"“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, October 15, 2005

Rocky VI ...

His last bout was with his protègè turned-rival Tommy Gunn in Rocky V, now Sylvester Stallone (60 !) who earned $15,000 from his first fillum is due for another $10Mn payday with Rocky V1, 30 years after first putting on the gloves.

No rumours so far that Sly will be standing for President in '08... don't mock judging by the Teleconference to Tikrit (there's a title already) he's a better actor than Dubya.

Bush stars - "Waggin' the Dog" - new TV soap spoof.

Dubya, had a videoconference to talk to some of the boots on the ground in Iraq to celebrate the forthcoming “referendum”. It was , like the NOLA charade, curious. No token minorities, one token woman and one token Iraqi.

Dressed in a lounge suit, Dubya stared at the screen and evidently couldn’t understand why ESPN wasn’t on, however he found voice..

"Is it possible to give us a sense, kind of a calibration of what life was like when you first got there, and what it's like today?"

MASTER SERGEANT LOMBARDO: I can tell you over the past 10 months we've seen a tremendous increase in the capabilities and the confidences of our Iraqi security force partners. We've been working side-by-side, training and equipping 18 Iraqi army battalions. Since we began our partnership, they have improved greatly, and they continue to develop and grow into sustainable forces. Over the next month, we anticipate seeing at least one-third of those Iraqi forces conducting independent operations.

THE PRESIDENT: That's important. The American people have got to know — and I appreciate you bringing that up, Sergeant Major, about how — what the progress is like. In other words, we've got a measurement system


THE PRESIDENT: I'm sorry, go ahead.

MASTER SERGEANT LOMBARDO: I'm sorry, just, together with our coalition forces, we've captured over 50 terrorists, as well as detained thousands of others that have ties to the insurgency. And I believe it is these accomplishments and the numerous accomplishments from our task force that will provide a safe and secure environment for the referendum vote.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate that. There's no question that we need to stay on the offense, and we need to stay on the offense with well-trained Iraqi forces, side-by-side the finest military ever — ever to exist, and that's the United States military.

MASTER SERGEANT LOMBARDO: That it is, Mr. President. Thank you.

Now does Sergeant Lombardo sound like the sort of grunt who has been dodging the muck and bullets – well ..er…no – Village Voice reports she is actually, a Press relations officer with the 42nd Infantry and is lodged in the Green Zone. 5 of the soldiers were ..er .. officers. She hails from NY and was happy to tell the President the way 9/11 affected her life ....

It is also evident now that the whole thing was even rehearsed – by no less than a Allison Barber, deputy assistant Defense secretary, see pic.

"OK, so let's just walk through this," Barber said. "Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?"
"Captain Smith," Kennedy said.
"Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?" she asked.
"Captain Kennedy," the soldier replied.(Video link to Cpt K hometown TV)
And so it went.
"If the question comes up about partnering how often do we train with the Iraqi military who does he go to?" Barber asked.
"That's going to go to Captain Pratt," one of the soldiers said.

When White House Press Turd Mclellan was asked if the soldiers' comments or questions were pre-screened, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan answered, "No."

At a press briefing later on Thursday, a reporter asked McClellan about the teleconference.

Q Scott, why did the administration feel it was necessary to coach the soldiers that the President talked to this morning in Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, I don't know what you're suggesting.

Q Well, they discussed the questions ahead of time. They were told exactly what the President would ask, and they were coached, in terms of who would answer what question, and how they would pass the microphone.

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, are you suggesting that what our troops were saying was not sincere, or what they said was not their own thoughts?

Q Nothing at all. I'm just asking why it was necessary to coach them.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of the event earlier today, the event was set up to highlight an important milestone in Iraq's history, and to give the President an opportunity to, once again, express our appreciation for all that our troops are doing when it comes to defending freedom, and their courage and their sacrifice. And this is a satellite feed, as you are aware, and there are always technological challenges involved when you're talking with troops on a satellite feed like this. And I think that we worked very closely with the Department of Defense to coordinate this event. And I think all they were doing was talking to the troops and letting them know what to expect.

Q But we asked you specifically this morning if there would be any screening of questions or if they were being told in any way what they should say or do, and you indicated no.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think that's what the question was earlier today. I think the question earlier today was asking if they could ask whatever they want, and I said, of course, the President was -- and you saw --

Q And I asked if they were pre-screened.

MR. McCLELLAN: You saw earlier today the President was trying to engage in a back-and-forth with the troops. And I think it was very powerful what Lieutenant Murphy was saying at the end of that conversation, when he was talking about what was going on in January, how the American troops and coalition forces were in the lead when it came to providing security for the upcoming election, an election where more than eight million Iraqis showed up and voted. It was a great success.

And he talked about how this time, when we had the preparations for the upcoming referendum this Saturday, you have Iraqi forces that are in the lead, and the Iraqi forces are the ones that are doing the planning and preparing and taking the lead to provide for their own security as they get ready to cast their ballots again.

Q But I also asked this morning, were they being told by their commanders what to say or what to do, and you indicated, no. Was there any prescreening of --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not aware of any such -- any such activities that were being undertaken. We coordinated closely with the Department of Defense. You can ask if there was any additional things that they did. But we work very closely with them to coordinate these events, and the troops can ask the President whatever they want. They've always been welcome to do that.

So when McLellan says “no” he actually means ….. well, anything he fucking wants.

Less than 40 percent in an AP-Ipsos poll taken in October said they approved of the way Bush was handling Iraq. Just over half of the public now say the Iraq war was a mistake.

It's imposible to see who this dipshit nonsense was aimed at, from over here in lukewarm willing Coalition land we cannot understand why Bush isn't hanging upside down from a fucking handy lamp post... but then Kenny's fucked over, Tom is in the doo-doo, Jack is heading for the slammer or the morgue, and Carl looks as though he's dead meat.. Bill Frist has the SEC crawling all over his family business...even Cheney is on his knees. No wonder he turned to Harriet(Helen) there are few left to lie for him any more.Of course if he likes chatting to soldiers .... er... ex Marines ...see pic.

Recent blogs on same topic here

Bavnebål over hele landet !

Canons roared across public parks, and fires swept across Denmark today – has Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced withdrawal of Danish troops from Iraq, as 69% of Danes have demanded in a recent poll ?

Well, er no. Europes oldest reigning monarchy have just produced their latest prince and future king, the product of Crown Prince Frederik and his Tasmanian beauty Mary Donaldsen . The prince (who arrived 2 weeks early) will traditionally be named Christian or Frederick, the prince was 51 centimeters long and weighed 3.5 kilograms.

This evening, the Danish Home Guard will officiate as some 350 bonfires are lit across the country – no doubt some of the Carlsberg special “Elephant” ale (Alc. Vol. 9%) will be drunk.

Rice, black woman / Blair, white man ... same song sheet.

In a July 28th television interview with Jim Lehrer, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ....

“When are we going to stop making excuses for the terrorists and saying that somebody is making them do it? No, these are simply evil people who want to kill. And they want to kill in the name of a perverted ideology that really is not Islam, but they somehow want to claim that mantle to say that this is about some kind of grievance. This isn't about some kind of grievance. This is an effort to destroy, rather than to build. And until everybody in the world calls it by name — the evil that it is — stops making excuses for them, then I think we're going to have a problem.“

Tony Blair speaking to a Labour Conference on July 14th just after the 7/7 bombings said ....

