"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kosovo - another swamp to get mired in to meet US colonial and imperial ambitions - this time in the Balkans - AGAIN

UK's last 1,000 soldiers rushed out to Balkans Sunday Telegraph

Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent reports that 1,000 troops of the 1st Bn Welsh Guards are off to what will tomorrow be the newly independent state of Kosovo .

This unexpected deployment has been ordered (he reports) in response to fears that the celebrations of the event could so easily "slide" into "ethnic cleansing".

A bit rich when the Prime Minister of the state is a war criminal like Hashim Thaci (his nom de guerre "Gjarpëri" [the Snake]) whose KLA thugs ethnically cleansed 250,000 Serbs under the umbrella of US and RAF bombing.

Hashim Thaci had / has enormous power in the "Drenica-Group" a shadowy criminal organization that controlled/ controls between 10% and 15% of all criminal activities in Kosovo (smuggling arms, stolen cars, oil, cigarettes and prostitution, people trafficking). The Group can rely on exterior links with close connections to the Albanian, Czech and Macedonian mafias locally and throughout Europe; Thaci's sister is married to Sejdija Bajrush, one of the most notorious Albanian mafia leaders

This is plainly insane.

This is a stretch too far, and unsustainable.

On top of this it has been slyly leaked that the "turkey" Chinooks which are being re-furbed so they can fly in cloud, will not be operational for at least 12 months . Which we all know actually means 18 months.DV.

So we are to be mired yet again in a war we can avoid, at a cost we cannot estimate, under equipped, as ever, ill equipped.

The Serbians are told they must forget their national aspirations.

The Kosovo Albanians are allowed to foster their absurd national aspirations . Their claim in Kosovo to statehood is legally dubious, and nonsensical as the Albanian state already exists in Europe. There is no ned for another one.

There is however a massive US military facility. Camp Bondsteel [CBS] is enormous : 955 acres or 360,000 square meters. It has a perimeter of 7 miles. Bondsteel is located on rolling hills and farmland near the city of Ferizaj/Urosevac near the border with Macedonia where other US military facilities exist. It's location was not an accident of geography. Who renteed / sold the land ? Nobody, they just plonked it down where they wanted to and had been planning for several years.

Built by Brown & Root Services Corp., part of Halliburton the camp also includes a prison which was visited by Alvaro Gil Robles, Human Rights Commissioner for the Council of Europe, who in 2005...

""What I saw there, the prisoners' situation, was one which you would
absolutely recognize from the photographs of Guantanamo. The prisoners were
housed in little wooden huts, some alone, others in pairs or threes. Each hut
was surrounded with barbed wire, and guards were patrolling between them. Around
all of this was a high wall with watchtowers. Because these people had been
arrested directly by the army, they had not had any recourse to the judicial
system. They had no lawyers. There was no appeals process. There weren't even
exact orders about how long they were to be kept prisoner."

(There is also a Texas College; two cappuccino bars, a Burger King, Taco Bell, and an Anthony's Pizza pizzeria). In building the camp Brown & Root paid Kosovan workers between $1 and $3 per hour. The local manager said wages were so low because, “We can’t inflate the wages because we don’t want to over inflate the local economy.”

About 4,000 US service members were stationed at Camp Bondsteel in about 2004 in the farm fields near Urosevac, and another 2,000 were at Camp Montieth, near Gnjilane.(The names derive from Army Staff Sgt. James L. Bondsteel, honored for heroism in Vietnam, and Army 1st Lt. Jimmie W. Montieth Jr, honored for heroism in France during World War II.) The camp also serves as the NATO headquarters for KFOR's Multinational Task Force East (MNTF-E).

The military redesigned the SEAhuts specifically for Kosovo. Each wooden structure has a male and a female latrine and six rooms housing six service members each. The huts have heat, hot water, air conditioning, plumbing, electricity and telephones.

The US have no iontention of leaving any time soon - they have even built the only sewage treatment works in the whole of Kosovo.

In sectors controlled by other Western powers, KFOR soldiers who are living in bombed out apartment blocks and old factories joke, “What are the two things that can be seen from space? One is the Great Wall of China, the other is Camp Bondsteel.”

European politicians have now awoken to the fact that the US used the 79 days of bombing of Yugoslavia specifically in order to establish Camp Bondsteel. Before the start of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the Washington Post (28 Feb 99) declared, “With the Middle-East increasingly fragile, we will need bases and fly over rights in the Balkans to protect Caspian Sea oil.”

The reasons for the Kosovo War, which were based on exaggerated and totally false claims of "humanitarian" crises, must be seen as a (necessary) prelude to establishing a masssive US presence in the Balkans. If the US have to rely on supporting corrupt crooks like Thaci, so be it.. as the saying goes ,"he may be a sonofabitch ...."

With the recent Russian / Putin / Bulgarian / Serbian agreements and start of work on South Stream (see previous posts) and the foundering of the US backed Rebecca pipeline, things have just begun to become very, very serious.

Naturally when Uncle Sam calls, John Bull snaps to attention.

EG : Ruairi OConnell our Man in Pristina - from his Blog.

"It is clear that the Serbs have suffered too since the start of the 1990s.
My Serb friends often tell me that the Serbs were Milosevic's biggest victims. I
don't buy this. But I would agree that no-one has done more harm to the Serbs -
whether in Serbia or elsewhere - than Milosevic and the people who carried out
his policies. In any case, I am clear about what our (UK, Europe, my) long-term
goal is - it's to get the whole of the region ready for EU membership."

1. Everything is down to Milosevic,.

2. Fuck the natives. This is what we want. EU policy must prevail - it seems with the need for even more of the ill equipped, ill led, ill trained UK stretched military might.

In a symbolic speech today Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica marked Serbia's National Day, which commemorates the birth of the Serbian state.

"All of our state institutions and citizens should be united today," Kostunica told the crowd in Orasac, site of the first Serbian uprising against the Turks in 1804.

"There should be no differences between us. This is why, as you know, the government of Serbia reached the historic decision yesterday to annul, ahead of time and for all time, the declaration of a fake state on Serbian territory."

Keep your eyes on Mitrovica in the news bulletins.

Curious Footnote :Bill Gertz Washington Post Published May 9, 2007

6 foreign-born Muslims accused of planning a shooting attack at the U.S. military base of Fort Dix included four ethnic Albanians, and U.S. officials say their arrests highlight how Islamist groups are using the Balkans region to help in recruiting and financing terrorism.

Prosecutors described the men as "radical Islamists," with four coming from the province of Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia, where the ethnic Albanian population of Muslims fought one of the several wars that grew out of the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Suspect Agron Abdullahu, 24 who faces only weapons violations in the case, was described in court papers as a "sniper in Kosovo."

The US authorities said that Abdulahu was a sharp shooter in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) before fleeing to the US. Fort Dix is a training ground for American soldiers and reservists before they are sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in 1999 it served as a shelter for thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo.

How many Iraqi refuges have fled to US ? Zero ?

Now what were all those Albanians doing at Fort Dix - 4 of whom are claimed to have plotted something nasty with an FBI agent provocateur ?.

Text of Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia February 17, 2008 11:11 AM

Boeing 787 No 2 Flight Test airframe on the build at Everett - costs of delay mount

Randy Tinseth has sent me the above photo of the second 787 assembly for flight testing (2 more will never leave the ground and are simply for static testing)at Everett - there will be 6 in total for flight testing.

He says this newest fuselage arrived on the line with less “travelled work” - i.e. Randy speak for sections are significantly more complete than was the case with Airplane #1. We’re seeing continued improvements in the condition of each assembly we receive.

Randy says the 3rd plane is due in a few weeks. The good news is that worldwide, right now there are a total 21 airplanes in various stages of production.

