"“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, March 08, 2008

International Women's Day

It's http://www.internationalwomensday.com/ Barack Obama sacks Samantha Power his Foreign Policy Adviser... she called Shrillary a witch !

Read what Michelle Obama's ex employers do for women.

Ms Huma Abedin - Wannabe Presidential accessory ?

Those who read on November 24, 2007 Hillary Rodham Clinton and her Muslim Lesbian lover ... the odd couple and the curious relationship of Ms Huma Abedin with the democratic candidate will be interested in this fascinating picture of Hillary with her security detail.

So the wannabe President is in the sack with her Muslim girl friend ...who cares ?...well it might explain how the friendship of another democratic candidate with Mr Rezko has hit the fan.

Here's Shrillary getting on a plane this week..

Now watch out for the , the Marc Jacobs STAM bag favourite of Hilary Duff and lissome Maria Sharapova.

See Weazle Revenge today - Hillary Clinton's Lesbian Affair Story About to Break and Wide Open and the Wall $treet Fighter

For more fascinating pics of Shrillary and her pal and security detail Now just ask yourself seeing that final pic - how do the media remain silent ? ...and why ?

Sex toys to be sold by the Swedish State pharmacies

Apoteket , the government run pharmacies in Sweden, conducted a study in conjunction with he Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) (Rights to sexual and health services and sexuality education are key tools in the struggle for a healthier and more equitable society.) last year what products they would most like to see on Apoteket''s shelves, a majority chose dildos and massage oils.

So that is what they will do... or will do starting in May.

Apoteket's spokeswoman Elisabet Linge Bergman said "We are aware that sex is a very important part of everyone's life. It is important to help people in this area, and there is a certain demand for the products."

RFSU has produced a range of sex toys on behalf of Apoteket, which will be available for purchase in 50 of the 950 nationwide stores for a one year trial period. But Apoteket has not yet decided which products to stock.

"We will sell massage oils and dildos. We can't say anything more yet," said Linge Bergman.

Apoteket has a monopoly on the sale of over-the-counter drugs, although Sweden has just started to open up the pharmacy market.

Does that mean they will be available on prescription ?

News from Texas where Dildos are also in the News. Again

Over at the always amusing and frequently irritating Blondesense they take up the Great Texas Dildo Wars of 2008 - " You may have read that a woman's right to masturbate had returned to Texas recently, however the decision is being reheard by the 5th Circuit Court as it upset the Texas AG. " See also The Texas Dildo Wars at Slate and The Great Texas Dildo Wars of 2008 at Alternet.

The Texas Attorney General is of the opinion ..." that because criminal laws are generally based on society's moral judgments about right and wrong, the panel majority's decision could invite substantive-due-process challenges to other, previously uncontroversial criminal prohibitions -- suggesting that laws against incest and bigamy that would be the next to go if women are permitted to buy masturbatory aids in Texas."

Apparently there is a law in Texas about men and chickens ... but you can read about that for yourself.

Serbia : Vojislav Kostunica resigns and calls for elections - bumpy road ahead

Serbia's Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has announced his resignation and called for new elections.

The BBC are reporting this is a result of his failure to get his cabinet to reject closer ties with the European Union in the wake of Kosovo's declaration of independence.

AP report that Kostunica says that he will convene a session of the government that will make a decision to call new elections for May 11.

Kostunica blames his pro-Western ministers of failing to support his efforts to preserve Kosovo as part of Serbia as he has demanded that Serbia cannot join the EU unless the bloc's member nations rescind their decisions to recognize Kosovo's independence.

The Pro-EU coalition government parties won't accept this pre-condition and say Serbia's future in the EU should not depend on Kosovo's status.

In Australia 1000's attended a rally calling on the Federal Government to reverse its decision to recognise Kosovo as an independent state. They marched with banners "Kosovo is Serbia" and the "United Nations is dead".

On Friday U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried told a news conference in the Kosovo capital, Pristina.

"Independence is a fact. This is a reality. History is only going to move forward," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried told a news conference in the Kosovo capital, Pristina which seemed to overlook the reality of life as it is lived in Kosovo these days.

There has been an increasing level of harassment on the ground as Customs, police, courts and transport infrastructure have all been hit in a widening Serb boycott of the new country. The Serb-dominated north stands is increasingly becoming a cockpit of intense nationilsm.

Serbia have recalled their Ambassador , Vera Mavric from Finland in protest over the Finish recognition of Kosovan independence.

A note of protest she handed in repeated Serbia's position that the declaration of independence by Kosovo without the approval of the United Nation's Security Council is a violation of international law and specifically of the UN Charter, UN resolution 1 244 and the Helsinki Accords.

President Tarja Halonen gave official endorsement to the government's decision to recognise Kosovo's independence and to establish diplomatic relations with the country on Friday. No debate was involved in the decision to recognise Kosovo. President Halonen and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen agreed on the matter already a week earlier.

Earlier in the week, Serbia had recalled ambassadors to countries that had recognized Kosovo, including Sweden. The Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was due to visit Kosovo on Saturday for talks with Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and President Fatmir Sejdiu in Pristina as well as officials from the UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK and the EU.

Dying in an NHS Hospital near you - More Customer Choice

On publication of the annual figures for Clostridium difficile infections and associated deaths the headline in the Daily Mirror headline screamed " Superbug scandal: 6,500 killed by C.diff in one year - Minister admits delay as C.diff leaps 72% "

Gobshite and Rentaquote Ben Bradshaw who has some sort of vague connection with the Minister of Health - bag carrier, tea maker , admitted the Government had not done enough in previous years to tackle the bug, caused by dirty wards. He said: "We concentrated rightly on MRSA in the beginning. We may have come to this late."

"But we are taking action now. We are implementing ward-to-board action on this - right from the ward sister up to the boardroom."

"Ward to Board action" worth 'is weight in Gold that lad. Should have been in PR.

Whilst Ministers aren't multi-tasking ,the real world is and as the Daily Telegraph points out today Clostridum ( 72% rise since 2006 10 dead each day) is a single problem amongst many - as figures obtained by Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary show.

Currently only 3 infections are required to be reported to the Health Protection Agency - MRSA, Clostridium difficile and antibiotic resistant enterococcal (GRE) bloodstream infections. Other hospital infections reports are voluntary and must understate the levels of infection and attendant problems.

1. Staphylococcus aureus, a potentially fatal infection which in its antibiotic resistant form is known as the superbug MRSA. The infection can cause septicaemia and toxic shock syndrome. It rose 6% from 2002 to 13,648 recorded cases in 2006.