What we are confronting here is an evil ideology.

This is a religious ideology... Those who kill in its name believe genuinely that in doing it, they do God's work; they go to paradise.

They demand the elimination of Israel; the withdrawal of all Westerners from Muslim countries, irrespective of the wishes of people and government; the establishment of effectively Taleban states and Sharia law in the Arab world en route to one caliphate of all Muslim nations.

......that if we only tried to work out and act on their grievances, we could lift this evil, that if we changed our behaviour, they would change theirs.

Oh! ...er ... Condi is in London for 25 minutes on her latest drive by diplomacy trip to give Tony his orders ..... Q . Will he get "bathroom" time ?

MI6 launch new website as new James Bond is launched

Frequently asked questions, Oct 12 2005

...How realistic is the depiction of SIS in the James Bond films... ...James Bond, as Ian Fleming originally conceived him was based on reality. But any author needs to inject a level of glamour and excitement beyond reality in order to sell. By the time the filmmakers focused on Bond the gap between truth and fiction had already widened. Nevertheless, staff who join SIS can look forward to a career that will have moments when the gap narrows just a little and the certainty of a stimulating and rewarding career which, like Bond's, will be in the service of their country...

Whoever they employ, they didn't learn you shouldn't start a sentence with a conjunction .... even if they have a sub-fusc Union Jack flying ...just check... is that the right way up ?

Daniel Craig: Our Friend in MI6

The search for a new 007 to fill the tuxedo vacated by Pierce Brosnan is over - with little known actor Daniel Craig chosen by producers. But just who is the new face of James Bond? ... well Sienna Millar and Daniel perform sexual athletics in "Layer Cake", to the Stones' "Street Fighting Man" which has to be the best music video for a long, long, time.

Recent blogs on same topic here

Friday, October 14, 2005

More Donkeys to the Slaughter

This is the war memorial erected in my village after the First World War. Already descendants of the "Lions led by Donkeys" have been laying memorial Poppy wreaths.

I frequently stop and read the roughly carved inscription, whose direct speech carries across the years - this year as our lying Prime Minister lays false claim to the export of Freedom, further wastes national treasure and life in Iraq, it's inscription seems ever more relevant.

The buffoon Tim Collins, pre-eminent Donkey admits on Channel 4 More News tonight that he was wrong to tell his men they were liberators not conquerors and would be welcomed as such. The bonehead did not last long and left Iraq and the Army in May 2005.

Erected by
The Inhabitants of Norden
In honour and ever grateful memory
Who nobly,forgetful of themselves
At the call of the KING and country
Left all that was dear to them
Endured hardness, faced danger
And finally gave up their own lives
That others might live in Freedom

An example for all time
Of stedfast courage
1914 - 1918

China launches 2nd manned spacecraft on 5 day mission

China has successfully launched its second manned spacecraft, carrying two Chinese astronauts,Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng into orbit in a blaze of publicity ...but overlooked by the Western mainstream press and TV.

The first foray into space 2 years ago lasted 21 hours and was conducted in an atmosphere of secrecy, typical for the military-backed program.

The lift-off, from Jiuquan in the Gobi desert, was shown live on state television and included views from a camera on the outside of the craft.

The Shenzhou VI will orbit the Earth for five days, during which the astronauts will carry out experiments.There have been some small problems with the planned orbit requiring some in flight adjustments, but the 2 pilots, are reported in good health and are undertaking a full program of experiments. One celebrating his 41st birthday on board - which his daughter has shared with him live on national TV .... no slouches at PR bullshit.

China's budget for developing the Shenzhou capsule series has reached roughly 19 billion yuan (US$2.3 billion), less than 10% of the United States' annual spending on space programs

A much-talked about program for moon exploration is also in the pipeline. Last year, China inaugurated a project to collect lunar samples and this summer opened a lunar exploration center in Beijing.

The National Space Centre center is tasked with overseeing the launch of a moon orbiter in 2007, a lunar lander in 2012 and a third satellite designed to land on the moon surface and bring back soil samples for research in 2017.

A curious endorsement of their acheivement came fromUgandan Minister of State for Information Nsaba Buturo who said on Thursday ......

"We are excited and really congratulate China for launching its second space mission. We wish the two Chinese astronauts the best and hope that their findings are used to benefit humanity," he said, adding that Uganda looks forward to continuing cooperating with the Chinese government."

Meanwhile in Beijing the 6th Sino-US textile talks ended on Thursday, with both sides failing to reach an agreement, said Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC). The closed-door consultation lasted one and a half days, and ended half a day ahead of schedule.

Recent blogs on same topic here

Chief US negotiator David Spooner issued a brief written statement, saying that "We have not come to an agreement that meets the needs of our domestic manufacturers and retailers", but giving no indication of whether the two sides made any progress or the reason they failed to reach agreement.

Historic PC's up for sale....Geek Alert !!

David Freeman, pioneer of computer retailing, is selling, founder of ACP Superstore, has been collecting computers since 1976. H eis selling over 430 Pc's including this historic 32K Ram Z - 80 PET ,40 printers..etc., etc.,are for sale on e-bay

7-day listing, Ends Oct-15-05 10:00:00 PDT - latest bid at time of writing US$20,100. - reserve not met. Hurry Hurry whilst stocks last.

90 days detention without charge ...5 days thinking about it...

On the 6th of October 2005 Andy Hayman, QPM,MA Assistant Commander, Special Operations , New Scotland Yard wrote to Rt.Hon. Charles Clarke, the burly, bluff Home Secretary ;

“…see..attached briefing note the operational requirements for an extension to the maximum period of detention without charge to three months, for which I am a strong advocate.

Well Charley Clarke must have passed this pretty swiftly around Whitehall because on the 11th October , 5 days later, he introduced detailed legislation that met Andy’s suggestions “ …for which I am a strong advocate”.

So dramatic was the evidence, so powerful, so cogent, so self evident, so ..er..right that Tony Blair was able to tell us at his monthly Press Conference yesterday regarding Clauses Clauses 23 and 24: of the proposed Terrorist legislation extension of the period of detention by judicial authority that …If the police, charged with fighting terrorism in this country, say to me and to the Members of Parliament 'This is why we need it', and that case is a good and compelling case - as I find it is - then my duty is to do it, unless someone can come forward with a very good argument why their case is unsound."

He later told the House of Commons …”The case for allowing terror suspects to be held up to 90 days without charge is "absolutely compelling". The lying bastard went on ..

"What I have to do is to try to do my best to protect people in this country and to make sure their safety and their civil liberty to life come first.
Let us have a debate about the strength or otherwise of those proposals, but for myself I find it a convincing case."

Well you can see what was so compelling for Tony by reading Andy’s chummy letter to the Home Secretary last week. Here.

It evidently didn’t convince alleged Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy who repeated his insistence that the PM had "failed to make the case" for 3 months detention without charge or trial.

Leaderless, listless Opposition members could raise neither support nor criticism.

