Daily Archives: November 14, 2011

US State Department agent on assignment in Honolulu charged with murder in McDonald’s


“How would you like to get shot tonight?” State Department special agent Christopher Deedy (pictured) is charged with second-degree murder Photo: AP

A US State Department agent on assignment in Honolulu has been charged with murder after allegedly shooting a man dead in a late night row in a McDonald’s restaurant.

Telegraph | Nov 8, 2011

By Nick Allen, Los Angeles

Christopher Deedy was tasked with “supporting protection of dignitaries” for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit which will be attended by President Barack Obama and a host of other leaders later this week.

Deedy, 27, is accused of fatally shooting Kollin Elderts, 23, who he did not know, at 3am in the tourist district of Waikiki. He has been charged with second degree murder and released on $250,000 bail. He was off duty at the time of the alleged shooting.

Michael Green, a lawyer for the victim’s family, said it followed an altercation in a Waikiki club. Later, at the McDonald’s, Mr Elderts was said to have told Deedy he looked “pretty serious” and jokingly asked him, “Hey, are you going to shoot me or something?” According to Mr Green the federal agent replied “How would you like to get shot tonight?” then pulled out a gun, knocked Mr Elderts to the floor and fired three times. The sequence of events was captured on security cameras, he said.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed Deedy had been in Honolulu to beef up security ahead of the APEC conference, and has now been put on paid administrative leave.

She said: “This was a tragic incident in Hawaii over the weekend,” adding that the State Department would co-operate fully with local police.

President Obama and other leaders from 21 economies in the Asia-Pacific region are scheduled to attend the summit, which is being hosted by the US for the first time since 1993.

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Coldest winter in 20 years means more energy use and bigger bills

Think Stock photo

La Nina winter means more energy use and bigger bills

BC Hydro getting ready for high power demand

news1130.com | Nov 9, 2011

by Joanne Abshire

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – We just might see the coldest winter in 20 years. As temperatures start to go down, you can expect your electricity bill to start to go up.

We’ve heard from News1130 meteorologist Russ Lacate for months, we could get some nasty cold weather in the coming months because of La Nina. And if you’re like many others, you’ll probably turn up the dial on your thermostat.  

Pat Mathot with BC Hydro Power Smart says BC uses double the energy in the winter and that’s why they refer to themselves a “winter-peaking utility.”

“Our peak is driven by colder weather and much shorter days and shorter nights, ” he explains.

“It’s very much driven by temperature. Our consumption has levelled off over the last several years. But if we see a much colder winter, we will most likely see consumption go up slightly because people will require more home heating,” he adds.

Increased consumption will only mean more money out of your pocket, unless you are willing to forgo the heater and throw on some more layers.

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“For every one degree temperature drop, our load goes up by 140 megawatts,” says Mathot.

But he’s not concerned about not having enough power or problems with infrastructure for this upcoming season. “We have the assets in place, we have enough electricity, and the ability to move electricity around the province, so we are prepared for our peak demand.”

He has some tips to avoid higher bills:

“Making sure your home is ‘winterized’ so you don’t require much heat: trying to seal off draftiness, trying to add in insulations if you can, all those little things. Keeping the temperature down a little bit rather than raising the thermostat to 22 degrees. Keep it down around 20. Even things like turning off lights not being used or installing more efficient lighting.”

Don’t forget to get in on the News1130 Weather Guarantee. You can win cash by signing up for the News1130 Insider Club and hoping Russ is off his guaranteed high by more than three degrees.

Cold front brings record low temps to Southern California

abclocal.go.com | Nov 9, 2011

by Melissa MacBride

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) — A cold front has brought record low temperatures to parts of Southern California.

The mercury dipped into the 20s and 30s in the Antelope Valley overnight. A freeze warning expired at 9 a.m. Wednesday for the area, but a freeze watch remains in effect until Thursday morning.

Some residents welcomed the chilly conditions.

“I like the cold weather. Living in Southern California, you don’t really get it very often, so I look forward to it,” said one Los Angeles resident.

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Some of the Antelope Valley’s homeless slept in their cars. For those in need of a warm place to stay, there are beds available at the Lancaster Community Shelter on Yucca Avenue. Families can call ahead and single men and women can begin lining up in the afternoon.

