"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Freedom of the Streets, dearly bought and if Inspector Yates has anything to do with it , easily sold

Maybe it's Midsummer Madness but 2 news items epitomise the parallel universe that some folk live in ...witness - one policeman, one war criminal and Justice Minister , both well educated and experienced in rongdoing.

Commander Yates, that's the one who finally failed to nail the Cash for Coronets crowd and let that slimy turd Lord Lying Levy , the Karaoke King off the hook.

Commander Yates of the Yard is stamping his well shod little foot because Lord Rodger of Earls Ferry has put a spoke in the wheel, a spanner in the works of a dishonest legal scamm he worked out with "the agreement of the Crown Prosecution Service", (who should have known better) in which witnesses to violent crimes could present anonymised evidence , by their absence from court and the trickery of voice alteration technology. Something that not even the Diplock Courts (see beloe) had done ... but overidden by Commander Young and his cronies at the CPS.

The reason for this fit up, was the lack of success in nailing the increasing gun toting gangs and violent criminals on Inspector Knackers patch. As Knacker saw it, this was the failure of the law not Knacker and the reason was witnesses reluctance to face the accused in court.

(Lord Patel has to admit , that if he frequented the dens of iniquity in the early hours of the morning where these violent crimes take place and witnessed a murder he would suddenly be enveloped in an instant case of total amnesia - if only because of having to explain his presence in the Black Mamba Club in downtown Dalston in the early hours to 'er indoors, who is probably more frightening than any Uzi cruisin' schmoozing gangsta. )

The problem is that the witnesses natural concern of the unpleasant consequences of grassin' up gangstas in public is due to the equal and understandable breakdown in street policing over the last 2 decades.

It was therefore Lord Rodger of Earls Ferry and his pals duty, to remind Inspector Yates and his Ilk that the hard won freedoms dating back to Magna Carta mean that the accused must have the opportunity to identify and face their accusers in court. It is also a salutary reminder to the Knacker and the CPS that improving the success rate cannot be won simply by breaking the law.
Now Commander Yates (and the Justice Minister and War criminal Jack Straw) paint an alarming and alarmist picture - Yates says, "the community's confidence in our ability has never been higher".

So alarming that we must, says Yates, produce "emergency legislation" to overthrow centuries of law and also the judgements of Lord Rodger of Earls Ferry and his pals.

Well a word in you shell like Commander Yates. There is precious little "confidence in (your) ability" in this neck of the woods.

The Police have deserted the streets - a process that started with the Panda car - 50 drunken youths rampaged on the school playing fields behind Patel Towers (he's kindly putting me up for the duration - or putting up with me as he says - oh! he is a laugh) at 1am a few weeks ago leaving one with his ear torn off and now on a life support system.

Starting at 9 am on Monday morning outside the main Post Office as Giros are collected, he can watch the dealers swoop in direct site of both the courts and the Police Station and underneath CCTV cameras and all week long to Saturday night outside the main supermarkets, as they call in to collect their schnapps and vodka to start the night off and a few happy pills to help the night along ...to rip someone's ear off..... etc., etc.,

Most folks hereabouts have little concern about gun toting gangstas, they mainly shoot each other and their kin and steer well clear of their mating grounds...and they will applaud any legal legerdemain to put them inside for a long stretch.

Most folks hereabouts however do need the streets. Streets which have been abandoned by the Police.

Speech Number one by Gemma Garrett at Haltemprice and Howden. See the blog

If you want to be as up to speed on the law Lords judgment go here -
SESSION 2007-08 [2008] UKHL 36
R v Davis (Appellant) (On appeal from the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division))
Lord Bingham of Cornhill , Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Carswell, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, Lord Mance

Gemma who hails from Ulster wants Lord Patel to point out that My learned Lords referred to the Diplock Courts in her home land ..."But there has until recently been no precedent for protective measures of the kind now under consideration (anonymity) , even when the problem of witness intimidation has been extreme. Such was the case in Northern Ireland in 1972 when a commission chaired by Lord Diplock reported on Legal Procedures to Deal with Terrorist Activities there. The commission concluded (Chapter 2, para 7(b)) that the problem of witness intimidation could not be overcome by any changes in the conduct of the trial, the rules of evidence or the onus of proof which it would regard as appropriate to trial by judicial process in a court of law. It considered (chapter 4, para 20) that the minimum requirements for criminal trial by a court of law called for the accused to be informed in detail of the nature of the accusation against him and to examine or have examined witnesses against him. The commission could see no way (ibid) of keeping the identity of witnesses secret without gravely handicapping the defence or exposing counsel to a conflict between his duty to his client and a duty to the state inconsistent with the role of the defendant's lawyer in a judicial process. A committee under the chairmanship of Lord Gardiner "to consider, in the context of civil liberties and human rights, measures to deal with terrorism in Northern Ireland", reporting in 1975 (Cmnd. 5847), considered the possibility of measures to conceal the identity of witnesses but concluded (chapter 2, para 55) that the very serious limitations they would place on effective cross-examination would imperil the whole concept of a fair trial, and the committee regarded this, as the Diplock Commission had done, as a conclusive argument against such measures.

Which is something war criminal Jack Straw should carefully consider before rushing through any hastily drafted emergency legislation.

He will however be encouraged and will no doubt seize on the final Paragraph (99) of the judgement ..."In this situation, I have been persuaded that any further relaxation of the basic common law rule, requiring witnesses on issues in dispute to be identified and cross-examined with knowledge of their identity and permitting the defence to know and put to witnesses otherwise admissible and relevant questions about their identity, is one for Parliament to endorse and delimit and not for the courts to create.... there is reason to think (a)growing - threat to the administration of justice posed by witness intimidation. It may well be appropriate that there should be a careful statutory modification of basic common law principles."

The Primrose path of dalliance down which the Dutch and New Zealand parliaments have already taken.

It will be interesting to see if Mr David Davis is willing to support yet another attack on our common law for the sake of providing Inspector Knacker with "the community's confidence ".

Chinese bullets for Afghanistan forces, Czech missiles for Iraq paid for by the US taxpayer - the Miami connection

In January 2007 the US Department of Defense awarded a contract to AEY Ltd. to supply up to US$300 Mn. worth of ammunition to the Afghan Defense Forces. Public records show that AEY’s contracts since 2004 have potentially been worth more than a third of a billion dollars.

A curious company to obtain such a contract, the President was 21 year old Efraim E. Diveroli, the Vice President , David Packouz, a licensed massage therapist and they operated out of an unmarked Miami storefront. They also had a representative in Albania , Alexander Podrizki, and apparently a Ralph Merrill, a business associate of Mr. Diveroli was based in Utah who gave the company financial and managerial assistance.

Unsurprisingly it has led to a federal grand jury in Miami handing down charges to the three who ran the outfit , of fraud and conspiracy to misrepresent the types of ammunition they sold to the Defense Department.

It appears that the ammunition supplied was more than 40 years old and came from stockpiles of the old Communist bloc, including stockpiles that the State Department and NATO have determined to be unreliable and obsolete, and have (apparently) spent millions of dollars to have destroyed. Records are said to show shipments by AEY from stocks in the old Eastern bloc, including Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Romania and Slovakia.

Conversation of young Efraim secretly recorded suggest corruption in AEY's acquisition of more than 100 million aging rounds in Albania

Efraim was secretly recorded in a conversation that suggested corruption in his company's purchase of more than 100 million aging rounds in Albania, according to audio files of the conversation. These involve Kosta Trebicka, an Albanian businessman, and Ylli Pinari, director of an Albanian agency in charge of arms exports - Efraim (whose MySpace page says he's a "nice guy") says he "can't play monkey business with the mafia ... and all those fucking guys in Albania" .

Diveroli stresses to Trebicka the need to push a Pinari to go through with a a sale of material, according to the recording.

"Call him up, beg him, kiss him, whatever..." Diveroli tells his Albanian contact. "Send one of your girls to fuck him... Let's get him happy. Maybe he gives you one more chance to do the job. No?"

