Posts Tagged ‘Canada

03
Aug
10

BP Agrees to Sell Colombian Business to Ecopetrol and Talisman

NEWS
BP Agrees to Sell Colombian Business to Ecopetrol and Talisman

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

British oil giant BP says it will sell its Colombian business for a total of $1.9 billion.

The divestment is part of BP’s recently announced plans to sell off up to $30 billion of assets, as it struggles with the soaring cost of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

‘BP today announced that it has agreed to sell its oil and gas exploration, production and transportation business in Colombia to a consortium of Ecopetrol, Colombia’s national oil company (51 percent), and Talisman of Canada (49 percent),’ it said in a statement.
‘The two companies will pay BP a total of 1.9 billion dollars in cash… for 100 percent of the shares in BP Exploration Company (Colombia) Limited (BPXC), the wholly-owned BP subsidiary company that holds BP’s oil and gas exploration, production and transportation interests in Colombia.’

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory and other approvals, is expected to complete by the end of 2010.

News of the sell-off comes one week after BP’s vilified chief executive Tony Hayward resigned in the wake of a record second-quarter loss of $16.9 billion – the biggest quarterly loss in British corporate history.

Hayward will step down in October and hand over the reigns to American executive Bob Dudley.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): BP PLC
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30
Jun
10

Hurricane Alex threatens Mexico, Texas coasts

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Hurricane Alex threatens Mexico, Texas coasts

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Earth

••• U.S. President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in Texas as Alex strengthened into a hurricane, disrupting oil cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama’s move allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to co-ordinate all disaster relief efforts, a White House statement says.

It came as Alex forced the suspension of oil skimming operations from the disastrous BP spill as visiting Vice President Joe Biden heard complaints about the pace of cleanup efforts in the disaster zone.

Ten weeks after the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon platform exploded, setting off the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, Biden was given an earful from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal about the slow response.

Some 413 miles of once-pristine shorelines have been oiled, as well as countless birds and other wildlife, since the rig sank on April 22.

Since then crude has gushed at an alarming rate into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving the region’s vital fishing and tourism industries in tatters.
Meanwhile, the State Department announced that the United States will accept offers from 12 foreign countries to help clean up and contain the spill.

Offers of booms have been accepted from Canada, Japan, Mexico and Norway; skimmers have been accepted from France, Japan, Mexico and Norway; and a sweeping arm system has been accepted from the Netherlands, a spokeswoman told AFP.

On his trip to the region, Biden was greeted by protesters holding signs reading ‘oil kills’ as he entered a command centre in New Orleans for an hour-long briefing before meeting with local fishermen.

He also travelled to the Florida panhandle, where the slick has forced authorities to close down some of the area’s fabled white sand beaches.

Jindal, a Republican who has been highly critical of the federal response, asked Biden for help cutting through red tape and deploying more resources to keep the oil from coating fragile coastal wetlands and fishing grounds.

‘The federal government needs to increase their sense of urgency,’ Jindal said in a statement after meeting with Biden.

‘They need to treat this spill like a war and get in it to win it. We’re here to defend our way of life.’

At the leak site 50 miles offshore, winds of up to 22 knots churned up large waves that made it too rough for crews to deploy a third vessel set to nearly double the capacity of BP’s containment system.

The now-delayed Helix Producer was set to increase the capacity to gather the gushing oil to between 40,000 and 50,000 barrels per day by early July, from the current 25,000 barrels.
The current containment system is capturing nearly 25,000 of the estimated 30,000 to 60,000 barrels of crude spewing out of the ruptured well every day.

That could all end up gushing directly into the sea if Alex – which is forecast to pass hundreds of kilometres from the site and strike land near the Texas-Mexico border late on Wednesday – changes path and threatens a more direct hit on the slick.

Forecasters are not predicting such a dramatic shift. But U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is overseeing the spill response, said that even the threat of gale force winds – upward of 45 mph – would be enough to force drilling and containment ships to withdraw.

Alex’s winds late on Tuesday had reached 75 mph, with higher gusts, and the storm was expected to strengthen before making landfall on Wednesday night, the National Hurricane Centre said.

Hurricane force winds extend outward only about 30km from the centre but tropical storm force winds extend up to 174 miles, according to the NHC.

In the event of an evacuation, operations will be shut down for about two weeks to ‘take down the equipment, move it off to a safe place, bring it back and re-establish drilling’, Allen said.

That would be another major setback for the ill-fated oil collection effort, and would probably delay until September the completion of relief wells designed to permanently plug the well.

An estimated 1.6 million to 3.6 million barrels of oil have already poured into the Gulf from the ruptured wellhead some 1 mile below the surface.

BP hopes a new mooring system will make the containment cap deep down on the sea floor easier to disconnect and reconnect in the case of bad weather – a vital contingency as hurricane season gets into full swing.

The rough seas have already shifted parts of the slick closer to sensitive areas in Florida and Louisiana and could also push the oil deeper into fragile coastal wetlands.

Waves at the site of the sunken BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig were up to two metres, a Coast Guard spokesman told AFP.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): NOAA / National Weather Service (NWS)
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25
Jun
10

Toyota recalls Lexus HS250h hybrid for fuel spills

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Toyota recalls Lexus HS250h hybrid for fuel spills

Friday, June 25, 2010

••• Toyota said on Friday it will recall 17,000 Lexus luxury hybrids after testing showed that fuel can spill during a rear end crash.

The Japanese automaker said tests conducted for the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration found that fuel leaked during a rear impact crash at 50 miles per hour on a 2010 HS250h sedan. The test, conducted by a NHTSA contractor, showed that fuel spilled as the vehicle spun around after impact. (NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 10V285000)

Toyota’s own testing has not shown any spillage, but a spokesman said the company plans to issue a voluntary recall as it continues to try to replicate the government’s results. It is notifying dealers to stop selling the car.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, has attempted to rebound from a series of recalls tied to reports of unintended acceleration and other defects. The U.S. administration penalized Toyota with a record $16.4 million fine for acting too slowly on the recalls.

