"“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, August 23, 2008

Ending the Olympics - Another Chinese spectacular ? Fireworks in Space ?

As a wonderful £2.4 Mn finale to the Peking Olympics David Beckham is due to appear on top of a London Routemaster and kick a football into the crowd. Wow!

What spectacular have the Chinese in store for us ?

Will their space program launch something to remind the world that their efforts in space are moving ahead lickety splick ?

Yang Liwei, the first astronaut of the manned spacecraft Shenzhou V, was the first torchbearer in Beijing, and the opening ceremony torch was lit by Li Ning after his 'run in-space'.

Could it be Yinghuo-1 their first Mars orbital explorer ?

Could it be a major Shenzhou mission, with multiple crew members for a space walk spectacular , launched on the Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center ?

Maybe the launch of the 2 tonne Solar space telescope, which it is claimed will provide 3 years worth of results that exceed anything so far achieved by SOHO, the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory project between NASA and ESA.

Surely after their first robotic Moon mission they won't be ready for a manned moon shot will they ? Will they ?

LIDS / NOMIS / OASys - The Home Office systems that are on the edge of collapse - are PA the dog to kick or should it be Sir John Gieve ? Again ?

If you go to the Ministry of Justice website you can, in their section on Offender Management read about "End-to-end offender management " which ,"ensures that offenders are offered the best possible opportunity to change their offending behaviour. "

To do this the (old) Home Office embarked on the The National Offender Management Information System (NOMIS) system ...this was designed to "replace ailing legacy case management and offender assessment applications in public prisons and probation."

Three public sector prisons already use the live system - the first in 2006 was HM Prison Albany on the Isle of Wight. That's the position today, same as it was when Rebecca Thomson wrote an article on January 9th this year in Computer Weekly Government scales down prison IT project after costs spiral

The C-Nomis system was to cost £234m. The National Association of Probation Officers estimated that the full national roll-out would eventually cost £950m.

Furthermore the roll-out to the probation service had to be abandoned, and probation officers will have read-only access to the files once the system is installed throughout the prison service. Ho.Ho.Ho.

Prisons minister, David Hanson, told MPs that a revised timetable for the roll out would be published in the spring. Three prisons are already using the system - which is what the Ministry of Justice website is still saying and the roll out timetable is unaccountably delayed.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of Napo, said, "The whole C-Nomis project appears to have been badly managed since its inception. It is arguably an outrageous waste of public money. As a consequence of the problems, probation staff will now have to use systems that are not fit for purpose." See also the story on the web based "Scope" anti terrorist system that is 5 years late.

The situation for probation officers was handily outlined in the House of Commons by David Hanson (Minister of State, Ministry of Justice) on 26th February in answer to a question from David Drew (Labour) ..

There are currently no arrangements in place for staff in probation areas to read or record offender management information directly to or from the prison NOMIS database.

Relevant offender information held on prison NOMIS is transferred between the prison and probation service staff using a system of jointly agreed offender management forms, secure e-mail and dedicated OM mailboxes.

The newly revised and deliverable NOMIS programme, will, through its constituent projects, provide a simple read-only database, that will allow staff in the community to have access to important information from prison NOMIS in support of offender management.
C-NOMIS was to replace Local Inmate Database System (Lids) , Tony Collins wrote in his CW Blog in March that ..."A study by the Prison Service's main IT supplier EDS has found that more than 30,000 (37%) offenders did not have a criminal records number, and more than 21,000 (26%) did not have a police national computer number. The database contains records with made-up surnames such as "self-harm", and 194 offenders with no surname at all. More than 1,500 records contain no nationality information. "

Later, on March 27th in his Blog he expanded with a piece " Errors in thousands of records in prisoner tracking system - internal EDS study" . This provides a lengthy and devastating anlysis of the problems with LIDS which Prison Service staff told him was due to be replaced in 1997.

Beyond the many problems of LIDS it also feeds further internal systems, data in Lids provides some raw data for the Offender Assessment and Sentence Management - OASys which is an aid to assess how likely an offender is to be reconvicted.

The Inmate Information System which helps control the bulging and ever expnding prison population of 83,000+ is based on overnight updates from the Lids system.

Transferring data from this crumbling system, must be a nightmare. Evidently the code must be ancient .. database fields designating nationality include the Soviet Union , dissolved in 1991, and for East and West Germany to be treated as separate countries as though the 1990 unificaton hadn't happened.

With such antique code it must be difficult to obtain people who can nurse it along - there is no career in honing up your skills in Fortran and Cobol.

In the context of this nightmare we have the fact that a PA consultant downloaded the complete LIDS database, which must have been to undertake some serious analysis of the accuracy and content of the curent system.

The Daily Telegraph today show that PA Consulting have received £240m for Government contracts in recent years including £100m by the Home Office for the ID card scheme and other work and £35m to work on new biometric visas for the Foreign Office.

Between 2004 and 2007 the company also picked up at least £31m from the Department for Work and Pensions, £20m from the Department for Communities and Local Government, £17m from the Ministry of Defence, £16m from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, £9m from the Department for Education and its successors and £3.5m from the Cabinet Office.

In short and from personal experience PA are a bright bunch with an impressive record.

The Daily Telegraph also disclose that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was last night under pressure to explain why the Home Office, which had known about the loss since Monday (18th), had not made it public for three days when a whistleblower intervened.

Which leaves one wondering how PA "lost" the memory stick and why a "whistelblower" so wanted the information in the public domain.

A member of staff has been suspended says a spokesman for PA Consulting, "We are collaborating with the Home Office very closely on this matter and we have no further comment to make."

The public have every reason to be concerned. Not that an unencrypted version of LIDS is on a memory stick.

The public and their MP's should be concerned that the overcrowded prisons, the understaffed Probation service, who have difficulty recruiting and keeping staff, are left to manage the prisons with such a failed system which is evidently, totally and completely "unfit for purpose".

It is evident that this is a problem, about which many people have been aware for a long time. The brou ha ha over the "lost" memory stick will of course deflect public attention away from the real problem, envelop discussion in a sub judice cloud of much beloved Home Office secrecy and provide the public with a dog to kick in the guise of overpaid fat cat consultants.

The origins of this shambles (to be fair to Jacqui Smith who inherited this toxic waste of public money) lies at the time when Sir John Gieve was Permanent Secretary, at the Home Office, enabling his boss to secure a visa for his mistress's au pair and producing accounts that the Auditor could not pass... who then went on to greater things overseeing the wreck of the Rock (costing at least £20 Bn, so far) whilst at the Bank of England from whence he has had an early bath.

The Russian Bear when provoked ....

It may not be unique but it is unusual to conduct foreign policy through the letter columns of the Daily Telegraph.

The letter from Yuri Fedotov, the Russian Ambassador in today's copy signifies the new and truimphant voice of Russia ,who have successfully confronted NATO, annexed Stalin's birthplace ,large chunks of the Black Sea coast, along with the major port of Poti and ensured control over the Baku - Tibilisi - Ceyhan pipeline (which has just been re-opened after the mysterious "fire" - see Friday August 8th 2008 PKK claim responsibility for Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline blast - although initial reports said it was an accident ).

Your leading article (“This is what Nato is for”, August 21) rightly points out that the current capabilities of the US missile system can be called into doubt. But it is certainly not “absurd” to suggest that the deal struck between America and Poland, as an integral component of the US global ballistic missile defence system, poses a real danger to Russia and its nuclear deterrent.

Radek Sikorski, Poland’s foreign minister, is certainly in no doubt about the potential of the system, stating this week that he “was sure the system will be developed, improved and upgraded”. Ultimately, the deal between America and Poland establishes a US military presence only 100 miles from Russian territory.

Given the huge investment of the US government in the missile defence project – $57.8 billion under the Bush administration alone – it is perfectly reasonable to expect the system’s capabilities to increase and diversify.

The West should consider whether establishing new military facilities and restating Cold War geographies is how it wishes to conduct international relations in the 21st century.

This is a thinly veiled threat. "The West" however configured and it's citizens would do well to ponder the words of Mr Fedatov , which of course are really those of Mr Putin.

It would be worth remembering that in February 2007 the dismantling of TNK:BP started after the Russian cabinet had launched a bill limiting foreign investors to ownership of no more than 49% of certain "strategic" sectors, including energy.

