President Obama will keep millions of pages of military and intelligence documents scheduled to be declassified secret

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Promising “a new era of openness in our country,” President Obama  …

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,” Obama said. Source: CNN

So much for transparency!


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WASHINGTON – President Obama will maintain a lid of secrecy on millions of pages of military and intelligence documents that were scheduled to be declassified by the end of the year, according to administration officials.

The missed deadline spells trouble for the White House’s promises to introduce an era of government openness, say advocates, who believe that releasing historical information enforces a key check on government behavior. They cite as an example the abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Cold War, including domestic spying and assassinations of foreign officials, that were publicly outlined in a set of agency documents known as the “family jewels.’’

The documents in question – all more than 25 years old – were scheduled to be declassified on Dec. 31 under an order originally signed by President Bill Clinton and amended by President George W. Bush.

But now Obama finds himself in the awkward position of extending the secrecy, despite his repeated pledges of greater transparency, because his administration has been unable to prod spy agencies into conformance.

Some of the agencies have thrown up roadblocks to disclosure, engaged in turf battles over how documents should be evaluated, and have reviewed only a fraction of the material to determine whether releasing them would jeopardize national security.

Read morePresident Obama will keep millions of pages of military and intelligence documents scheduled to be declassified secret

Climategate: Googlegate?!

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What is going on at Google? I only ask because last night when I typed “Global Warming” into Google News the top item was Christopher Booker’s superb analysis of the Climategate scandal.

It’s still the most-read article of the Telegraph’s entire online operation – 430 comments and counting – yet mysteriously when you try the same search now it doesn’t even feature. Instead, the top-featured item is a blogger pushing Al Gore’s AGW agenda. Perhaps there’s nothing sinister in this. Perhaps some Google-savvy reader can enlighten me…..

UPDATE: Richard North has some interesting thoughts on this. He too suspects some sort of skullduggery.

Read moreClimategate: Googlegate?!

Dubai and Abu Dhabi stock exchanges post record one-day falls

Dubai and Abu Dhabi stock exchanges suffered record one-day losses on Monday on fears over debt defaults, pushing London’s FTSE 100 index lower in morning trading.

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Shares on Dubai’s stock market suffered their biggest one-day fall in more than a year, while Abu Dhabi posted a record one-day drop.

Dubai’s index sank 7.3pc, its biggest one-day fall since October last year. Abu Dhabi’s Securities Exchange endured the largest one-day loss in its history as it ended the session down 8.3pc.

London’s index of Britain’s 100 biggest companies was down around 33 point – or 0.6pc – at 5212 just before 11am after opening up slightly.

While investors judged that the fall-out from Dubai’s debt crisis will not be enough to derail a global recovery, they remained jittery about the possible fallout for banks which have loaned money to the Gulf state.

Read moreDubai and Abu Dhabi stock exchanges post record one-day falls

United Arab Emirates Removes Sunday London Times From Newsstands

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DUBAI — The Sunday London Times newspaper was removed by authorities from shelves in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday amid intensive reporting of Dubai’s debt problems, an executive at the paper said.

The National Media Council ordered the paper blocked by distributors without providing a reason, an executive at the paper in Dubai told Zawya Dow Jones.

The Sunday Times edition available in the U.A.E. on Nov. 29 featured a double-page spread graphic illustrating Dubai’s ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum sinking in a sea of debt. The Times wasn’t given a reason for the block, or a timeframe when it will be lifted, the executive said.

A government official in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the U.A.E., said that the picture of Sheik Mohammed, which accompanied a story entitled: The sinking of Dubai’s dream, was “offensive.”

Under the U.A.E.’s media code, publications are prohibited from criticizing the sheikdom’s rulers. Local media and government officials have criticized international press coverage of Dubai’s debt crisis. Markets around the world fell last week after the government requested a debt standstill for one of its biggest conglomerates.

Read moreUnited Arab Emirates Removes Sunday London Times From Newsstands

Dubai Government Does Not Guarantee Dubai World Debt

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Marina residences at ‘The Palm Jumeirah’ development, also known as Palm Island, built by property developers Nakheel PJSC in Dubai is seen in this undated handout photo released to the media on Nov. 27, 2009. Source: Nakheel via Bloomberg

Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) — Dubai’s government said it hasn’t guaranteed the debt of Dubai World, the state-controlled holding company struggling with $59 billion in liabilities, and that creditors must help it restructure.