Mr. Diveroli arranged re-packing in new cardboard boxes, many of which split or decomposed after shipment to the war zones. Lots and types of ammunaition mixed, it was dirty, corroded or covered with a film. A middleman company registered in Cyprus, Evdin Ltd., bought the ammunition and sold it to his company, the principal function of which was to divert money to Albanian Government officials.

The Czech Connection

AEY Ltd., founded by Efraim's dad in 1966 had other interests. In May 2007, according to two American officials, the Czech government contacted the American Embassy in Prague . AEY was buying nine million cartridges through Petr Bernatik, a Czech citizen who had been accused by Czech officials of illegal arms trafficking.

The accusations included shipments of rocket-propelled grenades in violation of an international embargo to Congo, and illegal shipments of firearms to Slovakia.

Mr. Bernatik was listed on the Defense Trade Controls watch list, maintained by the State Department, is used to prevent American dealers from engaging suspicious traders in their business, in part to prevent legal arms companies from enriching or legitimizing black-market networks.

Any person who engages in the U.S. in the business of either manufacturing or exporting defense articles or furnishing defense services is required to register with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls through the Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance..There are about 7,000 entities listed and some 500 are added/changed/delisted every month.....They review approximately 55,000 requests for export licenses annually. (See ACLU review)

The State department didn't block the trade - equipping Iraq was, after all, in the United States’ interest, and also because Mr. Bernatik had been accused, not convicted.

On May 7, 2007, the Czech government issued an export license. Mr. Bernatik, in a telephone interview, said he arranged seven flights to Iraq for AEY last year. “We have a normal business collaboration,” he said.

Inquisitive Henry A. Waxman, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement on Friday. “The more we learn about AEY, the more questions we have.” They will be holding hearings starting on Tuesday.

Supplier Under Scrutiny on Arms for Afghans : March 27th, 2008 New York Times
This article was reported by C. J. Chivers, Eric Schmitt and Nicholas Wood and written by Mr. Chivers.

Busy week ... Scott McClellan exposes White House liars to House Judiciary Committee .. but too frightened to finger Cheney...Tim Russert's funeral

Yesterday, chubby author and ex White House spokesman Scott McClellan appeared before the House Judiciary Committee who are still trying to fathom how CIA operative Valerie Plame's name was leaked to the Press.

McLellan explained that White House aide Andy Card told him that both the President and Vice President wanted him to publicly say that Cheney's top aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was not involved in the leak.

"I was reluctant to do it," McClellan explained . "I got on the phone with Scooter Libby and asked him point-blank, 'Were you involved in this in any way?' And he assured me in unequivocal terms that he was not."

Imagine THAT conversation , "Hi , Scott here... Mr Libby, sir, did you leak Mrs Plame's name to the Press ?" ..."Go fuck yourself Scott" ... "OK, gee thanks Mr Libby..sir."

We now know that both Libby and presidential adviser Karl Rove HAD discussed Plame's identity with reporters. State Department official Richard Armitage (who had threatened President Mushariff that the US would bomb Pakistan back into the Stone Age) first revealed Plame's CIA identity to columnist Robert Novak, who obtained confirmation from Karl Rove as well for a confirming source for a 2003 article.

McClellan told the House panel he doesn't know if a crime was committed and does not believe that Bush knew about or directed the leak. When asked about Cheney, he replied: "I do not know. There's a lot of suspicion there."

The White House has consistently shifted its position from 2003 and through 2004 the line was anyone who leaked classified information in the case would be dismissed.

By July 2005, Bush had carefully qualified his position, saying he would fire anyone for leaking classified information .... if that person had "committed a crime."

Elswhere , the ever inquisitive US House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Henry Waxman, is seeking transcripts, reports, notes and other documents relating to interviews with Bush and Cheney, as well as interviews with former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, White House Senior Advisor Dan Bartlett, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

However in August last year the US Department of Justice argued that the White House Office of Administration is not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests in response to a lawsuit filed by an advocacy group to force the Office of Administration to turn over information in a different case involving missing ( and potentially incriminating) White House e-mails regarding the CIA leak investigation and the US Attorney firing scandal .

It was just 12 months ago that Vice President Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby was found guilty on four of five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice and sentenced to 30 months in prison and heavy fines for perjury and other offenses related to the Plame leak investigation.

President Bush issued a "Grant of Executive Clemency" on July 2nd for Libby in which, after examining his heart he decided that 30 months in the slammer was too much and considered it was an appropriate exercise of the power that the Constitution provided the President , to commute his prison sentence.

Nancy Pelosi described the President's act .."a betrayal of trust of the American people."... and that he "he has failed to uphold the rule of law."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the President's decision was " disgraceful" and that Judge Walton's decision that Libby should be imprisoned for lying about a matter of national security should not be altered.

In reports of the case (LA Times) , (which fascinates Limeys because UK jurors may not ever talk about a case to anyone)one juror said the panel did not believe Libby's claim that he learned of Plame's identity from a journalist, when evidence showed he had discussed her in several White House meetings before that. "The primary thing that convinced us was his conversation with (NBC newsman Tim) Russert," said Denis Collins, spokesman for the 11-person panel. "Libby was told nine times about Plame before he talked to Russert."

Russert was the last witness in Libby's trial and he denied outright Libby's claims of what was said in a telephone conversation he had with him when Libby claims Russert raised the names of Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson...""That would be impossible," Russert testified .... about such an exchange. "I didn't know who that person was until several days later."

The MSNBC report of the trial says ( reinforcing the lead juror's later views..".. the discrepancy between his account and Libby's is at the heart of the perjury and obstruction trial."

Tim Russert, the affable TV news anchoman , who originated the phrases Red States and Blue States died the afternoon of June 13, 2008, unexpectedly, at the age of 58.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wow ! folks are spending money ..... and remembering the good old days when BBC employees were killed by ricin ... maybe

Click to enlarge

Perhaps, sunny weather, low cost clothing made by the paeons of Asia, the fact that very many people are not yet struggling to meet their financial commitments, sunny weather, petrol and energy prices have soared, sunny weather.

Probably the oddest news is that Scotland Yard have re-opened, after 30 years , the only case in in the history of medical science,of murder by (it is said) ricin poisoning - although it was more likely a shellfish toxin - KGB agents had by then (accoding to the CIA) used poison darts and poison spray to assassinate two Ukrainian liberation leaders in West Germany. Markov was not killled by an umbrella. He was injected with a metal pellet in a modified hypodermic syringe of a very rare and inert metal bolus, containing a highly refined slow release dose of a toxin. See BBC ONline report Bulgaria closes Markov investigation

So we all need to worry about brown men with beards making these things in their bathrooms, who will be powdering our Kellog's , sprinkling it in our tea ...

Turn up the fear factor Gordon, the ordure is hitting the air conditioning let's divert attention from years of neglect to the nation's energy resources, food resources .....the appalling state of the National Health Service, a generation of illiterate and innumerate schooleavers .... the collapsing morale of troops, ill equipped, overstretched, underpaid ...

PS : It was reported on March 21st last year that the Initiative Committee of Plovdiv was lobbying for monument of Georgie Markov - he had no connection whatever with the town.

DOD expect detainees to "surge" in Baghdad by 25% soon.

Fascinating story at Wired Blogs by Sharon Weiberger, this sharp eyed lady noticed amongst the many US Government contracts in Iraq, a requirement for some folks to look after detainees possessions at Camp Cropper, which is part of the Baghdad Airport complex.. an incubator for jihadist cells apparently..

There are 60,000 detainees currently whose status is "unknown" . Some of the property belongs to detainees that are still being held in theater, while some of the property is of released, deceased, unknown, or escaped detainees.

At say 2 cubic feet each that's about a minimum 4,000 cubic yards of "stuff" , "Contracted personnel must be able to lift up to approximately 50 pounds. " ...." Approximately 15,000 Internment Serial Numbers (ISNs) have been inventoried. It is unknown as to the exact quantity of ISNs in the warehouse. However, the internal spreadsheet shows that there have been over 43,000 entries. "

There is evidently some slick software to hand for the task because operators must have, " a working knowledge of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel."

