"“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, June 07, 2008

Royal Navy ships at sea without Sea Dart guided missiles - to save money - but helping Sebastian Faulks make lots of it

Captured by the Iranian Plod. HMS Superb hitting the rocks and her crew hitting the headlines. "Rusty Lusty" HMS Illustrious off to the Indian Ocean sans her complement of Harriers, sorely needed in Afghanistan - where the intense heat and dust is shortening the life of equipment in a way not expected on the Lunenberg Plains, more T class subs crashing .... nothing about the Senior Service surprises any more.

Now the Portsmouth News tells us that prt of what is left afloat of the mothballed Royal Navy is sailing without armaments.

Royal Navy Type 42 destroyers HMS Exeter (Motto Semper Fidelis ) and HMS Southampton have been working without their Sea Dart guided-missile system since before Christmas. They have been removed to save cash. The ships carry a 4.5 inch medium range gun, which is maintained for use at any time, and, with a Lynx helicopter embarked, the ship gains further offensive power with Sea Skua anti-ship missiles, Stingray anti-submarine torpedoes and Mk 11 depth charges.

The Royal Navy Type 42 website says (very first sentence) ,"The Type 42 Destroyers form the backbone of the Royal Navy's anti-air capability"

The Sea Dart missiles, for protection of the ship and any accompanying larger aircraft carriers (?) against air attack, have been put in store. HMS Exeter has however sailed on exercises to the Mediterranean twice and joined a NATO-led operation in that time. She is the only remaining warship in service to have served in the Falklands War ( also she is the oldest general service warship in the Fleet). She is today entertaining the public at the Barrow in Furness Festival of the Sea , Buccleuch Docks, from 10am to 4pm and Sunday 8 June from 10am to 4pm.

Perhaps more memorably ,on May 27th Captain of HMS Exeter (Commander Paul Brown - who was awarded a prize on the Anti Air Warfare Officers’ Course, as top student of 1998 ), author Sebastian Faulks and members of the Fleming family were aboard HMS Exeter in the Pool of London to receive copies of the new James Bond novel, "Devil May Care" from lissome blonde improbably named Tuuli Shipster with legs all the way up to her bottom. (More pics)

Removing the missiles has, not surprisingly provoked anger from defence sources who claim the navy is suffering from short-term cost cutting. Editor of Warship World, Mike Critchley, said: "As a taxpayer it is not reassuring to see an expensive destroyer like Exeter engaged in not much more than a PR tour."

Sea Dart – first used successfully in the Falklands War in 1982 – will be phased out as the new Type 45 Daring class destroyers come into service, but Southampton and Exeter are still supposed to be fully operational until 2009. The first of Type 45's , HMS Daring, is currently undergoing her sea trials they will be eqipped with the much admrd and much hyped Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS) joint French / Italian / British Aster 15 and longer range Aster 30 missiles which use the Windows 2000 based command console (let's hope they never upgrade to Vista). They operate using the BAE /Thales S1850M Long Range/Early Warning Radar which will also be used on the monster Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

HMS Southampton's website claims ;" Our principal armament is the Sea Dart anti-air warfare guided missile, an asset that can protect a surrounding fleet from any airborne threat up to 40nm away from the ship. The team, led by a CPOWEA, keeps the system at top line performance."

A Royal Navy spokesman said: 'I can confirm that Sea Dart was deactivated in both ships last year, as part of a short-term financial planning decision to save money.

'It was carried out in Exeter during the summer, and then in Southampton after her deployment to the South Atlantic at the end of the year.

'The ships have a specific operating staff for Sea Dart and they have been transferred to other ships, and the missiles have been moved to storage. (They are visible on this shot of Exeter abaft (behind) the forward Gun turret.)

‘However, (continues the PR bullshit man ) the firing equipment has remained in the ships and that means Sea Dart can be reinstated if operational priorities change.(Probably difficult with bandist at 2 zero) ‘With regards to HMS Exeter and her visits to the Mediterranean, a risk assessment would have been carried out and the level of danger was not felt to be excessive.’

Sea Dart is a British Aerospace (BAE) surface-to-air missile system which has been in use since 1977. Two missiles occupy a cradle and a specially-trained and expert weapons crew and warfare team operate the system, which can protect a fleet from aerial threats up to 40 nautical miles away. Sea Dart was used veryeffectively during the Falklands War and is credited with 7 kills, including a British Gazelle helicopter downed by friendly fire.

One kill was against a high-flying Learjet reconnaissance aircraft beyond the missile's stated technical envelope. A high-flying Argentinian Canberra bomber was also shot down and other successful strikes were made against low-flying attack aircraft. The Argentinian Navy was also equipped with Sea Dart missiles and knew their capabilities. Because of this Argentinian planes, chose to fly below the Type 965 radar ("sea skimming"), frequently dropped bombs which failed to explode: The arming vane on the bomb had insufficient time to complete the number of revolutions required to arm the fuse, in which case, the fuze remained in safe mode and would not function on impact.

It was originally fitted to both the Type 42s and Invincible class aircraft carriers, but was removed from the carriers during refits between 1998 and 2000 to create space on the flight deck for the RAF Harrier GR9 aircraft - which now darken the skies of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Since then the destroyers, which are supposed to support and protect the carriers, have retained the system.

The Sea Dart continued to be used in the 1991 Gulf War, and HMS Gloucester was credited with the first validated engagement of a missile by a missile when it downed an Iraqi silkworm weapon. The Type 42s have a range of other weapons including the Phalanx gun which is a rapid fire weapon that puts up a shield of metal which not only destroys but acts as "chaff" to confuse incoming missile telemetry.

HMS Southampton is currently in dock having one of the twin Rolls Royce Tyne engines replaced. The Tyne engines (5500SHP) are used as a ‘low’ power alternative to the mighty Rolls Royce Olympus (25000 SHP) as they are more economical and provide greater endurance for normal running.

No doubt her Commanding Offier since 2006 is anxious for this to be completed. He is Lieutenant Commander Morris trained as a Warfare Officer, specialising in Above Water Warfare and was awarded the Commander Egerton and Saint Barbara Association Prize for 1998.

"...a risk assessment would have been carried out and the level of danger was not felt to be excessive." ... welcome to the Pick'n'Mix school of Naval Warfare and Parsimony and landing leggy models bearing books for promotion. Forgive them oh my Father ......

Bilderbergers 2008

The list of people said to be attending the 2008 Bilderberg Conference at the Westfields Marriott Hotel (site of 2002 meeting - when Conrad Black turned up as did Ed Balls) in Chantilly, Virginia, USA ,this week , is available here . Obama and Shrillary have supposed to have visited the meet together this week and agreed on a running mate for Obama.

The UK contingent is small ;
Ken Clarke, Conservative MP (also 1998,2006,2007)
Tom McKillop Chairman, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, bankers to MI5/6/7/8
George Osborne, Conservative MP andShadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (also in 2006)
John Kerr , Baron Kerr of Kinlochard, Deputy Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell plc. since 2002 UK Diplomat from 1966. Executive Member of the Trilateral Commission.
J. Martin Taylor , Chairman, Syngenta International AG. Crop protection 21,000 employees in 90 countries.

As ever folks from the Economist. Vendeline von Bredow (38, said to be a descendant of Otto Von Bismarck) has worked for Wall Street Journal Europe in Brussels, where she wrote about politics, business and culture. Later she worked for Merrill Lynch in London and as London correspondent for Financial Times Deutschland and has been the Economist, European Business Correspondent since 2000.

She has told us that she is to have a sabbatical to write a biography of Giovanni Agnelli a frequent Bilderberger.

Adrian D. Wooldridge Foreign Correspondent, The Economist (Like Ken Clarke a frequent visitor) and pal of John Micklethwait See "The Right Nation" Conservative Power in America Penguin ISBN: 1594200203

Visitor , not thought to be Henry Kissinger...

More pics here and hereand here

Rachida Data calls to gossip and points out that Manuel Valls 46, the Socialist Mayor of Evry and Deputy for Essonne, big pal of Sarkozy is there, very, very big in French masonry she says, but not invited to join the Government. Author of "The Old School of Socialism"...Pour en finir avec le vieux socialisme... et être enfin de gauche ...the French Left is ill .. a crypto Blairite , he calls himself a Social Liberal, telegenic and young.