Lord Carlile of Berriew QC (pic)is required Pursuant to the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 section 14 to prepare periodic reports on the operation of the Act. By section 14(5) his report "must contain" his opinion on
"(a) the implications for the operation of this Act of any proposal made by the Secretary of State for the amendment of the law relating to terrorism;"
He has prepared an published notes on the proposed and Draft Act;

“I do not regard extra time for interviews as being a sound basis for the extension of the time period.”…” the reality is that most suspects exercise their right of silence in interview. If they are advised so to do, that advice is usually beyond reproach…..This means that the interviewing process is rarely productive.”

The procedure before district judges in my view has characteristics suited to short interference with liberty, and I should regret seeing it extended further. A more searching system is required to reflect the seriousness of the State holding someone in high-security custody without charge for as long as three months. I question whether what is proposed in the Bill would be proof to challenge under the Human Rights Act given the length of extended detention envisaged.”

To allow for the very rare cases where extended detention is , he considers appropriate he takes up the recommendation of The Privy Counsellor Review Committee into the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, chaired by the Rt. Hon Lord Newton of Braintree, reported in December 2003 Newton – ie suggestions that have been ignored for nearly 2 years by both David Blunkett and Charley Clarke.

· Where detention beyond 14 days is to be applied for, the introduction of one of a small group of security-cleared, designated senior circuit judges as examining judge and "judicial authority" under the legislation

· That judge to be provided with a full and continuing account of all matters involved in the investigation in question

· The introduction of a security-cleared special advocate, also fully briefed as to the investigation, to make representations on the interests of the detained persons and to advise the judge

· The judge to have the power to require specific investigations to be pursued if reasonably necessary for the proper exercise of his/her jurisdiction

· Suitable opportunity for written and oral defence representations against extended detention, with oral hearings at the discretion of the judge

· Weekly decisions with reasons if extended detention granted

· The keeping of a written record (if necessary protected from disclosure for the purposes of any subsequent trial) of the judge’s activities in a case

· Appeal with permission to the High Court.

Carlile concludes his observations;
…"A more searching system is required to reflect the seriousness of the state holding someone in high-security custody without charge for as long as three months"

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

There's Gold in them flowerpots....

This is Licio Gelli pictured (BBC) on the terrace of his villa. In 1981 Police confiscated 150 gold bars worth $1.7 million hidden in the flower pots at the Tuscan villa of Licio Gelli, Italy's No.1 white-collar fugitive. Officials said gold weighing 630 pounds had been found in the pots lining several terraces of Gelli's mansion in the town of Arezzo,Tuscany Police said. Gelli , head of Masonic Lodge P2 was involved in the Gladio bombings, is/was a friend of Silvio Berlusconi and many, many other equally seedy Political figures in post war Italy.

Recently (ie in the last month) some of the gold bars , allegedly dating from the Weimer Republic and connected with the ODESSA organisation was (I have been told) auctioned off by the State / Police or an individual - the funds were to go to the survivors of the Bolgona Railway Station bombing.

I cannot find details of the Auction, date, site, can anybody out there help ?

Gelli is currently serving a 12 year sentence handed down in 1998.

Help for Pakistan ......

Kuwait, has announced a US$ 100 Mn aid package for Pakistan.(Since then The UAE emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai have each offered US$100Mn.)

A statement issued after the weekly Kuwaiti Cabinet meeting said half will be offered in the form of relief assistance while the other US$50 Mn will be used to repair infrastructure damaged by the quake.

Speaking at his monthly press conference in Downing Street, Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister (who has obviously been watching the TV news) said “the scale of the tragedy was becoming more apparent by the day.” He confirmed that Department for International Development has committed just over £2 million of direct assistance and stands ready to respond to further needs.

"The people of the United States offer our deepest sympathies for the loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquake that struck outside of Islamabad," said President Bush today – Odds on he didn’t point out where it was on the map.

"At this difficult time, the United States stands with its friends in Pakistan and India, just as they stood with us and offered assistance after Hurricane Katrina," said Condoleeza Rice, rushing into Pakistan, after her drive by diplomacy stop-off in Afghanistan where she has brought opium production and drug trafficking to a halt along with eternal peace.

The U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan said the United States will provide up to $50 million for earthquake relief and reconstruction in Pakistan.

The last time Condi was in Pakistan was in March this year. She had stopped off to seal a US$3Bn arms deal and to release sixteen F16 fighters that Pakistan bought and paid for in 1990, that the US never delivered .... so what’s US$50Mn between friends ?

This was after Jack Straw (pursuing New Labour's "ethical" arms export policy) managed to sell £1Bn worth of Hawk "trainers" to India...which oddly British Aerospace show as carrying a bristling array of guided missiles. (see pic (c)CNN).

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan the German trained Indian born metallurgist brought knowledge of gas centrifuge technologies to Pakistan that he had acquired through his position at the classified URENCO uranium enrichment plant in the Netherlands.

He planned, built, equipped and ran Pakistan's Kahuta facility, which was established in 1976. A man of colossal vanity who sees himself (as do many) as the nation's saviour - he named them, the Khan Research Laboratories, or KRL. UN Documents show he offered to supply nuclear technology to Saddam before the 1991 Gulf War and also to Iran, Libya, and North Korea. "Sacked" as President Mushariff's "advisor", he remains a free man. Curiously the US have not asked to meet him and have a fireside chat with Pakistan's "Father of the Bomb" and about what he got up to peddling nuclear technology for so many years.

On May 11 and 13 1998 India conducted 5 nuclear tests, on May 28, 1998 Pakistan announced that it had successfully conducted five nuclear tests, which generated a seismic signal of 5.0 on the Richter scale, with a total yield of up to 40 KT (equivalent TNT). Dr. A.Q. Khan claimed that one device was a boosted fission device and that the other four were sub-kiloton nuclear devices. 2 days later a 12 Kiloton nuclear warhead was tested.
PS - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today warned that its operation to feed more than 1.45 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in northern Uganda will run out of donations in December. (pic of mutilated child (C)BBC)

WFP urgently needs US$58 million in cash donations to buy food locally to feed almost the entire population of Northern Uganda, who have been living for years in 135 overcrowded and unsanitary camps after fleeing their homes for fear of attacks by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

Denmark booms – UK bust ?

Denmark's economy is booming. New growth figures from Statistics Denmark, shows economic growth is at its highest level in a decade led by sales of purchases of clothes, cars, and home and recreational products.

GNP expanded 4.3 percent in the second quarter of 2005, compared to the second quarter of 2004, the highest recorded increase early 1995.

Danish Exports grew 4.1 percent year-on-year (eg Carlsberg now runs 13 breweries in China), and 8.6 % in the first half of 2005 compared with the first half of 2004 .. which contrasts with new figures from UK National Statistics that the UK's deficit in goods and services trade with the rest of the world jumped to an all-time high of £5.34bn in August, from an upwardly-revised £3.94bn in July.

