Nicolas Sarkozy Orders ‘Air Sarko One’ Plane For €176 Million (£147 Million)

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Sarkozy spent £160m on events and refurbishment during French EU presidency, incl. £250,000 on a personal shower he did not use


Nicolas Sarkozy’s dream of having his own presidential jet to rival America’s Air Force One are about to come true with “Air Sarko One”, a £150 million aircraft complete with bedroom, air filter system so he can smoke cigars, and a shower.

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Mr Sarkozy’s 176 million euro (£147 million) purchase and refit of the jet from tourist airline Air Caraïbes has raised eyebrows.

The specially upholstered Airbus A330-200, has just been taken on its first test flight in Bordeaux, southwestern France, with all internal fittings due for completion by October.

The plane will also include a 12-man meeting room, 60 business class seats, top-grade encrypted communications systems, a reinforced fuselage and missile decoy system.

A fleet of smaller jets is also to replace the current Falcon 50 and 900 models at ministers’ disposal. This includes two Falcon 7Xs, models often favoured by the world’s jet set.

Presidential air force officials have dubbed it “Air Carla One” after his ex-supermodel wife.

The French leader is understood to have long envied the luxurious conditions in which Barack Obama, the US President flies across the world in his Boeing 747-200B, and has complained that his two smaller Airbus A319s lacked the necessary presidential stature.

“Air Sarko One” as the plane has been dubbed, will have a wingspan a good two feet longer than the US model.

Read moreNicolas Sarkozy Orders ‘Air Sarko One’ Plane For €176 Million (£147 Million)

UK: Food Inflation May Rise 10 Percent Before Christmas

Chris Etherington, chief executive of wholesaler P&H, said: “I think this could be the beginning of the double-dip recession. This is really scary stuff.”

Again: This is the Greatest Depression! Prepare yourself now.

See also: Bank of England’s Mervyn King Warns Over High Inflation


The cost of food is likely to jump by up to 10 per cent before Christmas after dry weather drastically reduced the amount of winter feed that farmers could harvest, experts said.

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Wheat: expensive. (Getty Images)

The price of milk, cheese, chicken, beef and pork and associated products are all expected to rise because the industry has been hit by soaring animal feed prices, a shortage of silage and poor harvests.

Food inflation is closely linked to overall inflation and some in the industry have warned it could push the economy towards a “double-dip” recession.

BOCM Pauls, Britain’s biggest animal feed supplier, has reported a 20 per cent increase in the price of raw material feed on last year

The cost of wheat used as animal feed has also jumped by 30 per cent.

The company warned that the price at which it sells feed to dairy, poultry, beef and pig farmers would have to increase by the same amount over the next three months, trade magazine The Grocer said.

It is possible that such a margin could be passed on to consumers, however, it is unlikely to be passed on in full. Instead, prices are likely to go up while producers’ and retailers’ profit margins are also squeezed.

The National Farmers’ Union said the dry weather had added to its members’ problems by slashing the yields of silage for winter feed by up to 50 per cent.

Food producers are already suffering from the high cost of common ingredients such as palm oil, cocoa and soya oil, which have risen by 39 per cent, 23 per cent and 14 per cent respectively since last year, according to Mintec figures.

Read moreUK: Food Inflation May Rise 10 Percent Before Christmas

President Obama Kills 66 More US Soldiers in July

Liar in Chief :

Obama: ‘I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.’ (Video)

In 2009 over 300 US soldiers died because of this lie.

How many will die in 2010?


US ‘casualties’ in Afghanistan soar to record highs

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NATO and US soldiers are seen standing guard in Kabul. Three foreign soldiers were killed in two separate Taliban-style bomb attacks in Afghanistan’s volatile south, NATO said Friday. (AFP)

KABUL, Afghanistan – In a summer of suffering, America’s military death toll in Afghanistan is rising, with back-to-back record months for U.S. losses in the grinding conflict. All signs point to more bloodshed in the months ahead, straining the already shaky international support for the war.

Six more Americans were reported killed in fighting in the south – three Thursday and three Friday – pushing the U.S. death toll for July to a record 66 and surpassing June as the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the nearly nine-year war.