Grim future for the Reaper - crashed in Afghanistan, short of money in Whitehall- Watchkeeper along real soon now

The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, the most recent model based on the Predator is described as a hunter killer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). It has been operation in Afghanistan since its inaugural flight on September 26th last year. At the time Gen. T. Michael Moseley, US Air Force chief of staff. "We've taken these aircraft from performing mainly as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms to carrying out true hunter-killer missions." ( Gen. T. Michael Moseley lost his job was sackedthis week partly due to rsistance to deploying UAV's and also losing atomic bombs.)

Like the Predator, the Reaper is launched, recovered and maintained at deployed locations in theatre, while being remotely operated by pilots and sensor operators 7,000 miles (11,300km) away, at the US Air Force's Creech airbase in Nevada USA.

The MQ-9 has nearly nine times the range, can fly twice as high and carries more munitions - notably , 4 Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, plus two Raytheon 500lb (226kg) Paveway II-class laser-guided bombs. (see pic)

Now this week Caroline Wyatt of the BBC reports on the role of the RAF operating the single current Reaper they have in Afghanistan. One of the 3 units which the UK's Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy, who was in Kandahar at the time of their delivery described as ""major milestone for the RAF, which will significantly enhance the U.K.'s surveillance capability in Afghanistan," referring to the ISTAR capability - Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance.

They also make a major dent in the pocket at £5Mn each plus base kit bringing the bill for 3 units to £50Mn. Now 44 RAF crew from RAF 39 Squadron also help fly the one RAF Reaper curently airborne - apparently they also "help fly the US's Predator surveillance aircraft from their base in the Nevada desert". They rely on the the Skynet 5 satelites another of those wonderful private finance initiatives, earning their owner a modest pittance no doubt. The MoD wanted its own satellites, but had no money to pay for them to be built, nor any cash to run them.

Skynet 5 is unusual (up to date) among UK military equipment as it has been provided under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The £3.6bn satellites and supporting infrastructure are owned by Paradigm Communications, which bought them using City money.The similiar plan for tankers is as they say,..."on hold".

One of the initial brace of RAF Reapers met its nemesis on Apri l9th this year. At the time the MoD said the vehicle "made a forced landing whilst on an operation over a remote unpopulated area of southern Afghanistan. Sensitive items were recovered and the remaining wreckage was destroyed. The reason for the forced landing is under investigation; however, mechanical issues are suspected." (The U.S. Air Force lost two Predator MQ-1s in the space of one week in April in Iraq).

To keep it's technical secrets from the Taliban (and onward sale) it had to be destroyed. (See Hercules in Maysan)

The third wonderbird is due to be delivered in January, while a replacement for the lost plane is also on order. Order for 10 more have been placed perhaps to be followed by orders for more of the toys vital airborne surveillance units.However recent "MOD funding crises" may mean a cut back on this order.

Not only can the Reaper, "loiter above a potential target, for example the home of an insurgent commander, for hours on end, watching the pattern of life and ensuring that the target individual is in the building and - just as importantly - there aren't innocent people in there as well, " eco warriors will be relieved to know that it is eco-friendly - Caroline was told that "Thanks to their light weight and big wings, they burn just 25lb (11kg) of fuel per hour." A massive cost saving considering the price of gas these days.

Reapers cannot fly at all times .. theyare limited. Ceilings of 6,000 feet or less will prevent collection during mission, headwind of 35 knots, tailwind of 3 knots, and crosswind of 20 knots and higher level speeds exceeding 50 knots or when (as is not unusual in mountainous Afghanistan) lightning within 10 nautical miles and ground ice conditions all prevent use.

As well as the the Reaper, the RAF use several Isaeli Elbit-built Hermes 450 UAVs operating in Afghanistan under a novel pay-as-you-fly arrangement with contractor Thales UK. This was yet another. " make do and mend " as they wait around for the much vaunted British Army's Watchkeeper UAV program.

Watchkeeper - a modified Hermes 450, is due in service in late 2010, although work is under way to see if the system can be introduced earlier. The National Audit Office report lists the forecast cost of the prgram as £901m. For this sum, the British army will receive just 54 robot aircraft, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Tax payers might note that when available the long awaited (since 2000 delayed in January 2005 for shortage of MOD cash "initial operating capability in early 2006 ") Watchkeeper (watched over by Air Commodore ‘Flash’ Gordon RAF MBE MBA MA FCIPD the UK Ministry of Defence’s Director Equipment Capability ISTAR)will not be a British aircraft. (See Hansard Jan 2003)

Main contractor Thales UK (French owned) admits it will be using French expertise in the Watchkeeper's I-MASTER radar, and the drone's airframe, electro-optics and engine tech all come from Israel originally.The Thales team also includes QinetiQ, Aerosystems International, Thales Sensors, Thales Defence Information Systems and Thales Optronics. The UK engine making firm will remain fully Israeli owned, and the U-Tacs joint venture between Thales and Israel's Elbit (UAV Tactical Systems) will be 51% Israeli - thus, Israeli controlled. This led to problems and delays because Thales had problems obtaining US export licences for the Ice Management System using an innovative electro-expulsive de-icing system (EEDS) because of the Israeli involvement.

Ground and flight testing for Project Watchkeeper will be handled by Qinetiq,and be based at the MOD site at ParcAberporth where the Army have been trying (with notabkle lack of succes) to design and build UAVs for decades. Rhodri Morgan First Minister of the Welsh Assembly, was ecstatic when this was announced just in time for Christmas last year ..." test and evaluation in Wales reinforces the role of ParcAberporth as a site of worldwide importance for unmanned system development,"

Britain's only other tactical UAV, the Phoenix, was pensioned off in January.
UPDATE Sunday 8th June

A Daily Mail article claims that the team have had a kill - Sources at the Ministry of Defence said the strike, which took place in the last ten days, killed a 'high value' Taliban target, but officials would not confirm the insurgent's identity - see "snuff" pictures.

They also report that the RAF is due to buy its own control system for the Reapers, and in future the drones will be 'flown' by aircrew based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

Schematic diagram and lurid pictures here

The Almighty Dollar's decline

It is worth noting that when the illegal invasion of Iraq commenced in March 2003 , US$1 = €1 today you need US$1.58 to buy €1 , so therefore it is of interest to make some different price comparisons. Ditto corn, rice, coal, LNG ....

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Bristol Belvedere, Britain's Chinook flew 50 years ago....

It is necessary when visiting the Manchester Museum of Science and Technology to go on the right day.

In a small and cramped aviation section is a fascinating bit of aeronautical history, the first and only twin rotor helicopter flown by the British Army. This is the Bristol 192 , (XG454)*** the final successor from a line of prototypes started before Westland took over the helicopter division of Bristol aircraft.

The Bristol 192 (AKA Bristol Belvedere) was the production version of Model 191 for RAF use with two cabin windows only, starboard cargo hatch, cargo hoist beneath fuselage, large anhedralled tailplane and powered by two 1465shp Napier Gazelle turboshafts. The first flew nearly 50 years ago on (Prot. XG447 FF) 5 Jul. 1958. 26 built were eventually built. (XG447 was broken up at Boscombe Down on 7th August 1966)

As the Westland Belvedere this entered service with the Royal Air Force, though this was only after the 191 and 193 had been cancelled by the RAF and Royal Canadian Air Force respectively. The 192 was powered by two Napier Gazelle Series 2 engines derated to 920shp.

As the 192C it was tested by BEA and offered its 24 passengers a unique high-speed service between London and Paris.

On May 30, 1961, C T D Hosegood flew from city centre London to Paris in 1 hour 41 min 28 sec and on June 2, 1961, from Paris to London in 1 hour 40 mm 55 sec. This is the equivalent of 202.32km/h outwards and 203.51 km/h on the return flight.

Technical data for Bristol "Belvedere" HC.1

Engine: 2 x Napier Gazelle N.Ga.2 turboshafts, rated at 1092KW, rotor diameter: 14.91m, length with rotors turning: 27.36m, height: 5.26m, max take-off weight: 9072kg, empty weight: 5277kg, max cruising speed: 222km/h, service ceiling: 7,000 m, range with 2722kg payload (3 tonnes !) : 720 km . It could carry (and did) 18 fully equipped troops with a total load capacity of 6,000 lb. The two rotors were synchronised through a shaft allowing the aircraft to operate through only one engine in the event of an emergency - a world first.

