Victims’ families are angry and speaking out after a judge sentenced a teenager in Texas to 10 years’ probation for driving drunk and causing a crash that left two people severely injured and four others dead.
[...] According to CNN affiliate WFAA, a psychologist called by the defense described Couch as a product of “affluenza.”
He reportedly testified that the teen’s family felt wealth bought privilege, and that Couch’s life could be turned around with one to two years of treatment and no contact with his parents.
Couch was sentenced by a juvenile court judge on Tuesday. If he violates the terms of his probation, he could face up to 10 years of incarceration, according to a statement from the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.
Judge Jean Boyd told the court she would not release Couch to his parents, but would work to find the teen a long-term treatment facility.
The sentence stunned victims’ family members, who say they feel that Couch basically got away with murder. Prosecutors had asked for the maximum of 20 years behind bars.
With an endowment larger than all but four of the world’s largest hedge funds, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is easily one of the most powerful charities in the world. According to its website, the organization ”works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.” So how do the investments of the foundation’s $36 billion investing arm, the Gates Foundation Trust, match up to its mission? We dug into the group’s recently released 2012 tax returns to find out.
This is arguably the year in which internet self-obsession reached new heights. Not only did we see that digital chronicler of daily minutiae Instagram announce that it had surpassed 100m active users, but the Oxford English Dictionary people announced that “selfie” was to be the official word of the year. Little did they know that all the coolest, on-trend narcissists had already moved on to “yogis” (yoga + selfie) and “belfies” (bum + selfie), leading us to wonder exactly where self-absorption has to go from here. While we’re contemplating that with horror, we thought we’d take a look at the smuggest four corners of the internet currently in existence.
[...] A recent working paper from the Roosevelt Institute shows, a more analytical view of the 2012 election actually makes the contest, in retrospect, far more compelling than Halperin and Heilemann’s limited telling would suggest. Titled “Party Competition and Industrial Structure in the 2012 Elections: Who’s Really Driving the Taxi to the Dark Side?,” the paper, by Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen takes a long, hard look at where the money that fueled 2012 actually came from. Their findings reveal not only the depths of plutocracy to which we’ve sunk, but also shed some much-needed light on the burgeoning surveillance state (the dark side) and its activities in the political sphere.
While most people at least intuitively understand that big-time political campaigns are financed largely by the very wealthy, Ferguson and his co-authors’ paper reveals the degree to which these national operations are funded by a vanishingly small number of people. “We really are dealing with a system that is of by and for the one percent — or the one-and-a-half percent,” Ferguson told Salon in a recent interview. And the numbers bear him out. Assuming that contributions over $500 come largely from the one percent, the paper finds that no less than 59 percent of Obama’s funding, and 79 percent of Romney’s, emanates from that small sliver of society. This contrasts rather jarringly with the popular image of the 2012 campaign as one pitting Obama’s middle-class constituency against Romney’s plutocratic backers. It was more of a plutocrat vs. plutocrat affair.
The Group of Thirty (or G-30) describes itself as “a private, nonprofit, international body composed of very senior representatives of the private and public sectors and academia,” which “aims to deepen understanding of international economic and financial issues, to explore the international repercussions of decisions taken in the public and private sectors, and to examine the choices available to market practitioners and policymakers.”
Its membership consists of roughly thirty major figures in the global financial world, from central banks, academia, international institutions and major private financial institutions. These figures hold regular meetings, conduct research and produce highly-influential reports through various “working groups,” providing a forum for top policy makers and private sector market “actors” to meet and hold discussions, while helping shape consensus and give recommendations to policy makers on issues of finance and governance.
This institution, though not widely discussed, is enormously influential. And here’s why.
The history of the Group of Thirty goes back to the Rockefeller Foundation, which provided the organization’s initial funding. In its 1978 annual report, the Rockefeller Foundation – which represents the interests of highly centralized corporate and financial power – recalled that it was created in 1913 as a response to “the Populist assault on the massive concentration of wealth in the hands of few.” (Annual Report, 1978, Rockefeller Foundation.)
Boris Johnson has launched a bold bid to claim the mantle of Margaret Thatcher by declaring that inequality is essential to fostering “the spirit of envy” and hailed greed as a “valuable spur to economic activity”.
In an attempt to shore up his support on the Tory right, as he positions himself as the natural successor to David Cameron, the London mayor called for the “Gordon Gekkos of London” to display their greed to promote economic growth.