2. Hospital-acquired infections of E.coli, which also has a potentially deadly strain, have risen by 48 %.

3. Klebsiella spp infections have risen by 48 % since 2002, to 5,198 cases. The infection can cause Klebsiella pneumonia, which has a high mortality rate because it tends to target patients with underlying diseases, such as chronic lung problems. This is an HAI which has caused major problems in Israel and Lord Patel posted about this a year ago March 31, 2007
Hospital Acquired Infections - A Bad News Day - when he wrote ..."The emergence of multi-drug resistant Klebsiella will become a global concern just as MRSA's have ,and increasingly Multiple Drug Resistant TB's (MDRTB) have been invading the EU from eastern Europe and Russia whose prisons are a huge and potent resevoir of HIV / TB - the perstent habit of health autorities to conceal the problem from the public only hinders the resolution of the problem.... unless of course the policy is to kill off the old and save on their pension benefits."

4. Streptococcus pneumoniae infections rose by 9% to 4,553 cases. It can cause pneumonia, meningitis and brain abscesses.

5. Coagulase negative staphylococci, which causes bloodstream infections, was up 126 % to 14,943 cases in 2006.

6. Acineobacter baumannii has it's own website somewhat sensational it does appear that this is a major problem with soldiers returning from medical treatment in Gwermany after wounding in Iraq and Afghanistan ....

£50Mn is going to be spent on "deep" cleaning ... so that's all right then. This has nothing to do with reducing the number of beds and runnin gthem at near 100% occupancy,

GP Practice nurses taking the strain..

Ann Keen (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Health Services), Department of Health) gave some interesting figures on 4th March - GP practice nurses 2001 - 18,389 , 2004 - 19,846 , 2007 23,797 a rise over 6 years of 30%.

If , I refer an asthmatic to Secondary care they see the Respiratory Nurse Specialist.

If, I refer a diabetic to Secondary care they see the Diabetic Nurse Specialist.

If, I refer someone with Multiple Sclerosis to Secondary care they see the Multiple Sclerosis Nurse Specialist.

If, I refer an epileptic to Secondary care they see the Epilepsy Nurse Specialist.

If, I refer a prostate problem to Secondary Care they see the Prostate Assessment Nurse Specialist

If, I refer an person with crippling osteoarthritis to Secondary Care they see a Physiotherapist

If, I refer a schizophrenic to Secondary care they see the Community Mental Health team.

If, any of these people have a knowledge-base greater than my own I will eat Lord Darzi's (rarely dirty) surgical scrubs.

If from Dr Rant ... always worth reading but NOT before you visit any establishment run by the NHS.

First thing is - we'll kill all the copywriters !!! Amazing pictures

Sometimes you see a poster and you think. WTF are they trying to sell ? Who wrote that copy ?

...and all that fucking fine print .......

For Stef

Even without JTAC Prince Harry the aerial bombing of Afghanistan carries on relentlessly

March 6th Daily report - In Afghanistan :

In Nangalam, an Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dropped a guided bomb unit-38 in order to destroy enemy fighting positions. A JTAC reported that the mission was successful.

In total, 42 close-air-support missions were flown as part of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

In Iraq :

An RAF GR-4 Tornado performed a show of force in order to deter enemy activities in Basrah. The success of the mission was declared by a JTAC.

In total, coalition aircraft flew 67 close-air-support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions integrated and synchronized coalition ground forces, protected key infrastructure, provided overwatch for reconstruction activities and helped to deter and disrupt terrorist activities.

On March 5, Air Force, French and RAF tanker crews flew 49 sorties and off-loaded approximately 3 million pounds of fuel to 277 receiving aircraft.. which my friends is an aful lot of jet fighter/bombers flying "close support missions" and ..." a show of force in order to deter enemy activities "

Remarkable thing is with their pin point accuracy they never kill any civilians, grannies, mothers , children ...... ever ... well hardly ever.

Friday, March 07, 2008

"Failed top brass in the NHS are on a jobs merry-go-round at taxpayers' expense"

Barry Monk brings our attention to the happy circumstance that Ruth Harrison landed a £52,000 short-term contract which started in December 2007 to head a review into maternity and children's services at Epsom and St Helier Hospital in Surrey - a review which it is feared will lead to ward closures.

Ruth Harrison was the £130,000 p.a. Chief Executive of Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Bucks, who was paid off in 2006 with a £140,000 golden goodbye - she left the trust to do an MSc at London University.

This was the day before a damning report was published, citing serious faults in her leadership.

Under her tenure 33 patients died and 334 became seriously ill with the highly infectious stomach bug Clostridium difficile.

The Healthcare Commission, which carried out the investigation into the outbreak between October 2003 and June 2005, said the trust "compromised the safety of patients by failing to make the right decisions" and that it "rejected the proper advice of their own experts". Last Updated: Thursday, 15 November 2007, 10:24 GMT

The Health and Safety Executive ruled there was not enough admissible evidence to prosecute Stoke Mandeville Hospital bosses in Buckinghamshire.

Sandra Caldwell, HSE director of field operations said they launched the investigation into Stoke Mandeville because there was the possibility that serious criminal offences had been committed.

She added: "On the basis of the evidence available, HSE did not find sufficient admissible evidence to be able to bring criminal proceedings against the Trust, alleging a link between management failures and particular deaths."

Its report said: "The Healthcare Commission considers there were significant failings on the part of the leadership at the trust and has recommended that the leadership change."

Apparently there is some disquiet among patient rights campaigners at Epsom and St Helier Hospital . Geoff Martin, from campaign group Health Emergency, called on the trust to halt plans to bring in Ms Harrison, adding that the move was "a disgrace".

He said: "Failed top brass in the NHS are on a jobs merry-go-round at taxpayers' expense, where they can jump from one highly-paid post to the next, regardless of the wreckage they have left behind."

This has lead to the announcement in the Health Service Journal today to her "stepping down" from the position.

"She made the decision after all the press interest," said an Epsom and St Helier spokesman. "She was concerned her involvement would be a distraction."

Ms Harrison will be replaced by fellow Durrow employee Nick Relph, former chief executive of Thames Valley strategic health authority.

Andy Black has a curious self serving Press Release at the Durrow website....who have a very impressive client list of hospitals no doubt they obtained a large take up on their New Year study tour in Miami this year.

Carlyle leads the way with Triple A mortage Fire Sales as margin calls cannot be met

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard seems a fairly reliable source of financial information - today in the Telegraph Online he reports ;

Carlyle Capital Corp Ltd., has leveraged itself to the hilt, taking out debt at a ratio of 32:1 to invest in US mortgage assets. Carlyle Capital leverages its $670 million equity 32 times to finance a $21.7 billion portfolio of residential mortgage-backed securities issued by U.S. housing agencies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Fire sales of these assets raise the spectre of distress sales on a scale large enough to trigger a cascade of liquidations by other funds. What we bankers call the "House of Cards" theory.

Shares in Carlyle Capital Corporation closed down Thursday almost 60 % at US $5.00 on Euronext Amsterdam - where it floated only in July 2007 at US$19.

Carlyle one of the world's largest private-equity firms with $76 billion in assets under management and have 55 different funds of which CCC is the only one in trouble.

