Friday, 30 April 2010

Tesco: Mini-Rant

Tesco used to have a policy of “One-in-Front” which meant that if there was more than one person in front in the checkout queue they would open another checkout.

Not any more!

Three, four and still no extra checkout.

The express checkouts are normally worse and their bloody self-checkouts are the pits!

I hate bloody queues!

I hate seeing Tesco staff who are monitoring the checkout operation blethering and laughing whilst I have to queue to give them my bloody money!

I know!  It’s my fault.  I shouldn’t give them my money but …. I’m lazy and they count on this.

Come on, Calum, give Tesco a miss!!

Music for the Soul

Regulars will know that I like Celtic music but tonight’s find was pure chance.  I searched YouTube for Friday Evening music and I found Mickey Dunne, the legendary uilleann piper in a video at  the 2007 O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat in Midlothian, Texas.

Of course, I had never heard of this “legendary” piper but I poked around and found this lovely example of his playing.

The High Level Hornpipe / The Bucks of Oranmore

Watch Mickey’s right wrist for its musical effect.  I never knew this before.

I hope you enjoyed this.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Craig Murray: File-Naming Conventions

Craig Murray has posted about attempts by YouGov’s lawyers to have his website shutdown.  The post is well worth a read.

Craig gives a link to the lawyers’ letter and the first commenter said that he was “loving your pdf naming conventions”.

Can anyone explain the convention?  I still don’t get it.

The full address of Craig’s link is:

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/yougovewankers.pdf

Fight for Justice

On New Year’s Day I posted about,

A friend (F) has been on the receiving end of appalling (mal)-treatment at the hands of his local NHS and other supposedly caring and supportive agencies.  Because of ongoing issues I will not identify his geographical location but his story is a warning to us all.  I relate not the complete tale but only one aspect of the most recent happenings with the minimum background.

For years, F had been denied treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), was left alone and unsupported until late 2008 when, apparently magically, a highly qualified psychotherapist was assigned to him.

Was this the start of progress?  No!

The issues with the psych (P) need to remain unheard other than to say P is being investigated for malpractice by the NHS and the professional psychotherapists’ body.  This left my friend (F) worse off in early 2009 than he’d been in late 2008: he thought he was going to get psychotherapy but he didn’t and instead he found himself caught up in P’s problems.“

The original post then went off in a different direction but today I come back to “the issues with the psych (P)”. This isn’t a fresh topic: I could have written this post any time within the last month or so but I wanted to wait until F had overcome his initial extreme shock.

In his defence P wrote a mountain of lies; anything to keep his career.  F, rather being a patient in desperate need of therapy, was now a threat.  Understandably F was distraught (I can’t find the correct words to describe F’s state at that time).

I am ashamed that one whose job it is to help the vulnerable has attacked another so.

The vulnerable, wherever they are, are easy, for those so-minded, to abuse. 

The vulnerable, because of their very vulnerability, find it hard to fight back for justice.

 

I will stand with F and with truth for justice!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

We’re Not Daft Davie-Boy

I note that Iain Dale has as one of his two “Quote of the Day” the following by Davie-Boy Cameron.

AS LONG AS I AM PRIME MINISTER I WILL NOT JOIN THE EURO

Read the words carefully.  Do not be taken in by what he wants us to believe.

No Prime Minister can join the Euro only the country can.  Cameron has NOT ruled out the country joining.

Can’t be too careful with these conniving political bastards …. of ALL parties!

Voice of an Angel – Julia Fordham

Many years ago – more than 20, I’ve just checked  - I bought Julia Fordham’s first album but then   ….  no more.  She had disappeared totally from my music and my memory until two days when I came across the CD.

I heard again a fabulous voice which was shown off by the album’s first track.  Listen and marvel:

Happy Ever After

I marvelled again!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Response to the Rebuttal of the Case Against Trafigura - Preparation

Sorry for the very long title but …..

Earlier today I posted an article by Dr Gary K Busch whose intention was to dismantle the case made by investigative reporters and others against Trafigura. [The original article can be read here.] I ascribe no motive to Dr Busch in doing this other than he was reporting his own strongly held views.

I was taken by the negativity towards the reporters’ case: I recall no positivity in any statement made about those involved, other than about Trafigura. 

My experience is that no case is as black and white as Dr Busch describes and so, in time, I will post a response and here I ask for help.  I intend to write as balanced an article as I can given that I am starting from the point of view that Dr Busch’ case seems too one-sided.

I ask that anyone who can support or refute any statement made in Dr Busch’s article to contact me at the following address  - calumsblogatgmaildotcom.

Ideally you will be able to give me more than a simple statement that you assert as fact.  If you can add background information and a source that would be great.  If all you can do is an unattributed snippet then that too will be appreciated. 

Also please let me know if you want your information to be presented attributed or unattributed although I cannot guarantee to use all information supplied but all confidences will be respected.

I will contact Dr Busch giving him the opportunity to furnish detailed background information.

I should also point out that Dr Busch has already answered some questions of mine and has very kindly pointed me towards another article of his in which I was interested.

Inspired by Jams - Revealed

On Sunday last I posted this photo

P1030161

 

 

 

 

 

 

and it received some compliments.

I thought it worthwhile showing the original so that the role of digital processing was clear.

P1030161-1

Where on Earth? Revealed

Yesterday I posed the above question with these 2 photos.

P1030163 P1030165

No-one got the answer and so here it is in picture form.   ForthRailBridge Ian_Britton_FreeFoto.com Photo: By Ian Britton Courtesy of http://www.freefoto.com

I assume all know that this is the Forth Rail Bridge.