Shortly after Mr Fedatov told reporters that BP and Russian gas monopoly Gazprom were in the process of striking a deal over TNK:BP, (Russia's 3rd largest oil company and 1/4 of BP's global oil rserves)but would not rule out BP's 50% stake in the project being reduced. "I know that they're in the process of finding a deal that would be suitable to BP and Gazprom," Fedatov said at the time. "They're discussing different options and figures, and I would not want to preempt that. It's a commercial matter between two companies, which I hope will be resolved in a satisfactory manner."

Rosprirodnadzor, Russia's environmental protection agency discovered that TNK:BP had broken the terms of its license in Kovykta and had three months to remedy the violations. The helpful Mr Fedatov hinted in the friendliest way possible that threats of prosecution hanging over BP from Rosprirodnadzor may not emerge. "There is some kind of prosecution but I don't think it was final and I don't think it's something which should be over-dramatized," he said Friday. "A solution will be found," he added.

New readers may not be aware that BP are in bed with Mikhail Maratovich Fridman who runs Alfa Group, from whom BP bought half of Tyumen Oil for US$6.15 billion (who is also a member of the Council on Foreign relations) , Viktor Felixovich Vekselberg chairman of TNK who operates under his Remova Group (and bought for the State , Faberge eggs from the Forbes collection in 2004) , his pal American passport holder Leonard "Len" Blavatnik of Access Industries and German Khan who helps run TNK. They are said to have planned their move for seizing control of the 50% they don't currently own in the plush lounges of the Four Seasons Hotel near Limassol where menus are in Russian and the whores are from everywhere, in June.

BP have a long, complicated and bitter feud with these 4 and on July 5th BP lodged a claim in the High Court in London suing their Russian partners in the High Court in London over a $360m (£180m) tax claim.

The claim, alleges that BP is owed the sum under the terms of an agreement that was struck at the creation of the TNK-BP joint venture in 2003.

Tied in with this Vekselberg demanded the sacking of Robert Dudley, the chief executive of the joint venture and has threatened legal action against the three BP-appointed directors who sit on the management board, Steve Ridlington VP Finance & Treasury, Steve Truman and Peter Henshaw head of communications , if he isn't sacked.

The end result is that Mr. Dudley, who is a U.S. citizen, temporarily left Russia last month, citing "harassment" by Russia's authorities, and has been unable to return after the authorities failed to issue him a new visa.

He has now been banned from holding executive office in Russia, and has now written to senior officials, accusing the country's labour authorities of abusing their power.

The endgame is that BP (which is, since the take over of Amoco, basically an American company, despite the name) will be forced to surrender - as did Shell over Sakhalin and the gas (enough to supply the world for a year) from Kovykta will be shipped eventually to China by Gazprom.

As Mr Fedatov said in February when Oleg Mitvol, deputy chairman of Rosprirodnadzor started raising problems for TNK:BP, " "A solution will be found,"

A man of his word, Mr Fedatov.

Air Strikes in Afghanistan kill civilians .. and French soldiers. Bombing is addictive

ABC reported that Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said ;"We have inflicted heavy casualties," and added that the military had responded with air strikes that killed five Taliban and several civilians, he said.

ABC also noted . "that Taliban statements are not always accurate and the information could not be independently verified.

They also reported the deaths of ten French soldiers in an action in Sarobi district, about 50 kilometres east of the capital Kabul last Monday 18th August after a reported 100 Taliban attacked an almost equal number of French Isaf troops in the Uzbin Valley.

On the Wednesday following an air assault was called in to respond to an attack on troops operating in Laghman province, which adjoins the Sarobi area "During the operation, more than 30 militants were killed and a large cache of mortar rounds and IED [improvised explosive device] materials were destroyed by the commandos," the US military said in a statement.

They went on to say the attacks were called when the area was clear of women and children after about 200 civilians were seen fleeing, and there were no civilian casualties.

AP reported that "a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, Capt. Scott Miller, said the bombing was in the same area as the French attack but "it wasn't a retaliation." (who said it was ?)

"I think it goes to show there's a lot of bad guys out there," Miller said.

The coalition said 200 civilians fled the area before the airstrike. More than 30 militants were killed and one militant was wounded and taken for treatment after the clash, it said."

AP also reported "Abdullah Fahim, spokesman for the provincial health ministry, said 21 civilians were wounded, including eight women, eight men, and five children."

Al Jazeerah also reported on Thursday "French troops 'killed by Nato jets' " they also quote France's Le Monde newspaper who quoted French soldiers who had survived the ambush near Kabul on Monday saying they were hit in a "friendly fire" incident.

The soldiers told the newspaper they waited for four hours for back-up after being ambushed.

But when Nato planes finally arrived they hit French troops after missing their target, the newspaper quoted the soldiers as saying.

There are about 70,000 international troops, 40,000 of them with a Nato-led ISAF force, who are fighting alongside Afghan security forces against Taliban fighters whose government was removed in a US-led invasion in 2001.

AP say that more than 3,400 people — mostly militants — have been killed in insurgency-related violence this year, according to figures from Western and Afghan officials.

PS : An Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission researcher visited Azizabad — the village in Herat province where airstrikes took place early Thursday — and found 88 people had died, 15 houses were destroyed and others were damaged.

"Seventy-six people, all civilians and most of them women and children, were martyred," the interior ministry said late Friday. The dead were "19 women, seven men and the rest children all under 15 years of age," it said. Karzai's office said at least 70 civilians died.

Coalition forces make every effort to prevent the injury or loss of innocent lives. An investigation has been directed," said a coalition statement from the main US military base at Bagram, north of Kabul.

Such investigations take a long time - the coalition investigation into the strikes on the wedding party in the eastern province of Nangarhar on July 6th have still not been made public.

In that instance The Afghan government launched an investigation, sending a commission to look into the locals’ claims. Dr Borhanullah Shinwari, a member of the delegation, told IWPR that all those killed were innocent civilians.“We saw the scene of the incident,” he said. “There were no military men there.”

See also Alastair Leithead's BBC report Afghan survivors tell of wedding bombing 13th July..."Scattered around are chunks of twisted metal, blood stains and small fragments of sequinned and brightly decorated clothes - the material Afghan brides wear on their wedding day. "

Air Force - Daily Air Power reports have been discontinued, stopped, finished, ended...

Many readers must have read the post Tuesday, August 12, 2008 Bombing civilians from the air is addictive ... once you start you can't stop

They may have followed the link in the part of the story "In Afghanistan a total of 60 close-air-support missions were flown as part of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols. In following Air Link Daily reports for a long time this looks like a record daily number of missions."

A link which took them to daily "Air Power Summary" on the Air Force Link the website the US Air Force maintain as a promotional site explaining activities of every sort and in every branch of the massive organisation.

Curiously, even though there has been this daily report since the start (at least) of Operation Iraqi Freedom ..... there hasn't been one since August 10th.

Friday, August 22, 2008

David Davies rentagob for the Today programme - umasked

The BBC have a shock horror story online about how someone from PA consulting had a memory lapse and lost their memory stick which contained un-encrypted details about 10,000 prolific offenders as well as names, dates of births and some release date of all 84,000 prisoners in England and Wales - and 33,000 records from the police national computer.

If you are quick you can listen to the Today programme recording of Ms Montgomery mistaking David Davies Conservative MP for David Davis MP. ex Conservative front bench Shadow Home Secretary.

Seems reflexive perhaps for anyone at the BBC to assume that they are talking to the man who re-elected himself with the help of the shadowy folks*** a Total Politics, Liberty, Fleishman-Hillard Inc.,

****Iain Dale, blogiste, wannabe Conservative MP and it appears "Publisher" of Total Politics, plus Paddy Pantsdown , Hi Pooh Bah at one time of Bosnia and long term MI6 agent, and joined by felloe Liberal and leadership contender Chris Huhne . The spooky Ian Denis McShane of shifting nationality, name and alliances. The night time caller of David Davies (ex MP) , would be litigant of Andy Burnham the lissome ex Home Office lawyer, doe eyed scarf adjusting Shami Chakrabarti all appeared on the previous website as major names behind this project (whose funding seems somewhat unclear - well totally opaque) .

Not forgetting Guto Hari former BBC correspondent who had just joined Fleishman-Hillard Inc., one of the world's biiggest PR agencies whose junior staff member staff Paul Borge quietly registered David Davis's website and rather rapidly switched it to DD when unmasked by blogiste (unmentioned by the incurious press / TV) but roundly criticised by the teenage hooligans who "comment" on Guido's website.

The National Trust - home of endangered species ?

