave NWA chief Doug Steenland looking for a job.
Reading of the generosity of spirit of Mr Conway MP toward his family, it occurred to me, that if MP's employ staff paid with Public Funds without the normal tireseome procedures of advertising the position , receiving CV's, inetrviewing, ensuring fairness in selection on the gronds of age, sex, disability, vetting stated qualifications, medical history where appropriate, and interviewing. (Pic of recently bugged MP with his Office Manager - actually if you look carefully it is Toni Fabuloso working undercover as Lolla Palooza)
An MP could easily ( and quelle horreur) employ a spouse, mistress, relative, gigolo who (because of the exiguous funds available to the MP to pay his industrious and apparently overworked spouses, mistresses, relatives , gigolos) seek and obtain employment by extra employment. Moonlighting maybe, say, for the Welsh Whiskey Distillers and Barfitters Guild and Trade Association who might employ said spouse, mistress, relative, gigolo to travel to far flung exotic and expensive hotels to advise on , say, bar fittings, bed comfortableness or the correct ambience for sloshing out Welsh Whisky.
Perhaps even, the employees employer, Viz: The Rt.Hon or Hon Member might join them as bag carrier, note taker, bath runner, cocktail shaker ...
Just a thought.
Difficult to believe of course .... and of course embarassing, if say, the MP's flat or London pied a terre regularly received cases of , say, Welsh Whiskey or Bar Fittings to generously distribute amongst their friends, acquaintances, and maybe even their close family.
Must remember to ask Toni Fabuloso - she seems to know a few MP's Office Manageress's
E.ON energise Sheffield children with powerful experience
Is the exciting news from their Press Office in a 100% authentic E.ON Press release today ... it goes on in the breathless, upbeat prose of the PR professional... "Children from Tinsley Junior School were given a chance to find out more this week about how renewable energy might be produced in the heart of Sheffield - at an exhibition at Tinsley Community Centre hosted by E.ON, one of the country's leading green generators." etc., etc., Makes you feel warm and fluffy hey?
Any Press Release 100% Official from E.ON about today's exciting new mesage about hummungous price rises for all their Mums, Dads, Grannies and Grad Dads ? Well...er... NO/
HOWEVER if you go to the website and go Home > Retail > click on Price Change in the rather confusing Right Hand bar you will find FAQ's and details of their price changes announced this morning - effective midnight. Yes, that's right. in 12 hours time...no we don't need to stick a gun to your head, this is open your wallet time sucker !
E.ON (they say with false modesty) is one of the last major energy suppliers to raise prices this year (brownie points all round there then). Prices rise 9.7% for electricity and 15% for gas because ...Wholesale gas prices have increased – by 60% for gas and 88% for electricity.
Prepayment meter customers price rises ( who pay a whopping premium) will be delayed until Spring (1 April 2008) to protect them during the winter months.... making virtue out of necessity as they have to visit to make the changes. - Hey ! it sounds as though we care.
They do have a range of very good FREE packages for energy saving ;
Free cavity wall and loft insulation
A PowerDown energy saving plug for use with desktop computers
A low energy table lamp
Two free low energy light bulbs
Two low voltage low energy halogen bulbs
We also offer a range of measures through our CaringEnergy
BUT you have to be over 70, make sure anybody you know hears about it, you don't have top be an E.ON customer..
Have OfGEM said anything ? Have they fuck. Hey it's a competitive market, so that's alright then.
Will OfGEM say anything ? Will they fuck, the supine useless bastards.
February 4th USAF Airpower summary
An Air Force B-1B Lancer dropped guided bomb unit-38s on positions in Kandahar where improvised explosive devices were located.
In the areas of Gereshk and Sangin, a Royal Air Force GR-7 Harrier performed shows of force in order to deter enemy activities.
Unsurprisingly on both these missions ..."The JTAC reported the mission as a success."
Sixteen close-air-support (shoot 'em up) missions were flown as part of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.
Ten Air Force and RAF intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Afghanistan. Additionally, two RAF aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.
