Reasons Not To Privatize The Feds: Part Two

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Going Country

More and more, city gangs are sending young runners out into the sticks to sell crack and heroin. We spoke to dealers, sex workers and police to get a better understanding of how the whole thing works.

As commuters arrive into Britain’s major cities from their homes in the shires, a different kind of commuter is travelling the opposite direction. They’re more likely to be young and wearing trainers, tracksuits and puffer jackets. Most of them generate more cash each day than their city-bound counterparts. The tools of their trade are a cheap mobile phone, a bag of class A drugs and a knife.

Last week, the National Crime Agency released its second report into the growing phenomenon known as “going country” – city drug gangs sending young runners to sell crack and heroin in market or coastal towns. The report found that these were no occasional day trips: over 180 urban drug dealing gangs have expanded into the jurisdictions of three quarters of British police forces.

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Going country, or “OT” (out there), is not an entirely new phenomenon. Gangs from the big four UK drug hubs – London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool – have been sending dealers to sell in less crowded areas since the rise of the highly profitable crack selling business, and of mobile phones, in the 1990s. The drug trade in Ipswich, Suffolk, for example, has been dominated by London gangs since 2003.

 HAINE, LAYet, in the last decade, across Britain the trickle has turned into a flood. Using motorways and trains, city gangs have expanded their reach far and wide, beyond the commuter belt, from Devon and Gloucestershire to Humberside and Scotland. London gangs – the most prolific of them all – have taken over the trade across the south of England: in west country towns such as Swindon, Melksham, Aylesbury, Bournemouth and Yeovil; in southern towns such as Hastings, Eastbourne, Worthing, Tunbridge Wells, Margate and Brighton; and in the east, in Colchester, Cambridge, Norwich, Leiston and Bury St Edmonds.

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What’s more, the dealers are getting younger, with children as young as 11 being found selling drugs in areas a world away from the inner city zones they call home. Meanwhile, as the newcomers increasingly discard the old school criminal code of local drug markets, rivalry, enmity and violence intensifies.

Despite recent police and media reports about this phenomenon, little is known about how these gangs operate and the impact they have on “host” towns. In truth, it’s a story about a collision point: where people’s desperation to escape poverty and pain meets head-on with the cold, hard economics of the drug trade.

G4s have demonstrated to the general public just how adept they are at managing national events and the probation service, they clearly aren’t. So where would they find the money for the kind of policing work that throws up this research data? Policing cuts have consequences.

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Reasons Not To Privatize The Feds: Part One

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A Heathrow airport drug smuggling racket importing more than £10million of cocaine into Britain was smashed following a series of dawn raids today.

The drugs, which also included 50 kilos of cannabis, was shipped into the UK in 15 months through the UK’s biggest airport.

Eleven suspects, including one woman and three baggage handlers, were arrested at addresses in and around London and the south east.

Today’s operation follows a number of seizures of drugs at Heathrow over a 15 month period – totalling around 100 kilograms of cocaine and 50 kilograms of cannabis.

The drugs are believed to have been sent by drugs lords based in Brazil for gangs selling on the streets of London. Please note, that these are not necessarily Afro-Carribean gangs, a number of ethnicities (Brazillian, Angolan, Columbian, Dominican,Polish, Romanian,Russian) are now a part of settled communities in London and have been for many years.

Those arrested are aged between 24 and 60 and were detained following the series of coordinated raids involving around 125 investigators from the National Crime Agency.

The operation NCA were assisted by officers from three police forces including the Metropolitan Police.

The suspected drugs ring members were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to import class A drugs and are now being questioned at police stations around London.

The suspects are either linked to the South Americans in the drugs trade or ‘wholesalers’ based in London.  

G4S never stops talking about the money it can save police services but how many plain clothes hours inside & outside of London went into the preparation for this police operation? The face of London has changed, to discover to what extent & make all the necessary links between Columbian criminals & those indigenous to London costs patience, time & wages? Cuts have consequences.

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Ratification Of The Paris Agreement Delayed

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It’s now nine months since the COP21 climate treaty was agreed in Paris. At the time,I met the agreement with both celebration and condemnation: it marked an important global moment for collective action on climate change but lacked the ambition and detail on how even a 2ºC target could be met. Many observers recognised that the proof of its success would be in the national policy commitments made by governments and ministers in the months and years that followed.

Other Than That Everything's Perfect

Other Than That Everything’s Perfect

Importantly, the Paris agreement will not enter into force until 55 countries representing 55% of total global emissions have ratified it. As it stands, 26 states have completed this, totalling 39.06 % of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Notably, this includes China and the United States, who last week jointly announced their ratification of the Paris Agreement, marking a very important step in the treaty’s journey.

Sadly, the UK has dawdled on Paris ratification and has not yet made any announcement of when it intends to do so. Since December, the stock response of both the Prime Minister and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (and formerly the Department for Energy and Climate Change) has been that the government will do so ‘as soon as possible’.