My original photos were:

P1030163-1 P1030165-1

Parable for Today: The Abandoned Samaritan

The Daily Telegraph reports from New York (in orange) and the Bible, Luke 10: 30-37, (in green).

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.’

…. video footage showed an unidentified woman earlier being accosted by a man who was then involved with a scuffle with Mr Tale-Yax [and] ….. showed Hugo Tale-Yax, a homeless man, collapsing with stab wounds on a pavement shortly after stopping the mugger who was armed with a knife.

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

More than 20 people ignored a dying man for nearly two hours as he lay on a New York street after saving a woman from being mugged.  He lay dying in a pool of blood as people strolled past, some pausing briefly to look at him.

One even emerged from a nearby building to photograph Mr Tale-Yax, a 31-year-old Guatemalan immigrant, with his mobile phone.

And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

Another man bent down to shake him, lifting him to reveal the pool of blood, but he still walked away.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

When police and firemen finally arrived at 7.23am on Sunday in the Jamaica neighbourhood of Queens to find Mr Tale-Yax was dead, he had been lying there for an hour and 40 minutes.

And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him.

Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

But none showed mercy!

God help us!

Please note that I have altered the order of some of the Telegraph reporting for effect.

Trafigura: The Case Against - Rebutted

Yesterday a visitor left a comment which rubbished the Investigative Journalists who won an international prize for their coverage of the Trafigura “affair”.  I replied and earlier today he left another comment and a link to a very comprehensive article he had written in September 2009.  Others may have read this article before but it is new to me.

The issues he raises run counter to the path of virtually all information published to date other than Trafigura’s version but, I believe, it is crucial that contrary views are aired.  At this stage I make no comment upon them but I do invite the recipients of the Award:

Kjersti Knudsson and Synnove Bakke, Norwegian Broadcasting Corp.;
David Leigh, The Guardian;
Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean, BBC Newsnight;
Jeroen Trommelen, de Volkskrant,

to do so.    .

[UPDATE @10.15 27 April 2010:  I have contacted two of the journalists directly and for the others their organisations requesting their views on this article]

Environmental Queen of Hearts

By Dr. Gary K. Busch 21/9/09

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Alice in Wonderland

Now that the Trafigura class action suit has been wound up it is probably a good time to look back calmly at what happened. The operative part of the settlement demonstrated that Trafigura successfully asserted that the settlement in no way was an acceptance of liability. Moreover, in a joint statement, the two parties to the class action agreed that experts didn’t find a link between the dump and fatalities, miscarriages and other serious injuries. The lawyers for the supposed victims stated, in short, that what Trafigura had been saying for years was true.

Reading through the piles of literature produced by the “environmental community” about the supposed events on the Probo Koala which delivered its marine slops to a company in Abidjan reminded me of the dialogues of the Queen of Hearts. Seldom in the history of quasi-science has so much been said so earnestly by such a wide variety of self-absorbed nincompoops as on this topic for such a long time.

The plain facts are simple. The Probo Koala contracted with a licensed removal company in the port of Abidjan to take marine slops from the vessel to dispose of them in a clean and environmentally-sound manner. They were asked to produce their government license to perform this task which they showed in advance. The delivery took place and the vessel left. The violators of this pact were jailed for twenty years by an Ivory Coast court.

Instead of processing this waste the receiving company, Tommy, dropped the waste on public open-air landfills. These landfills were already filled with tons of organic waste products, including the accumulation of years of refinery waste and sludges dumped illegally from the local refinery. The photographs of the French cleanup show that there were over twenty-nine sites around Abidjan from which the French have extracted and removed barrels (about 6,500 tons over three shipments by sea to France) of a thick, smelly black sludge producing noxious odours. Some wastes were dug out from 12 meter depths. This is truly an amazing development as the Probo Koala delivered only 583 cubic meters (about 460 tons (the amount of fluid contained in a small swimming pool) of waste to Abidjan and that waste was a cloudy, yellowish liquid formed by mixing sodium hydroxide (drain cleaner) with gasoline blendstocks. What kind of loony-toon scientific analysis expects the public to believe that 460 tons of liquid waste suddenly becomes 6,500 tons of thick black sludge? Even more baffling was that the French have cleaned up twenty-nine sites when Tommy only delivered the waste to a maximum of eleven sites. This is magic indeed!

It is difficult to explain the other nonsense which the environmental community has discovered about this event. It will be useful to go through them in some sort of order:

a) The Amsterdam Question: The Probo Koala was originally intended to deliver the marine slops to a local company APS in Amsterdam. It received clearance to deliver and started to discharge its cargo into a barge. When about half of the cargo was discharged the local company contacted the agents of the disponent owner, Trafigura (the charterer of the vessel) and said that the marine slops were highly toxic and the price was being raised to over a thousand Euros a cubic meter instead of 35 Euros as agreed. The reason given was that the slops had been tested and found toxic. This is a scientific miracle. Testing of these substances takes a minimum of twenty-eight hours. More often it takes two days. This is because some of the prescribed tests require titration and chromatography. Amazingly the APS conducted these tests at some unspecified test lab, not once but twice, in a twelve hour period. They had to do their magic test again before the Dutch environmental police would allow them to take the slops from the barge and pump them back on the vessel. They performed the second magical test and the vessel left. Strangely enough, the APS could not produce the test results of either test. When Trafigura refused to be blackmailed into paying a thousand Euros per ton, APS offered 750 as a compromise. This was rejected and the vessel left. It is widely believed in Holland that this incident had more to do with the then upcoming Dutch elections in which the Greens were having a hard time sounding credible as a party of government. That is presumably why they opted for the incredible solution.

b) The Basel Boobies: Among the first of the critics to test the waters were the misguided dolts from Switzerland; the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said that “The disaster in Abidjan is a particularly painful illustration of the human suffering caused by the illegal dumping of waste”. He went on to say that under the Basel Convention, any country exporting hazardous wastes must obtain the prior written permission of the importing country, and a permit detailing the contents and destination of the wastes must accompany the cargo throughout its voyage. In the case of an illegal trade, the responsible exporter is obliged to take back the wastes and pay the costs of damages and clean up. There is European Union law implementing the Basel Convention.

