"“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, July 05, 2008

Current Sanctions on Iran , US / EU / UN - Gas centrifuges whizz away at Natanz regardlesss

As a follow up to the previous post here are most of the current sanctions in force against Iran ...New EU sanctions agreed on June 23rd 2008 include ..

Visa Bans :

Revolutionary Guards head Mohammad Ali Jafari,
Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar
Atomic Energy chief Gholamreza Aghazadeh.
"Senior experts" inside Iran's nuclear and ballistic programmes.

Bank Melli , Iran's largest, has EU based assets frozen

The U.N. Security Council has over the last 3 years imposed increasing levels of sanctions on Iran,;

December 2006

1. Sensitive nuclear materials
2. Froze the assets of Iranian individuals and companies associated with the nuclear programme. 3. Allowed Iran 60 days to suspend uranium enrichment, for either reactor fuel or weapons. Iran did not stop.

March 2007

1. New arms and financial sanctions.
2. The asset freeze was extended to 28 additional groups, companies and individuals engaged in or supporting sensitive nuclear activities or development of ballistic missiles.
3. State-run Bank Sepah and commanders and firms controlled by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, including commanders of one of its units, the Qods Force, were included on the list.(See US sanctions below)

The resolution invoked Chapter 7, Article 41 of the U.N. Charter, which makes most of its provisions mandatory but excludes military action. Iran again failed to meet a 60-day deadline to halt enrichment.

March 3, 2008

1. Imposed because of the refusal to suspend "sensitive nuclear activities". Teheran dismissed the council's decision as illegal and illegitimate.
2. More travel and financial curbs on Iranian individuals and companies and made some restrictions mandatory.
3. Expansion of previous partial ban on trade in items with both civilian and military uses ( so called dual technology) to cover sales of all such technology to Iran.
4. 13 individuals and 12 companies to the list of people and firms suspected of aiding Iran's nuclear and missile programmes

So far Teheran has ignored all council and IAEA resolutions demanding it freeze its uranium enrichment programme.

United States sanctions already inforce

Many of these date from 1979 when radical Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took U.S. diplomats hostage.

1. Almost all trade between the US and Iran is prohibited.

2. Bill Clinton got tough and issued Executive Orders on Tuesday March 4th 1995 ( under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which permits such orders for national security reasons) stopping U.S. companies investing in Iranian oil and gas and trading with Iran after Du Pont subsidiary Conoco ried to sign a deal. Plenty of other oilcos and nations happily stepped in. (French based Elf Aquitaine SA and Total SA, and Royal Dutch/Shell ). The exact wording was ...""entering into contracts for the financing or the overall supervision and management of the development of petroleum resources in Iran."

Halliburton first started doing business in Iran as early as 1995, and in possible violation of U.S. sanctions via a Cayman Islands registered subsidiary - Halliburton Products and Services. CEO of Halliburton at the time became Vice President Cheney.

Cyrus Nasseri, (pic) is the the vice chairman of the board of directors of Iran-based Oriental Oil Kish (OOK) and is also a key member of Iran's nuclear development team. OOK worked with Halliburton's Cayman Island company - Halliburton Products and Services (said in a WSJ article to operate from behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block and nominally based in Dubai) developing parts of the huge South Pars gas-drilling project - became public knowledge in January 2005. OOK also have a joint venture with Japan Drilling Company (JDC) in offshore waters with Sagadril 1 & 2.

It was late in 2005 that Cyrus Nasseri was arrested and interrogated by Iranian authorities for allegedly providing Halliburton with Iran's nuclear secrets. Iranian government officials charged Nasseri with accepting as much as $1 million in bribes from Halliburton for this information. This may also have involved illicit deals and hidden profits shared by the Iranian "oil mafia".

3. U.S. Congress passed the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) in 1995 (Libya has now been dropped) requiring the U.S. government to impose sanctions on foreign firms investing more than $20 million a year in Iran's energy sector. It was extended for five years in September 2006. No foreign firms have been penalised.

4. In October 2007the US (a) placed sanctions on Bank Melli, Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat , (b) said the Revolutionary Guards were proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. Sanctions were aso imposed on firms controlled by the Guards and on the Qods Force, saying the unit backed terrorists.

5. In January 2008, the United States imposed sanctions on Brigadier-General Ahmed Foruzandeh from the Qods force for fomenting violence in Iraq.

UK Sanction currently in force.

These are stated in a notice from the Bank of England Financial Sanctions Iran April 22nd 2007 - from October 2007 the task of imposing sanctions became a Treasury function at the delightfully named Asset Freezing Unit.
Currently it appears that the UK adopts the EU sanctions and handily provides a fascinating glimpse in Annexe A of the sort of people in Iran so blighted ..

Annexe A
ALAI, Amir, Moayyed : Involved in managing the assembly and engineering of centrifuges
ASHIANI, Mohammed, Fedai : Involved in the production of ammonium uranyl carbonate
and the management of the Natanz enrichment complex
BAKHTIAR, Haleh : Involved in the production of magnesium at a concentration of 99.9%
BEHZAD, Morteza : Involved in making centrifuge components

No doubt some of them are in this picture which Lord Patel managed to snap when he was at Natanz giving a few helpful tips about nuclear centrifuges.

AIPAC want the US to bomb Iran .... call your Congressman, 220 signed up already

Maybe you haven't heard of this, but Rep. Gary Ackerman [D-NY] and Mike Pence (R-IN) on May 22nd introduced the House Continuing Resolution 362. (also see Sen. Res. 580 Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and John Thune (R-SD)) This says briefly ;

"Expressing the sense of Congress regarding the threat posed to international peace, stability in the Middle East, and the vital national security interests of the United States by Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and regional hegemony, and for other purposes. blah ,blah, blah

..."(4) urges the President to lead a sustained, serious, and forceful effort at regional diplomacy to support the legitimate governments in the region against Iranian efforts to destabilize them, to reassure our friends and allies that the United States supports them in their resistance to Iranian efforts at hegemony, and to make clear to the Government of Iran that the United States will protect America's vital national security interests in the Middle East. (i.e bomb the shit out of them)"

This is what we doctors call the "AIPAC Resolution", and further and better particulars are available on the AIPAC website, "Stop Iran's Nuclear Program" (Just under the details of US$2.25 Billion "security Assistance for Israel in the US fiscal 2009 budget).

This asks AIPAC members to lobby their Congressman to support HCR - 362. Curiously having absorbed the second paragraph
"Whereas Iran is a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), has foresworn the acquisition of nuclear weapons by ratification of the NPT, and is legally bound to declare and place all its nuclear activity under constant monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA);"

Nobody seems anxious to point out that Israel is not, never has been (and likely never will be) a party to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.. allowing ... "constant monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency " of their nuclear bomb factory in the desert at Dimona.

The AIPAC summary is perhaps a little more direct describing the bills intent ;
Urges the president to support the legitimate governments in the Middle East against Iranian efforts to destabilize them and to make clear to Iran that
America will protect its national security interests in the Middle East.

HCR - 362 has 220 co-sponsors (5/6/08) and is expected to be brought to the floor soon for a vote under rules that would allow just 20 minutes of debate. The Senate Bill has over 20 as of today.

HCR - 362 has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs of which Gary Ackerman is a member. Ranking member is the lovely lady from Florida Ileana Ros-Lehtinen whom you can be certain is anxious to get this BIll through the House before everyone goes on holiday. You can be certain that it is going to get more attention than, say, Rep. Charles Rangel 's (D-NY)HR 624 introduced Jan 22nd 2007 - Free Trade with Cuba Act.

To date there has been no mention of this resolution, none, on ABC, NBC, MSNBC, FOX, CNN, PBS, NPR, BBC, AOL, msn, USA Today, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor or The Los Angeles Times! Nor has it been aired in the Press / TV in Europe and the UK.

Not much mention of that US$2.25 Billion security assistance to poor impoverished Israel either, financial help that in Africa might build a house or two, run a water pipe, feed a family.

Northern Ireland Clostridium difficile deaths and infection continue despite throwing money at it £6 Mn "investment" by McJimpsey

The the Northern Health and Social Care Trust covers Ulster / Northern Ireland. A regional outbreak of patient deaths in which a Clostridium difficile infection has contributed , has continued since last summer.

In total 53 deaths have been attributed to the gut infection , which spreads by faecal contamination , it can be fatal, especially in older patients ( 80% of cases reported are in the over 65-age group) , of these cases , 32 deaths have been recorded since January.

The Trust has just confirmed that there were a further 22 new recorded cases in June with a further 2 deaths in which C. difficile was a contributory factor .

