Pyramid Comment

This journal takes an alternative view on current affairs and other subjects. The approach is likely to be contentious and is arguably speculative. The content of any article is also a reminder of the status of those affairs at that date. All comments have been disabled. Any and all unsolicited or unauthorised links are absolutely disavowed.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Job Creation

The growing population needs to be occupied and in so doing provide government income through taxation to maintain that growth in population. A simple vicious circle in appearance, but generating a spiral in reality. The result is to create the illusion of 'creating jobs', but like inflation, the upward climbing circle transmogrifies into a spiral.

  • Car parking requires a fee so generating the income to pay for the wardens who patrol the car parks. The one cannot exist without the other and constitutes perfect symbiosis, but nothing else.
  • Job Centres employing the growing army of state employees supposedly moving the unemployed into a dwindling employment base. This 'creates' expensive pensionable rights to more state-controlled employees and actually nothing other than a greater future burden.
It's all part of the cloak that attempts to cover the growing population. Only two 'things' grow:

Population and Burden
Why?

Scientific justification also exists, though must be considered very carefully and with great depth.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Three Mile Island

TMI - Fact Sheet

Three Mile Island, Windscale and Chernobyl have much in common. Near meltdown and global disaster. Cars become more sophisticated as development continues, yet the car is still as lethal today as ten or twenty years ago. Not the technology itself, but the intrinsic dangers associated with that technology. It cannot be made safer. Fire is fire regardless of who, what, when or where it burns. Specious arguments are made in the attempts to mislead and 'talk up' the whole concept of nuclear energy. It's clean and zero carbon dioxide producing, but remains the most dangerous technology on the planet. Uncontrollable, but allegedly controllable though only like a restrained and inherently wild animal. Let a hungry tiger out of its cage and normal animal savagery will be unleashed. Control is an illusion, but only becomes the reality when things go very wrong.

Madness Of Nuclear Power

In 1979 a cooling malfunction caused part of the core to melt in the #2 reactor at Three Mile Island in USA and the reactor was destroyed. Some radioactive gas was released a couple of days after the accident, but not enough to cause any dose above background levels to local residents and there were allegedly no injuries or adverse health effects from the accident.

  • The reactor's fuel core became uncovered and more than one third of the fuel melted.
  • Inadequate instrumentation and training programs at the time hampered operators' ability to respond to the accident.
  • The accident was accompanied by communications problems that led to conflicting information available to the public, contributing to the public's fears
  • Radiation was released from the plant. The releases were not serious and were not health hazards. This was confirmed by thousands of environmental and other samples and measurements taken during the accident.
  • The containment building worked as designed. Despite melting of about one-third of the fuel core, the reactor vessel itself maintained its integrity and contained the damaged fuel.
A meltdown happened and one third of the fuel 'melted'. The damage to the environment and health of the human population was allegedly minimal or non-existent since containment was effective as designed. Allegedly. However, the meltdown happened. Regardless of improving instrumentation, training or communications, the scenario could recur. The outcome would possibly not be so 'minor'. A virtual non-event. The potential has been seen to manifest in reality and the inherent dangers exposed. The fact that this took place so long ago (1979) does not invite complacency. The containment of one third of the fuel and no hazardous release was the alleged result. Difficult to reconcile given the nature of the accident. However, it has to be accepted that nobody was harmed or lived unaffected.
The Chernobyl disaster was in 1986, only seven years later. The mechanics of the event are irrelevant. The event happened and is the only criterion to consider.
The following not original:
The Three Mile Island power station is near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in USA and had two pressurized water reactors (PWR), one of which was of 800 MWe (Megawatt electrical) and entered service in 1974 and remains one of the best-performing units in USA. Unit 2 (#2 reactor) was of 900 MWe and almost brand new. The accident to happened at 4 am on 28 March 1979 when the reactor was operating at 97% power. It involved a relatively minor malfunction in the secondary cooling circuit which caused the temperature in the primary coolant to rise. This in turn caused the reactor to shut down automatically. Shut down took about one second. At this point a relief valve failed to close, but instrumentation did not reveal the fact, and so much of the primary coolant drained away that the residual decay in the reactor core heatwas not removed. The core suffered severe damage as a result.


