1.CLEAN UP WESTMINSTER
2.Westminster in the dock
3.Donald Rumsfeld Makes $5 Million from Biotech Firm's Shares
1.CLEAN UP WESTMINSTER
Don't forget to sign the petiton to CLEAN UP WESTMINSTER from Blair's sleaze here: http://www.cleanupwestminster.com/
2.Westminster in the dock
By Patrick Hennessy and Melissa Kite
Just under three weeks ago, an eight-page dossier landed on the desk of John Yates, Scotland Yard's Deputy Assistant Commissioner, who is heading the police investigation into the cash-for-peerages affair.
It is unlikely to have come as a particularly welcome submission for the police chief, who is now in charge of one of the most politically sensitive operations that the Yard has ever undertaken.
...Of the leading figures in the drama, Lord Levy, Mr Blair's personal fundraiser and the president of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, is said to be sticking by his vow, made privately to colleagues, that he will not be the "fall guy" for Mr Blair.
It was revealed last week that offices used by the peer, a key figure in securing Labour's GBP14 million of loans, had been damaged by a fire in November, after some of the facts in the cash-for-peerages affair had been uncovered, but well before the police began their inquiry. No documents relevant to the inquiry were said to have been burnt.
There was continuing political interest in the role of Lord Sainsbury, the science and technology minister, who faces a possible investigation under the ministerial code into failing to tell the most senior civil servant in his Whitehall department about his GBP2 million loan to Labour.
Lord Sainsbury, who has remained in the same ministerial job since Labour came to power in 1997 (the only one to do so, apart from Tony Blair and Gordon Brown), has always denied there is any conflict of interest between his publicly professed support for genetically modified food (and his involvement in several companies which research and produce it) and government policy on GM products.
Last week, details resurfaced of how two of the family firm's supermarkets were given planning permission in London, despite rules that would normally prevent them being built there.
In 1998, a 30,000 sq ft Sainsbury's store in the heart of Pimlico, a built-up area, was given the go-ahead by central government. The development, with 160 flats above it, had been rejected by Westminster Council and opposed by local residents.
A year earlier, a change in planning rules by John Prescott's department, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, allowed Sainsbury's to build a superstore between Richmond and East Sheen in south-west London on the basis that it was "out of town".
Lord Sainsbury gave GBP1 million to Labour in the run-up to the 1997 election campaign. Since then, his financial support has grown massively - he has given a total of GBP13.5 million to Labour and lent a further GBP2.3 million.
3.Donald Rumsfeld Makes $5 Million Killing on Bird Flu Drug
by Geoffrey Lean and Jonathan Owen
Published on Sunday, March 12, 2006 by the lndependent/UK http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0312-06.htm
Donald Rumsfeld has made a killing out of bird flu. The US Defence Secretary has made more than $5m (£2.9m) in capital gains from selling shares in the biotechnology firm that discovered and developed Tamiflu, the drug being bought in massive amounts by Governments to treat a possible human pandemic of the disease.
More than 60 countries have so far ordered large stocks of the antiviral medication - the only oral medicine believed to be effective against the deadly H5N1 strain of the disease - to try to protect their people. The United Nations estimates that a pandemic could kill 150 million people worldwide.
Britain is about halfway through receiving an order of 14.6 million courses of the drug, which the Government hopes will avert some of the 700,000 deaths that might be expected. Tamiflu does not cure the disease, but if taken soon after symptoms appear it can reduce its severity.
The drug was developed by a Californian biotech company, Gilead Sciences. It is now made and sold by the giant chemical company Roche, which pays it a royalty on every tablet sold, currently about a fifth of its price.
Mr Rumsfeld was on the board of Gilead from 1988 to 2001, and was its chairman from 1997. He then left to join the Bush administration, but retained a huge shareholding .
The firm made a loss in 2003, the year before concern about bird flu started. Then revenues from Tamiflu almost quadrupled, to $44.6m, helping put the company well into the black. Sales almost quadrupled again, to $161.6m last year. During this time the share price trebled.
Mr Rumsfeld sold some of his Gilead shares in 2004 reaping - according to the financial disclosure report he is required to make each year - capital gains of more than $5m. The report showed that he still had up to $25m-worth of shares at the end of 2004, and at least one analyst believes his stake has grown well beyond that figure, as the share price has soared. Further details are not likely to become known, however, until Mr Rumsfeld makes his next disclosure in May.
The 2005 report showed that, in all, he owned shares worth up to $95.9m, from which he got an income of up to $13m, owned land worth up to $17m, and made $1m from renting it out.
He also had illiquid investments worth up to $8.1m, including in partnerships investing in biotechnology, issuing reproductions of paintings, and operating art galleries in New Mexico and Wyoming. He also has life insurance with a surrender value of up to $5m, and received up to $1m from the DHR Foundation, in which he has assets worth up to $25m, and $773,743 from the Donald H Rumsfeld Trust, in which he has assets of up to $50m.
Late last week no one at Gilead Sciences was available to comment on Mr Rumsfeld's sale of its stock. In a statement to The Independent on Sunday the Pentagon said: "Secretary Rumsfeld has no relationship with Gilead Sciences, Inc beyond his investments in the company. When he became Secretary of Defence in January 2001, divestiture of his investment in Gilead was not required by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Office of Government Ethics or the Department of Defence Standards of Conduct Office.
"Upon taking office, he recused himself from participating in any particular matter when the matter would directly and predictably affect his financial interest in Gilead Sciences."
© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited
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