The Northern Trust have undertaken a concerted program of action to contain and eliminate the disease in their hospitals, and the , Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has made available (although he calls it an "investment") of £9m with the very modest aim of reducing MRSA by 10% and C.difficile by 20% by March 2009.

This involves a program of ;

Containment –patients have been nursed in isolation and experience across the country shows that for greater numbers, a dedicated isolation ward leads to greater/speedier reduction as efforts are concentrated in one spot. The Trust designated a ward at Antrim Hospital in January specifically for C. Difficile infected patients. (Standard procedure in Dutch hospitals for decades)

Control use of antibiotics : "Rigorous" reviews and audits of the use of antibiotics. The newer, broad-spectrum antibiotics contribute to the development of infection by eradicating the normal bowel flora and allowing C. Difficile to flourish. To counteract this we have:

- revised the Antibiotic Policies to try to reduce the use of antibiotics associated with C. Difficile;

- audited the prescribing of antibiotics to ensure compliance; and

- informed General Practitioners of the situation and issued revised guidance on the use of antibiotics in the community to them.

Infection control by hand washing , greatly "enhanced" - greatly enhanced environmental dedicated cleaning teams; (i.e doing what they should normally do) plus the replacement of equipment which is not easy to clean.

Hospital visitors to patients with a C difficile infection should wash hands with soap and water before and after visiting their realtive;

- Not bring children , food, or flowers or visit if ill for any reason

- Not not sit on patients beds or touch patient's equipment, and reduce their possession to a minimum - and co-operate with staff.

The US based Committee to reduce Infection Deaths (RID) have a very useful 15 STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF A HOSPITAL INFECTION list which anyone expecting to be hospitalised or has a realtive in or due to go to hospital would should read.

Also read the WSJ article November 27, 2007 Our Unsanitary Hospitals by Betsy McCaughey which promotes the revolutionary idea that food manufacturers, restaurants are tested by outside bodies - why not hospitals ?

Ignaz Semmelweis (b. July 1st 1818 in Buda - 210 years ago ) he said puerperal fever, which killed mothers in childbirth, was spread by dirty doctors. In 1847 he discovered that hand washing with chlorinated lime solutions reduced the incidence of fatal puerperal fever from about 10 percent (range 5-30 percent) to about 1-2 percent. He called them murderers. His contemporraries (and his wife) , quite literally in 1865 had him thrown in a mad house where he died, 14 days later, possibly after being severely beaten by guards. (More)

He is now seen as a pioneer of antiseptic procedures. The stamp above was issued in Austria, 1965, on the 100th anniversary of Semmelweis’ death - although he was strictly a Hungarian . Clever people the Austrians they have convinced the world that Mozart was Austrian and Hitler was a German.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Peking's dwindling water supplies and the effect on the Olympics .....

Current concerns over the Chinese coastal waters plagued by a foul smelling green algal bloom off Qingdao, as a result of warmer waters, increased rainfall and high levels of nutrients which could affect the Olympic sailboat events from August 9th -23rd , (285,000 tons of the algae have been removed to date ) misses a deeper problem the Peking region is having obtaining fresh water supplies.

Canadian based environmental activists , Probe International have just produced a report on Peking's water supply (Per capita water availability: declined from 1,000 cubic metres in 1949 to less than 230 cubic metres in 2007 -Total water use: 3.25 billion cubic metres (2007))identifying the major concerns resulting from decades of short sighted policies,that have degraded watersheds, and which place a reliance on big engineering projects to keep the water flowing to meet accelerating residential consumer demand as living standards rise at the expense of industry and agriculture.... and act as a back drop to the Olympic charade.

The report has been edited with the help of Dai Qing (Daughter of a revolutionary martyr, former missile technician and one time intelligence agent) who was famously jailed for 10 months (she published "Yangtze! Yangtze!, "a collection of essays, interviews and petitions ) criticising the Government over the massive Three Gorges Dam project.... a others who helped have sought anonymity. (see NYT report)

Principal concerns are the diversion of water from farming in provinces around the capital, rapid depletion of groundwater, much of it for massive waterscapes and musical fountains for the anticipated Olympic crowds. It is calculated all this will increase this years water usage by 200 million cubic metres, about 5 % above normal water usage for this year.

One major ( and expensive ) project is the US$65 Mn. diversion of water from the Wenyu River through a specially built 13 Km. tunnel to flood the Chaobai riverbed which has been dry for a decade - Prior to diversion, water from Wenyu will require treatment because much of the river is ranked Category V, which means it is too polluted for any human use, including irrigation.(see Page 29 !)

This river will simply form part of the Olympic village landscape and is intended for use for the rowing events - let's hope they don't fall in. In the 2007 warm-up competition, Chaobai’s dried-up riverbed was blocked with two rubber dams at either end and filled with groundwater.(Page 31 lists the fountains, scenic lakes etc., being constructed)

Chaobai river was dammed in the '60's by the Miyun dam and reservoir (Officially nicknamed the "Bright Pearl of the Yanshan Mountain."), which delivers water to Beijing city through a 95-kilometre-long canal) solely to to be used for the Olympic rowing events. The resevoir was initially fouled by Tourist development and when that was stopped, by fish farming which became a health hazard - yes fish do shit in the water.

As an aside from fresh water the waste from Peking is sent seaward by the 1,300 year old Grand Canal, which links Peking to Hangzhou in the south. Beiyun served as a major transportation waterway for the nation’s capital until the early 20th century. Since the construction of railways, however, Beiyun no longer functions as a transportation route and has become a major drainage channel instead, earning it the nickname “Beijing paiwu he” or Beijing’s sewer. Year-round, Beiyun receives a high volume of industrial wastewater and domestic sewage. Beiyun flows 38 kilometres through Beijing then into Hebei province before joining the Hai River at Dahongqiao (Great Red Bridge) in Tianjin municipality.

Residential consumption has grown 10 fold in the last decade and represents some 40% of total use.. more than for either agriculture or industry. (Water consumption: domestic (39%), agriculture (38%), industry (20%), urban environment (3%))Since 1949, the population of Beijing has grown from roughly 4 million to 17 million, making it China’s second largest city after Shanghai.

Northern China is very arid and has seen rainfall for the last decade 30% below historical averages. Water extracted from underground water tables is not being replenished as fast as extraction leading to irreversable shrinkage. The hot dry eastern summer winds from the Gobi evaporate a great deal of surface water , Kunming Lake in the Imperial Palace requires filling 4 times a year

To meet these demands in the capital, adjoining provinces have been affected , Hebei claims irrigation waters have been cut and industrial projects hit and they have had to call for supplies (and pay) from Shandong.

Even so, Beijing’s 200 or so rivers and streams are drying up and many of the city’s smaller reservoirs are nearly empty. More than two-thirds of the city’s water supply now comes from groundwater, extracted some 1,000 metres or more underground and retained in 5 underground reservoirs. In launching the report at the Foreign Correspondents Club of China Dai Qing says there is no stopping the city government’s plans for further expansion.

Grainne Ryder, policy director at Probe International points out that these problems did not start nor will they finish with the Olympics. The Olympics have however, accelerated the move to expand supplies -- that is not sustainable -- which is costly (and when has that worried City Fathers anywhere ?) which will inevitably lead to a drive for more wasteful and profligate consumption."

Decades ago, planners’ decided to meet the capital’s mounting demands for water by investing in huge infrastructure projects that would divert water from the country’s rivers in the south up north via a complicated system of canals and aqueducts.

The most ambitious plan -- the South to North Water Diversion -- was first proposed by late communist leader (and famous swimmer) Mao Zedong in 1952 and approved by the government in 2001. Its eastern route is projected to supply Beijing with one billion cubic metres of water a year by 2010, pumped from the Yangtze River along a 1,277 km canal.

If all three routes of this project are completed, as much as 48 billion cubic metres of water will be diverted from the Yangtze. The project’s total cost is estimated to be at least US$60 Bn. -- Double the (admitted) cost of the US$28 Bn. for the Three Gorges Dam.

"South-North diversion proponents talk of quenching Beijing’s thirst with ‘surplus’ water from the Yangtze, as if draining China’s longest river -- Shanghai’s water supply -- would have little or no economic or environmental consequence for the millions of people in southern and south-western China."

In January, Chinese engineers began diverting water from the Yellow River to boost the capital’s dwindling supplies. Up to 150 million cubic metres of water are projected to flow 400 kilometres to lake Baiyangdian, south of Beijing, before the Olympics. Four newly constructed reservoirs in upstream Hebei province are expected to supply an additional 400 million cubic metres of water to Beijing in time for the Olympics.