Dealers have repaired millions of vehicles, but the auto giant faces more than 200 lawsuits connected to accidents and the lower resale value of vehicles.

Earlier this week, Toyota Motor Corp president Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the automaker’s founder, apologized to shareholders for the trouble caused by the recalls. He said the company was doing its best to improve quality control.

Toyota said it has not identified a fix for the reported problems of fuel spillage.

Detailed information about this recall is available through Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-25 LEXUS or 1-800-255-3987 or at www.lexus.com/recall.
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08
Jun
10

Lady Gaga ‘Alejandro’ Music Video Premiere

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Lady Gaga ‘Alejandro’ Music Video Premiere

Tuesday, June 8, 2010



Lady Gaga – “Alejandro”
Album: The Fame Mons†er
Label: Interscope, Streamline, Cherrytree, KonLive
Director: Steven Klein

Music Video ‘Alejandro’ is the 3rd single from Lady GaGa’s 2nd studio album: ‘The Fame Mons†er’. It was written by Lady GaGa and RedOne (Nadir Khayat). Every song in the album represents a ‘fear’ of some ‘mons†er’. This song, in the words of GaGa represents ‘The fear of men mons†er’.

Lady Gaga’s latest video, for her single ‘Alejandro,’ is posted on the singer’s website.

The ‘Alejandro’ video is directed by American fashion photographer Steven Klein (Stephan Lee Klein), known especially for his work with Madonna.

‘Alejandro,’ the Latin love affair-themed third single from Lady Gaga’s The Fame Mons†er, went to U.S. radio on April 20 and was released internationally as a digital download in May. It has since made the top ten on charts in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and several European countries.
LadyGaga.com, VEVO & YouTube
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05
Jun
10

Eminem’s ‘Not Afraid’ Video Debuts

NEWS
Eminem’s ‘Not Afraid’ Video Debuts

Saturday, June 5, 2010



Eminem – Not Afraid
Album: Recovery
Label: Interscope, Aftermath, Shady
Director: Rich Lee

Rapper Eminem is back. To overseas his new album “Recovery” Eminem and Marshall Bruce Mathers III has been working hard. This album will be debuts on June 22. First video from Eminem’s Recovery, ‘Not Afraid’ is debuts on VEVO.

On VEVO.com music video of “Not Afraid” can be viewed. “Not Afraid” entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart and placed number 1. In this music video Lil Wayne, Pink and Rihanna features guest appearances.

Rich Lee directed “Not Afraid.”
Eminem.com, & YouTube
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01
Jun
10

Apple shifts two million iPads in less than two months

NEWS
Apple shifts two million iPads in less than two months

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sales of the Apple iPad have passed two million since its launch almost two months ago.

The Cupertino, California, company began selling the iPad last Friday in Asia, Australia and Europe. The iPad was released in the United States on April 3.

The company does not publicly break out sales figures by region, according to Natalie Harrison, an Apple spokeswoman.

The company previously had said it sold one million iPads in the United States just 28 days after its launch. As a result of the strong demand at home, Apple had pushed back the start date of its international sales.
The iPad can be used to send emails, draw pictures and play games. It can also be used as an electronic reader. The basic model costs $499 in the United States, not including extras.

This past weekend, Apple began selling iPads in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Prices for the cheapest, WiFi-only version range from $499 in the United States to the equivalent of $620 in Britain for the entry-level 16 GB model. Canada ($520), Japan ($536) and Australia ($533) rounded out the price basement countries.

At the top end, an iPad 64 GB model with WiFi and 3G connectivity cost $829 in the United States against $1,010 in Britain and $980 in Germany, France and Italy.

The company said the device will be available in nine more countries in July and additional countries later this year.
• Source(s): Apple Inc.
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29
May
10

Apple’s iPad makes global debut

NEWS
Apple’s iPad makes global debut

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thousands of die-hard Apple fans mobbed shops worldwide on Friday as the iPad, called a revolution in personal computing by some and limited and overhyped by others, began its global launch.

Long queues of customers snaked outside Apple shops in Australia and Japan hours before the opening and similar huddled masses turned out at stores in six European countries, including Britain and France.

The iPad – a flat, 9.7 inches black tablet – also went on sale in Canada as part of a global rollout that was pushed back by a month due to huge demand in the United States.

One million iPads were sold in 28 days in the United States after the product’s debut in early April despite mixed reviews from consumers.

The product is the latest from Apple, which dethroned software giant Microsoft this week as the largest U.S. technology company in terms of market value, to create a frenzy.

At Apple’s flagship store in Paris, set in the prestigious mall beneath the Louvre museum, 24-year-old engineer Audrey Sobgou beamed as she walked away with one of the prized tablets.

Sobgou travelled 127 miles from her hometown in Lille, northern France, and waited nearly two hours before stepping inside the busy Apple store.

‘I’m not a victim of hype,’ she insisted. ‘I know Apple products and it’s about the quality, the interface, how it’s designed and what it can do. With elegance and style.’

Hundreds of people queued outside the Paris Apple store hours before it opened.

In Britain, a few dozen enthusiasts waited outside the Apple store in central London at 3am to get their hands on the iPad when it opened five hours later.

Staff escorted the first group of customers one by one up to buy their iPad after they opened the doors, whooping, chanting and cheering.

‘I queued overnight for about 20 hours since midday yesterday but it was very, very worth it,’ Jake Lee, a 17-year-old student from Essex, told AFP, clutching his treasured iPad.

The iPad also went on sale in Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland and will be followed in July by a launch in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Alejandro Barras, manager of the Apple store in downtown Madrid, said his iPad stock sold out one hour after opening.

Apple aficionados in Zurich camped out overnight in front of the store to buy the tablet and download some of the 5000 available apps – the media applications that run on the device.