U.S. officials confirmed the latest American deaths Friday but gave no further details. Five of the latest reported deaths were a result of hidden bombs – the insurgents’ weapon of choice – and the sixth to an armed attack, NATO said in statements.

U.S. commanders say American casualties are mounting because more troops are fighting – and the Taliban are stiffening resistance as NATO and Afghan forces challenge the insurgents in areas they can’t afford to give up without a fight.

“Recent months in Afghanistan have … seen tough fighting and tough casualties. This was expected,” the top U.S. and NATO commander, Gen. David Petraeus, said at his Senate confirmation hearing last month. “My sense is that the tough fighting will continue; indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months.”

That forecast is proving grimly accurate.

The month has brought a sharp increase in the tragic images of war – medics frantically seeking to stop the bleeding of a soldier who lost his leg in a bombing, fearful comrades huddled around a wounded trooper fighting for his life, the solemn scenes at Dover Air Force Bare in Delaware when shattered relatives come to receive the bodies of their loved ones.

After a dip in American deaths last spring following the February capture of the southern town of Marjah, U.S. fatalities have been rising – from 19 in April to 34 in May to 60 in June. Last month’s deaths for the entire NATO-led force reached a record 104, including the 60 Americans. This month’s coalition death count stands at 89, including the 66 Americans.

Read morePresident Obama Kills 66 More US Soldiers in July

Almost 3,000 City Banksters Earned More Than £1 Million Last Year

City watchdog finds 170 people with contracts that breach bonus rules as it tries to tighten up pay code

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The FSA shake-up on bonuses comes after new European rules were introduced.

More than 2,800 people in the City took home more than £1m last year, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) revealed today as it prepared to stop City firms exploiting potential loopholes in its pay code. Providing a rare insight into pay levels in the City, the regulator said it had found 170 people whose contracts breached new rules that require up to 60% of bonuses to be deferred over three years. The FSA said it had applied pressure to their employers to change the contracts.

The rules are designed to discourage excessive risk-taking and were introduced after the meltdown in the financial industry in the autumn of 2008. The FSA also revealed that the industry had lobbied for a relaxation of its ban on guaranteed bonuses that run for more than a year, claiming it was having an “adverse effect on employee mobility or staff retention”.

As the FSA began a consultation on its pay code, it warned that its scope would have to expand from 27 companies to 2,500 as a result of new European rules, known as the capital requirements directive.

In the wide-ranging consultation, the FSA also set out ways to stop “rewards for failure” and to ensure that pensions do not inadvertently reward poor performance, by demanding that any enhanced contributions are held in shares for five years.

The regulator also said that companies should decide how much money to pour into their annual bonus pots on the basis of the amount of profit being made rather than the size of the revenue generated. The FSA said that paying bonuses out of revenue would not “pay sufficient regard to the quality of business undertaken or services provided”.

The FSA reviewed the deferral arrangements of 4,300 City workers covered by its code because they were senior managers, influential traders or because they earned more than £1m. It said that 2,800 of them came under the code because they earned at least £1m and 1,300 of these were employed by UK banking groups, with the rest at big investment banks.

Read moreAlmost 3,000 City Banksters Earned More Than £1 Million Last Year

Giant South Dakota Hailstone Breaks U.S. Records

VIVIAN, S.D. (AP) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says a giant hailstone that fell in central South Dakota has broken U.S. records, even though the man who found it says it melted somewhat while waiting to be evaluated.

The NOAA’s National Climate Extremes Committee says the hailstone found in the town of Vivian on July 23 measures 8 inches in diameter and weighs 1 pound, 15 ounces. The committee says the South Dakota ice chunk breaks records set by hailstones discovered in Nebraska and Kansas.