"But even if all of these projects are completed and water indeed flows as projected Beijing would still need to pump an excessive amount of underground water," Ryder reckons. She predicts that the Chinese capital will run out of water in five to 10 years and would be faced with the difficult choices of moving the capital entirely or shutting down industries and resettling part of its population. "I would imagine it would be a phased shutdown of its economy, an economic collapse," she suggests.

Grainne Ryder has an apocalyptic vision that "... even if all of these projects are completed and water indeed flows as projected Beijing would still need to pump an excessive amount of underground water," She predicts that the Chinese capital will run out of water in five to 10 years and would be faced with the difficult choices of moving the capital entirely or shutting down industries and resettling part of its population. "I would imagine it would be a phased shutdown of its economy, an economic collapse," she suggests.

People who shoud definitely read this report include ;

1. All Athletes, officials, hangers on, journalists and others participating in this grossly commercial spectacle to see the devastating cost to the environment.

2. Anyone including the above involved in planning the London Olympics - not that you can expect them to take any notice.

3. Any visitors to peking, now and in the future to fully understand the costs of the water spectacles in money, degrading the envronment, it's affect on agriculture, food supplies and also industry.

... and if you are going , take some water purification tablets, lay in, on arrival a healthy stock of bottled water. Do not whatever the temptation enter any water, anywhere and to wash very carefully, do not use ice cubes, nor eat salads.

A tremendous read that graphically illustrates the price of Chinese expansion. Read it. NOW

The Great Helmsman was a lifelong swimmer and despite the pleas of security guards, his doctor and lady fiends , he swam in the heavily polluted rivers of south China, drifting miles downstream with the current, head back, stomach in the air, hands and legs barely moving, unfazed by the globs of human waste gliding gently past. "Maybe you're afraid of sinking," he would chide his companions if they began to panic in the water. "Don't think about it. If you don't think about it, you won't sink. If you do, you will."

For the old man of the revolution, the swim was a call to China's younger generation to dive into a political struggle against "counterrevolutionary" party bureaucrats.

If the ageing Chairman could conquer the mighty Yangtze, surely the nation's youth could brave the winds and waves of a political storm and overthrow Mao's opponents.

Also read Probe's "The Lost Rivers of the Forbidden City"

Forecasting is a job that has its perils ....

Dwelling on success as a forecaster Lord Patel was looking for new areas to develop expertise and was drawn to this ad at the rear of this week's New Scientist.

Eagle eyed readers with a non Alzheimer affected memory will recall the post of April 11th 2007 Met Office Summer Forecast - Maybe Hot /Cold, Wet / Dry and the later Tuesday, December 18, 2007 The Meteorological Office are a bunch of useless wankers which detailed their Spring forecast and the outcome ... The publication of the Pitt report on the light summer rains which prompted the post said ..."The severe flooding which affected much of the country during June and July 2007 followed the wettest-ever May to July period since national records began in 1766."

During a subsequent and brief correspondence with the Met Office, Lord Patel suggested that either they fire the forecaster responsible or hang him/her from the nearest lamp post and that their pine cones and seaweed be consfiscated.

Evidently they have taken his advice ... albeit somewhat belatedly.... his application is in the post.

Russian backed breakaway South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali shelled from Georgia

Georgian forces started shelling South Ossetia overnight starting at 11 pm , with a reported 3 dead and 11 injured - following an attack by Georgians at a checkpoint in the village of Ubiat.

Tass report 2 killed and 2 seriously injured. Shelling (Tass describe it as "heavy) was directed at the "capital" of the breakaway region , Tskhinvali, and nearby villages overnight - breaching a recent ceasefire (one of many) agreed by the two sides.

The Russian backed South Ossetian government ordered a full mobilisation in response, say AFP. The South Ossetian Interior Ministry have claimed that Georgia has been moving reinforcements to the conflict zone.

Georgian authorities say they were forced to return fire after separatist militiamen had attacked Georgian-controlled territory in the region.

On Thursday they accused the separatists of staging a roadside bomb attack on the Georgian government's representative in South Ossetia, while the separatists accused the Georgians of killing a local police chief.

Moscow has kept a peacekeeping force in both provinces under an agreement made following the wars of the 1990s, when they broke away from Tbilisi.

There are around 2,000 Russians posted in Abkhazia, and about 1,000 in South Ossetia.

There are "peacekeepers" from a Joint Control Commission in the area but the contingent's commander, Marat Kulakhmetov, says they are keeping out of the immediate area of conflict.

Reuters report that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who is in Turkmenistan said ,"We call for a halt to any provocations, any actions that may trigger further aggravation of the conflict."

In a recent incident 1 man was killed and 4 people injured in Tskhinvali as a result of an overnight shootout on June 14-15 between Georgian and South Ossetian forces. This was just prior to a visit by some EU observers with Murat Jioev, the foreign minister of breakaway South Ossetia, and Boris Chochiev, the chief South Ossetian negotiator, in Tskhinvali.

They also met Dimitri Sanakoev, the head of the provisional administration, in the Georgian-controlled village of Kurta, where the Tbilisi-sponsored South Ossetian provisional administration is headquartered.

Republic of South Ossetia website

Click to enlarge says Gemma

The 4 Gang - M&G, Legal & General, Standard Life and Insight resolve B & B problems and TPG fuck off back to Texas - July 4th something to celebrate

As forecast here last Friday (Friday, June 27, 2008 Bradford & Bingley - falling to the bottom feeders and union bashers ) TPG have retreated (collecting US4 Mn. as you pass go thank you very much ) .

The heroes of the hour, the “gang of four” large shareholders – M&G, Legal & General, Standard Life and Insight have evidently strong armed the pusillanimous FSA , scared shitless at the prospect of another line of depositors snaking across TV screens.

The 4 Gang have a lot to do...clearing out this current senior tier of wankers first, selling of some of the crap assets, more write downs (new brooms sweeping clean) and declaring nasty Q2 losses.

Well done all round to the 4 Gang.

However with the re-rating B&B shares have slumped below the Rights price of 55p and have just recovered a little to 56.1. Banking stocks slipped: HBOS.L , the UK's biggest mortgage lender, have lost 2.0% to 275, Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS -) fell 1.9 per cent to 210.75 and Barclays LSE: BARC.L has been hit 3% to 283p.

It is quite evident that simply nobody believes the balance sheet valuations.... or the prospect of continuing dividends for some time to come.

UPDATE B & B closed at 50p ... something rotten in the State of Denmark. Market cap of £300Mn. ?
UPDATE : Saturday 5th .. How soon before the depositors queues start snaking round the streets of Yorkshire? ..and Alliance and leicester dropped 36.25 pence to a new low of 255.50 (12.43% lower) and the biggest daily fall since September 2007 - on 5th June they were 416.50p a 40% decline.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Guradian typos at work ... most of article is unreadable

The Guradian has a top of the fold story anout a World Bank report prepared by Don Mitchell, a senior economist at the Bank who has undertaken a detailed, month-by-month analysis of the surge in food prices.... screams the sensational headline .."Biofuels are prime cause of food crisis, says leaked report" ...ahem ... well up to a point Lord Copper.

Biofuels production distorts food markets in three ways they report that the report says ;

1. It diverts grain away from food for fuel, it claims ( and this is wrong - see graph right) over a third of US corn is now used to produce ethanol and about half of vegetable oils in the EU are used for biodiesel. e.g US corn plantings were down this year BEFORE the floods , but soya planting was increased in almost equivalent acreage as crops rotated.
2. Farmers have been encouraged to set land aside for biofuel production.
3. It has sparked financial speculation in grains, driving prices up higher - there was no speculation before biofuels ?

Curiously there appears to be no mention of whacking big Federal grants , local tax cuts for building refineries etc., etc.,

A panel of government experts, chaired by Professor Ed Gallagher, head of the Renewable Fuels Agency are due to report snippets were pre-released by the Guradian last week. THis news sory repeats the claim " Over a third of US corn is used to produce ethanol, while about half of EU vegetable oils go towards the production of biodiesel." which is simply not correct. See post 1st July US Corn / ethanol industry - a quick overview

Perhaps it will be better to wait for the reports to be published before forming any judgements. Evidently if you use food for fuel you reduce food supplies but there is more at work ...see Friday, May 30, 2008 Norwegian Yara International makes record sales/profits by selling fertilisers at record prices set by global fertiliser industry cartel
Saturday, May 10, 2008 US corn plantings down, futures prices at record levels Sunday, December 23, 2007 Wheat , corn, soya prices at record levels - demand exceeds world supply, fertiliser, farm and fuel costs rise - food costs jump and inflation follows
Friday, November 23, 2007 ABF / British Sugar's Wissington sugar beet / bioethanol plant on stream and opened by Lord Rooker
even earlier Sunday, September 16, 2007 Australian drought - poor spring rains - higher world wheat prices in prospect - low stocks and heavy demand
Saturday, July 14, 2007 Biofuels plc - all that is green is not golden

Dontcha just love it when the mainstream Liberal press really, really do their homework ?... but hey ... it's a headlineworthy of George Monbiot and his Calculus.