April may be the cruellest month but August , despite the Olympics and Russians behaving badly contains a lot of slow news days. Just the time for the National Trust to beguile the leisured middle classes and their chhildren into a day out, to spot a native (or not so native) rarity.

First up, a modest snail from Italy found by a specialist volunteer cleaning the Cliveden statuary who took his find to a snail expert at his local archaeological society and it is supposed that it came over with the original marble balustrade from the Villa Borghese. The BBC and many other news hungry editors managed to squeeze in Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw , Charlie Chaplin , Nancy Astor, Jack Profumo, Christine Keeler and even England and Liverpool footballer Stephen Gerrard who married there last year.

Remote and lovely Wicken Fen with it's own excellent website is also the home of a striking beetle which even Charles Darwin found as a student at Cambridge and now re-discovered by Stuart Warrington, the National Trust Nature Conservation Advisor who says this is the rarest species he has ever seen.The BBC pick up from the National Trust Press release.

We have to thank Matt Zeale PhD Bristol University ,part of a team , set up by Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA), the Woodland Trust and the National Trust to use an acoustic lure - the Autobat - see below , which play back the bats' calls and attract them into a net, in their search for the Barbastelle bat. In this they were successful ,but Matt also discovered the rarer tree living crepuscular Lepidoptera and Dermaptera munching Bechstein's bat Myotis bechsteinii.

More here from Bristol University including a recording of the echolocation call - duration 2.54 milliseconds and normally at an average 50 kHz way below human hearing. There has been discussion that the echolocation signals emitted not only locate prey but also identify the individual / colony. There are apparently only two colonies in Switzerland and Zurich University researchers have found that they can move 50 times in a season and appear to be able to communicate between each other about site locations. News about them from Hampshire here.

The Daily Telegraph has a story in January this year about the plans for using this synthesiser - - called an Autobat - which emits 'social sounds' designed to lure inquisitive Bechstein's bats into a harmless trap. It was designed by leading bat experts Dr David Hill and Frank Greenaway at Sussex University.

Helen Miller, Bechstein's Bat Project Officer at the Bat Conservation Trust, said: "The project will give us detailed data for the Bechstein's bat for the first time, which will make an enormous difference by informing our conservation work for this species. It will also leave a legacy of trained, enthusiastic volunteers who can help keep track of the Bechstein's bat in the long term to help ensure their survival."

There are 7 bat species , including Bechstein's, that the Government have identified as priority species under its Biodiversity Action Plans scheme, a project that aims to halt biodiversity loss by 2010.

Who Bechstein was, after whom the bat was named appears as elusive as the bat.

Although not promoted the National Trust have been involved in helping protect the Large Blue Butterflies which have been controversially introduced into the wild from imported populations.

Wild populations could be seen in June / July at Collard Hill, near Street Somerset.

Placing of the Rump

Bradford & Bingley plc have kindly informed us about the "Placing of the Rump" ... this is not some arcane Masonic ritual, or a game at Eton, once enjoyed by he Conservative Opposition Front Bench but relates to the desperate attempt to drum up some wonga for the beleaguered building society whose shares trade today @51.5 p , nearly 10% below the recent Rights issue and traded at nearly 400p a year ago.

"The Company announces that the Underwriters have informed the Company that they are of the opinion that it is unlikely that any subscribers can be procured at a price per New Share which is at least equal to the Issue Price of 55 pence per New Share and the expenses of procuring subscribers (including any applicable brokerage and commissions and amounts in respect of value added tax) by 4:30 p.m. on 22 August 2008. "

The Underwriters and sub-underwriters are now obliged to subscribing for the remaining 597,263,479 New Shares, representing approximately 72.16% of the total number of New Shares offered to Shareholders, at the Issue Price of 55 pence per New
Share. This is known in the City as the "Pouring money down a Black Hole".

It now appears that The Underwriters are in a 20 day lock-up agreement under which they have agreed not to dispose of the 426,698,729 shares they now have, an agreement which will terminate in the event that the Company enters into an offer period (as defined in the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers).

All that is left is for the first half disastrous results to appear on August 29th.

The best that can be hoped for is that the depositors form an orderly queue as they close their accounts.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

WTC 7 NIST report says it burned down due to out of control debris fires

The US Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced the results today of their, three-year scientific and technical building and fire safety investigation into the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11 - which has intrigued many observers.

The fall of the 47-story World Trade Center building 7 (WTC 7) was "primarily due to fires," and "was the first known instance of fire causing the total collapse of a tall building". No shit Sherlock!.

"“Heating of floor beams and girders caused a critical support column to fail, initiating a fire-induced progressive collapse that brought the building down.” Appartently ..."temperatures “hundreds of degrees below those typically considered in current practice for fire resistance ratings." induced thermal expansion which played a "key role". Philadelphia's One Meridian Plaza, a 38-story skyscraper that burned for 18 hours in 1991, did not collapse due to ..."differences in the design of the structural system. "

“Video and photographic evidence combined with detailed computer simulations show that neither explosives nor fuel oil fires played a role in the collapse of WTC 7,” Apparently from the Q&A sheet supplied the fires were of "debris" which "burned out of control." , th sprinklers failed to work because the city water main had been cut. Which debris burned for six hours ?

Well that's what NIST WTC Lead Investigator Shyam Sunder told the press when introducing the long awaited report .Plus 3 videos ( with sub titles for the hard of understanding )you can see here

NIST found that the impact of debris from the collapse of WTC 1 ignited fires on at least 10 floors of WTC 7, and the fires burned out of control on six lower floors. The heat from these uncontrolled fires caused thermal expansion of the steel beams on the lower floors of the east side of WTC 7, damaging the floor framing on multiple floors. Eventually, a girder on Floor 13 lost its connection to a critical interior column that provided support for the long floor spans on the east side of the building. The displaced girder and other local fire-induced damage caused Floor 13 to collapse, beginning a cascade of floor failures down to the fifth floor. Many of these floors had already been at least partially weakened by the fires in the vicinity of the critical column. This collapse of floors left the critical column unsupported over nine stories.

“When this critical column buckled due to lack of floor supports, it was the first domino in the chain,” Sunder explained. “What followed in rapid succession was a progression of structural failures. Failure first occurred all the way to the roof line—involving all three interior columns on the most eastern side of the building. Then, progressing from east to west across WTC 7, all of the columns in the core of the building failed. Finally, the entire façade collapsed.”

If you want to comment on the report you have 3 whole weeks until noon Eastern Daylight Time on Sept.15, 2008. The draft and recommendation is available online http://wtc.nist.gov

Comments (instructions for submission are available at http://wtc.nist.gov/ can be submitted via:

e-mail to wtc@nist.gov;
fax to (301) 869-6275; or
surface mail to WTC Technical Information Repository, Attn: Stephen Cauffman, NIST, 100 Bureau Dr., Stop 8611, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-8610.

Better minds, sharper brains, skilled engineers, sceptical demolition men will take some time to plough through this.

We are struck by the ruse of getting the defence in first...

"WTC 7 did not enter free fall. According to NIST analysis of WTC 7 video, the building collapsed 18 stories in 5.3 seconds. If the building exhibited free fall, this process would have taken just 3.9 seconds. The actual collapse time exceeded the free fall time by 40 percent."

There is also a wonderful explanation about why thermite wasn't used ... and why in three years they examined no physical evidence.

If you believe that ....

The building was empty ... a useful precaution as the BBC warned everyone 20 minutes before it fell that ... er ... it had already fallen.

Toffs on horses caught doping their mounts in Hong Kong

Lord Patel in his youth worked for Robert Jackson who founded the North Wales Mountain Zoo. An abiding lesson was, as Bob said, "The devil has hooves and anything with hooves has the devil in it" ... resulting in a lifelong dread and fear of ungulates such as goats, sheep, cows and especially horses.

A recent dose of shingles and what we doctors now call postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), left him with a crippling condition characterized by chronic burning, shooting, aching, tearing, nagging, jabbing or lancing pain , this can be reduced (it is said) by the topical application (ie on the skin) of capsaicin (derived from chilli peppers) in 0.025% solution. It is said to deplete substance P, which is a mediator for pain impulses. (?)

For this purpose it is not only used by grumpy blogistes but is also used in horses , however the use of capsaicin as a medication is banned in Olympic and probably other such show jumping events.

This magical substance , can have hypersensitising effects (?) or act as a pain relief that, in both cases, can improve the performance of the horse as they clatter very painfully over the fences. The riders don't feel a thing - except the humiliation and embarassment of being found out cheating.

