Australian DFAT director knew of trucking company involved in alleged Iraqi kickbacks

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Cole inquiry was told on Friday by a former director of the Middle East branch of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that she had heard the name “Alia” during her time at DFAT. Alia is the Jordanian trucking company used by the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) and alleged to have been paying kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime.

Previously, Alexander Downer, Australia’s foreign minister, insisted that nobody in DFAT knew about Alia until it was named in the United Nations report on kickbacks paid to Iraq under the oil-for-food program.

Jill Courtney, a former director at DFAT, told the Cole Inquiry that she heard of Alia some time in 2000.

In a statement provided to the inquiry, Ms Courtney states “When I saw the name ‘Alia’ in newspaper reports of the Cole Inquiry over the last few weeks in relation to the Jordanian trucking company used by AWB I recognised the name and I now believe that it was a name that I had heard in that context during the time I worked in the Middle East branch in 2000 and 2001.”

Ms Courtney told the inquiry that she hard heard or read about Alia as a Jordanian trucking company which was being used by the AWB during her time at as a director of the Middle East branch at DFAT. Ms Courtney said that she could not recall how she came by the information.

Ms Courtney was asked by John Agius SC (counsel assisting the inquiry), “Is there any possibility that you saw it or heard of it as a Jordanian trucking company, and that what you have done when you read about it in the newspaper, in the context of this inquiry, is to learn then that it was being used by AWB, and that you have fused the two matters together?” She replied, “No.”

Thief force-fed fifty bananas to retrieve necklace

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A man from the east Indian city of Kolkata was force-fed 50 bananas, after he swallowed a gold necklace he stole worth around 45,000 rupees ($1,110).

Sheikh Mohsin, 36, stole the necklace from a businessman’s wife whilst she was toy shopping. When arrested, he denied he stole the necklace, but an X-ray proved that necklace was inside him. In an attempt to get the necklace back, doctors advised the police to feed him bananas, saying they would act as a laxative.

Mohsin was fed 50 bananas, but the laxative effect failed to take place. The police then fed him rice, chicken and bread. He was x-rayed twice during the day, and it was not until the fifth attempt when the necklace was finally excreted.

A sweeper was paid 50 rupees ($1) for recovering the necklace from the toilet, and Mohsin was forced to clean it. Moshin pled for release but this was refused. He will be put in court in Kolkata on August 6, where he could face up to three months imprisonment for “snatching”.

FEMA official in New Orleans blasts agency’s response

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Marty Bahamonde, the only FEMA emplyee in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina, testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, contradicts former FEMA director Michael Brown’s testimony and says Brown ignored his pleas for help.

In an August 31 Blackberry email:

“Sir, I know you know that this situation is past critical. Here are some things you might not know. Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water. Hundreds still being rescued from homes” and “medical staff at the Dome expect to run out of oxygen in about 2 hours”

In an email from one of Brown’s aids: “Please schedule Joe Scarborough this evening… Also, it is very important that time is allowed for Mr. Brown to eat dinner. Gievn[sic] that Baton Rouge is back to normal, restaurants are getting busy”

2007/08 Bundesliga: Bayern Munich vs. Hertha BSC Berlin

Saturday, May 17, 2008

May 17, 200815:30 (CET)
Bayern Munich 4–1 Hertha BSC Berlin Allianz Arena, Munich, Bavaria, GermanyAttendance: 69,000Referee: Markus Merk
Toni 3′ (22)Toni 27′ (23)Ribéry 33′ (11)Toni 61′ (24)Ribéry 67’Podolski 67’Kroos 67’Klose 67’Kahn 88’Rensing 88′ 64′ Lustenberger 64′ Dárdai 67′ Skácel 67′ Bieler 71′ Panteli? 71′ Domovchiyski 84′ (1)Domovchiyski

Bayern Munich set a new record for fewest goals conceded as Luca Toni finished as Bundesliga top scorer on the final day of the season in a 4-1 victory against Hertha BSC Berlin.

A series of farewells before kick-off brought the crowd to their feet in a string of standing ovations as Oliver Kahn, Bernd Dreher and Sepp Maier retired, Head Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld left to coach Switzerland and Jan Schlaudraff left for Hannover 96. Also leaving the club is Assistant Coach Michael Hanke. There was also a presentation for the match official, as referee Markus Merk also was on the Bundesliga stage for the last time before retirement.

Luca Toni’s 2 goals in the 1st Half and a Franck Ribery goal put the reigning champions 3-0 up at half-time, before Luca Toni completed his hat-trick in the 2nd Half. Substitute Valeri Domovchiyski scored the only goal for Hertha BSC Berlin.

Ottmar Hitzfeld’s final Bayern Munich team selection showed four changes to the side which beat Duisburg last week, with Philipp Lahm, Zé Roberto, Franck Ribéry and Luca Toni starting in place of Andreas Ottl, Jorse Ernesto Sosa, Jan Schlaudraff and Willy Sagnol.