This fatuous statement was made with no investigation of any of the events in Amsterdam or Abidjan and was entirely superfluous and disingenuous. Article 1, section 4 of the Basle Treaty says, “Wastes which derive from the normal operations of a ship, the discharge of which is covered by another international instrument, are excluded from the scope of this Convention.” The wastes on the Probo Koala are covered by the MARPOL Convention Annexe 1 rules and are exempt from the Basel Treaty. The Basel Treaty deals with whole cargoes not slops and most serious maritime countries haven’t ratified the Basel Convention (including the US, Canada, Australia, et al). There are also several amendments made to the Basel Convention which even its existing members haven’t ratified. This was a sham; a self-perpetuating pretence by the Boobs at Basel to pretend that they were involved and relevant. It was, and is, absurd and misleading. Unfortunately, their friends in the worldwide environmental community were led to believe that they were serious and added their own fantasies to the Basel mob’s comedic enterprise.

c) The Abidjan Nightmare: The problems in Abidjan were real. There was a great deal of discomfort to the public and perhaps eight or so deaths which were attributable to this event. Several local officials were suspended from their jobs; some went to prison. There is a real problem which the Ivory Coast which coloured the Ivory Coast reaction. That is that they have political problems which overshadowed their search for justice. The UN and the French imposed a system on the Ivory Coast which allows rebels and opposition politicos to share power in the government, even though they were never elected to these posts. The horrendous levels of mismanagement which characterised the handling of the Probo Koala slops were spread among the various parties, including the ruling FPI.

There were three committees studying the events; each of which had a different axe to grind and so little progress was. In the meantime there are two high officials of the company, Trafigura, who went to the Ivory Coast long after the event, to try to offer their assistance to the injured, and who were packed off to jail in Abidjan and refused bail. The locals were let out of prison but these two Europeans were locked up in MACA Prison for five months, at great risk to their safety. It wasn’t until Trafigura agreed to pay the ransom for their release ($198 million) that they were let out. This also was accompanied by a strong statement that, despite paying the ransom, Trafigura was innocent. Governments shouldn’t take hostages; that is the business of kidnappers and pirates.

The reprocessing of oily slops is a big black market business in Abidjan. There were twenty other ships arriving in Abidjan that year whose oily slops were removed from the vessels. These, too, were to have been incinerated. Instead they were picked up by the local waste oil mob and processed to remove the gasoline from the slops water. This recycled fuel was sold in Abidjan and the waste water dumped in Akuedo and the other dump sites. Unfortunately for the black market oil dealers in Abidjan the Trafigura slops had caustic soda as well. They could not recycle this so they dumped them at the waste sites. They even tried to sell some to a bakery but the end products were too fragrant to sell. This black market is known to everyone in Abidjan, but it is never mentioned. An Interpol inspector investigating the dumping of wastes and the massive dumping of refinery wastes from the French-operated refinery was shot and killed in the early days of the investigation in Abidjan.

Where were the facts in this case? Where did all this refinery waste come from which was found all over Abidjan? Who put it there? Why were the French so anxious pay for the removal of this waste all from the sites before anyone noticed that Total built and operated, with its partners, the SIR refinery? Is this French generosity? For the French, who in 2004, massacred sixty-five unarmed Ivoirian civilians and wounded hundreds more who were trying to protect their democracy, charity and altruism are rare components of their behaviour.

d) The Estonian Debacle: When the Probo Koala left Abidjan it sailed to Paldiski, Estonia to load a cargo of gasoline. There it was attacked by the Greenpeace ship and the crew threatened. The Ivoirians asked that the vessel be detained there while a team of investigators flew to Tallinn to look at the ship’s logs. Having spent some time shopping in Paris they arrived in Tallinn. Their earliest investigations were conducted in the famous strip joints and nightclubs of Tallinn. However they briefed the Estonians on what they thought occurred in Abidjan. Their rhetoric and imaginations flowed as freely as the spirits. The Estonian Prosecutor-General announced that the Probo Koala was actually refining crude oil at sea. This is a most amusing idea as the thought of a 600 degree Centigrade high pressure steam fractioning column stuck in a vessel’s hold gave lots of pleasure and amusement to the marine and petroleum communities. It was so blindingly stupid that the environmental press picked up this idiocy and gave it wide currency. Idiocy knows no boundaries. Finally, the President of Estonia intervened and showed that he had had some basic science in his educational background. The vessel discharged its slops in Estonia and sailed away.