As a result of finding residues (which it has hitherto beeen difficult to detect as it disappears quickly from the horse's systems) in 4 horses in the Hong Kong makey uppey ,horsey horsey Olympic events - Ireland's Denis Lynch, riding Lantinus, Norway's Tony Andre Hansen on Camiro, who had led the individual standings after 3 rounds. Brazil's Bernardo Alves on Chupa Chup and Germany's Christian Ahlmann on Coster have all been banned.

The German teams veterinary surgeon Dr. Björn Nolting explains that capscaicin " .. has primarily a blood circulation-promoting effect".

Lynch who rides individually because the Ireland team did not qualify, who had jumped 3 clear rounds, admits using a product called Equi-block, which contains capsaicin, on his horse.

If the horses' B sample tests (expected pronto from The Hong Kong Jockey Club who lead the field in equine drug-testing - Friday, 22 August, at 10 o'clock ) confirm their A samples, their countries will be disqualified from the team show jumping, which took place on Monday.

The announcement throws into doubt the medal order of that competition as Norway won a bronze medal with 27 points , so Switzerland with 30 points would/will move up and GB with 37 points will move up from 7th to 6th, or if Germany who were 5th are expelled, to 5th place.

In the Athens Olympics Germany's Ludger Beerbaum was disqualified when his mount Goldfever 3, tested positive for the steroid betamethasone. The use of Betamethasone in horses may be detected for up to three days in urine, albeit at very low concentrations. He finally lost an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in May 2005. As a result the International Equestrian Federation stripped Germany of the title, and gave the gold to the United States. Sweden moved up to silver and Germany dropped to bronze.

Beerbaum has denied cheating, saying the substance was in an ointment used to treat a skin irritation on the horse.

The Irishman Cian O'Connor was also stripped of his individual gold medal on Waterford Crystal, he decided not to appeal and Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa received the Athens Olympic Gold medal for the individual show jumping event in September 2005. As a result, Chris Kappler of the United States moved up to the Silver medal and Marco Kutscher of Germany got the Bronze - the team mate of Ludger Berrman on the DZ Bank show jumping team.

It's a fair assumption given the highly stifled response from the horsey types that drug use is as prevalent in their sports as field athletics, thanks to the Hong Kong Jockey Clib the offenders have been caught with their trousers down. Not ideal when dealing with horses.

Bit of a mystery why the owner / riders aren't banned as athletes are.

Betamethasone is related to triamcinolone acetonide which was found in Morgan Hamm the US gymnast before the US championships's for which he received a very nasty slap across the wrist - Thursday, July 10, 2008 Hamm Bros. Jumping through the Olympic rings

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Statoil shutdown some UK North Sea gas supplies - gas and electricity, spot and future prices rise > 15%

The announcement from Statoil, Norway's State oilco today was very down beat ;

During a routine inspection, a small leak was discovered in the gas pipeline between the Kvitebjørn platform and the Kollsnes gas treatment facility outside Bergen.
However the leak has appeared at the same place (about km from the Kvitebjørn platform ) where the pipeline was dragged out of position by a ship's anchor last autumn. Plans were being prepared for a permanent repair next spring. The Kvitebjørn project is a gas condensate field located east in the Tampen area in the northern part of the North Sea the field is said to have at the end of 2007 reserves of 75 BnSm3 and recoverable reserves of 63 BnSm3. Production in 2007 was reduced due to scheduled repairs Statoil can expect to lose some 7-8 Bn Sm3 of production during the shutdown. (UK annual consumption 90BnSm3) Financial Times

Whilst Statoil can re-supply customers from other sources (StatoilHydro had been buying up large volumes of gas on the U.K. market today to make up for the outage.) it has had an immediate effect on gas prices and UK spot and futures for winter supplies shot up nearly 15 % to 103.00 pence per therm today, reaching the peak price in June which have since declined with the decline in the oil price. CNN claim electricity prices rose 15% to £100 a megawatt hour.

As gas forms a major part of the electricity baseload this will impact on electricity prices.

To handle the immediate problems turnaround operations are presently being carried out at Kvitebjørn and Kollsnes and pipeline pressure has been reduced - slowing leakage . The pipeline will be further depressurized and emptied via flaring at Kollsnes.

The Visund platform also normally utilises the Kvitebjørn pipeline for gas export, but has reinjected gas during the turnaround at Kvitebjørn and Kollsnes. Oil production from Visund is being maintained, but at a somewhat lower level than usual.

Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), figures show that Kvitebjoern was due to produce 6.1 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas during 2008 and 23,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). The associated Visund field which will be hit produced 3.5 Bn Sm3 in Jan / June 2008 so a 9 month shutout of both fields could easily be 7-8 BnSm3.

NPD figures also show that North Sea continental shelf production of gas Jan/June 08was 51 Bn Sm3 up 7.2 Bn Sm3 (16 %) from 43.9 Bn Sm3 Jan/June last year.

This relatively trivial problem shows the multiplier effects unique to the UK ;

1. Increasing dependence on imports of gas (40% this year up from 27% last year)
2. Very limited storage facilities of gas, 2 -3 weeks at most
3. Impact of gas on electricity prices
4. Difficulty of replacing lost supplies
5. Increased costs to industry
6. Unpopular retail price increases especially for the heat sensistive elderly and Scots

Memories of Thursday, February 28, 2008 Bacton Gas Explosion - immediate gas price rise in UK of 18% . It is also worth noting this news item from earlier this month.. "Companies using Britain's Rough facility to store gas on an interruptible basis must take it out from Aug. 9 th so customers holding firm storage rights can get more in said Centrica. Britain's largest gas storage site (80% of UK capacity and can supply 10 % of average daily winter demand) , which lies under the North Sea off the east coast of England, was 93 % full on Monday 4th August and only shippers who have paid for guaranteed storage rights will be able to inject more into it after Aug. 9 and until further notice, Centrica said.

When there was a fire on a platform in February 2006 Rough storage was shutdown which pushed prices up for some time and caused considerable problems for high volume users in UK industry.

PS : The direct effect of gas prices can be seen multiplied by global warming. The barley barons of East Anglia are harvesting very wet grains which have to be dried with gas having doubled in cost since last year - current cost is £5 a tonne. Wheat is now (Chicago) US$8.74 a bushel (35.74 to a tonne) = £174. Futures are being quoted in the high US$9.80 's for the whole of next year.

A good article about the Norwegian pipeline is here.

We should feel flattered.

Last week we posted Tuesday, August 12, 2008 Marine Wave Energy electricity generation - a painfully slow development - in which the Scots have a lead and now somebody kindly points out that the Sunday Times August 17th Wave power all at sea until tide turns by Richard Wilson covers the same territory and heavily emphasises Scots efforts in this area.

Uncannily like Sunday, March 19, 2006 Rupes Rags catch up on the Lottery scandal in which the Sunday Times had taken the stories about the Duke of Buccleuch's Buccleuch Energy Systems getting 1/2 Mn from the Lottery, Burbo Bank in Liverpool Bay wind farm collected £10Mn from a post Tuesday, October 25, 2005 Droit de seigneur

At least they are keeping up to date on latest developments.

PS : The Leonardo Da Vinci painting "Madonna with the Yarnwinder, "stolen from Drumlanrig Castle in a daring daylight raid in August 2003, claimed by the family to be worth £80 Mn,was recovered by Detective Chief Inspector Mickey Dalgleish in a daring raid in Glasgow.

This was one month after the 9th Duke died aged 83 although mysteriously it is now only worth US$60 Mn and apparently is one of several versions of the same scene painted between 1500 and 1510 and is probably a work of one of da Vinci's assistants. Let's hope the value wasn't overstated when they claimed on the insurance.

Buccleuch Bionergy have now also formed after a joint investment this June with Caledon Green, - Caledon Buccleuch Ltd., still happily selling on the Austrian Kohlbach wood chip fired boilers.

Caledon Green are an interesting new outfit started by leading property development expert Iain Wotherspoon. He also founded Kilmartin, one of Scotland’s biggest property firms who acquired the Amerdale Group in a deal that will result in a £100 million expansion into Europe in September 2007. Kilmartin will also acquire Amerdale’s London-based investment management fund.

In early 2007, Iain Wotherspoon sold 50% of Kilmartin to HBOS in a deal thought to value the company at £75 million. HBOS is a long-standing financial supporter of Kilmartin, which has a development programme worth £1.1 billion and has been a keen investor in commercial and residential property. Let's hope that HBOS whose shares are worth 25% of their market price in early 2007 made a good investment.