Luca Toni’s 3 goals took him to 24 for the Bundesliga season and the “cannon-shaped trophy” awarded to the league’s leading scorer, while Bayern finished with just 21 goals against in 34 matches to beat Werder Bremen’s previous record of 22 from 1987-88.

Explosions in Hyderabad, India

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Two explosions have been reported in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, killing some 40 people. It was reported the two blasts rocked a park and a popular eat-out in Hyderabad on Saturday evening within a gap of 15 minutes.

The injured, a total of 350, have been taken to nearby hospitals. Both the areas have been evacuated.

The first explosion took place at Lumbini Park near the state secretariat at around 20:00 and another at Gokul Chat Bhandar 15 minutes later, they said. A laser show was going on at Lumbini Park when the blast occurred.

Blow out sales prices likely on mattresses as new U.S. fire-resistant standards take effect

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

If you are in the market for new bedding, and not too concerned with the new United States guidelines for mattress fire resistance, now might be a good time to buy. Mattresses sold in the U.S. must meet new federal guidelines for flammability starting on July 1.

The peak heat release rate is limited to 200 kW during a 30 minute test. The total heat release is limited to 15 MJ within the first 10 minutes.”

The flammability of mattress sets sold in the U.S. is subject to a new mandatory federal regulation requirement passed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on February 16 last year. The requirement, costing mattress manufacturers an estimated $100 million to meet, is scheduled to take effect on July 1. The commission anticipates that the new standards will save 270 lives and 1,330 injuries per year from mattress fires.

“We’ve passed a new open flame regulation and the whole idea behind the regulation is to make sure that if a mattress catches on fire that the fire burns slowly enough that people have enough time to get out of the house and get away,” said Hal Stratton, chairman of the CPSC

Radio and TV advertising spots are reacting to the new regulation by discounting prices on mattresses that fail to meet the new guidelines. Sales made in the mattress industry, like the automobile industry, are highly negotiable on price. The new regulation does not appear to have much “teeth” for mattresses already in the distribution pipeline, but it is a new law that is a bargaining position for potential buyers.

Blogging Tips Effective Ways To Get More Traffic To Your Blog

Read An Opinion On:

By Edgar Trejo

There are many steps that go into creating a successful blog. We all know the first step is to create it, but then what? After you have developed your blog, you need some effective ways to attract visitors. Below is a list of methods you could try.

1- Remember that word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools around, so make use of it, and brag as much as you like about your website to all and sundry. Also, make use of the numerous ways that you can use Craigslist to promote your blog. After all, Craigslist is like one big digital classifieds ad.

2- You should also become active on social bookmarking sites by choosing just a few and then becoming really active on them on a regular basis. Apart from giving you more creditability on the site, it will also drive more traffic to your blog as well. Make sure to visit the blogs of those people who write on similar topics, and then leave good comments there. You can also include a link to your blog in the “website” section on the comment form – this will encourage people to visit your blog.

YouTube Preview Image

3- Make use of your social networking profiles as well. If you are on Linkedin or Facebook for instance, you should make sure that people can find your blog there too. Add a link to a specific post that you like, and add one to the blog on your email signature as well. Another thing is that very few bloggers realize just how effective business cards are – every blogger should have them and hand them out as much as possible.

4- There is something special about your blog, and once you figure out just what it is, then issue a press release about it. Go even further if you are really serious about it, and hire someone to do this for you.

5- One of the most effective ways to get more traffic to your blog is to do a giveaway. You do this by advertising on other blogs that you are doing a giveaway on your own blog. For instance, if you have CDs lying around that you are not interested in anymore, then advertise a contest and announce it on a whole lot of music blogs.

6- Do some friendly blogging on the sites of others, and give away your some of your writing. For example, you can offer to write one article each month for a particular site that you like, and as compensation request a link exchange. Also, you probably have a little time every month to create a newsletter about yourself. This should include information about your blog, your favourite posts, as well as some of your aims for the next month.

7- Of course, one of the really effective ways to get more traffic to your blog is to make use of Google. Google is the search engine that absolutely everyone uses these days, so make sure to find out just how it works. There are plenty of articles available on the Internet that you can read in order to better understand the use of key words, linking rules, as well as page rank.

Although these are effective ways to get more traffic to your blog, the best thing you can do is get creative and promote your blog in a way that has not been done before. Remember, anything that grabs your attention, is going to get you traffic.

About the Author: The author is an experienced marketer, article writer, and press release writer. If you want to get started on an article marketing campaign or you need to get a press release written, visit


for access to professionals who can get you exactly what you need- all at a very affordable price.



Permanent Link:


Man is waiting for 139 days in front of theater for “Star Wars” movie

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Jeff Tweiten, a 27-year-old graphic artist, is encamped in front of the Cinerama Theatre, on a blue sofa, in the northwest city of Seattle, Washington. Tweiten plans to wait 139 days for the premiere of “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,” which opens May 19, 2005.