“The company received financing based on its project schedule, not a government guarantee,” Abdulrahman Al Saleh, director general of the emirate’s Department of Finance, said in an interview with Dubai TV, when asked whether the government was backing the debt. “Lenders should bear part of the responsibility.”

Dubai’s government said Nov. 25 that Dubai World would seek a standstill agreement with creditors and an extension of loan maturities until at least May 30, 2010. The announcement led to the biggest declines in Asian shares in three months last week and Europe’s worst rout since April. Investors were concerned the proposal risks triggering the biggest sovereign default since Argentina in 2001.

Dubai shares tumbled and Abu Dhabi’s stock index today fell the most in at least eight years on the first trading day since the announcement.

Nakheel PJSC, Dubai World’s property unit whose $3.52 billion Islamic bond is due Dec. 14, asked the Nasdaq Dubai stock market today to suspend its securities “until it is in a position to fully inform the market.”

Read moreDubai Government Does Not Guarantee Dubai World Debt

Food Stamp program now expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day; In 239 counties at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps

I told you that the plan of the elite is to destroy the middle class, the dollar and to turn the US into a Third World country.

Food Banks: 25 Million Americans Relying on Pantries; Surge in First Timers; Up 150 Percent Jump in Demand (AP)

Government report: 15% of Americans have trouble putting food on the table – a record high (CNN Money)

New Record: Americans on Food Stamps Tops 36 million – Study: Half of US Kids Will Receive Food Stamps (Reuters)


Food Stamp Use Soars, and Stigma Fades

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A GROWING NEED FOR A PROGRAM ONCE SCORNED Greg Dawson and his wife, Sheila, of Martinsville, Ohio, help feed their family of seven with a $300 monthly food stamp benefit. Center and right, the food pantry in Lebanon, Ohio, where residents can also enroll in what is formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

MARTINSVILLE, Ohio – With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children.

It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs.

Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare.

While the numbers have soared during the recession, the path was cleared in better times when the Bush administration led a campaign to erase the program’s stigma, calling food stamps “nutritional aid” instead of welfare, and made it easier to apply. That bipartisan effort capped an extraordinary reversal from the 1990s, when some conservatives tried to abolish the program, Congress enacted large cuts and bureaucratic hurdles chased many needy people away.

From the ailing resorts of the Florida Keys to Alaskan villages along the Bering Sea, the program is now expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day.

There are 239 counties in the United States where at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps, according to an analysis of local data collected by The New York Times.

The counties are as big as the Bronx and Philadelphia and as small as Owsley County in Kentucky, a patch of Appalachian distress where half of the 4,600 residents receive food stamps.

In more than 750 counties, the program helps feed one in three blacks. In more than 800 counties, it helps feed one in three children. In the Mississippi River cities of St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans, half of the children or more receive food stamps. Even in Peoria, Ill. – Everytown, U.S.A. – nearly 40 percent of children receive aid.

Read moreFood Stamp program now expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day; In 239 counties at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps

HSBC closes its gold vaults to hundreds of American investors

Gold acquires new investment aura

When HSBC closes its vaults to hundreds of American gold bugs (investors) next July, it will be shutting the door on one of the fastest growing trends in the investment community.

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Gold ingots of various weights,. Investors see it as a safe haven in unsettled times Photo: Julian Simmonds

Although the British-based bank has decided to stop retail investors depositing the shiny stuff at its New York vaults in favour of storing gold for higher paying institutional customers, it has not stopped the rest of the world from clamouring to join the gold rush.

From the Indian central bank – rumoured to be buying another 200 tonnes from the International Monetary Fund – to hedge fund manager John Paulson – in the process of setting up a new gold only fund – everyone is buying gold. Even Harrods is getting in on the act by selling gold bars. Changed days from the end of the last decade when the UK joined other parts of the world in ending the “gold standard”.

In spite of HSBC’s actions, one of the fastest growing areas of gold investment is ordinary investors buying actual bars of gold. Data from the World Gold Council shows that the number of retail investors buying gold in its physical form – as opposed to investing in gold futures contracts or gold miners – rose by 11pc in the three months to September, compared to the previous three months.

In monetary terms this was equivalent to $7bn (£4.25bn), some $5.7bn of which went on physical gold, in the form of bars and official coins, while the remaining $1.3bn was spent on exchange traded funds (ETFs), which invest in real gold and not futures or contracts.