In Montreal, an 82-year-old man with a long white beard and a beret stood in line with about 100 people, some of whom arrived at the Apple store at 6am.

‘I’m not a fan of gadgets,’ Jean-Maurice Demers told AFP. ‘But I’m involved in several political committees and community groups and I’m tired of dragging around several kilograms of files.’

Prices in Japan and Australia for the basic 16GB iPad are comparable to US prices, although a significant markup by Apple in Britain and continental Europe has triggered grumbling.

In France, wi-fi models sell for between 499 and 699 euros ($613 and $860), with the 3G models going for between 599 and 799 euros ($736 and $982) .

The multi-functional device is tipped by some pundits to revitalise media and publishing, with many major newspapers and broadcasters launching applications.

As well as the five other European countries, Apple plans to bring the iPad to Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore in July.

Apple has declined to reveal the number of pre-orders received for the iPad internationally, but Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky put it at around 600,000.

The iPad has officially gone on sale in Australia, with hundreds of tech lovers snapping up the touchscreen tablet device within minutes of it being released in Sydney.

Over 200 Apple fans braved the chilly Sydney weather overnight to be the first to get their hands on the new technology when the George Street store opened its doors at 08:00 am (AEST) on Friday.

Rahul Koduri, who had been in the line since 02:00 am (AEST) on Thursday, succeeded in his dream of being the first in Australia to purchase the iPad.

The 22-year-old Blacktown resident, who snapped up two iPads, was delighted.

‘It’s fantastic, it was so worth the wait,’ he said, holding up his two shiny iPad boxes.

‘One of these is for me, of course, and the other is for a family member.’

• Source(s): Apple Inc. and Independent Television News (ITN)
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28
May
10

Guatemala volcano forces airport closure, kills one

NEWS
Guatemala volcano forces airport closure, kills one

Friday, May 28, 2010

Earth••• Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom has declared a state of emergency after a powerful eruption at the southern Pacaya volcano killed one person and forced the international airport to close.

Ash blanketed the region as rocks and lava spewed from the volcano 31 miles south of the capital, as Colom late on Thursday issued the emergency decree lasting at least 15 days for the three departments nearest the eruption, which began on Wednesday night and has since built in intensity.
The La Aurora International Airport was closed to ensure planes were not flying through the volcano’s hazardous ash cloud or landing on the ash-strewn runway, said spokeswoman Monica Monge.

Incoming flights were being diverted to airports in other parts of the country, she told reporters.

About 1600 people were evacuated from the slopes of the volcano, which rises 1.59 miles above sea level in the tropical Central American nation.

The burnt body of Guatelamalan television journalist Anibal Archila was found near the volcano by a colleague, who said the reporter had been unable to escape the raining rocks and other projectiles thrown out in the eruption.

Three children aged seven, nine and 10 are also missing in the area, officials said.

There are 288 volcanoes in Guatemala, eight of which are active.
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27
May
10

Second Iceland volcano could erupt in near future

NEWS
Second Iceland volcano could erupt in near future
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Earth••• An Icelandic volcano neighbouring Eyjafjoell, whose eruptions paralysed Europe’s skies last month, could come to life in the near future, experts have warned.

‘An eruption in the short term is a strong possibility,’ experts said, referring to Katla, which is larger and fiercer than Eyjafjoell, in a report from the University College London (UCL) institute for risk and disaster reduction.

The researchers also cautioned that Europe’s skies were likely to be hit by further ash cloud shutdowns, following April’s widespread closures and several smaller scale shutdowns since.

The report warned that ‘future moderately to highly explosive Icelandic eruptions combined with appropriate weather conditions are highly likely to cause a repeat of the recent air transport disruption.’

The Eyjafjoell volcano began erupting on April 14, and spewed out an ash cloud that drifted over Europe and led to massive flight disruption throughout the continent for several days.

It caused the biggest airspace shutdown in Europe since World War II, affecting more than 100,000 flights and eight million passengers.
The UCL experts – encompassing scientists, engineers and statisticians also criticised the response to the eruption.

‘The severe disruption to European airspace in April from (the volcano’s) ash clouds reflect a lack of integration between the monitoring, warning and risk management systems,’ said Carina Fearnley, of UCL’s hazard research centre.

In a second report released on Thursday, a team of British researchers said they had discovered a significant electrical charge in the ash plume.

The scientists, from the Institute of Physics, said they found that ‘the ash plume which hovered over Scotland carried a significant and self-renewing electric charge.’

They warned that the charge could pose a risk to both planes and passengers.

‘Charged particles can cause aircraft radio interference and, if introduced into aircraft cabins, charged ash may present an electrostatic hazard to occupants or aircraft systems,’ said the report.

The scientists used a specialist weather balloon to conduct research on a section of the ash cloud floating over Scotland.
• Source(s): University College London

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27
May
10

Apple iPad makes international debut

NEWS
Apple iPad makes international debut

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Apple’s iPad finally goes on sale outside the United States this week after heavy U.S. demand for the multi-media gadget forced a one-month delay of its international release.

The touchscreen tablet device from the maker of the Macintosh computer, the iPod and the iPhone will be available on Friday in stores in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.

The Cupertino, California-based Apple plans to bring the iPad to Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore in July.

The company co-founded by Steve Jobs had planned to begin selling the iPad internationally in late April but was forced to delay the global debut of the device because of what it said was ‘surprisingly strong U.S. demand.’

Apple said earlier this month that it sold one million iPads in the first 28 days it was available in the United States, less than half the time it took for the company to sell the same number of iPhones.

More than 5000 applications have been developed for the iPad, according to an Apple spokesman, in addition to the 200,000 programs already available for the iPhone or the iPod Touch, most of which run on the iPad.

A Wi-Fi version of the iPad, which allows users to watch video, listen to music, play games, surf the web or read electronic books, went on sale in the United States on April 3 for $499.

A more expensive model featuring both Wi-Fi and 3G cellular connectivity appeared on U.S. store shelves on April 30 for $829.

Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky estimated that Apple is selling over 200,000 iPads a week — more than its estimated Macintosh sales of 110,000 a week and its estimated iPhone 3GS sales of 246,000 a week.

Apple has declined to reveal the number of pre-orders received for the iPad internationally but Abramsky put it at around 600,000.

The U.S. sales figures indicate the iPad is a hit but success did not appear guaranteed when Apple’s Jobs unveiled the device at a high-profile media event in San Francisco in January.

‘There were plenty of questions before the iPad launch and quite a mixed reaction to it when it was released,’ said Gartner analyst Charles Smulders.

Critics derided it as a ‘big iPhone’ without a phone or a camera and bemoaned its inability to play Adobe’s popular Flash video software.

But the iPad appears to have won over the public with a hip advertising campaign and curious consumers can be seen lining up daily to play with tethered models of the device on display at Apple stores around the country.

‘Aside from the design, a key to its success has been getting the product into the hands of consumers,’ Smulders said.

‘With a new category of product like this it is difficult to understand its value unless you try it.

‘Apple has done a great job seeding the market.’

Ben Reitzes of Barclays Capital said he sees potential for the iPad beyond the consumer market.

‘Even corporations are piloting the device at a pace that surprises us,’ Reitzes said. ‘At the very least we believe the device can tap into the corporate market as a ‘log in’ device that accesses the network.

‘Many of our clients are increasingly using, or intend to use, the device as a reader for research as well,’ he said.

With success comes competition and imitation.

U.S. computer giant Dell plans to begin selling its own tablet computer, the “Streak,” which has a five-inch (12.5 cm) screen compared with the iPad’s 9.7 inches (24.6 cm), in Britain in June and in the United States later in the summer.

And another U.S. computer giant, Hewlett-Packard, recently announced plans to acquire struggling U.S. mobile phone maker Palm and is expected to use its WebOS operating system to develop a tablet computer of its own.
• Source(s): Apple Inc.

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17
May
10

British Airways in court attempt to block strike

NEWS
British Airways in court attempt to block strike
Unite spokesman Steve Turner calls a High Court injunction against a planned strike by British Airways cabin crew an ‘affront to democracy’.

Monday, May 17, 2010

NEWS

••• British Airways has blocked a series of four five-day strikes by cabin crew after the High Court in London granted an injunction just hours before they were due to start.

The airline, facing mounting chaos because of the industrial dispute coupled with the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland, succeeded in its legal action after successfully claiming the cabin crew union’s strike ballot failed to follow rules.

Members of the Unite union had been due to walk out from Tuesday to May 22, with further strikes planned on May 24-28, May 30-June 3 and June 5-9.

The airline argued Unite had not properly complied with the requirement to send everyone eligible to vote details of the exact breakdown of the ballot result and therefore the strike action was unlawful.

The judge, Richard McCombe, expressed sympathy for the union and its members, but said: I am unable to say it is sufficiently clear that the union took the steps required by law at the time they were required.

Unite, which is locked in an increasingly bitter battle with BA over staffing and pay, strongly criticised the ruling and vowed to appeal.

This judgment is an absolute disgrace and will rank as a landmark attack on free trade unionism and the right to take industrial action, said the union’s leaders, Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson.
British Airway said: We are delighted for our customers that Unite’s plans for extreme and unjustified strike action cannot go ahead.

The airline said it had already been forced to rearrange much of its schedule to accommodate the planned strike, but promised to restore a full flying program at its London Heathrow base by the weekend.

British Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, who held separate talks with both sides earlier on Monday, said the judgment was good news for passengers.

I want (both sides) to use this breathing space to resolve this dispute, both to avoid disruption to passengers and to safeguard the future of the airline, he said.

British Airway chief executive Willie Walsh spent three hours in talks on Monday with the Unite leaders and adjourned shortly after the court decision.

There will be further talks but events have been overtaken by the court’s decision, said Walsh.

A British Airway spokesman said: “We are delighted for our customers that Unite’s plans for extreme and unjustified strike action cannot go ahead. We are sorry the court judgment cannot undo the disruption already suffered by some customers who were due to travel during the early days of the union’s industrial action.

“As Unite knew, we had to announce last Thursday the rearrangement of our Heathrow schedule to give customers as much notice as possible about changes to their travel plans necessitated by the strike call. Ash disruption permitting, we will aim to restore a full flying programme at Heathrow by the weekend. We will also offer a full programme at Gatwick and London City, as planned.”

Unite’s national officer Steve Turner said: “It’s an affront to democracy and our members and we will be fighting back tomorrow.”

It is the second time in the long-running dispute that BA has succeeded in halting a cabin crew strike through legal action.

The airline won a High Court battle in December to stop a 12-day walkout over the busy Christmas and New Year holidays, when a judge granted an injunction.

British Airway also argued on this occasion that Unite’s ballot of staff was invalid.

The airline’s cabin crew staged walkouts in March, which were marked by sharp disagreements between the union and British Airway over the impact of the industrial action.
» Check your flight information here: British Airways
• Source(s): Independent Television News (ITN) and British Airways PLC
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17
May
10

No-fly zone lifted from North West airports

NEWS
No-fly zone lifted from North West airports

Monday, May 17, 2010

Earth

••• Planes will be allowed to fly through volcanic ash under new measures announced today by the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority.

The announcement of a new Time Limited Zone (TLZ) was made after all UK airspace was reopened yesterday evening.

The CAA said the TLZ – introduced from midday today (local time) – would allow flights for a limited time at higher ash densities than are currently allowed.

To operate in the new zone, airlines need to present the CAA with a safety case that includes the agreement of their aircraft and engine manufacturers.

The CAA said this meant that in future some areas of UK airspace that would have previously had to close would be able to remain open.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said: “I’m pleased that the huge efforts we’re all making across aviation to keep flying safe while minimising the disruption from the volcano have resulted in further progress.”