  • The operators were unable to diagnose or respond properly to the unplanned automatic shutdown of the reactor. Deficient control room instrumentation and inadequate emergency response training proved to be root causes of the accident.
Within seconds of the shutdown, the pilot-operated relief valve (PORV) on the reactor cooling system opened, as designed, but about 10 seconds later it should have closed, yet did not, leaking vital reactor coolant water to the reactor coolant drain tank. The relief valve was assumed to have shut because instruments showed a "close" signal was sent to the valve, though no instrument feedback mechanism indicated the valve's actual position. High-pressure injection pumps automatically pushed replacement water into the reactor system, but as water and steam escaped through the relief valve, cooling water surged into the pressuriser, raising the water level in it.
  • The pressuriser is a tank which is part of the primary reactor cooling system, maintaining proper pressure in the system. The relief valve is located on the pressuriser and in a PWR like TMI-2 (Three Mile Island #2 reactor), water in the primary cooling system around the core is kept under very high pressure to keep it from boiling.
The flow of replacement water was reduced in the attempt to lower the pressure: training indicated that the only dependable indication of the amount of cooling water in the system was the pressure. Because the pressuriser level was increasing, it was thought that the reactor system was too full of water. The flow was stopped in the attempt to prevent the pressuriser from filling with water. A rupture in the cooling system might otherwise be the result. Steam formed in the reactor primary cooling system and pumping a mixture of steam and water caused the reactor cooling pumps to vibrate. Severe vibrations could damage the pumps and made them unusable, so they were shut down, terminating forced cooling of the reactor core. The system was believed to be nearly full of water since the pressuriser level remained high. However, the reactor coolant water had boiled away and the reactor's fuel core was uncovered to become even hotter. The fuel rods were damaged and released radioactive material into the cooling water. A block valve between the relief valve and the pressuriser was closed at 6.22 am and this action stopped the loss of coolant water through the relief valve. Superheated steam and gases blocked the flow of water through the core cooling system.
More water was forced into the reactor system to condense steam bubbles in the belief that the high-pressure created by the injection of water into the reactor cooling system would collapse the steam bubbles, removing the blockage to allow restoration of the flow of cooling water. Attempts were then made to decrease the pressure in the reactor system allowing a low pressure cooling system to be used and emergency water supplies to be put into the system and by 7:50 pm on 28 March, restarting one reactor coolant pump was made possible to restore forced cooling of the reactor core. The steam had condensed so that the pump could run without severe vibrations. Radioactive gases from the reactor cooling system built up in the makeup tank in the auxiliary building and during March 29 and 30, a system of pipes and compressors was used to move the gas to waste gas decay tanks, but the compressors leaked and some radioactive gas was released into the environment.

When the reactor's core was uncovered (28th March), a high-temperature chemical reaction between water and the zircaloy metal tubes holding the nuclear fuel pellets had created hydrogen gas. A sudden rise in reactor building pressure shown by the control room instruments (28th March) indicated a hydrogen burn had occurred. Hydrogen gas also gathered at the top of the reactor vessel. Between 30th March -> 1st April the hydrogen gas "bubble" was removed by periodically opening the vent valve on the reactor cooling system pressuriser. Regulatory (NRC) officials believed for a while that the hydrogen bubble could explode, though such an explosion was never possible since there was not enough oxygen in the system.
  • One month later on 27th April operators had established natural convection circulation of coolant and the reactor core was being cooled by the natural movement of water rather than by mechanical pumping. The plant was in cold shutdown.
When reviewing the TMI-2 accident, it is often in the context of what happened on Friday and Saturday, 30th and 31st March 1979, but only the TMI-2 accident-induced fear, stress and confusion came on those two days. The resultant atmosphere and the reasons for it are described well in the book Crisis Contained, The Department of Energy at Three Mile Island by Philip L Cantelon and Robert C. Williams (1982), an official history of the role of the US Department of Energy during the accident. The Friday appears to have become a turning point in the history of the accident because of two events: the sudden rise in reactor pressure shown by control room instruments on the Wednesday afternoon (the "hydrogen burn") which suggested a hydrogen explosion. On that day it became known to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the deliberate venting of radioactive gases from the plant on the following Friday morning produced a reading of 1,200 millirems (12 mSv) directly above the stack of the auxiliary building.
The significance of this was the series of misunderstandings caused, in part, by the problems of communication within various state and federal agencies, but because of confused telephone conversations between people uninformed about the plant's status, officials concluded that the 1,200 millirems (12 mSv) reading was an off-site reading.


  • It was believed that another hydrogen explosion was possible and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had ordered evacuation: a meltdown was conceivable.
Erroneous information reported by the media generated a debate over evacuation and whether or not there were evacuation plans soon became academic. There was to be a weekend exodus based not on what was actually happening at Three Mile Island but on what government officials and the media imagined might happen. Confused communications (Friday) created the politics of fear. There were no unusually high readings, except for noble gases, and virtually no iodine. Readings were far below health limits.

  • Yet a political storm was raging based on confusion and misinformation
The TMI-2 accident caused concerns about the possibility of radiation-induced health effects, principally cancer, in the area surrounding the plant. The Pennsylvania Department of Health, because of those concerns, for 18 years maintained a registry of more than 30,000 people who lived within five miles of Three Mile Island at the time of the accident. The state's registry was discontinued in mid 1997, without any evidence of 'unusual' health trends in the area.
  • In a global environment where cancer is commonplace, what would constitute 'unusual' evidence?
More than a dozen major, independent health studies of the accident showed no evidence of any abnormal number of cancers around TMI years after the accident and 18 years is a long time to detect trends, though subtle changes are rarely noticed. The only detectable effect was allegedly psychological stress during and shortly after the accident. The studies found that the radiation releases during the accident were minimal, well below any levels that have been associated with health effects from radiation exposure. The average radiation dose to people living within 10 miles of the plant was 0.08 millisieverts, with no more than 1 millisievert to any single individual. The level of 0.08 mSv is about equal to a chest X-ray, and 1 mSv is about a third of the average background level of radiation received by U.S. residents in a year.
  • A chest X-ray has exposure times of milliseconds. The 0.08 mSv is a continuous and unremitting exposure over a much longer period: days, weeks, months, years...
In June 1996 (17 years after the TMI-2 accident), Harrisburg U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia Rambo dismissed a class action lawsuit alleging that the accident caused health effects. The plaintiffs have appealed Judge Rambo's ruling. The appeal is before the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. However, in making her decision, Judge Rambo cited:
  • Findings that exposure patterns projected by computer models of the releases compared so well with data from the TMI dosimeters (TLDs) available during the accident that the dosimeters probably were adequate to measure the releases.
  • That the maximum offsite dose was, possibly, 100 millirem (1 mSv), and that projected fatal cancers were less than one.
  • The plaintiffs' failure to prove their assertion that one or more unreported hydrogen "blowouts" in the reactor system caused one or more unreported radiation "spikes", producing a narrow yet highly concentrated plume of radioactive gases.
    • Typically, it is the burden of the plaintiff to prove an assertion rather than the defendant to disprove that assertion.
Perception Of Conspiracy Theory