Costs of 787 delays Rack up for Boeing

The Financial Express in India report that Air India Air will be credited with US$150 million a month as penalty for delays in delivering the 27 Boeing 787 Dreamliners ordered in 2006. The orders were worth about $5.5 billion.

AI booked 68 aircraft from US plane-maker in a $11-billion (list price) order, which included the 27 Dreamliners.
The increasingly important Singapore Airshow takes off next Tuesday. Now the 2nd largest airshow in size after Paris , but smaller than others such as Dubai in terms of orders ($100 billion in orders last year). It provides gateway to the rapidly expanding Far east Market.

This year all eyes are on local national airlines India, China and Australia to expand their fleets and new regional low cost carriers. Will Malaysia's AirAsia X and Thai Airways will pick Airbus' A350 or the 787 Dreamliner ?

Boeing have sort of pre-announced the announcement for about US$8 billion worth of orders at the show.It is expected that Garuda Indonesia is planning an order of 10 Boeing 777s worth $2 billion, while low cost carriers such as Singapore's Tiger Airways, Indonesia's Lion Air and Hong Kong's Oasis are also expected to make new purchases.

As ever the military men will be out with their chequebooks in the shadows and Lockheed Martin , Northrop Grumman will be unloading their weapons - Lockheed will showcase its F-35 fighter jet, in development but which has run into technical problems . The F-35 will fly at a weight of 60,000 lb.making it heavier than any other single engine aircraft.

Boeing, the No 2 suppliers to Uncle Sam is hoping for some sales success with India and South Korea for warplanes and the old foe The Socialist Republic of Vietnam could be a new market for Chinook military helicopters.

Rolls Royce could also make an announcment about starting on a new local manufacturing plant. Nudge , nudge, Wink, wink.

A Remembrance of Things Past

85 years ago today the breaching of Tutankhem's Tomb was announced, by the vulgar but titled self publicist Lord Carnarvon. 49 years ago Fidel Castro overthrow Fulgencio Batista to seize political power in Cuba.

The Times (London) World Copyright, by Arrangement with the Earl of Carnarvon. Copyright, 1923, by The New York Times Company.
Special Cable to The New York Times

Luxor, Egypt, Feb. 16 -- This has been, perhaps, the most extraordinary day in the whole history of Egyptian excavation. Whatever any one may have guessed or imagined of the secret of Tut-ankh-Amen's tomb, they surely cannot have dreamed the truth as now revealed.

The entrance today was made into the sealed chamber of the tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen, and yet another door opened beyond that. No eyes have seen the King, but to practical certainty we know that he lies there close at hand in all his original state, undisturbed

Full text of the original article in the New York Times Here

Giambattista Bodoni was born on February 16, 1740 in Saluzzo, Italy and eventually designed the Bodoni typeface in 1790 which he evolved from the French style of Fournier, and with elements from the English printer Baskerville.

In 1788 he created the "Manuale Tipografico"(The Inventory of types). This was a collection of 291 roman and italic typefaces along with samples of Greek, Russian and other types. Bodoni's passion was type design. This was published after his death by his widow Margherita Dall'Aglio in 1818.

Bodoni said,

"Philosophy and the best literature impel a cultured taste more and more toward simplicity and restriction to essentials and toward a preference over all others for the beauty which has no borrowed plumes... the type is the one thing which is inevitably necessary, and to it all else is subserviant".

He died on November 29, 1813 in Parma, Italy.

A complete collection of his editions are preserved in the Museo Bodoniano, next to the Bibilioteca Palatina of Parma (the museum was recognized through an official decree in 1962).

You can download a Freeware (Hewlett Packard 1998) Bodoni Type Font here

Kosovo and the sham that will be an "Independent" state run by and for EU / NATO / UN state apparatchiks

"With their unfailing passion for the inconsequential and their knack for doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, NATO leaders appear determined to carve the province of Kosovo out of Serbia and grant it "independence." That they lack the physical, legal and moral power to bestow independent statehood to a part of a state that is neither a member of the E.U. nor NATO appears only to have emboldened them to use this issue to demonstrate Western resolve. "

A Saga of Injustice and Hypocrisy
The Absurdity of "Independent" Kosovo
Counterpunch 15/2/08 Read on

A detailed, fiercely argued and damning indictment of the policy that allows Kosovo to decalre independence. It is essentail to read this article to see how the approach of the Western allainace to Kosovo has been marked by sordid dishonesty and bad faith, supporting national self-determination and the right to secession in one place and territorial integrity in another, cheering on ethnic cleansing by one ethnic group and demanding war crimes trials for another.

Friday, February 15, 2008

How ill-equpped the UK forces sent to Afghanistan were - finally exposed. Top Brass, as ever blame the politicians.

Daily Telegraph today Headline : Coroner: MoD guilty of unforgivable betrayal
By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent

"A coroner has accused the Government of causing an “unforgivable and inexcusable breach of trust” with the Armed Forces by sending soldiers into combat with “totally inadequate” equipment.

Troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan were not defeated by terrorists but “by the lack of basic equipment,” Coroner Andrew Walker told the hearing into the death of the first British soldier to be killed in Helmand province. "

22/12/04 “Official” Terrorist lights fires of resistance in Afghanistan

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

Postman Patel : Friday, January 27, 2006
Reid sends ill equipped troops to certain deaths in S Afghanistan

"Well John Reid sent our soldiers to a certain death, under-equipped and without a clear military or political objective ."

More Lord Patel posts on old, faulty, delayed equipment here...endlessly.

There is a degree of pointless satisfaction in being right, but anger that the twats at the top of the armed forces just let the Politicians destroy the capability of the fighting forces.

Meanwhile ..."Well, something is afoot in Pakistan that is really dangerous for Pakistanis. There is a real insurgency coming out now that the country has never experienced before, and it's aimed at the Pakistani state and it's gaining ground. It's been cooking up in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) for a long while, certainly in the last several years it's been gathering strength." see An Interview With Steve Coll on Pakistan, the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden and Bush's Foreign Policy - Pakistan is Burning By WAJAHAT ALI Counterpunch. 15/2/08

UPDATE : 16th Feb 0900 GMT

If it's any consolation :

Feb. 16, 2008, 12:05AM
Refusal to send trucks blamed for casualties
Bomb-resistant vehicles requested years ago, but cost too high, study says (AP)

• A February 2005 "urgent" request from a Marine Corps commander in western Iraq for nearly 1,200 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles became bogged down in bureaucracy when it reached the United States.

• Rather than send the more expensive MRAPs, which cost as much as a $1 million each, the Marine Corps decided Humvees with more armor were the best solution to beating increasingly powerful improvised explosive devices.

• The defense industry could have begun rapidly producing MRAPs if the Marine Corps had told contractors they wanted the heavy vehicles in large numbers.

• By March 2007, with IEDs causing the majority of deaths and injuries to U.S. troops in Iraq, the Marine Corps commandant made sending the MRAPs to Marines a top priority.
WASHINGTON — Hundreds of U.S. Marines have been killed or injured by roadside bombs in Iraq because Marine Corps bureaucrats refused an urgent request in 2005 from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant vehicles, an internal military study concludes.

The study, written by a civilian Marine Corps official and obtained by The Associated Press, accuses the service of "gross mismanagement" that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks for more than two years.

A story which has been detailed in many, many posts over the last 3 years here

Texans can now legally buy dildoes .... and presumably use them.

Dreamer's and Le Rouge Boutique, of Austin Texas and Adam & Eve sued in 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Austin, Texas in 2004 over the constitutionality of the State law (and also in Mississippi and Alabama ) that made it illegal to sell or promote "obscene devices", punishable by as many as two years in jail.