He has received help from a community of friends and local business people who have supplied changes of clothes, coffee, food, and a nearby restroom.

City authorities have chosen not to enforce vagrancy laws that would force Tweiten to move between the hours of 7AM and 9PM local time.

Tweiten also camped out for the previous two episodes of the Star Wars movies, “Episode I” and “Episode II”.

Ozzy Osbourne’s personal possessions fetch $800,000 for charity

Sunday, December 2, 2007

American heavy metal performer Ozzy Osbourne, who became famous as the lead vocalist for Black Sabbath and later as a solo act, has raised more than US$800,000 for The Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program, founded by his spouse Sharon Osbourne at the Cedars Sinai Hospital, by auctioning off personal items.

A number of the items that he auctioned off over the two day period have been seen on his reality TV show The Osbournes, which featured home life with Sharon, Ozzy and their two children. Amongst some of the higher-priced items were a carved walnut Victorian-style custom built pool table which raised $11,250, a painting from Edourad Drouot which fetched $10,500, a pair of Ozzy’s famous round glasses which raised $5,250 and a dog bed given to Sharon by Elton John which sold for $2,375.

Some more famous items were also amongst the 500 lots offered. Ozzy’s black satin coat, complete with bat-wing cape, raised $3,300 and a hand-painted floral cup used regularly on The Osbournes made $1,625. A bronze plaque of a demon’s head that was regularly seen in its position adorning the front door of their house had been expected to go for $800 to $1,200instead raised $8,750. A wire model of the Eiffel Tower from on the kitchen table sold for $10,000, while skull-covered trainers Ozzy had worn reached $2,625. Bidders came from as far away as Germany to buy what they could from his mansion in Beverly Hills, California.

However, three cars included in the auction failed to attract bidders and did not sell. They were a 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur, estimated at $160,000 to $180,000, a 2005 Cadillac CTS-V sedan estimated at $30,000 to $40,000 and a 1950 Oldsmobile Futuramic 88 Club Coupe previously owned by author Danielle Steel estimated at $40,000 to $50,000. Sharon had earlier said of the cars “We’re not great car people. They really don’t do a lot for us.

Darren Julien, president of Julien’s Auctions, which organised the two-day sale, said “It did very well. It raised some good money for a very worthy cause.”

“For a celebrity garage sale, it was pretty spectacular.,” he went on. He also commented on the fact that there was fierce competition for the many artworks included. “We had Ozzy fans bidding against these sophisticated fine art buyers, which you don’t see every day. For the most part the metalheads were outbidding the art crowd.”

Sell My Gold A Guide To Selling Scrap Gold}

Sell My Gold – A Guide to Selling Scrap Gold


Brian Aitchson

When I think of selling scrap gold I tend to think of the process of dismantling electronic devices and printed circuit boards to retrieve the gold hidden away inside, or perhaps removing gold plating.

If you have a large quantity of this type of scrap gold you will need to find a precious metal recovery specialist. If you are lucky there may be other components that they can extract some value from also.

However if your idea of selling scrap gold is broken jewellery, odd earrings, dental fittings and even gold teeth then there are many options available to you.

There appear to be more and more companies every day fighting over your unwanted trinkets and theoretically this ought to be good for the seller.

The recent rise in the price of gold seems to have caused an irritating increase in the number of gold buying companies advertising on television, each with their own price promise or celebrity endorsement.

Before you decide to despatch your gold to the company with the friendliest celebrity or best sounding offer, be sure to assess the value of your scrap gold yourself. Our website has a simple gold valuation guide that breaks down this process into simple steps.

In summary, you’ll want to split the gold into groups based on the purity. (9ct, 18ct, 24ct, etc) and weigh each individual group separately. Most jewellery in the UK is hallmarked somewhere unobtrusive, if there is no hallmark it might be worth checking with a jeweller before sending anything away, or you can buy fairly inexpensive gold testing kits. Obviously you want to use the most accurate scales you can gain access to.

If you go down the path of using an online gold buyer, be sure to check the insurance cover provided on the gold pack that they issue you. If the included insurance doesn’t meet your assessment of the value of your scrap gold, ask at the post office for additional insurance.

Gold buying companies that won’t give you even the vaguest indication of what they’ll pay for your scrap gold until they have received your items should be avoided unless you are comfortable haggling. Never accept their first offer and insist that your gold is returned, most buyers will increase their offer to save on the expense and hassle of returning your items.

If the money you are offered falls a long way short of the value you calculated when using our guide without a reasonable explanation (one of the pieces was 9ct not 24ct for example) simply get the gold returned to you. There are plenty of legitimate buyers around, even your local jeweller or pawnbroker shouldn’t be discounted. Just because the TV buyers gave you the idea to sell your gold, doesn’t mean they pay the highest prices, after all TV advertising isn’t cheap!

If you’re considering selling your gold, check out our free

Sell My Gold

guide. Available along with other snippets of gold selling advice from http://www.myprecious.co.uk

Article Source: