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Monthly Archives: May 2012

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azerbaijan

I was surprised to see that Azerbaijan resembled Dubai more than neighbouring Khazakstan from Borat.

This is the reason for such progress, from Greg Palast

When I was arrested by the military police of Azerbaijan during my investigation of BP for Channel 4′s Dispatches in 2010, one of the cops who surrounded our crew in the desert told us, with great pride:
“BP drives this country.”
Indeed it does.

In 1992, the newly independent former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan elected a kindly Muslim Professor, Abulfaz Elchibey, as President.

But the voters had made an error: Elchibey refused to give BP an exclusive contract to drill the nation’s massive Caspian Sea fields as the company wished. In 1993, with assistance and, reportedly, guns provided by MI6, Elchibey was overthrown by the nation’s former Soviet KGB boss, Heydar Aliyev.

Within three months, Aliyev handed BP a sweetheart deal, called “The Contract of the Century”, to take Azerbaijan’s Caspian oil.

The way to the no-bid deal for BP was “greased”, to use the term applied by former BP operative Leslie Abrahams, with several million dollars in illicit payments and weekends with lap dancers in London for Azeri officials. I asked Abrahams, who was ordered by BP to provide military intelligence to MI6, whether he understood that he was paying “bribes on behalf of BP and the British government”. He replied, “absolutely, yes”.

When asked, BP would not directly deny paying bribes.
The company told us, tantalisingly, that:
“While there were some facts in [Abrahams] account that were accurate, we do not recognise most of it and regarded it as fantasy.” (here is Abrahams in the BP office with his Kalashnikov).

Since BP has taken control of Azerbaijan’s oil, the nation has become fabulously wealthy – at least for those close to the Aliyev family and BP.
And they eat well. The daughters of the new President, Ilham Aliyev (son of Heydar), picked up the tab for dinner in London for a half dozen of their friends. It came to £300,000 (excluding tip and VAT).

According to Robert Ebel, the CIA’s former oil intelligence chief, the whereabouts of $140 million in BP and other oil industry payments are “totally unknown”.

This week, Eurovision Song Contest viewers will be treated to the images of the ancient city of Baku where the Silk Road streets are filled with Maseratis and Bentleys. The Bentley dealership, and much of the capital, is owned by Azerbaijan’s First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva, the “Sexiest Muslim Woman in the World”. That’s official, the vote was taken by Esquire Magazine. (She’s actually the twelfth “Sexiest Woman in the World”, but the other eleven, infidels all, can be ignored here.)
(Photo above with husband Ilham).

I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve the title: her fashion model face has been created at great expense by “so much plastic surgery”, according to the US State Department Manning/WikiLeaks cables, that Lady Mehriban “appears unable to show a full range of facial expression.”

But when I left the Old City and its Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana stores and headed off to Sangachal, the town where BP’s terminal operates, I found a nation heading full speed into the 14th century…

Baku, once the world’s leading manufacturer of oil drilling equipment, is now one of the world’s leading centers of oil-toxin cancers. Walking along the main street of Sangachal, the aptly nicknamed, “Terminal Town”, was like doing the rounds in a cancer ward.

The local shoemaker, Elmar Mamonov – who hasn’t sold a shoe in two years – told me:
“This one’s daughter has breast cancer; there, Rasul had a brain tumor. Cancers we had never seen. His funeral was last week.”
Azlan, afraid to give his last name, paid to have a cancerous lung cut out, because employer BP wouldn’t pay. He says the oil company fired him after he could not keep up with his work.

And there was Shala Tageva, a schoolteacher, who has ovarian cancer. She needs treatment soon, but how to pay for it, Mamonov can’t imagine. Shala is Mamonov’s wife.

Suddenly, Mamonov stopped himself.
“If I am arrested, you will help me, yes?”
Sorry, sir, not in the Islamic Republic of BP.

Oil, their main industry, has seen employment drop about 90 per cent according to journalist Khadija Ismayilova. Her father, the former oil production minister, was fired by Aliyev when the minister suggested bribery was behind the destruction of the industry, bribes which allegedly allowed BP to avoid “local content” laws that would have saved those jobs.

Throughout the nation, we heard the same refrain: nostalgia for the old days of freedom and prosperity under Soviet rule; under BP rule, the people’s health, income and freedoms have decayed rapidly, as pollution has turned their Caspian fisheries into a dead, chemical toilet.

But Azeris are well entertained. The massive expenditure for the Eurovision Song Contest follows the government’s spending of $1 million for an Elton John concert during a depression.

Today, only one in seven dollars of GDP is paid in salaries (versus four of five dollars in the US and UK). Where have the billions gone? No one dare look for it, nor the source of the First Lady’s wealth. The last journalist who asked about the funds, Elmar Huseynov, was gunned down in his home. A journalist who questioned what happened to Huseynov was jailed. No third journalist is investigating what happened to the first two.