In a decision the day before St Valentine's day , the federal appeals court cited Lawrence and Garner v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 opinion that struck down bans on consensual sex between same-sex couples and also overturned the statute outlawing sex toy sales in Texas ruling that the statute violated the right to privacy guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

"Just as in Lawrence, the state here wants to use its laws to enforce a public moral code by restricting private intimate conduct," the appeals judges wrote. "The case is not about public sex. It is not about controlling commerce in sex. It is about controlling what people do in the privacy of their own homes because the state is morally opposed to a certain type of consensual private intimate conduct. This is an insufficient justification after Lawrence."

In Alabama Sherri Williams, who owns Pleasures stores in Alabama, sued in 1998 after state lawmakers banned the sale of sex toys there. A year ago, she lost her fight again when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider a lower court decision upholding the Alabama law as constitutional.

Joanne Webb in Clebane, 50 miles from Dallas, TX was charged in 2004 with a misdemeanor for hawking her battery-operated handjob helpers at her Passion Parties (Company tag line = ''Where Every Day Is Valentine's Day.'' ) a Brisbane CA nationwide party plan company, (she sold a vibrator to undercover narcotics officers posing as a dysfunctional married couple in search of a sex aid) — although the case (possibly as a result of an attempt to get her company made members of the local Chamber of Commerce) was eventually dismissed.

Apparently Rachel P. Maines meticulously researched ''Technology of Orgasm: 'Hysteria,' the Vibrator and Women's Sexual Satisfaction,'' will give you a run down on how sex toys have had an interesting commercial history in the United States. (Amazon US$45) She claims that ..."that the vibrator was invented in the late 1880s as a time-saving device for physicians, who had been treating women's "hysteria" for years with clitoral massage."

CDC lied about formaldehyde toxicity in FEMA trailers in which 35,000 families still live 3 years after the floods

We wrote about Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) providing trailers for Katrina refugees which were discovered to have unsafe levels of formaldehyde, a component of the glue used to make the wood ply used in their manufacture which was perfusing some of the 120,000 they had purchased.

Revelations of high formaldehyde levels early on , caused the government to offer to buy back or replace trailers sold to evacuees at a discount under a federal program. As of May,2007 FEMA had received 140 complaints and replaced 47 trailers. It also said it would not continue to put storm victims into the trailers.

Well 60 of them them were sold to copper company, Phelps Dodge ( from March 19th 2007 a Freeport-McMoRan Company - "the world's largest publicly traded copper company" who took them over) ,to house their copper mine workers in Morenci and Safford, Arizona. Employees live rent free and the company pay the utilities.

See the post - Wednesday, August 22, 2007 Phelps Dodge / Freeport-McMoRan Company - why they hate the smell of formaldehyde 24/7 in Morenci, Arizona. Cost of copper and capitalism

Now it seems that was only a fraction of the story..

Nearly three years after the hurricanes swept the Gulf Coast, more than 35,000 families remain in tiny trailers as the emergency management agency struggles to find alternative housing.

A Feb. 14 report by the Centers for Disease Control has some bad news for those families: The air inside many FEMA trailers contains up to 40 times the normal level of formaldehyde gas.

Now CBS News report that a string of internal documents they have obtained reveal that Dr. Christopher De Rosa, director of the CDC's Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine, told his superiors "there is no safe level of exposure" to formaldehyde in trailers. That warning never made its way into any public report about the trailers.

As if this was not enough deception Dr. De Rosa wrote in an email that two of his staff members had been directed by FEMA officials to not "address longer term health effects" of formaldehyde in this February 2007 report.

In fact it took until October 2007 - after eight months and pressure from congressional investigators that the CDC revised its February 2007 report and finally issued warnings about cancer and other long-term health risks of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde has been classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It contained this extrordinary explanation at the head of the report ...

The previous health consultation dated February 1, 2007,contained insufficient discussion of the health implications of formaldehyde exposure, and some language may have been unclear,potentially leading readers to draw incorrect or inappropriate conclusions. Additionally, analyses of formaldehyde levels by trailer type and by daily temperature were not conducted."

The primary conclusion makes un comfortable reading for those 35,000 still living inthese trailers.....

" ....formaldehyde levels in closed trailers averaged 1.04 parts per million (ppm), with some measurements exceeding 3.5 ppm. Exposure in this range is
sufficient to cause acute symptoms in some people. Allergic sensitization to formaldehyde may also occur. Risk of cancer will increase with increasedformaldehyde concentration and duration of exposure."

What did Dubya say at thePrayer Breakfast last week ?

"When we lift our hearts to God, we're all equal in His sight.We're all equally precious"

Except if you live in a trailer supplied by FEMA when your home was swept away when the levees maintained ineffectively by the Army Corps of Engineers over many years, gave way.

Anyway FEMA might now get it's arse in gear if a report in the Tampa Bay Press is to be believed ..

"After downplaying the risks for years, FEMA said Thursday it will rush to move Gulf Coast hurricane victims out of about 35,000 government-issued trailers because tests found dangerous levels of formaldehyde fumes.

FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison said the agency hopes to get everyone out and into hotels, motels, apartments and other temporary housing by the summer, when the heat and stuffy air could worsen the problem inside the trailers."

As recently as last spring, however, a FEMA spokesman said the agency said no reason to question the safety of its trailers.

Now FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison says "The real issue is not what it will cost, but how fast we can move people out,"

Louisiana has 25,162 occupied FEMA trailers and mobile homes, while Mississippi has 10,362, according to FEMA. Other states also have hundreds of trailers. At one point, FEMA had placed victims of the 2005 hurricanes in more than 144,000 trailers and mobile homes - no rent is charged for any of them - which makes their occupants, grateful, ..and very, very obedient .(Time)

Of course this means that all such trailers carry such a health risk. CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding (see pic) "Healthy People in a Healthy World-Through Prevention." said ,"I think we're going to learn a lot more in the next year or two," she said after a news conference at FEMA offices in New Orleans. Bit late in the fucking day sweetheart.

Tajikistan - Tragedy unfolding as country freezes, electricity supplies almost zero.

The situation is terrible in Tajikistan. A country freezing to death - and nearly half of Tajikistan's population is under 14 years of age. GDP nominal (2007 est.): $3.5 billion.GDP nominal per capita (2007 est.): U.S. $437.

Now Kyrgyz Minister of Energy and Industry Saparbek Balkibekov says that Kyrgyzstan has stopped supplying electricity to Tajikistan - despite the agreement at the meeting on January 24th in Moscow with Tajikistan Prime Minister Akil Akilov (Oqil Ghaybulloyevich Oqilov ) asked Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov to increase capacity of electricity supply to Tajikistan.

Sharifkhon Samiev, head of Barqi Tojik, the state-controlled power monopoly, said on 7 February that the country’s energy sector was facing an emergency situation. As a result, Barqi Tojik had introduced electricity-rationing across the country. “Tajikistan is on the verge of a real humanitarian disaster. The government cannot cope with the crisis without international aid,” Tursun Kabirov, a local analyst, said. (More from UNDP here)

Tajikistan is experiencing the coldest winter ever (temperatures of a record low of -20C), and the hydro systems at Norek have dried / frozen up (which supplies 60 per cent of the country's power) and will do so shortly at Toktogul water reservoir.

Residents in the capital Dushanbe have been rationed to 10 hours of electricity a day. Outlying regions in the mountainous country are reaching 90 minutes of electricity a day at most.

Igor Chudinov, Kyrgyzstan's prime minister, told a cabinet meeting that his country was stopping its daily supply of 11 million kilowatt hours because Tajikistan was refusing to "pay back" 55 million kwh per day once spring comes.

On Wednesday February 13, Tajik Energy and Industries Minister Sherali Gul met with Turkmen President Gurbanguly in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, according to Russia’s news agency RIA Novosti.