Judge Rambo concluded:
  • "The parties to the instant action have had nearly two decades to muster evidence in support of their respective cases.... The paucity of proof alleged in support of Plaintiffs' case is manifest. The court has searched the record for any and all evidence which construed in a light most favorable to Plaintiffs creates a genuine issue of material fact warranting submission of their claims to a jury. This effort has been in vain."
More than a dozen major, independent studies have assessed the radiation releases and possible effects on the people and the environment around TMI since the 1979 accident at TMI-2. The most recent was a 13-year study on 32,000 people. None has found any adverse health effects such as cancers which might be linked to the accident.
The comparisons would be of a local environment with a much wider area (global dimensions) and would, of course, show nothing 'unusual'. Cancer is a modern and global phenomenon.
Why?
The cleanup of the damaged nuclear reactor system at TMI-2 took nearly 12 years and cost approximately US$973 million. The cleanup was uniquely challenging technically and radiologically.

Time and cost do not demonstrate effectiveness
Plant surfaces had to be decontaminated. Water used and stored during the cleanup had to be processed. And about 100 tonnes of damaged uranium fuel had to be removed from the reactor vessel: all allegedly without hazard to cleanup workers or the public. Removal of a 'damaged' radioactive fuel simply takes that fuel to another location.
Where?
It remains radioactive.

A cleanup plan was developed and carried out safely and successfully by a team of more than 1000 skilled workers. It began in August 1979, with the first shipments of accident-generated low-level radiological waste to Richland, Washington. In the cleanup's closing phases 12 years later (1991), final measurements were taken of the fuel remaining in inaccessible parts of the reactor vessel. Approximately one percent of the fuel and debris remains in the vessel. Also in 1991, the last remaining water was pumped from the TMI-2 reactor. The cleanup ended in December 1993, when Unit 2 (#2 reactor) received a license from the (NRC) to enter Post Defueling Monitored Storage (PDMS).
  • Early in the cleanup, Unit 2 was completely severed from any connection to TMI Unit 1. TMI-2 today is in long-term monitored storage. No further use of the plant is anticipated. Ventilation and rainwater systems are monitored. Equipment necessary to keep the plant in safe long-term storage is maintained.
Defueling the TMI-2 reactor vessel was the heart of the cleanup. The damaged fuel remained underwater throughout the defueling. In October, 1985, after nearly six years of preparations, workers standing on a platform atop the reactor and manipulating long-handled tools began lifting the fuel into canisters that hung beneath the platform. In all, 342 fuel canisters were shipped safely for long-term storage at the Idaho National Laboratory, a program that was completed in April, 1990.
TMI-2 cleanup operations produced over 10.6 megalitres of accident-generated water that was processed, stored and ultimately evaporated safely.
  • Evaporation should produce purified water, but is that totally free of any radioactive airborne contaminant? Radioactive water. Water exposed to radiation would in theory become radioactive. Distillation would not necessarily separate closely related isotopes of water.
TMI - Fact Sheet
Three Mile Island Unit 1 (TMI-1) has operated at very high levels of safety and reliability since the beginning (1985). Application of the lessons of the TMI-2 accident has been a key factor in the plant's 'outstanding' performance.
At the time of the TMI-2 accident, TMI-1 was shut down for refuelling. It was kept shut down during lengthy proceedings by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. During the shutdown, the plant was modified and training and operating procedures were revamped in light of the lessons of TMI-2. When TMI-1 restarted in 1985 (October), General Public Utilities pledged that the plant would be operated safely and efficiently and would become a leader in the nuclear power industry. Words only, but those pledges have been kept: ie no further incidents is not proof that a pledge has been kept.
  • A potentially dangerous dog even if kept under strict control can never be regarded as 'safe'
The plant's capability factor for 1987, including almost three months of a five-month refueling and maintenance outage, was 74.1 percent, compared to an industry average of 62 percent. (Capability factor refers to the amount of electricity generated compared to the plant's maximum capacity.)