This aircraft was not without problems, but it saw service in many theatres and 66 Sqn, RAF Seletar, Singapore operated the last operational Belvedere Sqn from 1967 to its disbandment in 1969. This aircraft was a very difficult aircraft both to maintain and to fly, but proved to be very successfull with the army in Malaya and supported the army on all there major excercises.This was the only heavy lift helicopter in service at that time and 66Sqn operated 12 aircraft until their final disbandment.

It is interesting to comopare with the Boeing CH-47A Chinook which entered service in Vietnam with the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division in late 1965. The CH-47B was the standard troop transport used by the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam.

Current Chinooks can carry 28,000 lbs of cargo = 13,600 Kg with a cruise speed of 220KM/hr and a service ceiling of 5640 m and range of 700 km.

Another opportunity for the post war British aircraft industry squandered.

***XG454 is the seventh pre-production Belvedere, and was built at Weston-super-Mare in July 1960. It entered service with the Belvedere Trials Unit (BTU) at Odiham on 17th October 1960, but suffered a category 3 flying accident on 22 November. Repairs were completed at 71 Maintenance Unit by March 1961, but on 30 August ‘XG454' crashed a second time. This was during a practice flight for the SBAC Farnborough Air Show. Damage was classed as category 5, which meant that the Belvedere was considered irreparable. As a result ‘XG454' was sent to the Army Air Training and Development Centre, at Old Sarum, to be used as an instructional airframe.

On 15 October 1964, however, it was decided that ‘XG454' should be returned to Weston-super-Mare for rebuilding prior to joining the Ministry of Technology’s trials fleet.

In 1968, ‘XG454' was moved to RAF Abingdon to form part of the RAF’s 50th anniversary aircraft display, after which it was moved to Henlow for storage. On 4 November 1982, ‘XG454' was moved to Manchester .

If you want to know how to build the Airfix kit go here

Sir Richard Dannatt - War Criminal

This man in the curious Ruritanian Uniform, of which Reichsmarshal Goering would have been envious, is Sir Richard Dannatt. He bears the responsibility for the whole of the Britsh Armed forces.

He has just discovered that his soldiers earn less than traffic wardens. Now is that the fault of ;

1. Traffic wardens
2. The people given the resonsibility for running the armed forces

Sir Richard has refrained from comparing the salaries paid to the Air Marshals to say shelf fillers at Tesco, who oversee the delayed introduction - by years and at hummingous costs of ;

1. 40 year old Fuel tankers
2. 42 year old Troop transports
3. 38 year old Nimrod replacements

Former Chief of the Defence Staff Field Marshal the Lord Inge of Richmond (Clubs :Boodle's, Beefsteak, Army and Navy, MCC ) KG, GCB, DL, ( and good pals of Dickie Dannatt, sharing as they do the trough at the Army & Navy) spoke in the House of Lords on 29th June last year.

Britain's Armed Forces have to face not only in Iraq and Afghanistan probably the most demanding, dangerous and complex operational challenges that they have faced for many years, but major funding problems and concerns about the shortcomings of equipment currently in service on operations and, in particular, the vulnerability of the old Northern Ireland Snatch Land Rovers, which was starkly illustrated in last week's Sunday Times. This is not a new problem which has suddenly arisen.
He brought attention to another aspect of military procurement..

.... will the Minister give us a progress report on the future rapid effect system vehicle, FRES which was given a very high profile as a vehicle, was critically important to the re-organised, more mobile Army, and was a key element of the Strategic Defence Review in 1998? I could be wrong, but I understand that no prototype has been designed, yet this vehicle is due in service in five years' time—in 2012. In the same year, the Lynx and Puma helicopters are due to come out of service. Both are critical for the Army's and the Royal Air Force's operational effectiveness.
The more alert readers will note that Gormless Gordon put this 13 year old FRES project out to grass last week after squillions has been pissed away without them even agreeing what was wanted - merely a vehicle to carry troops around the battlefield - not a difficult concept.

Billions squandered by these stupid generals, air marshals and admirals on new toys whilst they "make do and mend" .. fill up the wall with our English dead.

Then on top of that you read this sort of sinister rubbish from Dannatt...

"When I see the Islamist threat in this country I hope it doesn’t make undue progress because there is a moral and spiritual vacuum in this country."

"Our society has always been embedded in Christian values; once you have pulled the anchor up there is a danger that our society moves with the prevailing wind."

"There is an element of the moral compass spinning. I think it is up to society to realise that is the situation we are in." (Vide Tony Blair after 9/11 and his kalaedoscope being shaken.. Sedgefield)

"We can’t wish the Islamist challenge to our society away and I believe that the army both in Iraq and Afghanistan and probably wherever we go next, is fighting the foreign dimension of the challenge to our accepted way of life."

"We need to face up to the Islamist threat, to those who act in the name of Islam and in a perverted way try to impose Islam by force on societies that do not wish it."

"It is said that we live in a post Christian society. I think that is a great shame. The broader Judaic-Christian tradition has underpinned British society. It underpins the British army."

General Dannatt says he has "more optimism" that "we can get it right in Afghanistan."

Dannatt claims to be a devout Christian and besides being responsible for the whole of the UK military forces is also vice-president of the Officers' Christian Union and president of the Soldiers' and Airmen's Scripture Readers Association. He is also a supporter and endorser of the curious Christian Alpha program .... "Alpha has been so wonderfully used over the years, and I am delighted that it has expanded into the Armed Forces."

Whilst researching the shambles over the retro-fitted Chinooks (They are called that as the US call all helicopters after the Indian tribes that they slaughtered - Apache , Kiowa, Commanche etc., ***) it was noticed that RAF Odiham in Hampshire where the few remaining aircraft are run from has a webpage where you can find the Mess page (Mess is RAF speak for dining / club). From there you can access the Officers Mess page, the Warrant Officers and Sgts Mess and Junior Ranks Mess. (No flip flops, cut offs or singlets to be worn) .

Perhaps if the feudal class system that permeates the military was removed, the man at the top might be a trifle more conscious of the pay and conditions of the troops he gaily sends, under trained, ill equipped to bolster, support and maintain,"The broader Judaic-Christian tradition (that) has underpinned British society. It underpins the British army."

*** Interesting factoid all US helicopters have even number of blades, Russians all have odd numbers.

UPDAE Sunday 8th June Good article by Libby Purves in Times 7/6/08 "Why we should be on th soldiers side.

"...a single enraged man"

On this 40th Anniversary of Bobby Kennedy's death will the folks who organise these things, find a single enraged woman to do the job ?

Alice in Wonderland - 42 Days, Al Quaeda manuals, rendition and an alternate reality

Stop The War held a meeting at the Friend's Meeting House in Manchester last night to consider the nature of Islamophobia. A cause not addressed or moved forward but a modest leitmotif that was infrequently, referentially , if not reverently, mentioned.

David Edgar , looking very much older than his 60 years. The Oundle educated and faux enfant terrible of the 70's has a pale listless and wan look , combined with a high domed forehead that seems to attract the light. He could easily pass for a man who spends endless hours in lightless rooms attampting to provide improved designs for washing machines.

Equipped with the right glasses, with his high querulous voice, joyless expression and downcast visage he could easily obtain a solid income providing readings of Philip Larkin's better poems. Though probably not as financily rewarding as editing Dickens for BBC TV classic dramas.

His body language is entertaining, he sits leaning, holding his head back , hiding the wattles on his neck , reminsicent of the Sutherland portrait of Somerset Maugham (or Diedre Barlow from Coronation Street depending upon your social perspective). Whilst sat adjacent to Moazzem Begg or Rizwal Sabir he leant awkwardly away, as though they were producing a noxious smell.

His voice has a dry dullness, delivered, surprisingly for a dramatist, without emphasis, the way one imagines a country solicitor reading the will to anxious relatives of the deceased and at such a low volume it made concentration difficult.