“There’s already been a 50 percent increase from what we understand was happening last year so we can only anticipate that the need going into the winter months is going to be that much greater,” said Stacey Waddle, a shelter employee.

It’s expected to be warm and sunny on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, with highs reaching the upper 70s in the Los Angeles-Metro area, Orange County and Inland Empire. But more cold temperatures and rain are forecasted for the weekend.

A wind advisory was issued until 2 p.m. Wednesday for the Los Angeles County mountain areas.

The cold weather is wonderful news for skiers and snowboarders. Bear Mountain opened Wednesday and Snow Summit opens Thursday. Mountain High opened over the weekend.

US to station troops in northern Australia citing growth of China’s Pacific presence


Barack Obama and Julia Gillard are expected to unveil their plans as they mark the 60th anniversary of the alliance Photo: REUTERS

The United States is set to permanently base troops in Australia amid concerns about the threat of China’s growing military reach across the region.

Telegraph | Nov 11, 2011

By Jonathan Pearlman in Sydney

President Barack Obama is expected to reveal plans to station about 500 to 1000 Marines at a barracks in Darwin and to expand the US navy’s use of bases at the Northern Territory capital and in Perth in Western Australia.

He will make the announcement in Australia next week during a visit that includes Hawaii and Indonesia designed to assert America’s commitment to the Asia Pacific region.

The bases would be beyond the expanding range of new Chinese missiles, which can reach the main US Pacific bases on Okinawa island in Japan and the small island territory of Guam, east of the Philippines.

The US Marines are reportedly due to be positioned at the Robertson barracks in Darwin, effectively the nearest mainland Australian military base to China. But the fresh US presence would also involve additional use of aircraft of air bases in the north west of the country and further access to training ranges.

The move comes amid a realignment of US forces across the Asia-Pacific and growing pressure to lighten its presence on Okinawa, where local politicians have called for a troop reduction as part of a planned relocation of a controversial US base.

Kevin Rudd, the Australian foreign minister, said: “From the Australian perspective, here we are with a vast coastline, a population of just 23 million. It has always made national security sense to have a strong security alliance with America.”

But there are also heightened concerns across the region about China’s strengthening military capability and its apparent growing willingness to assert its presence across the South China Sea, Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. In June, China was accused of harassing Vietnamese and Filipino vessels in the South China Sea, while the arrest by Japan of a Chinese trawler last year led to a diplomatic standoff between Beijing and Tokyo.

During a visit to Australia next week – his first as President – Mr Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard are expected to unveil their plans as they mark the 60th anniversary of the alliance. No US troops are stationed in Australia – though forces have visited since 1907 – and analysts say the move is likely to be badged as a “rotation” rather than a permanent deployment.

“The US could build their forces up quickly in places like Australia out of missile range from China,” a professor of international security at Sydney University, Alan Dupont, told the Telegraph.

“A lot of Japanese facilities in Okinawa are quite vulnerable to the new generation of Chinese missile capabilities. It is arguably one of the most important shifts in both US and Australian strategic policy in the past 20 years.” Australia’s defence minister, Stephen Smith, said Australia would seek to expand “practical cooperation” with the US but would not agree to a Marine base in the country. At present, the main US military presence in Australia is limited to a joint satellite tracking station at Pine Gap, in the Northern Territory, and a naval communication station in Western Australia.

President Obama, who was born in Hawaii and calls himself “America’s first Pacific president”, has overseen a shift in focus away from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific. The US has signalled an expansion of defence ties across the region, including with Vietnam and Singapore.

However, the plan to expand the US presence in Australia has raised concerns among some analysts that it could escalate regional tensions and damage relations with China.

Hugh White, a former senior Australian defence official, said a dramatic expansion of US troops in the country was “a very significant and potentially very risky move for Australia”.

“In Washington and in Beijing, this will be seen as Australia aligning itself with an American strategy to contain China,” Dr White, a professor at the Australian National University, told the Sydney Morning Herald. “In the view from Beijing, everything the US is doing in the western Pacific is designed to bolster resistance to the Chinese challenge to US primacy.”