  • The accident to happened at 4 am on 28 March 1979 when the reactor was operating at 97% power.
  • For 1989, the TMI-1 capability factor was 100.03 percent and the best of 357 nuclear power plants worldwide, according to Nucleonics Week.
  • In 1990-91, TMI-1 operated 479 consecutive days, the longest operating run at that point in the history of US commercial nuclear power. It was named by the NRC as one of the four safest plants in the country during this period.
  • By the end of 1994, TMI-1 was one of the first two plants in the history of US commercial nuclear power to achieve a three-year average capability factor of over 90% (TMI-1 had 94.3%).
  • In 1998 (October), TMI workers completed two full years without a lost workday injury.
  • Since its restart, TMI-1 has earned consistently high ratings in the NRC's program, Systematic Assessment of Licensee Performance (SALP).
Training reforms are among the most significant outcomes of the TMI-2 accident. Training became centred on protecting a plant's cooling capacity, whatever the triggering problem might be. At TMI-2, the operators turned to a book of procedures to pick those that seemed to fit the event. Now operators are taken through a set of "yes-no" questions to ensure that, firstly, the reactor's fuel core remains covered. Secondly, the specific malfunction is determined: the "symptom-based" approach for responding to plant events.
  • A style of training that gives operators a foundation for understanding both theoretical and practical aspects of plant operations underpins the approach.
The TMI-2 accident also led to the establishment of the Atlanta-based Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) and the National Academy for Nuclear Training. These two industry organisations have been effective in promoting excellence in the operation of nuclear plants and accrediting their training programs.
  • INPO was formed in 1979 and the National Academy for Nuclear Training was established under its auspices in 1985. TMI's operator training program has passed three of its accreditation reviews since then.
  • Training has gone well beyond button-pushing and communications and teamwork, emphasising effective interaction among crew members, are now part of TMI's training curriculum.
  • Close to half of the operators' training is in a full-scale $18 million electronic simulator of the TMI control room and permits operators to learn (and be tested) on all kinds of accident scenarios.
Disciplines in training, operations and event reporting that grew from the lessons of the TMI-2 accident have made the nuclear power industry demonstrably safer and more reliable. Those trends have been both promoted and tracked by the INPO and to remain in good standing, a nuclear plant must meet the high INPO standards as well as the strict regulation of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A key indicator is the graph of significant plant events, based on data compiled by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The number of significant events decreased from 2.38 per reactor unit (1985) to 0.10 (1997). In terms of reliability, the median capability factor for nuclear plants (percentage of maximum energy that a plant is capable of generating) increased from 62.7 percent (1980) to almost 90 percent (2000). The goal was 87 percent for the year 2000.

Other indicators for US plants tracked by INPO and its world counterpart, the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) are the unplanned capability loss factor, unplanned automatic scrams, safety system performance, thermal performance, fuel reliability, chemistry performance, collective radiation exposure, volume of solid radioactive waste and industrial safety accident rate. All have been reduced (substantially improved) from 1980.
  • The reactor's fuel core became uncovered and more than one third of the fuel melted.
  • Inadequate instrumentation and training programs at the time hampered operators' ability to respond to the accident.
  • The accident was accompanied by communications problems that led to conflicting information available to the public, contributing to the public's fears
  • Radiation was released from the plant. The releases were not serious and were not health hazards. This was confirmed by thousands of environmental and other samples and measurements taken during the accident.
  • The containment building worked as designed. Despite melting of about one-third of the fuel core, the reactor vessel itself maintained its integrity and contained the damaged fuel.
However,
  • There were no injuries or detectable health impacts from the accident, beyond the initial stress.
But,
  • Applying the accident's lessons produced important, continuing improvement in the performance of all nuclear power plants.
  • The accident fostered better understanding of fuel melting, including improbability of a China Syndrome meltdown breaching the reactor vessel or the containment building.
  • Public confidence in nuclear energy, particularly in USA, declined sharply following the TMI accident. It was a major cause of the decline in nuclear construction through the 1980s and 1990s.
Related Links: Safety of nuclear power reactors
Sources:

GPU Nuclear Corporation, 10 briefing papers (1999).
NEI, Nuclear Energy Overview (8/5/00).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Inflation Control

An Inflated Conclusion

If the inflation target can be 2%, then why can't it be 0%?


It's all about the perception of improvement. No growth then stagnation and consequential death! It's the financial illusion. The £1 of today is worth less tomorrow. Everyone has to run faster to stay in the same place. Otherwise there is no growth and everyone dies! Pathetic isn't it? Rather like buy one and get another at 50% of the purchase cost. Unless you genuinely need two of the same thing then the real cost is effectively 50% more for the single item you did want.

Whenever a 'business' needs more funds to stay afloat the answer is always raise the cost of products/services. This presumes that the business is really dying (like the consumers). Clearly, an end must eventuate when there are no more customers. This is the dilemma of the railway companies. More funds = raise costs. But raise costs and lose customers. Some 'customers' rely on trains and these businesses know that. Raise costs and screw the passengers. They have no choice (cue nauseating hand-wringing).

When gas/electricity prices are not controllable ('wholesale marketplace cost') it can only be assumed that this marketplace actually exists. What is it? Where is it? Nobody seems to know, but the concept persists anyway. Bit like God. Or the Devil.

OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) cuts the production of oil to maintain high costs. Or maximise profits. In a world economy that is in an effective global recession (two consecutive periods of that classic oxymoron: negative growth = decline), it becomes a very clear Winners And Losers scenario.

Oil Production Increase - Cynicism

Everything is affected by the cost of oil and typically by withdrawing a 'product' (preventing a Gordon Brown glut solution) presents a shortage so raising the cost by increased competition because of its scarcity. No oil and, even if a commodity is produced, nothing is moved. The result is inflation and explains why the term negative growth exists. The mindless charge towards growth is driven by the 'need' for an increase in wealth. Not showing a gain in the Winners And Losers mindset shows failure. More subtly it defines hypocrisy. Investors must have a profit to invest any asset. It's a business and the aim is to simply increase wealth, either personal or corporate. Shareholders provide the money to feed the business and it must grow to produce a profit to the shareholder otherwise there is no investment and as a consequence stagnation or death. This is the primary reason that shareholders get the first cut in any business success and not the customer. It's business.

The fluctuation in oil price (almost $150 a barrel in July dropping to a predicted $50 by 2008 year end) is transparent massaging and manipulation in action. The financial 'crisis' was predictable in that inflation outstripped pay increases, borrowing was effectively thrust onto those attempting to stave off a personal melt-down created by ridiculous inflation rates itself created and perpetuated by the world seemingly awash with money, money, money. This would inevitably create a disaster and would need a solution. The result was the sting, but on a global scale. It's happened before and, in principle, will happen again after the latest milk round. And designed to repeat.

