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Monthly Archives: February 2012

WikiLeaks Begins Publishing 5 million Emails from STRATFOR

  1. Via BNO News Wire Service:
  2. www.bnonews.com
  7. Monday 27 February 00:01 GMT 2012
  8. The Global Intelligence Files
  9. http://wikileaks.org/gifiles
  10. Twitter tag: #gifiles
  12.     Monday 27 Feburary, noon, Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, Paddington,
  13. London, W2 1QJ.
  14. LONDON–Today WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods, for example:
  15. “[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control… This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase” – CEO George Friedman to Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla on 6 December 2011, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on the medical condition of the President of Venezuala, Hugo Chavez.
  16. The material contains privileged information about the US government’s attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor’s own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks. There are more than 4,000 emails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. The emails also expose the revolving door that operates in private intelligence companies in the United States. Government and diplomatic sources from around the world give Stratfor advance knowledge of global politics and events in exchange for money. The Global Intelligence Files exposes how Stratfor has recruited a global network of informants who are paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards. Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world.
  17. The material shows how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients. For example, Stratfor monitored and analysed the online activities of Bhopal activists, including the “Yes Men”, for the US chemical giant Dow Chemical. The activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India. The disaster led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.
  18. Stratfor has realised that its routine use of secret cash bribes to get information from insiders is risky. In August 2011, Stratfor CEO George Friedman confidentially told his employees: “We are retaining a law firm to create a policy for Stratfor on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I don’t plan to do the perp walk and I don’t want anyone here doing it either.”
  19. Stratfor’s use of insiders for intelligence soon turned into a money-making scheme of questionable legality. The emails show that in 2009 then-Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz and  Stratfor CEO George Friedman hatched an idea to “utilise the intelligence” it was pulling in from its insider network to start up a captive strategic investment fund. CEO George Friedman explained in a confidential August 2011 document, marked DO NOT SHARE OR DISCUSS: “What StratCap will do is use our Stratfor’s intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of geopolitical  instruments, particularly government bonds, currencies and the like”.  The emails show that in 2011 Goldman Sach’s Morenz invested “substantially” more than $4million and joined Stratfor’s board of directors. Throughout 2011, a complex offshore share structure extending as far as South Africa was erected, designed to make StratCap appear to be legally independent. But, confidentially, Friedman told StratFor staff: “Do not think of StratCap as an outside organisation. It will be integral… It will be useful to you if, for the sake of convenience, you think of it as another aspect of Stratfor and Shea as another executive in Stratfor… we are already working on mock portfolios and trades”. StratCap is due to launch in 2012.
  20. The Stratfor emails reveal a company that cultivates close ties with US government agencies and employs former US government staff. It is preparing the 3-year Forecast for the Commandant of the US Marine Corps, and it trains US marines and “other government intelligence agencies” in “becoming government Stratfors”. Stratfor’s Vice-President for Intelligence, Fred Burton, was formerly a special agent with the US State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and was their Deputy Chief of the counterterrorism division. Despite the governmental ties, Stratfor and similar companies operate in complete secrecy with no political oversight or accountability.  Stratfor claims that it operates “without ideology, agenda or national bias”, yet the emails reveal private intelligence staff who align themselves closely with US government policies and channel tips to the Mossad – including through an information mule in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yossi Melman, who conspired with Guardian journalist David Leigh to secretly, and in violation of WikiLeaks’ contract with the Guardian, move WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables to Israel.