Borneo mines lure Rothschild into the wild


Financier and co-chairman of Bumi Plc Nathaniel Rothschild (L) sits with Bakrie & Brothers Chief Executive Officer Bobby Gafur Umar following an agreement between Bumi Resources and Vallar Plc in Singapore, in this handout photo dated November 15, 2010. It was supposed to be a union of two legendary business dynasties, one West, one East. Rothshild, the 40-year-old scion of the storied European banking family, forged a deal in 2010 with the Bakrie brothers, one of Indonesia’s mightiest business families, to create an international coal-mining titan. That deal in November 2010 seemed incredible from the start; the dream of creating the world’s biggest thermal coal company, with mines in Indonesian Borneo, and aiming to be one of the biggest listed companies on the London exchange. Now a year later the partnership could be on the brink of collapse. This week Rothschild called for a “radical cleaning up” of the balance sheet and corporate culture at the Bakrie brothers chronically indebted flagship, PT Bumi Resources, his partner in the London-listed coal venture, Bumi Plc. Reuters

“What we are creating here is the largest exporter of thermal coal to China,” Rothschild, whose ancestors advised generations of European royalty and helped to bankroll Britain’s war against Napoleonic France, declared at the time.

Indonesia has some of the world’s largest deposits of coal, gold, copper, tin and natural gas, spread across the archipelago of 17,000 islands. The legacy of harsh colonialism by the Dutch for over three hundred years has left many Indonesians with a distrust of foreign motives.

Reuters | Nov 12, 2011

By Janeman Latul, Saeed Azhar and Clara Ferreira Marques

JAKARTA/LONDON (Reuters)- It was supposed to be a union of two legendary business dynasties, one West, one East. Nathaniel Philip Rothshild, the 40-year-old scion of the storied European banking family, forged a deal a year ago with the Bakrie brothers, one of Indonesia’s mightiest business families, to create an international coal-mining titan.

That deal last November seemed incredible from the start; the dream of creating the world’s biggest thermal coal company, with mines in Indonesian Borneo, and aiming to be one of the biggest listed companies on the London exchange. Now a year later the partnership could be on the brink of collapse.

This week Rothschild called for a “radical cleaning up” of the balance sheet and corporate culture at the Bakrie brothers chronically indebted flagship, PT Bumi Resources, his partner in the London-listed coal venture, Bumi Plc.

In a letter written to Ari Hudaya, Chief Executive of both Bumi Plc and Jakarta-listed PT Bumi Resources, Rothschild said the partnership’s goal of entering the FTSE-100 in 2012 was still attainable. But he was not satisfied with progress so far with his Indonesian partners, who remain “over-leveraged,” which was a major factor in the “corporate governance discount” on the Jakarta’s firm’s stock price.

The leaked letter was a stunning rebuke to top Bakrie lieutenant Ari Hudaya. Hudaya’s dual role as CEO of both the Bakries’ PT Bumi Resources and the Bumi Plc joint venture required “closer evaluation and scrutiny,” Rothschild wrote in the letter, published on the Financial Times website.

Rothschild knew he was dealing with one of Southeast Asia’s most powerful and controversial families, and one with chronic debt issues. Over the past two decades, he has flirted with risk and emerging market powerbrokers, ranging from an oil venture in Iraqi Kurdistan to a friendship with Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, who has been trying to flee Libya after the death of his father.

In the process, Rothschild has shed the party-hard reputation of his university years — the Sunday Times Rich List anointed him Britain’s richest hedge fund manager and he is estimated to be worth around a billion pounds. He has emerged as a serious dealmaker with a contacts book to rival that of his father, Baron Rothschild, and spends the equivalent of around a month each year in his private jet “N4T.”

On the Indonesian side, Aburizal Bakrie, the oldest of the brothers, headed the group until 2004, when he joined President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration. He left after repeatedly clashing with reformers in Yudhoyono’s government and now heads Indonesia’s biggest political party, Golkar. He is a likely presidential candidate in the 2014 Indonesian elections.

The strain in relations between the future Baron Rothschild and a family that may boast a future president after their hopeful beginning a year ago illustrates some of the difficulties in doing business in Indonesia.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy is brimming with opportunities, though it does means navigating through opaque regulations, erratic business relationships, changing policies and deeply entrenched corruption. The World Bank ranks it 129 out of 183 countries in ease of doing business.