In the redistribution argument, negative growth to one (Loser) is positive growth to the other (Winner). The hapless consumer (the host) yet again becomes the prey of the parasite. Those that control the supply of a natural resource. That any country has an oil resource is just the 'luck' that any geological area may enjoy if it produces diamonds. Another example of hypocrisy: the indigenous black population in South Africa does not enjoy the natural wealth of that country any more than the majority of those in Saudi Arabia share in the revenue from the natural oil resources.

There's none so blind as those that will not see and the psychologically blinded will always agree that this represents good business.

Spiritually devoid of humanity as soulless money shouts the loudest.

The most lethal subset of the human species? The egotistical extrovert couldn't give a damn about anything other than self. And in the present. No vision. They end up screwing themselves and don't even notice.

The OPEC members are not nations made up of better people, just the benefactors of a natural resource. There is no overall increase (or decrease) in wealth. It's all smoke and mirrors. Inflation creates the problem and appreciation of an investment through growth and interest at best keeps up with the decline of worth.

Imagine the value of British old money 50 years ago: the smallest denomination was 1/480th part of a £. Decimal day created the current (2008) smallest denomination of 1/100th part (New Penny). Regardless of any real or perceived worth and value, the smallest coin for change or pricing is almost

5 times

greater than 50 years ago, but NOT in worth and value. The highly cynical move of 'decimalisation' was justified as 1/100th part being easier to calculate than the 1/480 part of one pound (£).

It was effective instantaneous inflation

The original New half-penny (15th February 1971) disappeared from circulation in the early 1980s as essentially worthless. A very quiet death.

  • Rounding up or down to the nearest half penny as 1/480th part is very different to rounding (always up) to the nearest 1/100th part.
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabian Oil
Saudi Arabian Arms Deal

Intrinsically, the regime is unstable and brutal solutions are meted out to quell any dissent. A benefit of the OPEC greed ethos is an increase in the motivation to find alternative energy sources. Gas price is linked to oil. Any oil price rise or fall in costs should see a concomitant change in the cost of gas, but since the high cost of energy sources is artificially maintained by removing resources, reversing a certain glut by cutting production, purchase cost will remain high. In the UQ (aka UK) both gas and electricity are cripplingly high and petrol cost is amongst the highest in the world mostly as the result in taxation. Food prices are steadily rising and the diversion of food sources to feed cars and not people is exacerbating the effect of a desperate situation. No attempts are made to reduce or slow the global population and actually the move is to increase it. Even now an insufficiency of foodstuffs is made worse by fuel production involving human feedstock. The specious arguments are solely based on global warming and climate change and carbon dioxide levels. However, little if any price reduction of the resulting 'petroleum based' fuel happens. If such a scenario actually revealed itself by becoming uncloaked, then the removal of the oil resource by limiting production and so maintaining the overall pricing level would also be uncovered. More people, more opportunity to recover tax revenues and logically the faster the profiteering, the faster the end of (human) life: Inverted Pyramid thinking.

Biofuel Scam

Motoring by taxing distance and not fuel used will offset lost revenues as petrol usage continues to dwindle: smaller engines and more economical driving. Using the example of the car, depreciation is a (two-pronged) pincer attack: as a result of inflation, the value of a car will decline not just in that absurd description of real terms, but actual age. The cost of obsolescence involves vanity, perceived improvement and real technological advancements. Any manufacturer requires finance to develop a product and grow. This comes from sales to those agreeable to buying the latest incarnation. Not necessarily an innovation, but the perceived improvement. It keeps the company buoyant and shareholders content with returns on their investment (mostly based on profit) and maintains jobs. It also fuels inflation, so the vicious circle goes around in perpetuity. Each revolution appears to 'create' wealth, but in fact tightens the grip of global control.

Add a few wars to deplete the world population a little, though slower than its increase to 'balance' increased control and profiteering caused by fear and ultimate death. The power players still manage to remain cloaked so the conspiracy theorist joker in the pack is played. And it still works. The positive result of this is that the greater the population, statistically it should become more difficult to keep the curtain closed across the stage.

The roundabout continues, but on each revolution the growth works against it as resistance to its movement increases

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Banking Panic - The Circus

Banking Panic - The Plan (Prelude)
Banking Panic - The Plan (1)
Banking Panic - The Plan (2)
Banking Panic - The Plan (3)
Banking Panic - The Plan (4)
Banking Panic - The Plan (5)
Banking Panic - The Plan (6)
Banking Panic - The Plan (7)
Banking Panic - The Plan (8)
Banking Panic - The Plan (9)
Banking Panic - The Plan (10)
Banking Panic - The Plan (Nearly There)
Banking Panic - The Plan (Arrival)
Banking Panic - The Plan (The Next Phase)
Banking Panic - The Plan (11)
Banking Panic - The Plan (12)
Banking Panic - The Plan (13)
Banking Panic - The Plan (Exit)
Banking Panic - The Plan (1st Encore)
Banking Panic - The Plan (2nd Encore)
Banking Panic - The Plan (3rd Encore)

Oleg Deripaska

  • "This is a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants," said a tycoon who has had dealings with Deripaska.
LDV
Tories Show True Colours
'No interference' from Mandelson
Osborne denies Russian cash claims

Squaring the circle continues and the current mixture of wealthy internationals appears to almost mirror the activities of 95 years ago. Jekyll Island just moved to a different island: Corfu. The roundabout rotates in perpetuity and the circus will go on and on and get more and more predictable. The fuel remains greed, power and the associated perception of control, but in pathetic denial. In any case, a party involved that has access to an estimated $28bn (£16,000,000,000) is unlikely to consider £50,000 as anything but very loose change. Rather like a few grains of sand from a Saharan-sized beach. Nevertheless, that provides as good a reason as any for asking.