The measures follow heavy criticism of the no-fly zones from airline industry chiefs.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh said blanket bans on flying were “a gross over-reaction to a very minor risk”.

And Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson described the situation as “beyond a joke”.

The announcement came after the U.K.’s National Air Traffic Service confirmed that British airspace was to reopen from 02:00 pm EDT time on Monday until 08:00 pm EDT.

A no-fly zone would remain over parts of the North Sea, affecting some helicopter flights.

The majority of U.K. airports reopened today with only a few – including some in the Shetland Isles – still closed.

Heathrow and Gatwick were among the airports that had closed late on Sunday (local time) when the volcanic ash cloud moved south.
• Source(s): Sky News / British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. (BSkyB) / News Corp.
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17
May
10

Ash cloud restrictions lifted

NEWS
Ash cloud restrictions lifted

Monday, May 17, 2010

Earth

••• Three of Europe’s busiest airports reopened on Monday afternoon after a dense volcanic ash cloud from Iceland dissipated and a no-fly zone was lifted. Up to 1000 flights in Europe were affected by the closures.

Flights were landing and taking off from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, but all three warned travellers it would take time for airlines to clear the backlog of delayed flights and to contact their airlines before going to the airport.

Eurocontrol, the continent’s air traffic control agency, said 28,000 flights were expected on Monday in Europe, about 1000 less than normal, mainly due to the disruptions in Britain and the Netherlands.

Icelandic civil protection official Agust Gunnar Gylfason said the ash cloud was travelling to the north, forcing airports in Keflavik and Reykjavik to close. He said seismic activity at the volcano was unchanged.

All British, Scottish and Irish airspace was open at least until early on Tuesday, but airspace over the North Sea was still restricted, affecting some helicopter operations.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh – facing a fresh wave of strikes by cabin crews on Tuesday – called the latest airspace closures ‘a gross overreaction to a very minor risk’.

‘I am very concerned that we have decisions on opening and closing of airports based on a theoretical model,’ he said.

‘There was no evidence of ash in the skies over London today yet Heathrow was closed.’

Aviation officials have defended the decision to impose the no-fly zone, saying airline representatives and engine manufacturers last week had agreed to find a way to ensure planes could fly safely in the volcanic ash.

Britain’s transportation minister, Philip Hammond, said aircraft manufacturers were examining evidence to see ‘what inspection regimes they can put in place that would allow safe flying through a somewhat higher threshold of ash.

‘If we can do that, the likelihood of volcanic ash disrupting flights will obviously diminish,’ he said.

Germany sent up two test flights on Sunday to measure the ash cloud, but there was no word yet on the results of those tests. Still, Germany said on Monday the latest ash cloud should not affect its airports.

‘At this time, the concentration of ash above German air space is so low that there are no reductions in air traffic,’ German Air Traffic Controllers said.

Ash can clog jet engines. The April 14 eruption at Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano forced most countries in northern Europe to shut their airspace between April 15-20, grounding more than 100,000 flights and an estimated 10 million travellers worldwide. The shutdown cost airlines more than $2 billion.

Last week, the European air safety agency proposed drastically narrowing the continent’s no-fly zone because of volcanic ash to one similar to that used in the U.S. The proposal still must be approved.

Eurostar added four extra trains on Monday – an additional 3500 seats – between London and Paris to help travellers cope.

Eyjafjallajokul (pronounced ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) erupted in April for the first time in nearly two centuries. During its last eruption, starting in 1821, its emissions rumbled on for two years.
» Millions watch Iceland volcano online – Mila ehf – Lífæð samskipta
» Check your flight information here: American, Delta, United, Continental, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Aer Arann, easyJet, Flybe, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Iberia, TAP, Qantas, JAT
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.), Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), British Department of Transport (DfT), German Aerospace Center (DLR) and ITN
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16
May
10

U.K. and Ireland shut some airspace due to ash cloud

NEWS
U.K. and Ireland shut some airspace due to ash cloud

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Earth

••• Several British and Irish airports have closed as the ash cloud returned, drifting south and east following fresh eruptions from the Icelandic volcano.

Manchester Airport in northwest England and Dublin Airport, among the 20 busiest in Europe, were among those affected by the cloud on Sunday, with the ash levels deemed too dangerous to fly through.

Manchester – Britain’s busiest airport outside London, where airports were so far unaffected – was among a host of northern British airports to shut from 08:00 am EDT to 02:00 pm EDT (12:00 pm GMT to 06:00 pm GMT), including all those in Northern Ireland.

Dublin, Ireland’s main airport, was to close from 02:00 pm EDT until at least 04:00 am EDT (06:00 pm GMT until at least 08:00 am GMT) on Monday.

Europe’s skies were closed for up to a week last month following the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano, in the biggest shutdown of the continent’s airspace since World War II.
The volcanic ash, which can cause serious damage to jet engines, has continued to cause disruption on a smaller scale in certain parts of Europe.

A vulcanologist from the University of Iceland said Eyjafjoell activity had worsened in recent days.

‘There is slightly increased activity for the past two days, there has been some ash fall around the glacier,’ said Bjoern Oddsson, who was travelling to the volcano to assess the new situation.

‘The column (of smoke) has increased and rises up to eight kilometres,’ he told AFP, as opposed to six kilometres in previous days.

As for the effect on European flights triggered by the rise in activity, that ‘all depends on the winds’, said the geologist from the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland.

Travelling southwards towards the Atlantic Ocean, it should turn towards inner Iceland on Tuesday, according to weather forecasts.

In Britain, the other airports shut from 08:00 am EDT to 02:00 pm EDT as the no-fly zone extended southwards and eastwards were regional air hubs such as East Midlands, Liverpool, Leeds-Bradford, Doncaster and Humberside.

Some Scottish airports, including their fourth busiest, Prestwick, shut down, while all Northern Ireland airports closed for the period. Isle of Man airport also shut.

National Air Traffic Services, which manages British airspace, said the no-fly zone had moved east and south for the six-hour period, and it would issue further updates as necessary.