As his address consisted of a shortened and edited version of his article in the Guradian Saturday Supplement for April 19th anyone anxious for the details can read it here.

Briefly , this member of the metropolitan muttering classes is not so much concerned with the down fall of western liberal civilisation but the disenchantment and disenfranchisement of the literary left gang he used to play around with.

Vitriol is a strong word to apply to Edgar's dessicated prose - he read from a prepared text - raising his head and voice slightly to emphasise a point and wag his arms , producing an image that might have been of Mrs Gamp, whose pale hands fluttered against her sombre and sober dress as she triumphed at whist. Vitriol was has been stored and saved for his renegade pals to seep out in his premature old age.

Self confessed deserters all, Nick Cohen , Andrew Anthony, Ed Husain , the loathsome Melanie Phillips , Martin Amis , Christopher Hitchens and even David Aaronovitch (who apparently had left wing parents - my god what treason is this ?) one of Manchester University's notorious University Challenge team, who answered "Marx", "Lenin" or "Trotsky" to every question).

Traitors all, to their race, gender and class fallen in the battle for socialism now grinding out the tracts and treatises on the new middle ground or old conservatism or neo neo-cons for the illiberal press. Not unhappy of coure to take the Guradian shilling himself which is loss making and relies for it's income on a stranglehold on regional radio and urban press monopolies such as the one in Manchester.

This is of course an ane old song - David Edgar has bragging rights to the territory of defection. Starting with Destiny (1976) and ending with Maydays (1983) he has become the chronicler of the crumbling of the liberal conscience. Having staked out his territory he has, like an assiduous taxonomist mapped out the phylogeny of socialist disaffection with its camps, cabals, cliques and "fault lines".

This dissection of the recent past , the erection of a museum for post war liberalism, may be as fascinating to some as, say the recreation of the battles of the American Civil War. As an ante room in the academic hell of the history of political thought the renunciations of Danny Cohn-Bendit , Tariq Ali, Alan Milburn, Alan Johnson, Alistair Darling and Stephen Byers may have its place. Members as he would call himself of the progressive intelligentisia (a recurrent theme) who generally, on close inspection, are rarely progressive and not very intelligent

In a world of action and not simply ideas, Edgar's laments are a passing, faded and fading sideshow. Like a the raddled Archie Rice, David Edgar hawks his allegedly troubled middle class academic conscience around echoing suburban halls, grinding out his repeated refrain of muddled alliances, tragic schisms, bitter and spiteful rows ... which must be beginning to feel to him like the end of the pier show.

Rizwaan Sabir was therefore a refreshing antidote. Young, energetic, with a gleaming toothy smile he had a fascinating tale to tell (see previous post about his arrest) about how his University grassed him up to Nottingham Plod, for him to fester whilst both he and Plod tried to work out why he was banged up, cooling his heels with Nottingham's criminals.

It is impossible to say without experience to evaluate what student life is like in the gun crime capital ofthe UK. Nottingham University was however well provided for by Victorian Quaker and pill pusher Josiah Boot who made sure that strong drink was not available in the Junior common room - which it wasn't in the 60's when Lord Patel last visited. (it would be intriguing to know if this prohibitory regime applied to the Senior Common Room).

What is memorable, is that old Jessie and his heirs and successors ran a very successful nationwide chain of pharmacies. He also exclusively employed female counter staff and forbade the sale of contraceptives. These twin facts became known simultaneously on many Saturday afternoons to anxious and ultimately embarassed male students in the 60's aiming to be prepared , should their carnal thoughts and physical longings be shared by their girl friends later on in the evening.

No doubt this same calvinistic streak breeds within the bosoms of the men who now run the place. Perhaps more likely is the Byzantine nature of University funding today. Professors of any discipline spend more time researching new channels of funds rather than their subject - hence the merest suggestion of any scandal that will sully their good name in any way will be borne down upon.

Noteworthy is the recent decision without consulting the customers and students to replace their coffee bars with Starbucks .. with higher calories and even higher prices ... a topic which seems to raise the student blood presure higher than banging up people for 42 days without charge.

Rizwaal - who had previous, for trying to erect a model wall dividing the apartheid israeli state on the University grounds found that his feet didn't touch.

His tale was frightening but becoming ordinary and frequent. The Kafkaesque and solitary silence whilst Plod tried to find reason to detain him. The echoing tiled and lonely cell and silent suveillance. The lies of the University. The incompetent CPS staff who didn't know how to apply for an extension of detention beyond 48 hours. The scared justices who provided it anyway on specious claims of mobile phones and computers ...nudge , nudge , wink wank .... Then the mystifying interrogation. Do you drink? Have you been to Iraq ? Are you , or have you ever been..... ?

Finally the admission by Plod to a University academic that this brown man with a beard wouldn't have been touched if he had been a blonde blue eyed lady.

Moazzem Begg displays immense calm whuch only hints at hidden reserves of inner strength and conviction. The ultimate victim as a brown man with a beard that Sabir has experienced.

Lifted by corrupt Pakistani agents anxious to impress their US friends through 3 years in Afghan hell holes and Guantanamo whilst war criminal Jack Straw lolled on his scarlet ottoman in the Foreign Office next door to Lord Levy, financier and fund raiser to the Party and the Government that allowed him to stew.

He dwelt for a short while on the pre-9/11 history of Afghanistan and the origins of the muja hudeen and the role of the US and UK in the curious history of the volume, first unearthed in Manchester before it appeared on the US DOJ website before being abstracted by Rizwaan.

Previous commentators have remarked about the role of "facilitators" in the UK in the assassination of Masood on the 7th September 2001 and their close and mingling relationships with UK secret services. A rich and fertile field for more study - safe one can be sure from the probing mind of David Edgar.

Listening to Moazzem's tale it is incredible that the whole and frightening tale of illegal rendition doesn't trouble any but a few who take the Government Whip. Like an unpleasant family secret, polite politicians don't want to talk about it.

What do they want to talk about ?

Why, how we can lock people up for even longer before we find some way of keeping them there even longer. So far they are blissfully content with 28 days, but hey let's get it up to 42 and then the whole 90 sometime real soon.

This is Alice's world. The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. 'Off with his head!' she would say, without even looking round.

'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first - verdict afterwards.'

'Stuff and nonsense!' said Alice loudly. 'The idea of having the sentence first!'

'Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.

'I won't!' said Alice.

'Off with her head!' the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

Apologies for crap pic, bad light and camera problems.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

EU pays for 3D underwater fly through trip off Ulster coast - better than Disney

Funded by European dosh , the Maritime And Coastguard Agency (National) (MCA) have undertaken a seabed survey off the northern coast of Ireland, parts of which have not been surveyed since Victorian times.

Starting last November using modern multi-beam echo sounding technology they have so far surveyed a 3 nautical mile coastal strip westward from Country Antrim, around Rathlin Island to Inishtrahull Island off Donegal. The data gained will be used to provide more accurate navigational charts and to study the topography of the sea floor.

The Joint Irish Bathymetric Survey (JIBS) Project is being led by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in partnership with the Marine Institute of Ireland. This E2.1m joint venture is being entirely funded by the EU from their INTERREG Programme, which is co-ordinated by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. INTERREG IIIA Programmes address the economic and social disadvantages which can result from the existence of a border.

Rob Spillard, Hydrographic Manager MCA says data has shown that there are some remarkable features on the seabed which were previously not known about - including caves and what may have been a lagoon.

"The data also shows a wreck, which is thought to be that of the SS Diamond, a steam coaster which sank after a collision with the SS Lily near Rathlin Island in 1918. Details of this are listed here on the Irish Wrecks of Rathlin Island site (and there are many > 40) .. and locate it at 1 mile WNW of Altacarry Lighthouse at 35m , in the main run of the tide but it hasn't yet been dived on. It sunk on 13th April 1918.

From the data received, they have developed a superb 3D 'fly through movie' which enables viewers to 'fly' across the seabed and see all the features. They have released this today for public consumption.

Readers are strongly advised to watch the movie which can be downloaded as a .wmv file in in 20 seconds here - but hang on to your seats as you fly by the underwater cliffs - stunning use of nearly 3D graphics.