Evidently the contractor is expecting to recruit non Iraqi staff and there is a great deal of detail under XI. PROHIBITION AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING, INHUMANE LIVING CONDITIONS, AND WITHHOLDING OF EMPLOYEE PASSPORTS to suggest that such problems have been a previous and frequent problem etc.,

Perhaps more alarming is the procedures to adopt in the event of Kidnapping which must be a frequent event because there is a form provided in the Job Spec Page 15 to report it ...after having informed "the JCCI/A Duty Officer at phone number 914-822-1419 when an employee kidnapping occurs: "

Oddest of all is Para 3.2 at Page 4 ... The DPW receives daily drops of property for all incoming detainees, as well as add-on property to existing detainees. Some drops can be as many as 200-300 boxes of property, while some drops can be as small as 5-10. With the anticipated surge of approximately 15,000 detainees in the upcoming six months, the workload could and will significantly increase.

That's a 25% increase in the workload.

Odd stories from camp Cropper are not unusual...former commander of the 451st Military Police Detachment and of of the camp , Lieutenant Colonel William H. Steele was held in Kuwait in April 2007 on an Article 32 hearing of providing "aid to the enemy" by supplying an unmonitored cell phone to detainees.commander of the 451st Military Police Detachment

Other and related charges committed between October 2005 to February 2007 included unauthorized possession of classified information, fraternizing with the daughter of a detainee, maintaining an inappropriate relationship with an interpreter, storing classified information in his quarters, as well as possessing pornographic material.

On June 10, 2007, the military dropped charges of fraternization with the daughter of a prisoner, and failure to oversee expenditure of government funds -- allegedly used to purchase of hair dye and Cuban cigars for Saddam Hussein when he was held at Camp Cropper.

After a week long court-martial in October 2007 before judge, Lt. Col. Timothy Grammel he was was sentenced to two years confinement after pleading guilty to lesser charges that include unauthorized possession of classified documents, an inappropriate relationship with an interpreter and failing to obey an order.

The charge of aiding the enemy is a capital offense under U.S. military law. Former acting commanding general of U.S. forces in Iraq, Maj. Gen. James Simmons, decided ahead of Steele's trial against a possible death sentence, although a conviction could have carried a life sentence. He will probably leave prison in early 2009.

The only other person charged with aiding the enemy since the Iraqi illegal invasion was Capt. James J. Yee, a Muslim chaplain who was linked to a possible espionage ring at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military prison. He was eventually cleared and given an honorable discharge.

For those interested in that kind of thing there is a lengthy blog post here "My left Wing" about Steel , kept going by folks who think Steele was a whistleblower who was jumped on to shut him up.

Going to work on an egg - and how BIG & Fresh and BIG and BRITISH eggs give the supermarkets higher prices and BIG, BIG margins

One of the eternal mysteries was explained yesterday. Its unravelling was simply undertaken by placing a recently purchased hens egg ( an Extra Large Organic from Lord Tesco's corner shop) on a kitchen scale. It weighed approximately 3 ounces or 7o grams.

The puzzle ... and it has been one for a very long time , was how hens eggs are graded, small/medium/large /extra large, was it by size (length/diameter/width or a combination therof) or simply by weight ?

A wiser head than evidently exists in Patel Towers technical team directed us to UK Eggs which wins the prize for the best web site ever.

It is simple, clear, easily navigated, tells you everything you need to (and probably will ever want to ) know about eggs and their production in the UK. It does exatly what it says on the ...er ...egg.

Egg Grading, Size and Quality

UK eggs used to come in a range of 7 sizes. There are now 4
Small 53 gms and under/ Medium 53 - 63g / Large 63 - 73g and Extra large is anything over 73 grams. Egg shell colour is a result of breed and diet and has no nutritional significance.

UK Egg production

There are three types of egg production 1) Laying Cage System 63% of UK production 2) Barn System 6% of UK production 3) Free Range and Organic Systems 32% of UK production , These eggs are under EU regulation , Grade A - naturally clean, fresh eggs, internally perfect with shells intact and the air sac not exceeding 6mm in depth. The yolk must not move away from the centre of the egg on rotation. Grade A eggs are sold as shell eggs. Grade B eggs are broken out , not sold retail , pasteurised and used in processed foods, cakes etc.,

It takes 4 pounds of feed to produce a dozen eggs.

An EU-wide ban on the use of conventional battery cages for egg laying hens will be applied from 1 January 2012.

UK Egg consumption

In the UK we eat 10.5 billion eggs a year that's 29Million per day and 172 per head per year or about one every other day. Only about half of those egs are sold retail the rest appear in processed food ,

The total retail market is approximately £675 milion of which £410 million goes to the producer. Evidently these figures are out of date as egg prices have risen by some 30-40% in the last 12 months.

The major supermarkets sell 85% of those eggs which are produced by 29 million birds who each lay about 312 eggs a year. There are 32,525 registered laying flocks nearly all under 5,000 birds and just over 300 with 20,000 layingbirds... and the resultuing eggs pass through 1,409 packing stations. Mysteriously we import 2.5 Billion whole eggs and export a miserable 202 million.

The Daily Mail June 2nd says "The price of a dozen medium free range eggs has risen by 83p or 47.4 % since May last year to £2.58. "


UK Eggs say, "Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods money can buy." A medium egg A has an energy value of 78 kilocalories (324 kilojoules) . An egg a day provides around 3% of the average energy requirement of an adult man; 4% for an adult woman. They contain neither sugar or Vitamin C.

Eggs are packed with protein, vitamins and minerals content and relatively low saturated fat content. On the evaluation scale most commonly used for assessing protein, egg is at the highest point, 100, and is used as the reference standard against which all other foods are assessed.

A zillion sites tell you about egg nutrition try this American site The Egg Nutrition centre

In the US , there doesn't appear to be any standards on size or quality, you just go to the store and buy eggs.

The most expensive egg ever sold was the Faberge “Winter Egg” presented to the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna in 1913. One of only 66 eggs that Faberge produced, and designed by Alma Pihl .In 1949, it was sold for US$4,760 and again in 1994 for US$5.6 million to an anonymous buyer.

On April 19 2002, Christies sold it again for US$9.58 million

A stroll round Tesco/ASDA/Lidl looking at egg prices/packs
LOlla Palooza and Tonu Fabulosos were handed some petty cash and asked to buy some eggs with some intriguig results

Free Range Large 12 pack Tesco £2.92 ASDA £ 2.92
Free Range Medium 6 pack Tesco £1.49 ASDA £ 1.52 Lidl £1.27 (16% cheaper)

The cheapest eggs were Caged packed 15's in Tesco 10p each, ASDA packed in trays of 30 at 9.9p and Lidl packed in 10's 9.7p . probably the best offer was ASDA special offer packed in 15's guaranteed average weight of 54 gms = medium for £1.50 = 10 p each = 19.2 p per 100gms.

Most expensive were Lord Patel's Tesco organic Extra Large 6 for £2.39 =39.9 p each. at 73 gms each = 54 p per 100 gms 280% higher than the lowest cost caged eggs.

Of course ASDA and Tesco confuse the customer even more, Tesco offer BIG and Fresh eggs and ASDA offer BIG and British eggs, which are clever ways of packaging mixed caged eggs . For example :
Tesco 10 pack BIG is £2.10 and ASDA BIG and British is £2.08 , these packs average out as medium price eggs (55gms) so the cost is 37p per 100grams - damn near double the cheapest caged eggs - for effectively the same product.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Smelling the coffee..how the Famous Five lawyers of the "War Council" ripped up the United States obligations under the Geneva Conventions -

Unknown to the public, the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) corps of lawyers prides itself on defending the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military's law book, which demands strict discipline and moral behaviour in peace and war. The legal officers boast that military commanders can rely on two people for honest advice: their chaplains and their JAG lawyers.

Major General Thomas Romig, was the Army's Judge Advocate General from 2001 to 2005 says trust between uniformed military lawyers and the Bush administration collapsed in the months after 9-11.

He recalls a meeting, late 2002 or early 2003 with fellow officers and Pentagon civilian lawyers when Marshall Billingslea, a deputy to Douglas Feith, then 3rd ranking Pentagon official and an undersecretary of defense for policy said, "Guys, it's time to wake up and smell the coffee. It's time to take the gloves off,"

This moment crystallised for Romig what the Gang of Five surrounding defence Secretary Rumsfeld were doing.