Traders said Carlyle Capital had been scooping up AAA-rated mortgage securities, believing that they had fallen fall below inherent value. The risky bet - known as "catching a falling knife" - appears similar to the strategy that ensnared the UK hedge fund Peloton Partners, which was forced to close a $2bn fund last week.

(Peleton was run by Ron Beller ex Goldman Sachs and his beautiful, talented wife Jennifer Moses, an ex-Goldman Sachs managing director will NOT now be joining Gordon Brown's shit hot , hot shot team of wizard financial advisers)

Carlyle Capital Corp (CCC) said it had missed margin calls to seven creditors and lacked collateral to cover its trading exposure to mortgage securities.

This has sent nasty signals throughout the the financial markets. It held securities worth a $21.7bn (£10.8bn) last month, raising the spectre of distress sales on a scale large enough to trigger a cascade of liquidations by other funds.

Fears of forced sales ravaged real estate investment trusts, which also own big holdings of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt. Santa Monica based Anworth Mortgage (ANH : NASDAQ) shares plunged 24pc and Dallas based Capstead Mortgage was off 25pc.

Thornburg Mortgage (TMA:NYSE)crashed 60pc (and then almost disappered today) after revealing an SEC-filing in New York that it had missed a $28m margin call to JP Morgan Chase. It has suffered from the collapse in investor demand for so-called jumbo mortgages.

An analyst report that UBS was engaged in a "fire-sale" of mortgage securities worth $24bn accelerated the flight from risk. Most of the assets are alleged to be Alt A securities, the next notch up from sub-prime.

Family car - 14 into one will go

How many can you get into a 5 seat Opel Vectra family car ?

Well if you are a Romanian family returning after visiting family in France - The answer, it appears, is 14.

German Traffic cops stopped a car travelling at 40Kmh (25 mph) outside Schwabach in Southern bavaria.

In the back seats were two adult women each with two children on their laps and one squeezed between them. Two men sat in the front seats.

In the boot (trunk) were 5 kids.

Viktor Bout - RAF sub contractor arrested in Bangkok

The London Evening Standard ran this following story - it disappeared into the cyberbin within hours. Lord Patel posted about it MOD uses banned company run by wanted arms dealer. Mr Viktor Bout has of course been nabbed in sunny Thailand . DEA Press release

By Andrew Gilligan. Evening Standard, Monday, 9th May 2005.

Today the UK will promise to curb arms traffickers. But the MoD is hiring planes from a dealer linked to Bin Laden.

By Andrew Gilligan. Evening Standard, Monday, 9th May 2005.

Victor Bout is the most notorious arms trafficker in the world. Linked to Osama bin Laden by the British government, linked to the Taliban by the US government, he was described by a New Labour minister as a "merchant of death" who must be shut down.

Yet an Evening Standard investigation has found that, just two months ago, a Victor Bout company was hired by that very same British government to operate military flights from a key RAF base.

Bout, a 38-year old Russian, owns or controls a constellation of airlines that have smuggled illegal weapons to conflict zones for the past 15 years. He has been named in countless official investigations and reports - the most recent only last month. The authorities in Belgium, where he used to work, have issued a warrant for his arrest. In 2004, the US froze his assets and put him on a terrorist watch list [not that they stopped him flying to and from Baghdad, The Yokshire Ranter].

But between 6 and 9 March this year, according to official Civil Aviation Authority records, two Victor Bout charter flights took off from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. The cargo was armoured vehicles and a few British troops. The client was the Ministry of Defence.

The charters were operated by an airline called Trans Avia. It was named as one of Mr. Bout's front companies by the Government itself - in a Commons written answer on 2 May 2002. The Government cannot claim ignorance of Bout's dubious links. The Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane reassured MPs: "The UK has played a leading role in drawing international attention to Bout's activities, initially in Angola and Liberia and more recently relating to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda".

A specialist aviation journal reported that the "al Qaeda link" was Bout's role in supplying bin Laden with a personal aeroplane - in the days before September 11, when he had a little more freedom of movement. Could Trans Avia have gone legit since then? Not according to the United States Treasury Department. Only two weeks ago, on 26 April, the Treasury "designated" Trans Avia as one of 30 companies linked to Bout, "an international arms dealer and war profiteer". Bout "controls what is reputed to be the largest private fleet of Soviet-era cargo aircraft in the world", says the Treasury press release. "The arms he has sold or brokered have helped fuel conflicts and support UN-sanctioned regimes in Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan. Notably, information available to the US government shows that Bout profited by $50 million by supplying the Taliban with military equipment when they ruled Afghanistan."

The story doesn't end there. Another two flights were made in the same three days of March by an airline called Jet Line International, also from RAF Brize Norton. A further three flights were made at the same time from another base, RAF Lyneham. The destination was Kosovo. The client, once again, was the Ministry of Defence.

Yet Jet Line, too, is a company that has been accused of close connections to Bout. According to the authoritative US newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, it appeared on a list of Bout companies circulated by the State Department to US diplomatic posts around the world.

"There is no doubt at all about the links between Jet Line and Bout," says Johan Peleman, the researcher who wrote the UN report. "It's one of his most important assets." Intelligence agencies say the same thing. Jet Line's office address in its base at Chisinau, Moldova, is the same as that of Aerocom, a company exposed by the United Nations as involved in sanctions-busting and arms-smuggling to the brutal rebels of Liberia. According to the UN, Aerocom was involved in the illegal smuggling or attempted smuggling of more than 6,000 automatic rifles and machine guns, 4,500 grenades, 350 missile launchers, 7,500 landmines, and millions of rounds of ammunition in breach of a UN arms embargo.

Tracking down the registration numbers of the sanctions-busting aircraft, it turns out that the Jet Line aircraft that flew the MoD flights in March were previously registered to Aerocom. They are in fact the same planes.

Bout's activities have helped cause quite literally thousands of deaths in many of the worst places in the world. Born in 1967, he served in the Soviet air force and then military intelligence, where he developed a gift for languages. When the USSR broke up, he "acquired" a large fleet of surplus or obsolete aircraft, which he used to deliver arms and ammunition also "acquired" from old Soviet stockpiles. That weaponry fuelled some of the most savage wars in Africa. Charles Taylor's insurgent guerrillas used Bout weapons to destroy Liberia. In Sierra Leone, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) used Bout weapons to terrorise the country, seize the diamond mines, and chop off their opponents' hands.

None of our business? Well, the RUF's Bout-supplied weapons were almost certainly used to attack British troops engaged on the Sierra Leone peacekeeping mission in 2000.