Delivering the annual Margaret Thatcher lecture, Johnson also called for the return of a form of grammar schools.
He qualified his unabashed admiration for the “hedge fund kings” by saying they should do more to help poorer people who have suffered a real fall in income in recent years. But he moved to forge his own brand of Conservatism, which contrasts with the early modernising of the prime minister, by claiming that it was “futile” to try to end inequality.
In highly provocative remarks, Johnson mocked the 16% “of our species” with an IQ below 85 as he called for more to be done to help the 2% of the population who have an IQ above 130.
Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny”, urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.
The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.
In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticising the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money” and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare”.
He also called on rich people to share their wealth. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has told people to stop “bashing” the super-rich, comparing them to hard-pressed minorities like the homeless, Irish travellers or ex-gang members.
Mr Johnson accused “everyone from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Nick Clegg” of bullying the group he defined as “zillionaires” – and said the most rich of all should receive “automatic knighthoods”.
The comments come from an article Mr Johnson wrote for the Daily Telegraph, and appear just a day after the BBC’s The Revolution Will Be Televised programme criticised the capital’s mayor for his “career in show business” – confronting him and asking when he would move into politics.
Mr Johnson said the rich deserve our “humble and hearty thanks” for their contributions to charity and the exchequer – quoting figures that say the top 1 per cent pay 29.8 per cent of all UK income tax.
“It is my duty to stick up for every put-upon minority in the city – from the homeless to Irish travellers to ex-gang members to disgraced former MPs,” Mr Johnson wrote.
“But there is one minority that I still behold with a benign bewilderment, and that is the very, very rich.”
- Boris Johnson: We should be humbly thanking the super-rich, not bashing them
- Boris Johnson says the Super Rich are an ‘Oppressed Minority’ worthy of our ‘Humble and Hearty Thanks’
- ÜberTroll Boris Johnson we should adore the Super-rich
Home Office launches exclusive invitation-only visa service for world’s most successful business executives
International business leaders will be granted exclusive access to a new VIP visa system, launched by the Home Office to make it quicker and easier for them to organise entry to the UK.
Announced as the “Great” club, it will be invitation-only and is designed to benefit around 100 of the wealthiest tycoons with the strongest links to Britain.
They will receive “bespoke” support from the UK Visas and Immigration agency, including a dedicated account manager whose job it is to ensure their passage through the system is “swift and smooth”.
The Home Office will run the scheme initially as a 12-month pilot, beginning in the new year.
No, this is not a Monty Python sketch. The King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander announced the end of the welfare state in a speech written by the government. But while the population of the Netherlands has faced some of the most severe austerity measures in Europe, the monarchy has cut nothing from the £31m it receives from the taxpayer each year – overtaking the Windsors as the most expensive monarchy in Europe.
The Netherlands’ deficit is around half that of the UK and the US. Yet, the economy of the Netherlands is disintegrating under the pressure of pay cuts, public spending cuts and tax hikes. This year, the economy will shrink by almost 2% as it continues a brutal Austerity programme under pressure from the EU to reduce its budget deficit to the EU limit – 3% of GDP. Greece, Portugal, Spain and others who have abandoned all common economic sense to chase this arbitrary limit have decimated their economies doing so.
The following are the result of Austerity programmes in the Netherlands in the five years since 2008:
- Unemployment has almost trebled from 3.2% to 8.2% in 2013
- House prices have fallen 20%
- VAT (tax paid on goods and services) has risen to 21%
- 18bn euros has been cut from public spending
- Retirement age will be raised from 65 to 67
- 1 in 10 children live in poverty
- 1 in 8 public sector workers will have lost their jobs by 2015.
The Netherlands has always adopted a more Scandinavian-style social democratic approach than the UK, and in 2008/9 had one of the most egalitarian social security systems in the world. But Austerity is rapidly turning the economy into a US/UK style blitzkrieg on the concept of social democracy. With six weak coalition governments in the last ten years, and the EU imposed Austerity, the far right Freedom Party of Geert Wilders is flying high in the polls.
Through her many professional lives—as first lady, U.S. senator, secretary of state, lawyer, author and presidential candidate-in-waiting—Hillary Clinton can be linked, by a very short chain, to nearly all of the FORBES World’s Most Powerful People. From Hillary’s perspective, it’s a small world after all.