We now know, because Department of Justice senior lawyer Jack Goldsmith has told us , that the five lawyers (they called themselves the War Council) met every few weeks behind closed doors,either in Gonzales' White House office or Haynes' Pentagon office to plot legal strategy.

The quintet included White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, with a direct line to the President whom he had represented personally for many years. There was also deputy to Gonzalez, the little known, Timothy E. Flanigan who was also close to Addington. He later withdrew his nomination to be deputy Attorney General in 2005 when his role in re-defining torture became clear.

Senior Pentagon general counsel William J. Haynes II led the group with Gonzalez. The Department of Defense announced his sudden resignation in February when his role in ensuring a just system of detainee trials at Guantanamo became public.

John C. Yoo then a Justice Department lawyer was critical in prepring the key memorandums about detention policy. He's now a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Only one of the five War Council collaborators now remains in office: David Addington,the abrasive, much hated but allegedly brilliant longtime legal adviser, friend and now chief of staff to Cheney.

There were of course other players , Jay Bybee, assistant attorney general, made famous by having signed the classified opinion stating that U.S. law permitted some forms of cruel and degrading treatment.

Others involved such as John B. Bellinger III, the ranking national security lawyer in the White House, was simply kept in the dark about plans to use military commissions to try detainees.

Bradford A. Berenson, an associate White House counsel and a former Supreme Court law clerk, argued that the court would never accept absolute presidential authority to designate suspects terrorists and hold them without trial - but nobody was listening.

How the Famous Five operated

The international conventions that the United States helped draft, and to which it's a party, were abandoned by President Bush . For example Section 2441, of the U.S. War Crimes Act, prohibits violations of the Geneva Conventions. The "War Council" decided that this needed to be circumvented.

Step 1.

John Yoo made the extraordinary argument in a memorandum for Haynes Jan. 9, 2002, that the basic Geneva Convention protections, well known as known as Common Article 3 - forbidding humiliating and degrading treatment and torture of prisoners didn't cover alleged al Qaida or Taliban detainees . Which constituted 100% of the floods of detainees in Afghanistan and Guantanamo and many other, as yet , unkown places.

Gonzalez, as a consequence prepared a memorandum for the President dated Jan. 25, (lord Patel's birthday) 2002, arguing forcefully that rescinding detainees' Geneva protections "substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act."

In the way lawyers twist reality , Gonzales also opined this ruse would create a solid defense against prosecutors or independent counsels who may in the future "decide to pursue unwarranted charges based on Section 2441," the U.S. War Crimes Act. A sort of fancy "get out of Jail Card".

Gonzales further argued that by withholding Geneva protections and prisoner-of-war status, Bush could avoid case-by-case reviews of detainees' status.

2 weeks later on Feb. 7, 2002, Bush issued his famous memorandum declaring that alleged al Qaida or Taliban members wouldn't be considered prisoners of war and, further, that they wouldn't be granted protection under Common Article Three.

All signatories to the Un Charter accept Article Three, common to all four Geneva Conventions, as customary law setting the minimum standard for conduct in any conflict, whether internal or international.

Neither the White House nor the Department of Defense has taken responsibility, and the U.S. military's top uniformed leadership remained silent in public while its legal code was being discarded. It was left to lawyers in the military's legal system, the Judge Advocate General's Corps, to defend the rule of law.

The separation of powers and the checks and balances they teach you in Constituion 101 weren't working.

More to follow please return....Marshall Billingslea, is now NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment which means pushing the Missile Shield in Poland etc., ...still smelling the coffee.

Cioffi and Tannin, Bear Stearns Dynamic Duo led away in handcuffs by the FBI, charged with criminal offences ...après nous, le déluge

A September 2007 Business Week report said that at a London conference in February, 2006, Matthew Tannin, a senior managing director at Bear Stearns, told investors that...

"... buying into one of the hedge funds he was hawking, the Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Fund, was akin to putting money in an ordinary bank account"

The Feds.the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission made two major and very public moves today to crackdown, swiftly and very visibly, to demonstrate that wrongdoers in the mortgage meltdown can expect to be handled with ruthless efficiency.

The Bear Stearns Dynamic Duo, Ralph R. Cioffi, 52, and Matthew Tannin, 46, who just 18 months ago enjoyed their status (and 6 figure rewards) as top hedge managers in a firm at the vanguard of the residential mortgage backed seciritisation boom , were arrested at their homes early today. Cioffi at his family home in Tenafly, New Jersey, and and Tannin in his Manhattan duplex by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation .They were later indicted for mail fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud this morning by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation .

The two men were charged with misleading investors about the health of two Bear Stearns hedge funds whose collapse last year ignited the subprime mortgage crisis. Cioffi was also charged with insider trading. The Securities and Exchange Commission sued the men today, claiming they duped investors before the funds imploded.

If convicted of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, wire fraud or mail fraud, the defendants face as long as 30 years in prison. The case is U.S. v. Cioffi, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn) about which we are going to hear a great deal more in the coming months.

Cioffi managed the two funds that collapsed, and Tannin served as his chief operating officer. The hedge funds invested virtually all their assets in subprime-mortgage-related securities. Their investment bets failed last June when prices for collateralized-debt obligations - CDOs, linked to residential mortgage loans plummeted , as they turned sour amidst rising late payments by and defaults by borrowers with poor credit histories or heavy debt.

U.S. prosecutors are focusing on an e-mail allegedly sent by the two suggesting that their funds were headed for trouble, four days before they told investors they were comfortable with their holdings, the Wall Street Journal reported today, citing people familiar with the situation.

Today, both men walked out of FBI headquarters in lower Manhattan looking straight ahead with their hands cuffed behind their backs. Cioffi, wearing a blue blazer, tan slacks and no tie, and Tannin, wearing a blue suit and tie, were led into separate vehicles.

In another move today, two government officials said more than 400 people have been charged in a U.S. Justice Department mortgage-fraud sweep.

Called Operation Malicious Mortgage, the arrests are to be announced this afternoon by FBI Director Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip at the Justice Department in Washington. A number of arrests were made earlier this week.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said it was pursuing 144 cases against the 406 defendants.

The DOJ estimates that total losses to homeowners and borrowers from the identified mortgage frauds in this sweep amounted to about US$1bn (£500m).

"Mortgage fraud and related securities fraud pose a significant threat to our economy, to the stability of our nation's housing market and to the peace of mind to millions of Americans," Mark Filip, Deputy US Attorney General is reported saying. Filip was a Federal judge in Chicago and selected by Ed Mukasey to take over effectively from the position of Gonzalez's no 2 Paul McNulty who resigned last summer. He has an impressive pedigree, there will be a lot of cell doors slamming shut this summer.

Cases involve false employment records and inflation of property values.

As nanny used to say..."There'll be tears before bedtime"

For those who missed it, start at the bottom ....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 Bear Stearns : the gig is up , Bank Robbers to be charged this week

Tuesday, June 03, 2008 Bradford and Bingley catch cold, Wall Street gets pneumonia : S&P cans Big US Banks ratings - shares slide

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 Lehman Bros 17/3 - " Our liquidity position has been and continues to be very strong,'' Offers US$3 Bn. Convertible stock 7.25% coupon / 33% discount

Monday, March 31, 2008 German Financial regulator BaFin estimates global shakedown of US$600 Bn of which German share is 10%

Ludwig von Mises summed it up like this:"There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The question is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved."

Friday, March 28, 2008 The Banker's Money Pit swallows helicopter funds at an increasing and alarming rate. When do the Fed and the BOE run out of paper and printing ink ?

Monday, 17th March 2008 Bear Stearns basket case goes to J P Morgan for US$2 a share - share prices shrinking faster than Glaciers - Nightmare on Wall Street Part : 13

Friday , 4th March 2008 Bear Stearns shares crash 42% - Joe Lewis has lost US$600 Mn.