Read moreGiant South Dakota Hailstone Breaks U.S. Records

Russia’s Minority Report Law: Legislation to give security services powers to arrest people for crimes they have yet to commit

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A New World Order is emerging …

President Obama’s New World Order: ‘We have to shape an international order that can meet the challenges of our generation’

President Dmitry Medvedev Calls For ‘New World Economic Order’

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet calls for ‘Global Governance’ at the Council on Foreign Relations

EU Draws Up Plans For Single ‘Economic Government’

Gordon Brown Praises New World Order (19 Feb 2010)

Gordon Brown On Saddam Hussein: ‘This New World Order That We Were Trying To Create Was Being Put At Risk’

… and we have to stop it NOW.


Russia to introduce ‘draconian’ Minority Report-style law

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Russian police arrest a political opposition activist at a rally in Moscow. (AFP)

Russian citizens can be issued official warnings about crimes that they have not yet committed under powers granted to the security services today.

President Dmitry Medvedev signed off on a new law giving the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB, the right to caution people suspected of preparing acts of extremism, or to jail them for obstructing the agency’s work.

The powers appear similar to those enjoyed by Precrime, the police unit in the 2002 Hollywood film Minority Report. “This is a draconian law reminiscent of our repressive past,” said Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the Solidarity opposition movement.

Rights activists had hoped Medvedev would rein in the security services, after his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, a former KGB colonel, stuffed his administration with hawkish veterans. The Kremlin’s tough stance comes against the backdrop of a disparate but emergent civil movement protesting against corruption and authoritarian government.

Under the new provisions, the FSB will be able to echo Soviet practices. The punishment for ignoring a warning was unclear, but 15-day jail sentences are envisaged for “obstructing an FSB officer’s duties”. Sergei Ivanenko, a leader of the Yabloko party, called it “the law of a police state”. He said: “If such a law exists in a democratic country then it is limited by a very powerful system of civil, public and parliamentary control. In our conditions it will mean absolute power for the security services.”

Read moreRussia’s Minority Report Law: Legislation to give security services powers to arrest people for crimes they have yet to commit

Obama Administration Proposal To Give FBI Access To Your Internet History Without Court Order

White House proposal would ease FBI access to records of Internet activity

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The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.

The administration wants to add just four words — “electronic communication transactional records” — to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge’s approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user’s browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the “content” of e-mail or other Internet communication.

But what officials portray as a technical clarification designed to remedy a legal ambiguity strikes industry lawyers and privacy advocates as an expansion of the power the government wields through so-called national security letters. These missives, which can be issued by an FBI field office on its own authority, require the recipient to provide the requested information and to keep the request secret. They are the mechanism the government would use to obtain the electronic records.

Stewart A. Baker, a former senior Bush administration Homeland Security official, said the proposed change would broaden the bureau’s authority. “It’ll be faster and easier to get the data,” said Baker, who practices national security and surveillance law. “And for some Internet providers, it’ll mean giving a lot more information to the FBI in response to an NSL.”

Many Internet service providers have resisted the government’s demands to turn over electronic records, arguing that surveillance law as written does not allow them to do so, industry lawyers say. One senior administration government official, who would discuss the proposed change only on condition of anonymity, countered that “most” Internet or e-mail providers do turn over such data.

Read moreObama Administration Proposal To Give FBI Access To Your Internet History Without Court Order

SEC Says New Financial Regulation Law Exempts it From Public Disclosure, incl. FOIA!!!

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Change we can believe in!


So much for transparency.

Under a little-noticed provision of the recently passed financial-reform legislation, the Securities and Exchange Commission no longer has to comply with virtually all requests for information releases from the public, including those filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from “surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities.” Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.

That argument comes despite the President saying that one of the cornerstones of the sweeping new legislation was more transparent financial markets. Indeed, in touting the new law, Obama specifically said it would “increase transparency in financial dealings.”

The SEC cited the new law Tuesday in a FOIA action brought by FOX Business Network. Steven Mintz, founding partner of law firm Mintz & Gold LLC in New York, lamented what he described as “the backroom deal that was cut between Congress and the SEC to keep the  SEC’s failures secret. The only losers here are the American public.”

If the SEC’s interpretation stands, Mintz, who represents FOX Business Network, predicted “the next time there is a Bernie Madoff failure the American public will not be able to obtain the SEC documents that describe the failure,” referring to the shamed broker whose Ponzi scheme cost investors billions.