Bout's planes would arrive at obscure African airstrips, loaded with weapons, then leave heaped with diamonds, coltan - vital for making mobile phones - and other precious minerals in return. "He was apolitical," said one UN official. "He would fly for anyone that paid." Bout's willingness to go places that no-one else would go made him the market leader in the arms-trafficking business. Little wonder, therefore, that the then Foreign Office minister Peter Hain said "The murder and mayhem of Unita in Angola, the RUF in Sierra Leone, and groups in Congo would not have been as terrible without Bout's operations." He was truly "a merchant of death", Hain said [and for a long time I respected Hain for it, too - TYR].

Bout used to operate from Ostend, in Belgium, where a shabby hotel in the city centre acted as his informal marketplace. There was a flight departures screen in the hotel bar, so he could keep track of his planes' movements. Then he was forced to retreat to Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates - and after September 11, to Moscow, where he controls his empire through front companies such as Trans Avia. "You are not putting facts. You are putting allegations," he tells journalists on the rare occasions they manage to get through on his Russian phone number. [Actually, the quote comes from his surprise appearance on Ekho Moskhy radio in 2002 - TYR]

Britain has been embarrassed by dodgy airlines before. Last year, the Department for International Development promised a full investigation after the Standard exposed its use of Aerocom on an aid flight to Africa. The problem is that few reputable carriers want to fly to Kosovo, Iraq, Darfur or some of the places where the government needs transport. And the airline brokers used by Whitehall seem to have learned surprisingly few lessons from past embarrassments.

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said the fact that its broker "seems to have used an aircraft in Jet Line International livery" was not the same as saying that the MoD itself had contracted Jet Line. But, whatever hairs the MoD may choose to split, the payout - for Mr. Bout - is the same.

Today and tomorrow, at the MoD's vast procurement headquarters in Bristol, defence officials are holding a special conference with human rights groups and arms trade campaigners. The purpose is to persuade them that the government is serious about cracking down on the scourge of arms trafficking.

One good way to start might, perhaps, be to stop putting British taxpayers' money into the pockets of the worst arms trafficker in the world."

Here is an extract from the HM Treasury "CONSOLIDATED LIST OF FINANCIAL SANCTIONS TARGETS IN THE UK" as of today because of his connections with Mr Taylor of Liberia - now coolig his heels in the Hague. Click to enlarge.

The Yorkshire Ranter will provide you with more information on the enterprising and gifted Russian / Uzbek / Takikistani Mr Viktor Bout than you ever wanted to know.

Will the London Evening Standard be rummaging around in their cyberbin to re-publish the piece ?

Probably not.

Will Mr Viktor Bout ever see the inside of a court on charges of gin running, drug smuggling, money laundering etc., etc.,?

Probably not.

NEWS UPDATE 10th March 2.15 GMT
We had forgotten that Tom Griffin had at the time made an FOI request about these movements and received a reply (Nov 16th in reply to Tom's September 29th e-mail) from the Defence Supply Chain Operations and Movements at the Defence Logistics Organisation which you can read here .... it makes fascinating reading.

On Line theft.....or is it ? Vietnamese robbing gamers test the law.

Hanoi on a wet Friday afternoon in February. Two keen on line gamers on Swordman Online ( Vo Lam Truyen Ky) went to an internet cafe on Giai Phong road, Hoang Mai district. This indescribably boring game has a virtual world where gamers can buy and sell products to other aimless geeks, nerds and the like.

Happily playing away, sipping their lemon grass sodas, the pair were set upon by 5 other (evidently less competent ) envious wannabe gamers who proceeded to beat them up and at knife point forced them to transfer their in-game money into their account .

The "robbers" have been identified by the Police but they are at a loss how to proceed even though they find this same gang have had 5 previous similiar hits.

Legal eagles are no help to PC Viet Plod either.

Dr. Le Thi Thu Thuy, a lecturer from the Hanoi National Law University, says these men should be charged with asset robbery. She said that today, assets are diversified, and the law can’t cover every single type. Money in computer games can be considered a kind of good, which laws don’t prohibit from trade. Anyone who uses violence to steal money, even if it’s online, must be tried as a criminal.
Find one lwayer get 9 opinions - Pham Hong Hai from the Hanoi Bar Association agreed with Thuy but procurator Nguyen Quang Long from the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau disagrees, saying money in computer games is not stipulated as assets in the Civil Code so the five men can only be charged with assault.

Yet another smart-ass lawyer, this time Nguyen Van Tuan from the HCM City Bar Association said the case should be based on the robbers’ purpose. If they rob in-game money to sell to others to collect real money, they must be charged with robbery.

They will be fascinated by the on going row in the House about whether the telcos who let Uncle Sam read your e-mails should have retrospective legal protection - there was a case of stealing ...but .....

Foreign Office demand Iranian Transport Workers Union officials be released - Shock Horror

The juvenile antics of the juvenile Foreign Office minister Kim Howells are rarely worth noting .


The British government yesterday announced support for a day of action by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and Amnesty International over the detention since late last year of an Iranian bus workers' leader and others.

"We call on the government of Iran to release immediately Mansour Ossanlou (oo)and Mahmoud Salehi....They have been imprisoned for several months for their involvement in peaceful activities in support of workers' rights in Iran. This is a clear violation of their right to freedom of expression and association."

It seems improbable but our Foriegn and Commonwealth office have taken up the fight for Mansour Ossalou, head of the Tehran bus conductors' union.

Mansour was jailed last July after a protest over low pay and poor conditions. In September five unionists were accused of acting against national security after visiting his home.

The ISNA news agency reported that Iranian authorities / Police had arrested four trade unionists who work for the state bus company.

The ITF announced a protest action outside the Iranian embassy in London, as well as in cities around the world. "The Iranian government's continuing mistreatment of Mansour is a running sore," said ITF head David Cockroft.

"He has asked only for his basic rights and has been answered with fists, truncheons and manacles - but he has not been forgotten," he said.

The popinjay Howells said "We share the international concerns about the growing repression and severity of action taken against labor rights activists who work tirelessly to defend the rights of workers in Iran."

Would that he take the opportunity to support the workers rights of the Oil Unions in Iraq which Hassan Juma, President of the Iraqi Oil Workers Union has been calling for from the platform of the Stop the War Roadshow in towns up and down the country last week.

Stephen Smith, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, outlined the government’s commitment to core international labour standards and said: "The Australian government will continue to call upon the Iranian government to respect and uphold human rights.”

See photogrpahs of action around the world one above is from BTB (Belgische Transportarbeiders Bond)Kortrijk Belgium

Gaza by Lartuff out of Moon over Alabama

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Glitch on Trident W - 46 missile service extension programme with "Fogbank"

The UK's Trident missiles are only allowed to be serviced in the US by US personnel. Now there has been a hitch at their utility in handling the W-76 warheads carried on the missiles, which are intended to remain in service past the end of their design life in the 2020s and to be carried by a new fleet of Vanguard submarines.

The Y-12 nuclear weapon plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is conducting service extensions on the W-76 warheads but it has run into an unspecified problem involving a material known as “Fogbank,” - supposed to be a cleaning substance.