Friday, December 21, 2007 Bank robbers don't carry guns and wear masks these days

October 15th 2007 - You Tube- John Bird and John Fortune

Saturday, September 01, 2007 Bear Stearns - serial NY Bankruptcy Court appearances - fugitive UK citizen in the dock in Vienna - white collar crime - banking Caribbean style (Cioffi first fingered)

US Housing defaults rise again, City budgets hit , and bankruptcy looms as reduced Property tax incomes cut State employee retirement benefits

Realty Trac report today that default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — were reported on 243,353 properties in the US which shows nationwide ;

1. A 4 % increase from the previous month
2. A 65 % increase from April 2007.
3. This represents about 2% of the total number of households in the US.

Nevada, California, Arizona continue to see the highest rates of foreclosure, with Nevada still highest, leaving one in every 146 Nevada households in April having a foreclosure filing, nearly 4 times the national average nearly and double the rate in April 2007.

California with 64,683 reorted filings came second , slightly down in numbers from March but 112 % up from April 2007.

6 California cities feature in the Nations Top 10. Merced took the top spot, followed by Stockton at No. 2, Modesto (3rd) Riverside-San Bernardino (4th) ,Vallejo-Fairfield (6th) Bakersfield (8th) - site of the ill fated Lehman / Sun Cal backed McAllister Ranch debacle. see Wednesday, June 11, 2008 Lehman Brothers investments exposed as losses pile up..Alpha female CFO Ms Erin Callan NYPD cop's daughter's is on the case (leaving Florida cities Cape Coral-Fort Myers (5th), Port Lucie-Fort Pierce (9th) Fort Lauderdale at No. 10.

Arizona showed accelerating foreclosure activity with a monthly increas in April of 26% a total increase of 181 % from April 2007,

Not only do foreclosures slow sales and depress prices it can affect Property Tax incomes , putting municipal budgets in peril. For example, the city council in Vallejo, California - with the nation's 6th highest foreclosure rate in April , and facing a projected US$16 million deficit in the fiscal year 2008-09 (commences July 1st) voted unanimously on May 7th to have the city file for bankruptcy. Which they did, on May 27th (City Press release)

Chapter 9 bankruptcy allows the city to gain temporary protection from creditors whilst allowing the city to continue to offer citizens necessary services.

The bankruptcy process will however $750,000 to $2 million in legal fees alone, city officials said.

More California cities may file for bankruptcy because they face the same toxic mix of falling tax revenue, rising payroll expenses and a slumping housing market . "I don't think Vallejo is unique," said Mark Levinson, a bankruptcy attorney hired by Vallejo. "Vallejo is not the only city in California or the U.S. that is saddled with employee contracts that are burdensome."

Vallejo promised its employees salaries, benefits and retirement packages that it simply cannot pay, signing generous labour contracts during economically flush times, claims Marcia Fritz, vice president of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger asked Gerald Parsky ( he served as the California campaign chairman for President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.) of Los Angeles, former chairman of the UC Board of Regents to head a bi-partisan gubernatorial commission - Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission - that studied California's public pension and healthcare liabilities. Parsky's firm, Aurora Capital Partners, also happens to invest $150 million for CalPERS, which just happens to be one of the world's largest pensions.

After 12 months looking at the California's liabilities they reported in January that their unfunded obligations were a jaw dropping US$118 billion for retiree healthcare -- the state of California was on the hook for US$48 billion -- plus US$63.5 billion for pensions.(Full report pdf) pensions were funded up to 89% , they were 119% funded in 2000.

Last month Schwarzenegger ordered his finance director, Mike Genest, to find a way to pay down the state's $48-billion unfunded healthcare obligation over a 30-year period without "raising taxes or dipping into the state's general fund." Genest estimates it will cost the state an extra $1.1 billion annually to fully fund retiree healthcare. It's already kicking in $1.6 billion, plus $4 billion for pensions.

As a small aside the Parsky report recommendation 28 has widespread utility worldwide...

Which means, don't trust the actuaries, investment analysts, brokers, and check every assumption and calculation they make to arrive at their conclusions. Many (if not all) listed UK companies underfunded pensions to boost profits, share prices and Director's share option and bonuses.

At Appendix 3 Page 231 they even provide a through 16 page handy guide, "How to read an Actuarial Valuation" ...which is recommended reading to anyone with a Pension of any sort.

...and Lord Patel wished he had been able to read a copy about 15 years ago.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mervyn the Moron ...Inflation Busters'R'Us .. or not as the case maybe in this global world of unexpectedly high prices which is due to Chinamen, er..

The Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn the Moron commenced his speech tonight in the most extrordinary fashion ...
"Can it really be only a year since we last met in this magnificent room? With the financial crisis continuing, I was tempted to deliver last year’s speech again."

Well up to a point Lord Copper , let us remind ourselves of Mervyn the Moron's wise words of wisdom last year ....

"Our central view remains that inflation will fall back this year as the rises in domestic gas and electricity prices last year drop out of the annual comparison, and the recent cuts in prices feed through to household bills."

"Yesterday" said Mervyn, sounding as though he had just discovered the world wasn't flat....."Yesterday we learnt that inflation in May rose to 3.3%." .. continuing in Economics 101 he added to the world class crop of bankers and toilers at the economic cliff faces of the City of London ..."increases in food and energy prices ......are caused by the pressure of demand on the supply of food and energy in the world as a whole." Well might he have added "Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away ...."

He pursued Economics 101 and the Port moved on to the left (or is it the right?) "Where Bank rate will ultimately need to move to bring inflation back to target is impossible to judge now." (This is the MPC what goes up ...er.. might ..er. go down up or down ...er up ..er maybe . "Decisions on Bank Rate will be made one month at a time in the careful way that the MPC has developed over more than ten years..... "which is why the target is 2% and we have suddenely arrived at 3.3% and rising , the Unions baying for blood and more wages and the energy cartel companies (one of whom has as head of PR the Prime Minister Bro.) asking for a modest 40% increase real soon now.

What has slipped by King, Brown, Darling , Balls and his crew, is that the MPC is a one trick pony. It has one target, and one stick, no carrots. Living in a global world the much forecast, predicted and predictable huge rise in European energy costs (eg FCUKED) , the accompanying rise in grain costs as yearly stocks fell ,and living standards in the third world accelerated has hit us just as the money jugglers have destroyed our currencies.

Mervyn moved onto the UK Housing market ..."Banks are adjusting to the fact that many asset markets are unlikely to re-open in their old form and..." this on the day (see previous post) when the Treasury blithely state that the Northern Wreck debacle is going to cost the tax payer. £19.3 Bn by the time it hits the books and not £14 Billion as recorded just now. ..slight accounting adjustment you understand.. but then in Sir John Gieve you had an expert in adjustments to the books ...see below.

Asset markets won't re-open in their old form.. a new form has arrived in which the tax payer is shoring up God alone knows how many shaky balance sheets in the City through the Bank of England taking in any old iron as collateral.

Sir John Gieve ,Deputy Governor of the Bank of England.

It is with enormous satisfaction that we can report exclusively that the most incompetent living Civil Servant, Sir John Gieve has "stood down" from the comical role of Deputy Governor of the Bank of England following his previous comic turn at the Home Office.

It will be remembered that he rushed along his Minister's mistress's, nanny's visa so she could accompany his mistress on a foreign holiday. It was his wife who acted as solicitor to David Blunkett when THAT affair was examined - but no conflict of interest there then.

Sir John left the Home Office to appear magically (and without any banking experience whatever) at the Bank of England , John Reid described the Home Office as "unfit for purpose" and the Auditor General wouldn't sign off the Accounts.(The National Audit Office report 31st January 2006: Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the Home Office Resource Accounts 2004-05 (.pdf))

It will also be remembered (seeing ID cards enter the public conscience and the Press again) that Sir John Gieve was unable to provide accurate cost estimates to the nearest £2 billion or so for the Identity Cards Programme which Sir John had significant oversight of, and over which he came to blows with the better informed London School of Economics.

The National Audit Office report :

Could not reconcile Home Office cash bank balances, to the tune of £ 3 million or so, but they "do not suspect any fraud"

The Adelphi computer system (about which the previous years NAO report warned them) appeared to be unable to deal properly with failed Bank Automated Clearing System payements i.e. a bog standard function of a large accounting system.

