E The Crimea Vote And Doubling Down In China Gas Search

Voting is not a proxy for democracy, not just in Egypt or Ukraine, Russia or Libya, Tunisia or Afghanistan--but also not right here in the USA. I am struck by the similarity of the votes in Crimea and the trio of Egyptian polls done and to come to US party caucuses and primaries.

In all cases the choice is often between bad and worse and incompetent. So many people won't vote, in fact abstaining from a "choice" they want to avoid.

Money talks: the propaganda is brutal, the information full of misleading innuendo and lies, a barrage is relentless but unsourced, paid for by occult outside money-bags.

Foreign "volunteers" push a hidden agenda on voters by TV, robo-phone, or demonstrations (depending on which vote you examine). But the impact is to rally the committed, scare the opposition, and falsify the outcome.

In such polls, name-calling and sound bites replace normal political discourse and makes some reasonable options sound radical or stupid. Straw-men are used.

Moreover gerrymandering by ethnicity undermines the predictive usefulness of voting in a wider and constituency like the country as a whole. Religion which should not have much of a role in elections often is used to sway voters either way..

And there are other issues: Are the voting rolls correct? Do neutral observers have access? Are some minorities being denied access to the polling place?

More follows including a good company result, with mostly good news from China, Africa, Britain, Cuba, Finland, The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Canada, and Israel.

*Africa Opportunity Fund Ltd reset its target date for admitting its shares to the London Stock Exchange. As announced, AROFF proposes to raise up to 100 mn by placing C shares on the Alternative Investment Market where its ordinary AOF shares now trade. The new c's will be placed at $1 each on condition that the ordinary shares we own are moved from AIM to the Specialist Fund Market of the main LSE. However the earlier deadline for cancelling the AIM ordinary share listing of March 17 to 30 will not be met. Instead, AOF expects the moved to take effect between April 7 and 30.

*Chicago Bridge & Iron, the Dutch engineering firm, landed three contracts worth $6.725 bn in the last day. The largest is for its jv with Chiyoda of Japan to build a 3-train 13.5 mn tonnes/yr liquefaction project in Louisiana for export of natural gas. The 2nd was a subcontract worth US$625 mn fromBechtel for construction work on outside battery limits modules for the ChevronWheatstone project in Western Australia. No 3 was a $100 mn contract fromEnterprise Products Partners LP for a Texas propane dehydration unit. CBI.

*In troubled Spain of all places! UK cellphone firm Vodafone has surprised markets by decided to buy Ono SA for €7.2 bn, and it will have to shell out more to bring it up to scratch to compete with Telefonica. VOD's motive (apart from the $130 bn cash from Verizon burning a hole in its pocket) is the need to add to its Europe-leading mobile prowess by adding new integrated services to its customers beyong mere naked moble which has lost its appeal in Europe. So it wants to add land lines, internet and even TV and cross-sell.

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