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Attempted bombing of Flight 253: Terror Suspect Kept Visa to Avoid Tipping off Larger Investigation The State Department didn't revoke the visa of foiled terrorism suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab because federal counterterrorism officials had begged off revocation, a top State Department official revealed Wednesday.
Patrick F. Kennedy, an undersecretary for management at the State Department, said Abdulmutallab's visa wasn't taken away because intelligence officials asked his agency not to deny a visa to the suspected terrorist over concerns that a denial would've foiled a larger investigation into al-Qaida threats against the United States. (Global Research)
Lawrence Solomon: IPCC faces another desertion – its own past chair! In this latest high-profile IPCC gaffe, which has been repeated around the world, including by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the IPCC seems to have relied on a 2003 report from a Winnipeg-based think tank called the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The report, which was not peer-reviewed, in turn seems to have relied on submissions to the UN by civil servants from Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, which also appear not to have been peer-reviewed. (National Post)
Skeptics Find Fault With U.N. Climate Panel “This is not about whether this is a good person or a good cause; it’s about the integrity of the scientific process,” Dr. Pielke said, adding: “This has become so polarized, it’s like you must be in cahoots with the bad guys if you are at all negative about Pachauri.” (New York Times)
55% of Holland below sea? IPCC got this wrong too The Netherlands has asked the UN climate change panel to explain an inaccurate claim in a landmark 2007 report that more than half the country was below sea level, the Dutch government said on Friday.
According to Dutch authorities, only 26% of the country is below sea level, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will be asked to account for its figures, environment ministry spokesman Trimo Vallaart said.
The incident may cause further embarrassment for the IPCC, which recently admitted that a claim in the same report that global warming could melt Himalayan glaciers by 2035 was wrong. (Times of India)
Opinion: Deep Oil, Deep Power and Deep Pockets Is oil running out or not and is Peak Oil a true phenomenon? In this article I examine the dubious reasons for the promotion of The Peak Oil myth and the interplay between power, profit and money. - Evidence for the Russia Oil Formation Theory also abounds. Off the coast of New Orleans -- in the South Eugene oil fields is an example. Several of these wells -- in 300 ft of water -- were found to be refilling themselves with oil. Further investigation showed that they were refilling from below and not from the sides or above. (Digital Journal)
Secret summit of top bankers World's top bankers fly in to meet at secret location trouble on the horizon - Organised by the Bank for International Settlements last year, the two-day talks are shrouded in secrecy with high-level security believed to have been invoked by law enforcement agencies. (News.au.com)
MSP airport security: Whole-body scanners are likely, but not everyone's on board Congressional hearings continued Wednesday into a dramatic overhaul of the nation's airport security system, which could see the metal detectors at airports across the country replaced by far more costly whole-body imaging scanners designed to see below clothing and which many say would have stopped the attempted Christmas Day underwear bomber before he stepped onto a plane (Minn Post)
Driver’s Licenses for the Internet? -- Today’s idea: Let’s have “driver’s licenses” for the Internet to counter online fraud, hackers and espionage, a Microsoft executive suggests. Maybe on your busy junket to the World Economic Forum in Davos last week you missed the panel where Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and technology officer, offered up the Internet licensing proposal above. Barbara Kiviat of the Curious Capitalist blog was there, and summarizes the idea thusly:
What Mundie is proposing is to impose authentication. He draws an analogy to automobile use. If you want to drive a car, you have to have a license (not to mention an inspection, insurance, etc.). If you do something bad with that car, like break a law, there is the chance that you will lose your license and be prevented from driving in the future. In other words, there is a legal and social process for imposing discipline. Mundie imagines three tiers of Internet I.D.: one for people, one for machines and one for programs (which often act as proxies for the other two). (New York Times)
A "Balanced Approach" to Drug Control? Despite trumpeting a "balanced and comprehensive drug strategy," President Obama's White House Drug Czar's office announced this week that it is continuing the nearly two-to-one budget disparity that heavily favors spending on law enforcement and punishment over public health strategies like treatment and prevention. (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)
Intel chief: Al-Qaida likely to attempt attack National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair said with changes made since the Dec. 25 attack, U.S. intelligence would he able to identify and stop someone like the Detroit bomber before he got on the plane. But he warned a more careful and skilled would-be terrorist might not be detected. (Comcast)
Obama grows the drug war, with enforcement a clear priority The budget places America's drug war spending at $15.5 billion for fiscal year 2011; an increase of 3.5 percent over FY 2010. That figure reflects a 5.2 percent increase in overall enforcement funding, growing from $9.7 billion in FY 2010 to $9.9 billion in FY 2011. Addiction treatment and preventative measures, however, are budgeted at $5.6 billion for FY 2011, an increase from $5.2 billion in FY 2010. (The Raw Story)
US cyber security 'under threat' Malicious cyber activity is occurring on an unprecedented scale with extraordinary sophistication." That is what America's top intelligence official, Dennis Blair has told the US congress. (UK Channel 4)
Geithner: 'I had no role' in an AIG cover up Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told lawmakers Wednesday that he had no involvement in an apparent attempt by government regulators to withhold crucial information about AIG's bailout from the public.