The Sultan of Brunei introduced tough Sharia-law punishments on Tuesday including death by stoning for crimes such as adultery, hailing what he called a “historic” step toward Islamic orthodoxy for his sleepy country.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah — one of the world’s wealthiest men — said a new Sharia Penal Code in the works for years was officially introduced Tuesday in the tiny, oil-flush sultanate and would be phased in beginning in six months.
Based on individual cases, punishments could include stoning to death for adultery, severing of limbs for theft, and flogging for violations ranging from abortion to alcohol consumption, according to a copy of the code.
The code applies only to Muslims.
Billionaire financier George Soros, a major Democratic donor, is backing an effort to persuade former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016, a spokesman said on Thursday.
Soros, 83, has pledged $25,000 to political action committee Ready For Hillary, the largest and best-funded independent group backing a potential Clinton candidacy. The wife of former President Bill Clinton would be widely viewed as the favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination if she decides to run.
“His support for Ready for Hillary is an extension of his long-held belief in the power of grassroots organizing,” said Soros spokesman Michael Vachon.
Soros’ pledge puts him on the PAC’s National Finance Council, along with several other major Democratic donors and officials, the group said.
But symbolically, Soros’ support could mean much more – particularly at a time when Clinton’s supporters are seeking to ward off potential challengers to her in Democratic presidential primaries.
Soros was a huge financial backer of Democrats during the 2004 election cycle, donating an estimated $27.5 million. He also contributed heavily to Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. Clinton lost the Democratic nomination to Obama that year.
Global Power Project: Connecting Josef Ackermann, the Institute of International Finance and the Euro Debt Crisis
Josef Ackermann served as CEO of Deutsche Bank from 2002 to 2012, and over the same period served as Chairman of the IIF. Ackermann was also, and still remains, a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group and continues to serve on the IIF’s Group of Trustees, a board which includes a number of prominent central bankers including Christian Noyer, the Governor of the Bank of France and Chairman of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS); Jamie Caruana, the General Manager of the BIS; and Jean-Claude Trichet, who was the president of the European Central Bank from 2003 to 2011.
During the early stages of the financial crisis, Ackermann served as an “unofficial adviser” to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her then-Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck. In December of 2009, Ackermann was speaking at a summit in Berlin attended by Chancellor Merkel and several other German cabinet ministers, corporate CEOs and others, where he explained that while the financial crisis had largely been “abated,” many “time bombs” remained — in particular, Greece, which he referred to as the “problem child” of Europe. Ackermann blamed the debt crisis on people having “lived beyond their means for years, if not decades,” warning that pensions and health care systems would “compound the problem” in the future.
The Financial Times has referred to Ackermann as a “reluctant power broker” who “has the ear of Angela Merkel, Europe’s most powerful politician.” Ackermann not only became one of the most influential bankers in the world, but a major political figure as well. As he himself explained: “Financial markets now are very political – political considerations have to play an important role.” In 2011, Ackermann warned that in terms of Europe’s crisis, “I don’t see a quick economic recovery, so we will have a longer time of somewhat lower growth – certainly three to five years.”
In October of 2011, Ackermann delivered a speech in which he said that Europe had “now entered a period of deleveraging” which “will inevitably entail a long period of austerity as governments, households and firms raise their savings.” At an economic forum in December of 2011, Josef Ackermann stated that Europe had to get its debt under control, “even at the cost of national sovereignty,” suggesting that neither “the pressure of financial markets” nor austerity measures “threaten democracy.” The real threat to democracy, according to Ackermann, was the “excessive debt” of European states.
All told, the top 10 CEOs in this year’s poll took home over $4.7bn between them, and for the first time ever, none earned less than $100m.
“I have never seen anything like that,” said Greg Ruel, GMI’s senior research consultant and author of the report. “Usually we have a few CEOs at the $100m-plus level but never the entire top 10.”
[...] Nearly all the outsized gains came from stock options and other share-related compensation. The top 10 made $3.3bn in 2012 on stock option profits and the vesting of restricted stock. Cash bonuses totalled $16.2m.
[...] The report further illustrates the widening gap between CEO pay and that of the average worker. According to the US census bureau, median household income, adjusted for inflation, was $51,017 in 2012, broadly unchanged from 2011.
Wages for the average household have fallen about 9% from an inflation-adjusted peak of $56,080 in 1999. The census figures show a sharp recovery for those at the top of the wage scale as those at the bottom continue to see falls.
A new report shows that income in the U.S. in 2012 was more concentrated at the top than at any time since 1916.