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In Parliament today, I asked the Prime Minister if she will commit to ratifying the agreement before the follow up negotiations in November of this year. She sidestepped the question and refused to give a firm date. With 2016 set to be the hottest year on record, this casual approach is at odds with ever more serious warnings about the severity of the climate crisis.

At the national level, it has been a terrible year for climate and energy policy. With the ongoing reckless obsession with fracking, the failure to embrace energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority, and the delay in new subsidy announcements for offshore wind, it should come as no surprise that the Committee on Climate Change announced in June that the government lacks half the policies it needs to meet its 2030 emissions targets.

Indeed, it is clear that UK energy and infrastructure policy is going in completely the wrong direction – cutting support for renewables and efficiency, locking in high-carbon gas for decades to come, and squandering taxpayers’ money on new nuclear and runways.

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In a further sign of government neglect, yesterday, the new Minster for Climate Change, announced a probable delay in the publication of the vital Carbon Plan. The plan will detail how the UK will meet its targets under the Climate Change Act. This delay comes at a time when the UK’s attractiveness as a destination for investment in renewable energy has reached an all-time low. The responsibility for this lies solely with chaotic and unpredictable government policy. The dismal failure of the Treasury and the Energy Department to halt the potentially catastrophic Business Rate rises to schools, businesses and community organisations with solar panels on their rooftops is a further example of that.

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Without a global step change in ambition, global temperatures will likely rise by 3.7°C and beyond. The consequences of this kind of change are unimaginable – indeed, we do not know the full implications of breaching planetary boundaries in this way. As a nation with an historic responsibility for carbon emissions, as well as the skills, expertise and resources to help create the solutions, the UK must take responsibility.

Delaying the ratification of the Paris Agreement – never mind dodging the ongoing questions about how we meet our own carbon reduction targets – demonstrates a dangerous and reckless approach to the most important issue of our time.

With much of the real detail of the Paris agreement being discussed at the follow-up COP22 negotiations in Marrakech in November, it would send all the wrong signals for the UK to turn up without having ratified it.

(This is an excerpt from Caroline Lucas MP’s blog)

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Bernie Sanders, Native Americans say oil pipeline will poison drinking water

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders called on President Obama to take action against the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline during a protest outside the White House on Tuesday with members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations.

The Vermont independent is seeking a full environmental and cultural impact analysis of the four-state, $3.8 billion project, designed to carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. Federal officials last week temporarily halted part of the project, but Sanders wants the administration to go further, saying the pipeline threatens the environment and water resources and exploits Native Americans.

Protesters say the pipeline’s route under the Missouri River will endanger the water supply and sacred sites of the Sioux reservation located on the North Dakota-South Dakota border. A thorough analysis, Sanders said, will ultimately kill the pipeline.

“We cannot allow our drinking water to be poisoned so that a handful of fossil fuel companies can make even more in profits,” the former Democratic presidential candidate told the cheering crowd, estimated at 3,000 by organizers. “We stand united in saying, ‘Stop the pipeline, respect Native American rights and let us move forward to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels.”

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The protest was one of about 200 “#NoDAPL” events Tuesday, mostly in the United States, according to the environmental group 350.org. 

It followed Tuesday’s release of an internal memo from Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access pipeline, saying concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the water supply are “unfounded.” Kelcy Warren, the company’s chairman and CEO, also wrote that multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route.

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Tony Blair admits he is baffled by rise of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn

Tony Blair has said he is struggling to understand the appeal of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn because both are hampered by “the question of electability”.

The former British prime minister, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, admitted that he is finding it hard to grasp popular movements in both Britain and the USfavouring mavericks who will “rattle the cage” and which reflect a loss of faith in the progressive centre.

In a joint interview with the Guardian and the Financial Times in Washington, he emphasised that Americans must make their own decision but made clear his scepticism about Sanders, the leftwing senator whose challenge to wealthy eliteshas energised young supporters.

“It’s very similar to the pitch of Jeremy Corbyn,” Blair said. “Free tuition fees: well, that’s great, but someone’s going to have pay for it. An end to war, but there are wars.” But not wars with quite the ramifications of the Iraq war eh Tony?

So…..What’s The Back Story On Yukos Oil?

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OJSC “Yukos Oil Company” was an oil and gas company based in Moscow,Russia. Yukos was acquired from the Russian government by Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky‘s Bank Menatep during the controversial “loans for shares” auctions of the mid 1990s. Between 1996 and 2003 Yukos became one of the biggest and most successful Russian companies, producing 20% of Russia’s oil output, as much as Libya or Iraq, and Khodorkovsky became an advocate of democratization, international co-operation and Russian reform.

In October 2003 Khodorkovsky—by then the richest man in Russia and 16th richest man in the world—was arrested, and the company was forcibly broken up for alleged unpaid taxes shortly after and declared bankrupt in August 2006. Courts in several countries later ruled that the real intent was to destroy Yukos and obtain its assets for the government, and act politically against Khodorkovsky. In 2014 the largest arbitration award in history, $50 billion (€37,2 billion), was won by Yukos’ former owners against Russia. 

