Archive for the ‘weirdness’ Category

Bleg to Fr8ter

Commenter Fr8ter says Kuwait has banned Kyrgyz-registered (EX-) aircraft from landing or overflying the country, which is significant becase all flights from the south to Iraq enter Iraqi airspace over Kuwait. But the Dubai and Sharjah airport sites continue to show several flights a day to Baghdad and elsewhere, operated by British Gulf International and Click AW – whose aircraft are all EX-registry. Any clues?

Bleg to Fr8ter

Commenter Fr8ter says Kuwait has banned Kyrgyz-registered (EX-) aircraft from landing or overflying the country, which is significant becase all flights from the south to Iraq enter Iraqi airspace over Kuwait. But the Dubai and Sharjah airport sites continue to show several flights a day to Baghdad and elsewhere, operated by British Gulf International and Click AW – whose aircraft are all EX-registry. Any clues?

Interesting piece in the Grauniad about the British communists and the Soviet intervention in Hungary. I was especially amused by the Daily Worker doing a version of the jaunt to the Green Zone by Rush Limbaugh to “get the good news from Iraq the MSM is keeping quiet”. Their reporter, Peter Fryer, was briefed that he ought to “contradict that sort of thing”, where the things were reports of tanks machine-gunning crowds of demonstrators. On arriving in Budapest he discovered that they were all true, and said so. His editor, Johnny Campbell, did the obvious thing and spiked the lot. Fryer quit, as did some 19 other journalists. Apparently the readers were forced to read the Daily Telegraph to get their information. Why not the Guardian? Presumably because “social democracy is social fascism.”

Interesting as the story is, though, I find a nasty taste in the way many of the people interviewed experienced the whole thing as a disagreeable but pleasantly exciting social kerfuffle, a leftie/intellectual version of so-and-so’s latest affair in suburbia.

Alison Macleod, the Daily Worker’s TV critic, described how “all around us the marriages of party members were cracking up”. Everywhere friendships were under strain. The Thompsons fell out with the Kettles.

Hey! Janos! Bad news! What, are we running out of RPGs? No, the Thompsons have fallen out with the Kettles. And what the fuck is this about?

Another friend, the philosopher Maurice Cornforth, stayed in the party, but guiltily sent the Thompsons a cheque for £50 when Imre Nagy, the reformist Hungarian Communist leader, was executed in 1958.

What, did they have a bet on?

Remember the flight and arrest of Charles “Fiddy Cent Thousand Dead Child Soldiers” Taylor back in March? Sure ya do. You may also recall the bizarre involvement of Kilari Anand Paul, an Indian Protestant evangelist and – to be brutally frank – charlatan with a Boeing 747. Paul, who claimed to be Taylor’s “spiritual adviser”, has made a career of appearing in war zones to offer various tyrants religious counsel and a trip in the jet, the whole thing funded by charitable donations from the faithful but imprudent. Other clients he claimed at the time included Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, and various Haitian rebels.

Last week, to my considerable amazement, he intervened in the Foley scandal, suddenly turning up to wish himself on dead-man-walking Dennis Hastert. Fascinatingly, when Talkingpointsmemo.com’s reporter Justin Rood caught up with him, he claimed to know Condoleeza Rice, Tom DeLay and George W. Bush, to say nothing of Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole and sundry other hard-right theocrats. But that isn’t all. The Houston Press has a rather fantastic feature on the guy, detailing a wealth of bizarreries and frauds including a fake leper colony, the abduction of an 11-year old girl from India to the United States and her subsequent abandonment, and a fraud in which he accepted a large sum of money to fly a group of Jews to visit Auschwitz, welshed, and then used the cash to put his jet through a long-overdue C check.

Ah, the jet. It’s a 1982-vintage Boeing 747SP, like a 747 Classic but with reduced capacity to make room for extra long range tanks. He claims it’s the only private 747 except for Air Force 1 (not true – there are a couple belonging to oil sheikhs, and AF1 isn’t a private jet, the clue being in the call sign), and nothing will part him from it. Not the exorbitant cost of maintaining a 24 year old jumbo, nor the giant fuel bill, nor FAA safety regulations. Among other things, he also spent quite some time flying around the world whilst not paying the crew. The C-check that the “Friends of the Israeli Defence Force” unwittingly paid for was carried out in Canada, presumably to evade pursuit.