Despite this, the environmental activists continued to voice their lies as truth and took the law into their own hands while acting as judge, jury and executioner. These “green hysterics” continue to mislead the world in their “environmental justice” crusades while ignoring the facts that clearly showed them as wrong. Greenpeace uses its ships as weapons against lawful commerce. They are responsible to no one, have no legal, moral or ethical justification for their actions other than a whim which is often founded on misinformation and hysteria, and in most cases they act without evidence, exaggerate trivial claims and press an agenda which has never been agreed or adopted by any relevant body empowered to deal with the issue.

e) The Class Action Suit: When the fantasies about the Probo Koala were being disseminated through the environmental press a number of Dutch. French and British ambulance chasers decided they could get rich milking this notional “disaster”. They made efforts to contact local people to get their names from which to launch their class action suits, egged on by Greenpeace. The most successful in gathering names was Leigh Day of the UK who spent a lot of money creating local pressure groups and “researchers” in Abidjan. This was, of course, funded by them out of money they didn’t have. They were relying on taking their 3% of the expected settlement and some of their fees from the expected settlement. It was hard for them because the urban slums of Abidjan abutting the waste sites are environmental nightmare zones. Over seventy-five people a day die of malaria, AIDS and other similar diseases in Abidjan. The government sprays the area periodically against bugs and rats. These sprays regularly injure thousands living nearby. Medical attention is largely unavailable or unaffordable for these poor people. The rotting wastes have been there since the early 1960s and they produce methane, mercaptans and hydrogen sulphide gasses by the ton from the rotting organic wastes, the industrial chemical waste products and hospital wastes dumped in these waste sites.

The UN agencies have been active in the attempts to improve public health in the Ivory Coast for years. It has been monumentally unsuccessful. In 2007 the UN sent a disaster assessment team to Abidjan to investigate the facts. It went to the site and stated:

Conclusions of environmental impact assessment

The main chemicals found in the original waste are hydrogen sulphide (H2S), mercaptans, phenols, hydrocarbons (a mixture of paraffins, olefins, naphtenes and aromatics). These chemicals can be harmful to humans and the environment if serious exposure takes place...”

It is believed that three weeks after the dumping of the waste the concentrations of the concerned compounds in the air are low and no further adverse health effects are to be expected. However the chemicals, especially mercaptans have strong smells at low concentrations. The smell is already detectable by the human nose at concentrations far below danger levels. This may give a false impression of toxicity.

Provided the clean-up operations are carried out in accordance with accepted technical standards, no further impact on health or the environment should be expected.”However, despite the UN findings at the scene, the UN just issued a preposterously incompetent and misguided report by the Special Rapporteur, Professor Ibeanu from an obscure Nigerian university, who released his report on 18 September. The UN supposed expert says he has found strong evidence linking at least 15 deaths and thousands of sick people to waste dumped by a ship in Ivory Coast in 2006. Okechukwu Ibeanu's report was presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. According to Ibeanu, the UN Special Rapporteur for toxic waste, there are clear links between the dumping of the waste and the deaths and illnesses He states "It could not have been a coincidence that thousands of people in the immediate aftermath of this event showed consistent symptoms. It is difficult not to conclude that there was a connection” He admitted "The point to be made is that there is still some contention among scientists as to the actual causality," The very next day the lawyers for the victims stated publicly, Leigh Day and Co, in the light of the expert evidence, now acknowledge that the slops could at worst have caused a range of short term low level flu like symptoms and anxiety. What kind of fool could find a direct linkage between the dumping and the injuries when even the lawyers for the prosecution admitted that they couldn’t discover any such links? The UN should be ashamed of its role in perpetuating this Green Madness.

This whole episode could have been avoided had there been some element of scientific knowledge among those who purport to be “environmentally involved”. They act with self-righteous zeal to promote programs that have no basis in fact and which defy rational chemical or physical analyses. Perhaps if we elect Greens to high office they will pass laws to remove the Law of Gravity on Thursdays or the Second Law of Motion on the weekends. Why did no one, especially those in the Dutch press and the NGOs, ask to see the analyses which were produced on the Probo Koala slops which show they couldn’t have done what they were accused of doing? No one wanted to know facts, they were wound up in a paean of self-absorption in which each lie and distortion engendered another lie and distortion.

When it comes to the environment, the Queen of Hearts always wins. The problem was that as a result of this two poor guys were stuck in an African prison for five months for no good reason except as hostages and poor Africans living near fetid and decaying waste sites have not had their conditions improved. This whole episode is ridiculous but, unfortunately, not funny.

[Note: the copied article contained rogue characters which I have removed.  I hope I haven’t changed the meaning of ny part of the article.]

For a biography of a Dr Gary K Busch read here.  I assume I have the correct Dr Busch.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Where on Earth?

One place, two pics.

Guesses please.  [Answer given soon depending on response]

P1030163

P1030165

Well?

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Inspired by Jams

 

P1030161

Inspiration is rarely a match for talent and isn’t tonight!

Trafigura: Investigative Journalism Winners

Well, Trafigura clearly didn’t win but …. the journalists who investigated the illegal dumping of the Probo Koala’s waste, by Compagnie Tommy, the route and actions taken by the Probo Koala and the treatment of similar coker naphtha in Norway were honoured as joint winners.

An earlier post gave more details of the award and of those involved in this particular investigation.  I append virtually the entire post here.

“The investigations across several countries into the actions of Trafigura have been recognised as being of the highest order.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has selected the 7 finalists for the 2010 Daniel Pearl Awards for Outstanding International investigative Reporting and among them is this entry:

Kjersti Knudsson and Synnove Bakke, Norwegian Broadcasting Corp.;

David Leigh, The Guardian;

Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean, BBC Newsnight;

Jeroen Trommelen, de Volkskrant (Western Europe),

for their gutsy series “Trafigura’s Toxic Waste Dump,” which exposed how a powerful offshore oil trader poisoned 30,000 West Africans.”

I imagine that Trafigura will not like the last 13 words but I quote directly from the website of The Centre for Public Integrity.  Clearly if Trafigura object I will remove the offending words ….