There were lax financial controls and insufficient audit trails.

Subsequent investigations showd that £946 million of "adjustments" had to be made to the accounts.

"To illustrate the scale of the movements: the amount owed to the Exchequer by the Home Office of £68 million in the September draft accounts became an amount owed by the Exchequer to the Home Office of £112 million in the December draft accounts".

Considering the present levels of leakage of secrets from Government offices it is worth while remembering what the much maligned Sir John Bourne said about security ..

15. Additionally, reviews carried out by the Home Office's Audit and Assurance Unit (the internal audit function) and by my staff revealed significant control weaknesses within the main accounting systems. The reviews found control weaknesses within key Information Technology applications including access to the system, inadequate segregation of duties, the creation of standing data and the ability to interrogate and monitor changes made. These weaknesses made access to the database by unauthorised staff possible, representing a risk to the integrity of Adelphi data and exposing the Home Office to a greater risk of fraud and error.

21. ...... Absence of checks made against Human Resources records to ensure that new users are authorised, and leavers are removed promptly; and

Absence of controls to detect unauthorised access to the database.

It was of course during Sir John's time at the Home Office that the loveable Beverley Huighes lost her job because the ome Office c ouldn't count up how many immigrants there were or weren't and the "scam" that continued for 18 months over the handling of migration applications from Romania and Bulgaria.

Sir John's fuck up at the Bank of England was, one has to say, as unlikely an event as say.... forecasting exactly one year ago ..."that inflation will fall back this year as the rises in domestic gas and electricity prices last year drop out of the annual comparison, and the recent cuts in prices feed through to household bills."

Mervyn the Morons Speech tonight is available on the BOE website here which is a bit easier than going to the BOE site and selecting About the bank > People> Mervyn King>Speeches by Mervyn King > select tonights speech

Odds on Sir John Gieve being ennobled soon ?

Northern Rock ... how to turn £14 Billion into £19.3 Billion between April and "over the summer" .Treasury prestidigitation and legendary legerdermain

Summer is here and with it the rain and the Treasury Summer Supplementary Estimates today ..

"At the Budget the Treasury announced that the Bank of England loan facilities to Northern Rock would be replaced with direct Treasury funding during 2008-09 in line with restrictions on central bank financing of government undertakings set out in the Treaty Establishing the European Community. The Main Supply Estimates published in April included a sum of £14 billion, the amount of the outstanding loan facilities projected at the end of the 2008-09 financial year.

Since then, the date of transfer has been agreed by the parties involved and the Treasury will transfer the loan facilities over the summer, at which point the outstanding balance is projected to be £19.3 billion. This Supplementary Estimate updates the provision made in the Main Estimate and will enable the transfer of the Northern Rock loan from the Bank of England to the Treasury at the agreed time. "

Monbiot's Calculus at work ...think of a number ... make it bigger.

Talking of Barclays and their Black, Black Hole ...1st May CEO Paul Idzik announced he was leaving Barclays. " seeking new challenges" ....Nothing heard of him since. CEO of one of the biggest banks in the world wants "new challenges" - flying to the moon / Mars maybe ?

So he had spats with John Varley and Bob Diamond .. he was CEO for fucks sake.

Pic GG at the Gee Gees - Gemma Garrett MP elect for Haltemprice and Howden, is struggling to keep her slim beautiful, lissom, (dare we say nubile?) figure as she is off to a family celebration in Belfast to celebrate big sister Lisa's baptism..."Mum is going to lay on a very big spread for all the friends and family" says Gemma trying to dodge the summer rain.

GG says,"Lord Patel had better have some super speeches ready for me" see website

GAO upholds Boeing Bid Protest for EADS/NG KC- X Air Force Contract FA8625-07-R-6470 -"Buy America" campaign pays an early Dividend, war not over yet

EADS CEO Louis Gallois was a model of calm this morning when he spoke to Lord Patel prior to the publication of the U.S. Government Accountability Office's "Bid Protest decision" on the protest by Boeing (69 page protest June 18, 2008) of the contract FA8625-07-R-6470, issued by the Department of the Air Force, for up to 179 KC-X aerial refueling tankers (see pic) . The initial contract announced on February 29, 2008, for EADS and their partners Northrop Grumman Corp. was to supply an initial 80 of their innovative and low cost tankers to the Air Force.

It is worth noting that on Page 2 the GAO say,"Our decision should not be read to reflect a view as to the merits of the firms’ respective aircraft." which doesn't lighten the burden on the Pentagon of the GAO's damning indictment and conclusion ; "We recommended that the Air Force reopen discussions with the offerors, obtain revised proposals, re-evaluate the revised proposals, and make a new source selection decision, consistent with our decision."

Louis' early morning calm will have evaporated as the GAO have backed Boeing’s protest on the contract award process for the EADS / Northrop Grumman contract , saying the Air Force made errors during the process and recommended that the Air Force should reopen the bidding and obtain revised proposals for the squilion billion dollar contract.

The Air Force (as does the RAF) need to replace their fleet of ageing aerial tankers - some dating back to the Eisenhower administration.

It is more than a battle over planes. It is a trans-Atlantic battle. Gallic and Teutonic pride, lost jobs , lost contracts as delays pile on delays. This involves not only the major players directly, but many hundreds of global subcontractors and suppliers depending on the outcome.

The February decision wounded the pride of Boeing ,who see the Air Force an essential teat for Government cash - and some claim, is a hidden subsidy for their civilian plane programs. To some it was proof (if needed) of the growing influence of foreign influence pedlars at the Pentagon - rather than , as some would claim ,signs of US technological leadership being eroded and overtaken , and plump overfed and complacent aerospace contractors used to getting contracts having to sharpen up their act.

Boeing have always held the inside track and their decision to protest about the Air Force choice whilst reflexive , carries some worrying baggage. Whatever the decision it delays provision of a much needed fleet and force requirement - in a global world they will have upset some major players with their multi million "Buy America" campaign - not least the Northrop Grumman workers in Mobile, Alabama , and NG managment who counter claim how they support American jobs on the contract. see pic (clickto enlarge or goto the website for more info) .

Boeing claimed the Air Force decision-making process was flawed (which is rich , considering their recent history of bribery and influence mongering - resulting in jail for a former senior Air Force procurement official and a former senior Boeing executive) and that their rebuilt and revamped Boeing 767 ( a smaller plane than the Airbus 330) — would cost less over the life of the plane than the EADS-Airbus tanker. They also questioned the maths of the Air Force when it concluded that the costs of the two planes were about equal - a point the GAO have upheld.

The GAOsay in the 6th of their 7 stated objections (page 3) -"6. The Air Force’s evaluation of military construction costs in calculating the offerors’ most probable life cycle costs for their proposed aircraft was unreasonable, where the agency during the protest conceded that it made a number of errors in evaluation that, when corrected, result in Boeing displacing Northrop Grumman as the offeror with the lowest most probable life cycle cost;..." sounds fairly damning. "Errors in evaluation" ...these guys are spending Billions of tax payers dollars.

If the decision is reversed (and the Air Force are given only 60 days by the GAO to resolve the issue) the GAO say the contract FA8625-07-R-6470 should be cancelled , and the Air Force pay Boeing's bid protest costs.

Boeing shares rose nearly US$3 on the news, about 5% ,but then settled back , up 50 cents. EADS shares reacted promptly and fell 50 E cents of about 3.5%. The Northrop Grumman website has an official response from Randy Belote, Vice President of Corporate & International Communications , "We respect the GAO’s work in analyzing the Air Force's tanker acquisition process. We continue to believe that Northrop Grumman offered the most modern and capable tanker for our men and women in uniform. We will review the GAO findings before commenting further." (see NG KC25 website)

This show won't be over until the fat lady has sung her song.

The Washington summer will be loud with well paid counsels hornswoggling, wheeling, dealing, ducking and diving, and sweaty browed Pentagon procurers busy at their lap tops - the result ? Yet more delay, a lower initial cost and an untidy and grubby compromise that will allow Boeing a share of the spoils.