HBOS raised £4Bn but only 8% was taken up by shareholders ..."Having successfully obtained £4bn of fresh capital, this makes HBOS the best capitalized of any major UK bank and one of the best capitalized in Europe," said a spokesman.

Let's hope none of those massive writedowns involved Kilmartin or any of Mr Wotherspoon's extensive interests in Scotland.

C.A.T. oil AG heading for the door marked Exit ?


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Psst - wanna buy a (very) short range supersonic fighter ...er, well it's dropped one bomb so far ..aircraft that's taken 20 years to design , build .

UK tries to offload Typhoon fighters

The Financial Times has a most extraordinary story today - in trying to deal with a looming £2 Bn deficit - say 1/9th of the taxpayer funded "loans" that have gone down a Black Hole on the Tyne - are hawking around the Typhoon / Eurofighters the MOD have "ordered but can no longer afford." see post Saturday, May 17, 2008 Typhoon production to be halted, one carrier scrapped. see also Thursday, November 22, 2007 Typhoon Order faces Axe - Exclusive

Please note there is as yet no commitment (and probbly no money) for the Joint Strike Fighter which will litter the decks of the 2 mega aircraft carriers just commissioned.

Bae will exact severe financial penalties for cancelling or cutting Tranche three which everybody at Bae Warton has known for months will never be built. see Wednesday, April 02, 2008 Typhoon Tranche 1 final deliveries made - contract decisions loom for Tranche 3

India , Japan and Saudi are touted as likely prospects but unlikely buyers .

The Eurofighter contract, designed by lawyers to discourage countries such as Germany from cutting back orders, is written so tightly that it would be almost as cheap to take delivery of the aircraft as to incur the penalties.

To date the Eurofighter has dropped 1 (one) bomb , and that was when accompanied by a second plane that "lit" the target. Wednesday, November 21, 2007 RAF Typhoon drops bomb in sea off Wales. They can fire rockets, but fully loaded the already short range is dramatically reduced, as is the aerobatic peformance. The German machine gun is installed but will never be used.

There have been several cases of the nose wheel , which is under software control, failing to emerge when landing. Thursday, May 01, 2008 Typhoon crash - software fails.....again

Iraq non compete , short term, unprofitable, oil "technical support" deals with oil majors fall apart as Vagit watches and waits

We told how our friend Vagit Alekperov was accompanied by the chess playing Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov and got to see President al-Maliki and Jalal Talibani to make "good business" .. the result of years of patient persuasion by Vagit. Thursday, March 27, 2008 LUKoil revive and seal a deal with Maliki and Talibani for Western Qurna-2 field - Russia writes off US$12 Bn debt to Saddam see also for a little history 22/03/04 Oil is not well in Iraq "I'n'I...

"Last week, 15/3/04 - LUKOIL's chief executive Vagit Alekperov met Iraq's Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum who has said that oil companies of different countries should do business in Iraq. According to him, talks with LUKoil were held in December 2003. During their March 11th meeting in Baghdad, they signed a deal to train Iraqi oil industry employees and students. 40 Iraqi students will study in Russia's I.M. Gubkin Oil and Gas University. Their numbers will increase to 100 students in 2005."

Things however got a bit clouded in March this year when it became apparent that al-Maliki was also negotiating six no-bid, short-term technical support contracts with international oil firms, worth about $500 million each, aimed at quickly boosting production by a combined 500,000 barrels a day.

These were supposed to be the 1st Phase for developing the industry and should have been signed by now with Royal Dutch Shell , Shell in partnership with BHP Billiton , BP , Exxon Mobil Chevron and Total plus a consortium of smaller firms Anadarko with Vitol and Dome (already active in Kurdistan North Iraq) .

Just by the by, in 1995 Vitol signed a deal with a Serbian company, Orion, to sell thousands of tonnes of oil to the former Yugoslavia. Senior Tory Alan Duncan was a consultant with Vitol when they paid $1 million to the Serbian war criminal Arkan to settle a score over a secret oil deal to supply Slobodan Milosevic's Serbia with fuel. see Chris Paul Monday, July 21, 2008 Breaking News: Karadzic Captured, Arkan-Vitol-Duncan

More by the by , Vitol pleaded guilty in November 2007 to a larceny charge in connection with a scheme to pay secret kickbacks to the Iraqi government in exchange for oil under the United Nations'oil-for-food(OFF) .Vitol agreed to pay restitution of US$13 million (€8.8 million) to the Development Fund for Iraq and to make a payment of US$4.5 million (€3 million) to the city and state of New York.

At the same time Chevron Corp. also agreed to pay US$30 million (€20.2 million) to settle civil and criminal charges related to secret surcharges paid by third-party merchants in exchange for oil under the program.

Now surprise, surprise , today, Charles Ries, coordinator for Iraq's economic transition at the U.S. embassysince last July says that the Iraq Government on present form probably won't proceed with most of these deals or even all of them. Charles said on July 17th at a junket in Abu Dhabi .."Developing Iraq’s economy depends on unlocking the potential of its petroleum sector, which currently accounts for nearly 70 percent of Iraq’s gross domestic product and 85 percent of government revenues. " Quick of him to notice.

Ries is on record saying that Anadarko and some of its partners have already walked away from talks over their deal, the first to apparently fall through.

He apparently says to anyone listening that the oil majors were at best lukewarm to the idea of the short-term contracts which "were never going to be hugely lucrative," but some had been pursuing them in the hope of building a long-term relationship with Iraq's Oil Ministry.

MOD electronic sniffers to improve battlefield sensing and awareness ?

This is SATURN (although SATAN may be a better name), it is the winning entry in the “Grand Challenge” competition, launched by the MoD in 2006 to produce a vehicle capable of identifying threats encountered by UK troops on current operations.

Entrants could be autonomous flying or ground vehicles capable of identifying threats such as marksmen, vehicles mounted with heavy weapons, IED's, roadside bombs and armed militia.

Team Stellar led by Julia Richardson,representing members Stellar Services Ltd, Blue Bear Systems, Cranfield University, SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems Ltd, TRW Conekt, and Marshall Specialist Vehicles - who make Bomb Disposal Robots and remote controlled diggers, finally beat off six finalists (out of 23 original entries) to win the R J Mitchell trophy (he designed the Spitfire) . This is described as integrated system with one high flying and one mini UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), and a UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle) with a control station fusing data from visual, thermal and radar sensors.

Baroness and ex MP Ann Taylor was ecstatic .. "It is this type of vision and dedication which makes the United Kingdom a world leader in science and technology." she said and then carried on .. "in universities, schools and even garden sheds across the nation."

Team Swarm consisting of Swarm Systems, the University of Essex, the University of Surrey, Orrcam, Ardware and Scazon was awarded the prize for the “most innovative idea” after designing a multiple autonomous quadrator (flat helicopter with four rotors) called Owls, capable of flying in swarms, allowing them to view the area from all angles using high resolution visual cameras.

Team Thales despite their name had a solid academic base University of Reading, the University of Bristol, CARVEC, Ryland Research and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEMNET), which included three schools Chilton Trinity Technology College, Woking High and Amersham School.

They were awarded a prize for “best use of national talent” for their use of a mini helicopter fitted with daylight and thermal imaging technology alongside two custom built ground vehicles.

Will they be sniffing out the Taliban or nests of Russian Spetnatz troops in Georgia in the Ukraine any time soon... ? Well they don't look really battle ready yet Sir.

Meanwhile can we have some more helicopters ...and a few trained pilots, crews, mechanics ? New troop transport aircraft and tankers to replace the 42 year old ones we struggle with, maybe some armoured land rovers, the new Nimrod AIWACS to replace the 37 year old ones we daren't re-fuel ... and possibly a clear idea what the fuck we are doing in Basra and Helmand.

PS : For those interested there is a fascinating site run by amateur UAV enthusiasts here .. here is a pic from Thomas in France from his UAV ... a good Picasa public library of his pics is here.

Here is an unexpected use of UAV's during the Olympics

State sponsored terrorism is OK, Freelance terrorism is not

Hammaad "UK's youngest terrorist" Munshi, was 16 and taking his GCSEs when he was arrested. Munshi, now 18, was convicted of making a record of information likely to be useful in terrorism following a three-month trial at Blackfriars Crown Court in London.

The teenager was remanded in custody until sentencing at the Old Bailey on 19 September when, Judge Timothy Pontius warned, it was "inevitable" that he would be jailed.