None of this would be immensely surprising in the airfreight business, which is proverbially beset by shysters. Normally, though, it would go as far as lawsuits in odd places around the world and aggrieved creditors posting to PPRuNe.

But what is especially interesting about this seller of indulgences is that he appears to have decided to be a World Leader, sweeping into zones of international crisis in his long-range jet, dispensing pomposity by the gallon, and being photographed at the shoulder of the great and terrible – and simply gone out there and done it, without the impediments of getting elected or paying any of his own bills. When he called on the president of Ethiopia, he demanded the full honours of protocol, including a red carpet at the foot of the airstair – just in case, a carpet is part of his plane’s equipment. One wonders whether the carpet is included on the MEL, the minimum list of equipment that must be present and functioning before the aircraft can take off.

He is a self-made statesman, or more accurately a one-man state – a true product of our times. More seriously, he is yet another example of the weird lack of quality control the leaders of Teh War on Terror so often display in their personnel judgements. Having wangled an invite to the Southern Baptist convention, where he shocked the assembled bible-wallahs by soliciting donations to his personal funds from the stage, he seems to have glommed directly on to the Republican Party’s religious wing and its weird and sinister fascination for West Africa. Beyond that, he seems to have some features that would clearly endear him to Bush..

“Bluntly put, when Dr. Paul receives an answer he does not like, he seeks out someone who will tell him what he wants to hear. This is not the way to operate an aircraft; this is a very dangerous game to play, especially since Dr. Paul has little aviation experience. I have advised Dr. Paul and GPI in writing before — many lives will be put at risk if someone doesn’t start to understand what it is going to take in terms of time and money to operate this aircraft.”

I can’t help thinking this blog could do with an airborne command post. As part of our Global Struggle against Vapid Egregiosity.

Remember the flight and arrest of Charles “Fiddy Cent Thousand Dead Child Soldiers” Taylor back in March? Sure ya do. You may also recall the bizarre involvement of Kilari Anand Paul, an Indian Protestant evangelist and – to be brutally frank – charlatan with a Boeing 747. Paul, who claimed to be Taylor’s “spiritual adviser”, has made a career of appearing in war zones to offer various tyrants religious counsel and a trip in the jet, the whole thing funded by charitable donations from the faithful but imprudent. Other clients he claimed at the time included Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, and various Haitian rebels.

Last week, to my considerable amazement, he intervened in the Foley scandal, suddenly turning up to wish himself on dead-man-walking Dennis Hastert. Fascinatingly, when Talkingpointsmemo.com’s reporter Justin Rood caught up with him, he claimed to know Condoleeza Rice, Tom DeLay and George W. Bush, to say nothing of Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole and sundry other hard-right theocrats. But that isn’t all. The Houston Press has a rather fantastic feature on the guy, detailing a wealth of bizarreries and frauds including a fake leper colony, the abduction of an 11-year old girl from India to the United States and her subsequent abandonment, and a fraud in which he accepted a large sum of money to fly a group of Jews to visit Auschwitz, welshed, and then used the cash to put his jet through a long-overdue C check.

Ah, the jet. It’s a 1982-vintage Boeing 747SP, like a 747 Classic but with reduced capacity to make room for extra long range tanks. He claims it’s the only private 747 except for Air Force 1 (not true – there are a couple belonging to oil sheikhs, and AF1 isn’t a private jet, the clue being in the call sign), and nothing will part him from it. Not the exorbitant cost of maintaining a 24 year old jumbo, nor the giant fuel bill, nor FAA safety regulations. Among other things, he also spent quite some time flying around the world whilst not paying the crew. The C-check that the “Friends of the Israeli Defence Force” unwittingly paid for was carried out in Canada, presumably to evade pursuit.

None of this would be immensely surprising in the airfreight business, which is proverbially beset by shysters. Normally, though, it would go as far as lawsuits in odd places around the world and aggrieved creditors posting to PPRuNe.

But what is especially interesting about this seller of indulgences is that he appears to have decided to be a World Leader, sweeping into zones of international crisis in his long-range jet, dispensing pomposity by the gallon, and being photographed at the shoulder of the great and terrible – and simply gone out there and done it, without the impediments of getting elected or paying any of his own bills. When he called on the president of Ethiopia, he demanded the full honours of protocol, including a red carpet at the foot of the airstair – just in case, a carpet is part of his plane’s equipment. One wonders whether the carpet is included on the MEL, the minimum list of equipment that must be present and functioning before the aircraft can take off.

