Archive for March, 2006

Remember this post and a firm calling itself Aerospace Consortium FZE, of Fujairah, that was mysteriously settling bills relating to entirely different firms in Kenya using Phoenix Aviation, Johnsons Air, GST Aero and Asterias Commercial planes to send mortar bombs to Liberia?

Take a look at this: not sure about sourcing, but a company of the same name involved in a fraud in Iraq.

Federal investigators in Texas were informed by a whistleblower that the extra 50 cents per kilogram of cargo that was supposedly imposed by Aerospace Consortium (which supplied aircraft to EGL) were in fact, phony. The charges were added to 379 air cargo shipments costing a total of $13.2 million over several months

Mike Lockhart, an assistant U.S. attorney in Beaumont, Texas, told CorpWatch that the investigators subpoenaed EGL, seeking information about the surcharges, and were given a letter from Aerospace Consortium explaining the reason for the charges. The documents “looked very suspicious, not what you would expect to see at all,” he said. The charter company was also unable to provide any evidence of the insurance increase.

You may remember the shooting down of the RAF Hercules aircraft XV179 on election day, 2005, in Iraq. This blog ran quite a lot of stuff about it – some reasonable, some utterly ludicrous speculation. In the event, it turned out that the plane really was involved in special forces support (contrary to my scepticism of the time), but the cause of the crash has been left open. John Reid has used the words “lucky shot”, but whatever it was, it caused a large explosion in a fuel tank.

What is new, though, is that a year before that, RAF Hercules aircraft without the complete defensive-aids suite, and without cockpit armour or foam in the fuel tanks, were flying into airfields in Afghanistan where other coalition members went only with the full monty of multiple countermeasure jammers, fire suppression, armour (not to mention only flying by night). And, wonderfully, because all the aircraft taking part in Operation Enduring Freedom were subject to a common command with a common “threat matrix”, these movements were carried out using the ISAF callsign, thus being a purely RAF responsibility.

And, fascinatingly, out of the countries taking part in the Airbus A400M project, only the UK didn’t specify the fuel-tank inerting system, which in the event of a hit squirts nitrogen into the tanks to exclude the mixture of fuel and air. Why on earth would that be?

One of the Jetline International-run Ilyushin 62 jets, 5A-DKR ex. RA-86554, has been destroyed in an accident at Moscow (Domodedovo). Apparently the aircraft, which came in from Tripoli for overhaul, overran the runway and came to rest 500 metres off-airport, breaking into three parts. Crew are safe. Interestingly, the Il-62s and other large aircraft at Jetline haven’t been transferred to the new JetEx Flight Support/MIA Airlines flag – and JACDEC still has it with the Community of Sahel States (Cen Sad).

How odd. In other news, I’m sure a lot of people would like to know just how Silverback Cargo Airways got a special permit to fly from the Belgian CAA, despite the Swedish maintenance engineers refusing to sign off, so their DC-8 9XR-SC (sn 46068) could skip town on the 25th just ahead of the EU black list. It wasn’t about the maintenance regulations really, was it?

Remember this post and a firm calling itself Aerospace Consortium FZE, of Fujairah, that was mysteriously settling bills relating to entirely different firms in Kenya using Phoenix Aviation, Johnsons Air, GST Aero and Asterias Commercial planes to send mortar bombs to Liberia?

Take a look at this: not sure about sourcing, but a company of the same name involved in a fraud in Iraq.

Federal investigators in Texas were informed by a whistleblower that the extra 50 cents per kilogram of cargo that was supposedly imposed by Aerospace Consortium (which supplied aircraft to EGL) were in fact, phony. The charges were added to 379 air cargo shipments costing a total of $13.2 million over several months

Mike Lockhart, an assistant U.S. attorney in Beaumont, Texas, told CorpWatch that the investigators subpoenaed EGL, seeking information about the surcharges, and were given a letter from Aerospace Consortium explaining the reason for the charges. The documents “looked very suspicious, not what you would expect to see at all,” he said. The charter company was also unable to provide any evidence of the insurance increase.