He had detailed instructions about making napalm, other high explosives, detonators and grenades, and "how to kill", the court heard.

Jurors were told that Munshi circulated technical documents detailing how to make napalm, detonators and how to produce different home-made explosives.aware of what their children are doing, as well as giving them a sound understanding of Islam."

Munshi was tried with two other members of the cell. Khan, 23, from Bradford, was convicted of possessing articles for a purpose connected with terrorism. Sultan Muhammad, 23, from Manningham, Bradford, was convicted of similar charges after a step-by-step guide to making a suicide vest was found in his possession, along with some of the most extreme terrorist videos ever recovered by British police. A fourth man, Ahmed Sulieman, 30, of south London, was cleared of all four charges against him.

Speaking after yesterday's guilty verdicts, Det Chf Supt John Parkinson, the head of the Leeds counter-terrorism unit, said: "Let there be no doubt, these are dangerous individuals. These men were not simply in possession of material which expressed extremist views. They were also in possession of material that was operationally useful to anyone wishing to carry out an act of violence or terrorism."

While they had not actively planned terrorist acts themselves, he added, they "sought to incite others for terrorist purposes, promoting al-Qa'ida ideology and training programmes".

Munshi will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 19 September. Khan and Muhammad will be sentenced today.

Well it's a good job they didn't go here and download CIA PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS IN GUERRILLA WARFARE -A tactical manual for the revolutionary. First published by the Central Intelligence Agency and distributed to the Contras in Central America.

Which contains a lot of useful tips for the wannabe warrior on the mean streets of Leeds. ....

3. Implicit and Explicit Terror
A guerrilla-armed force always involves implicit terror because the population, without saying it aloud, feels terror that the weapons may be used against them. However, if the terror does not become explicit, positive results can be expected.

5. Selective Use of Violence for Propagandistic Effects
It is possible to neutralize carefully selected and planned targets, such
as court judges, mesta judges, police and State Security officials, CDS chiefs, etc. For psychological purposes it is necessary to gather together the population affected, so that they will be present, take part in the act, and formulate accusations against the oppressor.

Six days before the 2nd Presidential debate between President Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale, on October 15th 1984 the Associated Press reported that the CIA had written a manual for the contras, entitled Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (Operaciones sicolóogicas en guerra de guerillas).

The 90 page book of instructions focused mainly on how "Armed Propaganda Teams" could build political support within Nicaragua for the contra cause through deceit, intimidation, and violence.
The CIA manual discussed assassinations. The CIA claimed that the purpose of the manual was to "moderate" activities already being done by the Contras.

Emily Freeman through 1st Round / 2nd Round 200 metres and into the Semi Finals

Emily Freeman - Monday, July 14, 2008 Emily Freeman runs superb 200metres for GB team place in Peking beats muscle mass and definition of Christine Ohuruogu has competed in the first round of the 200 metres and came second in Heat 4 with 22.95.

She runs in the second round this afternoon but Allyson "Chicken Legs" Felix 23.02 and Muna Lee 22.71 ( 5th in 100m final) of the USA look very very good..as did the Jamaicans, reigning champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, (100m ilver)23.04 and Kerron Stewart 23.03.

The tall Russian 22-year-old Juliya Chermoshanskaya 22.98 looks a likely girl as well and beat Olympic champion, Irina Privalova in July.

Emily is a beautiful runner - whom the BBC dismiss - she needs support - shout at your television. VERY LOUD.
Round 2 - HeatS 1 - 4 1900 to 1921 Peking time which is 1200-1221 UK BST.

UPDATE : Semi Finals 2.55 adnd 3.05 UK BST BBC TV Wednesday.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Georgia - Putin and "Mineral Natural Resources In The Development Strategy For The Russian Economy." just another brick in the wall

Keith Johnson at Wall Street Journal Bloggers poses the question today - is the stand off in Georgia a "wake up call" ? Will it wake the dozy people in Washington to "get real" about energy security in a piece today , From Russia With Love: Could Georgia Fight Boost Global Energy Supply?

Conventional wisdom (an idea of JK Galbraith whose son was US Ambassador to Yugolsavia and was a silent but successful proponent of Serbian ethnic cleansing by General Gotovina and then the 79 days of bombing of Belgrade and it's environs by Wesley Clark etc.,) says that Russia's military incursion into Georgia was an extension of their “energy imperialism” - leaving out as everyone armchair generalist seems to, the symbolic capture of the birthplace of the Father of all the Russias ol 'Uncle Joe. Tuesday, November 21, 2006 Russian gas supply problems loom over Europe.... Sunday, November 19, 2006 Gazprom / LUKoil - Russian energy gets to grips with Europe

This conventional wisdom says the Russkis don't like challenges to their energy hegemony. Such as the BTC pipeline . Their muscular response is said to end any Western hopes of expecting other Central Asian countries to stand up to Moscow. see Wednesday, August 15, 2007 Russia / China join in Anti-American Summit and Wargames, Bishkek

Johnson poses the idea that Russian tanks (whom we saw riding roughshod over Georgian Police vehicles blocking their path on the TV news tonight) , their Black Sea gunships, their ballbreaking diplomacy could galvanize the West into seriously getting their act together on a plan for energy security?

Frankly No.

Europe has woken up to a growing dependence on Russian gas. The “Nabucco,” pipeline from the Caspian to Austria is yet another project to be argued over, dithered about, funding sought .....

Italy and Spain and to some extent France get a lot of gas from Algeria where the Russians have effectively won a lot of control and influence ..Looking further to Libya they will find Gazprom is one step ahead , muscling in with long term deals on Tripoli. Putin visited Tripoli in April this year with Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller - Gadaffi got his debt written off, cocked a snook at the Yanquis and has a deal to ship his 1.49 trillion cubic metres of natural gas, lifting up production (and income) from current annual production of just 7 billion cublic metres.. plus lots of other deals, railways and ..er... arms modernization and new weapons programme.. see Kommersant Aug 1st for the cordial relations Putin/Gadaffi ***

Where Gazprom isn't, Vagit Alekperov of LUKoil has been stitching up an empire for Mother Russia (see posts ad nauseum since March 2003 when we marched to Baghdad) see Sunday, March 18, 2007 Russian Roulette in the Middle East - Putin stirs up the hornet's nest

The Georgian conflict could mean redoubling support for Nabucco from Washington stiffening the spine of wavering allies.

As if.

The Putin game plan was no secret, is no secret, it was his Doctorate thesis - "Mineral Natural Resources In The Development Strategy For The Russian Economy." Step by step it has been allowed to take place. see Friday, January 18, 2008 Putin and his gang extend energy interests and ownership . People like Senator Lugar at Riga over 18 months ago gave a wake up call, but he was perhaps not blowing hard enough on his trumpet.

Far from a "wake up call", more of a lullaby for the Pentagon planners.

...get ready Europe, to be paying more for your gas this winter.

If anyone in Washington requires a belated wake up call they can usefully examine a post over 2 1/2 years ago Thursday, February 16, 2006 Putin's team consolidates which ended...

Marx's pamphlet the "Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte" demonstrates how the class struggle in France forced Napoleon to create himself as head of a state run by the security organs and the bureaucracy.

"Bonapartism" has been used to describe a government that forms when a military, police, and state bureaucracy intervenes to establish order.

Putin is forming a Board of Directors composed of friends and work colleagues, who set the agenda for Russian energy policy and in fact control the country's vast energy resources.

Their influence should not be underestimated.

Their activities should be carefully observed in the West. The recent spat over Ukraine gas supplies emphasises that these guys play hardball.
Read it to see how we have got where we are ... how Europe and the West get out of it ... well that is another story.

**** Gazprom also have plans to ship Nigerian gas northward across the Sahara to a port terminal in Algeria, or Libya. Nigeria has an estimated 5 trillion cm in gas reserves, and currently ships by sea to Europe and the US. It might be said by some observers that the seemingly ageless Gadaffi and youthful Putin make a formidable combination with their mailed fist on the tap of southern Europe's gas supply.

UPDATE : 1 .Popular search term used on Putin's interests here
2. NATO Meet today to ...well.. meet .. to er discuss what they might say about the situation in Georgia. ..Daily Telegraph "Condoleezza Rice to hold emergency Nato meeting over Russia's stance on Georgia" ...Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security advisor, has described Russia's invasion as "a very sad commentary on eight years of self-delusion in the White House regarding Putin and his regime". John Tusa remembers the "Prague Spring"

Richard Pym ex A&L skips to B&B and increases salary/ benefits x 2.5

Bradford & Bingley plc have kindly told us that Richard Pym is now the CEO with immediate effect - apparently stooping down to pick up a guaranteed £2.25m for the next 10 months' work. . We last wrote of him in October when he was the popsie put forward by J C Flowers as CEO of Northern Wreck before they saw the books and pulled out sharpish. see Friday, October 26, 2007 Northern Rock - BOE Borrowings now exceed £25 Bn. and rising - Is there an alternative to calling in the administrators ?