A bit more than one twenty-fifth of all income in the U.S. is now being taken in by the top one-ten-thousandth of the U.S. population. That one rich statistical person is bringing in considerably more income than all of the poorest 2,000 people do in that same statistical 10,000 Americans.
We must go back nearly a hundred years to find a time when the top 0.01%, the top 1 in 10,000 people in the U.S., were making more than 4% of the nation’s total income, as they were in the latest calculated year, 2012. This figure of income-concentration among the top 0.01% was the all-time high 4.4% in 1916. In 1915, it was 4.36%. Before that, it was under 3%. And it has never again been anywhere near 4%, until 2012, when it broke through the 4% barrier yet again, for the first time in 97 years, at 4.08%. Other than in 2012, the highest it has been in recent decades was 3.53% in 2007, under Bush, at the peak right before the 2008 crash. This money-concentration is now more extreme than it was even then – even at Bush’s peak.
The details are being reported at the global academic database of income-distribution, which is called “The World Top Incomes Database,” and which is headed by the world’s four leading researchers on income-distribution: Tony Atkinson, Facundo Alvaredo, Thomas Piketty, and Emmanuel Saez.
[...] I drew attention to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched in the US when it chaired the G8 meeting last year. The alliance is pushing African countries into agreements that allow foreign companies to grab their land, patent their seeds and monopolise their food markets. Ignoring the voices of their own people, six African governments have struck deals with companies such as Monsanto, Cargill, Dupont, Syngenta, Nestlé and Unilever, in return for promises of aid by the UK and other G8 nations.
A wide range of activists, both African and European, is furious about the New Alliance. But the ONE campaign, co-founded by Bono, stepped up to defend it. The article it wrote last week was remarkable in several respects: in its elision of the interests of African leaders and those of their people, in its exaggeration of the role of small African companies, but above all in failing even to mention the injustice at the heart of the New Alliance – its promotion of a new wave of land grabbing. My curiosity was piqued.
The first thing I discovered is that Bono has also praised the New Alliance, in a speech just before last year’s G8 summit in the US. The second thing I discovered is that much of the ONE campaign’s primary funding was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, two of whose executives sit on its board. The foundation has been working with the biotech company Monsanto and the grain trading giant Cargill, and has a large Monsanto shareholding. Bill Gates has responded to claims made about land grabbing in Africa, asserting, in the face of devastating evidence and massive resistance from African farmers, that “many of those land deals are beneficial, and it would be too bad if some were held back because of western groups’ ways of looking at things“. (Africans, you will note, keep getting written out of this story.)
The third thing I discovered is that there’s a long history here. In his brilliant and blistering book The Frontman: Bono (in the Name of Power), just released in the UK, the Irish scholar Harry Browne maintains that “for nearly three decades as a public figure, Bono has been … amplifying elite discourses, advocating ineffective solutions, patronising the poor and kissing the arses of the rich and powerful”. His approach to Africa is “a slick mix of traditional missionary and commercial colonialism, in which the poor world exists as a task for the rich world to complete”.
There have been few dinners parties quite like it.
It’s December 12 1972, the night at which Marie-Hélène de Rothschild held her famous Surrealist Ball at Ferrières. As you can probably guess by her surname, she was a member of the ultra-wealthy Rothschild banking family. Few made the guest-list but if you did, it was the ultimate seal of approval from Parisian high-society.
The requirements for the evening were “Black tie, long dresses & Surrealists heads” nothing more, nothing less. In keeping with the theme, the invitation which she sent was actually written backwards – to read the invite you had to hold it up to a mirror.
Now when money is no object, the only limit is ones imagination and it’s fair to say that Marie-Hélène certainly had plenty in supply. Firstly she insisted the iconic Château where the party was to be housed, be floodlight with sweeping amber lights, designed to create the illusion the building was on fire. Once instead, she made sure the entire staircase was filled with servants and footmen dressed as cats – all in various poses of sleep.
And once you’d overcome that initial shock, guests were then forced to enter a hellish labyrinthine maze – where should you get lost, one of the “cats” would rescue you and whisk you away where you’d be formally greeted by Marie-Hélène herself. On this particular night, she was wearing a ginormous giant’s head that was crying tears of diamonds.
Even the great Salvador Dali was in attendance that evening, no doubt being bewitching and entertaining in equal amounts. This is just an account from just one of her parties – she had many. But whatever the date, whomever attended, she was meticulous in planning every finite detail, making sure each gathering was an intriguing (and clearly intoxicating) blend of art, literature, haute couture and dance.