  21. Ironically, considering the present circumstances, Stratfor was trying to get into what it called the leak-focused “gravy train” that sprung up after WikiLeaks’ Afghanistan disclosures:
  22.         “[Is it] possible for us to get some of that ‘leak-focused’ gravy train? This is an obvious fear sale, so that’s a good thing. And we have something to offer that the IT security companies don’t, mainly our focus on counter-intelligence and surveillance that Fred and Stick know better than anyone on the planet… Could we develop some ideas and procedures on the idea of ´leak-focused’ network security that focuses on preventing one’s own employees from leaking sensitive information…  In fact, I’m not so sure this is an IT problem that requires an IT solution.”
  23. Like WikiLeaks’ diplomatic cables, much of the significance of the emails will be revealed over the coming weeks, as our coalition and the public search through them and discover connections. Readers will find that whereas large numbers of Stratfor’s subscribers and clients work in the US military and intelligence agencies, Stratfor gave a complimentary membership to the controversial Pakistan general Hamid Gul, former head of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service, who, according to US diplomatic cables, planned an IED attack on international forces in Afghanistan in 2006. Readers will discover Stratfor’s internal email classification system that codes correspondence according to categories such as ‘alpha’, ‘tactical’ and ‘secure’. The correspondence also contains code names for people of particular interest such as ‘Izzies’ (members of Hezbollah), or ‘Adogg’ (Mahmoud Ahmedinejad).
  24. Stratfor did secret deals with dozens of media organisations and journalists – from Reuters to the Kiev Post. The list of Stratfor’s “Confederation Partners”, whom Stratfor internally referred to as its “Confed Fuck House” are included in the release. While it is acceptable for journalists to swap information or be paid by other media  organisations, because Stratfor is a private intelligence organisation that services governments and  private clients these relationships are corrupt or corrupting.
  25. WikiLeaks has also obtained Stratfor’s list of informants and, in many cases, records of its payoffs, including $1,200 a month paid to the informant  “Geronimo” , handled by Stratfor’s Former State Department agent Fred  Burton.
  26. WikiLeaks has built an investigative partnership with more than 25 media organisations and activists to inform the public about this huge body of documents. The organisations were provided access to a sophisticated investigative database developed by WikiLeaks and together with WikiLeaks are conducting journalistic evaluations of these emails. Important revelations discovered using this system will appear in the media in the coming weeks, together with the gradual release of the source documents.
  27. Public partners in the investigation:
  28. More than 25 media partners (others will be disclosed after their first publication):
  29. Al Akhbar – Lebanon – http://english.al-akhbar.com
  30. Al Masry Al Youm – Egypt – http://www.almasry-alyoum.com
  31. Bivol – Bulgaria – http://bivol.bg
  32. CIPER – Chile – http://ciperchile.cl
  33. Dawn Media – Pakistan – http://www.dawn.com
  34. L’Espresso – Italy – http://espresso.repubblica.it
  35. La Repubblica – Italy – http://www.repubblica.it
  36. La Jornada – Mexico – www.jornada.unam.mx/
  37. La Nacion – Costa Rica – http://www.nacion.com
  38. Malaysia Today – Malaysia – www.malaysia-today.net
  39. McClatchy – United States – http://www.mcclatchy.com
  40. Nawaat – Tunisia – http://nawaat.org
  41. NDR/ARD – Germany – http://www.ard.de
  42. Owni – France – http://owni.fr
  43. Pagina 12 – Argentina – www.pagina12.com.ar
  44. Plaza Publica – Guatemala – http://plazapublica.com.gt
  45. Publico.es – Spain – www.publico.es
  46. Rolling Stone – United States – http://www.rollingstone.com
  47. Russia Reporter – Russia – http://rusrep.ru
  48. Ta Nea – Greece –- http://www.tanea.gr
  49. Taraf – Turkey – http://www.taraf.com.tr
  50. The Hindu – India – www.thehindu.com
  51. The Yes Men – Bhopal Activists – Global http://theyesmen.org
  52. Nicky Hager for NZ Herald – New Zealand – http://www.nzherald.co.nz