You may remember the shooting down of the RAF Hercules aircraft XV179 on election day, 2005, in Iraq. This blog ran quite a lot of stuff about it – some reasonable, some utterly ludicrous speculation. In the event, it turned out that the plane really was involved in special forces support (contrary to my scepticism of the time), but the cause of the crash has been left open. John Reid has used the words “lucky shot”, but whatever it was, it caused a large explosion in a fuel tank.

What is new, though, is that a year before that, RAF Hercules aircraft without the complete defensive-aids suite, and without cockpit armour or foam in the fuel tanks, were flying into airfields in Afghanistan where other coalition members went only with the full monty of multiple countermeasure jammers, fire suppression, armour (not to mention only flying by night). And, wonderfully, because all the aircraft taking part in Operation Enduring Freedom were subject to a common command with a common “threat matrix”, these movements were carried out using the ISAF callsign, thus being a purely RAF responsibility.

And, fascinatingly, out of the countries taking part in the Airbus A400M project, only the UK didn’t specify the fuel-tank inerting system, which in the event of a hit squirts nitrogen into the tanks to exclude the mixture of fuel and air. Why on earth would that be?

One of the Jetline International-run Ilyushin 62 jets, 5A-DKR ex. RA-86554, has been destroyed in an accident at Moscow (Domodedovo). Apparently the aircraft, which came in from Tripoli for overhaul, overran the runway and came to rest 500 metres off-airport, breaking into three parts. Crew are safe. Interestingly, the Il-62s and other large aircraft at Jetline haven’t been transferred to the new JetEx Flight Support/MIA Airlines flag – and JACDEC still has it with the Community of Sahel States (Cen Sad).

How odd. In other news, I’m sure a lot of people would like to know just how Silverback Cargo Airways got a special permit to fly from the Belgian CAA, despite the Swedish maintenance engineers refusing to sign off, so their DC-8 9XR-SC (sn 46068) could skip town on the 25th just ahead of the EU black list. It wasn’t about the maintenance regulations really, was it?

Scienceblogs.com has rapidly become one of the best things on the Web, and today I saw this post of Pharyngula’s regarding a crazed god-nut college in the US where you can be disciplined for “making eye babies”, touching a person of the opposite sex (your own is fine, though homosexuality is a big no-no), or not giving an accurate account of your movements off the campus. What you can’t be is qualified to do anything, really, as the place isn’t accredited and hence its degrees are worth slightly less than the paper they are printed on – probably a good thing as the library is censored.

What I thought was especially creepy, though, was that there are students who happily rat on their colleagues:

Lisa Morris was walking to class with her boyfriend last October when something happened. At first Ms. Morris, a sophomore music major, is reluctant to divulge the details. Eventually, however, the truth comes out: He patted her behind.

Someone who witnessed the incident reported Ms. Morris and her boyfriend. At Pensacola any physical contact between members of the opposite sex is forbidden. (Members of the same sex may touch, although the college condemns homosexuality.) The forbidden contact includes shaking hands and definitely includes patting behinds. Both students were expelled.

Of course there would be. There always are. A surveillance culture breeds finks like a gold mine (according to Hunter S. Thompson) breeds its own army. From outside, of course, or afterwards, the psychology is incredibly difficult to penetrate; what did that person actually think when they ratted Morris out? That they were doing God’s work? That if they didn’t do it first, someone would do it to them? Or did they just feel warm and fuzzy with contentment at conforming so well?

But they always do it. Which is a long way of getting around to the point that the Tories in the Lords just did, and caved on the ID Cards Bill. That’s going to be a goldmine for the buggers, no? Not only that, but 250 MPs didn’t bother to vote in the Commons. That almost made me feel for Labour MP David Taylor, who voted in both lobbies to show that he really, really didn’t care. He was so keen on floppy indecision, he voted twice in order to cancel himself out!

And I should really mention these three, none of whom could be bothered to show up:Keetch, Paul
Oaten, Mark
Taylor, Matthew

Scienceblogs.com has rapidly become one of the best things on the Web, and today I saw this post of Pharyngula’s regarding a crazed god-nut college in the US where you can be disciplined for “making eye babies”, touching a person of the opposite sex (your own is fine, though homosexuality is a big no-no), or not giving an accurate account of your movements off the campus. What you can’t be is qualified to do anything, really, as the place isn’t accredited and hence its degrees are worth slightly less than the paper they are printed on – probably a good thing as the library is censored.

What I thought was especially creepy, though, was that there are students who happily rat on their colleagues:

Lisa Morris was walking to class with her boyfriend last October when something happened. At first Ms. Morris, a sophomore music major, is reluctant to divulge the details. Eventually, however, the truth comes out: He patted her behind.

Someone who witnessed the incident reported Ms. Morris and her boyfriend. At Pensacola any physical contact between members of the opposite sex is forbidden. (Members of the same sex may touch, although the college condemns homosexuality.) The forbidden contact includes shaking hands and definitely includes patting behinds. Both students were expelled.

Of course there would be. There always are. A surveillance culture breeds finks like a gold mine (according to Hunter S. Thompson) breeds its own army. From outside, of course, or afterwards, the psychology is incredibly difficult to penetrate; what did that person actually think when they ratted Morris out? That they were doing God’s work? That if they didn’t do it first, someone would do it to them? Or did they just feel warm and fuzzy with contentment at conforming so well?

But they always do it. Which is a long way of getting around to the point that the Tories in the Lords just did, and caved on the ID Cards Bill. That’s going to be a goldmine for the buggers, no? Not only that, but 250 MPs didn’t bother to vote in the Commons. That almost made me feel for Labour MP David Taylor, who voted in both lobbies to show that he really, really didn’t care. He was so keen on floppy indecision, he voted twice in order to cancel himself out!

And I should really mention these three, none of whom could be bothered to show up:Keetch, Paul
Oaten, Mark
Taylor, Matthew

Charles Taylor has been re-nailed, after a day or so of freedom on the lam from the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone. I was amused by this description of his arrest on the Nigerian-Cameroonian border:

The former Liberian leader had arrived at the frontier in a Range Rover jeep with diplomatic corps number plates, a trader working at the Gamboru-Ngala border post told AFP news agency.

“He was wearing a white flowing robe,” said Babagana Alhaji Kata.

“He passed through immigration but when he reached customs they were suspicious and they insisted on searching the jeep, where they found a large amount of US dollars.

“After a further search they discovered he was Charles Taylor.”

Flowing white robes, a Range Rover and a pile of cash, eh? His innate style didn’t desert him. Like 50 Cent, but with more violence. Wasn’t his last album called The Massacre, too?

Taylor’s “spiritual adviser” – now there’s a busy man – had been saying that he was seeking political asylum in Syria, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Equatorial Guinea or Gabon. These states will now be spared the embarrassment of having to answer. The spiritual adviser, by the way, is an American evangelical Protestant of Indian extraction, one Dr. Kilari Anand Paul – the very notion of caring for Charles Taylor’s immortal soul, though, reminds me of the John Donne poem about “who shall give me grace to begin” seeking God’s grace.

“Dr” Paul (the doctorate isn’t real), it seems, specialises in bizarre, rocambolesque interventions in war zones and offering the consolations of religion to murderous bastards. There is an interesting article here including the skinny on his “Dr”, and he has a website here. He also has a Boeing 747, which could have come in handy, and a bad reference from the Southern Baptist Missions Board, who doubt his financial probity..