Britain’s Department of Transport had warned on Saturday British airspace was likely to face partial closures from Sunday until Tuesday due to the volcanic ash cloud.

London airports, including Europe’s busiest air hub, Heathrow, could be affected, it said.

Eurostar, which runs high-speed rail services linking London with Paris and Brussels via the Channel tunnel, said it was laying on extra trains to meet an expected surge in demand.

‘We’ve planned four extra trains on Monday,’ a spokeswoman told AFP. ‘Two between London and Paris and two between Paris and London. It’s because the trains are already very busy and have very little capacity left.’

In the Republic of Ireland, Cork and Shannon remain open until further notice, while Ireland West (Knock), Donegal and Sligo airports remain closed until at least 07:00 am EDT (11:00 am GMT) on Monday.

Kerry is open until further notice, Galway is closed until at least 04:00 am EDT (08:00 am GMT) on Monday and Waterford is to close from 06:00 pm EDT (10:00 pm) until at least 04:00 am EDT (08:00 am GMT) on Monday.

North Atlantic overflights through Irish-controlled airspace remain unaffected.

In Scandinavia, the skies were open over Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and should remain so until at least Monday night.

There were no restrictions on German flights. Ash pollution should remain weak until at least Tuesday.
» Millions watch Iceland volcano online – Mila ehf – Lífæð samskipta
» Check your flight information here: American, Delta, United, Continental, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Aer Arann, easyJet, Flybe, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Iberia, TAP, Qantas, JAT
» Important information – British Airways Industrial Action, travel to / from Thailand and Volcanic Flight Disruptions
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.), Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), British Department of Transport (DfT), Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Sky News (BSkyB)
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16
May
10

Volcanic ash risk and British Airways strikes threaten more air misery

NEWS
Volcanic ash risk and British Airways strikes threaten more air misery
Sunday, May 16, 2010

NEWS••• Travel chaos is set to return to Britain with fresh threats from an Icelandic volcano and of British Airways cabin crew strikes.

British aviation authorities on Sunday reintroduced a no-fly zone over parts of Northern Ireland as the volcanic ash cloud returned to the skies over the U.K..

They also warned some of the U.K.’s busiest airports, including London’s Heathrow, could close in coming days if the ash cloud drifts southwards as forecast.

The return of the ash cloud, which caused the mass closure of British and European airports in April, comes ahead of a planned five-day strike by British Airways cabin crew on Tuesday in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.

British Airways will seek an injunction in the High Court in London on Monday in an attempt to stop the strike, which threatens the travel plans of thousands of the airline’s customers around the world.

If the strike goes ahead, it is likely to compound problems caused by the return of the ash cloud.

In Northern Ireland on Sunday, Belfast International and Belfast City airports as well as Ronaldsway airport on the Isle of Man all had flights cancelled until at least 01:00 pm BST (08:00 am EDT).

Britain’s Transport Department warned there could be further disruption across the country until the middle of the week thanks to ash blowing across from the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjoell.

The ash cloud is expected to reach London by Tuesday, threatening the cancellation of flights at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports.

Forecasters believe the ash cloud will begin to drift away from the U.K. on Wednesday when the wind direction is expected to change.

Air passengers travelling to and from Britain in coming days are being warned to check with their airlines before heading to airports to find out if their flights have been cancelled.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said the government was carefully monitoring the situation and that passenger safety was its main concern.

‘We have taken the decision to publish five-day forecasts as we want airlines, other transport providers and the public to have the best possible information,’ he said.

‘However, the situation remains fluid and these forecasts are always liable to change.

‘NATS – the U.K.’s air traffic services provider – will advise of any airspace closures as and when they become necessary and I urge passengers to check with their airlines before taking any action.’

Meanwhile, Mr Hammond is preparing to intervene in the dispute between BA and its cabin crew in an attempt to avert up to 20 days of planned strikes in the next four weeks.

Mr. Hammond is to hold emergency talks with both sides on Monday.

British Airways insists that 70 percent of flights, will still operate if cabin crew walk off the job.
» Cabin crew will walk out from May 18 to 22, May 24 to 28, May 30 to June 3 and June 5 to 9, which will cover the school half-term holidays and a bank holiday.
» Important information – British Airways Industrial Action, travel to / from Thailand and Volcanic Flight Disruptions
» Check your flight information here: British Airways

• Source(s): U.K. Press & British Airways

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16
May
10

Volcanic ash cloud shuts parts of E.U. airspace

NEWS
Volcanic ash cloud shuts parts of E.U. airspace
Sunday, May 16, 2010

Earth

••• Volcanic ash from Iceland could disrupt air travel in both Britain and Germany in the next few days, officials say.

The British Department of Transport said on Saturday there’s a risk that parts of British airspace could be closed beginning on Sunday and those problems could continue until Tuesday. The predictions are based on the continuing eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano and current wind and weather conditions.

It said different parts of British airspace – including England’s southeast, home to Europe’s busiest airport at Heathrow as well as Gatwick, Stansted and other top airports – could close at different times through the next few days.

In Germany, air traffic control spokesman Axel Raab told The Associated Press that German air travel could face possible disruptions starting on Monday, but cautioned that indicators are still ‘very, very vague’.

Germany will send up a test flight on Sunday to measure the ash concentration, German Aerospace Center spokesman Andreas Schuetz said – a measure welcomed by Lufthansa, Germany’s largest airline, which last month criticised air traffic authorities for their lack of ash testing.

Any decision on German air space closures will be made after examining Sunday’s weather forecasts at an emergency meeting with meteorologists, Raab said.

In Iceland, civil protection official Agust Gunnar Gylfason said the intensity of the Eyjafjallajokul eruption has not changed but wind conditions have.

‘The winds in the vicinity of the volcano are not quite as forceful as they have been, so the ash plume is higher closer to the volcano,’ he said. ‘The weather patterns are the predominant factor in deciding where the ash goes.’