UK trade in oil plummeted from a surplus of £40m in July to a deficit of £413m in August - Oil exports slumped from £1.84bn in July to £1.59bn in August – reflecting the decline in oil and gas extraction during the month of August of 8%. Imports of oil ratcheted up again from £1.8bn to £2bn. The US$/£ rate shows how the market reacted.
Currency Focus: Sterling Tests 11-Month Low” is today’s Yahoo FX Headline
The Danish retailers organisation Dansk Handel & Service (DG&S), says more than half of its members have had a better year this year than last. 'The growth rate is a result of the marked growth at the end of 2004, which was especially strong for durable goods,' said DH&S chief economist Jan Poulsen. 'Private spending continues on a reasonable track. If anything should endanger the sustainability of growth, it would be a lack of workers.'

Which is reflected in a report from the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation found that 60 % of foreign students were still in Denmark one year after they received their degree. The national daily Berlingske Tidende reports that young people who come to Denmark to study for advanced degrees in engineering, medicine, and theology wind up liking the country so much that they end up staying.

Minister of Science and Technology Helge Sander was pleased with the development, and saw it as a way to supplement Denmark's native work force.

'We want to hang on to even more highly qualified foreign students,' said Sander. 'For just that reason, we decided this year to give recently graduated foreigners in certain fields a three month extension to their visa so they can look for a job.'

The ministry's report resulted from a survey of 1200 foreign students that completed a degree programme between 1992 and 2002.

So the UK imports potato pickers for the fields and order pickers for the gleaming new warehouses and distribution centres stuffed full of goods from low cost countries, whilst Denmark imports the brightest and best technicians, engineers and scientists.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Drax - sunset on the UK energy industry

Drax Power Limited owns and operates Drax Power Station, the largest, cleanest and most efficient coal-fired power station in the UK.

The generating units are fitted with flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) equipment removing 90% of SO2 from emissions, and work is underway to reduce still further emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOX).

The plant is experimenting with bio fuels (willow chips) and petcoke which is a recovery from oil refining.

By-products of the coal combustion and FGD processes are recycled through their further use in the construction industry.The plant output 4,000 megawatts, 7% of the UK's electricity needs.

Drax Group Limited
…is Incorporated in the Cayman Islands Co No WK-129356

Registered Office
Walkers SPV Limited
Walker House
PO Box 908GT
Mary Street
George Town
Grand Cayman
Cayman Islands
British West Indies

Today the company announced someone wanted to buy them…and the plant which is a core component of the UK energy supply. …

Drax Group Limited ("Drax") today announces that it received on 10 October 2005 a new approach from a consortium regarding a possible cash offer for Drax. The proposal is subject to a number of conditions, including due diligence and financing, and is an alternative to the listing. Drax is seeking further clarification on the initial approach...

It was only a few weeks ago that someone else wanted to buy them ..

The Board of Drax Group Limited ("Drax" or "the Company") announces that it received on 12 September an indicative approach from a consortium comprising Constellation Energy Group, Inc and Perry Capital LLC regarding a possible cash offer for Drax representing an enterprise value of £1.9 billion. The proposal is subject to a number of conditions, including due diligence and financing...

But the Directors turned the offer down.

So how is it that a shadowy group of investors, located in the Cayman Islands have become a much wanted asset ?

Briefly, In 1990, the electricity industry of England and Wales was privatised under the Electricity Act 1989. Three generating companies and 12 regional electricity companies were created. As a result of privatisation, Drax Power Station came under the ownership of National Power, one of the newly formed generating companies.

Due to changes in the structure of the market , needs for cash, a change in strategy in 1999 Drax Power Station was acquired by the US-based AES Corporation (A Delaware based outfit) for £1.87 billion. Of course it wasn’t their money, they borrowed it and so they ended up with a raft of creditors, which when things went sour they couldn’t pay.

So they “restructured” the debt , which meant the “D” level guys were toasted but the “A” level creditors , some of whom like mining giant BHP Billiton were supplying the plant with coal.

Following a series of standstill agreements with its creditors, the AES Corporation and Drax parted company in August 2003. Just months later in December 2003, creditors overwhelmingly supported a financial restructuring scheme that put Drax into the ownership of a number of financial institutions.

On December 22, 2003, The Debevoise & Plimpton partnership (fancy US corporate lawyers) could announce, after drawing monster fees, that Drax Power, Europe’s largest coal-fired power station, had successfully restructured its ₤1.3 billion senior secured debt. Debevoise & Plimpton LLP represented Drax Power in this transaction.(Once owned by the British Public)

The successful restructuring puts Drax, which supplies 8-10% of Britain’s power, in a strong financial position going forward. The refinancing involved concurrent schemes of arrangement in England, Jersey and the Cayman Islands, and a Section 304 bankruptcy court proceeding in the United States.

The BBC reported that there were four bids considered for re-structuring which took the form of complex offers to buy out portions of the plant's debt.

BHP Billiton's offer, worth an estimated £95m, would see holders of Drax's A-2 debt get 70p in the pound. International Power another energy company offered 65p in the pound for A-2 debt and 55p in the pound for B debt. Goldman Sachs the bankers were offering 64p in the pound for A-2 debt and 50p in the pound for B debt.

Money market men said that the deal was finally agreed at what represented approximately 70p per pound of debt. In brief they bought £1.34 Bn of assets at a discount of 30% = £ 938 Mn (give or take a few bob).

Since taking over ownership effectively from Jan 1st 2004, the company has seen the price of wholesale electricity climb from £24 per Megawatt Hour to £48 MWH, which is the good news, the bad news is the price of coal has gone from under £10 a ton to £25 a ton. However the owners have seen for example Nett profits for the first 6 months of 2005 at £227 Mn and interest has been paid at the rate of £160Mn per year (mainly to the owners) who bought that debt. (Caveat - the £227Mn profit includes one off payments from TXU Europe whose bankruptcy caused AES to founder – but this was factored into the buying price because it was problematic at the time and required an Act of Parliament to change the rules so they could get the money).

So not exactly a wild cash cow, but has been a nice little earner that Debevoise & Plimpton partnership and (Morgan Stanley hovering in the background) put together…and now someone else wants to have a share of the action.

So that’s OK for the UK ?

Well up to a point Lord Copper.

Drax has contracts for coal with UK Coal, (the rump of the NCB after Maggie destroyed it) who are the biggest UK (in fact only) coal miner. Figures for the year ended December 2004 showed pre-tax losses deepened to £51.6 million, from a loss of £1.2m in 2003. Deep-mine output dropped from 14.8 MN tonnes in 2003 to to 12.0 million while surface mine output was down from 3.1 Mn tonnes to 2 MN.

When posting half-year losses of £30.6m, UK Coal warned attempts to support further development at Rossington had failed and that the mine would be mothballed – the same fate as Harworth mine once current extraction is completed.

Their shares up from a low of the mid 40’s pence in early 2003 have moved sideways at 140/145 p for nearly 12 months, bn 3200Mn of that is surface property and landholdings, the last asset of the old NCB.

Now Tom Farmer famous for his Kwit Fit chain is said to want to buy the property portfolio and there is talk of an offer of 180p – 200p per share. Farmer is working with Alchemy Partners who lost out on MG and also the bachelor Lord Buccleuch, the only landownder in Scotland whose estates are so large you cannot ride across them on a dhorse in a day.

The shares haven’t moved, principally because nobody wants to run mines that lose £36Mn in 6 months.