In total, coalition aircraft flew 63 close-air-support (shoot 'em up)missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom
2/4/2008 - BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- The 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing hosted four major media outlets, three print and one television, in an unprecedented media event here Jan. 30. The event was the first time major media outlets visited the base for one specific event.
Said Maj. Danielle "Burn" Willis, 22nd EFS F-16 pilot, to a media representative "The F-16 isn't just there to drop bombs. "
Rense has sensational article suggesting up to 8 cables cut...
UPDATE : 14.30 GMT
The Galloping Beaver has a fascinating post which concentrates it appears with considerable knowledge on the unique facilites of the USS Jimmy Carter (remember the Carter Doctrine after the Iranians nabbed the Embassy staff inTehern ?) .
This is .."one hot piece of kit. It is the one submarine in the US fleet which is designated a Multi-Mission Platform and is purpose built to carry out a number of roles in special warfare, undersea surveillance and other really sneaky stuff."
This Hot wet split beaver then proposes .."If I were conducting an intercept operation requiring an undersea fiber-optic cable splice which I knew the cable operator would detect, I need a way to prevent that operator from detecting it. Create a diversion.
By disabling the cable, either by severing it underwater or creating a problem ashore, it gives me time to do my splice undetected in a location far away from the diversionary problem. When the cable operator says it will be days before a repair ship can get to it, that gives me plenty of time to get the job done and get out of the area."
Sounds plausible and well worth reading the background of the cold war ops when the US navy successfully read the the Soviet navy's Pacific Fleet headquarters comms when they tapped an undersea cable in the Sea of Okhotsk, which was discovered by the Soviets and another of the Kola Peninsula tapping into the Soviet Northern Fleet headquarters which remained undiscovered.
Commentator Boris also reflects that
It doesn't have to be in advance of any US action; it could just as easily be a relatively harmless way to test if it could be done should the need arise. Cutting those cables would empirically tell the [US] two several things: 1) the response time of the repairers; 2) the effects it has on the target region; 3) the adaptive mechanisms used to overcome it (rerouting signals through other networks = IDing new targets). The US has stated in the past they want the capability to "turn off" the internet or any global communication system.
Some folks tie this in, not with raining missiles down on the shopping Malls of Teheran but the much heralded ( 4 years in gestation)Teheran oil Bourse... which seems as much vapour ware as ever.
This has sevral interesting links which dig deeper into tinfoil territory;
http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=34493 - USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) and USS Maine (SSBN 741) (Blue and Gold) were awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" award for 2007 in ceremonies Jan. 17 and 18.
Richard Sauder @ http://www.cyberspaceorbit.com/ConnectingTheDots.htm ... "By my count, we are probably dealing with as many as eight, maybe even nine, unexplained cut or damaged undersea cables within the last week, and not the mere three or four that most mainstream news media outlets in the United States are presently reporting. Given all this cable-cutting mayhem in the last several days, who knows but what there may possibly be other cut and/or damaged cables that have not made it into the news cycle, because they are lost in the general cable-cutting noise by this point. Nevertheless, let me enumerate what I can, and keep in mind, I am not pulling these out of a hat; all of the sources are referenced at the conclusion of the article; you can click through and look at all the evidence that I have. It's there if you care to read through it all.
1) one off of Marseille, France
2) two off of Alexandria, Egypt
3) one off of Dubai, in the Persian Gulf
4) one off of Bandar Abbas, Iran in the Persian Gulf
5) one between Qatar and the UAE, in the Persian Gulf
6) one in the Suez, Egypt
7) one near Penang, Malaysia
8) initially unreported cable cut on 23 January 2008 (Persian Gulf?)
He has a mass of links and appears to fully understand the technology ... and says quite reasonably ,"The hard reality is that we are now living in a world of irrational and violent policies enacted against the civilian population by multinational corporations, and military and espionage agencies the world over. We see the evidence for this on every hand. Only the most myopic among us remain oblivious to that reality." and provides this brillian tlink to "Ivy bells" the sea of Okhotsk jobby. A nust read. http://www.specialoperations.com/Operations/ivybells.html - see pic
All very interesting to those sort of people who find this sort of thing very intersting.