GLOBAL MARKET SELL-OFF

For the Bakries, the allure of the deal with Rothschild was to get that prized listing on the London exchange. As Rothschild noted in his letter, their shares on the Jakarta exchange have underperformed, despite the attractiveness of the coal assets.

Rothschilds’ company Vallar became Bumi Plc and was relisted on the London Stock Exchange in June — just ahead of a global market sell-off. The stock dropped steadily from the start as markets fell, until it hit 8.50 pounds. That price triggered a margin call from Bakrie lenders who demanded repayment on loans worth $1.3 billion.

The Bakries brought in a new investor at the end of October to fix that problem, Indonesian coal miner and investment banker Samin Tan. They sold half their original 47 percent stake in Bumi Plc to Tan in a complex deal that featured special purpose share-holding vehicles.

The deal did not dilute Rothschild’s 10 percent stake in Bumi Plc, and Rothschild in his letter said he fully supports Tan’s entrance into the partnership. What he objected to, Rothschild said, was that Hudaya had refused to call in Bumi Resources’ own loans to others to repay debt. Bumi Plc owns a 29 per cent stake in PT Bumi Resources, which in turn controls the lucrative mines.

Chris Fong, a spokesman for the Bakrie family, told Reuters Rothschild’s letter had taken them by surprise.

“Nat Rothschild hasn’t addressed these issues with us,” Fong said, referring to a passage in the letter in which Rothschild said the Bakries also wanted a transformation in the management of Bumi Resources.

“If he wants to raise any issues, as a shareholder and board member, we would expect him to follow accepted corporate governance procedures and raise concerns at the board level and at the appropriate time.”

The two sides, according to knowledgeable sources in both camps, had been taking each other by surprise of late.

Rothschild, thousands of miles away in Europe, had called the Bakries after Reuters first broke news in late October of an impending deal with Tan, but he could get no confirmation of the deal.

“The family left Rothschild in the dark until the news that Samin Tan was nearing a deal and he called the family about it,” said a source close to the Bakries with direct knowledge of the situation. “The group didn’t think he needed to know about this, that he should only know when a deal was done.”

Eton-educated Rothschild insisted in an interview last month with Reuters that he had no issue with the Bakries, and that he had “total confidence” in the family.

The latest turns in the Bakries’ fortunes seems to be following a script written three years ago during the 2008 global financial crisis. They fended off a $1.2 billion margin call then by selling stakes in group firms, many of them with buy-back clauses, to lenders and investors.

Like then, the Bakries’ latest debt refinancing also ensured the prized Borneo mines would remain in Indonesian hands.

LEGACY OF DISTRUST

Indonesia has some of the world’s largest deposits of coal, gold, copper, tin and natural gas, spread across the archipelago of 17,000 islands. The legacy of harsh colonialism by the Dutch for over three hundred years has left many Indonesians with a distrust of foreign motives.

The Borneo coal mines at the heart of the deal with Rothschild once belonged to global energy companies Rio Tinto, BP and BHP Billiton, who sold them to the Bakries in 2001 and 2003, after coming under pressure from resource nationalists to divest their assets to local interests.

“Our contacts at the time told us these deals undervalued the companies at pennies on the dollar,” said the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, Cameron Hume, in a November 2007 classified diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks. Bakrie group executives, Hume added, have said they hoped to do more of these “value-oriented acquisitions.”

“In the mining sector, cabinet minister Aburizal Bakrie has been most successful in using nationalism for his private personal gain,” Hume noted in that cable.

Aburizal Bakrie’s Golkar party at the time was making resource nationalism an issue in the run-up to the 2009 presidential election, threatening to review energy contracts with foreign oil companies.

So it caused ripples of surprise and interest when Nirwan Bakrie celebrated his 59th birthday last year by announcing that the coal assets held by PT Bumi Resources would be injected into Rothschild’s London-listed investment vehicle Vallar.

Rothschild put up 100 million pounds of his own money, but the new company’s biggest asset would seem to be worth the price. The KPC mines in East Kalimantan province in Indonesia’s part of Borneo island are among the world’s largest open pit mines, with 4.5 billion tonnes of proven reserves. Bumi Plc expects coal sales this year of 77 million tonnes, which would make it the world’s largest thermal coal exporter.