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Will High Oil Prices Crush The U.S. Economy?

by Michael Levi
February 24, 2012

Rising gasoline prices have a way of bringing out the hidden energy pundit in all of us. Most speculation tends to focus on why oil prices might be rising and on how high they might go. But a second strand of questioning is probably even more important: What do rising prices mean for the world? There’s a lot of wisdom that’s accumulated over the past few decades in attempts to answer that question. But I have to wonder whether there aren’t some fundamental changes that might render a lot of it obsolete.

It’s always been difficult to pin down the economic impact of high oil prices for one simple reason: high prices and high economic growth tend to go hand in hand. Strong economies drive rising oil demand which in turn raises gasoline prices; even if that shaves off a bit of economic growth, the net outcome still looks positive. Think of it like wind resistance in a foot race: it slows you down, but it probably isn’t going to send you heading backwards.

One of the main ways that economists have tried to cut through this complication is by distinguishing between high oil prices that result from demand spikes and ones that follow supply cuts. Demand driven oil shocks should be relatively benign. Supply driven ones, in contrast, should be far more devastating. For many observers, that explains why the 1970s oil shocks were so damaging, and why many subsequent ones were far less severe.

I suspect, though, that something has changed in the world economy to throw a wrench in all of this. We now live in a world where U.S. economic health doesn’t drive global oil demand and prices the same way that it used to. Once upon a time, if the U.S. economy was flagging, the only way to generate a oil big price increase was to have a supply shock. That meant that oil spikes were rare in periods where the U.S. economy was shaky; for the most part, oil shocks hit when the U.S. economy was relatively strong, probably blunting their effects.

But we now live in a multispeed world. Western economies can be on their knees, but oil demand can still be on the upswing due to healthy growth in China, India, and other emerging economies (not least those that also export oil). It’s become far more likely that we’ll have price spikes during periods where the U.S. economy is already weak. That makes historical precedent harder to go by.

There’s another way to think about this. I mentioned that economists like to split oil spikes into ones driven by low supply and ones spurred by high demand. Casual analysis would put a price spike driven by economic growth in the developing world in the latter category. But what seems like a demand shock if you’re sitting in Shanghai looks a lot more like a supply shock if you live in San Francisco. Surging demand in the developing world takes barrels off the market in the same way that falling production in Iraq or Nigeria would. My guess is that these new “demand” shocks will hit the U.S. economy much more like supply shocks have in the past.

That’s bad news. So is there anything the United States can do beyond getting its energy policy right? I’ll throw one idea out there: it could work on boosting export relationships with those countries that are driving economic growth. If an economic boom in the developing world rasies oil prices, and that slows the U.S. economy down, strong export relationships with the sources of that growth will tend to provide a countercyclical balance. There’s some evidence that Japan benefits from a similar sort of arrangement with oil exporters: the Japanese current account balance tends to improve, rather than weaken, when oil prices jump. Perhaps the United States could ultimately do the same?



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How to Delete your Google Browsing History before New Policy

By JohnThomas Didymus

With just a week to go before Google changes to its new privacy policy that allows it to gather, store and use personal information, users have a last chance to delete their Google Browsing History, along with any damning information therein.

Tech News Daily reports that once Google’s new unified privacy policy takes effect all data already collected about you, including search queries, sites visited, age, gender and location will be gathered and assigned to your online identity represented by your Gmail and YouTube accounts. After the policy takes effect you are not allowed to opt out without abandoning Google altogether. But now before the policy takes effect, you have the option of deleting your Google Web History by modifying your settings so that Google is unable to associate data collected about you with your Gmail or YouTube accounts.

Tech News Daily reports that Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that advocates for online privacy, says: “Search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more.” EFF advises all Google users to delete their web history.

Read the rest here.

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Here’s The REAL Reason Gasoline Prices Have Been Surging In The US

Joe Weisenthal

In just a matter of a few days, gasoline prices have become a major worry for people pondering what might drag down the U.S. economy.

The essence of the problem is this chart, posted by CFR’s Blake Clayton (via Brad Plumer):

gas season


Given where we are in the year, prices are unusually high. And if trends hold, then the national average will be well over the $4 freakout point sometime this summer.

But whenever the discussion turns to gas and oil, logic tends to die, and people start coming up with all kinds of bizarre explanations for what’s going on — explanations such as the Bernanke’s money printing, Obama’s domestic energy policy, Obama’s foreign policy, speculators, price gougers, and so on.

So we thought it would be a good time to just clear up some misconceptions, and explain what’s really driving the price.

Of course, you can’t start a discussion about gasoline without talking about oil. So let’s begin there.

Read the rest here.

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Paulson Tells Clients Gold Fund Will Top Others

By Kelly Bit – Feb 25, 2012 12:01 AM EST

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) — Lawrence Kellogg, a founding partner of Levine Kellogg Lehman Schneider & Grossman LLP, talks about client Hugh Culverhouse’s lawsuit against John Paulson’s $23 billion hedge fund. Paulson & Co. was sued by investor Culverhouse over the fund’s reported $468 million losses in Sino-Forest Corp. last year. Culverhouse seeks class-action status on behalf of all investors who lost money in the hedge fund, according to a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Miami. Kellogg speaks with Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop.” (Source: Bloomberg)

John Paulson, the hedge fund manager seeking to rebound from record losses in 2011, told investors his Gold Fund will outperform his other strategies over five years, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The billionaire, at a meeting yesterday at the Metropolitan Club in New York, said the metal is the best hedge against currency debasement as countries inject money into their economies, said the person, who attended the event and asked not to be named because the information is private. Paulson also cited gold as a hedge against the euro currency, as a breakup may occur, and an eventual increase in inflation.