Which is why the figures for coal imports into the UK make such interesting reading. In 2004, Coal imports increased by 20 % - a new record level. 72% of the United Kingdom’s imports of coal came from just three countries: South Africa, Australia and Russia. A further one fifth of coal imports came from three additional countries, Colombia (steam coal), USA (mainly coking coal) and Indonesia (steam coal).
Steam coal imports came mainly from South Africa (34 %), Russia (33%) and Colombia (12 %). Imports of steam coal from the USA were substantially higher in 2004 than 2003, accounting for 2.4 per cent of the total in 2004 compared with less than 0.1 per cent of the total in 2003. Imports of steam coal from South Africa in 2004 were more than double the volume imported in 2000. All but a very small fraction of UK coking coal imports came from Australia (65 %), the USA (21 %) and Canada (11 %).

So this is where our with the wonderful far sighted New Labour White Paper Energy policy.

An irreplaceable national source of electricity, owned by a bunch of financiers operating out of a nameplate in the Cayman Islands.

A company being stalked by the funny money men.who have no interest in UK energy independence.

This company relies upon a company mining coal which is evident cannot carry on mining / trading, (even if Tom Farmer rides in and picks up their property assets)
....... Unless of course the Government see that they can add some more subsidies to the pot – and there have been plenty in the last few years, disguised in a variety of ways.

Suddenly nuclear power stations look like a good idea.(if not the only)

Recent blogs on same topic here

Portuguese will vote in referendum very soon on abortion....

Portugal is one of the few places in European family of nations which still bans abortions. Portuguese Prime Minister José(Zé) Socrates' decision to hold a referendum on legalising abortion, approved by Parliament will probably be held in mid-November and will probably bring in changes more in line with her partners in the EU. Although in 1984 the law was changed to allow abortion in certain exceptional circumstances such as risk of danger to the life or health of the mother, a malformed foetus or rape, women still face up to 3 years in prison for procuring an abortion or more for performing one.

The number of backstreet abortions annually in Portugal is estimated at between about 20,000 and 40,000, while thousands more go abroad to terminate unwanted pregnancies under different legal jurisdictions. and Figures from the Portuguese health ministry say five women died last year after secret abortions.

It is frequently claimed that 700 legal abortions take place annually. It must be remembered that in Portugal (Penal Code Art. 172,175) the age of consent for sexual intercourse with adults (i.e. over 18) is set at 14 for heterosexual sex, (and at 16 for homosexual sex ).The legal age limit for marriage is 18 but may be 16 with parental consent. Sexual orientation is now protected by the Portuguese Constitution following EU directives, and gay couples can form civil unions.

In 1998 a referendum was held on changing the law to allow abortion on demand up to 10 weeks into pregnancy. The proposal was narrowly defeated ( by 51% to 49%) but voter turnout at 30% was very low.The new referendum will probably use the question, "Do you agree that abortions, carried out in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, with the woman's consent, in a legal medical establishment, should no longer be illegal?"

In January 2002 a mass abortion “show” trial was held involving 42 women, one of whom was 16 at the time of the abortion. A nurse who performed abortions in her home was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison. In 2004 the President commuted her sentence.

The women who were accused of having their pregnancies terminated either had charges against them dropped or had their prison sentences commuted to fines.
In March 2004, members of Portugal's parliament voted down three separate proposals to legalize abortion after more than 200,000 petitions were submitted against them.

"The solution for a woman in difficulty should never be the death of her unborn child," said one of the leaders of a pro-life coalition, Teresa Aires de Campos, after the votes.

"We want to create a society where a newborn child is never seen as a burden that needs to be eliminated. We want to create a country where a child is always welcomed."

In August 2004 the Dutch “abortion” ship, run by charity “Women on the Waves”, The “Borndiep” a white container transformed into a floating gynaecological clinic, is staffed by a doctor, gynaecologist (Gunilla Kleiverda )and a nurse. It visited Portugal after having caused outrage after visiting Ireland in 2001 and Poland in 2003. The Government banned it from docking and women were ferried to the boat for treatment where it anchored off the port of Figueira da Foz, near Coimbra, for nearly a fortnight.

The government's ban, on public health grounds, was reinforced by a court ruling. Far-right Defence Minister, Paulo Portas, was delighted and compared the women's shipboard campaign to drug trafficking. "If Portugal allowed the ship into its waters, it would not have authority against illegal fishing, drug trafficking or clandestine immigration,"

In July 2005 , the BBC reported 7 women were acquitted of illegally terminating their pregnancies, with the court ruling there was not enough evidence to convict the women. The case dating back to 1999 involved the claimed payment to a nurse of about $480 each to terminate their pregnancies . The women from the Portuguese fishing community of Aveiro were prosecuted — facing three-year prison sentences — along with 10 "accomplices,"
including husbands, boyfriends, parents and a taxi driver who had taken a pregnant woman to a clinic.

The police staked out gynaecological clinics and questioned those who emerged looking as if they might have had abortions because they looked particularly pale, weak or upset. At the trial, the most intimate aspects of their gynaecological history were revealed.

The trial had achieved notoriety when it was resumed after an eight-month suspension following a defense motion to remove presiding judge Maria de Conceicao Miranda. Pedro Delille, the lawyer for the nurse, said he was convinced his client could not receive a fair trial after the judge made a clearly biased statement.

According to the lawyer the judge stated during one of the hearings that people who "devote themselves to such crimes are generally seeking financial gain."
The nurse accused of performing the abortions is now being tried separately.

In February’s elections, which they won with a landslide the Socialists promised to introduce a referendum on abortion if elected but put it off during the summer holidays. Last week Parliament approved a referendum be taken. The measure (vote needs at least 50% turnout to be ratified )goes to President Jorge Sampaio (who is claimed to be sympathetic to a change in the law) to set a date in a crowded election schedule, The Government favour a vote on Nov. 27, between Oct. 9 municipal polls and presidential elections in January while the main opposition, the Social Democrat Party (PSD), believes the vote should be pushed to a date after the Presidential election in 2006.

A recent opinion poll shows that people in Portugal now support abortion rights, 79 percent to 14 percent. There's a growing sense that while abortion may be wrong, criminalization is worse. Remember, in the Portuguese constitution the referendum is only consultative, not legislative.

There may be a lesson here for Bushist critics of Roe v Wade.

"Prohibir el aborto no salva a nadie ni a nada" dice Sonia Fertuzinhos, parlamentaria portuguesa, "solo consigue arrestar a mujeres y humillarlas en la arena pública".

"Forbidding abortion doesn't save anyone or anything," said Sonia Fertuzinhos, a Portuguese member of Parliament. "It just gets women arrested and humiliated in the public arena."

The paradoxical result is many the Portuguese, a Catholic nation, seem to be both anti-abortion and pro-choice. They are morally uncomfortable with abortion, especially late in pregnancies, but they don't think the solution is to arrest young women, make them a public spectacle and then send them to prison.