RIA Novosti reported that the Tajik minister asked that Turkmenistan increase by an unspecified amount the volume of electricity it currently supplies to Tajikistan in connection with ongoing energy crisis and electricity shortages in Tajikistan. (AFP)

According to the Russian news agency, the Turkmen president reportedly agreed to provide maximal assistance within the bounds of the possible... although Tajikistan owes Turkmenistan £23 MN which is currently the cause of concern.

On February 4 Uzbekistan cut power to Tajikistan, but supplies were restored on Tuesday12th,"The export volume will gradually increase to reach four million kwh a day," said an executive from Uzbekenergo, an Uzbek power company.Uzbekistan, which Tajikistan is depending on for energy imports, has also been suffering from the freezing weather.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office changed its travel advice for Tajikistan on 12th February . They now advise against all travel to the country due to the energy crisis.

The advice reads: "We advise against all but essential travel to Tajikistan until the energy situation improves. Tajikistan is suffering from particularly low temperatures and an energy crisis. Much of the country (including most hotels) is without electricity. Dushanbe has a severely rationed electricity supply. This situation is likely to persist until late March."

UNICEF says that Power cuts and severe water shortages threaten the lives of 3.5 Mn. children. Of the estimated 7 Mn. people affected by the crisis, approximately half are children, and close to 1 MN. are children under the age of five. Vulnerable to cold, hunger and trauma, children and women in the country require urgent life-saving assistance to be able to survive.

UNICEF have dispatched emergency supplies worth more than US$200,000 to Tajikistan to meet the immediate life-saving needs of children and women.These include emergency health kits, jerry cans, baby blankets, hygiene sets, high protein biscuits, and generators to child and maternity hospitals and residential child care institutions.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that food insecurityis affecting more than 550,000 people, of whom at least 260,000 need immediate assistance, according to the UN World Food Program and other international partners.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing more than $830,000 to the people of Tajikistan after extreme winter weather and an energy crisis have caused a humanitarian crisis in the country. This funding will help provide fuel, heaters, clothing, household supplies, and health services to those in need through USAID partners Save the Children, CARE, and Mercy Corps.

USAID are now shipping more than 259,000 humanitarian daily rations to Tajikistan. The total value of the rations, including transportation, is $1.6 million dollars, bringing the total valueof U.S. Government humanitarian assistance to nearly $2.5 million.

CARE is distributing food, warm clothing, heating stoves, fuel and other emergency supplies to more than 17,000 vulnerable people in Dushanbe, Yovon, Vahdat, and Varzob districts.

Before the crisis hit, CARE (who have ben in the country since 1994) had already been working to meet the food needs of the most vulnerable people in Tajikistan, distributing food to 12,000 students and 4,400 pregnant and lactating women as part of a multi-agency food distribution program.

"We are already in a food emergency situation. One meal a day is not uncommon, and food prices are rising," said Louis Alexander, Country Director for CARE in Tajikistan.

Asia Plus also reports that heavy snowfalls hit some districts in mountain areas of Tajikistan on the night of February 13-14 and caused caused the roofs of medical and educational facilities as well as homes to collapse.

In Khatlon’s Mouminobod district, heavy snowfalls damaged a number of medical and educational facilities.

According to the Kulob emergency management agency, the heavy snowfalls caused the roof of the Mouminobod boarding school, which is house for 34 orphaned children to collapse but no casulaties have been recorded.

BBC From our Own Correspondent Natalia Antelava BBC, Tajikistan Online Text (podcast available ) BBC's services to Tajikistan on FM frequencies were suspended by the Tajik authorities since Tuesday 10 January 2006.

Don't expect anything in the MSM Radio / TV / Press outside the BBC World Service.

Mahonia a little bit of Irish American history, Jefferson and Lewis and Clark

Mahonia japonica Japanese mahonia, the leather leaf Mahonis, and the Oregon grape is a hardy winter flowering shrub and member of the Berberidaceae.

The genus Mahonia contains about 100 species of evergreen shrubs found in woodlands and rocky areas of the Himalayas, east Asia, Central and North America.

The fruits are blue-black, small and round, which can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a pleasanlty acid flavour and can be added muesli or porridge.

Mahonia was named by Thomas Nuttall posthumously in 1818 after Irish political refugee, Bernard M’Mahon (1775-1816) who emigrated to America where he opened a seed shop in Germantownturnpike, between Philadelphia and Nicetown , and published the ‘American Gardener’s Calendar’ in 1806 - which is still in print.

The book also contained the first known American essay on landscape design. Entitled, "Ornamental Designs and Plantings," this inspired Jefferson's own esign schemes for the Roundabout flower border and oval beds on the West Lawn at Monticello.

M'Mahon was a friend of Thomas Jefferson and it is claimed the Lewis and Clark expedition was planned in his home. Of the 178 new plants Lewis collected, Oregon grape holly M. aquifolium is one of the best known of the several species that are grown in gardens and share the name Oregon grape holly. McMahon also served as curator for the plants collected by the Lewis and Clark expedition - which included what we now grow and know as golden currant (Ribes aureum), snowberry (Symphoricarpus albus), and Osage orange (Maclura pomifera).

This specimen of Mahonia was photographed yesterday in the winter sunshine.

Seattle Times has a piece about M.repens a low ground cover species - details how to grow it here

Also reminded that in one deal involving JP Morgan, Enron sold to a company called Mahonia a long-term contract to deliver gas. Mahonia had a market capitalization of about $15. It was simply a mask for JP Morgan, which funded its operations.

In return, Enron made an agreement with another Morgan subsidiary, Stoneville Aegean, to buy gas in monthly installments at the price paid by Mahonia, plus interest. Thus, nearly $400 million flowed from JP Morgan to Enron and back to JP Morgan.

Enron got a lump sum of cash and paid it back periodically, plus interest. In ordinary parlance, this is a loan. But JPM and Enron didn't disclose it. Which is why in June 2003 JP Morgan paid the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a $135 million agreed fine.

Tony Blair is going to get some serious pocket money advising Morgan Chase " to advise on the challenges of globalization" ...let's hope that expertise helps ensures they do no more deals like that.

Evasion of Vehicle Excise Duty is lower than income from £80 Late Licensing Penalty. - ANPR has done its job , now they just want to watch us.

At the end of 2006 there were 3.4 million vehicles licensed in the UK.

In tax year 2002 – 2003, it is estimated that evasion of the tax equated to a loss to the Exchequer of £206 million.In an attempt to reduce this, from 2004 an automatic £80 penalty (halved if paid within 28 days) is issued by the DVLA computer for failure to pay the tax within one month of the expiry of the previous tax disc. Failure to have paid Vehicle Excise Duty can result in fines up to £1,000.

House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts Evasion of Vehicle Excise Duty Fifth Report of Session 2007–08 Report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 14 January 2008

1st sentence - "Evasion of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rose to 5% (£214 million) in 2006, up from 3.6% in 2005. Amongst motorcyclists, the evasion rate increased to 38% from 30% the previous year. "

In evidence to the committee on Wednesday 17th 2007

Q71 Mr Touhig Labour MP for Islwyn: Post this report do you think you are now getting the numbers down or not?

Dr Stephen Hickey: Director General Safety, Service Delivery and Logistics, Department for Transport, "The 2007 survey has taken place, it was done in June of this year, but we have not yet got the results. The results will be published, we think,probably early next year, in January."

So therefore the report announced and published today makes very interesting reading.

Figures on Vehicle Excise Duty evasion ( it is no longer "road tax") show that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) collected an estimated 98.5% of all potential revenue from road tax in 2007 - some £4.6Bn.

This year the survey was based on the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, providing a more accurate picture of Vehicle Excise Duty evasion.

Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said:

"Using ANPR technology gives us a much clearer picture of the level of VED evasion. I am pleased to see that this survey indicates a low level of evasion - the DVLA is working hard to tackle road tax evasion.