The complete multibeam bathymetry and backscatter survey data will also be made available on the web later this year for anyone to use. The results (they say) will contribute towards increased safety for commercial and recreational sailors and fishermen and an enhanced knowledge of the biological, geological and archaeological features of this underwater area.

Rathlin Island is recently famous as the site of Richard Branson's crash landing after his Transatlantic Balloon trip in 1987. Earlier Guglielmo Marconi installed a wireless transmitter for Lloyd's of London at Altacarry Head and in July 1898 transmitted the first commercial radio signals, sending advance warning across to Ballycastle of the successful return of transatlantic Lloyds-insured ships returning to Liverpool around the northern coast of Ireland.

The island also has the The Hill of Screaming, which took its name from when the women and children of the MacDonnells retreated there in 1642 and were allowed to watch all of their menfolk butchered by the Clan of Campbell.

Mr Francis Drake (not yet "Sir Francis" and not yet having set off on his famous Circumnavigation of the World (1577-1580)) commanded the ships that brought Sir John ("Black Jack") Norris's English troops and cannon onto Rathlin Island in 1575, where Ole' Black Jack destroyed the Bruce Castle and massacred the entire population. All of them, by the reports of the time. The remains of Bruce's castle exist where history has it that he watched the spider.

Here is a picture of Altcarry Head with the East Lighthouse today/ compare and contrast with the underwater cliff scene above.

Sharp : Bringing Light and Power to the Dark Continent - massive potential to improve living standards of the whole continent

At the African Fair 2008, in Yokohama, (held in conjunction with the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) ) Sharp Corp are modestly showing a stand-alone photovoltaic packaged power system (Autonomy-Enhanced Solar Power Generation System) composed of a solar-cell module and a storage battery which could transform African urban life in the next 2 decades.

Aimed at off grid areas in Africa - not difficult, when say only 5% of houses in Tanzania are on the electricity power grid , they hope to have this available for sale by 2010. Costs remain unknown but they are talking leasing deals and the Li-ion battery manufactured by Eliiy Power Co Ltd are (currently) expensive.

In an earlier announcement in February a figure of ¥500,000 (£2,350) was used but there was no in ication if this was for the smaller or larger unit. At the right price the commercial potential is hummungous and display that misdirection of the Mrs Jellaby like tendencies of Gordon Brown and Mr Cameron who have strapped useless windmills on their chimney stacks in the facile belief that they have somehow transformed the world environment.

Sharp have just announced their collaboration (approx US$6 mn) on producing the Li-ion battery and have taken up 32% common stock of Eliiy Power through third-party allotment. Daiwa House Industry Co. and Dai Nippon Printing Co. will also own equal shares in the enterprise. The Press release says, "The two companies will collaborate to commercialize the autonomy-enhanced solar power generation system, for which demand is expected to grow."

The stand alone show product uses the Sharp thin-film Si solar cells with a tnadem structure and they claim conversion efficiency after stabilization is 8.5%.

While the output of a crystalline Si solar cell is lowered by 0.5% when the temperature rises by 1°C, the reduction of output in a thin-film Si solar cell is only 0.25%/°C at the most. This they claim makes their thin film tchnology is more appropriate for regions with high ambient temperatures.

The system comes in two types, one composed of a 90W solar-cell module combined with a 1,024Wh Li-ion battery and the other with a 360W module and a 4,096Wh battery.

Sharp claim a fully-charged 1,024Wh Li-ion battery can power the lighting equipment (5 hours a day), a radio (5 hours a day) and a fan (2 hours a day) for 3 days.

A fully-charged 4,096Wh battery, can power lighting (4 hours a day), a fan (2 hours a day), a TV (2 hours a day) and a refrigerator (24 hours a day) for 3 days.

TICAD IV have produced a series of maps of Africa which are well worth examining this one on transport ... click to enlarge

Perhaps Sharp are doing more for the urban poor of Africa than USAFRICOM ever will.

Fun in London on Saturday

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Malalai Joya - telling it like it is in Afghanista. President Karzai - telling lies, more lies and getting unqualified support from the West

Mohammed Sarwar became Britain's first Muslim MP and the first to swear his Oath on the Koran in 1997. He has decided he will not stand again and has probably obtained most attention since his son Athif Sarwar, was found guilty of laundering various sums of money between 24 February and 25 April 2003 while working as a cash-and-carry manager at United Wholesale (Scotland) Ltd based in Maxwell Road, Glasgow which was part of a major VAT carousel fraud.

He has been a bitter and frequent critic of Labour Party Foreign Policy although recently was supportive of the Prime Minister at Question Time on the 14th may when he asked "“Will my right hon. Friend join me and the House in wishing every success to Rangers football team, which is proud to be Scottish and British, in bringing the UEFA cup to Glasgow? " .

Perhaps more interesting is a Question (208568) he has placed today to the Boy David Miliband AKA Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs... "..what reports he has received on the continued suspension from the Afghan parliament of Malalai Joya; and if he will make a statement. "

Malalai Joya was first elected to the Afghan parliament in 2005 when she was only 25. Last year she was indefinitely suspended from the post when she compared the legislature in a TV interview (not unreasonably) to a zoo .

She also said in the interview on private Afghan station Tolo TV, "Since I've started my struggle for human rights in Afghanistan, for women's rights, these criminals, these drug smugglers, they've stood against me from the first time I raised my voice at the Loya Jirga,"

Ron Moreau & Sami Yousafzi " A Harvest of Treachery" Newsweek 21/1/ 2006 reported that the President’s brother is “alleged to be a major figure by nearly every source who described the Afghan network… including past and present government officials and several minor drug traffickers.” One Interior Ministry official says, “He is the unofficial regional governor of southern Afghanistan and leads the whole trafficking structure.” Newsweek adds that, “Diplomats and well-informed Afghans believe that up to a quarter of the new Parliament’s 249 elected members are linked to narcotics production and trafficking.” One especially controversial figure is Arif Noorzai, **** (As General he was jihad-era commander against the Soviets )who has won the post of deputy speaker of Parliament (naturally he denies any wrongdoing.) the body that threw Malali Joya out on the prestext of insulting her colleagues.

It was not the first time she got in trouble for criticizing the powerful in Afghanistan. Beginning in 2003, she emerged as a leading politician fighting for women's rights and called for the expulsion of warlords from the national government at the Loyal Jirga - which resulted in many of them , armed customarily with guns attacking her. In the firestorm that erupted from her criticisms, Joya has endured threats of rape, made even by fellow elected officials, and has (so far) survived four assassination attempts.

Now flanked by a large security detail provided by UN and still hounded by critics in Afghanistan, Ms Joya has taken her message of progressive reform around the world. Today, she works for The Organization for Promoting Afghan Women's Capabilities, arguing with dramatic force and reason that the situation for women has not improved greatly since the fall of the Taliban regime. Today, she notes,

"In some big cities, women have access to jobs and education. But in faraway provinces, the situation of Afghan women is worse than ever."

The United States-led coalition doesn't escape her tongue lashing either. She ssays the Western powers have "betrayed" supporters of democracy in Afghanistan by allowing Northern Alliance warlords into the government and by legitimising Islamic religious practices that she sees as promoting violence against women and children.

"We believe the US and their allies of the US have pushed us from the frying pan into the fire."

Now on an international tour , Joya has become, to her supporters, a symbol of the precarious democracy in Afghanistan. In a brief report about the Afghan parliament last summer, the European Union parliament cited Ms Joya's suspension as part of a troublesome trend on the part of the Afghan government of shifting away from "an open democratic system". As long ago as February 2003, Sen. Joseph Biden (D) said, “I think [the Bush administration has] already given up the ghost in Afghanistan. They’ve basically turned it over to the warlords.”

Along with the recent passage of an amnesty law, preventing prosecutions of people for war crimes in past Afghan conflicts, and codified restrictions on freedom of the media, Ms Joya's suspension has demonstrated that democracy in Afghanistan has taken a huge step backwards.

This has not stopped her from fighting for greater protection of human rights in Afghanistan.

"I strongly believe that they will destroy all of the flowers, but they cannot stop the spring. One day we will have everything in our country."

Hamid Karzai interviewed in der Spiegel

Yesterday President Hamid Karzai was interviewed and his remarks present a stark contrast to the views of his youthful Afghani patriot. Readers are best consulting the original text but some remarks are worth repeating.