He was of course CEO of Alliance and Leicester plc before his dramatic departure in February 2007 "Alliance & Leicester chief in surprise exit as profits rise" Independent when the share price was £11.49 and is today struggling along at 350p having hit 220 at one stage in June before Bank Santander announced their takeover.

Pym will be remembered for his high handed method of dealing with the Mail on Sunday's questioning the A & L's "redemption administration charge " - the fee charged if borrowers left A & L for another lender. A&L first introduced a single administration fee of £195 from 5 January 2004 called the Early Closure Administration Charge and this fee was increased in August 2004 to £295. This was the highest of any lender (at the time Northern Wreck were close behind charging £250) and even x3 of some lenders - the FSA considered a maximum charge could be £200.

At least one person who objected to paying was refunded in full having threatened to go to the small claims court. Go here for instructions to obtain repayment if you have been charged such a fee.

Mail on Sunday wrote to Mr Pym after Mortgages director Stephen Leonard refused to talk about the charge and asked why it was so high.

Mr Pym evaded answering the question: 'You have focused on one fee, but a mortgage comprises a range of fees. We believe that the key issue for customers is overall value.'

As a token concession however to his most loyal customers, Mr Pym, who took less than 30 minutes to earn £295 in his £1 Mn. annual salary, agreed to borrowers with mortgages of less than £10,000 could pay £195 instead.

Now taking his £300,000 annual pension from A & L , 59 next month MrPym is also from today taking a basic salary of £750,000 from B & B (and no doubt a car, etc., etc.,) but is guaranteed the same again as a cash bonus by next June and the same in free shares. He also gets £1.5m worth of share options based on today's price.

Curious thing about Building Societies that turned into banks is that so much of the money involved was funnelled into the Directors pockets and those of their advisors.

Rights issue a disaster

B&B is due to publish first-half earnings on August 29 and also announced today that the bankers have been left with over 72.2 % of its £400 Mn. rights issue and Underwriters Citi and UBS now have until Friday to place the remainder of the cut-price, twice-restructured offering.

Of the 27.8% taken up by shareholders it is assumed the major shareholders (Standard Life, Legal & General, Prudential's M&G and HBOS's Insight) supporting the issue took up their full entitlement leaving only 17% of small shareholders taking up their entitlement.

Why B&B failed
The charts (click to enlarge)show how Buy to Let and Self Certified took over as commission driven sales threw caution to the wind and how they increasingly relied on short term money and (what turned out to be fraudulent ) now you see it now you don't money juggling schemes.

We wait until the 29th August to see the damage for the first 6 months of the current financial year and what made Mr Steve Crawshaw ill.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Turkey offers to build a dam, pipe water to Cyprus and give Greek Cyprus any water left over - Yeah, Yeah

Southern (Greek Cyprus) has severe problems with water - exacerbated with the influx of tourists in the summer and the need for crop irrigation in the early spring.

A plan to ship water in tankers from Greece has fallen apart in a shambolic and predictable chaos and restrictions on dometsic users have been widely ignored, so pools are filled, cars, dogs ,washed and extra tanks installed.

Now there is a fairly unbeleivable story that (currying favour in a fit if Eu-ism) Turkey will collect water in a dam and ship it in a submersible 80+ km pipeline to the parched island.

It will take 3 years to build the Alakopru Dam on Dragon Creek in Anamur town of the Mediterranean province of Mersin (a project first mooted in 1998) with the declared aim of pumping 75 million cubic meters of water yearly to the island, 15 of which will be used as drinking water and the rest for irrigation.

The Turkish State Minister Kursad Tuzmen said project design works would be finalized next year. "This project will be implemented to help TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) fight drought and carry out irrigated farming," Tuzmen was quoted as saying by the state-run Anatolian Agency.

The annual capacity of this uncosted and only partially planned pipeline is said to be more than the amount needed by the Northern Cyprus. Since the planning phase, it has been suggested that the surplus could be offered to the southern Greek Cypriot area as a goodwill gesture to speed up the peace process.

See The Cyprus Problem

1,619 persons who disappeared are still missing. These persons, 993 soldiers and 626 civilians, amongst them 112 women and 26 children under the age of 16, have been missing since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and as a direct consequence of it. Most of these persons were arrested by Turkish soldiers and were known to be alive in the occupied area or in detention in Turkey long after the cessation of hostilities. Despite the adoption of a number of United Nations resolutions and the establishment of a Committee on Missing Persons in 1981, the fate of the 1,619 missing persons has not yet been ascertained because of obstacles put forward by the Turkish side and because of lack of any cooperation on its part.
See : Friday, March 28, 2008 Cyprus - inaction, a building boom, lack of investment ... droughts, lead to predictable water shortages / rationing see also Monday, November 05, 2007 Cyprus remembers theft by Turks of Christian relics from ocupied churches in Christmas Stamps.

If this projects even starts, never mind completes Lord Patel will show his arse in Woolworths window... who have incidentally rejected an offer from madman Malcolm Walker of Iceland - the shares closed 6.65 pence a share on Friday = market value of £97 million. They sold 4 stores in June to waitrose for £22.5 Mn . Shares Closed Monday 7.36 p up 0.71 p = +10.68%

Google India Private Ltd., resists Indian High Court demand to identify blogger

This excellent blog service ,"Blogger" is provided free by Google Inc. There is some sort of contract which we have never read but nevertheless agreed to. We know that if people like Peter Carter Fuck and Associates put pressure on Google Inc. they will take pages down. See Sunday, February 24, 2008 Grouchy Nadhmi Auchi and the problems of the blogiste re problems our friend Kate of the excellent viperish Kate a Blog had when she posted a picture of Mr Sadam Hussein and incorrectly labelled it Nadhmi Auchi.

It appears that Google were very friendly about it and had no desire or intention of closing the blog down.The 2 pages came down however and Kate kept her blog. See her blog entry November 29th 2006 "Received an email today from Harjinder Obhi, London based attorney for Google ......Mr. Obhi politely tells me if Auchi files suit, Google will be forced to produce information about me, emails, IP addresses, ISP information, etc. etc. etc. and that once my identity is known I will be formally added to the lawsuit.etc., etc.,

A case has now arisen in India which raises concerns.

Mumbai based and highly respectable Gremach Infrastructure Equipments & Projects Ltd., last September bought a 75% interest in 11 coal mining licenses in Mozambique. Since then a "Blogger" using the name "Toxic Writer" has attacked the company which Gremach calls a "hate campaign".

The post reportedly describes an investor whose investments were tied up in Germach's rapidly falling stock, as the manufacturer allegedly diverted funds to a company called Austral Coke. Germach's stock price has dropped in value from Rs 500 ($11.90) to Rs 86 ($2.00) per share as of closing bell yesterday. (August 15, 2008, Beta News)

The Economic Times of India quoted a source in Gremach and said the company “suspects corporate rivalry behind the hate campaign” and sought help from the Mumbai Police’s cyber crime cell. However, the investigations by the local police hit a dead end after Google’s India office refused to co-operate.

On February 26th the High Court of India ordered Google India Private Ltd., to take the blog down and also to identify the blogger within 4 weeks.

The blog has been removed as instructed but the name or other details have not been revealed to the court.

Google won't comment as the case is sub judice but apparently under Indian law Web site hosts are responsible for content on their sites. If Google loses the case it may have to disclose the blogger's identity, a move that could set a precedent for court challenges to the anonymity of its users.

At the time of the Mumbai commuter train bombings in 2006 which killed 207 people the Indian authorities out a great deal of pressure on site owners and India's Department of Telecommunications ordered whole sites including Blogger to restrict access to a handful of sites that could have been inciting community tension.

It's only going one way folks.

PS : There was a period of a couple of years when people accessing Lord Patel's raving by proxy could be identified as originating in the Indian sub Continent. Proxy readers and other mumbo-jumbo merchants have however got smarter in covering their spoors.... and no doubt spoortrekkers got better at snffing them out.