Everyone has to win, their must be no losers. Watch out for Boeing having to ditch some over priced unwanted projects like the Hummingbird... and some lobbyists hospitalised with hernias hauling their wallets to the bank.

PS: An Associated Press report in the International Herald Tribune says "The Government Accountability Office said Wednesday that it found "a number of significant errors that could have affected the outcome of what was a close competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman." - those words do not appear in the official bid protest report on the GAO website and haven't been attributed to any source by AP. ... the lobbyists lies , counter lies, claims, and counterclaims have just begun.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 The GAO Reminds Us Why The Republicans Can't Be Trusted to Defend America

Bre(atht)aking News - David Davis is a Free Man bound for Glory on Freedom's Train

Three Hundreds Of Chiltern

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has today appointed the Right Honourable (which means he is a Member of Her Majesty's Privy Council) David Michael Davis to be Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern. The Chancellor has also granted Mr Davis's request to be released from this appointment today.

Which means he couldn't (and didn't ) make his expected appearance at PMQ's today.

All very Odd.

Gemma Garrett (see exclusive pic)on hearing the news said " ... bring him on !"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lord King continues to talk out of his arse... Situation Normal ...Amazing Pictures

This is what Lord King Chairman of the Bank of England said in his annual speech to the great and the good of the City of London at the Mansion House almost exactly one year ago on the 16th June 2007...

"Our central view remains that inflation will fall back this year as the rises in domestic gas and electricity prices last year drop out of the annual comparison, and the recent cuts in prices feed through to household bills."

Since then he has had his term of office extended by a further 5 years. Today he wrote a letter the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His letter started rather abruptly and gave hime some information somwhat at variance with his thoughts just a year ago.

The CPI inflation rate for may ..is 3.3% more than 1 percentage point above our target of 2%.

It didn't get any better

That rise can be accounted for by large and, until recently , unanticipated increases in the price of food, fuel, gas and electricity. These components alone account for 1.1 percentage points increase in the CPI inflation rate since last December

Lord King probably mentioned December as Lord Patel as explained in these post wrote to him about his Mansion House speech on the 4th of January 2008..."Should you seek an explanation from Lord King and the BOE how they, and their serried ranks of Oxbridge double firsts in PPE, economists, econometricians, money jugglers, and forecasters so misread the global and (more importantly) the EU energy market you might contact them at enquiries@bankofengland.co.uk or even enquiries press@bankofengland.co.uk Lord Patel has ... and he will keep you informed of the consequences.

This was mentioned in a post Friday, January 04, 2008 Npower lead the rush with domestic UK energy prices rising over 17% when Npower led the charge putting up the prices of the UK gas cartel. The letter was brief and ..er. ... to the point "Can someone explain how the consistent and constant rise in global and especially EU energy costs had been ignored / overlooked when Lord King made his speech ? Regards Lord Patel PS An early response would be welcome."

Lord Kings reply arrived (eventually) and you can read it here...Friday, February 08, 2008 Lord Patel gets a response to letter to Lord King - eventually ..well a reply from Roger Beaton, Public Information & Enquiries Group which allowed, through the passage of time from Lord Patel's missive to it's reply for Marvellous Mervyn to cover his arse ..."the Governor has already addressed these matters in a speech he gave on 22 January this year. In particular he said “2008 is likely to see higher energy prices, higher food prices and, with a lower exchange rate, higher import prices, pushing inflation above the 2% target. It is possible that inflation could rise to the level at which I would need to write an open letter of explanation, ..." and so it came to pass.

One phrase from Mr Beaton is worth passing on and may be quoted in extenso "There is inevitable uncertainty about the future." ... and so say all of us.

Mervyn ends his leter to the Chancellor today ...

"The MPC remains determined to set interest rates at a level required to bring interest rates at the level required to bring inflation back to the 2% "target"

A pity that Lord Patel's letter did not prompt him and the MPC to an earlier response... he cannot say he was not warned.

David Davis - a resigning matter ?

Harry Barnes retired MP has a useful update on David Davis When Will David Davis Actually Resign? at his Blog 3 score Years and Ten

Up to press the Jackanory is that DD (website)will make some snide remarks at PMQ's on the morrow, resign and a writ moved for the bye election which could happen " if the Tory whips play ball" , (which is not a given) so that the bye-election is then likely to take place on 17 July.

Do not hold your breath.

UPDATE : Doh! Of course any money spent on flshy websites / PR bullshit / etc etc., BEFORE the writ for the bye election does NOT count as electroal expenses.

Meanwhile here is a picture of MP elect the glamourous , warm hearted, generous, fun loving Gemma Garrett who has asked Lord Patel to be her Speech writer .. her election blog is available here . Bookmark it , Gemma has some astonishing news that she will be revealing very soon.

Coming soon to a Supermarket near you. Kelloggs smaller boxes, Higher prices.

Cheetham Bell JWT advertising Agency won the Bronze Global Effie award for Kellogg's Special K -- "Drop a Jeans Size Challenge". The Effie Awards (it says here) "honour the most significant achievement in the business of marketing communications: ideas that work." Which is a smart thing for a promotion launched in 2003 .(Kelloggs Official History)

Which is even better news for a company (NYSE:K) that announced Q1 sales growth of 10% and operating profit growth of 9% (2007 sales US$12 Bn.) Results driven by price increases, innovation, and effective brand building - so the Company's Board of Directors announced plans to increase the quarterly dividend by 10% beginning in the third quarter.

Which is remarkable given the massive global increase in grain costs - well that's where the price rises come in . Innovation well, it's like the "Drop a Jeans size" challenge... Kellogs have come up with a winner, just as thair customers can shrink... so can their boxes.

Yes. Coming soon to a Supermarket near you. Kellogs smaller boxes, Higher prices.

Kellogs started rolling out the new cereal boxes with 2.4 ounces less per box from June 2nd., which equates to a price rise "to low or midsingle wholesale price increases " Kellogg spokeswoman Susanne Norwitz said today.

According to recent reports from Kellogg Co., costs from commodities, energy, fuel and benefits would rise by an amount equal to about 80 cents per share for the year, from an initial forecast of 65 cents.

Froot Loops, Cocoa Krispies and Apple Jacks are the first off the line in their new compact higher cost content. This is after raising prices acros the whole Kellog product portfolio in January. They are not the first rival General Mills Inc. reduced the size of its boxes in 2007 to bring the shelf price in line with competition.

Of course this doesn't always work Germany-based retailer Metro (sales of €56.4bn last year) took Kellogg's products off its shelves last year after the cereal company attempted to pass on higher commodity costs through price hikes - an average of 2.7% .

We have brought this to readers attentuion earlier this year on Monday, February 25, 2008 Spring Wheat jumps 16% to US$23.10 a bushel as MGX opens with no limits trading - Big Food improves product pumps the price ...profits ..???? General Mills cut in half the number of pasta shapes it uses in Hamburger Helper, to 10. Food engineers and marketers even worked on the pasta bits so they nested together, enabling the company to shrink the box reducing packaging raw material costs 10%.

ConAgra wants to save US$225 Mn in cost savings - for example they will cut US$20 Mn. annually by reducing the number of can sizes from over 100 to 20 over 2 years, for everything from Hunt's tomato sauce to VanKamp beans. ...

Others like Sara Lee Bread - well they just keep pumping up the shelf prices. This is called their "Fuck the customer " Pricing Policy.

Bear Stearns : the gig is up , Bank Robbers to be charged this week

We wrote on Friday, December 21, 2007 in a post Bank robbers don't carry guns and wear masks these days about Barclays Bank seeking damages from Bear Stearns .

It appears that the smart stockpickers at Barclays had lent up to US$400 million to BS's asset management division (BSAM). It claims that it was defrauded by the unit and Matthew Tannin, a Bear Stearns fund manager, with the help of Vermonter Ralph Cioffi, 54, another executive.

BS at the time said , "we believe this lawsuit is an attempt by Barclays to avoid taking responsibility for its own actions."