Recent blogs on same topic here

Operation Unending Sacrifice

Look at this.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Chavez keeps tweaking the US nose .... 2nd World gets it's act together

Last month, President Chavez of Venezuela agreed deals to provide oil on preferential terms to most Caribbean nations after a meeting of regional energy ministers in Caracas. Bilateral agreements were signed with the Dominican Republic, Dominica, Grenada, Suriname, Belize, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda. He has earlier concluded preferential deals with both Cuba and Jamaica. The arrangement allows participating governments to pay market price for Venezuelan oil, for just a small portion of customary up-front costs, and allows them to finance the rest of the payments over 25 years at one percent interest if oil prices exceed $US40 per barrel.

Governments could also pay for part of the cost with services or goods such as rice, bananas or sugar. Venezuela has also agreed to provide assistance in expanding shipping and refining facilities.

Leaders of South American nations, without Argentina, Colombia, Guyana, Uruguay and Surinam, met with the intention of developing a South American free-trade zone.It was the first meeting of the South American Community of Nations in Brazil's capital, Brasilia.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez boasted in a local press interview on Sunday that his country has a 'strong oil card' to play in its contentious relations with the US, and said its hand will be even stronger if other Latin American countries join it in a regional economic alliance.

'In Venezuela, we have a strong oil card to play on the geopolitical stage, and we're going to play it clearly in the interests of regional integration,' Chavez told the daily Clarin newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

'It is a card that we are going to play with toughness against the toughest country in the world (but governed by 'transparency and respect'). With the United States,' Chavez said.

He stressed that Venezuela's actions will always be governed by 'transparency and respect'.

Chavez, who has offered to invest US$5 Bn in a 'South American Development Bank', has also expressed disappointment with the South American trade summit, which produced a vague program with no start-up date.

Chilean international affairs expert Juan de Dios Parra the secretary general of the Latin American Association for Human Rights, said that – to date – South America’s relations “with the rest of the world (have been) from the First World to the Third World.”

Saying that South America had been forced to eat the crumbs left by the big developed countries. He envisaged ,"... a united South America , ... there’s a new actor on the world stage made up of these countries of the Second World, which didn’t exist before now."

George had better get that call in to Pat Robertson ...REAL SOON NOW

Recent blogs on same topic here

Essential UK energy information

I have just discovered the excellent site “Vital Trivia” by Chris Vernon who provides a succinct overview of the UK energy supply system, derived from the new DTI Energy Trends report and comes to these conclusions. Essential reading.

· Total energy production 7½ % lower than Q2 / 2004.

· Oil production fell by 10 % compared to Q2/2004 as production from older established fields continued to decline.

· Gas production fell by 5½ per cent compared Q2 / 2004. Gas imports increased by 53½ % while gas exports declined by 26½ per cent. The UK was a net exporter of gas in the Q2 / 2004, albeit 74½ per cent lower than in 2004. UK gas demand was 2 per cent higher than a year earlier.

· Coal production declined by 20 % year on year (UK Coal lost £50Bn plus). Coal imports increased by 20 % - a new record level. Generators’ demand for coal was up 6½ per cent. (As the financiers sweat dirty old crumbling ancient power stations).

· Allowing for calendar differences, year on year , coal supplied ½ % more electricity, gas supplied 4½ % less. Nuclear supplied ½ % more. Net imports of electricity were 20 % higher than a year earlier.

He concludes

“Although this report does show supplies to be adequate it makes in my opinion some extremely optimistic assumptions about gas and electricity imports, relying on untested infrastructure and untested magnitudes and similarly optimistic assumptions on CCGT electricity generation substitution.”
Basically it's a back of an envelope calculation to see how the UK energy industry is falling headlong into energy importation and loss of energy security and with a tiny excess capacity - gone are the heady post war days when the fleets of coal fired stations were operating at 50-60% capacity.

He raises three main concerns in the outlook for the Winter of 2005 as a result of reading the Ofgem forecasts ;

· In Winter 2004, 331 million cubic metres per day gas was used in UK. Forecasts for “beached” gas have been lowered from 226 to 327 mcm/d and even this may be optimistic. There were record supply disruptions last year.

· The refurbished Isle of Grain LNG terminal, will import 13 mcm/d rising to 17 mcm/d (maximum capacity of the terminal) during the very coldest days. The terminal isn’t even operational yet and early shipments have been diverted to the the US. The US is also facing shortages and importers are dominating supplies from Africa and Middle East.

· The Intercontinental interconnector has a very finite capacity -It is assumed that 42 mcm/d will be available. In 2004 the capacity of the Interconnector was 25 mcm/d but despite acute gas shortage and extremely high prices in the UK the market responded by reducing imports.

To which can be added;

· Assuming continental weather is the same as UK, harsh conditions will not encourage EU suppliers to ship gas needed at home.

... and of course we need to pay for those imports. No more an energy island, we face the problems Japan faced many years ago.

Secrecy prevails in UK nuclear power discussions

Concerned about national energy security, as supplies of natural gas are set both to soar and arrive on these shores from Russia by pipeline and the Middle East by boat to as yet unbuilt LNG ports, the Government is handing over the future of the UK energy industry to EU based enterprises.
London Evening News reports that SECRET meetings have taken place between the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the massive European based energy companies who now own the bulk of the UK energy supply industry. Germany's E.On and RWE, better known by consumers Powergen and npower, and French state run London Electricity group EDF - held meetings with DTI officials in the summer, to discuss the construction and operation of new nuclear power stations in Britain. Secrecy the common currency of the Civil Service - which resulted in the fucking shambles of the industry we have today.

The Association of Electricity Producers, which speaks for E.On, RWE and EDF, confirmed it had a formal meeting with Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks in July. It is reported that they told Wicks:

"The Government should make it clear it would welcome the construction of new nuclear power stations and then reduce obstacles to the development of new nuclear power."

British Energy, operator of the country's current 8 nuclear power stations, cannot build any new capacity due to EU regulation as a result of receiving state aid in their re-structuring. British Energy now financially re-engineered (the shares have doubled in the last 12 months) announced in early September that Dungeness (which took 18 years to build after a series of massive and hugely expensive cock-ups) will be kept open until 2018 which would allow it to continue making a "powerful contribution" to the UK's energy needs and would safeguard hundreds of jobs. It insisted the decision would not pave the way for further extensions at its other UK nuclear power stations. British Energy have successively extended the useful life of their plants (which collectively only operate at 75% load) beyond their initial design life.

An E.On UK spokesman told the Evening Standard: "The chief executive [Paul Golby] has confirmed we have been talking to the Government about security of supply issues, and that included such things as the provision of nuclear power as a carbon-free technology. Those discussions remain private.
"The Government needs to make up its mind on the issue of nuclear first, but security of supply - ensuring the lights stay on - is a key issue for us and our customers."

An EDF spokesman (Andrew Brown the Chancellor’s brother , is head of media relations at EdF Tel : 020 7752 2268), said: "We welcome the Prime Minister's comments at the Labour Party conference last week. EDF Energy, like the rest of the industry, will consider its options as and when further decisions are made on this issue."

Recent blogs on same topic here

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Pakistan / Kashmir earthquakes - 20K plus Dead _ 4 Mn homeless

All from United States Geological Survey here

USGS sent out alerts overnight Saturday - this shows how massive the quake was and the extent of the successive aftershocks immediately and several hours later.Click the logo below for more information and to receive alerts.