“The only thing we can say is there’s an issue with the W-76 life extension program. It’s been delayed a bit, but we have all our experts working on it,” said a spokesman for the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees Y-12.

The agency is spending “a lot of money” to produce “Fogbank,” NNSA chief Thomas D’Agostino told a congressional committee last year. “We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said, noting the difficulty in working with a substance that is toxic, flammable and explosive .

"Fogbank" has safety concerns equivalent to handling beryllium which has been a matter of concern at Y12 which was reported in December 2007.

While B&W Y-12’s program already provides a level of protection well beyond Department of Energy requirements, the DOE’s Office of Inspector General looked at the B&W Y‑12 program and said there were things Y‑12 could do better.

Y-12 developed a beryllium protection program before DOE had a beryllium rule. Additionally, the site has had different internal requirements for surface contamination. Over the years, these control limits have got progressively tighter. Ten years ago, the control limit was 10.0 micrograms per 100 square centimeters. That control limit was lowered to 5.0 micrograms per 100 square centimeters. Today, the program is controlling to 0.2 micrograms per 100 square centimeters. A microgram is a millionth of gram.

Following the visit from representatives of the Inspector General, the Y‑12 Site Office of the National Nuclear Security Administration had an independent review team from DOE/NNSA headquarters come in to look at the Y‑12 beryllium program. The team reviewed B&W Y‑12’s action plan and found that it would “fully resolve all the Inspector General’s audit results and recommendations.”

Wouldn't it be real drag if we had to upgrade the missiles as well ?

Gaza - Amazing pictures

More ... Superb collection by FlickerGirl of life in Gaza

Socialist republic of Vietnam - Everyone wants to sell to them - Nguyen Tan Dang Viet PM in London and Berlin

In a little noticed meeting (BBC hasn't reported it) ,Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was in London yesterday after meeting Frau Merkel and popped into No 10 Downing Street yesterday to meet Gordon Brown for the 1st time, and have a chat over tea and crumpets about - co-operating on trade, development - reform of the UN - ways to improve English language learning and teacher training in Vietnam ( v.interesting see lower down) - climate change - illegal people trafficking and organised crime. In 2007, bilateral trade was around US $1.7 billion, the highest yet. (Full Statement)

Across town Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung also met Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman David Lewis and witnessed the signing of five agreements worth US$1 billion in total bwteen UK and Vietnamese enterprises.

1. Salamander / Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) to explore oil fields in Savannakhet, Champasak and Saravan. PetroVietnam also signed another deal with SOCO.

Salamander Energy (IPO LSE Jan 2006 250p today 301p) independent exploration and production company development and exploration assets concentrating on Indonesia and the Greater Mekong region (which includes Thailand, Laos and Vietnam) has approximately 42 million barrels of oil equivalent in proved plus probable reserves and is producing around 7,700 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Standard Chartered Private Equity (SCPE) has a stake of approximately 4.2% in Salamander Energy plc.

SOCO is a London based international oil and gas exploration and production company, quotd on LSE and is a FTSE 250 company. The Company has interests in Vietnam, Yemen, Thailand and the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) and Angola with ongoing production operations in Yemen.

2. A US$600 million deal between the Vietnam Industrial and Commercial Bank (Incombank) and the Standard Chartered Bank on cooperation in payment services, capital raising, consulting, etc.

3. A consulting and training contract between the Bao Viet Insurance Group and HSBC Insurance.

4. A contract between Lilama and Mott MacDonald on the provision of consulting and training for a US$1 billion thermo-power project in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese PM of the Socialist republic attended talks with around 70 UK leading financial investment consulting experts at the headquarters of Prudential in London. The talks were co-organised by Prudential, HSBC, Dragon Capital, and Standard Chartered Bank. The Vietnamese Government has granted licenses to HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank to establish 100% foreign-owned banks in Vietnam in line with their WTO commitments.

Other important attenders included Deputy PM Pham Gia Khiem, Minister of Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc, Prudential CEO Mark Tucker, Prudential Vietnam General Director Alex Hambly, and Standard Chartered Bank CEO Mervyn Davies (Salary £ 2.26 Mn.)and chum of Gordon Brown a non-Exec at Tesco PLC (and Spurs).

The Vietnam-UK Business Forum at the Intercontinental Hotel in London, was also visited by the Vietnamese PM and saw deals signed bringing th e total for the day to of US$4.5 Bn.

5. The biggest deal is the one between the Saigon Investment Group (SIG) and International Power (Results announced today profis up 17%) to develop a 1,200 MW thermo-power project in central Vietnam worth $1.5 billion.

6. The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) and JP Morgan signed a memorandum of understanding worth $280 million. Ex PM Tony Blair is of course an advisor to J P Morgan.

7. The Vietnam Shipping Lines Corporation (Vinalines) signed a memorandum of understanding with Standard Chartered Bank on a $200 million loan.

8. IEC Quoc Anh Co., Ltd signed scholarship granting deals with six UK universities and high schools worth $2.46 million which will involve an increasing number of Vietnamese lecturers studying PhDs in the UK. There are currently more than 6,000 Vietnamese students studying in the UK today. The Apollo University in Vietnam has an association with University of London to provide science and technology training.

Over the next 3 years, between 40 and 60 new school links between UK and Vietnam will be established.

Currently the UK provides over £8 million per year for the training of 50,000 primary teachers, the building of 14,000 classrooms and providing over 1 million poor children with textbooks.

9 .The New World Fashion Plc signed a 5 year US$900 Mn. contract with Tesco Group who are rapidy expanding their interests in Vietnam.

10. The Nha Be Garment Company signed a contract worth US$53 million with Jayroman, a retail group.

Other deals were signed with BP, Premier Oil, Mott McDonald, and BHP Billiton.

Vietnam, one of Asia’s most dynamic economies in the past two decades
Vietnam is looking to avoid the US economic slowdown and plans to maintain strong growth in exports and the overall economy this year by focusing on the Middle East and Europe.

The German government also sees strong economic potential in Vietnam, and Nguyen Tan Dung met Economics Minister Michael Glos and Chancellor Merkel to discuss trade relations.

Germany is Vietnam's largest trading partner within the EU, with mutual trade rising 40 % in 2007 to 3.4 billion euros (US$2.4 Bn.)

Siemens is currently aiming to secure contracts in providing signals and control systems. underground rail system being built in Ho Chi Minh City for an estimated 800 million euros (US500 Mn.).

At the same time German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Vietnam with German businessmen during a tour of the region.

UK Trade for 2007 - Exports down 10% - Imports up , Carousel VAT fraud stopped rising as well

Stop Press : The Official Champagne trade body CIVC report that Britain imported 39 million bottles of Champagne last year - more than Spain, Japan and the United States put together - rising by 5.9 % last year.