SPIEGEL: Some of your closest aides are suspected of stealing land, drug smuggling and having illegal militias, among them respected governors and police chiefs. Your attorney general, Abdul Jabar Sabet, just named a few of them, including the governor of Nangarhar. Why do you still protect these people?

Karzai: I am not protecting anybody.

SPIEGEL: During the Taliban times there were no checkpoints at all.

Karzai: That was the best aspect of the Taliban. They did a lot wrong, but they also did a few things right. I wish I had the Taliban as my soldiers. I wish they were serving me and not people in Pakistan or others. When we came back to Afghanistan, the international community brought back all those people who had turned away from the Taliban …

SPIEGEL: Dirty deals are still necessary for the stability of Afghanistan?

Karzai: Absolutely necessary, because we lack the power to solve these problems in other ways. What do you want? War? Let me give you an example. We wanted to arrest a really terrible warlord, but we couldn't do it because he is being protected by a particular country. We found out that he was being paid $30,000 a month to stay on his good side. They even used his soldiers as guards …

SPIEGEL: That sounds like the story of Commander Nasir Mohammed in Badakhshan, a province where German soldiers are based.

SPIEGEL: There is a list of high-level drug lords and smugglers, and a number of well-known figures in the establishment. Some are your advisors and some are even alleged to be part of your cabinet. Why haven't we seen the trial of a single prominent person?

Karzai: This list is a myth. ***I have never received such a list. I have asked the international community to deliver this supposed list to me, but it has never been presented.

SPIEGEL: Your former interior minister, Ali Ahmad Jalali, claimed to possess such a list. ***

SPIEGEL: Since you became president, your family has become highly successful in the business world and also in politics. Your brother Mahmoud Karzai is currently CEO of a cement plant in Pul-i-Khumri in the northeast that was the envy of many competitors. Two other brothers, Qayum and Ahmed Wali, are powerful politicians in the southern part of the country. Many there say that no decisions can be made without the approval of the Karzais. Is there a grain of truth to that?

Karzai: This is really a lot of rubbish.

SPIEGEL: The south is the hub of drug smuggling. Is it possible that Ahmed Wali Karzai,(his brother - named in the New York Times 2004 as a drug smuggler) one of the most influential politicians in Kandahar, who leads the provincial council, doesn't have the slightest idea what is going on or has nothing to do with it?

Karzai: Yes, it is very much possible.

PS ***Ali Jalali, former Interior minister , who quit summer 2005 has repeatedly said he has a list of more than 100 high-ranking Afghan ----officials he suspects of involvement in the drug trade. A source close to him, fearful of being killed if identified, says Jalali's unpublished list includes at least 13 former and present provincial governors and four past or present cabinet ministers. The source adds that one of the minister's chief reasons for resigning was his frustration over President Hamid Karzai's failure to sack and prosecute crooked officials. Newsweek

In a study for the independent Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, Afghan expert Andrew Wilder concludes that at least 17 newly elected M.P.s are drug traffickers themselves, 24 others are connected to criminal gangs, 40 are commanders of armed groups and 19 face serious allegations of war crimes and human-rights abuses.

**** It may be of interest that General Arif Noorzai accompaniedAhmad Shah Masood, The Lion of Panjsher as a very close aide on his trip to Europe, with meetings with the US and UK staffs at the Plaza Athene Hotel In Paris, and helped in press conferences and tried to inform western leaders about the growing power of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan's secret assistance to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

September 9th 2001 Masood was Killed by (allegedly Al Quaeda) suicide attackers. Interestingly enough, after this, suicide attacks become very common in Afghanistan.

The Boy David's response is waited with keen anticipation..perhaps he could explain the objectives of the current military mission of UK /NATO focres in Afghanistan for a start.

UPDATE :Kim Howells took on the job for the Boy David ...Kim Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Pontypridd, Labour)

In May 2007 Malalai Joya was suspended for three years (until the end of the legislative term) by her peers in the Afghan parliament for contravening Article 70 of the Afghan parliament's rules of procedure. Article 70 states that members of parliament who insult others are subject to disciplinary action. Action was taken against Ms Joya after a media interview in which she said that the Afghan parliament was worse than a 'stable or zoo'. Ms Joya has the right to challenge the decision and has indicated her intention to do so. Together with EU partners, we regularly raise the issue of freedom of expression in Afghanistan and look forward to Ms Joya and the Afghan parliament resolving this internal parliamentary issue.

A member of our embassy staff met with Malalai Joya on 1 May 2008. Ms Joya gave an account of her suspension by the Afghan parliament and discussed Afghan politics.

So that's alright then. Article 70 (which was especially promulgated to deal with Ms Malali Joya) can stand then. We, who pour Billions into this sordid corrupt country run by warlords , gangsters and drug dealers can carry on.

Cheney's Dollhouse - only one room is reserved for the good guys and many rooms for the bad guys.

The Global Policy Institute (Policy Analysis in a Changing World) was created in August 2006 as a Research Institute of the third rate London Metropolitan University. It brings together academics from the social sciences and business disciplines to analyse the dynamics of globalisation and formulate policy solutions .. blah .. blah ... blah ...

They publish turgid faux academic crap like BEYOND ‘THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM’: RUSSIA’S AMBITIONS AND PROSPECTS By Robert Skidelsky ..New International Doctrine: Multipolarity. ...... common interpretation of Russia’s contemporary foreign policy is that it lacks an ideological basis. It is true that it has retreated to pragmatism or ‘functionalism’ in the light of the failures of the ambitious ‘partnership’ hopes entertained by Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, and the early Putin blah, blah blah

Anyway those lucky enough can pop along next week ,June 12th when Gabor Steingart is talking about "The New World Disorder" The seven fallacies of the globalization debate .. The Global Policy Institute, London Metropolitan University, 31 Jewry Street, London EC3N 2EY

Gabor will be escaping the Beltway Bubble and bad mouthing Obama in Murdoch's WSJ and is actually busy peddling the English version of his book which hit the stores last month The War for Wealth The True Story About Globalization, Or Why The Flat World Is Broken Amazon - which was a best-seller in Germany. He has a fascinating personal history his Communist father fled Hungary and he was one of the very few who forsaw the wall falling.

Gabor is also the Washington correspondent for der Spiegel and his piece about Dick Cheney , "Dick Cheney's Dollhouse" this week is a hilarious and valuable insight into this sinister war criminal ..." A luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington was meant to highlight the real Cheney. If it was meant to be an exercise in self-incrimination, then it could only be described as a success."

Read and enjoy. If you want tickets for Gabor's nonsensical explanation about how the Asian hordes are taking over, and the USA must take over the EU as their escape from a declining currency and world influence call (0)20 73203020 and say Lord Patel promised you would get a ticket.

Oxfordshire H7 Avian flu confirmed as Highly Pathogenic (HPA)

The H7 Avian Influenza found in laying hens at a farm in Banbury , Oxfordshire on 2nd June has been confirmed today as highly pathogenic (HPA)by The Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens.

Further laboratory tests and a detailed epidemiological investigation are in progress to identify the N type and possible relationships with previously identified viruses.

3km inner and 10km outer Temporary Control Zone (details) have been established . All bird gatherings in the Temporary Control Zone are banned. Other movements of birds and some products are also banned in the whole of the Temporary Control Zone.

Avian flu is an animal disease and has negligible implications for human health unless humans come in close contact and handle diseased birds.


...and now Cheerleaders rehearse at a gymnasium in Tianjin municipality Jan 4, 2008. The team will attend trials to compete for a chance at performing in 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

HMS Superb - well not quite. Far called our navies melt away...

The Times/Sun report today that a watchman fell asleep while on duty on 32 year old nuclear submarine HMS Superb whilst it was docked at the Faslane naval base on the River Clyde in January . It is claimed that the watchman had been drinking lager and was found asleep in front of a DVD.

The sleepy DVD watching, drinking sailor was removed from the crew and is now awaiting court-martial.