UPDATE : BBC4 PM program at 5.30(ish) pm BST had a discussion (which curiously extracted and highlighted the 3 points raised above in virtually the same words ) between a doughty lady and an eco frenzied Monbiotist whose names escaped us. The lady made most of the points above.... we wait for the full report, rather than highlighted leaks promoted by very partial publicists.

Hitler returns to Berlin ... this time as a dummy

Madame Tussauds threw open their new waxworks on the Unter den Linden, Berlin to reporters ,but not to the public , today. Judging by the Der Speigel photographs, the realism of the figures is several times better than those in London.

The figure of Adolf Hitler in his bunker with shades of the Oliver Hirschbiegel's brilliant film, Der Untergang (The Downfall) has predictably received attention . .... although Marlene Dietrich, Karl Marx, Einstein juggle for attention with modern german politicians ( and some old ones like Erich Honecker) and second rate German fussballern

Madame Tussauds (first seen in England in 1802) is now part of the Poole (mysterious place) based Merlin Entertainments who are majority owned by the Blackstone Group which was founded in 1985 by Peter G. Peterson and Stephen A. Schwarzman , when the management company was IPO's last year the Chinese Government (AKA The China Development Bank, ) took 9.9% of the offering at a value of some US$7.8Bn (nominal share value US$29-31) which Tony Lueng out of Hong Kong oversees. (Shares closed at US$17.23 today so the Chinese are left nursing a bruising loss ... but not as much as the US$2.2 BN they put into Barclays at the same time.

Blackstone for example own approximately 20 million square feet of office space in the SF Bay Area ... On the Peninsula and throughout Silicon Valley.

Practical jokers and thrill seekers or the barmy will be herded off the stand at Madame Tussauds - there is a sign on Hitler's desk telling visitors not to take photos.

Unlike the other exhibits, Hitler will be kept cordoned off and will be guarded permanently by a member of staff, and the area will be permanently monitored by video surveillance cameras.

Der Speigel report that Council of Jews in Germany have not ob jected and take a refreshingly relaxed view. The General secretary Stephan Kramer, doesn't want Hitler to become a tourist attraction in Berlin. "But if such an exhibition helps to normalize the view of Hitler and to demystify him, one should try it," he said.

"Erasing him from history is not going to bring the perished ones back, it's not going to heal the damage that he did, the crimes that he did. That would be counter-productive," he said.

Naturally it hasn't been without criticism and politicians have jostled for their sound bites , Michael Braun, of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).. "distasteful beyond comparison." Danny Cohn Bendits colleague Green politician Alice Ströver ...."tasteless, disgusting and in bad style."

"Unspeakable," commented Brigitte Lange from the Social Democrats.

For more news from Germany try this.."Heidelberg woman bites rapist's penis and escapes" Ouch!

Worth taking a look at Tuesday, July 17, 2007 Mein Kampf - German Academic calls for re-publication

Man on Mission Impossible - Henry Paulson stalks Europe for ideas

Henry Paulson the Secretary of State at the US Treasury , Eagle Scout , ex Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs has been "doing Europe" . Germany on Tuesday. ...yesterday he was at Chatham House and talking about the current state of chassis in the world. Text here

He kicked off, .. the US economy is going through a rough period. As they have been chalking up an eye watering overeseas and budget deficit ever since George Bush slapped his boots on the desk in the Oval Office, they certainly have been going through a rough period.

Nobody noticed, because that nice avuncular Mr Greenspan kept interest rates down ...reeel low so everyone could share in Democracy's pie and the War on Terror, the War on Iraq, The War on Afghanistan, the War on Drugs, meant that the Federal Government were spilling out funds everywhere.

Everyone, everywhere shared in the bonanza as the Chinese scooped up Treasury Bonds with zilch yield and decling value.

However someone (eventually) noticed that all these borrowings rested on a crock of shit of alphabetic nightmares and persistent lies called quailtly "securitised loans" and fraudulent Balance Sheets . Now nobody has got any money even to make end meet never mind to lend to anybody. Believe me, when you are paying the salary cheques these banks have been paying it's no surprise there is nothing left to lend... hence there are a few folks losing their jobs.(Citigroup losing 13,000 alone this year..er..so far)

Anyway Good 'ol boy Beorge has noticed that his term of Office is ending and it's election time and the natives are getting restless. So the first thing Henry tells us (after telling us things are bad, reeeel bad )is that, hey just around the corner the good times will roll.... well hopefuly until the election is over and Uncle George Sam is, Henry says, " injecting $150 billion into the US economy now when it’s most needed (Election Time). To date, almost 95 million payments totaling over $78 billion have been sent". How ? By that 'ol mainstay of conservative / liberal economic policies a tax dodge.

Hey , Paul tells us, it's working , "Consumer spending data in May show these payments are
helping families weather this period of slow growth and higher food and gas prices."

Now when people tell me in the retail business ..."Last week we had a really good week" I know for certain that they know next week will be a stinker.

Same with Paul , first the good news now the bad news is ..." ... the US economy is facing a trio of headwinds: high energy prices, capital markets turmoil and a continuing housing correction."

Market Stability

This is the new voodoo man, why Alastair Darling announced in his Mansion House speech that it was intended to form a new Financial Stability Committee which would would "guide the Bank's operations in this field".

Paul identifies 3 Tranches (?)

1. ( or if you want the longer version " first and foremost, our number one priority") promoting market stability and limiting the impact on the broader economy as we work through today's institutional and markets stresses. (bit short on the detail there about how you do this..never mind, plod on)

2. Implementing the appropriate policy responses to recent events to address the deficiencies in our markets which the current problems have exposed.(bit short on the detail there, what policies ?, what deficiencies ? what problems exposed?)

3.Improving our overall financial regulatory structure to better prevent and address future turmoil.

All this will of course take time - even more so finding out why the previous "robust" , well engineered, systems and controls, processes, ... didn't work last time.

Then Paul let loose a fascinating and modestly accurate statistical detail , financial institutions worldwide have raised over $338 billion.

Institutions in the US and the U.K. have raised capital equal to 95 and 96 % of their recognized losses..in Europe, the gap is wider; there, institutions have raised only 56 % of their recognized losses so far - led no doubt by the Belgians and the cheese eating surender monkeys.

Just note that word "recognised", does that mean ;

1. That's the losses they have identified and calculated and published.
2. WE know (nudge,nudge , wink, wank.... because that's how bankers talk, like out of the sides of our mouths like Goodfellas - or is it the Mason's ?.), WE know that there is a still a bundle in the cupboard that we will eventually haul out , hopefully when the fucking sun starts shining again and we have some more notional profits to write it off against).

Oh by the way the US$ which was US$1 = 1 Euro on the illegal invasion of Iraq .. well you need US$1.60 today to buy 1 Euro.

Anyway back to Henry - who has NO worries about paying his mortgage, grocery bills or how to fill his gas tank..

Well Henry wants financial institutions to continue to strengthen balance sheets by raising capital, de-leveraging or reviewing dividend policies - you bet with the Fed in New York and the Bank of England lending money out the Discount window for all sorts of crap as security, just to keep a semblance of a banking market going.... have you seen the mortage closings this month ... and God help the small businessman.

Policy response

The US is well prepared for considering Policy issues ....Henry says. "In the United States, the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission worked together through the President's Working Group on Financial Markets, the PWG, " ...the guys who oversaw and masterminded this fucking disaster of zero credit, economic slowdown and the federal de-housing policy ... have already got their handmaidens of Apocalypse hard at work the ..." US regulators, investors, financial institutions and credit ratings
agencies have begun to implement these and other recommendations, which include

1. Stronger mortgage origination oversight (But not why it was so pisspoor before)
2. National licensing standards (But not why they were so pisspoor before) for mortgage brokers, and 3. To improve market infrastructure (But not why they were so pisspoor before)
4. Regulatory oversight (But DEFINITELY not why they were so pisspoor before)
5. Risk management practices (But not why they were so pisspoor before)
6. Steps to address valuation issues (But not why they were so pisspoor before)
7. Policies and practices related to the credit ratings agencies (the new whipping boy)
8. The mortgage securitization chain.... on which it is worth considering what good 'ol boy Greenspan had to say a few years ago at a Fed Bankers conference.