No impropriety is being suggested here, but a lack of imagination shown by the Chancellor-in-waiting of any future Conservative government, does demonstrate a disturbing lack of personal judgment with the consequential removal of public confidence. A Chancellor must show probity and impartiality. The history and background of George Osborne, like that of David Cameron, makes it difficult to reconcile any understanding with the 'common man'.

The Bullingdon Club
Controversy

Money only forces control, but through conflict: movement in opposition. Persuasion produces agreement and cohesive movement in the same direction. Osborne, it would appear, needs to be very persuasive to recover the public confidence and support. Most people will get only the one, and possibly a second chance, but a third is almost impossible. Enoblement is the latest honour and it could be regarded as a highly convenient solution to play down any Russian + billionaire connection.

Aluminium and Deripaska

Full circle takes this back to the beginning, but a little higher upwards in the spiral:

Banking Panic - The Plan (3) (31.10.2007)

  • Between 1990 and 1993, some 247,000 home owners lost their homes (falling house prices and rising unemployment attaining record levels). Central bankers throughout the world cut interest rates to bolster confidence and ensure that any institution in trouble could borrow their way out of trouble. After the recession of 1979-1981, everything reverted to normal. But this shows how unstable and volatile normality actually is, especially when the prime-directive is to protect the system at all costs, but sacrifice the saver.
Consider the cynicism involved with lowering interest rates in a recession: the cost of borrowing becomes technically cheaper at the time and encourages loans to be taken out. Mortgages look like a good investment, especially as house prices plummet. They seem good value as the theoretical future repayment looks attractive to the borrower. However, in a few years time when interest rates predictably go up again, the borrower is caught in the banking trap. The trap is set on the day the loan is 'approved' and sprung when the borrower has no choice, but to pay any demand. And so the circus goes around and around.

The banks are not really stupid and so they are reluctant to lend money that may never be repaid. As the economy continues to nosedive and private sector individuals struggle more and more to pay for the public sector secure pensions things can only get worse for a particular section of society. The redistribution principle dictates that wealth is moved from one group to another smaller one that grows. The parasite feeds off the host, but the parasite doesn't know what it is and lives on in ignorance and relative comfort. The host suffers. There is no gain in over all wealth, just the movement to the parasite. The parasite ultimately becomes the new host and the circus is fed in perpetuity. This would be from the private sector to the government-sponsored public sector.

Nothing has changed really. A recession roundabout. It's never been about a working financial system, but control.

Absolute control is absolute power

A nation and its people is very effectively imprisoned by the control of its finances and the 'people' are much more likely to do as they are told if their finances are threatened. When a system fails (inevitable) as the 'banker slaves' feed on their own greed to wreck the system, the system is imagined to recover.


It doesn't
It cannot

The system itself is virtually irrelevant. It's simply about the method of control.

Adam Applegarth And Northern Rock
Anarchy In Democracy Or Democratic Anarchy
An Inflated Conclusion
Banking Master Plan
Brown, Gordon: Change
Brown, Gordon: IMF And Gold Reserves
Cash Cow Lives On
Chancellor In Control
Confounded Interest
Energy - Foreign Takeover
Energy Price Escalation
Gas, Oil And The Whale
Gas Prices Rocket
Give And Take, Take
Global Debt
Government To Profit Using Taxpayers' Money
Growth
Inflation And Oil
Inflation And The Control Of Global People
Inflation Control
International Monetary Fund
Keynesian Monetary Theory
Mortgage Adjustments
Mortgage Interest Rates
Mortgage Yoke
Northern Rock
Oil: Locked-In
Oil Production Increase
Petrol Duty
Progress Of Greed
Repossession
Shell Oil And Taxation
Stealth Strategy
Terminal Greed
Virtual Money
Wealth And Power
Wealth Divide

End

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Turner 'Contemptible' - Developments

Allegations have been made regarding the business behaviour of the contractor involved in the construction of the Turner 'Contemptible': R. Durtnell & Sons. It has to be recognised that the fact that a business has a 400 year history has absolutely no bearing on standards and possible behaviour in any current business practices. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has a list of 112 firms on its Statement of Objections (SO). The Statement of Objections is a normal step in an investigation that involves competition and does not of itself suggest impropriety by any particular business.

Note added: 15.10.09

Historic background does not define current attitudes to business. R. Durtnell & Sons is one of more than 100 construction companies to be fined for bid-rigging (anti-competitive practices). The company was ordered to pay a fine of £711,115 after colluding with other companies over tenders for public projects. The cover pricing process that could have pushed up the price of taxpayer-funded building developments has since been outlawed. Simon Williams was the senior director of the cartels and criminal enforcement division: "bidding processes designed to ensure clients, and in many cases taxpayers, receive the best possible choice and price were distorted, creating a real risk of increased prices... This decision sends a strong message that anti-competitive and illegal practices, including cover pricing must cease."

As one of the main backers of the £17.4 million Turner Contemptible, Kent County Council say it does not think the practices investigated by the Office of Fair Trading would have increased the price of the art gallery.