The Met Office, Britain’s weather forecaster, said on Saturday the wind is expected to change direction on Tuesday, which would lower the risk of travel disruptions.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said five-day forecasts are now being published to give airlines and travellers ‘the best possible information. However, he said the situation ‘remains fluid and these forecasts are always liable to change’.
British airport operator BAA said on its website on Saturday that all of its facilities are open, but the ash cloud ‘continues to cause occasional problems’. It said it will have a clearer idea of how the ash could affect southern England over the next 24 hours.

Airlines, including Lufthansa and British Airways, have criticised past air space closures as an overreaction by regulators.

The controversy over how to handle the flight disruptions led to the resignation of a top Lufthansa executive, news weekly Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.

Stefanie Stotz, a spokeswoman for Lufthansa, confirmed that chief security pilot Juergen Steinberg is leaving ‘by mutual agreement’ on August 1. He had criticised Lufthansa’s leadership for operating flights under visual flight rules while German airspace was still officially closed because of the ash cloud.

Steinberg represents about 4000 pilots and advises Lufthansa’s board on security issues.

In Rome, Italy’s civil aviation agency fined Ryanair about three million euros ($3.81 million) for failing to help 178 passengers stranded last month when flights were cancelled due to the volcanic ash cloud. The ENAC agency said those Ryanair passengers didn’t receive mandatory assistance such as food, drink and lodgings during the April 15-22 flight shutdown across much of Europe.

Ryanair said the company hadn’t been informed of the fine.
» Millions watch Iceland volcano online – Mila ehf – Lífæð samskipta
» Check your flight information here: American, Delta, United, Continental, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Aer Arann, easyJet, Flybe, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Iberia, TAP, Qantas, JAT
» Important information – British Airways Industrial Action, travel to / from Thailand and Volcanic Flight Disruptions
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.), Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), British Department of Transport (DfT), German Aerospace Center (DLR) and ITN
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13
May
10

Airports Reopen After Volcanic Ash Cloud Air Disruption

NEWS
Airports Reopen After Volcanic Ash Cloud Air Disruption
Thursday, May 13, 2010

Earth••• Restrictions on flights to and from airports in Spain, Portugal and Morocco were lifted following days of disruption caused by volcanic ash cloud.

In Spain, all airports resumed normal operations, with Valencia, the last to see restrictions lifted, reopening from 06:00 am GMT (02:00 am EDT), said the Spanish air traffic control organisation Aena.

A ban on flights was also lifted at all Portuguese airports on Wednesday, said Portugal’s NAV air traffic authority.

‘There is no more disruption,’ said a statement issued by the authority.
However, flights from Tunisia to Morocco and some European destinations were disrupted, although Tunisia’s transport ministry said that flights had only been delayed and none cancelled.

‘There has been some disruption since Tuesday to flights leaving Tunisian airports destined for Spain, Portugal and Italy because of the ash cloud from the volcanic eruption,’ the ministry said.

In Morocco, the main airports, in particular Casablanca and Rabat, reopened at 06:00 am GMT (02:00 am EDT) on Wednesday after overnight restrictions.

Algerian officials said the ash had reached as far as the east of the capital Algiers but that air traffic remained normal so far.

The ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano, which began erupting on April 14, last month caused the biggest aerial shutdown in Europe since World War II.

Volcanologists in Iceland said the latest ash cloud problems, which first forced closures of Spanish airports from last Saturday, were caused by ash left over from previous weeks which can travel around in the atmosphere due to winds.
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.) and Irish Aviation Authority (IAA)
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11
May
10

Toyota logs $1.60 billion 2009 profit despite recall woes

NEWS
Toyota logs $1.60 billion 2009 profit despite recall woes

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

••• Despite massive recalls that dented its safety image, Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it logged a $1.60 billion group operating profit for the business year that ended in March, reversing the $4.99 billion loss recorded a year earlier.

It posted $2.27 billion in group net profit, compared with a loss of $4.73 billion in the 2008 business year, when the global financial crisis hit and car sales in the United States and Europe tanked. Group sales slipped 7.7 percent to $205.56 billion from $221.79 billion.

The steep rebound in profit – the first in two years – comes mostly as a result of cost-cutting efforts.

The safety woes mainly affected sales in the United States and Europe, but incentives in some regions helped shore up sales, limiting the fall in revenue.

“It was a year of being constantly on alert due to the series of recall matters, which caused concerns,” President Akio Toyoda said. “The severe conditions will likely continue, but I believe there is light far away amid the storm.”

Toyota now expects profits to grow in the current business year to next March. It forecasts a $3.03 billion group operating profit and $3.35 billion net profit on $205.56 billion in sales.

The company said it will focus on next-generation environmentally friendly cars by improving technology for hybrids and expanding its lineup. Also, it will gear up sales in fast-growing economies, particularly China and India.

Profit for the last business year mainly came from production cost cuts amounting to $5.63 billion, as well as $5.08 billion worth of reductions in fixed daily costs, including for labor, research and development, the company said.

Toyota said costs linked to its spate of worldwide recalls – $1.84 billion to $1.95 billion for the business year – were within expectations.

But concerns about potential massive recalls over accelerator defects continue.

The earnings results came a day after U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood hinted at a news conference at Toyota’s headquarters in Aichi Prefecture that more fines could be imposed if needed.

Last month, Toyota agreed to pay a record $16.4 million U.S. government fine for delaying a January recall over defective accelerator pedals.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement issued Monday in Washington that it has opened an investigation into whether Toyota in 2005 notified the agency of a steering relay rod safety defect within five business days of learning of the defect’s existence, as required by law.

“We will fully cooperate with the investigation,” Toyoda said at the news conference.
• Source(s): Toyota Motor Corp.
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10
May
10

Airports operate normally as ash clears over Europe

NEWS
Airports operate normally as ash clears over Europe
Monday, May 10, 2010

Earth••• Flights across Europe were operating normally Monday after a plume of volcanic ash that disrupted air traffic and forced some airports to close over the weekend dispersed, aviation officials said.