Alan Greenspan
Federal Reserve System’s Fourth Annual Community Affairs Research Conference, Washington, D.C. April 8, 2005

"Where once more-marginal applicants would simply have been denied credit, lenders are now able to quite efficiently judge the risk posed by individual applicants and to price that risk appropriately. These improvements have led to rapid growth in subprime mortgage lending; indeed, today subprime mortgages account for roughly 10 percent of the number of all mortgages outstanding, up from just 1 or 2 percent in the early 1990s.

.....we must conclude that innovation and structural change in the financial services industry have been critical in providing expanded access to credit for the vast majority of consumers, including those of limited means.

This fact underscores the importance of our roles as policymakers, researchers, bankers, and consumer advocates in fostering constructive innovation that is both responsive to market demand and beneficial to consumers. "

Would a public beheading be good enough to correct those policies of "quite efficiently judg(ing) the risk" ? This was the guy who said at a conference in Abu Dhabi in March this year ...".“For people who say we and the rest of the Central Bank should have raised flags, I say we did,”

But Henry wants to go further ..."to address not only the specific policy issues that gave rise to recent turmoil, but also the outdated nature of the US financial regulatory system. Few, if any, defend our current balkanized system as optimal." ... which is odd because that is precisely what Gordon Brown did 10 years ago in producing his masterful Tri-Partite and useless tri-umvirate of eunuchs , led by blinkered timid men allowed the uncontrolled bankers to ride a coach and horses through regulatory controls for a decade. He (and that smiling but vacuous twat Balls) balkanised the Bank of England, they didn't make it independent.

Even further ..." the G7 tasked the Financial Stability Forum, the FSF, to analyze the underlying causes of the turbulence and offer proposals for change."

"Today's priority is clearly market stability. However, looking beyond the immediate turmoil, we need to design carefully and put in place a stronger capacity for resolution and crisis intervention that reinforces market discipline."

Fine words, sweetly spoken, we could go on but read the text if you really want more.

To be fair to the Feds (that's the FBI not the unelected bankers) they moved fast , as they did with Enron, and hauled off the miscreants from Bear Stearns in public with handcuffs cuffs.. now there's nothing to see, let's move on.. now this carbon market looks really ripe for making a few bucks...how do we trade these allocations ? Well, say we bundle 'em up, a Sri Lankan pig farm (CARBO) with a single Idaho corn refiner (MON) and a wannabe maker of electric batteries (OXIDE) ... bundle it / securitise it / name it ? CARBON MON-OXIDE .... hey isn't that toxic ? Maybe, but what a great name CMO's . ... just think, a simple text fix in the software for the CDO's and away we go ..

Now the First Tier CMO's will be Libor plus, say 120 points ? .. get Owen & Avery , Sidley Austin - what's that hot chick called , she'll fix the detail?

Hands up those who believe that the 8 points above under Policy Response outlined by the poacher turned gamekeeper, drafted from Sacks of Gold to Gubment are going to make the slightest dent on the banks, investment funds, hedge funds, sovereign funds (with increasing and autonomous power), the money laundering drug gangs, the squillionaire silovaki.. no .. hands up, we can't count ... no hands up ...

Damn ..now Gemma says she's had a tough day and wants a gentle rub down with patchouli oil and how about a Manhattan ?

Freedom and Democracy with Action Man David Davis and Cameron style - hi-jacking the East Riding Youth Assembly

Gemma was up late but not too late to here the old Welsh Goat Humphreys shrieking at Henry Paulson, US Treasury Secretary, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Alastair Darling ( 2 of the most important and powerful men in international finance whether we like it or not) like a schoolgirl.

He was loudly (and very rudely) interrupting , demanding to know what poor old Alastair was going to do about "Shagger" Applegarth's take home pay etc., ...knowing of course he wasn't going to get an answer rather than ask and get their answers to important questions .... but then that might have been his intention.

Gemma is of course keeping a keen eye on the oposition and rubbing the sleep out of her eyes let a out a loud shriek at reading Green Party Candiate Shan Oakes (another one who won't be knocking our Gemma off the throne) who was invited to attend a meeeting of East Riding of Yorkshire Youth Assembly (a Council body, not a Private organisation - see website)to meet the Dynamic duo , the two Dave's, Dave Davis and his feed Dave Cameron.

Imagine Shan's suprise then , when turning up at the school for the meeting ... they were kept out by a heavy police presence, and refused entrance . After a "great debate" with the Head Teacher, Chris Abbott, helpful but apologetic this was a "private hire" . The promised discussion with the young people (who don't have the vote but show the caring , sharing side and don't ask awkward questions either - ask Tony Blair a past master of the photo-op with the 5th form girls) had been hijacked and turned into a one party PR event for the Tories with no opportunity for legitimate debate.

With the aid of friendly journo and a mike, Shan tried to tackle the Dave Duo - aware of her presence they hurriedly dived into their car (see pic) whilst she was held back by a libertarian minded row of solid Yorkshire constabulary police .

So much for the "Great Debate" says Gemma...."Oooooh !" she shrieked again" Look at David Beckham's 6 pack!"

Happily there was a post mortem with the Youth Assembly, came who were critical of the way it had been handled - 'That’s not democracy!' said one representative.... but that is the way it works at Westminster. More >>

PS - "The East Riding Youth Assembly is a newly formed democratic body for young people set up to provide opportunities for young people from the East Riding of Yorkshire to have a real voice on issues that affect them, not only at local level, but on a county wide basis as well." see their website

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

L'affair Dreyfus , Gorgeous George doesn't say J'accuse which is French and so is agent provocateurs

Stephiblog reprints a letter (not French) from George Galloway to Jacqui Smith the kebab fetishist Home Secretary identifying an Inspector Chris Dreyfus as an agent provocateur at the anti Bush Rally described by Yasmin Whittaker-Khan in the Mail on Sunday 22nd June . "Was 'friend' who yelled abuse at police on anti-war demo a stooge or a thug, asks writer"

"This man" , says George, showing his age by the changing fashions of street argot,"This man, to my direct knowledge, committed four criminal offences during the 30 minutes or so he stood next to me. First, he repeatedly chanted the arcane, antiquated Americana, “Kill the pigs!” This is a clear incitement etc ., etc., which you can read for yourself.

He concludes ..."It now seems that what happened was a deliberate conspiracy to bring about scenes of violent disorder, seen around the world and for purposes on which we can only speculate." ... cause enough to lock him up and spend the next 28 days assembling a case of terrorism, utlising the whole range of Police still photographs and video taken by Police evidence gatherers.

...but then of course if he isn't a policeman ... the IPCC couldn't possibly investigate.

Not all men who have truncheons and helmets in their trousers are Policemen.

Curious how the national Press have remained silent on this one, or is the Lord Patel worldwide news gathering service falling down again.?
They were not previously silent when the Soaraway Sun printed news of this wonderful Plod revealing his Face book page and invitations for gay sex and for people to “bite, grope, lick or spank” him.

Remarkably (in the light of his activities in Whitehall on the anti-bush march) the Sun says this chappie , "Insp Dreyfus used to head the Transport Police’s Counter-Terrorism Proactive Unit.

He was in charge of 30 officers and was on the frontline at King’s Cross during the July 7 suicide attacks in 2005. " Stable paper the Times raking over the ordure also carried the story of his "gay" lifestyle at the time.

Lordy Lord Vaz is at it again....

Geoff Hoon has apparently promised Keith Vaz, the charmingly oleaginous, Asian Mr Fixit from Leicester, ennoblement for his prudent support for locking up brown men with beards for 42 days while PC Plod tries to find something to do them for.

Absurd rumours that swept the Palce of Varieties tea rooms this afternoon that it had been fixed due to his support, indeed enrichment from the wonderfully industrious Iraqi businessman Mr Nadhmi Auchi, for turning up at Board meetings General Mediterranean Holdings and indeed negotiating a few bobs from the famously courteous gent towards the , "Help out Gordy from this mess fund" Prop, British venture Capitalists et al .

Other tittle tattleists said it was because he had performed such sterling work as Chairman of the Home Affairs Select to which he was unusually nominated to the Committee by the Government, rather than by the quasi-independent Committee of Selection which, under the Standing Orders of the House, nominates members to select committees. ... but that is unlikely.