PS : Robert Pelton
Pelton was a low-level , red haired , communications specialist at the National Security Agency for 14 years. He left the NSA in 1980 and was arrested in 1985 and accused of selling secrets to the Soviets. He pleaded not guilty but was convicted in 1986 of two counts of espionage and one count of conspiracy. He was sentenced to three concurrent life sentences. One of the secrets Pelton passed to the Soviets was information that compromised "Operation Ivy Bells," a top-secret operation in which a listening device was attached to Soviet undersea communication lines to record Soviet communications. He collected US$35K from the Russians for his troubles.
"A Classic Muscle Car Reborn "
Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Jim Press introduces the all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 at the Chicago Auto Show, Wednesday, February 6, 2008. After a 35-year absence, the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 design stays true to Challenger heritage while delivering a host of modern amenities and technology, along with "race inspired, street legal" power and handling - The Challenger SRT8 has a suggested retail price of $37,995,
"The engine is the same 6.1-liter pushrod Hemi V8 you get in a Charger SRT-8. It's rated at 425 hp at 6,000 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm." ....Dodge says the combination is good for 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, a quarter-mile run in 13 seconds flat and a top speed of 174 mph. (claimed 14 mpg per US gallon)
They made sure that the dumb fucks who buy these things know that it needs this stuff .. just don't tell them we are running out.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Tom Griffin at Green Ribbon has further in formation about e-borders between Eire and UK.
This is frankly un fucking be-leivable. See previous post Friday, January 11, 2008 Stop 'n' search ? Why travellers in UK "may be asked to prove their identity " ... State terrists at work about the information he received on his original FOI request.
This has now been added to by an annex that was "missing " from their original response to his freedom of information request.
The volume and detail of information is huge (it must cover over 150 data fields see below) and as Spy Blog points out can be pointless and redundant..
What is the point of collecting information on, say, Requested Seat Number or Allocated Seat Number, when large numbers of passengers used cheap short haul airlines, which operate a first come, first seated policy, just like a bus?
How asks Spy Blog How is this demand for excessive data, at all compatible with the Data Protection Act 1998 Principles of Data Protection , which civilised countries have adopted ?
Essentially the answer is : Home Office bureaucrats are trying the same tricks and manipulation with United Kingdom internal travel to Northern Ireland, as they have disgracefully lobbied the European Union, to allow to complete Passenger Name Records to be handed over to the United States of America and other foreign Governments. which of course we short curcuited because her gracious Majesty by Order in Council decided we would see ;
Friday, July 27, 2007 EU-US Personal Flight Data Treaty signed - Uncle Sam needs to know what your meal preferences are If you fly to the USA from a UK airport her Majesty the Queen has passed an Order in Council that means that your Personal Flight Data will be transmitted to the US authorities. For details see Lord Patel's post on Wednesday January 31st 2007
Briefly. The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty in Council At the Court at Buckingham Palace, the 19th day of July 2005 with the advice of Her Privy Council had ordered.2006 No. 2316 / CIVIL AVIATIONThe Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2006 Made - - - - 5th September 2006 /Laid before Parliament 7th September 2006 / Coming into force - - 30th September 2006
At the Court at Balmoral, the 5th day of September 2006Present, The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty in CouncilHer Majesty, in exercise of the powers conferred upon Her by sections 60(1), (2)(b), (3)(h) and (4), 61(1)(a) and 102(2)(b) of, and paragraph 2 of Part 3 of Schedule 13 to, the Civil Aviation Act 1982(a), is pleased, by and with the advice of Her Privy Council, to order as follows: ... etc which means that 34 bits of data about you , name, address, sex, food preferences, credit card number, etc.,etc., will disappear of to the data vaults of uncle Sam ..... forever.