Previously road tax evasion figures were mainly collected manually but the figures are now primarily compiled using Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology, giving a more precise reading of evasion levels.

In the Press Release Notes for Editors it states , "Because this new method was used to calculate the 2007 estimates, it is not possible to compare them to earlier figures. " Why not ?It's the only comparison we can make.

The DVLA currently issues an average of 100,000 Late Licensing Penalties (LLP) letters every month - at £80 a throw say 1 MN a year = £80 Mn extra revenue. The projected total volume for 2007/08 is 1.2 million LLPs.

The DVLA has a fleet of ANPR vehicles capable of capturing data on all vehicle types across multiple lanes of traffic. DVLA ANPR units will read over 10 million vehicle movements this year and the Agency will issue penalties against the keepers of every unlicensed vehicle seen in use from that total.

Copies of Vehicle Excise Duty Evasion 2007 are available from the Department's website (PDF!!)

So what are we to make of the report from the Select Committee - they say 5% evasion - £214 Mn. and now the DVLA using more accurate information says it is ( a probably irreducible) 1.5% ( based on 98.5% revenue collection) which = £64 Mn. .. which you may note, is exceeded by the income from the £80 Late Licensing Penalty.

Of course having set up the ANPR cameras everywhere and the "fleet" of ANPR vehicles - which you can be assured will grow it makes it a handy tool to keep tabs on every car owner / driver in our new surveillance society. (See Cleartone suppliers of kit website) "ANPR programs are available that will work in conjunction with existing or new fixed CCTV networks such as shopping mall car parks and town centre camera networks." See also i2ANPR website "Triangulation of ANPR data with telecommunications and financial intelligence can also help in preventing and detecting crime and in disrupting criminal activity, contributing to the realisation of the objective of the ACPO ANPR Steering Group – denying criminals the use of the roads." and we thought they were just collecting Vehicle Excise Duty.

Pic is of a distinctive ANPR van (also called Spectrum in the Home Office) in use. See more here

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Earthquakes in Greece, natural and also sex scandals, bribes, corruption, Olympic security, Siemens, etc., etc., Business as usual

An earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck Thursday southern Greece and its epicentre was about 61 km southwest of the city of Kalamata, announced the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS).

This has nothing at all top do with Divine judgement or the hard working Culture Ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos, 54 who resigned his post then jumped (in an apparent suicide attempt) from his 4th floor balcony and is now recovering in state-run Evangelismos Hospital where staff are keeping investigating magistrate Dimitris Economou at bay.

Meanwhile Zachopoulos's financial records are being carefully examined - the former teacher who was hand-picked by Karamanlis, and was close to the prime minister and his wife and held powers almost greater than the minister -- distributing large amounts of Greek and EU funds... it is said Prosecutors are fascinated by ministry decisions to allow construction on or near historic sites.

"When I needed anything from the Culture Ministry, it was made clear to me that I should go to Zachopoulos, not the minister," a European ambassador to Athens told Reuters, also on condition of anonymity. "It was clear he was the man in charge."

Also unable to go out and about is, delightful, charming, sultry, curvaceous 35-year-old archeologist Evi Tsekou who has been charged with blackmail and is held in jail pending trial. Raunchy DVD's (of over 100 hours) of their laisons apparently surfaced in PM Karmanlis's office in which Zachopoulos bad mouths his boss.

Proto Thema newspaper co-owner Themos Anastasiadis gave Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s press office, Yiannis Andrianos last December a DVD showing Zachopoulos having sex with his assistant.

Her reason for disclosing his activities ?. The promised job if she slept with him didn't materialise.

A small and unexpected result of this scrutiny has been the discolsure that Social Minister Vassilis Manginas was employing an Indian immigrant family who were illegal immigrants . He had also built a mansion with a swimming pool on land with with a building permit for a Snackbar.

The political rider is, that as the Government slips to 26.8 % in voter preference in the polls on the back of rafts of corruption scandals. Also New Democracy MP Costas Koukodimos alleged to have acted as a go-between the journalist who handled the DVD release with Proto Thema newspaper and the financial authorities resigned under pressure from his parliamentary group

Thus, with a majority of 151 in the 300 house, a snap election may soon arrrive with the spring sunshine. The government just passed an electoral law - which will take effect two elections from now - that gives the leading party a 50-seat bonus and requires only 39.5 percent (versus the current 41.5) - to secure a parliamentary majority.

Then yesterday thousands of demonstrators marched in freezing weather through Athens and Thessaloniki on Wednesday to protest about government social security reforms as a Greek general strike shut down schools, hospitals and all public services. Banner bore the demand "hands off our pension funds"

Port workers and air traffic controllers joined the second 24-hour general strike in about two months, forcing authorities to cancel all flights to and from Greek airports, and all regular ferry routes to the islands.

There are some 170 separate pension funds for state employees in Greece collectively facing estimated future deficits of between $165 billion and $550 billion — sums that are expected to affect the budget within a decade. Karamanlis is due to announce a consolidation of these funds into 5/6 big funds.

On top of this there is some unpleasant debris raining down from a bribery probe of Siemens, currently under investigation in Germany where German prosecutors suspect the German group of making pay-offs of about €100m ($146m, £72m) over 17 years to politicians from both the conservative and socialist parties. Prosecutors are due to scrutinise a €250m deal under which Siemens installed a secure communications system for the Athens summer Olympics in 2004.

Alleged kickbacks for the C4I security system for the 2004 Olympic Games became the subject of a public blame-game between Pasok's ex-public order minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis and ex-finance minister Yannos Papantoniou.

The contract was signed by the socialist government but executed by its conservative successor.

See Financial Times today

For the prurient you can examine the Greek Sunday paper “Proto Thema” (The Lead Story - it bundles soft-core pornographic DVDs with its issues) with it's 46 explicit stills of Zhopoulos with Evi Tsekou his lover and a 9 page paper with the findings of the Police analysis of the DVD. A journalist who testified to magistrate Dimitris Economou that there is more secretly filmed footage of Zachopoulos and Tsekou.

Proto Thema is run by 3 ex journalists and was responsible for exposing on Sunday 25 December 2005, page 10 the torturing of Pakistani prisoners took place in July in Athens - proving that the kidnapping and interrogations of Pakistanis living in Greece, didn\'t just take place, but were a result of the total collaboration between the British secret services and the National Information Service of Greece (EYP).

Nicholas Langman, a British Embassy diplomat named as the Athens station chief for the secret service agency MI6, is claimed to have been present as 28 Pakistani immigrants were beaten and tortured after being kidnapped.The ministers of Public Order, G. Voulgarakis and Foreign Issues, Petros Moliviatis, were fully informed about the entire situation, since the very beginning.

Close companions of the Prime Minister, and chairmen of his office, Yannis Aggelou and Kostas Staikouras were also involved. (The UK Gubment have issued a "D" notice on this story) at the time Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said such claims of British involvement were "complete nonsense'".

As a final rider it is now known that Anastasiadis, who is under investigation for a deposit of some 5 million euros in his bank account, was stopped by French customs officers on October 29 after the car he was driving was involved in a "minor accident."

The French authorities informed the financial crimes squad that a search of the car revealed 1.1 million euros in cash (euros and dollars) and bank checks.

The implication (and allegation by Proto Thema co-owner and his friend Makis Triantafyllopoulos) was kick backs from head of the financial crimes squad, Spyros Kladas on behalf of MP Costas Koukodimos and "friends".

Is that clear ?

Irq Air buys Boeing in US$6Bn contract - Iraq Air has connections to ex Dyn Corp CEO with US$1.2 Bn beef with INL

Iraqi Airways is the national carrier airline of Iraq and is one of the oldest in the Middle East. It was established in 1945 in Baghdad.