It certainly wouldn't be for having stupidly forgotten details of how three payments of £5,000 each, from Usha Mittal, the wife of a steel magnate, from Charles Riachy, a Lebanese businessman were used (maybe, somehow) to finance (or not as the case maybe) his election expenses in 2001. There is also no chance it would be a reward for his involvement in the affairs of the UK passport seeking Hinduja brothers who were defrauded out of muchdosh such generous benfactors to the Millenium Dome . Misled it appears by some mischeivous soul that this was the normal way to obtain a UK passport.

Lord Patel does know a fascinating episode when a very senior Labour politician (not an MP) with very strong EU experience and connections was involved in a meeting at which the boy Keef adressed him as Sir XXXXXX. The blushing , but nonetheless flattered Labour luminary pointed out that he was plain Mister.

"OH!" sparkled our oily, plump, and charming MP, giving him a knowing glance over his glasses..."We'll have to do something about that" .... pause .. "won't we".

Mr Hoon owes Keef for one reason , it was a last desperate calculation to keep the totally "on-side" MP...er...."on side".

Of course Mr Hoon's promise is just as worthless as our Keef's was to Lord Patel's friend. That of course is the cut and thrust of labour politics at work today.

Knife crime .. there is more backstabbing in Westminster than Haringey, Barnet, Moss Side, Barwell .....together

PIzz delivery boy delivers a blast at the Big Five Banks ...

Luke Johnson Chairman of Channel 4, Oxford educated ex broker and the bastard who launched Pizza Express on an inoccent public, has a superb iconoclastic blast against the main joint stock banks in his weekly column for the Financial Times ..

"The banks have been in denial about their financial condition, and have misled shareholders, the markets and their customers." .. does he mean by "misled" , that they lied to us ?

"The six executive directors at Royal Bank of Scotland, for example, took home £16m in cash last year – on top of their accumulated pension entitlements of £26m. These are not entrepreneurs who risk their own capital in life – they are just bank employees." Quite so. qv lies from the Nat West three who then 'fessed up for a plea bargain ... but why didn't Nat West sue, aft all they lost the dosh .. more sticky fingers in the till ?

"In Barclays’ 2007 annual report there are more than 100 notes to the accounts. How many of the board, or indeed the senior management, have studied that dense document and understand it all? Who really knows those risks? The auditors? The risk committees? The Financial Services Authority? I have my doubts. The balance sheet shows that at December 31 2007 it had £345bn of loans to customers – what one might consider the core business of a bank – but also £193bn of trading portfolio assets and £248bn of derivative financial instruments. What are they all? Are those items worth what the accounts say? And why does Barclays own them?" We have maintained for a long time the major Banks blance sheets should be entered for the Booker Fiction prize, none would win on style but they would be up there on fictional imagination (Barclays Market cap today is £18.7 Bn - shareholders have lost £16 Bn in the last 12 months)

Read it all NOW .... then consider changing your bank ...we don't give advice here but Lord Patel moved to Abbey / Bank Santander 2 years ago and has substantial bonds secured in September last year at rates which would seem extraordinary today.

Printers to Hitler, Franco, Ian Smith and now ex printers of banknotes to Mugabe - and potential suppliers of EU wide "smart" cards for immigrants

There is a wonderful paradox that Munich based Giesecke & Devrient, the German banknote printing firm, first started printing currency for the beleaguered Rhodesian Smith regime and seamlessly continued supplying the new regime to now end up supplying basic bank notes which the Zimbabwean central Bank then overprints ... with an increasingly bizarre number of zeroes.

A 500.000 Z dollar note issued last October has been withdrawn as it is now worth US$0.00004 cents officially and even less on the street. A new 50 Z Million dollar note might buy you a couple of loaves.

Now the family owned and run firm (US$2.4 BN sales last year)renowned for Union bashing, has been leant on by the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and during a friendly telephone call with the company it was agreed that G & D would halt the regular air delivery of tons of pallets of pre-printed banknotes.

G & D make security papers in their Louisenthal division and have a long history using it to make everything from 1938 Berlin Olympic Games tickets for Adolf Hitler ,to currency for Franco as well as another 100 odd nations. No great fan of the unions, in 2005 the company threatened to move the Lousienthal plant over the border into Slovakia and refused to open any type of the negotiation with the workers and their union. They also have plants in Bavaria and Istanbul.

Notably G & D are also world leaders in "smart" card technology with biometric signatures. As they explain on their website..

"Unlike user authentication based on something the user knows, such as a PIN or password, or something he or she has, e.g. a smart card or other token, biometric systems work by relying on a physical characteristic – something that is both unique and inseparably linked to the person. Whilst PINs, passwords and keys can be forgotten, lost, lent or stolen, biometrics cannot. The user's anatomy itself becomes the means of identification, the biological password."

These include

Physical Characteristics
facial features / fingerprint / hand geometry / eyes (iris, retina)

Behavioral Characteristics
voiceprint / lip movements / dynamic signature / keystroke dynamics

G & D have many patents in the field, many of which will be embodied in the uniform version of the resident permit (see above) that all 27 member states will soon start issuing to third-country nationals. A regulation scheduled for adoption before the end of the year will see the European Union introducing such a card soon.

No doubt Frau Merkel will look benevolently on G&D and no doubt ask her officials to ensure that every effort is made to help G&D to obtain what will be a welcome and no doubt very profitable contract. .... and ensure they have a step on the ladder when it comes to issuing EU wide identity cards.,,, see below ...First they came for the Sheep and the Goats.

Economists are now fighting for ringside seats to see what will happen when the central Bank simply cannot print any more banknotes. They have for a long time been paying state employed staff directly into bank accounts, or issuing bearer cheques with a limited life which will enable them to stutter on for a little while longer.

In all the inane jabber about Zim , all making the improper assumption that the MD are in fact bathed in Christian charity there has been no discussion of what to do about establishing a sound currency. We have discussedthis here and those interested can look at Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Joyce Mujuru coronation due, Mbeke heads the Anschluss as Rand Monetary Area is re-defined

Basically Tomaz Salamao, executive secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has a proposal that the Common Monetary Area (CMA) should include Zimbabwe.The CMA now has South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. SADC leaders have mandated Salamao to find an economic solution to the Zimbabwe crisis, and President Thabo Mbeki a political solution.

Alas even with Mr Baoteng (our Ambassador in SA - remember the little weaselly guy with plenty of street smarts ?....) and once raving Trot My Fellow Lord Triesman have been peacefully pursuing this line...with no apparent success.

As we pointed out this would effectively be a South African Anschluss.

Of course nobody at all wants to mention the facts that Mr Mugabe's public relations firm, Cohen and Woods International is run by Mr Herman (call me "Hank") Cohen , who played a major part in getting the murderer Mengistu and his butchering cronies out of Ethiopia and into Zim where they live a life of ease and Mengistu helps plan the wonderful street theatre such as "Operation Murambatsvina," and "Operation Garikai / Hlalani Kuhle ", resulting in detah, expulsion and a diaspora of 4 Mn. unwanted citizens.

James Woods, the other partner in the firm is an ex advisor to President George Bush. Other clients are leaders of Angola and Burkina Faso as is President Laurent Kabila of the Congo.. Cohen is also a member of the panel on Transatlantic Relations and on the Board of Advisors of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy -"Where Leaders meet" ...which is a nonprofit, activist organization dedicated to the resolution of conflicts that threaten U.S. interests.

Perhaps someone in the US should have a quiet word with Herman (call me "Hank") Cohen, after all he is not difficult to find, his firm is in the phone Book in Arlington , Washington DC....1621 North Kent StreetSuite 1619 (Lower Level)Arlington22209 Tel: +1 703 516-9510
Fax: +1 703 516-4547. Curiously enough we get a lot of people from odd Government Agencies based in Arlington caling in and looking at the site. HiYa Folks !!!

Pssst. Gemma (who has a delightful Ulster lilt in her voice) says is that card issued to Wong Yun which sounds suspiciously like "wrong 'un" , shurely not ???

Hilary Benn fights EC Council Regulation 21/2004 introducing individual electronic identification (EID) .. First they came for the Sheep and Goats ...

Yet again the petifogging EU bureaucrats are at work and by dint of hard slogging young Hilary Benn (Gemma Garrett thinks he's really dishy !) has managed to delay the consequences of the The EU Commission's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (Scofcah) who have recently voted by qualified majority for changes to the individual recording requirements for sheep and goats.

