Friday, August 28, 2009

Jewish Settlements & Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

German Chancellor
Angela Merkel warned Iran that it could face energy sanctions if it doesn’t halt its nuclear program and pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to curb Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Merkel, speaking at a joint news conference with Netanyahu in Berlin yesterday, said the world is heading toward a September deadline for Iran to cooperate with demands to stop enriching uranium. Netanyahu called for the threat of “crippling sanctions” and Merkel said “we reject” a nuclear-armed Iran.

The U.S., France, the U.K. and Germany have been pressing Iran to drop its uranium enrichment program in return for help in developing civil nuclear power. Together with China and Russia, which both hold vetoes at the United Nations Security Council, they have voted through three rounds of sanctions in an attempt to penalize Iran for breaking its commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty… Read more (Gwen Ackermann and Tony Czuczka, Bloomberg)


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Control of Kazakhstan Metal & Mining Empire

Shifting sentiment over commodities and demand for base metals — in particular from China and Russia — has led to a volatile share price, just like any other blue chip London-listed miner. This volatility is made worse by the small float — only 20 per cent of its stock is in the market. The three founders, metal billionaires Patokh Chodiev, Alijan Ibragimov and Alexander Machkevich, control just over 40 per cent, having built the company during a wave of privatisations in the mid-1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The trio — former metal traders — are the subject of a long-running tax investigation by Belgian authorities, though they deny any wrongdoing.

ENRC’s fellow Kazakhstan miner, Kazakhmys, owns 26 per cent while the Kazakhstan Government holds 12 per cent. The company supplies 14 per cent of the country’s electricity and its ferrochrome and iron ore mines contribute 4 per cent to GDP… Read more (timesonline)

Patokh Chodiev: With partners and longtime friends Alijan Ibragimov and Alexander Machkevich (both also billionaires) built a metals and mining empire in Kazakhstan; stock of London-listed Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation down 54% over the past year. In July the trio's investment company, International Mineral Resources, took a 49% stake of Chinese carbon and stainless steel producer Jiuquan Iron & Steel. The Uzbekistan native lived in Japan before teaming up with his pals in Kazakhstan. (

Friday, August 14, 2009

Merkel & Medvedev Met in Russia on ‘Strategic’ Economic Deals

"I believe that we need to use every chance that the global financial crisis offers to develop the Russian-German economic relations", stated German chancellor Angela Merkel today in Sochi, Russia.

Chancellor Angela Merkel met President Dmitry Medvedev today and both called for deeper economic ties amid talk of several major Russian-German industrial deals in the works.

Speaking to reporters as he greeted Merkel at his palm-lined residence on the Black Sea, Medvedev congratulated Merkel on news that Germany had emerged from recession and said Russia was working hard to do the same.

"We should think how, by strengthening our bilateral economic strategic ties, we could help our economies and people overcome consequences of this difficult global crisis and emerge stronger from it", Medvedev said.

Merkel replied that she had been "very happy" at yesterday’s German economic news and confirmed that her meeting with Medvedev -- their second in just a month, and third this year -- would centre on economic issues… Read more (by Ellen Hasenkamp, AFP)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Status of Fixing the US Financial System

Excerpt - Talking to George Stephanopoulos last week, Tim Geithner bragged about the success of the bailout: "We've already earned about $6 billion for the taxpayer on those investments." Sounds great -- unless you consider the fact that we've we actually "invested" $4.7 trillion in our bank bailout. Shouldn't we demand to know what happened to the remaining $4.694 trillion?

Reforming the credit-rating agencies, to avoid ratings shopping by financial institutions and the fundamental conflict of having rating agencies be paid by the companies they are rating -- no wonder so much junk got AAA ratings -- got a hearing in the Senate yesterday, but we may not see action on this
until next year.

Legislation to reform executive pay
passed the House last week. The need for this reform was highlighted … Read more (by Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post, Aug. 6, 2009)

FK Comment

While the reform window closes, unfortunately, another collapse appears to be inevitable. Yes, the AAA rating system is still junk. I agree, we should demand what happened to the remaining (yet roughly) $4.7 trillion which US taxpayers spent on the bailout. (HuffPost profile/comments)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Computer vs. Captain – Automation in Jets

Will Increasing Automation Make Jets Less Safe?

Computers on board aircraft have made flying safer, but when they encounter errors they can create turmoil. Engineers are pressing ahead with the automation of aircraft, but pilots warn that efforts to computerize jets are going too far and that diminished human control could create dangerous situations.

Ben Cave was starting to get bored. The Australian had been sitting in his seat for more than three hours, and he still had two hours left before the Qantas jet was scheduled to touch down in Perth.

The Airbus A330 was flying at a cruising altitude of 11,278 meters (37,000 feet). The calm of modern jet travel, accentuated by the monotonous drone of the engines, prevailed on board the aircraft…
Read more (by Gerald Traufetter, Spiegel)