The Iraqi Aviation Program (IAP) created Air Iraq to establish a reliable airline for the people of Iraq and its future government. Air Iraq will ultimately be handed over to the new Iraqi government, after which the government will decide as to whether Air Iraq should remain nationalized or undergo privatization.

It currently operates domestic and regional services and is a member of the Arab Air Carriers Organization- they will shortly commence weekly direct flights between Washington, DC, (BWI) to Baghdad International airport at US$1,800 a seat.

Boeing have just announced that Iraq Air will buy 40 assorted pasenger aircraft in a US$6 Bn. contract and will re-open several airways between Baghdad and a number of Arab and foreign countries.

The Iraqi deputy transport minister Bankin Rikani told Aswat al-Iraq, Voices of Iraq, (VOI) that Iraqi Airways will receive the planes in 2013 and 2014.

Rubar S. Sandi, Chairman/Founder/Government Relations has spent many years in the US and worked for a long time with IBM. He is head of the Sandi group.

The State Department asked Mr. Sandi to join each of the working groups to review plans for Iraq's renaissance--post Saddam. He is the author of Phoenix Plan and many papers for the future of Iraq mainly on the subjects of post-Saddam economic policy, fiscal and monetary policy, banking, private sector initiatives and privatization, to name a few.

"I am a businessman", says Mr Sandi , "and businessmen cannot be dreamers£ . My father used to say he adds , "The greatest risk in business is not to take a calculated risk."

Emine E. Cetinkaya is listed as a Director she is also President of the Sandi Group and is also Mrs Sandi. She received her Bachelor's of Science degree in finance and international business from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. and an MBA degree in international business from Johns Hopkins University.

Another member of the Sandi Group board is Stephen J. Cannon, President & CEO of TSG Technical Services, Inc.Prior to joining The Sandi Group, Mr. Cannon was the President and CEO of DynCorp International, LLC (DynCorp) and a member of its Board of Directors, where he was responsible for managing its US $2.1Bn. business (96% from US Government) and 14,000 employees in 30 countries worldwide.

DynCorp have been criticised for many aspects of their work including sex trafficking. The latest is a report in November 2007 that the U.S. State Department is unable to account for most of $1.2 billion in funding that it gave to DynCorp International to train Iraqi police, a government report said on October 23rd 2007.

The Department of State's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) "did not have the information needed to identify what DynCorp provided under the contract or how funds were spent," the report said. (Reuters)

"The bottom line is that State can't account for where it went," said Glenn D. Furbish, who was involved in putting together the 20-page report for the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction (SIGIR).

Invoices and supporting paperwork submitted by DynCorp "were in disarray," the report said.
In addition, INL "had not validated the accuracy" of invoices received prior to last October, and

"INL does not know specifically what it received for most of the $1.2 billion in expenditures under its DynCorp contract for the Iraqi Police Training Program."

see also Common Dreams for information about DI work on Katrine, Stephen Cannon's explanation
and more about their modus operandi.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Baxter Healthcare Heparin crisis grows - active ingredient traced to Chinese production plant that was not inspected by the FDA

Deerfield, Illinois-based Baxter Healthcare

Baxter Issues Urgent Nationwide Voluntary Recall of Heparin 1,000 Units/ML 10 and 30mL Multi-Dose Vials
NDC NUMBERS 0641-2440-45, 0641-2440-41, 0641-2450-45 and 0641-2450-41; LOTS: 107054, 117085, 047056, 097081, 107024, 107064, 107066, 107074, 107111

January 25, 2008 – Baxter Healthcare Corporation has announced the voluntary recall of nine lots of heparin sodium injection 1000 units/mL 10mL and 30mL multi-dose vials. The company began recalling the lots on January 17, 2008 as a precautionary measure due to an increase in the number of reports of adverse patient reactions that may be associated with the product. Baxter is conducting a thorough investigation of these reports to identify the cause of the increase in allergic-type reactions.

Heparin, (Baxter Data Sheet)which has been in widespread clinical use since the 1930s, is administered in operating rooms and other critical care areas to prevent blood clots and is crucial in hemodialysis and heart surgery, it is derived from pigs intestines although was first extracted from livers (hepar =Gk liver) . Millions of patients worldwide each year receive the product intravenously and Baxter sells 100,000 vials a day.

The company sells about $30 million of heparin injections annually, compared with $11.2 billion in corporate sales in 2007.

Baxter suspends multi-dose heparin vial production Guradian / Reuters Monday February 11 2008 By Susan Kelly

CHICAGO, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Baxter International Inc on Monday said it has temporarily stopped making the blood-thinner heparin in multi-dose vials after four patients who took the drug died and hundreds of others became ill.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it had received about 350 reports of health problems associated with Baxter's injectable heparin product since the end of 2007. Four patients died, but the relationship to the drug is unclear, an FDA statement said.

Since the recall, Baxter has received reports of similar adverse reactions occurring in other lots of 1,000 units/mL, 10 and 30mL multi-dose vials; 5,000 units/mL and 10,000 units/mL multi-dose vials; and 5,000 units/mL single-dose vials when single doses were combined to create a larger bolus dose.

FDA Never Inspected Chinese Facililty Where Ingredient in Heparin Is Made
By Anna Wilde Mathews and Thomas M. Burton WSJ 13th february 2007

A Chinese facility that has never been inspected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made the active ingredient of a Baxter International Inc. blood-thinner that is under investigation after reports of hundreds of allergic reactions and four deaths among its users, the agency said yesterday.

An FDA spokeswoman said the plant making the active ingredient for the drug heparin "was supposed to be inspected" but "due to human error, and inadequate information-technology systems, a pre-approval inspection, which would normally be conducted, was not." Currently, she said, "preparations are being made to perform an inspection as soon as possible."

Both the FDA and Baxter have specified that it is not clear the allergic reactions are linked to the product from the Chinese facility.

Market watch Feb 13th
Baxter heparin ingredient made in uninspected plant: report By Wallace Witkowski

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Active ingredients used in the recently recalled blood thinner heparin made by Baxter International Inc. have been traced back to a Chinese plant that had never been inspected by the Food and Drug Administration. In January, Baxter issued an "urgent" recall of batches of heparin after reports it caused severe allergic reactions in hundreds of recipients that included four deaths.

The Chicago Tribune report that Baxter's Heparin is manufactured at a plant in Cherry Hill, N.J. where the product is finished, (and is currently stopped) the Deerfield-based company uses a U.S. based-supplier that makes the "active pharmaceutical ingredient" in plants in China. Baxter would not name the supplier.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration could not be reached for comment.."We have worked with this supplier for over 20 years and we have been making Heparin for over 30 years," said Baxter spokeswoman Erin Gardiner.

UPDATE : 14th February 6.15 EST.

Those interested in this and related issues might like to visit Eagle Forum ..."sole supplier to the United States of the abortion pill, mifepristone, known as RU-486. Our FDA had previously concealed the source of RU-486, and its U.S. distributor, Danco Laboratories, does not list a street address on its website or return press calls. " (The website is actually http://www.earlyoptionpill.com/)

Abortion Pill maker Revealed CBS Shanghai-based Hua Lian Pharmaceutical Co. will make the raw compound for RU-486, but the FDA refused at the time to discuss the manufacturing arrangement for RU-486. Hua Lian got help from the U.S.-based Rockefeller Foundation in winning the production license for RU-486 under FDA specifications, said Gao Ersheng, a research director at the Shanghai Family Planning Commission.

A statement from Danco said the plant that will make RU-486 for the U.S. market meets "both Danco's drug specifications and the current good manufacturing practices of the FDA."

Danco Laboratories is an LLC which was incorporated in the Cayman Islands in 1995. Danco has a license from the Population Council to distribute the drug mifepristone, under the brand name Mifeprex. Mifeprex is the only drug distributed by Danco. The offices of Danco are in New York City, and are under an unlisted phone number and a post office box for security purposes.