He is a self-made statesman, or more accurately a one-man state – a true product of our times. More seriously, he is yet another example of the weird lack of quality control the leaders of Teh War on Terror so often display in their personnel judgements. Having wangled an invite to the Southern Baptist convention, where he shocked the assembled bible-wallahs by soliciting donations to his personal funds from the stage, he seems to have glommed directly on to the Republican Party’s religious wing and its weird and sinister fascination for West Africa. Beyond that, he seems to have some features that would clearly endear him to Bush..

“Bluntly put, when Dr. Paul receives an answer he does not like, he seeks out someone who will tell him what he wants to hear. This is not the way to operate an aircraft; this is a very dangerous game to play, especially since Dr. Paul has little aviation experience. I have advised Dr. Paul and GPI in writing before — many lives will be put at risk if someone doesn’t start to understand what it is going to take in terms of time and money to operate this aircraft.”

I can’t help thinking this blog could do with an airborne command post. As part of our Global Struggle against Vapid Egregiosity.

Noseweek has News

Remember the strange case of Khalid Rashid?

South African muckrakers Noseweek have much more news on it.

The use of ethanol as motor fuel is controversial for various reasons – efficiency, land use and cost being first among them. But has a more direct problem been overlooked? The Des Moines Register reports.

Neddermeyer was fired after an April 21 incident at the Denison plant. According to Neddermeyer, he showed up for work that morning and saw that there had been a spill of fuel alcohol. Hundreds of gallons of 190-proof alcohol were contained in a 6-inch-deep holding pond that was about 30 feet by 24 feet.

It proved to be too much to resist, Neddermeyer said.

“I am a recovering alcoholic, and I thought about the availability of this alcohol throughout the day,” he wrote in a statement later provided to state officials. “Curious about the taste and its effects, I dipped into this lake of liquor and drank what I considered to be 2 to 3 ounces. The next thing I remember is waking up in Crawford County Memorial Hospital.”

Neddermeyer had been found by his co-workers in an incoherent state, unable to say his name or the day of the week.

He was taken to a hospital, where his blood-alcohol level, according to state records, was reported at 0.72 – nine times the legal limit for driving, and almost double the level that is considered potentially fatal for many adults…

“The employer has a right to expect employees not to drink the fuel,” Hillary ruled. “Just because some of the ethanol leaked onto the floor is not a good reason for the claimant to drink automobile fuel.”

Court records indicate Neddermeyer has twice been convicted of driving while intoxicated.

Neddermeyer said Thursday that he has been struggling with alcohol for at least 10 years and is now getting additional help.

“Things were going pretty well until that day at work,” he said.

He should have stuck to Sam Smith’s sustainable session bitter.

Cows for Jesus

After all the serious stuff, something amusing. In the US, a cattleman is trying to breed perfect red heifers with no un-red hairs on them. Why is he doing this? It seems all-red heifers are a necessary part of God’s design for the Apocalypse, as part of the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple..

Artisans have re-created priestly robes of white linen, gem-studded breastplates, silver trumpets and solid-gold menorahs to be used in the Holy Temple — along with two 6½-ton marble cornerstones for the building’s foundation.

Then there is Clyde Lott, a Mississippi revivalist preacher and cattle rancher. He is trying to raise a unique herd of red heifers to satisfy an obscure injunction in the Book of Numbers: the sacrifice of a blemish-free red heifer for purification rituals needed to pave the way for the messiah.

So far, only one of his cows has been verified by rabbis as worthy, meaning they failed to turn up even three white or black hairs on the animal’s body…

Over in Mississippi, Lott believes that he is doing God’s work, and that is why he wants to raise a few head of red heifers for Jewish high priests. Citing Scripture, Lott and others say a pure red heifer must be sacrificed and burned and its ashes used in purification rituals to allow Jews to rebuild the temple.

But Lott’s plans have been sidetracked.

Facing a maze of red tape and testing involved in shipping animals overseas — and rumors of threats from Arabs and Jews alike who say the cows would only bring more trouble to the Middle East — he has given up on plans to fly planeloads of cows to Israel. For now.

In the meantime, some local ranchers have expressed an interest in raising their own red heifers for Israel, and fears of hoof-and-mouth disease and blue tongue forced Lott to relocate his only verified red heifer — a female born in 1993 — to Nebraska.