From 2003-04 onwards, the Russian government presented Yukos with a series of tax claims totaling US$27 billion (€20,1 billion). As the government froze Yukos’ assets at the same time, and alternative attempts to settle by Yukos were refused, the company was unable to pay these tax demands. Between 2004 and 2007, most of Yukos’s assets were seized and transferred for a fraction of their value to state-owned oil companies.

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The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe condemned Russia’s campaign against Yukos and its owners as manufactured for political reasons and a violation of human rights. Between 2011 and 2014 several court cases were won by the former company’s management and investors against Russia or against the companies that acquired Yukos assets.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that there had been unfair use of the legal and tax system; the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, an established neutral body used by Russia and the West since the 1970s for trade disputes, concluded that the government’s action was an “unlawful expropriation” using “illegitimate” tax bills, whose effect was intended to “destroy Yukos and gain control over its assets”; and the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled unanimously upon awarding compensation of $50 billion for the company’s assets, that Yukos was the target of a series of politically motivated attacks by Russian authorities that eventually led to its destruction, and that Russia had expropriated Yukos’ assets in breach of the Energy Charter Treaty, (The treaty does not stop governments seizing or nationalizing commercial assets, but requires the investors to be fairly compensated if this happens. Russia never ratified the full treaty but these clauses were still legally binding under both the treaty and Russian law until 2029).

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According to the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling, the primary objective of the Russian Federation was not to collect taxes but rather to bankrupt Yukos, appropriate its assets for the sole benefit of the Russian state and state-owned companies Rosneft and Gazprom, and remove Khodorkovsky from the political arena.

Shearman flags potential conflict at White & Case as US rivals face off in $50bn Yukos arbitration

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Shearman & Sterling has raised a potential conflict of interest issue at White & Case (W&C) in its representation of Russia’s bid to annul the $50bn arbitration award against it over the collapse of oil giant Yukos.

In a motion to recuse or disqualify a US district judge on 19 November before the district court of Columbia, Yukos shareholders Hulley Enterprises, Yukos Universal and Veteran Petroleum alerted the court that they were ‘investigating prior attorney-client relationships’ between them, their affiliates, and W&C.

‘The facts underlying the prior relationships (which date back to at least 1999 and appear to involve matters raised by W&C in this proceeding) are being investigated as quickly as possible, but due to the passage of time and the intervening confiscation of most of the relevant documents by agents of the Russian Federation, petitioners may not be in a position to make a final determination whether to seek disqualification of W&C for several weeks,’ the court filing said.

Russia was ordered to pay $50bn to the majority shareholders in Yukos Oil Company, once Russia’s largest oil producer, by an arbitral tribunal sitting in The Hague in 2014. It was the largest arbitration award in history and 20 times larger than the previous record. Recognition and enforcement of the award in the courts, however, is expected to take about a decade and will generate millions of dollars in legal fees. Proceedings are taking place across various jurisdictions, including Belgium and the US.

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W&C was instructed by Russia to coordinate the country’s defence against enforcement and annulment proceedings across at least three jurisdictions on the case, while Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Baker Botts acted for Russia in the original tribunal where the award was made against it.

Shearman as well as local law firms assisting it in the recognition and enforcement of the award, are now investigating whether W&C has a conflict of interest in representing Russia. The firm is known to have represented Yukos around the time of the oil giant’s collapse a decade ago, with W&C chairman Hugh Verrier one of the company’s advisers.

W&C Washington DC-based arbitration partner Carolyn Lamm is leading Russia’s defence in the US, with David Goldberg leading proceedings in London and Markus Burianski heading the defence in Germany. Russia has also instructed Brussels-based Albert Jan van den Berg of Hanotiau & van den Berg in a bid to have the award set aside at the seat of arbitration, The Hague.

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Shearman’s team in the US, led by veteran litigator Henry Weisburg and the firm’s deputy head of litigation Richard Schwed, already successfully petitioned district judge Amy Berman Jackson to recuse herself from hearing a request to enforce the Yukos award against Russia in Washington DC over ‘cumulative connections’ with Lamm, as the pair were mothers to children at the same school.

Shearman head of international arbitration, Paris-based Emmanuel Gaillard, who alongside public international law chief Yas Banifatemi is coordinating the enforcement after securing the $50bn award for the majority shareholders in Yukos Oil Company in July 2014, has instructed Stephenson Harwood to enforce the award in the English courts and Dutch firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek for proceedings in the Netherlands.

A spokesperson for Stephenson Harwood told Legal Business: ‘The issues with regards to the potential conflict of interest in relation to W&C are currently being investigated by the claimants.’

Stephenson Harwood’s head of commercial litigation, John Fordham, is leading proceedings to seize assets in the UK with support from litigator Ros Prince. Stephenson Harwood has instructed David Foxton QC and Paul McGrath QC of Essex Court Chambers as counsel.

W&C would not comment on the matter.

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tom.moore@legalease.co.uk