Read moreHSBC closes its gold vaults to hundreds of American investors

‘People don’t trade carbon because they are good people,’ exclaims Patrick Birley, the chief executive of the ICE European Climate Exchange

The entire system is based on fraud:

Global Warming Scam Exposed:

Prof. Ian Clark: ‘Rises in C02 lag 800 years behind temperature rises. So temperature is leading CO2 by 800 years!’

So the Al-Gore link is the wrong way round and CO2 can’t be responsible for rises in temperature and global warming.

Study: CO2 levels remained constant since 1850! (University of Bristol)

It is all about the money!


European Climate Exchange chief Patrick Birley defends the carbon trading system

The coal-fired Fiddlers Ferry power station in Warrington emits vapour into the night sky
The coal-fired Fiddlers Ferry power station in Warrington emits vapour into the night sky Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

“Why should it be different as a commodity to the way people trade oil or gas?”

As the man in charge of the world’s biggest exchange for companies, banks and hedge funds to trade permits to emit carbon dioxide, Birley is fed up with the environmentalists’ charge that dirty capitalists should not profit from the global effort to tackle climate change.

Ahead of the Copenhagen summit next week, campaigners such as Friends of the Earth have argued that the entire system is so flawed it may need to be demolished in favour of a straightforward tax on polluters.

Firstly, they insist, the European system has failed in its fundamental aim to reduce emissions, meaning its only effect is to redistribute wealth among companies and traders. Secondly, the market is a magnet for derivatives that few people understand, brewing up a second sub-prime bubble. Lastly, the opportunities for fraud are vast, given the intangible nature of the product. .

These well-worn concerns are resurfacing as the whole concept of carbon trading stands at a crossroads. This totally invented $126bn (£76bn) market has the potential to flare into a $2 trillion green giant over the next decade, if US President Obama manages to push his carbon trading bill through the Senate early next year.

Read more‘People don’t trade carbon because they are good people,’ exclaims Patrick Birley, the chief executive of the ICE European Climate Exchange

Abu Dhabi will not race to bailout Dubai

Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai is under mounting pressure to explain the emirate’s debt problems, after Abu Dhabi indicated that it will not write a blank cheque to bail out its neighbour.

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Race is on: power brokers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are trying to find the right formula to solve the latter’s debt problems. The Yas Marina grand prix circuit in Abu Dhabi is pictured Photo: PA

According to officials, Abu Dhabi, the richest state in the United Arab Emirates, will be cautious about how and whether to assist Dubai World, the state holding company that this week suspended repayments on a $3.5bn (£2.1bn) Islamic bond due in mid-December.

Any sign that Abu Dhabi’s support may not yet be secured could push global markets further into turmoil tomorrow, analysts said, especially if Dubai’s ruler maintains his silence on the crisis beyond this weekend’s Eid religious holiday. Sources said he may be forced to disrupt the 10-day Islamic break to make a statement as early as tomorrow.

“We will look at Dubai’s commitments and approach them on a case-by-case basis. It does not mean that Abu Dhabi will underwrite all of their debts,” a senior Abu Dhabi official said.

“Until things become clearer, it is very difficult to make any further investment decision on the bonds. Many things have to be clarified by Dubai.”

Dubai World’s $59bn of liabilities make up the majority of the emirate’s total $80bn debts.

Read moreAbu Dhabi will not race to bailout Dubai

Rothschild Bankers appointed to help sell Dubai World assets

Bankers from Rothschild have been appointed to help restructure Dubai World with a mandate to dispose of some of the stricken conglomerate’s famous assets.

Paul Reynolds, head of Rothschild’s advisory operations in the Middle East, was this week asked to work for the Dubai government’s chief restructuring officer alongside Aidan Birkett of Deloitte, who was appointed on Wednesday.

The team is tasked with assessing the group’s assets, which is likely to result in a large scale sell-off of assets as varied as the QE2 cruise liner; Turnberry, the golf course that hosted this year’s Open Championship; and a raft of properties.

A spokesman for the Dubai department of finance confirmed that all options and asset sales would be considered, except for the DP World subsidiary that bought P&O, the British ports company. “I’m sure all of the assets of Dubai World will be reviewed,” he said. “The QE2 is one of them. It’s part of the restructuring process, though it’s too early to say whether there’s any sale in mind.”

Read moreRothschild Bankers appointed to help sell Dubai World assets