In this study, we decided to identify in detail the people on the boards of directors of the top ten asset management firms and the top ten most centralized corporations in the world. Because of overlaps, there is a total of thirteen firms, which collectively have 161 directors on their boards. We think that this group of 161 individuals represents the financial core of the world’s transnational capitalist class. They collectively manage $23.91 trillion in funds and operate in nearly every country in the world. They are the center of the financial capital that powers the global economic system. Western governments and international policy bodies work in the interests of this financial core to protect the free flow of capital investment anywhere in the world.
A Brief History of Research on the American Power Elite
A long tradition of sociological research documents the existence of a dominant ruling class in the United States, whose members set policy and determine national political priorities. The American ruling class is complex and competitive, and perpetuates itself through interacting families of high social standing with similar lifestyles, corporate affiliations, and memberships in elite social clubs and private schools.1
The American ruling class has long been determined to be mostly self-perpetuating,2 maintaining its influence through policy-making institutions such as the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Council, Business Roundtable, the Conference Board, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Council on Foreign Relations, and other business-centered policy groups.3 These associations have long dominated policy decisions within the US government.
In his 1956 book, The Power Elite, C. Wright Mills documented how World War II solidified a trinity of power in the US that comprised corporate, military, and government elites in a centralized power structure motivated by class interests and working in unison through “higher circles” of contact and agreement. Mills described how the power elite were those “who decide whatever is decided” of major consequence.4 These higher-circle decision makers tended to be more concerned with interorganizational relationships and the functioning of the economy as a whole, rather than with advancing their particular corporate interests.5
The higher-circle policy elites (HCPE) are a segment of the American upper class and are the principal decision makers in society. Although these elites display some sense of “we-ness,” they also tend to have continuing disagreements on specific policies and necessary actions in various sociopolitical circumstances.6 These disagreements can block aggressive reactionary responses to social movements and civil unrest, as in the case of the labor movement in the 1930s and the civil rights movement in the 1960s. During these two periods, the more liberal elements of HCPE tended to dominate the decision-making process and supported passing the National Labor Relations and Social Security Acts in 1935, as well as the Civil Rights and Economic Opportunities Acts in 1964. These pieces of national legislation were seen as concessions to the ongoing social movements and civil unrest, and were implemented instead of instituting more repressive policies.
However, during periods of threats from external enemies, as in World Wars I and II, more conservative/reactionary elements of the HCPE successfully pushed their agendas. During and after World War I, the United States instituted repressive responses to social movements, for example through the Palmer Raids and passage of the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. After World War II, the HCPE allowed and encouraged the McCarthy-era attacks on liberals and radicals and, in 1947, passage of the National Security Act and the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act. In the past twenty-five years, and especially since the events of 9/11, the HCPE in the US has been united in support of an American empire of military power that maintains a repressive war against resisting groups—typically dubbed “terrorists”—around the world. This war on terror is much more about protecting transnational globalization, the free flow of financial capital, dollar hegemony, and access to oil, than it is repressing terrorism. Increasingly, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a partner with US global dominance interests.7
There is a 90-year-old “war criminal” helping to frame the foreign policy of the Obama administration. Perhaps a little surprising. Until, of course, you realise that the old boy in question is Henry Kissinger, and he has been advising the White House on a subject he knows well – the Russians.
That the Americans are actively co-operating with Putin on the Syrian crisis and the eradication of Assad’s chemical weapons is as startling a development as it is a welcome one, and Kissinger, we are told, has been guiding thinking behind the scenes. Asked recently in public whether America and Russia can enjoy a fresh bout of the sort of détente with Russia he famously pioneered in the early 1970s, Kissinger replied that “it will be extremely difficult, but if they can it will be beneficial to all. Russia will gain prestige, Obama will be vindicated and Assad will be removed, and that would be the best possible outcome.” Sharp as ever, then.
Although recent developments are nowhere on the scale of the strategic arms limitations talks and treaties between the US and the Soviet Union driven by Kissinger four decades ago – the first thawing in the Cold War and the first meaningful limits placed on the nuclear arms race – it is a hopeful development. It is also one that suggests that the two superpowers are relearning the merits of another doctrine Kissinger was associated with – “realpolitik”, the recognition that where raw national interests can be made to converge through diplomacy, then lasting good can emerge.