All goats and sheep can relax, EID's (numeric digital signatures on a permanent plastic ear tag) will not be needed until 2011 when Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Hilary Benn, will no longer be in office. (DEFRA FAQ's here)

Regulation 21/2004 was adopted as long ago as 2003 and provided for EID to be introduced from 1st January this year. By December we had secured a further last minute delay until 31 December 2009, now this monstrous burden has been lifted again.

Gemma wonders when the secret negotiations are concluded at midnight somewhere, that means all EU citizens, never mind the sheep and goats will be provided with an electronic tag.The current ID card plans are a very near substitute and Gemma is hard at work in Haltemprice and Howden to call for stopping the ID database ...First they came for the Sheep and Goats she cries.

Meanwhile Gemma wait's to hear from David "Basher Davis's view on this welcome retreat from a frightening prospect for our native sheep and goats.

UK Government to proscribe Hizballah's military wing - but continue to support the real terrorists in the Middle East - the Apartheid Zionist state

Under Part II of the Terrorism Act 2000, the Secretary of State has the power to proscribe any organisation which she believes 'is concerned in terrorism'. and so The Home Secretary has laid an order that will proscribe Hizballah's entire military wing.

This is what Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said today :

"Today, the Government has laid an Order in Parliament to proscribe the entirety of Hizballah's military wing in substitution for the existing entry "Hizballah External Security Organisation". This means that it will be a criminal offence to belong to, fundraise and encourage support for the military wing of the organisation. Hizballah's political, social and humanitarian activities will remain unaffected.

"Hizballah's military wing is providing active support to militants in Iraq who are responsible for attacks both on coalition forces and on Iraqi civilians, including providing training in the use of deadly roadside bombs. Hizballah's military wing also provides support to Palestinian terrorist groups in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

"It is because of this support for terrorism in Iraq and Occupied Palestinian Territories that the Government has taken this action. Proscription of Hizballah's military wing will not affect the legitimate political, social and humanitarian role Hizballah plays in Lebanon, but it sends out a clear message that we condemn Hizballah's violence and support for terrorism. We continue to call on Hizballah to end terrorist activity and its support for terrorism in Iraq and Occupied Palestinian Territories, abandon its status as an armed group and participate in the democratic process on the same terms as other Lebanese political parties."

The Home Office helpfully provides advice that proscription means that an organisation is outlawed in the UK as soon as the order comes into force. It is a criminal offence for a person to belong to or encourage support for a proscribed organisation. It is also a criminal offence to arrange a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation or to wear clothing or to carry articles in public which arouse reasonable suspicion that a person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.

This is symbolic of the long standing, blinkered, bureaucratic, double diplo - speak that the Foreign / Home Office love to issue... of course they never proscribed the based US organisations who openly solicited funds for the IRA for years.

That they are just acting as lackets for the Zionists is evident from the descriptions ... "It is because of this support for terrorism in Iraq and Occupied Palestinian Territories that the Government has taken this action." , Hamas can be elected but then are ignored and despised, whilst forced to live in an apartheid state which is bombed and shelled without mercy every day to be shot like fish in a barrel.

Food , water and eletricity supplies, can be supplied (or destroyed) at the will of the military masters, sewage systems fail and are left unrepaired, free passage is denied, all external communications by air, sea, land are controlled and denied.

But that's OK.

Supporting people who object to such treatment is not says Mr McNulty, why these dastardly Hizbollah actually repulsed the Israeli illegal raids , which started on July 12th 2006, with bombings and shelling on Lebanon .. a prolonged episode as the Western powers stood back and let the Israeli Army and Air Force, destroy key infrastructures, rained down millions of cluster bomblets to be left to continue civilian deaths.... not forgetting even 4 UN observers were killed when their observation post was bombed, reportedly more than 20 times. or the shelling of convoys evacuating villagers from their homes. 33 days of unrelenting terror which killed over 1,000 Lebanese citizens.

Mr Mc Nulty and his Boss Jacqui Smith " condemn Hizballah's violence and support for terrorism" .. it's a pity they don't really condemn the people who do terrorise the Middle East.

It's a pity they haven't followed the case filed in a United States District Court for the Southern District againstthe Swiss mega-bank, UBS AG. The plaintiffs, all of whom had family members injured or killed in Iranian-backed terror attacks, allege that UBS’unlawful eight year-long provision of financial services to the IslamicRepublic at the time Iran was providing material support to terroristorganizations renders the bank liable for the harm that has been inflictedupon them and their families.

Three families who were physically and emotionally harmed by the Katyusha rockets launched by Hizbollah intoIsraeli cities during the 2006 war with Lebanon. This is the first civilaction brought by American victims of Hizbollah’s katyusha rocket attacks.

The allegations against UBS center around the Swiss bank’s involvement intransferring dollars to outlaw regimes such as Iran, Libya and Cuba. The UBS operation was uncovered by American soldiers in Iraq in 2003 who discoveredbrand new dollars, still wrapped in Federal Reserve casings behind a wall in Saddam Huessein’s palace.

A Federal Reserve investigation of the source of the currency determined that UBS was responsible for illegally transferring between $4 to$5 billion to states designated by the U.S. as sponsors of terrorism between 1996 and 2004.

UBS initially denied the extent of the money transfers it had provided to Iran and others, but confronted with overwhelming evidence,eventually was compelled to admit the scope of its criminal activities. UBS,one of world’s wealthiest banks, was fined a $100 millions by the FederalReserve for its conduct.

The plaintiffs allege that without the provision of American dollars toTehran, the Islamic regime would not have been able to support terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbollah. The terrorist groups need the easily convertible and readily accepted American dollars to purchase weapons (such as Katyushas) and explosives as well as to facilitatetheir terrorist training programs and to fund suicide bombings. The lawsuit charges UBS, which has a branch in New York, with aiding and abetting Iran’ssupport of terror by illegally providing Tehran the dollars it needed topass along to the terrorist groups for their purchases and attacks. .
“UBS knew full well that the cash dollars it was providing to a statesponsor of terrorism such as Iran would be used to cause and facilitateterrorist attacksby Iranian-sponsored terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hizbollah and the PIJ,” said Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. The plaintiffs are demandingthat UBS compensate them for the injuries they suffered as a result ofIranian terror attacks in Israel.

If Mr McNulty really wants to understand the funding of Hezbollah he might contact Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq. (US) 212-591-0073 (Israel)011-972-523-837020 who will probably be able to advise him more directly about how Hizbollah is funded.

The Israeli State terrist receive their funding directly from the US Government. Last year it was about US$9,6 Billion dollars ... not all in cash most came in the way of the tools of terrorism... Cluster bombs, F16's , Apache Attack Helicopters, Stingray missiles...

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 of the 11th August 2006 was a unanimous decision which included the demand for the disarming of Hizbollah , which the sovereign Lebanese Government refuse to do, United Nations UNIFIL forces refuse to to do.

So Why does Mr Tony McNulty issue this piffling nonsense ?

So Tony McNulty issues this worthless, pointless decree which solves nothing, produces further enmity and is derided wherever sensible meet.

He can of course proudly demonstrate to the Labour Friends of Israel that he is doing ..er.. something...which will please James Purnell, Manchester's most expensive MP and former Chairman of the LFI and wannabe Labour Party Leader (and PM ?) who as Chair of the All Party Group on Private Equity and Venture Capital 2002-03 made many friends amongst the members of the British Venture Capital Association BVCA whose Chief Executive John Mackie stepped down in 2006. John has just unexpectedly returned after his successor Peter Linthwaite stepped down from his post as chief executive. Linthwaite’s resignation came 2 days after he met the Treasury Select Committee on 12th June to defend the tax benefits of private equity executives.

It is impossible to believe or imagine that the not unwealthy member firms of the BVCA would welcome that the curious and highly beneficial tax reliefs they obtain remain , ( they can treat income realised from their investments as a capital gain and benefit from a 10% tax rate - as can Lord Patel after 2 years) if they could find some cash to fund the Labour Party.... who really are rather strapped for cash at the moment.

Lord Cohen of Apax partners , whilst being a good friend of Gordon is a major investor in Israel and has many like minded friends who might not be too unhappy to dole out some of their largesse if they can be convinced that there would be some residual benefits.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

"Rule of Law" in Iraq as Judges, are bombed, lawyers killed and many simply flee the country.

Having heard Lord Darzi explain on Desert Island Discs about his Armenian Christian / Jewish education in prosperous middle class secular Iraq, it may appear churlish to suggest he return to the land of his birth to set about improving his country's medical services rather than further muddy the waters of NHS reform here.