Liberian ex-dictator, war criminal and utter bastard Charles Taylor has done a runner from his Nigerian exile to avoid extradition to the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone, says the Nigerian government. Taylor has been living in comfortable exile in Calabar, Nigeria since an unairworthy Boeing 727 belonging to Ali Kleilat rescued him from his overthrow in 2004. Last week, Liberia’s new president Ellen Johnston-Sirleaf issued a request for his extradition.

According to the Nigerian government, he’s levanted. 5 security officers have been arrested as a pathetic sop to world opinion. This is bad news. Taylor was responsible for destabilising the whole of West Africa, reintroducing slavery to work his diamond mines, recruiting 10 year old kids into his army, hacking people’s limbs off as a form of revolutionary terror, and more.

I am insanely disappointed by this news and the obvious Nigerian army partisanship (they are widely thought to have been complicit in his rise to power) that let the bugger get away.

Press reports last week said that Taylor had been summoned to the Nigerian capital Abuja on board an aircraft registered 5N-FGO. This plane is a Dassault Falcon 900 business jet belonging to the Nigerian Government, with “Federal Republic of Nigeria” titles on the fuselage.

Excerpt from report by Anietie Akpan and Francis Obinor entitled “Taylor’s relations, aides leave Calabar” published in Nigerian newspaper The Guardian web site on 24 March

Former Liberian President Mr Charles Taylor may have begun preparations for his proposed extradition home as about 20 of his relations and aides have left Calabar. Already, the federal government is putting finishing touches to the extradition, which may take place any moment from now. Also, high level consultations are currently on with Taylor, the Cross River State Governor Donald Duke, President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Liberian government and the international community.

As part of the preparations, some members of his family and associates on Tuesday [22 March] boarded an ADC airline with heavy luggage to an unknown destination en-route Lagos. One of Taylor’s close aides, popularly known as Banana, was seen at the airport on Tuesday with his wife and some luggage checking out of Calabar. Same day, a presidential aircraft marked 5NFGO brought Taylor back from Abuja in the evening. He was accompanied by security men and was immediately driven off the airport to his Solomon Umohs Asylum residence at Diamond Hill.

The presidential aircraft did not leave the Margaret Ekpo International Airport until Wednesday evening with just two passengers suspected to be top government officials. The same Wednesday, the former ruler’s Jaguar saloon car marked 81-CD-85 picked one unknown passenger at the airport and drove straight to his residence. The presence of the presidential aircraft at the Calabar airport for more than 24 hours without the president’s or top federal government presence was unusual.

Sources disclosed that the former president has put in order all his cars in preparation for his departure. But it is still uncertain whether he will dispose of some of the cars. Security at his residence has, however, continued to be normal except for the addition of some personnel and the usual restriction of movements.

As usual, top government officials including Governor Donald Duke have remained mum over the Taylor issue directing all inquiries to Abuja. The Liberian president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, had last week requested for his return and the federal government disclosed that it was consulting with African leaders on the matter. Taylor has been in Calabar on asylum since 2002.

Meanwhile, a group, the Campaign Against Impunity, yesterday in Lagos urged President Obasanjo to promptly comply with Johnson-Sirleaf’s request for Taylor to face trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The group also hailed President Johnson-Sirleaf’s move on Taylor.

Its members gathered to mark the 15th year of the devastating armed conflict in Sierra Leone, which began on March 23, 1991, when rebel groups launched a cross-border attack from Liberia on a small village in the Kailahun district. The director of the Centre for Democratic Empowerment in Liberia, Ezekiel Pajibo, said it was expedient for Nigeria to hand over Taylor for trial. “President Johnson-Sirleaf has taken a crucial stand against impunity in Africa by requesting Taylor’s surrender,” Pajibo said. Members of the group yesterday also met in Monrovia, Liberia, and Freetown, Sierra Leone, to press for Taylor’s surrender to the special court. [Passage omitted].

Source: The Guardian web site, Lagos, in English 24 Mar 06

BBC Monitoring

The BBC report of his disappearance is here.





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