Azerbaijan is, nominally, a democracy. Indeed, the First Lady won a convincing election to Parliament (as did every other candidate supporting her husband’s regime – there was not a single member of the opposition elected). But it doesn’t, in the end, matter who is voted in, as long as “BP drives”.

Within hours of our arrest, my crew and I were released by the Deputy Chief of the Security Ministry: Imprisoning a Channel 4 reporter would have been an embarrassment for BP. But our witnesses to BP’s horrific drilling practices didn’t do so well. One made it out of the country, but others disappeared.

When you watch the Euro-warblers compete this Saturday, just remember that in Azerbaijan, the winners are already chosen: BP and the family of the Sexiest Muslim Woman in the World. And that’s not a pretty sight.

I was also hoping the Swedish Eurovision winner would talk on the stage about the human rights abuses in Azerbaijan. This is what got her in trouble last week:

Swedish Eurovision Song Contest winner Loreen strayed off script into a human rights row in Azerbaijan this week that has drowned out an annual European music show best known until now for its camp costumes and kitschy acts.

Loreen met with activists who accuse the government of Eurovision host Azerbaijan of human rights violations, (destroying the houses and apartments illegally to build eurovision hall and parks), some of which are related to the building of the arena where the song contest final will be held on Saturday night.

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ginger / beard / bodysuit / codpiece

The only option for balding gingers is to grow a beard – but why not add a tricolour bodystocking and a freaky dance

viva la merkelution

ACTUNG! DEBT SLAVES

If there is one thing I have learned about the European Parliament it is that when Nigel Farage talks you listen and he kindly asks that you read this information leaflet which arrived through the door.

(The graphic on the front page depicts the 100 Euro note with the Arch on fire. I would have preferred a mushroom cloud. Quoted on page 6 is Dr. Ed Walsh – the founder of my alma mater, he is a very smart guy and in fact he is a nuclear scientist).

* Ed Walsh is unhappy that he was quoted in this document


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failbook

According to the Irish Times:

Some workers at Facebook’s European headquarters in Dublin stood to earn tens of thousands of euro with the flotation.

I infer from the above that one or two get 10 grand and the rest probably get enough for a few pints. I worked at enough dodgy dot com companies to know that they promise you shit like this to get you to work your hole off for nothing.

In the words of Pink Floyd “if you ask for a raise it’s no surprise that they’re giving none away” …

Here is how the launch went yesterday, more like challenger than apollo:

If you don’t know what this means the Initial Public Offering price was set at 38 but demand at the open pushed it to 42. Back in the dot com days (and even with linkedin last year) prices would skyrocket upwards by hundreds of percent. Facebook closed yesterday day just above 38 and even damaged the share price of others in its sector like Zynga which lost 13% as a result of the web 2.0 damp squib.

Granted the Nasdaq exchange was actually on the blink and people did not know if their orders were filled. The fact that the employees were offloading 56% of shares was probably a warning sign to everyone except Chinese investors who wanted to buy a tha face a book.

look what an asshole mark zuckerberg really is

Mark Zuckerberg’s Secret IMs From College:

businessinsider.com

this woman is a digit short

She will wake up on your couch and have no clue who you are

As one of the commenters says:

Any girl who would pass out in your house and tell you to go fuck yourself is a cunt. This is a mobile network aimed at cunts.

class discrimination

borrowed from “the GAP”

chinese trading hub

An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission for the first phase of the massive “Euro Chinese Trading Hub” at Creggan, 2km from Athlone, including three major exhibition halls and other facilities totalling 102, 348sq m (1.1m sq ft).

The board’s unanimous decision, which is subject to 37 conditions, was made in the light of the National Spatial Strategy identifying Athlone as a key element (along with Mullingar and Tullamore) of the Midlands “gateway” and regional planning guidelines.

These guidelines seek to give to priority to the development of international trading in Athlone. Provision was also made in Westmeath County Council’s local area plan for Creggan to be developed as an “innovation and trading hub”.

I presume this trading-hub-theme-park will have a giant Burberry store, a giant all you can eat Chinese buffet and hopefully a golden toilet as was launched at the world toilet summit!

The 1.28 million RMB ($201,400) golden bowl is merely one of the many “novel sanitary wares” on display at the convention, whose themes this year are ‘Toilet Etiquette’, ‘Quality of Life’, ‘Health’ and ‘Tourism’.

I knew something funny was going to happen back in February when the Chinese were here when the Irish government were selling state assets/:

China to be “reliable friend” to Ireland – yes, we trust you China (to put us working in your salt mines).

1 Cliffs of Moher and 1 Riverdance, for sale. Do I hear 50 Chinese Yuan?

Deal done.

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