Many thanks to Richard Wilson of “Don’t Get Fooled Again” for flagging up on Twitter that the winners had been announced.

Sunday Morning Coffee with Harry Chapin

Another week has gone by and it’s time now for another show and Harry Chapin is the feature.

Chapin2I came across Chapin in the mid 1970’s, liked his music, lost touch and then completely forgot about him.  He came to mind again about 6 months ago and I wondered what had become of him.  Very sadly I discovered that he had died in 1981 at the ridiculously young age of 38.  His music and his stories, for he is an extraordinary storyteller, live on.

Song for Myself

I should let you know that, although there are the normal 8 videos, this week’s show is 52 mins long.

From the Johnny Carson show in 1974.  Almost forgot. Coffee!  Take a minute and get one before you start.

_____

Four lines in the first song were:

“Seems like my generation
Should have somethin’ more to say
Are we all gonna sit here with a stoned out smile
And simply watch the world go ‘way”

Harry was not one to “watch the world go ‘way”.  He founded an anti-hunger group – Long Island Cares, he organised concerts to raise money for Famine Relief in Africa. I recall reading that he said that he played one concert for himself and one for benefit.  

Wikipedia relates:

“One report quotes his widow saying soon after his death — "only with slight exaggeration" — that "Harry was supporting 17 relatives, 14 associations, seven foundations and 82 charities. Harry wasn't interested in saving money. He always said, 'Money is for people,' so he gave it away." Despite his success as a musician, he left little money and it was difficult to maintain the causes for which he raised more than $3 million in the last six years of his life.”

I’m sure he was no saint but here was a man whose heart was in the right place.

Flowers Are Red

This song I had remembered from my first discovery of Harry and it highlights the need to keep our kids’ minds open.  Harry gives a better introduction (1m 45s).

Over the years Mrs Carr and I have used the song title as short hand to highlight examples where minds are closed to any alternative.

_____

Harry Chapin died in New York in 1981 of a heart attack but it is not known if this was the cause of his car crash or resulted from the crash.  Wikipedia quotes his daughter as saying, “My dad didn't really sleep, and he ate badly and had a totally insane schedule.”

_____

W.O.L.D.

This tells the story of a man who left his wife and kids following his dream job as a DJ.  After 8 years he returns to work in his old town and he gets back in touch with his “wife”.  Harry will do the rest.

Harry did the rest!

_____

I thought carefully about the next song.  Should I include it? Eventually I thought it far too powerful to omit.

Sniper

One commenter described the song and Harry’s performance thus.

“Sniper was an intense song, where Harry took on the persona of Charles Joseph Whitman, who killed 14 and wounded 32 as a sniper from the Univ. of Texas clock tower in 1966. It was an event that galvanized the country. The song goes 10 minutes, and Harry (as always) poured everything into it. It's a wonder they didn't have to carry him off after he performed it.”

An incredibly intense performance. I hope you felt this was worth including.

_____

Corey’s Coming

We move on to a very different song and an old man’s dream and the boy who believed in him …..

….. and the boy dreamt too!

Why should we not dream?

_____

Cat’s in the Cradle  (1 min talking intro)

Like father like son.  Not so good when Dad is too busy too see his son grow up.

I don’t need to write anything because Harry does it all for me.

_____

Only two tracks to go in this extra long show and we move now to a song …. Stop.  You don’t need me.  Just listen to Harry.

Mr Tanner

_____

All My Life’s a Circle (3m 45s sung intro)

Our last look at Harry Chapin is a brilliant end-of-concert performance.  Sing along if you want.

Wonderful! Amazing!

_____

Well, that’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed your coffee and the music.   Tune in again next week and thanks for listening.

I leave you with Harry’s epitaph:

Oh if a man tried
To take his time on Earth
And prove before he died
What one man's life could be worth
I wonder what would happen
to this world

Saturday, 24 April 2010

There’s More to Life than Work

This was the attitude of 33 members of staff at one of the  leading financial regulators (the Securities and Exchange Commission) in the USA.  According to the Daily Telegraph, 31 of these were senior staff members (salaries between ca. $100k and $220k).

What was more important than work?

Looking for explicit internet porn whilst at work. 

The Telegraph gives two examples,

“…. an accountant working in one of the SEC's regional offices tried to access porn – she was blocked by the regulator's internet firewall – almost 1,800 times in a two-week period. The same woman had almost 600 explicit pictures saved on her company laptop.

In another, a senior lawyer working at the regulator's head office in Washington DC admitted that on some days he spent eight hours looking for porn. In fact, he downloaded so much that he ran out of space on the hard drive on his work computer, and began downloading images to disks he kept in boxes in his office.”

Now I guess they’re not the only employees to do so but had they spent more time regulating they might have found explicit images of fraud and mismanagement of risk.

Now you wouldn’t do such a thing, would you? 

Of course, you wouldn’t!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Disobey Murdoch on 6th May

With many many thanks to Beau Bo D’Or I am delighted to display the image from his site.

Crush the desires of Rupert and James Murdoch to see a Tory victory on 6th May.

disobey_rupert_murdoch_450

Stuff their smears and lies where it hurts by putting an “X” in any box which does not belong to a Tory.

 

You can add a button too.   

disobey_murdoch_160_button

I Fear for My Kids’ Safety

Don’t worry.  This isn’t a big scare story. 

Regular readers know that I am prone to the odd accident and, unfortunately for my kids, any accident genes come not only from me but also from my father-in-law.  I am not in the same league: he is extraordinary.