In an extraordinary piece of mobile phone footage (link) obtained by The Sun a commander on the vessel identified by the paper as Geordie, Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander John Aitken, is seen and heard lambasting the crew the next day: “The incident last night is entirely . . . unacceptable.” ...
“We cannot have idiotic incidents like this undermining the safety of HMS Superb, or, indeed, all on board on it,” he is heard saying. BBC have the footage also and provide a transcripit from the Geordie of the more expletive loaded remonstration.

"Getting your f***ing napper down while watching a f***ing DVD and swigging lager isn't accepting responsibility for your shipmates.

"It's throwing that responsibility away and saying, to me - I don't give a f*** what happens to my mates on board the boat and I don't give a f*** what happens to the boat.

"That's the worst example I can f***ing think of, but it stirs up some of the other things that have been going on." .

HMS Superb a 272 foot long Swiftsure-class attack submarine with a crew of 112, hit an underwater pinnacle 80 miles south of Suez. on Monday May 27th damaging its sonar equipment, forcing it to surface. The commanding officer is Steve Drysdale from Miskin, near Llantrisant, Wales , he took command in December 2006 and was previously on sister ships HMS Sovereign and HMS Spartan....His interests include sailing dinghies and yachts.

An MoD spokesman the following day said the submarine's nuclear reactor was "completely unaffected" and there was "no environmental impact" from the collision.

"There were no casualties and the submarine remains watertight, is safe on the surface and able to operate under her own power." It was also revealed the vessel could not dive and the Royal navy were examinignmethods to return the vessel for repair.

HMS Superb was built by Vickers Shipbuilding at Barrow and commissioned in 1976. In 2001 she was deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan and was on counter-terrorism duties in 2006.

HMS Superb had a 7 month refit and extensive maintenance in 06/07 and did operational sea trials in August last year.

Some reports suggest that as a result of this accident it will be scrapped. HMS Superb stopped at Gibralter in early May which was the cause of much criticism by an noisy ecological group led by Antonio Muñoz spokesperson for Verdemar ‘Ecologistas en Acción’ .

This week a group called The Voice of Gibraltar said they would welcome HMS Superb returning for repair but say rather sourly ..."We consider it more likely that a repair will be effected in the UK, as the Ministry of Defence has run down its facilities on the Rock in a 'penny pinching' cost-cutting exercise to the level that they need to import generators to provide shore power for visiting ships. "

There is a very interesting video news report from Russia Today about the HMS Superb crash which mentions the onboard Tomahawk missiles and the unknown reason why the vessel was in the Red Sea. It is possible given the recent re-fit that these would be the Block IV long range (1,500 km plus ?) Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) test fired in March 2007 , at the time the MOD said they were ,"due to enter service with the Royal Navy in 2008 and will be used to equip the RN's existing attack submarines and the new astute class."

Lord Drayson said of the 64 Raytheon missiles bought for £70 Mn that they were,"a tangible demonstration of our ability to deliver precision attack at long range against selected targets. They will give the Royal Navy a world class capability and the ability to pre-position the missile covertly in our attack submarines gives enormous flexibility to our forces."

See post announcing fitting these missiles Friday, April 04, 2008 Royal Navy's new Yankee £1.5Mn. firecrackers now defending freedom , fighting global terrism,making profits for Raytheon

Anyway however world class the Royal navy's capability and the ability to pre-position the missile covertly in our attack submarines giving enormous flexibility to our forces it won't be being done by HMS Superb in the near future.

We need more, newer helicopters, say stressed pilots (2006)

Here are some unedited excerpts from an article with the above headline from the Daily Telegraph on October 4th 2006 By Tom Coghlan, in Camp Bastion, Helmand

The acute shortage of Chinook helicopters available to British forces in Helmand is pushing pilots flying antiquated machines to the limits of their endurance in the face of increasingly determined efforts by Taliban insurgents to shoot them down.....

Eight Chinooks are flying in Helmand, although a proportion of that number is always being serviced because of the harsh conditions as well as the stresses to the machines from extreme flying and battle damage during resupply and evacuation missions....

Many are relics of a bygone era. A Chinook flying in Helmand and known by the call sign Bravo November ZA 718 served during the Falklands conflict some 25 years ago. ...

"The airframes are antiques," said Flt Lt Steve Hewer. "There are up-to-date versions of the Chinook but we don't have them. We do have the latest self-defence systems and we are grateful for that."....

RAF Chinook pilots based in the province have had their six-month tours divided into three two-month mini-tours because of the demands being placed upon them. "It is an issue of cumulative fatigue," said Flt Lt Hague. "No crew could cope with a six-month tour." .....

The six British forward operating bases in the province are too dangerous to supply by road, unless large numbers of troops are deployed as a protection force, so the resupply burden falls almost exclusively on the Chinooks. Four Lynx helicopters in the theatre have been unable to fly in daylight during the summer months because of the heat. .....

The risks were so extreme last month that the British commander, Brig Ed Butler, nearly withdrew helicopters from Musa Qala, where an uneasy ceasefire now holds with the Taliban. Although pilots will not say so explicitly, they are clearly alarmed that one of the helicopters could easily be shot down if and when full hostilities resume. ......

The pilots say taking small arms fire through the aircraft when flying into forward bases has now become so regular as to be unremarkable. ....

Even so, the Chinooks flying into the town of Musa Qala last month gave themselves a maximum 60 seconds on the ground. At least one soldier has been shot and wounded inside a Chinook.....

While flying under fire and at extreme low altitude into "hot" landing zones, the pilots must also contend with a wall of fine sand that builds up around the Chinooks in the seconds before they land. In the last 20ft of their decent the pilots are usually flying blind.....

"It is extremely challenging flying," said Flt Lt Hewer......

A year earlier General "Janus" Mike Jackson , war criminal and retired warrior was quoted , " The British Army looks after its own.” (Times, 12 Oct 2005).

Chinook - National Audit Office - yet more MOD procurement shambles exposed

"The Department was unable to say who was responsible for the flawed procurement of the Chinook Mk3." Page 23 The National Audit Office have published their Value for Money Report on Chinook Mk3 Helicopters (More correctly now Mk2/2a) - The Executive Summary provides a brief and horrifying tale of incompetence, waste and stupidy by the MOD, which like a dog returning to its vomit, Edward Leigh Chairman of the Defence committee now likes to call a "Gold Standard procurement Cock Up" he had peviously said the MOD might as well have bought 8 turkeys.

Total costs to date are £422 million (not including "further expenditure required to sustain the Night Enhancement Package which is currently being negotiated with industry and is therefore commercially sensitive. ") .. nor any attempt to address the costs and problems of training, in field maintenance etc., etc., see Page 18 .. requirement to "increase aircrew by 40 (prince William maybe? )and engineers by 60 personnel", ..." Current training flight simulators do not match the requirements for flying the current Chinook helicopters." ...but don't worry ..."
the Department will modify the existing Chinook flight simulators before the end of 2009." Madness.

The full report makes even better reading as an alternative to the Beano, eg.Page 8

The Department had failed to specify access to the source code in the original procurement and therefore had no leverage with which to negotiate with Boeing for release of the source code. Boeing and its sub-contractors, for their part, in seeking to protect their intellectual property rights, resisted the Department’s requests for access to the source code. Even if it had been able to access the source code, the Department estimated that it might take up to two years to analyse the source code with no guarantee that the code would be written in a way which might make it comprehensible for analysis purposes.
The final solution is to make the Chinooks revert to the older less capable Mk2/2a which is not a simple process....

Converting the helicopters involves removing the existing Mk3 hybrid digital/analogue cockpit and replacing it with the analogue cockpit fitted to the Mk2/2a, fitting a health and usage monitoring system, United Kingdom specific communications equipment and defensive systems.
Or the little nugget on Page 22 ..from HM Treasury ..

The value of the Chinook Mk3 aircraft has been written down at present to a value equivalent to disposal or use as spares, but this is because of prudent accounting practice, and is not a reflection of future intent.

..and in a Kafkaesque caveat;
The option to sell the aircraft remains open pending satisfactory completion of
this technical and industrial preparatory work.

Friday, March 30, 2007 MOD to get 14 more 'copters. 8 refurbed turkeys and 6 on the borrer from the Prince of Denmark we remarked "Of course any costs of conversion will increase because it will only be on undertaking the job that they will discover the levels of cannibalism that will have been going on....".