Its apogee was the Paris Peace Accord of 1973. This, formally, ended the Vietnam War, which President Nixon and Kissinger had concluded was unwinnable. Kissinger achieved the signal honour of jointly gaining the Nobel Peace Prize for that achievement. His North Korean counterpart, Le Duc Tho, declined the award, indicating that the accords didn’t represent real peace at all – an accurate view. The American humourist Tom Lehrer quipped that Kissinger’s award represented the “death of satire”. But it did allow the US to start to extricate itself from its agony.
It had also been Kissinger who paved the way for Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. America had treated Beijing as a pariah ever since the Communists won power in 1949; now Nixon opened up diplomatic channels and laid the foundations for China to rejoin the world community, with all the momentous consequences we see all around us today.
For Kissinger’s critics, though, the Kissinger realpolitik has yielded much that was little short of evil. Christopher Hitchens, in 2001, claimed to have amassed sufficient evidence to secure prosecutions for “war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offences against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture”. This is somewhat more than hyperbole; the experience of General Pinochet has made the travels of Dr Kissinger a little more risky.
The charge sheet is extremely long, even considering the eight eventful years Kissinger was running US foreign policy: he and the CIA helped orchestrate the coup against the elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, and his murder in 1973; he and Nixon invaded neutral Cambodia in 1970; they indiscriminately bombed civilians in that long war; connived in the Indonesians’ brutal repression in East Timor; left the Kurds to their fate at the hands of Saddam as early as 1972; the list goes on. “War criminal” and Nobel Peace Prize holder; the unique genius of Henry Kissinger.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso warned on Wednesday that political instability is the biggest risk to Europe’s future. He attacked his Eurosceptic critics and called for a stronger European Union. Addressing the European Parliament in what most likely will be his last ‘State of the Union’ speech, Barroso urged EU leaders to continue implementing reforms, as the bloc slowly leans towards economic recovery.
“In the debate that is ongoing all across Europe, the bottom-line question is: Do we want to improve Europe, or give it up? My answer is clear: let’s engage! If you don’t like Europe as it is: improve it! Find ways to make it stronger, internally and internationally, and you will have in me the firmest of supporters. Find ways that allow for diversity without creating discriminations, and I will be with you all the way. But don’t turn away from it.” “I believe a political Union must be our political horizon as I stressed last year in the State of the Union .This is not just a demand of a passionate European, this is an indispensable way forward to consolidate our progress and ensure the future.” said EC’s president Jose Manuel Barroso.
- Barroso: Eurosceptics ‘want to drag Continent back to the trenches’ (Independent)
- EU’s Barroso urges Europe to complete banking union (Reuters)
- IMF’s Lagarde: Euro Zone Still Has Far to go on Fiscal Union (WSJ)
- Bilderberg Group? No conspiracy, just the most influential group in the world (Telegraph)
- Leaked 1955 Bilderberg Docs Outline Plan For Single European Currency (Prison Planet)
- MEPs call for new EU military HQ (Express)
A new study from Wealth-X and UBS finds that the global population of billionaires has surged past 2,000. Their combined wealth totals $6.5 trillion—more than the combined gross domestic product of France and Germany.
Previous estimates placed the world’s billionaire population at between 1,200 and 1,600.
The World Ultra Wealth Report found that just under 200,000 people in the world are worth $30 million or more. The $30 million-plus group, labeled the “ultra-wealthy,” grew by 6 percent in 2013 and have a combined fortune of $28 trillion.
Surprisingly, most of the growth in the number of ultrawealthy was in the U.S. and Europe rather than in emerging markets. Luxury brands have been calling China, Brazil, Russia and other emerging countries the future of wealth. But economic slowdowns in China and Brazil led to a drop in their number of billionaires this year.
A bid is being made for government help to cover a £490,000 budget shortfall for policing the Bilderberg conference at a Watford hotel.
Hertfordshire Police confirmed the final costs for covering the event at The Grove were £990,000, with organisers contributing £500,000.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd said the “burden” should not fall on the county’s residents.
The Home Office said grants could be awarded for “unexpected costs”.
[...] Police expected the costs to be about £1m and at the time Mr Lloyd said the operation should be “cost-neutral”.
Now the figures have been finalised, he has approved the constabulary’s bid to the Home Office to cover the remainder, minus about £38,000 VAT which cannot be recovered.
“As an event of international significance, it is right that the burden of policing costs should not fall to the people of Hertfordshire,” he said.
“I anticipate that this will bring to a close our work on a successful event.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said ministers could offer financial support to police forces if unexpected or exceptional costs “threatened their financial stability”.