See also Spy Blog on this surrender. More from travel expert and privacy campaigner Edward Hasbrouck's Practical Nomad blog for more information.
This is just the passenger information required ..
Information which relates to passengers
2. The information is—
(a) the following information as provided on the passenger’s travel document—
(i) full name;
(iii) date of birth;
(v) type of travel document held;
(vi) number of travel document held;
(vii) expiry date of travel document held; and
(viii) issuing State of travel document held;
(b) where a travel document is not held, the type of identification relied upon together with the number, expiry date and issuing State of that identification; and
(c) the vehicle registration number of any vehicle in which the passenger is travelling and which is being transported by ship or by aircraft or by through train or shuttle train and, if the vehicle has a trailer, the trailer registration number.
PLUS for Immigration purposes (take very deep breath..
1. The passenger and service information is the following details in respect of a passenger—
(a) name as it appears on the reservation;
(b) place of birth;
(c) issue date of travel document;
(f) any contact telephone number;
(g) e-mail address;
(h) travel status of passenger, which indicates whether reservation is confirmed or provisional and whether the passenger has checked in;
(i) the number of pieces and description of any baggage carried;
(j) any documentation provided to the passenger in respect of his baggage;
(k) date of intended travel;
(l) ticket number;
(m) date and place of ticket issue;
(n) seat number allocated;
(o) seat number requested;
(p) check-in time, regardless of method;
(q) date on which reservation was made;
(r) identity of any person who made the reservation;
(s) any travel agent used;
(t) any other name that appears on the passenger’s reservation;
(u) number of passengers on the same reservation;
(v) complete travel itinerary for passengers on the same reservation;
(w) the fact that a reservation in respect of more than one passenger has been divided due to a change in itinerary for one or more but not all of the passengers;
(x) Code Share Details;
(y) method of payment used to purchase ticket or make a reservation;
(z) details of the method of payment used, including the number of any credit, debit or other card used;
(aa) billing address;
(bb) booking reference number, Passenger Name Record Locator and other data locator used by the carrier to locate the passenger within its information system;
(cc) the class of transport reserved;
(dd) the fact that the reservation is in respect of a one-way journey;
(ee) all historical changes to the reservation;
(ff) General Remarks;
(gg) Other Service Information (OSI);
(hh) System Service Information (SSI) and System Service Request information (SSR);
(ii) identity of the individual who checked the passenger in for the voyage or flight or international service;
(jj) Outbound Indicator, which identifies where a passenger is to travel on to from the United Kingdom;
(kk) Inbound Connection Indicator, which identifies where a passenger started his journey before he travels onto the United Kingdom;
(ll) the fact that the passenger is travelling as part of a group;
(mm) the expiry date of any entry clearance held in respect of the United Kingdom;
(nn) card number and type of any frequent flyer or similar scheme used;
(oo) Automated Ticket Fare Quote (ATFQ), which indicates the fare quoted and charged;
(pp) the fact that the passenger is under the age of eighteen and unaccompanied; and
(qq) where the passenger is a person under the age of eighteen and unaccompanied—
(ii) languages spoken;
(iii) any special instructions provided;
(iv) the name of any departure agent who will receive instructions regarding the care of the passenger;
(v) the name of any transit agent who will receive instructions regarding the care of the passenger;
(vi) the name of any arrival agent who will receive instructions regarding the care of the passenger;
(vii) the following details in respect of the guardian on departure—
(cc) any contact telephone number; and
(dd) relationship to passenger; and
(viii) the following details in respect of the guardian on arrival—
(cc) any contact telephone number; and
(dd) relationship to passenger.
There is something very badly wrong at OfGEM... The UK consumer is being suckered and they stand by and do nothing but bleat.
The Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (OfGEM) has powers and duties which are largely provided for in statute, principally the Gas Act 1986, the Electricity Act 1989, the Utilities Act 2000, the Competition Act 1998, the Enterprise Act 2002 and the Energy Act 2004, as well as arising from directly effective European Community legislation.