Roger Gough (Corporate head) said: "KCC has very robust procurement processes in place to eliminate any possibility of collusion or cover pricing. Every tender is evaluated in detail by an independent quantity surveyor and benchmarked against previous projects and recognised market data in order to determine value for money rather than simple comparison of prices. With these measures in place we are extremely confident that any risk has significantly reduced any risk of collusion or price fixing on KCC building projects."

  • It's obvious that if competitors have agreed to inflate prices, the eventual lowest price will still be far above a proper and fair price. Such prices are simplistically arrived at by comparing tenders. Those charged with accepting tenders can only view the realistic costs from their own experience and knowledge. Complex and large projects can make this difficult if at all realistically possible or probable. The colluding businesses will then share the inflated (excess) cost raised.
A R. Durtnell & Sons spokesman: "We are disappointed to have received a penalty notice from the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) for participating in the practice of cover between 2003 and 2005. It was not until 2007 that cover pricing was determined contrary to the Competition Act 1998. Durtnell ceased participating in this arcane practice in 2005 having never gained any financial advantage, nor indeed had any client suffered any disadvantage. Durtnell consider the penalty wholly disproportionate to their transgression and are considering appealing to the Competition Act Tribunal.

Among the other 103 construction companies fined by the OFT were a number working on projects in Thanet. The Kier Group was fined the largest amount of any of the firms involved, nearly £18m (£17,894,438), currently working on Building Schools for the Future projects at Broadstairs St George's and Dane Court Schools. The company that built Westwood Cross shopping centre (Carillion) was also fined by the OFT. They also deny any wrong doing, claiming their massive £5m fine was actually levied against Mowlem, a company it bought after the anti-competitive practices took place.

A company spokesman said: The OFT's enquiries in relation to Mowlem related to certain matters that arose prior to Carillion's acquisition of the company and the Decision does not involve any other businesses within the Carillion group. Immediately following the acquisition of Mowlem, Carillion took steps to apply its own procedures within Mowlem to ensure that Mowlem complied with the requirements of the Competition Act 1998, to which Carillion attaches the highest importance.

  • Acquiring a company does not excuse previous practice regardless of what that new owner may or may not do in the future.
  • The consideration to accurate costs by a Labour government that instituted these school projects must be closely scrutinised as the record of this administration is terrible.

Construction progress

The allegation involves a cartel by rigging bids for construction projects and by definition this involves the £17.5m gallery that is scheduled to be started at end summer 2008 and opened (sometime) in 2011 (most recent published date) Turner Centre (19.06.2007).

The OFT:

  • "formerly alleges that the construction companies named in the statement have engaged in bid rigging activities and in particular cover pricing. Cover pricing describes a situation where one or more bidders collude with a competitor during a tender process to obtain a price or prices which are intended to be too high to win the contract. The tendering authority, for example a local council or other customer, is not made aware of the contacts between bidders, leaving it with a false impression of the level of competition and this may result in it paying inflated prices."
This in principle can mean that of the 112 firms, 110 of them may be victim to only 2 operating alleged collusion. This, however, could result in an inflated price being tendered by the ultimate winner of a contract if any party involved in actual collusion fails to win that contract. So, if collusion by a failed bidder is proven then the bid price must clearly be renegotiated with the fair-playing contract winner. Any winner cannot benefit, even by accident, as the result of the illegal dealings of another and, in the concept of Winners And Losers, any financial advantage to one (Winner) would mean a larger deficit to the other (Loser).

Kickback

The listed companies are making representations (written and oral) to the Office of Fair Trading and results will be announced next year (2009). If a business is found to be a member of a cartel, it could be fined up to 10% of its annual turnover.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

China Gateway - The Players


China Gateway

China Gateway - Key Points
China Gateway - The Facts

Partial approval (for Phase 1) with conditions was granted 09.10.08. Regardless of any conditions, the approval of Phase 1 was recorded. But are Phase 2 and Phase 3 subject to this initial consent or can the specifics be altered without the full committee being involved? What exactly are Phases 2 and 3 with respect to Phase 1? Once a project has begun variations can happen:

Planning Permission

  • Already, indications are being announced that could modify existing Health and Safety Executive (HSE) rulings that enable technically getting around problematic issues. In place are conditions that prevent building within certain limits to some businesses. Such a one is Theatrical Pyrotechnics. Comments like: "it may be possible to build slightly closer... if the buildings are constructed in the appropriate fashion" open the flood gates to forced alterations of existing conditions.
Contentiously, this business has no plans to move or cease trading until at least 2013 when its lease expires. The China Gateway must start within 3 years of the planning approval (2011) or reapplication for approval must be made. Apparently, the AIM-listed property developer CGP (Commercial Group Properties) has a specialist in obtaining planning permission, but for an application on allocated employment land at the Manston site, no such advice is needed. That presumably will be needed later only after Phase 1 has been implemented.

The conditions are only applicable to the Phase 1 'approval' and will be decided by the council's planning committee after discussions with the applicant. How public will such discussion be? Any major deviation before the Phase 1 approval would probably have caused the proposal to be rejected. Any changes after approval, imposed conditions notwithstanding, provides a different scenario. That no information is available for Phases 2 & 3 before approval to commence Phase 1 is disturbing for no less reason than full details are not known to Thanet District Council (TDC) before providing consent. Ratifying the unknown is unprofessional and ill-advised. Confidence in the competence of Thanet District Council (TDC) is at an all-time low and action like this is incredibly inept. Unless, of course, the hidden agenda is known, but deliberately being kept secret. It is alleged that the council could benefit directly as a consequence of its own approval decision. The Gateway developer CGP was charged £2.25m for 5 acres of land for its Gateway building.