UK Regional Trade in Goods have been released today ;


Total value of UK exports for the 12 months to Dec 2007 was £219 Bn and fell by £ 24 Bn (10%)
UK exports to the EU decreased by £25,595m (17 %) in the same period. Northern Ireland was the only country of the UK that had an increase.

UK exports to countries outside the EU increased by £693m (1%).


The total value of UK imports for the 12 months to Dec 2007 was £308.6 Bn. and rose by £ 6 Bn. (2%)

UK Imports from the EU increased by £4 Bn. (2.5 %) in the same period.

UK Imports from countries outside the EU increased by £2.6 Bn (2 %).

Trade Gap/Deficit = a Record £88 Bn. it was £55.8Bn in 2006 and £44.6 Bn in 2005

NB : Comparison of Exports and Imports between 2006 and 2007 are affected by changes in trade associated with VAT carousel fraud (MTIC) and by EU enlargement in January 2007

Sandra Tudor of the Trade in Goods Branch Statistics and Analysis of Trade Unit Balance Of Payments Division Knowledge, Analysis and Intelligence in a document accompanying the Trade Statistics released today says that the impact on the trade statistics associated with Missing Trader Intra-Community VAT fraud is currently growing again – estimated at over £8 billion in Q1 2006 (13 billion euros or 14 billion US dollars).

Substantial adjustments (now up to £8 billion in a quarter) are being made to the trade figures to account for missing trade declarations associated with MTIC fraud.

She says in the same document ..."It is essential that it is made clear that the estimates are of missing trade declarations associated with carousel fraud, NOT of the fraud itself. The level of tax at risk is substantially lower. On a simplistic basis the level of tax at risk is 17.5% of the trade (the UK VAT rate). However, this will overestimate the level of VAT loss and we have explained to the Press that the estimate of the impact of MTIC fraud on trade should not be used in this way."

If adjustments are being made of £8Bn of trade transactions in 1 Quarter are being made then at a generous 10% = $800 Mn. of VAT per Qtr = £3.2 Bn. a year is still going missing in VAT payments.

Sandra Tudor explains how Carousel Fraud works ...

More posts on Carousel Fraud here and also "Lord Houghton" , law lecturer, lay preacher in £51 Mn VAT carousel fraud jailed for 61/2 years - 8 Mr Bigs free due to botched investigation by HMRC 29-11-2007 and ...Another fucking thieving VAT carousel fraudster locked up - Harjit Singh Takkar, he stole £4.5 Mn. in 3 months from taxpayer. 28-9-2007 also Raymond John Cox , Big fish caught in Carousel fraud (MITC) and £85 Million of taxpayers money which has gone AWOL 12-6-2007 also Massive Europe wide raids to tackle huge VAT fraud 12-12-2006 and how most of them used a certain bank ...VAT scams used Bermuda based Transworld Payment Solutions to move money 11-22-2006

Pic of lady called Stacy Haber-Hofberg, DOB 25/01/62 a former environmental judge in New York , who had moved to Liphook, Hampshire with her English husband and their three young children , received six years in September 2005 along with 3 others for her part (total 22 years in jail) in a £40Mn. VAT fraud. In passing sentence, Her Honour Judge Williams said, "It was an audacious and outrageous fraud... all defendants showed a shameless dishonesty."The highly organised scam, operated over 2 years, involved buying mobile phones from twelve fictitious companies (they were clones of legitimate UK firms, set up in Hong Kong with names and letter-heads identical to British firms dealing legitimately in telephones and computer chips) and using false receipts to charge VAT on the transactions, resulting in a loss to HM Revenue & Customs of more than £40 million.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Uncle Sam goes kickin' shit ...

Comment by UESLA over at Moon over Alabama on on the Ecuador/ Venezuela / Columbia hocu pocus...

"Getting Ecuador back in Western pockets, and getting Venezuela back in America's orbit are long term goals. And they have been going nowhere. 'Stagnant progress' we call it over at Foggy Bottom.

So, like any street cop working his beat, the world's super cop kicks in a few doors and starts some trouble. To see what might shake loose.

Can't have OPEC members thinking the American military won't come for them when they get off the reservation. America damn sure will, but we aren't quite there, at this time.

At this time.

UESLA claims to run the Upper East Side Liberation Army

Bush urges OPEC to weigh pain of high oil prices Guradian 4/3/08 "My advice to OPEC -- of course they haven't listened to it -- my advice to OPEC is understand the consequences of high energy prices, because I do," Bush told reporters .

Bad Times - How children are abused - then continue the cycle of abuse

Some 160 children horribly abused.A special room for rape - and even murder. An alleged cover-up at the highest levels. A Jersey "care" home dungeon offers up its secrets

Leading the investigation is Balding Mr Harper - a no-nonsense, old school policeman from Londonderry - is 56 years old and due to retire this September.

"The day Lenny sails out of Jersey harbour, the dockside will no doubt be lined with members of the Jersey Establishment delighted to wave him goodbye," one well-placed police source told me.

AFP - Sunday, March 2 11:03 pm Prince Harry wears a baseball cap with the message "We do bad things to bad people", in the desert in Helmand province in Southern Afghanistan on February 19. Prince Harry on Sunday spent his first full day back in Britain after a tour of duty in Afghanistan, amid claims that media coverage had been "propaganda" and overlooked a failed military strategy.

Obama / Rezko - old news for the realtors in Chicago

Real Estate Bloggers had this fascinating post - nearly 18 Mnths ago

Senator Barack Obama is looking to 2008 and has Presidential ambitions. Unfortunately, he comes out of the fair city of Chicago where politics is a full contact sport. To play in Chicago politics you tend to get your hands dirty. Now a suspect land deal with the “indicted” fixer Tony Rezko may derail this promising career.

A note to politicians, real estate is complicated enough if you try to make money on it for personal reasons. Also, all transactions are public records. So if you are ever going to try to scam the system, use cash, not real estate. Properties leave trails.

On the very same day last year that Obama purchased his gracious $1.6 million South Side home, Rezko’s wife paid $625,000 for the 7,500 square foot vacant lot next door. An Obama spokesperson confirmed that the senator lunches or dines with Rezko “once or twice a year,” and that he may have mentioned the available lot to Rezko. But the spokesperson said Obama never suggested that Rezko buy it.

Later, Obama decided he wanted to fence off his property from Rezko’s and balance his lot size. He asked Rezko to sell about one-sixth of his adjoining lot. Rezko agreed. Rezko paid for the fence, because city law requires him to fence the lot. Even though an appraiser valued the slice of land Rezko sold at $40,500, Obama decided it would be fair to pay Rezko substantially more: one sixth of his original purchase price, or $104,000.

Rezko, a top fundraiser for Gov. Blagojevich, is charged with plotting to squeeze kickbacks out of state contractors.


Dutch Consumer research body finds 11% of pork is contaminated with MRSA bacteria

The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (VWA) has undertaken a study of the incidence of nt-MRSA (non-typable MRSA), which affects pigs, calves and livestock farmers and found the bacteria in 84% of cases studied.