The manager told clients his own money comprises 55 percent of the Gold Fund’s $1.2 billion in assets, the person said. The fund, which can buy derivatives and other gold-related securities, declined 11 percent last year after the metal slumped 14 percent in the final four months.

Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis may continue to affect bullion in the near term, Paulson, whose firm manages $23 billion, said this month in a year-end letter to investors. The metal serves as the best long-term alternative to paper currencies, he said.

“We remain excited about the outlook for the Paulson Gold Funds over the next few years,” he said in the letter. “We would argue that the potential upside in gold outweighs the potential downside.”

Armel Leslie, a spokesman for New York-based Paulson & Co., declined to comment on the meeting with investors.

Read the rest here.

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Homebuilder Optimism Rises for 5th Straight Month

By Derek Kravitz, AP Real Estate Writer | Associated Press – Wed, Feb 15, 2012 5:01 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. homebuilders are gradually growing more optimistic about the depressed housing market and believe homes sales could pick up sharply when the spring buying season begins.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo said Wednesday that its builder sentiment index rose for a fifth straight month in February to 29, up from 25 in January. The index has climbed 15 points since September and is now at its highest level since May 2007.

Builders have generally become more hopeful during that stretch about current sales, sales six months out and foot traffic, the report shows.

Even with the brighter outlook, the industry has a long way to go. Any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market. The index hasn’t reached 50 since April 2006, the peak of the housing boom.

A key reason homebuilders are more optimistic is they are seeing more people express interest in buying a home. And rising interest has occurred alongside other improvements that suggest the troubled housing market could pick up after four weak years.

Sales of previously occupied homes rose in December for a third straight month. Mortgage rates have never been lower. And home construction picked up in the final quarter of last year.

Still, home prices continue to fall, and builders keep slashing their prices to stay competitive. Last year was the worst for new-home sales on records dating back to 1963.

Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics, said the index is now consistent with new-home sales rising to more than 450,000 annually. While that’s below the 700,000 considered healthy, it would be an improvement from the recent trend of just over 300,000.

“The story here is that pent-up demand is being freed by much easier mortgage conditions, low rates and rising employment,” Shepherdson said. “It’s real.”

Read the rest here.

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Do-it-yourself Model Gaining Ground on Investment Advisers

By Andrew Osterland

February 26, 2012 6:01 am ET

When the going gets tough, investors seek help from investment professionals. That is the conventional wisdom, but it seems that the worst economic downturn in the lives of most of today’s investors has prompted an unconventional response.

New research suggests that after going through a harrowing investment experience during the financial crisis, investors have emerged ready, willing and able to go it alone.

“The mainstream investor is increasingly self-directed in their decision making,” said Sophie Schmidt, an analyst with Aite Group LLC. “The online brokerages grew assets by close to $1 trillion between 2008 and 2010.”


The consultant estimates that online brokers gained 3 percentage points of market share during that period while the wirehouses lost 1.1 percentage points and other retail brokerages lost 4 percentage points.

Between 2008 and 2010, assets on such direct-investing platforms as Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, TD Ameritrade Inc. and The Vanguard Group Inc. grew to $3.7 trillion, from $2.6 trillion, according to research released last week by Cerulli Associates Inc. Numbers aren’t yet available for last year.

Read the rest here.

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Sears Keeps Surging; Stock Has More Than Doubled In 2012

By Steven Russolillo


Sears shares aren’t showing signs of fading anytime soon.

Sears shares have followed up yesterday’s 19% surge with another 6% advance as investors keep buying into Eddie Lampert’s plan to rebuild the brand.

Today’s surge means shares of Sears have more than doubled since the beginning of 2012. It’s been a staggering reversal of fortunes for a company that is mired in a deep transformation effort. Short covering has played a role as has Mr. Lampert’s increased stake in the company.

But few expected this kind of sharp return, especially after Sears was one of the S&P 500′s worst performers last year.

Shares are up 6% at $65.41. The stock is up 106% in 2012, the top performer in the S&P 500. Netflix is the only other stock within the index that has had at least a 50% run-up this year.

The sharp rally still hasn’t prompted Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter to change his stance on Sears.

“We believe the equity valuation is well out of line with comparable retailers,” he says, while reiterating an underperform rating and $20 price target.

Read the rest here.