Of course one of the (many, many) tragedies facing American owned post secular Saddamite Iraq is that the educated middle classes have fled in huge numbers, leaving behind the brave, patriotic, corrupt or incompetent.

Recent reports show how the judiciary and lawyers have been affected by violent attacks on themselves,their families and their homes.

The Iraqi Lawyers Association reported in April last year that at least 210 lawyers and judges have been killed since the US-led invasion, with dozens more injured. Judge Abdul Sattar Bayrkdar, speaking for the Judicial Council said in August 2007 that 31 Iraqi judges have been assassinated since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime.

“Cases of adultery, honour killings, claims on property, children’s custody and divorces have led to the deaths of many Iraqi lawyers as differences of sects and their [different] religious laws make up a big part of the prosecution or defence,” Safa’a Farouk, a lawyer and spokesman for the ILA, said.

“There are hundreds of lawyers who are being threatened and who have been asked to abandon their cases. The hundreds who have left the country have left a huge gap in the judicial system in Iraq,”

“It is a very serious situation. If you win the case, you will be targeted by the other side but if you lose, your client will be the one who will kill you. Nowadays, clients usually look for lawyers from their own ethnic group or sect to help win their cases.”

The Judiciary have been targeted as well and a massive and apparently co-ordinated attack was made on five Iraqi appeals court judges yesterday.

The five judges - Ali al-Alaq, Suleiman Abdullah, Ghanim Janab, Alaa al-Timimi, and Hassan Fouad - are all members of the al-Rasafa Court of Appeal in eastern Baghdad. While all five were unharmed in the separate attacks, the wife of Ali al-Alaq and the wife and son of Suleiman Abdullah were wounded by roadside IED's, and the judges' vehicles and property sustained damages in the blasts. An Iraqi judge told Voices of Iraq that the attacks involved roadside bombs targeting the judges as they commuted to work .

Judge Kamil Abdul-Majid al-Shuweili, the president of the Rasafa Court of Appeals, was assassinated by unidentified gunmen on Thursday while on his way home in eastern Baghdad.

Iraq's Human Rights Ministry, citing the data of the health and interior ministries, said that 21 judges were killed in attacks between the year 2004 and 2006.

In January, Iraqi federal court of appeal judge and Supreme Judicial Council member Amir Jawdat al- Naeib was also assassinated by gunmen in the capital. The Judicial Council said in

Many key Iraqi judges and their families now live in the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad or in the so-called Rule of Law complex , a secure compound in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Rusafa where they are supposedly safe from outside threats .

Col. Mark Martins,the staff judge advocate for General Petraeus’s military command in Iraq, said 12 Iraqi judges and four police investigators were now in the complex with their families and 26 more investigators will be graduating this week.

The hope is that a network of legal complexes will be established in other parts late 2007 / spring 2008.

The Rusafa complex, across the Tigris River to the east of the government Green Zone in central Baghdad, is still in its early days (see pic mid 2007). The court began hearing cases in June 2007. (NYT)

The United States provides criminal investigators, lawyers and a paralegal staff to train the Iraqis to run the complex, which also includes accommodations for witnesses, investigators, the Baghdad Police College and an expanding number of detainees. The 55-member American team includes Justice Department and military personnel as well as contractors, and there were in mid 2007 only four Iraqi investigators.

"No one is saying the rule of law prevails across Iraq and this is only a small step," said Col. Mark Martins, which must cheer them up no end.

The Rusafa prison’s capacity, which started at 2,500, was expected to expand by more than 5,000 by the end of the summer 2007. The main detention building at Rusafa is cleaner and of a higher standard than many Iraqis jails, but with 15 detainees in each cell the conditions had reached maximum capacity under international standards.

Reading the NYT report deosn't suggest the legal standards opertaing even at this base compare with what UK or US observers would accept as fair or honest. Which might explain why the judiciary and lawyers have increasingly been the targte of victims of the system and their families and associates.

It is also worth reading the posting Friday, June 20, 2008 -DOD expect detainees to "surge" in Baghdad by 25% soon. of the surging number of prisoners at Camp Cropper by Baghdad Airport.

Prisoners often cannot attend the trial but can watch it later on video.
At least 29 American soldiers died in Iraq in June, compared with 19 the previous month — the lowest monthly figure of the war. At least 546 Iraqis were killed or found dead in June in war-related violence, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press as of Sunday - a slight increase over the AP figure of 515 for May.

Fortis Bank makes €8 billion provisions and Chairman talks of US "meltdown" ..Citigroup, GM ...

Fortis's banks chief executive since 2004, Jean-Paul Votron, is in trouble. Deep,deep do-doo. (shares down 4% @ €9.94 now they fell 20% on Thursday to €10.20 see chart right)

He has announced major measures for raising and conserving capital - he announced issue of €1.5 billion, (US $2.3 billion) of new shares at €10, plus up to €2 billion of nondilutive preference shares. On top of this the 2008 dividend will not be paid saving €1.3 billion.

Other noncore assets and sell and lease back real estate investments wiil also be sold off.

This follows selling a 5 % stake in the group and half its asset management business to China's Ping An Insurance.

On top of this they need funding for the €24 billion acquisition and integration of parts of its former Dutch rival ABN AMRO.

As a result Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Fortis (Bank of the Year 2007) , partners in last year's takeover of ABN Amro Holding NV, had their credit ratings lowered by Moody's Investors Service . RBS the UK's 2nd largest Bank (and one of Lord Patel's bankers) financial-strength rating was cut to B from B+ and its senior debt rating to Aa2 from Aa1. They said that RBS's writedowns were prudent but still has ``large credit exposures'' and may have to take more losses.

Moody's reduced Fortis's financial strength rating to C+ from B-. Moody's said asset sales and a planned acquisition will erode capital. It also lowered its long-term debt and deposits ratings on Fortis to Aa3 from Aa2.

CEO Votron said he needs ``exceptional measures'' because the business environment won't improve anytime soon. Fortis lost more than half its market value since it agreed to spend €24 billion on ABN Amro.

Forced under Europe's antitrust rules to divest parts of the ABN Amro empire, Fortis claims this will yield €300 million less than their (book) net asset value. Fortis also will have to set aside capital to cover credit risk on €10 billion of the unit's assets.

This contrasts with remarks in May by Votron that they had "highly resilient results" with net income down 31% year on year. In March he had called Fortis a "well oiled machine". In April Merrill Lynch who were involved in the ABN Amro take over told clients Fortis was a European stock that would rise in value. Brokers talk about a "U tirn".

The market has been spooked by the reported remarks on Monday of Fortis chairman Maurice Lippens (on Board since 1981) “We have been saved just in time. The situation in the US is much worse than we thought”, Fortis expects he said," ..bankruptcies amongst 6000 American banks which have a small coverage currently. But also Citigroup, General Motors, there is starting a complete meltdown in the US”

Fortis verwacht faillissementen onder 6000 Amerikaanse banken die nu weinig dekking hebben. „Maar ook Citigroup, General Motors, er begint een complete meltdown in de VS.”) der Telegraf

Wall Street Journal say Globally, banks have raised US$300Bn in fresh capital to offset US$400MN to date writedowns on their ravaged Balance Sheets.... see Citigroup share price ...heavy selling on opening evry day for 5 days.....

See also 18th May 2005 GM makes you sick

Taster extract .... "So what have GM been doing to increase fuel efficiency? Well fleet performance of GM cars has gone from 27.8 miles per US gallon to 28.8 mpg in the last 5 years and for light trucks 20.7 mpg to 21.2 (which includes a notional “E35 credit” for ethanol) says the Company 2004 Corporate Responsibility report. It explains “since 1990, new vehicle fuel economy has been relatively constant as consumers, reflecting increased disposable income and relatively low fuel prices, have not emphasized vehicles with high fuel economy”.

That’s it folks, it’s down to the consumers, faced with refinery shutdowns, declining oil resource, increasing oil imports from less stable political zones we did nothing. The dollar dives, the imports soar – and do you know, it’s the consumers fault – those wacky guys over at Toyota with their hybrids (sales over 500,000 worldwide as they lead the technology) ***and customer queues sneaking round the block, well, maybe they just got lucky. "

*** now over 1 Million

"US manufacturing industry has failed to understand and react to a rapidly changing world. Emboldened by the strident, pre-emptive, transformational world of the Bush imperialist gang, exporting by force of arms and bribery their distorted vision of democracy, their own has been disembowelled.

Black Monday II coming soon at a Stock Market near you."

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