Furthermore they have reported that 11% of meat products in the retail sector are contaminated with the hospital bacteria MRSA. The tests consisted of 1293 samples of unheated meat taken in the retail trade (supermarkets, butchers, poulterers, etc.),throughout Holland.

MRSA is the name given to a group of bacteria that belong to the Staphylococcus aureus (SA) family of bacteria. The people who are most at risk of becoming either colonised or infected with MRSA are those in close contact with people who may be carrying the bacteria, for example in hospital wards that care for ill people. Nt-MRSA is a clone of MRSA.

According to the Authority, meat does not contribute to the spread of the bacteria, which is resistant to most antibiotics.

However, nt-MRSA can be spread where livestock is kept.

Suprisingly, most nt-MRSA is found in dead turkey and chicken (31 and 27% respectively).

With live animals, the bacteria has only been found (so far) in pigs and calves. The animal health authority has confirmed that 50% of animals on pig farms are infected with the bacteria the level of infection in cattle isn't known.

Arie van Nes, from the Faculty of Animal Health in Utrecht said "The figures surprised me. My first thoughts were that it can be spread through processing."

He published a report Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Veterinary Doctors and Students, the Netherlands in Emerging Infectious Diseases Volume 12, Number 12–December 2006

"The prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the Netherlands, at 1.0%, is among the lowest in Europe. In 2004, a relationship between pig farming and a high risk for MRSA carriage was found. To investigate if those in professional contact with livestock are at higher risk for MRSA carriage, we screened 80 veterinary students and 99 veterinarians and questioned them about animal contacts and known MRSA risk factors. Of these, 27 students who did not have livestock contact were excluded from further analysis. We found 7 carriers of MRSA, a prevalence of 4.6%, which is similar to that found in patients who had previously been treated at foreign hospitals."

Here are the test results ;

Their conclusions :

· MRSA generally occurs in most types of unheated meat of farm animals and poultry sampled in retail outlets in 2007. On average, MRSA was present in around 11% of some 1300 samples. The highest prevalences were found in turkey, chicken and veal. The numbers of MRSA bacteria found were very low. In a subset of about half of
the positive samples, there were less than 10 colony-forming units per gram of meat present in each sample.
· The relative contribution of Dutch products and products from other EU Member States seems to be of the same order of magnitude, but the low numbers in the second category do not permit any reliable conclusion, and must be further investigated.
· The MRSA strains isolated from the different meat types were mostly (84%) of the Spa-type of NT-MRSA, that has recently been found also in Dutch in pigs and other species.
· A not inconsiderable percentage (16%), however, was of Spa-types, which have not been associated with livestock farming previously. Further research is required to determine whether there is a hitherto unknown reservoir in domestic (farm) animals and whether there is transmission to humans.
· The relative contribution to contamination of products, for example through the contamination of carcases, from the slaughter and processing environment or due to processors carrying the bacteria, requires further investigation to determine where effective intervention could take place in the chain. This needs to involve a comparison of the typing results and resistance patterns of MRSA bacteria in the various links of the chain.

Ian Paisley DUP RIP

Epitaph on a tyrant

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,

And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

W. H. Auden

Bacton Gas terminal fire - Shell terminal still not operating at capacity

Mystery continues over the fire at Bacton Gas terminal last week - with almost total absence of Press / TV comment although today there are reports by local press here and here by BBC Online who think it worth noting that ..."Police are also taking part in the investigation. ".

Shell announced on Tuesday that they expect to gradually increase UK gas imports through its terminal at Bacton towards normal levels , although flow rates may" dip "at times.

The Shell terminal was reopened on Monday afternoon after last week’s fire in a waste treatment unit and flow rates reached around 23 million cubic metres a day early on Tuesday before plunging to little more than 5 mcm/day.

A Shell spokesman refused to speculate on when the site would be fully operational once more but said: “It is not just a case of turning on a valve.“The whole plant has to be pressurised and gassed up before it can accept gas from the North Sea fields.”

The Shell spokesman denied there was any problem with the terminal. APX show the buying price has risen 1.75 p to 55.02 at the end of yesterday This graph shows recent movment in the wholesale price of gas at the terminal.

Lebanon - no president, a quarter of the Cabinet has resigned, parliament deadlocked - assassinations, bombs - riots - Uncle Sam appears at sea

Future Television, is a Lebanese TV Channel owned by Saad Hariri who heads the majority anti-Syrian bloc in parliament. On Saturday the station broadcast advice that the Saudi Arabian Embassy was advising their mationals to leave Lebanon "as soon as possible."

A government source said that the Lebanese government was advised about the Saudi decision which called on their citizens to "leave Lebanon if they can and to be very careful in their movements inside the country."

Kuwaiti citizens living in Lebanon are also reported to have received urgent messages on their mobiles saying that "all Kuwaiti citizens are asked to evacuate Lebanon as soon as possible."

On February 18th, Saudi Arabia issued a travel restriction advisory, urging citizens to avoid Lebanon because of the "unstable" security situation in the country.

This was a result of some factions of the Hezbollah-led opposition accusing Saudi Arabia of blocking a settlement to the ongoing political crisis in Lebanon. It also followed sharp verbal attacks by pro-Syrian figures against Saudi officials.

The anti-Syrian majority coalition blames Syria and Iran for obstructing a settlement in Lebanon.

The UK Embassy advice remains unchanged since their Letter to Wardens on January 30th .."We have not changed the main message of the FCO travel advice for Lebanon, that British nationals should not travel to Lebanon unless their visit is essential. For those of you already here, avoid large crowds and public demonstrations, which have the potential to turn violent.... "

Observers have said major Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Gulf states, might boycott the forthcoming Arab Summit scheduled for March 29 in Damascus if the Lebanese crisis persists.

Lebanese uneasily feel that their domestic problems are becoming part of a regional conflict - a proxy confrontation between the United States and some of its Arab allies on one side and Hezbollah's allies, Iran and Syria, longtime opponents of America's Mideast policies.

Meanwhile a US naval fleet assembles off the Lebanese coast beyond the Lebanese patrol boats and the 11 UN controlled "peacekeeping" warships. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Washington has regular consultations with Siniora and U.S. allies in the region. "There's constant communications at various levels," he said.

It must be remembered that UNIFIL's Maritime Task Force (MTF) handed over after 14 months to the European Maritime Force (EUROMARFOR) that is currently led by Italy - it will be operating under a United Nations mandate - on February 29th , 2008. Press Release

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who is said to speak with the Syrian-backed opposition, linked the deployment of U.S. warships off Lebanon to Israel's missile strikes in Gaza Strip.

"The target [of U.S. warships] is Gaza. It is aimed to allow what must happen in Gaza to happen without anyone moving to support [Palestinians]," Berri said late Friday in an interview with the private ANB television.