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STOSSEL: A Lesson from Portugal on How to End America’s War on Drugs

We’ve all heard the arguments against drug legalization: It would be anarchy! Americans would ingest dangerous substances wildly! They would randomly commit violence! Society as we know it would cease to exist!

The people of Portugal heard these claims 10 years ago, when the country decriminalized all drugs.

People predicted the country would spiral into chaos. So did that happen?


Independent studies found that, after the drug law passed, the number of Portuguese who regularly do drugs stayed about the same. Problematic and youth drug use went down.

We spoke to a chief police inspector in Lisbon who was very dubious about decriminalization. But now he’s a convert. He told us, “the level of conflicts on the street are reduced”…”drug related robberies are reduced”…and “now police are not the enemies of the consumers”.

Adults in a free society should be able to ingest anything they want to, as long as they don’t injure somebody else.

Apparently, the people of Portugal figured that out. The results are good.

We’ll take you to Portugal tonight on my special ‘Illegal Everything’, airing at 10pm on FNC.

Read more: http://trade.cc/aprs


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Information Overload Leads us into Some Quite Nasty Investing Behaviours

An excellent essay, The Curse of Seven, via the Psy-Fi Blog.


Investing Overload
Information overload leads us into some quite nasty investing behaviours: we ignore parts of the data presented, we favour recent, vivid and easily available information over other types and gravitate towards well presented arguments, even if they’re spurious, as described here by Thomas Moellers. Basically, the idea that more information is better than less when it comes to stock analysis is wrong, unless you have a well-honed mental model and proper support tools. One of the simpler ways is to build a checklist of items that you need to cross-check: the valuation fundamentals that you’re interested in, the competitive position, the previous track record of the directors, or whatever.

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Peter Gleick: MacArthur Genius and America’s Dumbest Criminal

via Climate Audit

Steve McIntyre

Some years ago, Daniel Butler hosted a television show called “America’s Dumbest Criminals” (trailer), entry to which Peter Gleick richly deserves.

In an interview some years later, Butler said that his favorite story was the robbers who had apparently planned the perfect gas station robbery. They took the licence plates off their van, wore ski masks. When the police arrived, they asked the attendant the usual questions, but there were no clues. Just when the police were leaving, the attendant volunteered that they’d left their phone number. In the rear window of the van, there was a For Sale sign with a phone number. The attendant had written down the phone number as the van left. The police called the phone number, inquired about buying the van, went for a test drive with the robber and drove him to the station.

Jay Leno described another incident, where the would-be bank robber demanded $40 million (milllllll-yun?). The teller said that they didn’t have that much on hand and suggested that he accept a cheque for $400,000. The robber agreed and gave the teller his name. She wrote him the agreed cheque, payment on which was stopped by the bank. When the robber tried to deposit the cheque into his own account, he was arrested.

Two Aussies achieved minor celebrity as bungling bank robbers in Colorado. They wore ski masks and goggles when they robbed a ski resort, but also wore name tags. It took the cops a mere eight minutes to identify them.

In another incident, a Tennessee policeman stopped porn starlet Barbi Cummings on a traffic violation. She then provided him with sexual favors in the back seat of the police car. The policeman took pictures of the encounter on his cell phone. He then emailed Miss Cummings and asked her to post the picture on her website so that he could prove the encounter to his pals. Miss Cummings reported that she still had to pay the traffic ticket as the cop had already called in the offence.

All of these felons were dumb, but they were all convicted and served time.

The newest entrant into the hallowed ranks of America’s Dumbest Criminals is surely Peter Gleick, MacArthur Genius. Gleick, who fancied himself the scourge of climate skeptics and imagined that Heartland’s climate program was funded by fossil fuel corporations and the Koch brothers, managed to trick a Heartland administrator and obtain confidential financial information by fraudulently impersonating a Heartland director. But the actual documents didn’t show that Gleick was feared by Heartland. Nor was even he mentioned. Nor did the documents show that Heartland’s climate program was funded by fossil fuel corporations or the Koch brothers.

So Gleick forged a document placing himself as Heartland’s nemesis, garnering the recognition and praise from Andy Revkin and others that he so desired.

His forged document read like an epistle from Dr Evil. (Megan McArdle of the Atlantic used the phrase “secret villain lair”). And like the famous scene where Dr Evil’s henchmen are dumbfounded by Dr Evil’s plan to extort a mere “milllll-yun” dollars for not destroying the world, one can picture the supposed Heartland henchmen in consternation at Dr Evil’s proposed Confidential Strategy against [long Dr Evil pause ….] Peter Gleiiiiiick. #2, #3 and the rest must have been scratching their heads. Not Al Gore. Not James Hansen. Not even the Climategaters. Peeeeeeeter Gleiiiiiiick.