The Board, whose Executive Members consist of Ofgem’s Chief Executive and Managing Directors, oversee the activities of Ofgem.
Contrary to popular belief OfGEM do NOT regulate energy prices directly. They protect consumers (their 1st priority) by promoting competition and regulating the monopoly companies which run the gas and electricity networks.
By doing this they also help to ;
1. Secure Britain’s energy supplies
2. Ensure adequate investment in the networks, contributing to the drive to curb climate change and other work aimed at sustainable development by
A. Helping gas and electricity industries to achieve efficient environmental improvements
B. Help vulnerable customers, particularly the old and poor ( er .. low incomes) and disabled.
Under this heading on their website they claim," Ofgem endeavours to keep its operations transparent " - for example by :
1. Publishing the minutes of its Authority meetings
2. Have an open annual meeting of the Authority
3. Have full and thorough consultation in developing decisions (including the development of its corporate strategy).(They fail to say who they consult).
...er.... that's it
Therefore it is a little surprising that when the reader consults the media section of the OfGEM website ,under "Keynote speeches" , we find a single one, by CEO Alistair Buchanan at the World Energy Congress Dinner at the French Embassy in Rome on 10th November 2007. This starts..."Let me tell you a story about Jean – a man who lived in Paris." .. a bad joke at the expense of Trappist monks , one of several ....and they don't improve, the final one about suicide is in extraordinarily bad taste.
Anyway his final totally opaque message was ...( mystifyingly he talks of twins ) • First twin: “Vision plus delivery”.• Second twin: “Ambition with reality”. One is left with the impression that much electric soup had been consumed prior to and during the event.
Turning to the Press releases they are mix of the commonplace ..."Ofgem bids farewell to director of gas distribution" .. to the procedural .."All Britain's gas distribution network owners accept Ofgem's 2008-2013 price controls".
Which is odd.
The Financial Times under the headline "Setback for UK wind farm push" on Monday quoted " Andrew Wright, managing director of markets at Ofgem, the electricity regulator, told the Financial Times: “The Renewables Obligation is a very expensive way of providing support for renewables.” .. as did many other press / magazine / blog articles about the futility of ROC's as a method of directing energy investment.
The Herald (3rd Feb) - "Watchdog calls for faster grid hook-up for renewables" quotes without naming a human source "Ofgem, the energy watchdog, wants delays cut for Scottish renewable energy projects that are waiting to be connected to the national grid network......According to Ofgem, many renewable projects waiting for connections to the transmission system often face long delays in obtaining planning consent."
The BBC (2nd Feb)- "Renewables delivery under attack " quotes Ofgem again anonymously .." (OfGEM) also told BBC Radio 4's Costing The Earth programme (Grid Lock ? Thursday January 30 2008) that it believes the government is not listening to its calls for change. "
The report then continues to make some astonishing claims ..
"The main mechanism for delivering renewable energy in Britain is the government's Renewable Obligation Certificate Scheme, or Rocs.... Ofgem, administers this scheme for the government, but it told Costing The Earth, that Rocs is no longer fit for purpose.
Currently, the scheme is costing energy customers between £280 and £500 per tonne of carbon offset, at least five times the price of carbon on the European market.
Ofgem believes that the costs could be reduced significantly, but that the government is not prepared to change the scheme.
"We made these points in the government's most recent consultation and unfortunately they fell on deaf ears," says the regulator's director of networks, Steve Smith. (BBC listen again)
These attributable and non attributable remarks reflect the total absence of any official press statement when Ofgem met chancellor Alistair Darling in the W/E Jan 18th to discuss the energy market and the stunning price rises such as British Gas's 15% hike for gas - which followed Npower, who raised their electricity prices by 12.7% and gas by 17.2%, and EDF Energy, which shoved up electricity tariffs by 7.9% and gas bills by 12.9%.
Which, as Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg pointed out will hit Britain's poorest ... those "vulnerable" custiomers that OfGEM are there to help.