Barclays alleges (with good cause) that Mr Ralph R. Cioffi ( A Trustee of The Boys' Club of New York ) and Mr Tannin misled them about the value and security of the funds, the High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Fund and the High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund. In the court papers Barclays (who had just written off US$1.7bn of shareholders funds in loans and mortgages) also claims that Bear Stearns dumped troubled investments in the riskier of the two funds. (Bankers , my word is my bond etc., ?????)The suit describes Bear Stearns' conduct as "wilful, malicious, reckless and without regard to Barclays' rights and interests".

Barclays has been under pressure over its exposure to the credit crunch, which has frequently depressed its shares. The bank announced the month prior to this action that it had written off US$1.7bn in loans and mortgages.

Their claim states: "Bear Stearns, BSAM and Cioffi hatched a plan to make more money for themselves and further, to use the Enhanced Funds a repository for risky, poor-quality investments by creating a new investment vechicle called Everquest Financial Ltd ... co-led by Cioffi and through which he stood to benefit personally."

As a small sideshow Mr Cioffi was at the time already under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the American regulator, over allegations that he withdrew about US$2 million of his own money from one of the funds before its collapse. A 23-year veteran of Bear Stearns, and one of its most highly compensated employees (8 figure bonuses claimed) over the previous 3 years due to his hedge funds' double-digit returns, Cioffi had millions of dollars worth of restricted stock - which are now worthless.

BS lady Elizabeth Ventura who gets got star billing as Senior Managing Director, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications, said on Dec 17th 2007 that Mr Cioffi had "stopped working for the company " the previous week but wouldn't expand on the reasons for his exit.

Anyway what goes around comes around and the with Saturn/Neptune cycle ending as Saturn transits into Virgo, Reuters reports that time is up for the rogue BS traders Cioffi and Tanner.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn, New York is completing interviews this week and has indicated to lawyers that indictments will follow. Any charges brought would be the first brought against Wall Street executives or fund managers stemming from the subprime mortgage crisis. The Times today claims criminal charges will be brought against the dealing duo that they deliberately misled investors about the funds' health, and intentionally overstated the value of their funds assets.

A September 2007 Business Week report said that at a London conference in February, 2006, Matthew Tannin, a senior managing director at Bear, told investors that buying into one of the hedge funds he was hawking, the Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Fund, was akin to putting money in an ordinary bank account, according to "a person in attendance"

A commentator to the above story calling themselves Brandon Davis was extraordinarily perceptive ...." This is just the beginning of the end for the "collateralized debt obligations" feeding trough. " Sep 13, 2007 10:01 PM

Most of this was all detailed in a post Saturday, September 01, 2007 Bear Stearns - serial NY Bankruptcy Court appearances - fugitive UK citizen in the dock in Vienna - white collar crime - banking Caribbean style which provided details of 2 BS funds that got creamed in so-called collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, backed by home-loan bonds and other "assets" were"Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Master Fund Ltd., 07-12383 " which raised US $642 million on the launch last last summer. (Ralph Cioffi managed the fund and to lose 20% in it's brief 10 month life - they had "re-stated losses" in April from 6.5% to 18.97% or 23% for the year).

A sister and less ambitiously titled fund - " Bear Stearns High- Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Master Fund Ltd., 07-12384," fared better but flunked all the same. Together both funds lost investors US$1.6Bn and their collapse is said to have "triggered" the summer time "Credit Crunch".

Barclays said that in early 2007 " calls and emails were dodged as they sought performance information " - which was when Cioffi was extracting his own US$2 MN from the crashing "Master" fund. We now know that Cioffi also had with his team inveted an entity called Klios*** in April, 2006, one Klio CDO bought $114 million worth of securities from one of the Bear funds.

Such trades, says Steven B. Caruso, an attorney who represents several Bear hedge fund investors, may be "indicative of an incestuous, self-serving relationship that appears to have been designed to establish a false marketplace." So with Pluto going into Capricorn late last Spring all the bad debt and financial wizardry the investment and commercial banks had engaged in was just ready to pop.

Reuters say, in the po faced way they do, "Former bond portfolio managers Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin could be charged with securities fraud within the next week, according to one of the people familiar with the matter(OOTPFWTM). A lawyer for Tannin declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. Cioffi's lawyer could not immediately be reached."

Remarkably (OOTPFWTM) said no that no charges would be filed against Bear Stearns (the firm) or its top management, which is of course now part of JP Morgan , whose lawyers did not respond ....

At the end of May U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet in Manhattan upheld a bankruptcy court's decision last year requiring that the 2 bankrupt BS funds be liquidated in U.S. courts after an appeal by the liquidators (Simon Whicker and Kristen Beighton, of KPMG). See report on Judge Lifland in the (Bloomberg) S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan) post here Saturday, September 01, 2007 Bear Stearns - serial NY Bankruptcy Court appearances - fugitive UK citizen in the dock in Vienna - white collar crime - banking Caribbean style This decision will have implications for other funds that seek protection under Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which covers cross-border insolvencies - it will also expose some very interesting aspects about how the money markets and so called mortgage backed securities were bundled up and sold. See Sidley Austin LLP etc.,
Footnote : Maybe in the History of the 2007 Crash the Klio will prove to have a fundamental and starring role. Cioffi needed money for his funds and he tapped into a new investor in the mortgage market - money market funds- the $2 trillion universe of money-market accounts in which individuals and corporations temporarily stash their spare cash.

The Klio was an aggressive form of collateralized debt obligation, or CDO that he launched. It is now evident that this new source of mortgage funding contributed to much of the $10 billion-plus in writedowns that Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC) were forced to tell their shareholders about last November.

Cioffi's CDOs, initially branded "Klio Funding," were entities that sold commercial paper and other short-term debt to buy higher-yielding, longer-term securities. The Klios made money market men's eyes sparkle. OK they paid a higher interest rate than the usual short-term debt. Iinvestors didn't need to worry about the risky assets the Klios owned because Citigroup had agreed to refund their initial stake plus interest, through what's known as a "liquidity put," if the market soured. Cioffi engineered three such deals in 2004 and 2005, raising $10 billion in all.
Citigroup got fees, Cioffi collected fees, from each deal he purchased billions in mortgage-backed securities and pieces of other CDOs for his three Klios. He bought many of the assets directly from the two Bear hedge funds he managed. The move also supplied the hedge funds with cash.

Klios also had a welcome feature , hedge funds like the BS duo Cioffi managed would typically borrow short periods of time, days or weeks. Under the terms of the Klio deals, Cioffi could use the money for at least a year.

This magic formula spread - hedge fund money jugglers, CDO managers, and banks, including Barclays, Bank of America, and Société Générale, took the lead from Cioffi. As Klios offered a refund policy, money-market managers didn't have to worry about whether home buyers would pay back their loans. Their investments were protected even if the owners eventually defaulted on their mortgages. (See reports of Feb 2006 investors meeting in London )

Indeed, as the bubble inflated, there was little incentive for the array of middlemen collecting fees—mortgage brokers, real estate appraisers, bankers, money managers, and others—to do the proper checks.

From 2004 through 2007, Wall Street raised some $100 billion through these innovative CDOs, essentially creating a whole new way for the industry to finance risky subprime loans. That success, in turn, inspired copycat products such as structured investment vehicles, which also sold short-term debt. At their peak, in February, 2007, SIV assets were said tio have reached US$300 billion.

Barclays have announced some losses but observers believe many others lie hidden. Société Générale transferred all of its risk to a large, global financial institution to wind down at arms length.

With the Moon in Aries the fall had to come and Cioffi set up another (and final) CDO, High Grade Structured Credit CDO 2007-1. This issued short-term paper and offered investors a money-back guarantee from Bank of America. Cioffi had raised nearly $4 billion by late May, making it the biggest CDO of the year. Weeks after the CDO closed, BS twin Hedge Funds managed by the Dynamic Duo collapsed.

By early August the market to use CDOs to raise cash was dead. Money-market funds had stopped buying the short-term debt, and the credit markets froze. Citigroup and Bank of America were forced to make good on their guarantees to investors in Cioffi's CDOs, triggering huge (and as yet unknown) losses at the two banks.

"The good times of too-high price almost always engender much fraud. All people are most credulous when they are most happy; and when much money has just been made, . . . . there is a happy opportunity for ingenious mendacity."

Walter Bagehot Lombard Street 1873

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