“The new provision applies to information obtained through examinations or derived from that information,” said SEC spokesman John Nester. “We are expanding our examination program’s surveillance and risk assessment efforts in order to provide more sophisticated and effective Wall Street oversight. The success of these efforts depends on our ability to obtain documents and other information from brokers, investment advisers and other registrants. The new legislation makes certain that we can obtain documents from registrants for risk assessment and surveillance under similar conditions that already exist by law for our examinations. Because registrants insist on confidential treatment of their documents, this new provision also removes an opportunity for brokers, investment advisers and other registrants to refuse to cooperate with our examination document requests.”

Criticism of the provision has been swift. “It allows the SEC to block the public’s access to virtually all SEC records,” said Gary Aguirre, a former SEC staff attorney-turned-whistleblower who had accused the agency of thwarting an investigation into hedge fund Pequot Asset Management in 2005. “It permits the SEC to promulgate its own rules and regulations regarding the disclosure of records without getting the approval of the Office of Management and Budget, which typically applies to all federal agencies.”

Read moreSEC Says New Financial Regulation Law Exempts it From Public Disclosure, incl. FOIA!!!

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to speak at Bohemian Club

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PD FILE, 2009 The entrance to the Bohemian Grove in 2009.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is scheduled to address a throng of rich and powerful men on Friday under the towering redwoods at the Bohemian Grove as the annual encampment along the Russian River in Monte Rio enters its final weekend.

No one other than Bohemian Club members and their guests will hear the governor’s speech, which is – like everything that transpires during the 17-day midsummer enclave – done in absolute privacy.

Plutocrats and powerbrokers, including former presidents, annually flock to the 2,700-acre wooded retreat where neither women, other than grove employees, nor outsiders of either gender are permitted.

“It’s a private gentleman’s club,” club spokesman Sam Singer said. “People are coming to get away from the duties of daily life. They don’t desire to be on the front page of The Press Democrat or The New York Times.

“In real life, they get there often enough,” he said.

The club has about 2,000 members.

Mixing their revelry and weird rituals with serious issues, the Bohemians hear from a series of speakers, this year including media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who discussed “the future of news” and former secretaries of state George Shultz and James Baker on international relations and terrorism threats.

The speakers list, including ex-President George H. W. Bush in 1995 and not-yet President Richard Nixon in 1967, remains a well-guarded secret.

Read moreGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to speak at Bohemian Club

Russia: Worst drought in a decade, high temperatures damaged 32 percent of land under cultivation, grain prices may double

Russia’s Drought Raises Bondholder Risk on Prices

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A farmer driving his tractor to harvest flax at a collective farm in the village of Mirny, in the Tver region (Reuters)

Russia’s worst drought in a decade will probably generate losses for bondholders as food prices rise and the government may be pushed to tap debt markets for funds to support farmers.

High temperatures, which rose to a record 37.4 Celsius (99 Fahrenheit) yesterday in Moscow, have damaged 32 percent of land under cultivation and forced Russia to declare states of emergency in 23 regions. Grain prices may double this year because of the drought, according to the Grain Producers’ Union.

Inflation may quicken to 8.1 percent by the end of December, compared with the government’s annual forecast of 6 percent, according to Yaroslav Lissovolik, Deutsche Bank AG’s head of research in Moscow. That will put pressure on Bank Rossii to raise its benchmark rate by year-end for the first time since December 2008, said Natalia Orlova, Moscow-based chief economist at Alfa Bank.

Higher rates “may cause a correction in short-term sovereign bonds and, later, in long-term sovereign bonds,” said Evgeniy Nadorshin, senior economist at Trust Investment Bank in Moscow.

The government, which plans to sell 1.2 trillion rubles ($39.3 billion) of bonds on the domestic market this year to finance its budget deficit, may increase that figure to pay for subsidies and contain the drought’s fallout, Nadorshin said.

Read moreRussia: Worst drought in a decade, high temperatures damaged 32 percent of land under cultivation, grain prices may double