There are many who will query the concern that the FDA have that production facilities of RU-486 meet current good manufacturing practices of the FDA yet there are problems over Heparin used daily by haemodialysis patients.

Mervyn King calls in the forecasting experts for a word on inflation

The Bank of England has had some expert help with the February 2008 Inflation Report

Not much room for error there then.

Actually I popped into Blackpool yesterday to see Gypsy Petulengro only to find the BOE contract has been snatched by Gypsy Rose Lee. I asked about her sources , West Texas Light trends in Kansas ? MGEX Spring Wheats ? Pig bellies in Chicago ?.

It appears she relies on the man who runs the petrol station out on the Poulton - le - Fylde road. Ah! ear close to the ground, street smarts ? Street savvy ?

Well No. says Rose, Tariq Afiz who owns the place has a cousin who is chief currency trader at Goldman Sachs. It appears that the boneheads at the BOE give them a call now and then for an expert opinion. - so the bearers of sacks of Gold have been feeding them the line about low expectations, inflation finally conquered, expect to see it falling late Autumn, energy drops out of the equation ....

Swallowed it hook line and sinker, nice steady interest rates as a result... they have been cleaning up in the short term bond market. Luvvly Jubbly.

Can't go on for ever she said, polishing her crystal ball whilst doing abit of spring cleaning.

I asked her with information like that why she was still out there in all weathers (beautiful yesterday) having her palm crossed with silver by typists from Tipton.

Oh well she says...must have several strings to your bow..."You just never now what's around the corner".

Now that Mervyn King , he's a real gent, she says and her eyes sparkle ...beautifully manicured hands. Never done a real days work of course. But. She says. But. He pays on the nail, no problems there.

I suggest she taps him for a loan... How much ? she says. Try £25 Billion. I say.... You just never know...

How much do those St Valentine's day flowers cost ? Ethiopia, Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador count their costs in health and shortened lives

The National Geographic has a news item today complete with a very unpleasant video (2mn.20 sec. - must see) extolling the floriculture of Ethiopia, one of the fastest growing industries in the country.

The Government makes land available and banks provide loans - but omit to mention that most growers (many iof them Dutch /Ethiopian partnerships ) are the result of fleeing floriculturists from Kenya in the last 2/3 years , looking for lower wage costs, cheaper land and free from the grossest political interference and corruption).

The video (still pic) also shows how such flowers are sold for export but also in a gross and insensitive piece of commercial colonialism locally in flower shops in Addis Abbaba - this in a country with GDP per capita of US$756 and a The UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) ranking of 170 out of 177 countries.

The VSO describes the country ..."Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world with 44% of the population living below the national poverty line. Income per head is only $100 per annum, and the standards of health and education are significantly worse than the average for sub Saharan Africa."

This is also where Dow chemicals ship chlorpyrifos and profenofos, organophosporous compunds used as insecticides which inhibits acetylcholinesterase.

Introduced by Dow in 1965 and sold as Dursban and Lorsban, at one time it was one of the most widely used household pesticides in the US .The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of this pesticide for all non-agricultural purposes in the US in 2000.

In 1995, DowElanco was fined $732,000 (Dow Elanco was ajoint Dow / Lilly comopany) for not sending the EPA reports it had received on 249 Dursban poisoning incidents, and in 2003, Dow agreed to pay $2 million - the largest penalty ever in a pesticide case - to the state of New York, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General to end Dow's illegal advertising of Dursban as "safe".

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently reported on the testing of 9,282 people nationwide for "body burdens" of hazardous or dangerous chemicals. The study found that 93% of the US population has levels of chlorpyrifos metabolites, or breakdown products, in their bodies. The average tested child aged 6-11 was found to have exposure to the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos at four times the level the US Environmental Protection Agency considers acceptable for long-term exposure. One market analysis - Posted December 19th, 2007 (Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in Our Bodies and Corporate Accountability by the Pesticide Action Network North America) (PANNA) concluded that Dow Chemical was likely to have contributed at least 80% of the chlorpyrifos exposure in the United States. Although all residential uses of chlorpyrifos were phased out beginning in 2000, agricultural and industrial uses are still allowed

(Dow also fed Dursban to inmates at Clinton Correctional Institute in New York State in 1972 to assess its effects, a type of study that is now illegal in the United States. )

Dow Chemical's CEO and Trustee of Tufts University Andrew Liveris told a group of students in August 2007 "We do not market Dursban (chlorpyrifos) for home use abroad." However Dow's own European Web site states: "Chlorpyrifos ... is used in and around tens of millions of homes worldwide each year."

Liveris failed to mention that only a few weeks ago Dow settled with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for $325,000 for bribing Indian officials from 1996 to 2001 to register pesticides including Dursban, the pesticide which he so ardently defended.

In India, Dow claims Dursban is safe for people, and its sales literature claimed Dursban has "an established record of safety regarding humans and pets."

Curiously the National Geographic last February (St Valentine's time again) pointed readers to "Rose Art thou sick ?" in Green Guide.

The article highlighted the over-fumigating with toxic pesticides in Central and Latin American flower farms, where protective equipment scarce and exposed workers risk getting asthma. In Ecuador, 35 out of 72 children tested by the Harvard School of Public Health had been exposed to organophosphate pesticides in the womb while their mothers worked for flower companies. These children showed both higher blood pressure and poorer spatial ability than children without prenatal exposures.

They quoted Elizabeth Guillette, Ph.D., an anthropologist at the University of Florida"Exposures to very small amounts [of pesticides] can result in huge changes in the ability to learn," who has studied children in a pesticide-ridden community in Mexico. Guillette notes that other dire consequences from maternal exposures include increased numbers of stillbirths and deaths within a month after birth. And prenatal exposure to the organosphosphate chlorpyrifos has been linked with low birth weights and smaller head circumferences by researchers at Mount Sinai and Dr. Frederica Perera at Columbia University.

Guillette says..."All of these cut flowers and plants are heavily treated with pesticides, it's important to avoid touching the blossoms and to handle them as little as possible, and then be sure to wash your hands."

The UK alone will take 10,000 tons of roses for St. Valentine's day. That's an awful lot of organophosphorous pesticides to wash away. According to the Flowers and Plants Association, the UK, along with Germany, is the top importer of cut flowers in the world. The UK fresh cut flower and indoor plant market is worth £2.2 billion at retail level. To put this in perspective, the UK music industry is worth around £2 billion.

It would be interesting to ask Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrison's, Waitrose etc., there company policies on the use of organophosphorous compounds in flowers supplied from third world countries, what tests they undertake, by whom, where and what the results are.

UPDATE Feb 13th 11.30 GMT Is Valentine's Day just a big bunch of trouble? Daily Telegraph
Just how ethical is your Valentine's Day bouquet? Helen Birch looks behind the fragrant façade of the global flower trade and finds that everything is far from rosy

Douglas Alexander learns from Hilary Benn how to talk out of his arse on carbon emissions

It is a little difficult at times to understand what HM Embassy staff do, but they appear not to have briefed International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander at all well. In the Daily Mail today "War of the red roses" he is quoted in approval of sourcing St Valentin'es day red roses from Kenya ..."He called on people to buy Kenyan flowers this year, saying it would give an important boost to a nation riven by political strife and riots. "

Mr Alexander also addressed concerns that flying roses across the world generates huge carbon emissions.

He said: "Remember that flowers flown in from Kenya aren't grown in heated greenhouses - so they use less energy than most of those produced in Europe."

Lord Patel noted on Monday, January 28, 2008 in his post "Naivasha and St Valentine - and the stupidity of Mr Hilary Benn" that Alexanders Cabinet colleague Hilary Benn (Min Overseas Dev.) told an international sustainable food conference in February last year . " ... recent research showed that flowers flown from Africa used less energy than those produced in Europe, because they're not grown in heated greenhouses."