Cloning is out of the question, he said, because the technique “is not approved by the rabbinical council of Israel.” Artificial insemination has so far failed to produce another heifer certified by rabbis.

“Something deep in my heart says God wants me to be a blessing to Israel,” Lott said in a telephone interview. “But it’s complicated. We’re just not ready to send any red heifers over there.”

If not now, when?

“If there’s a sovereign God with his hand in the affairs of men, it’ll happen, and it’ll be a pivotal event,” he said. “That time is soon. Very soon.”

I wonder, are they red angus or Santa Gertrudis? And more importantly, what do they taste like?

St. Helena, the British island in the Atlantic Narrows where Napoleon was confined, is not well known as a centre for dubious financial activities, unlike many other bits of residual empire (the Caymans, Gibraltar, Turks & Caicos, British Virgin Islands etc). This appears to be changing. A website has appeared advertising something called safeholder.com, which claims to offer

a new offshore banking program under the auspices of the Serbian Republic of Krajina (RSK), which is the internationally recognized government of Krajina and Slavonia. The banking licenses are offered to corporations and citizens resident anywhere in the world except the Republic of Serbia & Montenegro and the Republic of Srpska. The license permits operation of all banking and related financial services worldwide except in the aforementioned countries and subject to the laws and public policies of other states. Where no law on the matter exists or there is no conflict, the banking program of the RSK would be applicable according to international law authorities.

There is one immediately obvious problem with this story. The RSK does not exist. It was the self-proclaimed government, between 1992 and 1995, of the tranche of Croatia occupied by Serbian forces during the civil war. In 1995, the Croatian army retook the areas it supposedly governed, expelling much of the population and landing several of its own leaders before the Hague Tribunal. Either the RSK’s banking code exists in some curious fashion, floating above the false world of being like Mohammed’s coffin, and permitting anyone canny enough to engage Safeholder.com’s services to escape more earthly jurisdictions, or else it is unenforceable and anyone who invested money in such a bank will never see it again. Whichever one of these options is pursued, it don’t look good.

What kind of banking legislation the RSK might have elaborated in its brief flicker of existence can perhaps be guessed. In fact it’s stated. Safeholder compares itself favourably to a variety of well-known extreme tax havens – Nauru, Niue and Montserrat, for example – for speed of establishment, confidentiality and easy terms. Anyone with US$5000 can hope to establish a bank with them within 10 days, with the following capabilities:

Engage in Private & Internet Banking

Take deposits and make loans worldwide

Offer payment services and transfer funds

Issue payment tools such as credit cards and checks

Issue bank guarantees

Issue letters of credit and other financial instruments

Issue bank references

Open correspondent bank accounts

Offer complex financial transactions

I think they must have forgotten “bilk clients” and “launder money”. After all, they also claim you might want to set up a casino!

The fact that the licence is said (more than once) to exclude the countries – Serbia and the Republika Srpska in Bosnia – that would appear to be the RSK’s successor states should tell us enough about their governments’ opinion of this scheme. Fascinatingly, the website includes a nice picture of an RSK banknote.

It really ought to be a nine-bob note, but it’s certainly just as dodgy. The folk responsible for this are one Mike Olsson, a Swedish citizen, and one Mirko Miskovic…and one Jonathan Levy. This is the WHOIS record for safeholder.com:

Domain Name: safeholder.com

Registrant Contact:
Safeholder, Ltd. safeholder@gmail.com
Safeholder Ltd
Association Hall
Main Street
Jamestown, SH STHL 1ZZ
SH
+1.2902660

Administrative Contact:
Safeholder, Ltd. safeholder@gmail.com
Safeholder Ltd
Association Hall
Main Street
Jamestown, SH STHL 1ZZ
SH
+1.2902660

Technical Contact:
Safeholder, Ltd. safeholder@gmail.com
Safeholder Ltd
Association Hall
Main Street
Jamestown, SH STHL 1ZZ
SH
+1.2902660

Billing Contact:
Jon Levy jonlevy@hargray.com
Jon Levy
37 Royal Pointe Dr.
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
US
+1.5132840011

Record created on 2004-03-09 07:30:56.
Record expires on 2007-03-09 07:30:56.