“What we are creating here is the largest exporter of thermal coal to China,” Rothschild, whose ancestors advised generations of European royalty and helped to bankroll Britain’s war against Napoleonic France, declared at the time.

For Rothschild, the venture was an opportunity to become a key player in the global coal industry, and to cement his image as a buccaneering financier in the mold of his 19th Century forbears.

For the Bakrie family, who escaped financial collapse twice before in 1998 and 2008, the London listing gave it instant credibility and a global profile.

“We needed the London listing to establish a presence in the international capital market … we wanted to show the world that Indonesia owns a global champion in coal,” Nirwan Bakrie told Reuters in Jakarta last month.

SEEDS OF MISTRUST

But not long after that hopeful beginning, seeds of mistrust were sown. In March, three months before Bumi Plc’s London listing, the Bakrie group’s holding company, Bakrie & Brothers, along with affiliated firm Long Haul, consolidated some of their debt through a $1.35 billion loan arranged by Credit Suisse and backed by their stake in Bumi Plc.

Rothschild and his advisors asked for the details at the time but were told those were private and had no relevance to their joint venture in Bumi Plc, sources close to the Bakrie family said.

By early October, Bumi Plc’s falling share price triggered the margin call on that loan, plunging the Bakries into a new debt crisis and ultimately leading to the Tan deal.

According to several sources close to Bakrie family, the Bakries believed Rothschild was ready to buy their now cheapened stake in Bumi Plc if the group was pushed into default.

“He already was looking for a new local partner to replace the Bakries here … but the coal mining world is small in Indonesia and those local partners declined to do a deal with him,” one source said. “I think this guy is not a good partner.”

The Rothschild camp denies those claims.

With the mistrust apparently deepening, Ari Hudaya, the CEO of Bumi Resources and Bumi Plc and the target of Rothschild’s disgruntlement in his letter, called Rothschild on October 17 on his Blackberry.

He had just met with the Bumi Resources board inside the Bakrie Tower in Jakarta’s financial district, whose dark tinted windows afford views of a volcano outside the capital. They had decided to cancel a $2 billion deal announced in June that would have given Bumi Plc 75 percent of Bumi Resources Minerals (BRM), the Bakries’ latest mining exploration venture, with promising assets from copper and zinc in the jungles of Indonesia to African diamonds.

Bumi Plc said later in a regulatory announcement from London the deal was canceled due to “continuing market uncertainties,” which was affecting the share prices of the companies involved.

The decision left Rothschild with a less diversified mining firm, and closing off what seemed an easy and promising entrance to new mining frontiers.

FRIEND OF BAKRIES

The Bakries had first tried to do a loan deal with Glencore, Reuters reported last month. The commodity trading giant was keen to get a tighter grip on their Indonesian coal marketing rights and keep out rival trader Vitol.

But because lenders wanted the deal to involve an equity stake, the Bakries turned to Tan, who controls Borneo Lumbung Energi and investment bank PT Renaissance Capital. The two sides were no strangers, since Tan had advised the Bakries on their 2003 mine purchases and then tried to buy Bumi’s key mines himself in a failed deal several years ago.

Like the Bakries, Tan comes from Sumatra, born into a family of fish traders. He was a partner at accountancy firm Deloitte, before setting up his own investment firm.

“The deal is not only about Bakrie,” Tan told Reuters, when asked about the risk of any deal with the Bakries, adding he had prepared some “safety measurement.”

Investors were not impressed, given that Tan is financing it with a loan from Standard Chartered that boosts his Borneo Lumbung Energi’s debt profile. The firm’s stock crashed as much as 17 percent on the day of the deal, and several banks have since downgraded their investment ratings on the miner, from “buy” to “hold” or “reduce.”

Investment banks have said it shouldn’t not hurt Bumi Plc, and the London stock has steadied this month along with the rest of the market.

Weeks before his scathing letter to his Indonesian partner, Rothschild had told Reuters he was confident he would continue to have a relationship with the Bakries for a long time to come.

“In 10 years’ time, I expect to still have the same type of strong and trusting relationship that I have with the Bakries today.”