"This is a real threat, not merely a muscle-flexing," Berri said. He added that the U.S. military move was designed to focus attention on Lebanon in order to "cover up the massacres being committed in Gaza."

"This [U.S.] fleet comes to back Israel so that it can complete its plan," Berri said.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey, said last week the warships are an important sign of U.S. commitment to security in the region. "It should provide comfort to our friends and, for U.S. adversaries, a reminder that we are there," he said.

He said the U.S. is not drawing a link between the warships and Syria, but added that, "If the Syrians want to take a message from it, happy to have them do so if what that means is it gets them out of the business of subverting democracy and the will of the Lebanese people."

Meanwhile Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Thursday the deployment should not be viewed as threatening or in response to events in any single country.

Military officials did not say when the ships were due to arrive in the eastern Mediterranean. The deployment includes a Navy guided missile destroyer, the USS Cole, and the USS Nassau, an amphibious warship, said a military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because full details about the ship movements are not yet public.

During the 1975-1990 civil war US ships were a familiar site, in 1983, at the height of U.S. intervention, about 17 ships - two aircraft carrier battle groups and two mammoth battleships - patrolled the Lebanese coastline, bombarding Muslim militia positions on shore, and a Marine contingent was stationed at Beirut airport.

Suicide bombings - blamed on Mughniyah - against the Marine base and the U.S. Embassy in 1983 and 1984 killed hundreds of Americans, eventually convinced Ronald Reagan to withdraw from Lebanon. The US will fight for Israel but they won't die for it.

The last time U.S. ships came to Lebanon was during the 34-day Second Lebanon War between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, when the American Navy helped evacuate Americans.

Sheik Abdul-Amir Kabalan - deputy head of the influential Supreme Shiite Islamic Council, the religious governing body of Lebanon's 1.2 million Shiites - warned Americans, at a Friday sermon, recalling the 1983 attacks and an unexpected Hezbollah missile attack against an Israeli warship offshore during the 2006 war.

"We warn America and advise it not to play with fire."

Another Dead Body in lebanon - this time in Sidon..

After the 9th season of excavation at Sidon one of the most important coastal towns of ancient Phoenicia, referred to in Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Greek sources has been publishing some details of the last season's work led by John Curtis, Keeper of the Department of the Ancient Near East at the British Museum has been published.

Work has concentrated on remains from the Third Millennium BC, Early Bronze Age in which 69 burials of the Middle Bronze Age were excavated .This is one found with a necklace with amethyst beads. Note the jug accompanying the body.

Bring Parliament Live to your Lap top - UK Parliamentary TV of proceedings / committees

Few people are aware that live TV of Parliament has been available over the web since 2003 The Main Audio / TV Menu is here http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Home.aspx

You can select a range of very high picture and audio which are annotated live with the Speakers name and / or the title of Question / Debate . There is also a very good facility to search the on demand archives for 28 days. Film can also be downloaded.

The site has links to order papers / background papers and also carries videos explaining how Parliament works.

Up to 18 live streams are available simultaneously. Coverage of debates in the chambers of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, Sittings in Westminster Hall and up to four committees at a time receive full audio-visual coverage.

The Video and Audio site is operated by The TwoFour Group on behalf of the UK Parliament. The full Parliamentary tape archive is administered by the Parliamentary Recording Unit and they can supply (for what they describe as "modest" fees) tape, CD and DVD recordings of proceedings.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

China's Space program getting ready to upstage US Presidential elections

The meticulously planned Chinese space exploration project continues on plan and on target for a spectacular three-taikonaut manned orbital mission in October with live broadcasts from space , after the Olympics and just in time to upstage the US Presidential elections.

The Chang'e unmanned lunar probe is a 5,180-pound (2,350-kg) satellite, the first stage in the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) which was launched successfully at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in SW China's Sichuan Province on October 24, 2007 (see pic) and is meanwhile orbiting the moon preparing data for a three-dimensional lunar map and analyzing the content of the surface.

The satelite is an evolution from China's successful Dongfanghong 3 telecommunication satellite platform and equipped with eight primary instruments.

The recent lunar eclipse forced some changes in the orbit of which forced the lunar orbiter to consume about 40 percent of its overall battery power, less than the 60 percent expected before the eclipse, and left it out of contact with flight controllers in Beijing for about 49 minutes.

The eclipse left the lunar probe without direct sunlight to charge it's on board photovoltaic "wing" panels for about 80 minutes, though it did fire its rocket engine to tweak its orbital path to minimize the time in shadow.

The satellite featured in the New Year celebrations and beamed back 30 songs as part of China's Lantern Festival celebration to mark the end of the country's Lunar New Year festivities as the Government pulls out the stops to broadcast their space skills.

Minister for Culture, Media and Sport , Right Honourable Margaret Eve, Lady Hodge, MBE 64 (née Margaret Oppenheimer) MP for Barking talks out of arse!

The Minister of State for Culture, Media and Sport , Right Honourable Margaret Eve, Lady Hodge, MBE 64 (née Margaret Oppenheimer) MP for Barking has a blog which Lord Patel reads assiduously in an attempt to penetrate the extraordinary mind of this woman who presided over the abuses at the 12 Islington children's care homes in her ...er... care... and then helped to conceal what had happened when it became evident and when massive quantities of documents were shredded or disappeared.

On on September 11, 2007 12:27 PM she posted a jubilant paen to visiting the Proms to hear a German Jewish conductor, friend of his collaborator , Palestinian Edward Said who regularly has concerts in Ramullah etc., play German and Austrian Music with an Austrian orchestra ... She was positively poetic.

National Treasures: Schubert, Street-Porter and Stoke on Trent..."Monday saw me at The Albert Hall on a balmy evening to marvel at Daniel Barenboim and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performing Schubert’s 5th symphony and Bruckner’s 4th. It was a glorious evening which demonstrated yet again what a fantastic institution the Proms are. There’s a lot of fuss (rightly) made about the Last Night each year but for me it is the season as a whole that means the most. A wonderful part of summer in London, the Proms had the hang of broadening access decades before it became a Government staple. By the way, Barenboim was seven when he first performed in public, and Schubert’s 5th (not his 1st, his 5th) symphony was written when the composer was just 19. "

Today according to the Guradian she will make a speech at the IPPR thinktank (so generously funded by Northern Rock £191,018 to IPPR in May £180,000 in the 2003 IPPR accounts allged to total over £500,000. ) to criticise the Prom concerts as one of many British cultural events that fail to engender new common values or attract more than a narrow unrepresentative audience.

They quote from the speech evdently circulated prior to the event ..."The audiences for many of our greatest cultural events - I'm thinking in particular of the Proms - is still a long way from demonstrating that people from different backgrounds feel at ease in being part of this.....I know this is not about making every audience completely representative ..."

Representative of Barking ? Wise choice of constituency.

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