Well this pic shows the 50 hectares (at the last count) of the Oserian ( the largest flower supplier to the UK in Kenya) geothermally heated greenhouses. Here is a close up and a little explanation about how they produce Co2 .. take note Mr Benn. (click to enlarge) learn more at their website.

They also of course use pesticides that are forbidden for use in the EU, pay slave labour rates and have along with the other flower farms supplying Europe and the US destroyed the biosphere of Lake Nyavasha.

But hey ! he gets his name in the paper spouting eco-nonsense.

Lord Patel's top tip for the day ... See pic. Stick to the undies lads

UDATE 13th Feb 11.30 GMT

Kenya Struggles To Ship Roses Heidi Vogt, The Associated Press 13th Feb 2008
Tampa bay Online .."Kenyan growers have been pushing to keep exports up for the holiday despite ethnic violence that has paralyzed the East African country.

They've chartered planes to embattled western cities, enlisted armed police to protect flower-truck convoys and made pleading cell phone calls to frightened workers urging them to return.

Crime doesn't pay - a very moral fable

By popular demand we re-print a previous post ....

It was with some relief that my new Butler, Mc Ternan told me at breakfast that PC Plod had telephoned with the good news that the mystery of my car stolen last year had been resolved.

Apparently a Mr Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, well known as the evil mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, confessed ,(amongst many other crimes) according to a transcript released by the Pentagon yesterday after a military hearing held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He also confessed to a string of other offences and asked them to be taken into account . This included the theft of and from Patel Towers of an expensive British Racing Green Aston Martin Vantage in full "Prince of Wales" spec.

Mr. Mohammed declined to speak under oath, saying his religious beliefs prohibited it. But he said he was telling the truth. Which apparently means ( explained Plod ) that whilst this can be credited against the crime as a Class IIIa Clear up, proceedings cannot be entered into, solely on the basis of a confession based on illegal abduction, rendition and ceaseless torture without the presence of a lawyer.

Butler McTernan, , appears a bright lad (although his references look slightly dodgy) , and took the opportunity to point out to Plod that the vehicle was stolen last year and it appears from reading the press that Mr Mohammed was arrested in Rawalpindi on 2nd March 2003 and at the time of the offence was safely tucked up in a spacious cell at Camp Freedom on Diego Garcia.

"God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform" , was the response from the officer of the law, who then put the phone down.

At the time of Mr Mohammed's arrest Ari Fleischer the White House press secretary said ."Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is one of Osama bin Laden's most senior and significant lieutenants, a key Al Qaeda planner and the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks," ... So it must be true.

Curiously if you turn to Chapter 5 of The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission)

You will find how Mystic Meg had been at work and safely predicted ...

"No one exemplifies the model of the terrorist entrepreneur more clearly than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,(see pic Chapter 5 Image 1 ) the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks. KSM followed a rather tortuous path to his eventual membership in al Qaeda.1 Highly educated and equally comfortable in a government office or a terrorist safehouse, KSM applied his imagination, technical aptitude, and managerial skills to hatching and planning an extraordinary array of terrorist schemes. These ideas included conventional car bombing, political assassination, aircraft bombing, hijacking, reservoir poisoning, and, ultimately, the use of aircraft as missiles guided by suicide operatives."

You will find much else besides which proves ... er...well .... he looks a right evil bastard.

UPDATE 16th March

Hans-Christian Ströbele,(PIC) (Deputy Leader of the Green Party) and Herta Däubler-Gmelin Charman of the Human Rights Committee of the Bundestag (Social Democrat, and Minister of Justice in the Gerhard Schröder government who was forced to resign when she compared George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler) both members of the German Bundestag have ridiculed Mohammed's portmanteau confession . Casting doubts on it's vailidity or credibility given the circumstances of his imprisonment. “He might as well have confessed to being the Satan himself”, "Er hätte wohl auch gestanden, der Satan persönlich zu sein" Ströbele told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Däubler-Gmelin said, "Hier veröffentlicht eine Militärbehörde, was ihr passt",“The [U.S.] military authority publishes whatever it wants to publish.” They both mentioned the “torture factor” and the dubious status of the Guantanamo tribunal.

The SZ also quote Ruth and Judea Pearl from Encino, California saying of his claims to have killed their son Daniel."Zum gegenwärtigen Zeitpunkt können wir unmöglich wissen, ob seine Prahlerei mit dem Tod unseres Sohnes der Wahrheit entspricht" .. We cannot posibly know after all this time that he is responsible for their son's death

Interesting view here at Rumour Mill that KSM is actually someone else, but someone provides evidence that that is probably untrue.

UPDATE : I was telling my new butler Mr Burrell that it was about time that this chappy was locked up safely behind bars. Apparently he already is. "Sentence first.Verdict afterwards" said the Red Queen. Quite right.

Why waste the time of these busy soldiers putting him through a sham trial, let's get on and kill some more Afghan mothers and children.

As my old nanny used to say , the policemen took him away because he was a very bad man... otherwise they wouldn't have taken him away.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wheat prices still moving up at daily limits

UPDATE: The price limit for MGEX Spring Wheat Futures Contracts for Feb. 13 (trading beginning evening of Feb. 12) moves to 90 cents.

*Daily price limits shall revert back to $0.60 after no wheat futures contract month closes limit bid or limit offer for three consecutive business days.

As prices rise, consumption falls, and some starve.

KINGDOM OF GOD : the Archbishop, the Sharia and the Law of the Land . DV

With the Name of God, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

The City Circle invites you to a panel discussion entitled, "KINGDOM
OF GOD: the Archbishop, the Sharia and the Law of the Land."

VENUE: Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place, off Edgware Rd, London W1H 4LP

TIME: 6.45pm - 8.30pm, Friday 15th February 2008, God-willing

The Archbishop of Canterbury's historic lecture on "Islam in English Law" at the Royal Courts of Justice last week has ignited a national debate about the relationship between law and religion in the United Kingdom.

UK law already makes special concessions for faith groups: marriages solemnised in many churches, synagogues and mosques do not require a separate civil registration; the decree absolute of civil divorce is not granted to Jewish couples until they have obtained a Jewish divorce from a recognised Beth Din in order to guarantee the rights of Jewish women; Sikh motorcyclists who wear a traditional turban are exempted from having to wear a helmet; etc.

Is there a case for legal pluralism within UK law? How do Beths Din and Sharia councils work with respect to UK law? What would be the impacts of any changes to the status quo on human rights, especially those of women?

Join us for a lively discussion with a panel of experts.

PRAKASH SHAH is Senior Lecturer in Law at Queen Mary University of
London and author of "Legal Pluralism in Conflict: Coping With Cultural Diversity in Law" (Cavendish, 2005)

FAIZ SIDDIQUI is the principal and founding trustee of Hijaz College
in Nuneaton, a Muslim school that combines traditional Islamic education with the UK National Curriculum. He is also a barrister under English and Welsh Law, and a member of Lincoln's Inn.

CASSANDRA BALCHIN is a freelance researcher, writer and human-rights
advocacy trainer, and has been part of the network, "Women Living Under Muslim Laws" (WLUML) for fifteen years. Formerly a journalist based in Pakistan, she has published on Muslim family laws and international development policy regarding religion.

THOMAS SEYMOUR of Wilberforce Chambers is an experienced barrister who has dealt with disputed Beth Din cases that have been referred to the English civil courts.

Free entrance. All welcome.

For event enquiries please contact us on 07980 834340 or

Web site: http://www.thecitycircle.com
email: info@thecitycircle.com

Should be good fun to hear a lot of earnest well meaning folk talk about "unclarity" for a couple of hours.

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