The poor spend a significantly larger proportion of their income on electricity than the rich (graph from the TaxPayers' Alliance report The Case Against Further Green Taxes):
In a January 26th 2007 BBC report "Energy price rises 'unjustified' " the reporter provides an anonymous remark that "Regulator Ofgem insists that the UK energy market is competitive."
This is outrageous, OfGEM is evidently not transparent, and there is no evidence that helps the vulnerable consumer at all - beyond making the bland and anonymous remark that ,"the UK energy market is competitive." and lying back and having it's tummy tickled by the French and German owners of the bulk of UK energy supplies.
OfGEM administers the Renewable Obligation Certificates ( full explanation of the process here) by which the energy consumer pays through their bills to provide a subsidy to "sustainable" energy suppliers , wind, marine, hydro etc.,
This is done by auctioning off the electricity supplied to distributors and other energy supliers so that they meet the Government mandated level of sustainable energy in their product mix which was 3% in 2003, rising gradually to 10.4% by 2010, and 15.4% by 2015 and guaranteed in law until 2027 to provide the financiers with a nice warm fluffy feeling. This is administered by Non-Fossil Purchase Agency Ltd which was set up by the 12 Regional Electricity companies in England in 1990.
This is the scheme that the BBC report ... Ofgem, administers this scheme for the government, but it told Costing The Earth, that Rocs is no longer fit for purpose.
So far this scheme is costing the consumer some £600Mn a year and will rise to £3 Bn by 2020.
The FT article quoted above poitns out that ;
"ROC's, combined with bottlenecks in the planning system, mean these cash injections are enriching the operators of existing wind farms well beyond their expectations.... electricity .... from renewable sources has scarcely budged in recent years – 4.2 % - 2005 4.6% 2006, (latest figures available).
New wind capacity added in 2007 was less than 75% of that built the year before."
Last years Energy White Paper described ROC's as .." the “primary mechanism” for meeting its goals of reducing fossil fuel dependency."
Andrew Wright Andrew Wright, MD of Markets at Ofgem, says to the Press verbally : “The RO is a very expensive way of providing support for renewables.” and furthermore OfGEM told the FT that "wind farm owners could make more than £100 per megawatt hour." AS a guide British Energy realised price for lectricity generated by Nuclear Power was
Realised price (£/MWh) £ 38.4 in the 1st half of 07/08 and (£/MWh) £ 35.7 in 06/07.
Source half yr accounts.
Some people are making an awful lot of money via ROC's... and the more delays there are to producing alternative energy, the more they make ..MOD objections , planning , ( it would pay wind farm owners to fund objectors) and OFGEM are doing fuck all about it.. certainly not
"Help(ing) vulnerable customers, particularly the old and poor ( er .. low incomes) and disabled"
There are 4 non Exec members of OFGEM .. one is an interesting chappie who must have a few pals in the industry....
Having served as Executive Director for Corporate Affairs and Planning on the boards of the successor companies of British Gas since 1996, ending with National Grid Transco plc, John Wybrew now has a range of interests including Chairmanship of the new Sector Skills Council (Energy and Utility Skills) and Chairmanship of the British Energy Association.
Previously, John worked for the Shell Group for more than 30 years and spent seven years on the board of Shell UK, the second largest Shell operating company. During the late 1980s, he also served a three year secondment with the Prime Minister's Policy Unit, advising on energy and transport policies.
The Chairman is John Mogg, smart guy. this is what the FT reported August 23 2006
"Sir John Mogg is keen to guard against complacency when it comes to the country’s gas supplies. But, in an interview with the Financial Times, the Ofgem chairman said he was “much more confident” of the UK having enough gas to get through the coming winter and was hopeful that gas prices would come down next year."
here is a fascinating graph of global gas costs.
Plainly he, and the staff at OfGEM haven't a fucking clue of
a: What is happening in UK energy markets.
b: What to do about it.
UPDATE Thursday 7/2/08 Independent. Millions paying over the odds to energy suppliers Again , another non attributeable quote ..." Ofgem, the energy regulator, estimates that customers could save £1bn a year by switching to cheaper deals.." ... and no Press releases on the website. The Scotsman quotes OfGEM to similiar effect in Scotland.