Vestas now into profit with generous plans for global growth in wind power

When windmill supplier Vestas takes half page colour ads in the Wall Street Journal inviting readers to go and look at their Q2 08/09 results at vestas.com - you know it's good news.

It is .. but good news has been a long time coming .. see Thursday, March 30, 2006 Vestas, Big sales more losses in the wind farm business Vestas, the world's largest producer of wind turbines, lost nearly DKK 1.2bn (EUR 116m) on sales of DKK 26.7bn (EUR 3.58bn)last year (04/05) up 52% on the previous year. The company's board called the loss 'disappointing' and 'totally unacceptable'. see also Friday, November 25, 2005 Wind Energy - more problems / losses stack up for Vesta.

Investors, like Lord Patel who have hung in there have seen some modest gains as they have finally solved a lot of the problems of manufacture and reliability in use.

June 27th Order for 36 wind turbines with a combined output of 66 MW on 4 sites of 28 units of V90-1.8 MW wind turbine , eight units of its V80-2.0 MW wind turbines, installation and 5 year contract from Spain's Enel Union Fenosa Renovables (EUFER).

June 27th Order for 50 wind turbines for China 50 turbines in two projects totalling 100MW in China with a subsidiary of China Datang Group, a leading wind power producer in China, Delivery of the turbines is scheduled to begin at the end of the year and be completed in the first half of 2009.

June18th Order for 36 wind turbines for a 66MW Trapani Salemi project in Sicily from Suez' unit WINDCO Spa. due to come on stream October 2009.

The Statement says that the continuing improvement in profitability is attributable to the higher prices which Vestas initiated in 2005 and improved operational efficiency...."The overall demand pressure on the industry persists, and there are still long lead times for a number of key components; up to 15 months." ... Cash flows have improved and large inventories have helped to stabilise production capacity and Vestas’ ability to supply in the second half of 2008.... and explain the short lead times on the new projects listed above.

They also stated that order backlog on June 30 of 7.2 billion euros (US$10.73 billion). This compared with 4.8 billion at the end of the first quarter and was 67 % up on the figure at end-June last year. Note turnover year on year for Q2 is only up 3% 1067 to 1094 DKK.

These guys have vision

.."Vestas expects that modern energy (what BERR calls sustainable) will account for at least 10 % of global power production in 2020. To achieve this, more than 900,000 MW of modern energy must be installed over the next 12 years, which translates into annual growth in installed capacity of 20-25 %. The market will thus rise to an average of at least 80,000 MW per year over the next 12 years, against 20,000 MW in 2007 (ie 4 fold increase)."

By 2010 Vestas aims, together with its sub-suppliers,(and 17,370 staff worldwide) ) to be able to manufacture, ship and install 10,000 MW. In 2007, Vestas shipped a total of 4,974 MW.

On 2 June 2008, The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner and 5 wind turbine manufacturers, (GE Energy, Siemens Power Generation, Vestas Wind Systems, Clipper Turbine Works, Suzlon Energy, and Gamesa Corporation) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a view to jointly seeking to increase the proportion of wind power relative to overall US power production from the current level of 1% to 20 % by 2030. See DOE Report 20% Wind Energy by 2030- May 2008
this addresses the 20% Wind Scenario:The 20% Wind Scenario presented here would require U.S. wind power capacity to grow from the current 11.5 GW to more than 300 GW over the next 23 years. (If interested in wind energy and how a modern industrial nation with an established manufacturing base should act in planning for, it this is a must read). BERR please Note , orders backlog, staff recruitment (see below) a5 month delay on component supplies Ditto on nuclear power.

Vestas has a blade factory in Windsor, Colorado,with an annual capacity of 1,800 blades, a second plant near Brighton, Colorado, will double capacity by 2010.

China’s most recent statement regarding wind power is to have an installed capacity of 100,000 MW by 2020, which is largely the same as the global capacity at the end of 2007.

On 26th June 2008, the UK government announced its fairytale plans for achieving 20 % renewable energy by 2020. The Vestas Isle of Wight factory will cease making the blades for its V82 turbine (which now mainly go to US) and change in 2010 to 44-metre blades for the V90 turbines which is predicated on the UK expansion using the V90-2.0 MW and 3.0 MW turbines are particularly well suited for this market, onshore as well as offshore. IOW will also become an R&D centre. The Cambeltown factory will shut.

Vestas expects to employ up to 1,500 people in the UK in 2010, against 1,114 employees today.

It is of interest that Vestas launched a global employee bonus programme, from Jan1 2008 in which eligible employees may achieve a bonus of up to 8 per cent of their base salary. The way this has been introduced suggest that recruitment of qualified engineers and their retention is a problem.

Looking for Press comment on Vestas results - we found this from Reuters "Shares in Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa rise to the top of Madrid's leaderboard, up 4.2 % to 30.01 euros after Danish rival Vestas reports its order backlog has ballooned on soaring oil prices.

For those interested in investing in wind power, especially in the US you might look here at the report that The Goldman Sachs Group 21st March 2005 announced it will acquire Houston, Texas-based Zilkha Renewable Energy.

Goldman Sachs was then invested in 30 power-producing entities. “Goldman Sachs doesn’t invest in sectors that they think are stagnant or declining,” said Chris Taylor of Zilkha. This by the way was Zilkha of Selim Zilkha the son of the Banker of Baghdad who set up Mothercare in the UK, sold out. Setup an oil facilities company using the (then) new computer technology to exploit Gulf oil wells declining rserves and sold out for US$1 Bn to El Paso Gas ...then set up Zilkha energy investing in wind whcih he sold out to Sacks of Gold.

Zilkha Energy was an early investor in UK wind energy with the $80Mn. 10 sq Km site with 30 Vestas V80 2MW units at th North Hoyle field off Rhyl (Total Installed capacity 60 Mw. annual Load Factor 35.8% - UK Average 27.1%) which is the longest running offshore development(commenced Nov.2003) in the UK and now owned from 2005 by Beaufort Wind Limited.***

A BERR report on North Hoyle provides useful information - total overall final project cost totalled £81m (prior to grant) which equates to £1.35m/MW. The BERR (DTI as was) grant for the project of £10m reduced the total cost to £1.18m/MW. Total metered output 2007 was 117,000 MWh Annual operating costs in 2007 ( 3rd year of operation) amounted to £2.8m (equivalent to £47/MW or 1.51p/kWh - compare this with British Energy nuclear power realised sale price £45.7/MWh ).

As a bribe to operators The Energy White Paper 2007 declared the government’s intent that from 1st April 2009 wind ROCs will be banded:– Offshore wind farms to receive 1.5 ROCs per MWh. – Onshore wind to continue receiving 1 ROCs per MWh.

TO really understand the UK Renewables business got to Renewable Energy Foundation The REF is charity , supported by private donation and has no political affiliation or corporate membership. In pursuit of its principal goals REF highlights the need for an overall energy policy that is balanced, ecologically sensitive, and effective.

REF is part of a growing national consensus that the United Kingdom's energy policy is unbalanced, and that the drive for renewable energy generation has been inadequately planned.

*** Beaufort Wind Energy was owned 100% by Zephyr Investments .Three partners: RWE Innogy, Englefield Capital LLP4, and the Bahrein based First Islamic Investment Bank E.C. (F.I.I.B) (called Arcapita from April 2005) through its investment vehicles arranged by its subsidiary, Crescent Capital Investments (Europe) Limited, took one third (Jan 2004)each of the share capital of the investment fund, Zephyr Investments Ltd, established in April 2003.

RWE Innogy's retail subsidiary, npower, continue to purchase power and Renewable Obligation Certificates from Beaufort Wind Ltd under long term purchase contracts as part of its strategy to meet the UK Government's Renewable Obligation targets.

In August 2007 , Englefield Capital, sold their 1/3 rd stake and Arcapita Bank sold their 1/3rd stake in Zephyr which owned 17 wind farms = 20% of UK wind farm capacity for £145 Mn each (they said their cost was £55Mn each) to Infracapital, a European infrastructure fund managed by Prudential M&G, and a subsidiary of an investment entity advised by JPMorgan Asset Management, will each buy half of Arcapita's stake.

The value of Renewable Obligation Certificates dropped during 2007 from about £48 to £32 as more renewable energy came on stream.

If you have got this far, the North Hoyle farm generates electricity at say £47/MW it sells that for roughly that price and receives £33 for each ROC (it was £48 in 2007) which is effectively the gross profit. That is why they need a bribe from April 1st in 2009 to receive 1.5 ROC's for each MW generated.

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