A magnitude 7.6 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.43N 73.54E Depth 10km Sat Oct 8 03:50:38 2005 UTC
Location with respect to nearby cities:
95 km (60 miles) NNE of ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (pop 524,000)
115 km (70 miles) ESE of Mingaora, Pakistan (pop 174,000)
125 km (75 miles) WNW of Srinagar, Kashmir (pop 894,000)
165 km (105 miles) N of Jhelum, Pakistan

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.82N 73.13E Depth 10km Sat Oct 8 04:26:12 2005 UTC

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.71N 73.11E Depth 10km Sat Oct 8 05:26:05 2005 UTC

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.75N 73.14E Depth 10km Sat Oct 8 05:19:48 2005 UTC

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.75N 73.14E Depth 10km Sat Oct 8 05:19:48 2005 UTC

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.52N 73.43E Depth 10km Sat Oct 8 06:15:25 2005 UTC

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.69N 73.07E Depth 16km Sat Oct 8 10:46:30 2005 UTC

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.70N 73.17E Depth 10km Sat Oct 8 11:33:33 2005 UTC

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.57N 73.18E Depth 10km Sat Oct 8 12:08:28 2005 UTC

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.79N 73.14E Depth 20km Sat Oct 8 12:25:22 2005 UTC

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.70N 73.18E Depth 10km Sat Oct 8 21:13:31 2005 UTC

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.68N 73.22E Depth 10km Sat Oct 8 21:45:10 2005 UTC


A magnitude 5.5 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.56N 73.20E Depth 10km Sun Oct 9 07:09:19 2005 UTC

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.64N 73.15E Depth 10km Sun Oct 9 08:30:02 2005 UTC

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake IN PAKISTAN has occurred at:
34.27N 73.69E Depth 10km Sun Oct 9 19:20:37 2005 UTC

Earthquakes and active faults in northern Pakistan and adjacent parts of India and Afghanistan are the direct result of the Indian subcontinent moving northward at a rate of about 40 mm/yr (1.6 inches/yr) and colliding with the Eurasian continent. This collision is causing uplift that produces the highest mountain peaks in the world including the Himalayan, the Karakoram, the Pamir and the Hindu Kush ranges. As the Indian plate moves northward, it is being subducted or pushed beneath the Eurasian plate. Much of the compressional motion between these two colliding plates has been and continues to be accommodated by slip on a suite of major thrust faults that are at the Earth’s surface in the foothills of the mountains and dip northward beneath the ranges. These include the Main Frontal thrust, the Main Central thrust, the Main boundary thrust, and the Main Mantle thrust. These thrust faults have a sinuous trace as they arc across the foothills in northern India and into northern Pakistan. In detail, the modern active faults are actually a system of faults comprised of a number of individual fault traces. In the rugged mountainous terrain, it is difficult to identify and map all of the individual thrust faults, but the overall tectonic style of the modern deformation is clear in the area of the earthquake; north- and northeast-directed compression is producing thrust faulting. Near the town of Muzaffarabad, about 10 km southwest of the earthquake epicenter, active thrust faults that strike northwest-southeast have deformed and warped Pleistocene alluvial-fan surfaces into anticlinal ridges. The strike and dip direction of these thrust faults is compatible with the style of faulting indicated by the focal mechanism from the nearby M 7.6 earthquake. US Geological Survey. ©

This has to be one of the best designed and most informative sites on the web...if you want to scare yourself just take a look at California's history of recent shocks.

FCUKEDD - Prime Minister wakes up ...

On January 31st Tony Blair was in Manchester, UK and in answer to a reader of the Manchester Evening News, judged it an appropriate time to discuss nuclear power in public. The answer was published the following day. The Press / TV passed this historic moment by…..

We are facing a serious energy deficit and the idea of wind farms is proving to be a shambles. Is it the government’s intention to build any more nuclear power stations or further develop the UK nuclear power industry?

The issue is whether we can overcome two obstacles - cost and public concern. There are countries like China and South Africa that are developing new generation nuclear power stations and I think what we have said is that you can’t shut the door to this. We don’t have any plans to open new power stations but what you are saying is interesting and I think there is a debate to be had about nuclear power but it has to happen in a rational way. If we suggest a new generation of nuclear power in this country I can guarantee there will be public concern about it so we would have to look at what is going on in other countries very carefully.

Press comment and lobbying by the energy industry since the day after the May election has been remorseless, and the subject never off the pages of the press or our TV screens. Today the Scotsman on Sunday says Blair has decided to back new nuclear power stations, which would be built on the sites of existing plants and presented to the public and his party as a job-creating answer to climate change.

Blair's advisers are pro-nuclear. Sir David King, his chief scientific officer, said 3 years ago that renewable energy sources would not be developed fast enough to fill the gap expected in 2020. Margaret Beckett, Environment Secretary, last week claimed at a climate change conference that she has "never said" she is against nuclear power.

A commons motion opposing more nuclear energy has been signed by only 41 of Labour's obedient 354 MPs.

Brian Wilson, a former energy minister (now ex MP) say fears of a House of Commons rebellion are overblown because new plants do not require the permission of MPs.

"There has not been a nuclear moratorium - it's open to anyone to come up with new proposals," he said. "And you do not need legislation, just a level of commitment that makes new propositions economically feasible."

A DTI spokesman said it was "highly unlikely the planning issue wouldn't have ministerial involvement" but confirmed that a new power plant "wouldn't necessarily involve primary legislation".

Research conducted by the DTI has identified three sites to host a new nuclear reactor: Hinkley in Somerset, Sizewell in Suffolk and Hunterston in Ayrshire.

The reader of the MEN , founder of the Forthcoming United Kingdom Energy Debt Disaster (FCUKEDD) is astounded that the Government has finally responded to the naked facts about energy supply and security for the UK. An island which Ernest Bevan famously remarked in the height of the ’47 winter ..” is made of coal, and surrounded by fish, where it would take an organising genius to manufacture a shortage of either”.

9 months - gestation time for a baby - perhaps Tony realised he got FCUKKED when he visited Manchester ?

Now watch the market him fuck him big style while the squeeze the costs out of the UK taxpayer.(Note The DTI has been holding "discreet talks with major energy providers" about nuclear options: E-On and RWE of Germany, and EdF of France. BNFL has design for a new plant (remarkably.... the Chinese / SA pebble bed design the PM mentioned and was evidently very well briefed on in January).

UK Energy security .. that went out of the window when we sold off the N Sea oil and gas and Maggie clobbered the miners.

Here are some news links Sunday 9/10/05, Forbes ,Scoopt, Scotsman... from CND to nuclear reactor !

Recent blogs on same topic here

Concept cars, dontcha just luv 'em !

Nissan have unveiled Pivo, its imaginative electric concept car, in partnership with renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami at the company's Nissan Ginza Gallery in downtown Tokyo for the 39th Tokyo Motor show..

The Ultra compact, easily manoeuvred Pivo, features an innovative cabin that revolves 360 degrees, eliminating the need to reverse. Thanks to its compact body, the car is also exceptionally easy to manoeuvre.