Pic from St Edmondsbury Cathedral, Suffolk who will receive a £250,000 heritage Grant for help with refurbishing stained Glass. Just announced.
Case Notes is a BBC4 documentary programme presented by Dr Mark Porter who delves every week into what the medical profession does and doesn't know. This week he turned his attention to Hospital Acquired Infections. Like all Case Notes programmes it was informative, authoritative and is also available online as a repeat for 7 days, as a a full Transcript or as as Podcast.
This week the programme addressed what the Press like to call "Superbugs" -
"Hospital acquired infections - like ... MRSA and Clostridium difficile - are rarely out of the headlines these days. So how worried should we be? And what can you, and your hospital do, to reduce the risk? " the programme asked and provided an excellent and encouraging reponse.
Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI) were a problem first brought to a wider public attention when the Audit Commission led by the brilliant forensic mind of Sir John Bourn reported, not on the clinical problems but the costs of the lamentable record of people entering hospital for a cure and ending up with an infectious and sometimes fatal illness. In its original February 2000 report, the NAO noted that hospital-acquired infections (HAI) were (then) costing the NHS around £1 billion a year and resulting in at least 5,000 deaths - which broadly coincided with the experience in US hospitals.
A progress report issued 4 years later on Wednesday 14th July 2004 delivered the shocking news that the Department of Health’s mandatory MRSA reporting system had revealed an 8% increase in the number of Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections from 17,933 in 2001-02 to 19,311 in 2003-04. Of these, about 40% were MRSA, making the UK’s rate among the worst in Europe.
At the time Sir John Bourn said:
" .... I am concerned that, four years on from my original report, the NHS still does not have a proper grasp of the extent and cost of hospital-acquired infection in trusts.
"The war against hospital-acquired infection must be pursued on many different fronts: ranging from tackling the factors which inhibit good practice, including a more robust approach to antibiotic prescribing and hospital hygiene, though instituting a system of mandatory surveillance, to persuading all NHS staff to take responsibility for, and contribute towards, effective infection control."
It is unnerving that a well run, well funded, well staffed inner city hospitals of the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust are still, 7 years on struggling manfully to control this problem.
In the programme Mark Porter talks to Dr David Jenkins ,the Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Andy Powell, Head of Facilities and Caroline Trevithick, Lead Infection Control Nurse about their plans.
Preventing entry of infected patients by swabbing for MRSA before admission, annual deep cleaning (see pic) to help keep the hospital environment clean and rigorous hand washing procedures to prevent cross contamination between health workers and patients, and visitors have all been introduced as well as isolation of infected patients. There has also been an intensive and combined programme with GP's and hospital clincians to control the use and types of antibiotics routinely used for routine treatment of infections.
University Hospitals of Leicester produce a very good well illustrated leaflet - Understanding and Preventing Infections - Answers to the most common questions patients ask about two of the most talked about ‘superbugs’, MRSA and Clostridium Difficile). Downloadable PDF (!) (1.46 MB)(also available in 6 languages in printed format)
Mark Porter asked Dr Jenkins how he saw the situation at Leicester in terms of battling C.difficile and MRSA?
JENKINS .."It's early days yet because we have had a problem with C.difficile in Leicester.... our numbers now are the lowest for many years, in fact lower than they were before this new strain (the 027 strain of C.difficile ) came along. Clearly this is something we do need to keep an eye and we're certainly not complacent about that."
".... the government set a target for halving MRSA bloodstream infections by the end of March. At the moment we're on track for 70% reduction, so over performing from that point of view."
Studies in the developed world have now clearly identified the costs and consequences, of MRSA. In the UK, the National Audit Office (NAO), an organisation with no direct health responsibilities it must be noted, are the people who have been instrumental in driving changes, essentially for economic, not clinical reasons. To the direct costs must be added the consequences of claims for damages - Lesley Ash (pic) the popular TV actres has just won a reported £5Mn. settlement for crippling MRSA infection.