"I had no role in making decisions regarding what to disclose," Geithner testified at a hearing held by the House Oversight Committee Wednesday.
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AIG payouts: Who got what
Counterparties that got more than $1 billion from the government and AIG.
AIG counterparty Total payment
Societe Generale $16.5 billion
Goldman Sachs $14 billion
Deutsche Bank $8.5 billion
Merrill Lynch $6.2 billion
Calyon $4.3 billion
UBS $3.8 billion
Deutsche Zentral Genossenschaftsbank $1.8 billion
Barclays $1.5 billion
Bank of Montreal $1.4 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland $1.1 billion
Wachovia $1 billion
Source:Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
New York Fed officials instructed AIG (AIG, Fortune 500) not to disclose more than a dozen controversial transactions to the Securities and Exchange Commission in November 2008. At the time, Geithner was the president of the New York Fed, but he said he had recused himself from the day-to-day operations at that time because of his nomination to be Treasury secretary.
At least two lawmakers weren't buying Geithner's denial. - "Why shouldn't we ask for your resignation?" Mica asked Geithner. "We're not getting the whole story, we're getting the blame story. You're either incompetent on the job or you knew what was taking place and you tried to conceal it, and I think that's grounds for your review."
Geithner angrily responded to Mica, "You don't know me very well."
He then more calmly said, "That is your right to have that opinion. I have served my country as carefully and ably as I can."
AIG's bailout has incited furor among lawmakers and the public, as the troubled insurer has come to symbolize the corporate greed, risky behavior and lack of regulation that many believe caused the Great Recession.
The issue at hand on Wednesday was one of the bailout's most contentious: a decision by the New York Fed to pay counterparties 100 cents on the dollar for the underlying assets that AIG has insured through so-called credit default swap agreements.
As a result, $62.1 billion of taxpayer and AIG funds were essentially funneled to 16 banks that were counterparties to AIG insurance contracts. - Due to many New York Fed employees' ties to Wall Street investment banks -- including Geithner -- many lawmakers and members of the public have implied that the regulator's decisions may have been made for personal gain.
"I think your commitment to Goldman Sachs trumped your commitment to the American people," said Rep. Steven Lynch, D-Mass. (CNN)
Driver's licenses for the Internet I just went to a panel discussion about Internet security and let me tell you, it was scar-y. Between individual fraud, organized crime, corporate espionage and government spying, it's an incredibly dangerous world out there, which, according to one panelist, is growing exponentially worse.
These are incredibly complex problems that even the smartest of the smart admit they don't have a great handle on, although Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and technology officer, offered up a surprisingly simple solution that might start us down a path to dealing with them: driver's licenses for the Internet.
The thing about the Internet is that it was never intended to be a worldwide system of mass communication. A handful of guys, all of whom knew each other, set up the Web. The anonymity that has come to be a core and cherished characteristic of the Internet didn't exist in the beginning: it was obvious who was who. (Time)
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