His latest escapade was a few days.  FiL, who is over 70, was cycling in a country park early one morning, his daughter’s dog running alongside. No! The dog is not involved in the accident! 

In the path was a set of steps but to FiL the path continued without interruption.  FiL and bike arrived at the top of the steps at full speed and both went sailing out before crashing to the ground.

How long FiL lay crumpled on the path he has no idea but he came to with the dog licking his face.  FiL picked himself and his bike up, dusted himself down and returned to his daughter’s with his face battered, bloodied and bruised.

“What have you done?”

“I came off the bike”

“What are you going to do?

“I’m going take the kids to school.”

This sums up my FiL: more accidents and scrapes than anyone I know but none which have caused him serious injury.  Goodness knows how!

Now do you see why I fear for my kids’ safety?

Goodnight Irene

There is no reason for posting this now other than I want to.  No deep message.

I posted a Ry Cooder’s version of this 3 months ago in a Sunday Morning Coffee show but today’s version is incredible.

Enjoy Tom Waits.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Shove the Pig

’s Foot a Little Closer to the Fire.

This is a music post but I can’t keep politics out of even this.  After tonight’s 2nd UK election debate I wonder which of the three party leaders will have been shoved a little closer to the fire.  Please let it be Davie-boy!

Shove the Pig’s Foot (a little Closer to the Fire)

The notes with the video state that the tune was written by one of the fiddlers, Bruce Molsky, but more likely is that he has arranged an old American tune.  In case you wonder which fiddler is Bruce here is below:

Bruce Molsky 

Let’s have the music which is from the 2009 Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow.

Bruce Molsky - fiddle
Tim O'Brien - fiddle
Aly Bain - fiddle
John McCusker - fiddle
Jerry Douglas - dobro
Dirk Powell- banjo
Mike McGoldrick - flute
Phil Cunningham - piano accordion
Donald Shaw - piano
Russ Barenberg - guitar
John Doyle - guitar
Todd Parks - bass
Pat McInerney - percussion
James McIntosh - drums

Trafigura: Swiss Interest in My Posts

Ever since I started to post about Trafigura I have noticed that Swiss IP addresses became prominent in my albeit small stats but  rarely do these addresses visit any non-Trafigura page.  This morning already the visits have started, all viewing yesterday’s Trafigura post.

Could this have anything to do with the fact that Trafigura and other commodities traders have bases in Switzerland?

 

Then again perhaps I should just wait until I have something sensible to post!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Trafigura: Company and Business Information

The Financial Times (20 April 2010) has 2 articles about Trafigura and given that information about Trafigura and its business appears so rarely I believe it worthwhile to pass this on.  Unfortunately, their are restrictions on the use of their (Financial Times) material and so I can only make a few points.

The two articles are:

"Trafigura Lifts Veil to Reveal $1bn Profit" by Javier Blas and Anousha Sakoui

and

"Rare Glimpse as Trafigura Debuts" by Javier Blas.

To read the full articles you need to take out a free subscription to the FT.

Trafigura’s profitability is staggering:

“Trafigura …. earned almost $1bn last year, revealing the extraordinary profitability of the publicity-shy Swiss-based trading houses which dominate commodities markets.”  [Trafigura Lifts etc – see above]

I wonder why the “Swiss-based trading houses which dominate commodities markets” are publicity-shy?

I can think of reasons but all would be pure speculation.  I’d better keep them to myself.  Perhaps Trafigura and its Swiss competitors might care to tell us but, somehow, I think I’ll have to wait longer than I did for the WSP Report!

The same Financial Times article talks about Trafigura’s founders and shareholders thus:

“Claude Dauphin, one of the company’s founders, owns “less than 20 per cent”, while “over 500 senior employees” control the rest. The two other founders, Eric de Turckheim and Graham Sharp, are no longer shareholders.”

On average, therefore, each of the “over 500 senior employees” owns 0.16% of Trafigura’s shares.  I wonder what their dividend policy is?  Even owning 0.16% could give a very tidy sum in dividends when the profits are almost $1billion.

The second article describes briefly the volatility in prices and the basic opportunities exploited by the trading houses.

“Trafigura believes that the trading houses will continue to benefit from increased levels of volatility commodity prices over the last few years, which are expected to continue. Usually, traders take little or no risk when betting on the direction of raw materials prices, but exploit what Trafigura calls “natural, low risk physical arbitrage opportunities”.

These include seasonal shortages of petrol in the US, region scarcity of raw materials due to a strike in a large mine, or price differentials over time due to the perception of future supply and demand balances.” [Rare Glimpse etc – see above]

I imagine the Probo Koala waste dumping and the tank explosion at Sløvåg in Norway were the sad end result of such an arbitrage.  Mexican coker naphtha was bought cheaply in the knowledge that, once sweetened, the product could be sold at massive profit as gasoline for African markets.  There was no financial risk to Trafigura in this trade.  Profit was guaranteed.

Each chance to glimpse the inside of Trafigura or its competitors, e.g. Glencore, is worth taking.  Such companies must surely affect all of us. 

The prices we pay at the pumps, of domestic fuel, of raw materials which end up in products in our home and goodness knows what else are affected by the trades these companies – and many others – make.  They operate between producers and customers although, in some cases, they are themselves the producers because some of the trading houses own or have stakes in mines.  AlertNet.org carried the following description of Trafigura:

“The company says it trades an average 1.5 million barrels of crude and oil products a day, making it the third-largest independent oil trader in the world.

- The group has investments in industrial assets globally of more than $1 billion, including: oil storage and delivery facilities in Africa, Central and South America, mostly run by subsidiary Puma Group of Companies; a zinc, lead and silver mine in Peru.”

We must keep looking not only at Trafigura but at all companies who operate in the same and similar markets.  Our financial well-being depends on it and occasionally our physical well-being too.

Davie-boy for Tea-boy

 

Vote for change

but if you don’t like what we say

then we’ll change and keep changing

until we find something / anything you like!

 

Great, Davie-boy.  Inspiring!

 

Vote Davie-boy for Tea-boy

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Just ….

…. when I think one important issue is resolved there is massive eruption and I have that important issue to “resolve” all over again.

Give me strength!

I Can’t Help ….

 

Monday, 19 April 2010

David Cameron: Party Political Broadcast for Labour and Liberal Democrats ….

…. and everyone else except the Tories!!!  Yeah!

I have just viewed the Tories’ 2nd Election Broadcast and it is DIRE!!!  It was worse than watching the soaps do an Election broadcast.  I’m sure it’s a response to Clegg’s performance in the first debate but …..

Had there been a programme “Britain’s Got a Prime Minister” then Cameron would have been buzzed off after seconds.  Yes I know Brown wouldn’t even have made it through the auditions but Cameron’s attempt was a caricature of an effective Prime Minister.

Buzz words, empty words.

A cardboard cut-out doesn’t become real just because words appear to fall from its cardboard mouth.

I’m delighted the broadcast will be so successful for everyone else.

The broadcast link?  If you must view it you can watch it here but you’ll get much more sense here.

Trafigura: WSP Summary Report Online

I reported late on Friday that, after 3 months of trying, Trafigura released to me the WSP Report describing the environmental audit carried out in and around Abidjan following the illegal dumping – by Compagnie Tommy – of the waste from the Probo Koala.  Trafigura have just confirmed that I am free to write about, quote from and post the report online.

The Summary Report is available online here.

That’s the good news.

The disappointing news is that the report released is only the Summary Report which contains very little new information: the detail, I would imagine, will be in the three individual reports from which the Summary was produced. 

I have asked Trafigura to release the three detailed reports but, as yet, I haven’t heard from them.  I’ll continue to work on and with them.

I’ll now summarise the Summary Report.

The Summary Report has the following one major conclusion – my words and not a quote from the report. The areas of dumping do not constitute any ongoing health risk (Para 2.1.2) but there are risks to health in other dump-sites where Probo Koala waste was not dumped AND also in the public water supply and in water and sediment from the lagoon (Para 2.1.3).

In slightly more detail now.

“…. no risks to human health were been (sic) identified associated with the Contaminants of Concern (those considered to be indicative of the Slops) at the subject sites.”

No indication is given of the chemicals which were on the “Contaminants of Concern” list (Para 2.1.2).

From Contextual samples (i.e. from various non-dump sites around Abidjan) WSP quote examples of sites with chemicals which could represent a risk to health (Paragraph 2.1.3):

“-  benzene in excess of WHO guidelines at busy road junctions

-  light & heavy hydrocarbon fractions and phthalates in a landfill site which could represent a health risk dependent on the activities carried out on-site.

- water and sediment samples from the lagoon were contaminated with pesticides, hydrocarbons (water) and metals, phenols, cresols (sediment).

- the public water supply was contaminated with pesticides, chlorinated solvents and other industrial chemicals which could represent a chronic risk to health.”

The report also mentions the distressing normal life (or death) conditions within Abidjan and the Ivory Coast.

“Air pollution in the city represents a potentially significant health issue with significant inputs from industry, domestic sources and road traffic. Road traffic inputs are accentuated by the use of older vehicles in poor condition of repair which result in release of significant particulate, un-burnt fuel and other pollution. Domestic inputs from the use of wood and charcoal for heat generation and cooking are also significant. The estimated concentrations of particulates
in the city were noted at levels which would represent a potential chronic risk to human health and may be considered to result in an increased risk of cardiopulmonary and lung cancer mortality based on exceedence
(sic) of World Health Organisation guidelines (WHO 2005).


Underlying the above issues, Malaria is endemic, accounting for approximately 10% of all deaths in the country. As with much of Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV is also a significant issue with 7% of the population thought to be infected and 19% of deaths attributed to HIV/AIDS, the largest single cause of death in the country. Life expectancy at birth in the Ivory Coast is consequently 47.7 years (ranked 166th out of 179 countries), significantly below the world average of
68.1 years and the UK life expectancy of 79.0 years.”

One point which should be borne in mind is that the WSP work was carried out between December 2008 and March 2009 but the illegal dumping took place in August 2006. 

The Report is unclear but it appears that some samples from the remediation efforts (clearing material from affected dump-sites in 2007, I think) were bagged and retained for further analysis.  WSP report that no hydrogen sulphide was detected in the air around the bags nor was there any “distressed vegetation or other visual or olfactory evidence of the continued impact of contamination” within or around the bag store.

No mention is made of any other analyses which were carried on material in these bags.

_____

Whilst welcome, this Summary Report adds little to our knowledge of the contamination and its possible effects.

I thank Trafigura for releasing this Report but I now call on them to release:

-   the three detailed reports from which this Summary Report was produced
-   the detailed chemical analysis of the waste (superseded the Minton report)
-   the reports of the many experts employed who came to the conclusions that the chemicals could not have caused the human effects claimed.

Thank you for bearing with me these few months while I was struggling to make progress. 

Perseverance has paid off so far. More is still needed.

Through the Darkness ….

…. two life-forms glow.

P1000325

P1000329

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Gone Green

P1020183

I cropped the original beyond the point where noise affects the image but I thought it a worthwhile penalty for capturing the greens.

Calum is Top Political Pundit

Time may yet prove me right but it looks as though I’ll need to eat some humble pie.  Late last year I wrote a series of open letters to the 3 main UK party leaders and to Alex Salmond too.

I wrote this to Nick Clegg.

“Dear Nick

I didn’t want you to miss out on my series of open letters  (to Gordon Brown and David Cameron) and so, against my better judgment, I decided to write and, therefore, here is my considered advice.

Nick, keep doing what you are doing.  In fact, do whatever you want because both you and your party are irrelevant.”

Might I have got my analysis slightly wrong?

 

Still a few weeks to judgment day.  No pie eating until then.

Sunday Morning Coffee with 60’s Protest Songs

This may seem a strange subject for the show but, given that in the UK we have a General Election and the war in Afghanistan is not on the agenda, we should be protesting now!

Also I play music I like and which means something to me.  Today’s music meets both criteria.  I make no comment about the effectiveness of the songs but their longevity is unquestioned.

UPDATE: 14.15 21 April 2010  I have now added the 9 videos into a Youtube playlist.  You can find the playlist for today’s show here.  Soon I’ll put all shows onto their own playlist and eventually I’ll understand tags so that you can search for playlists.  Once I’ve got tags working, keywords will include: CalumCarr, Sunday Morning Coffee.

The 1960’s took me from being 10 to 20, a particularly impressionable age-range.  Perhaps that is why this age of protest means more to me than any other.

We start with a song from the father of protest songs – Pete Seeger – but don’t forget your coffee.

If I Had a Hammer

In this clip Pete is 74 and singing at an annual concert – in 1993 -  with Arlo Guthrie and the families of each.  I think Pete also appeared in his 90th year.

His voice has gone now but his song lives on!

It’s worth copying the last verse:

“Well I've got a hammer
And I've got a bell
And I've got a song to sing
All over this land
It's the hammer of justice
It's the bell of freedom
It's the song about love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land”

The words are as important today as they were over forty years ago.

_____

We move on with a song written by Buffy St Marie but made famous by Donovan in 1965.

Universal Soldier

_____

Simon and Garfunkel recorded so many brilliant songs but one of my (many) favourites is this.

Silent Night / 7o’Clock News

What a powerful effect is created by the mixing of the Carol and the violence in the news.

I have listened to this countless times over the years: I am moved by it on each hearing.

_____

I couldn’t possibly keep Dylan out of the show and here he sings with Joan Baez.

Blowin’ in the Wind

Why today can we not pay heed to these words?

“Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky ?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry ?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died ?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.”

_____

This next song is one of the most powerful anti-war songs but I must warn you that the video contains some images of death which you may not want to watch.  Despite these images or rather because of them I selected this particular video. This is sheer obscene horror.

Eve of Destruction

The roughness and rawness in Barry McGuire’s voice is perfect for this song.

If you watched the video I hope you were OK with it.

_____

A trio which it would have been impossible to exclude is Peter, Paul and Mary.  Sadly Mary (Travers) died last year but their music survives her.  Today the trio sing two songs at a 1971 peace march in Washington.

Blowin’ in the Wind / Give Peace A Chance

P, P and M are joined by John Denver for the second song.

I’m sure there are better recordings of this but I wanted to give one at a major rally.  Mary’s voice sails out to everyone!

The pernickety among you may say that “Give Peace a Chance” was a 70’s protest song but it was recorded in 1969.

_____

UPDATE: @ 10.30 18 April

Apologies.  There are now 9 tracks in this show.  Somehow, in error, I put in 2 versions of “Blowin’ in the Wind” and missed out “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”.  Rather than removing  one version I’ve just added the extra track.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone

An old Pete Seeger again with one of his great songs.  No compilation could have been complete without this.

I can rest easy now that I’ve corrected my mistake.

_____

We return to the original show now and the second last track is one of the most widely used of all protest songs and we have Joan Baez for the second time.

We Shall Overcome

Wherever there is struggle this song will be a companion.

_____

Rather than saying my goodbyes at the very end I say them here because I want nothing to distract or detract from the last video.

Well, that’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed your coffee and the music.   Tune in again next week and thanks for listening.

_____

Here we are at the last track which is 17 minutes long and so you might want to get another coffee.  I had only listened to snippets before but like most I had heard so much about the man and his speech. 

This is the only possible way to finish the show: Martin Luther King’s  1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.

If you haven’t listened to all of this before, please take the time and hear the greatness of the man and his message. 

Amen!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

I Had a Dream …. of Gordon Brown

No!  I didn’t dream of him but he was in a dream.  Is there a difference?

I and others had been on a week-long outdoor training course and, near the end, Gordon – for we were almost familiar by then – addressed us.  For some reason we were all dressed for work -even I, although I am retired – and Gordon told us how we could do anything if we only believed. 

Worryingly Cameronian this!

Twice I moved forward to ask him how we would ensure that he appeared on time – he had a habit of being late.  Twice I stood next to him, twice I asked him but twice he disappeared without answering.  Each time the person standing where Gordon had been was a beautiful woman.

The dream is true – I really did dream this - but I think we deserve to know if Gordon has the capacity to transform himself into a beautiful woman.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

Time flies: never to be recaptured, lost forever.

One who was lost forever to life was Sandy Denny who wrote this beautiful song - she died in 1978 aged only 31 but she is not forgotten.

Her song has been recorded by many but none more beautiful than her own.  My favourite is the version recorded with the Strawbs.

Who Knows Where the Time Goes

A beautiful song, a beautiful voice, a perfect rendition!