Paradoxically, as a result of more rigorous definitions, improved reporting, and defined responsibilities for infection control in hospitals it is evident that the problem is larger and more pervasive in UK hospitals than initial studies had indicated.
For example it was only 3/4 years ago that the scale of the Clostridium difficile levels of infections and fatalaties became apparent , even to health workers at all levels and Infection Control staff - whose function has now become critical in managing clinical success in the way it is now calculated and reported.
The Press have been assiduous in promoting the happy story that anxious patients and relatives wringing their hands in grief have been replaced by nursing staffs educated in hand washing.
Probably if there was a Royal College of Hospital Cleaners, anxious to protect their members interests, such a simple solution identifying the prime cause of sloppy cleaning, might not be promoted with such zeal. Nor expensive and largely pointless "deep cleaning" ... whose presence and signage suggests more a desire to provide public re-assurance rather than any meaningful medical benefit.
The story from Leicester (Whose University is the leading and most progressive Department in treating patients rather than illness) is one of modest success, naturally no hospital would take part if they couldn't display such effort, energy, directed zeal and demonstrable results.
That's the Good News - but there is plenty of bad News.
There were different results from a BBC programme which focussed on just one hospital trust in early 2004.
BBC reporter Danielle Glevin went undercover in May 2004 in the Kent and Sussex Hospital to report a scandalous story .
In the resulting programme Hugh Pennington an eminent consultant microbiologist (He led a public inquiry into the 2005 E. coli outbreak in South Wales) said it was a dirty hospital.."the worst I've ever seen" . Rose Gibb the Chief Executive of the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust responded "The hospital has cleaning problems".
There were subsequently two major outbreaks in their 3 hospitals of Clostridium difficile - 150 patients were affected between October and December 2005.
In a second outbreak from April to September 2006 285 patients were affected.
A report from health watchdog, the Healthcare Commission in October 2007 (3.5 years after the BBC programme) , concluded that infection by Clostridium difficile probably or definitely killed at least 90 patients and was a factor in the deaths of a further 241 in 3 Hospitals (Maidstone Hospital, Kent and Sussex Hospital, Pembury Hospital) run by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Hospital Trust . Kent Police and the Health and Safety Executive are now examining the report.
CEO Ms Rose Gibb ( a qualified nurse), resigned a day ahead of the publication of the report with an award of a years salary (£150,000), half of that has been paid despite the Health Minister Johnson's attempt to stop it and she is claiming for the balance of £75,000.
There are similiar problems reported recently in Suffolk Scotland and Northern Ireland
and Stoke Mandeville.
Stoke Mandeville Hospital was investigated by the HSE after a Healthcare Commission (HC) report claimed that there were “serious failings” in the hospital’s response to Clostridium difficle infection infecting 334 and killing 33 patients between October 2003 and June 2005. The HSE decided that they were unable to bring criminal proceedings against the trust due to a lack of “admissable evidence”.
Preliminary Health Protection Agency figures released this week show the most remarkable reduction in Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI) in England.
The latest Clostridum difficile figures, show that there was a 21% decrease to 10,734 cases in patients aged 65 years and over in England, for Q3 2007 (July – September) down from 13,699 in the previous Q2 2007(April – June) and 16% / 2,087 cases down on Q2 2006.
For patients 2 -62 , 2,496 cases were reported in the Q3 2007 (July – September) a 14% drop on the Q2 2007 (April – June).
The latest figures on MRSA bloodstream infections show that there were 1,072 cases reported in England during Q3 ( July/ September) 2007. This represents an 18% decrease on the previous quarter (April to June) when 1,304 reports were received. (HPA Press Release)
Whilst these dramatic reductions have raised a few eyebrows, indicating a massive level of success in 3 months not obtained in the previous 7 years, ther has been, at last some demonstrable success in the fight against HAI.... first raised as a problem 8 years ago by an Accountant.