But delays on trans-Atlantic flights were expected because another band in mid-ocean was still blocking the air routes between Europe and North America, the European air traffic agency Eurocontrol said.

“While most of these flights are oprating, many are having to make significant re-routings to avoid the area of ash cloud coverage, resulting in delays,” according to a statement from the agency.

The ash cloud from a fresh eruption of the Icelandic Eyjafjallajokull volcano reached west and northwest Romania and is expected to cover most part of the country by Tuesday afternoon, said the authorities on Monday.

Citing the latest forecast of the London Volcanic Ash Advisory, Romania’s Environment Ministry said the cloud will cover most of the country by 03:00 am EEST (08:00 pm EDT on Monday, May 10) on Tuesday.

According to the National Meteorology Administration, the volcano ash cloud over Romania’s territory is not causing pollution, during the coming 24 hours.

Romania will not close its airspace Monday, said Civil Aviation Department chief Catalin Radu, adding that the night evolution of the cloud does not affect airline traffic.

The Eyjafjallajokull volcano began erupting last month, causing air travel chaos across Europe for about a week as many countries closed their airspace, due to lack of visibility and the danger the ashes pose to aircraft.

Ireland will re-open its airports on Monday after the latest aerial shutdown due to volcanic ash from Iceland that is still causing travel disruptions around Europe after nearly a month.

Donegal, Sligo, Ireland West (Knock), Galway and Kerry on the west coast will re-open at 06:00 am IST (02:00 am EDT), said the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

They were closed progressively on Sunday due to the threat to plane engines from an ash cloud hovering over the Atlantic.

‘The past number of days has seen the growth of a large cloud of high ash concentration off the west coast of Ireland, and this has caused difficulty for some transatlantic operations,’ said the IAA in a statement.

Restrictions were also lifted late on Sunday in Scottish airspace – they had been imposed over some northern areas – with the exception of the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides.

Ireland has faced several fresh shutdowns in recent days. On Thursday airports were closed before being re-opened just three hours later.
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.) and Irish Aviation Authority(IAA)
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09
May
10

Volcanic ash cloud returns, disrupting European flights

NEWS
Volcanic ash cloud returns, disrupting European flights
Sunday, May 9, 2010

Earth••• A cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland has continued to move over parts of Europe and the North Atlantic.

About 900 flights to and from airports in Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Germany were canceled on Sunday as a result of the cloud, announced European airspace controller Eurocontrol.

Hundreds of flights at airports from Lisbon to Munich have been cancelled and some European airspace has been closed because of a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland that caused air travel chaos last month.

All flights to the city of Porto in northern Portugal and the Azores were suspended on Sunday, with normal operations expected to resume by 06:00 am GMT (02:00 am EDT) on Monday, airport officials there said.

In all more than 200 flights were grounded in Portugal, including 71 at Lisbon’s airport, where Pope Benedict XVI is due to arrive on Tuesday for a four-day visit to the country.

The Vatican said the pontiff’s trip was still on schedule despite the air traffic disruptions.

‘At the present time, we expect no change to the program’ of the Pope’s visit, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told AFP.

The volcanic ash cloud’s unwelcome return affected air travel across much of southern Europe, especially in France and Italy, and extended into Austria and Germany.

The airspace around the southern German city of Munich was closed at 01:00 pm GMT (09;00 am EDT), cancelling flights there and at other airports, including Stuttgart, authorities said.

‘Due to the high level of contamination from volcanic ash, there have been no flights taking off or landing at Munich airport,’ said the air safety agency, DFS. The measures will be in force ‘until further notice’.

Neighbouring Austria has partly closed its airspace until the early hours of Monday, hampering traffic at airports in Vienna, Innsbruck, Linz and Salzburg, the air authority Austro Control said.

The coordinator of air traffic control across Europe said it expected about 24,500 flights to take place on Sunday, about 500 less than the average for this time of year.

Eurocontrol said: ‘Transatlantic flights continue to be affected by the ash cloud,’ with many suffering delays as they skirt the edges of the volcanic plume.

Authorities reopened Italy’s skies in the north to air traffic at 02:00 pm GMT on Sunday (10:00 am EDT on Monday) after shutting down its airspace earlier for about six hours as the ash cloud hovered over the peninsula, cancelling nearly 300 flights at Milan airports.

On Croatia’s Adriatic coast the ash cloud forced officials to close airports at Split and Zadar at 12:00 pm GMT (08:00 am EDT).

In France, the airspace remained open on Sunday but at least 70 flights bound for southern Europe were grounded at airports in Paris, Lyon, and Nice, the nearest international airport to Cannes, which is to host its flagship international film festival in three days.

The French weather service said the volcanic ash cloud could drift over southern France by Monday morning and could affect Europe’s skies for several months.

Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano erupted on April 14 and caused travel chaos worldwide, with airspace closed over many European nations for a week in mid-April over fears the ash would damage aircraft engines with fatal results.

It was the biggest aerial shutdown in Europe since World War II, with more than 100,000 flights cancelled affecting about eight million passengers. The airline industry said it lost about 2.5 billion euros ($3.18 billion).

The volcano began fresh and intensive ash eruptions overnight on Thursday and closed Ireland’s airspace for a time, and was again affecting the island nation on Sunday.

Irish airports at Donegal, Sligo and Ireland West (Knock) on the western coast face restrictions from 02:00 pm GMT (10:00 am EDT) on Sunday while Galway will be disrupted from 03:00 pm GMT (11:00 am EDT) and Kerry from 09:00 pm GMT (05:00 pm EDT), authorities said.

Meanwhile, Spanish air traffic was returning to normal, with most of the 19 airports in northern Spain that were closed on Saturday reopening about 02:00 pm GMT (10:00 am EDT), air control authority Aena said.
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.), Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Icelandic Met Office
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