And like Leno’s bank robber and the snowboarding Aussies, Gleick was identified almost immediately. Within hours of the so-called Confidential Strategy being announced as a fake, Steve Mosher identified Gleick as its author. In addition to painting himself into the picture, Gleick had written parts of the document in his own distinctive style – with distinctive word choices and punctuation. And even saved the scan in Pacific time zone.

Gleick has thus far confessed only to the fraudulent obtaining of actual documents, but has claimed innocence on the forgery. He claims that he was set up. By an evil genius who had put Gleick’s name in the forged document and written portions in Gleick’s distinctive style. Possibly by Dr Evil himself (who was unavailable for comment.)

Even if this part of Gleick’s impossible story were true (and the evidence against it is overwhelming), it would not prevent his entry into the hallowed halls of America’s Dumbest Criminals, in which he has surely garnered a place of particular honor. MacArthur Genius and America’s Dumbest Criminal.


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Saudi Arabia Calls For Arming Syrian Opposition

Saudi Arabia has backed the arming of Syria‘s opposition guerrilla army in remarks that could signal an intervention by the Sunni Muslim superpower in the Assad regime’s crackdown against the uprising.

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, described the arming of the Free Syria Army as an “excellent idea” at an inaugural meeting inTunisia of an anti-Assad group – the Friends of Syria.

But the Saudi delegation later walked out of the summit citing “inactivity” among the member states gathered….”

Read more

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Gundlach: ‘US Stock Market Vulnerable..Rally Has Gone too Far’

“Jeffrey Gundlach, one of the world’s leading bond fund managers, on Friday warned that the rallying U.S. stock and corporate debt markets are highly vulnerable to a major reversal.

The investor, who was crowned by Barron’s as the new “King of Bonds” a year ago, said in an interview that he thinks the recent rally in stocks, which last week drove the Dow Jones industrial average above 13,000 points for the first time since May 2008, has gone too far.

Gundlach, the chief executive officer and chief investment officer of the $28 billion DoubleLine Capital LP, said he is still concerned about the euro zone crisis and deepening tensions in the Middle East.

The United Nations’ nuclear agency said on Friday that Iran has sharply stepped up its uranium enrichment drive in a report that will further inflame Israeli and Western fears that Tehran is pushing ahead with an atomic weapons program.

“It’s an awfully easy decision right now to not be making further investments in risk assets,” Gundlach said.

“The pricing of the market has returned to the levels prior to the scales falling from investors’ eyes regarding the global financial crisis, and I really don’t think that’s appropriate,” he said.

The Dow has gained 8 percent since December and the broader S&P 500 index is up roughly 10 percent.

The size of the gain leaves no cushion of safety given all the dangers in the world economy and leaves the stock market as priced for disaster as it was when the financial crisis hit in 2008, Gundlach argued.

“When I look at the pricing in the market today, I see a good chance of downside movement of some significance,” he said….”


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Zoellick: Greek Debt Deal Merely Buys Time

“The latest Greek bailout totaling 130 billion euros would merely buy time, outgoing World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in an interview in Singapore with Reuters.

JHSB | ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images

“It’s too early to know, partly it depends on the actions the Greeks have to take,” he said. “I think that the European Union has dealt with Greece as one element but the core elements are really going to be the success of some of the bigger countries, such as Italy and Spain.”

But he said bailouts weren’t necessary for these two countries or Portugal.

“Each country’s situation is different and you really have three interconnected problems. For some it’s the size of the sovereign debt, for some it’s the effect on the banking industry, and for some it’s their competitiveness,” he said adding that “Spain and Italy need time to make the reforms.”

“But I do think that all this is harder to accomplish when there is a recession in Europe.”

Support from other European nations was also crucial.

“What I’ve tried to suggest, given the politics of reform in some of the Mediterranean countries, (is that) it will be important for Germany and other leaders in the process to show some prospects if the reforms are taken and how they will be supported by the other European countries.”

Zoellick heads next to China for the release on Monday of a major economic report by the bank and a Chinese government think tank, looking at economic opportunities and challenges to the year 2030.

Global Economy, China and Oil….”

Read more

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