The three-seater (!) car is packed with “user-friendly technology”, 1. Nissan's Around View Monitor cuts blind spots by displaying the outside surroundings on LCD colour screens mounted either side of the windshield. No fuddy duddy old mirrors then. 2. A dash-mounted infrared (IR) commander allows the driver to operate the navigation and stereo systems with simple finger movements without letting go of the steering wheel. Whooooop de dooooo!!!. Finger controls !

Pivo is powered by Nissan's compact, high-performance lithium-ion battery and its unique Super Motor, resulting in zero emissions.

No mention of luggage space or number (and size) of cup holders.

Anyone remember the motor cycle engined post war Messerschmitt ?

Senate's Torture Hall of Fame - the Fuck Geneva Convention 9

Ninety of the 100 members of the Senate (Including Senate Republican majority leader, Bill Frist), voted in favour of Republican Senator John McCain’s amendment (details)which would ban "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of prisoners held by the US military. Nine Senators voted to continue torturing people.

The Pro-Torture members of the Senate are:

Wayne Allard (R-CO)
Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
James Inhofe (R-OK)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Ted Stevens (R-AK)

The amendment, is attached to the $440 billion (£247 billion) Defence Spending Bill and if Mr Bush vetoes the amendment, ( a first in his 5 year Presidency) he would have to veto the entire bill. The Amendment is opposed by the Bush Administration and by Duncan Hunter, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, must survive a House-Senate conference committee to have even a chance of becoming law.

Senators have pointed out that a Presidential veto can be overturned by a two-thirds majority in both houses.

It looks therefore, as though the amendment’s fate depends on, secretive, closed door, smoky room, late night negotiations between the Senate and the lower chamber, the House of Representatives – which probably means some more pork on the table ... before they run out of money to pay the troops in Iraq next month.

Senator Ted Stevens (see recent posts for his Alaskan fishy porking exploits) is quoted as saying, "that requiring American troops to follow their own field manual is not practical", which is a novel legal concept which the Supreme Court will struggle with.

They might also struggle with dealing with appeals from US military personnel currently in jail for undertaking such activity, which it appears that the Commander in Chief is quite happy with.

Recent blogs on same topic here

A US Marines tale of Iraq.."Kill,Kill,Kill!!"

Staff Sergeant, Jimmy Massey a former U.S. Marine with 12 years experience, alleges in his book, "Kill! Kill! Kill!" written with the French journalist Natasha Saulnier and published in Paris, France, that his battalion committed atrocities against Iraqi civilians during the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, including shooting unarmed protesters. He charges that US military training has created troops so desensitized to violence that battleground brutality in Iraq is rampant and has helped fuel the resistance seen there today.

He writes that he and other Marines in his unit killed dozens of unarmed Iraqi civilians because of an exaggerated sense of threat, and that they often experienced sexual-type thrills doing so. See stories about site where US soldiers exchange pics of violent death for porn.

In the book, Massey writes that at one point he told an officer that the US military campaign "resembles a genocide" and that

"our only objective in Iraq is petrol and profits."

He recalls that he and a group of Marines were near Baghdad when a group of 10 Iraqi men started to protest near them, yelling out anti-US slogans.

At the sound of a gunshot, , Massey said he and his men fired on the group, killing most of them, only to find out later that none of them was armed.

He also recounts several episodes at checkpoints where civilian cars failed to stop and their unarmed occupants were shot to death.

"Overall, we have to look at the (Bush) administration in terms of responsibility for the atrocities and the murder at the checkpoints," Massey said.

Massey said his book, (originally called 'Cowboys From Hell') was being released first in French, in France because he "didn't find an American publisher."

Natasha Saulnier, (links) a French journalist who helped him write the book, said she believed the US publishers were reluctant to touch the book because of its "controversial" nature threatened commercial interests and the US public's image of their fighting forces.(Not available on Amazon) Natasha is a freelance reporter whose articles appear in The Independent (UK), Liberation and L'Humanite among other newspapers as well as on web based left wing sites such as Common Dreams.

His publisher said an English language version of the book was still pending, a Spanish edition will be published early next year.

Several US newspapers / TV stations report Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, a spokeswoman at Marine Corps headquarters in the Pentagon, say the Marines are committed to investigating all allegations of violations of “law of war or rules of engagement.” “Mr. Massey made allegations of genocide by members of his command, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, resulting in an investigation,” she said. The investigation was completed in June 2004, “and these allegations were found to be unsubstantiated in regards to law or rules of engagement violations,” Chapin said.She didn't say they didn't happen.

Massey left Iraq in May 2003 after 3 months service, and was discharged from the Marines with a diagnosed case of post-trauma stress syndrome.

Recent blogs on same topic here

Freedom Alert ! T shirt wins place on "No fly" list in Reno

32 year old Lumber saleswoman Lorrie Heasley of Woodland, Wash., was returning with her husband from Disneyland on a SouthWest Airlines LA – Portland ,Ore and the flight was on stopover at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, halfway through Heasley's scheduled trip from Los Angeles to Portland, Ore.

As a gag to wind up her Democrat voting parents set to greet her, she was wearing a T-shirt , she bought at a shop at Venice Beach, CA. that bore images of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a misspelt reference to the film “Meet the Fockers” a takeoff on a 2004 movie starring Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro and Barbra Streisand. Want one, thong, coffee mug ? Go here

Although no-one had complained in LA , passengers joining in Reno complained and she agreed to cover the words with a sweatshirt, but when the sweatshirt slipped while she was trying to sleep, she was ordered by cabin staff to wear her T-shirt inside-out or leave.

Lorrie and her husband were booted off with an offer for re-imbursement of ticket taxes. They made the rest of the journey by rental car arriving home next day. She is seeking help from ACLU to claim costs for gasoline, a $68 rental car from Avis and a $70 Reno hotel bill. ACLU point out that she was allowed to board the plane by South West and only acted when people raised the matter.(KRNTV video story)

Allen Lichtenstein, lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union in Las Vegas said Heasley's T-shirt is "protected" political speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution – although the plane is a private space and the Government was not involved. Constitutional lawyers we have consulted say (see Cohen v California) say it is covered by the 1st amendment because it is a company regulation.

However the New York Times consulted the heavyweights ..

"The Constitution only restricts the government," said Geoffrey R. Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago and the author of "Perilous Times: Free Speech in War Times."

Unless Congress passes a law forbidding airlines from removing passengers because of messages on their T-shirts, no statute has been violated, said Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Marilee McInnis said several passengers complained about the shirt at Reno and she said Southwest rules (filed with the FAA) allow the airline to deny boarding to any passenger whose clothing is " “offensive, abusive, disorderly or violent or for clothing that is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.”

"I have cousins in Iraq and other relatives going to war," Heasley told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "Here we are trying to free another country and I have to get off an airplane ... over a T-shirt. That's not freedom."

Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Marilee McInnis said several passengers complained about the shirt at Reno and she said Southwest rules (filed with the FAA) allow the airline to deny boarding to any passenger whose clothing is " “offensive, abusive, disorderly or violent or for clothing that is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.”

Just makes you wonder what would have happened if she had taken it off as requested and sat there showing her tits.

Der Spiegel makes a big story out of it which gets the German Bloggers excited - here

Recent blogs on same topic here

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