Friday, 21 December 2007

Christmas Sale is cancelled...

"Potential privatisations worth more than £6bn have stalled or been ruled out by the government because of difficult markets, regulatory concerns or political problems, analysis by the Financial Times has shown."

Apart from the venture capital company, CDC, items in the sale were to include :-
- Urenco, the uranium enrichment company
- the UK Atomic Energy Authority
- the state’s one-third stake in the Atomic Weapons Establishment (who owns the other two thirds?)

"The government’s main cash-raising focus is now on selling land and property, rather than businesses. Gordon Brown, as chancellor, set a goal of raising £30bn between 2004 and 2011 by selling off fixed assets. A further £6bn is due to be raised by selling off student loans, once legislation now going through Parliament allows this."

Selling the family silver is hardly the action of sound financial management and is a Tory trick. Oh sorry - yes, we are a labour government.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Crisis in Caracas?

There is a major referendum today in Venezuela, granting Hugo Chavez the opportunity to stand for election beyond a fixed number of terms. Many see this as a step toward totalitarianism and students in their thousands came out to protest "Not like this" on Thursday. Reuters

But there is also a document in circulation claimed to be from a CIA operative in Caracas to CIA Director General Michael Hayden, uncovered yesterday, outlining a plan for interfering with a Venezuelan referendum set for Dec. 2, and laying out the steps for instigating and backing a coup. The plot, called "Operation Pliers," and laid out in the letter to Hayden by an undercover operative named Michael Steele, who reportedly works in the US Embassy as a "regional affairs officer," was intercepted by Venezuelan intelligence and released publicly on state TV yesterday. Associated Press. Another blog that has reported this in the peak oil forum has, by some coincidence, been hacked. Peak Oil Forum. I would point out though that the veracity of this document is yet to proved. operation-pliers. For more detail on the memorandum see :- IndyMedia Belgium

In response Chavez is threatening to cut-off oil exports to the US and possibly elsewhere thus creating the shortage that will fuel a massive price increase in black gold if there's evidence of interference in the referendum. He is also joining a call to price oil in the more stable Euro rather than US Dollars.

No doubt Bush and his cohorts will be fully aware of this power that Venezuela has, and they may react badly when they are cornered. A mistaken image mix-up by the CNN Spanish service ask a question "who killed him" under an picture of Chavez, how predictive is this?