Therefore it is no surprise to read in the Guradian report on the fiasco today, "Not all the RAF's Chinooks are in good condition and some have been cannibalised for spare parts to keep others flying in Afghanistan. "

Finally in the light of concerns about airworthiness of aircraft expsed at the inquest on the Nimrod crash it is interesting to note the special conditions relating to the new Night Enhancement Package package ...

The modified Chinook Mk2/2a helicopters were released to service as safe to fly, by the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, on the basis that the safety and operating risks associated with the ergonomic aspects of the Night Enhancement Package were outweighed by the increased operational risk if the Chinook Mk2/2a helicopters were to operate without the Night Enhancement Package and could be mitigated by training procedures and time bounding the risks.
See pics from report at head of post. Click to enlarge. Just remember each 8 year old Chinook 3 AKA 2/2a has (so far) cost £53 Mn each , about the list price of a Boeing 737.....and we ferry troops around in 42 year old VC10's ad TriStars to operate Nimrods made 38 years ago.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I want a president with no air-conditioning, a president who has stood in the line at the clinic,at the dmv, at the welfare office and has been unemlp

Click to make it bigger ..

Not perfect but you get the idea ?

Bradford and Bingley catch cold, Wall Street gets pneumonia : S&P cans Big US Banks ratings - shares slide

``The outlooks on the large financial institutions sector in the U.S. are now predominantly negative,'' Standard & Poors Rating Agency said today and in a move that shicked Wall Street downgraded some major players credit ratings at the same time.

Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. declined in New York trading after Standard & Poor's lowered credit ratings for the investment banks, saying they may have to book more writedowns on devalued assets.

These are the S&P Re-Ratings :

Morgan Stanley, (2nd biggest U.S. securities firm by market value) : AA- down to A+
Merrill Lynch,(3rd biggest) : A+ down to A
Lehman Brothers, (4th biggest) : A+ down to A

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the largest of the group, was affirmed at AA-.

The outlook on all four New York-based companies remains negative, S&P said WallStreetspeak for expect another downgrade.

Lehman fell US$3.22, or 9.5 %, to US $30.61 in NYSE composite trading (Over US$80 in feb 07)
Merrill lost US$0.73 , or 1.71 %, to US$41.89.
Morgan Stanley dropped US$1.13, or 2.6 %, to US$42.65.
Goldman lost US$1.76, or 1.02 %, at $170.58.

These downgrades on credit ratings (Unchanged for a long, long time) will make it harder for the banks to sell derivatives such as credit-default swaps that are tied to bonds or loans.

Merrill in it's last Qrtly filing said a one-notch downgrade of its credit rating would require it to post an additional US$3.2 billion of collateral on over-the-counter derivative trades.

Morgan Stanley estimated in a regulatory filing that a single level downgrade would mean posting an extra US$973 million.

Lehman said a one level downgrade requires about $200 million of additional collateral. ( Lehman issued a statement this afternoon denying rumors it was forced to borrow money from the Federal government to support its business operations - just like Bear Stearns did)As of Feb. 29, and its qtrly filing with the SEC , its trading partners could have demanded $4.3 billion of collateral from the company, according to its filing. Lehman report Q2 in 2 weeks - expect a loss.

As a consequence of the re-grades the banks will need to sell more stock to help offset the charges. S&P say financial institutions have raised too much capital in the form of so-called hybrid securities, exceeding S&P's limits on such instruments.

The best estimates are that the biggest banks and securities firms have booked about US$387 billion of writedowns and credit losses since the beginning of last year, as the collapse of the subprime mortgage market prompted a contraction in credit markets worldwide. So far, the firms have raised about US$270 billion of capital.

Sanford Bernstein analyst Brad Hintz , a former chief financial officer at Lehman, lowered his second-quarter earnings estimates for Lehman to 15 cents a share from $1.38 last week after the firm said it suffered losses on hedge positions.

You can be certain that the stated write downs are underestimates - most banks balance sheets could be entered for the Booker Prize for Fiction.

Charlotte based Wachovia in deep doo doo

Wachovia reported a first-quarter net loss of $708 million, or 36 cents per share. In the same period last year, the company earned $2.3 billion, or $1.20 per share. Yesterday the bank announced Ken Thompson had retired as chief executive at the request of the company's board.

The stock, which closed Monday at US $23.40 per share, dipped to a 52 wek lowof US$21.04 per (52 week high of US$54) share today and closed at US21.92

Try this "Wall Street Wail" www.redhotjazz.com/songs/ellington/WallStreetWail2.ram The Duke Ellington Jungle Band, recorded Dec 10, 1929

Advisers trousering millions as B&B sinks ....

Here is the unedited news from Legalweek about the men in pin stripes picking over the carcass of B&B .....

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has taken a lead role alongside City giant Linklaters as struggling UK lender Bradford & Bingley (B&B) sells a stake to US buy-out giant TPG.

The pair is advising the private equity group, formerly Texas Pacific Group, which today announced it was taking a 23% stake in B&B after the lender was hit by losses relating to its mortgage exposure.

London corporate partner Simon Jay led the team for Cleary on the £179m sale, while Linklaters fielded a team under corporate partners Charlie Jacobs and John Lane.

B&B turned to Herbert Smith, with corporate head Michael Walter and corporate partner Will Pearce heading the line-up for the top 10 City outfit.

Last month Herbert Smith was instructed by B&B as the lender launched a £300m rights issue in a bid to shore up its capital position. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was brought in to advise the underwriting banks, Citi and UBS.

Following TPG’s acquisition of the stake, B&B has restructured the rights issue to raise around £258m.

B&B is among several lenders to turn to rights issues in recent months. Allen & Overy landed a plum role advising HBOS on its £4bn programme while Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) recently announced its own record-breaking £12bn cash-call, with Linklaters leading for RBS and Freshfields advising underwriters Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and UBS

That sounds like a bumper season in hoovering up monster fees for Simon. Charlie, John, Will, Gervaise, Penny etc.,

Counter terrorism Bill ..and the Old Bill... Fiction is stronger than the truth

Few of us who were lucky enought to hear Peter Clarke the Sphincter of the Yard .. alas now retired from the stage on a modest pension give the Colin Cramphorn Memorial lecture on April 24th last year , amusingly entitled , "learning from Experience", at the left wing Policye Exchnage when he said .."In case after case, the hand of core Al Qaeda can be clearly seen." (That other old trouper, not to say fluent liar Sir Ian Blair gives the next on the 18th of this month ..tickets available now.)

Now The Sphincter has been released from retirment and is at it again telling the readers of the Daily Telegraph that a barrel of red herrings (?) has been introduced into the august chambers of the House of Commons. As in a racy Boys Own paper yarn he embroiders his cause by tales of , "Scotland Yard Anti-Terrorist Branch officers spent a fortnight sleeping on their office floor." trying to nail the mysterious Dhiren Barot (Who has twice since received the President Karimov boiling water treatment in prison) ..."There was not a shred of evidence against them. The intelligence was clear - that he and his gang were planning attacks in this country, but there was no evidence that could be used in court." ..... but "the pieces of the jigsaw fell into place on the morning of the 14th day". Well I never.Wudja bleeve it ? (No.Ed.)

Mysteriously he says, "It would help if we could shove aside both the politics and the fish." ..is this some Masonic symbol ? ...loaves ... fishes ...?

Perhaps we should remember, as detailed Sunday, May 18, 2008 Sir Ian Blair lies to Parliament (again) Jacqui Smith lies to DailyMail, Max Mosley the jihadist ? Joining the Dots in the War on Counter Terrorism when Sir Ian Blair Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and Bob Quick, assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, with responsibility for counter-terrorism both lied to the House of Commons Committee considering the Counter terrorism Bill . There were / are 15 plots, 12 Plots maybe only 5 or 6 plots .. naturally all of course ..." In case after case, the hand of core Al Qaeda can be clearly seen"

Yeah, Yeah...whatever
If you want to know the truth don't ask a policeman.

BTW ..Scotland Yard said Blair accepted he had made a mistake. His office had contacted the committee’s clerk to clarify the error as soon as it became known.

What next , CEO of Bradford & Bingley ? .. or is the Alzheimer's too far gone ?

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