Roger Latchford OBE

Clearly, extensive negotiation has been ongoing for some while that has not been publicly discussed. This begs the question what other deals have been quietly done? The Chinese are controlling the schedule and TDC appears to be the 'wagging tail'. No impropriety is being suggested, yet questions are inevitable.

  • Chief executive Richard Samuel said: "This was a very positive step for Thanet. I am confident that we are in a good position if we can work at the speed the Chinese want.
  • Very speculative and filled with uncertainties. The tour was organised and paid for by Chinamex, an outward investment company, supported by the Chinese government and Chinamex is looking to develop a business centre at the Manston Business Park, which is part own by CGP.
Wigan and China

Council leader Sandy Ezekiel attacks the challenge describing protesters as "scaremongers". Ezekiel brings the charges down upon himself and the whole of TDC by the railroading approach in the crude attempt to crush any reasonable debate. Too many answers to fair questions have been avoided and to then ridicule by suggesting 'conspiracy theory' shows arrogance. At best the 'donation' of £12,500 by CGP ostensibly to support the Margate's Big Event is ill-judged timing and for someone of Ken Wills experience and self-proclaimed success it doesn't involve conspiracy theory to question such a 'philanthropic' act. It could be regarded as an attempt to influence a planning application that is entered after the donation. The application was not referred to an independent planning inspector. To state that there is no connection between the donation and planning application (council leader Ezekial) fundamentally weakens any TDC case. Donations to local causes by businesmen who have interests in local affairs will always be suspect. Donations elsewhere tend to cloak activities and unsurprisingly connections will be made however well-intentioned.

  • Wills also made a donaton of £25,000 in 2007 to Thanet South Labour Party. This was presumably declared as required by law by the Labour members on the planning committee when the planning application was submitted in August this year (2008).
  • In 1998 Wills was the majority shareholder in KMfm Thanet, but control is now with Kent Messenger Group when investors were bought out and rebranding to just KMfm (March 2003). [On Wills' webspace he is described as Chairman and founder of KMfm Thanet and this is presumably historical information although not clarified as such.]
The CGP, China and Thanet connection began officially back in December 2007. Obviously, preparations had been organised before this announcement.

  • Leader Thanet District Council, Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel, along with Deputy Leader Cllr. Roger Latchford spent four days meeting with companies both in Shenzhen and Beijing as well as the President of the China-Europe Association for Technical and Economic Cooperation and the President and Chairman of Chinamex. A return meeting with the Chairman and President of Chinamex in Thanet is now planned for early 2008. The visit, coordinated and accompanied by directors of CGP, was organised and paid for by Chinamex, which is looking to develop a business centre at Manston Business Park which is part-owned by CGP.
  • Chinamex Middle East Investment and Trade Promotion Centre ("Chinamex") led by Mr. Feng Hao is a multinational company registered in Dubai with the mission of implementing trading platforms under the management of the Ministry of Commerce.

  • Commercial Group Properties PLC, led by Ken Wills is an AIM (Rule 26) listed company which was established to invest in property and owns three sites in the South of England.
    • From Rags to Riches (BBC video) - Today he boasts a jet engine maintenance shop, a helicopter firm, a fire prevention company, a restaurant, a jewellery business and a radio station on the Isle of Thanet. [The local radio station association appears to have been broken in March 2003].
As always, money appears to have undue influence regardless of any implied meaning.

The Odessa Children's Charity links are defunct. The Ukraine-based charitable activity is noted on Wills' personal webspace, but no such specific mention regarding other payments.

A major stumbling block should be the drainage and possible contamination of Thanet drinking (and irrigation) water. Since the agricultural land will disappear, the irrigation issue will evaporate. However, approval has been conferred upon this project Phase 1 without any consideration to to the drainage issue. Two weeks should get around the conditions. Unlikely, unless simply ignoring them. Many knowledgeable people are too closely involved with this entire application to allow the issues to slide through without noticing.

That's theory, but actually it depends on who is on which side, but dark clouds continue to assemble over Thanet.

Thanet Extra - original articles

Scaremongering (17.10.08)
Protesters lose Gateway fight (17.10.08)

China Gateway to create 1,300 jobs (10.10.08)
Dispelling the myths about China Gateway (03.10.08)
Time for a reality check (26.09.08)
Call for China Gateway inquiry (26.09.08)
Residents: We don't want China Gateway (19.09.08)
It's all about the right balance (12.09.08)
Delay meeting urges councillor (05.09.08)
China Gateway Project put under the spotlight (05.09.08)
Gateway decision deferred (29.08.08)
Business park could be gateway to 3,000 jobs (22.08.08)
President is impressed on his whistlestop tour
(01.08.08)
Business park 'is no threat to water supply' (25.07.08)
Film out on DVD - Thanet Under Threat (23.05.08)
Residents oppose business park plan (19.05.08)

Residents fight plan for industrial estate (16.05.08)

Chinese woman caught working in brothel jailed (05.05.08)

Other

Fears over threat to homes
Brothel woman jailed

Protestors vow more demos as Gateway deadline draws near

China Gateway under spotlight

Call for public inquiry into China Gateway

Protestors welcome delay on China Gateway decision

Residents fight plan for industrial estate

Chinese businessman sees Manston as hub for Europe

Crunch time for huge development plans

Green light for China Gateway - but with strict controls

China Gateway: Reaction to a dramatic evening