Strangely enough, someone of the same name registered cabindapetroleum.com, which claims to be the only licenced gas and oil exploration company in the Republic of Cabinda, based in Jamestown, St. Helena. Cabinda, my well-informed readers will no doubt be aware, is a small exclave of Angola north of the Congo River which contains much of Angola’s oil reserves. It is not a republic, and is something like a joint venture between the Angolan government and ChevronTexaco, who are extracting the oil. Unlike Mr. Levy’s organisation, which is extracting the urine. After all, there is no reasonable prospect that they will ever be in a position to explore for oil there – and much as I dislike and distrust the Angolan government and their oil pals, I would rather not see anyone lose their savings in this venture.

It could be worse. Cash invested in such a thing is likely to go missing, but where would it go? There’s only been one effort to work out what all this means, before this post, which was by the St.Helena Herald. At this (pdf) link, you can read a long interview with Olsson by a local reporter. I liked this exchange for the sheer informational blankness Olsson practices – read, and feel your IQ drop ten points. “RR” is the Herald’s reporter, “MO” is Olsson.

RR. I’m giving you an example as to how it could work, what
kind of regulations do you have in store to ensure that it doesn’t
happen it terms of money laundering?
MO. Its not dependent on St Helena law, that’s what I’m telling
you, its dependent on the law of the country where they are
operating from, because most countries got, have nothing to do
with because one of the requirements is that the company be in St
Helena because we got a competent authority that are supervising all
banks, you can not operate that bank in St Helena so they would not
have anything to do with money laundering or anything like that in St
Helena.
English Common Law
RR. So, just moving away. Why quote English Common Law on
your website?
MO. Because English Common Law is applicable to St Helena.
RR. In terms of, in what reference?
MO. In places where we don’t have legislation
RR. I understand that, in what reference are you quoting English
Common Law on your website in relation to Safeholder?
MO. It mainly has to do with Trusts
RR. Trusts?
MO. Trust legislation is actually in English Common Law, it means
that you can, um, put money in a Trust that is not your personal
belongings. You set the rate, the identity from yourself, and this has
been very common in the United States for example where the
insurance premiums are so big.
RR. Yes I understand that, so you are saying that it is do with Trust
purposes so if you want to invest in a Trust?
MO. Umm.
RR. So why, to quote your initial product line, include international
Capitalization and Hedge Funds. Is that what you are talking about?
MO. Sorry
RR. Is that what you are talking about when you say Trusts?
MO. Umm, Hedge Fund is a form of Trust, it’s a fairly specialized
more a short term Trust, the Hedge Fund. For example, we know that
George Sores is the biggest Hedge Fund Administrator in the world.
RR. Umm
MO. If you understand.
RR. Yes I understand, so what other kinds of Trusts, apart from Hedge
Funds are you interested in, or is Safeholder interested in?
MO. Capital Protection Trusts.
RR. Which you discussed earlier?
MO. Sorry?
RR. Which you discussed earlier?
MO. They are all similar, different ways of doing it; the same with
Bailment Accounts, Hedge Funds, yeah
RR. Umm
MO. A variety of different products.
RR. Just looking at a bit of history here how did you get involved in
the Safeholder organisation operation?
MO. Working together with two barristers which I have know for the
last ten years.
RR. So obviously you built a relationship with the Republic of Serb-
Krajina?
MO. I don’t have a relationship with Republic of Serb-Krajina at all.
RR. So whats the relationship? Obviously you are talking to them as
part of Safeholder and as the Operations Director you don’t have a
relationship with them at all?
MO. NO, no, not directly because in that sense not relative for the
operation of the business.
RR. Sorry, could you clarify that for me please? I’m a bit confused
with that statement, could you clarify please.
MO. Its not relative for the product, we have lawyers that are looking
at the legality of everything that happens in the business, I have full
confidence in them. So I don’t have to have any personal relation
with RSK at all.
RR. But surely as the Chief Operators Officer you would obviously
have to oversee every part of the business?
MO. Not every client, that would be impossible.

Is that completely clear? And is the Jonathan Levy who’s peddling the oil of ancient Cabindan snakes the same man who appears in this curious conference, this rather embarrassing Counterpunch story, the Serbian Unity Congress’s website and this manic conspiracy site?

Stand by for more thrilling revelations.

Hat tip to Jasmina Tesanovic. BTW, check out Doug “AFOE” Muir in the comments.

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..