A Tale of Two Londons

Via: Vanityfair

Who really lives at One Hyde Park, called the world’s most expensive residential building? Its mostly absentee owners, hiding behind offshore corporations based in tax havens, provide a portrait of the new global super-wealthy.

By Nicholas Shaxson April 2013

Up until the 18th century, Knightsbridge, which borders genteel Kensington, was a lawless zone roamed by predatory monks and assorted cutthroats. It didn’t come of age until the Victorian building boom, which left a charming legacy of mostly large and beautiful Victorian houses, with their trademark white or cream paint, black iron railings, high ceilings, and short, elegant stone steps up to the front door.

This will not be the impression a visitor now gets as he emerges from the Knightsbridge subway station’s south exit. He will be met by four hulking joined-up towers of glass, metal, and concrete, sandwiched between the Victorian splendors of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, to the east, and a pretty five-story residential block, to the west. This is One Hyde Park, which its developers insist is the world’s most exclusive address and the most expensive residential development ever built anywhere on earth. With apartments selling for up to $214 million, the building began to smash world per-square-foot price records when sales opened, in 2007. After quickly shrugging off the global financial crisis the complex has come to embody the central-London real-estate market, where, as high-end property consultant Charles McDowell put it, “prices have gone bonkers.”

From the Hyde Park side, One Hyde Park protrudes aggressively into the skyline like a visiting spaceship, a head above its red-brick and gray-stone Victorian surroundings. Inside, on the ground floor, a large, glassy lobby offers what you’d expect from any luxury intercontinental hotel: gleaming steel statues, thick gray carpets, gray marble, and extravagant chandeliers with radiant sprays of glass. Not that the building’s inhabitants need venture into any of these public spaces: they can drive their Maybachs into a glass-and-steel elevator that takes them down to the basement garage, from which they can zip up to their apartments.

The largest of the original 86 apartments (following some mergers, there are now around 80) are pierced by 213-foot-long mirrored corridors of glass, anodized aluminum, and padded silk. The living spaces feature dark European-oak floors, Wenge furniture, bronze and steel statues, ebony, and plenty more marble. For added privacy, slanted vertical slats on the windows prevent outsiders from peering into the apartments.

In fact, the emphasis everywhere is on secrecy and security, provided by advanced-technology panic rooms, bulletproof glass, and bowler-hatted guards trained by British Special Forces. Inhabitants’ mail is X-rayed before being delivered.

The secrecy extends to the media, many of whose members, including myself and the London Sunday Times’s and Vanity Fair’s A. A. Gill, have tried but failed to gain entry to the building. “The vibe is junior Arab dictator,” says Peter York, co-author of The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, the riotous 1982 style guide documenting the shopping and mating rituals of a certain striving class of Brits, who claimed Knightsbridge’s high-end shopping area, which stretches from Harrods to Sloane Square, as their urban heartland.

Read more: here

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How Deregulation Resurrected American Economic Insecurity

Via: ICH

By Paul Craig Roberts

March 10, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – “PCR” – The US might not be in a Great Depression, but economic insecurity has nevertheless returned to America.

John N. Gray, a distinguished intellect and retired professor of intellectual history at the London School of Economics, disagrees with the view that “the end of history” has placed humanity on a course of ethical and economic progress. History, Gray believes, is not progressing to a higher stage. Instead, humanity is repeating the same follies and is destined to endure the same disasters. It is the Enclosures, the Repeal of the Corn Laws, and the Poor Law Act of 1834 all over again.

The problem is humans themselves. They are not questioning beings. “Human beings use the power of scientific knowledge to assert and defend the values and goals they already have.” Instead of ethics and politics having advanced with the growth of knowledge, we are experiencing today state terror and murder on unprecedented scale as Washington kills people with drones and invasions in seven countries and threatens others. The US claims to be the democratic “light unto the world,” the “indispensable nation,” but it has resurrected in violation of its own law and international law the torture dungeons of the unaccountable governments of medieval Europe.

Few people see the disconnect between the propaganda about the goodness of America and the evil that its government practices. Torture was banned. Its practice was made the act of a war criminal government. But the Bush and Obama regimes have resurrected torture as a defense of the state against citizens who reveal its crimes and against those who resist its aggression.

Read more: here

1.6 Billion Rounds Of Ammo For Homeland Security? It’s Time For A National Conversation

Via: Forbes

3/11/2013 @ 8:00AM

The Denver Post, on February 15th, ran an Associated Press article entitled Homeland Security aims to buy 1.6b rounds of ammo, so far to little notice. It confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security has issued an open purchase order for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. As reported elsewhere, some of this purchase order is for hollow-point rounds, forbidden by international law for use in war, along with a frightening amount specialized for snipers. Also reported elsewhere, at the height of the Iraq War the Army was expending less than 6 million rounds a month. Therefore 1.6 billion rounds would be enough to sustain a hot war for 20+ years. In America.

Add to this perplexing outré purchase of ammo, DHS now is showing off its acquisition of heavily armored personnel carriers, repatriated from the Iraqi and Afghani theaters of operation. As observed by “paramilblogger” Ken Jorgustin last September:

[T]he Department of Homeland Security is apparently taking delivery (apparently through the  Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico VA, via the manufacturer – Navistar Defense LLC) of an undetermined number of the recently retrofitted 2,717 ‘Mine Resistant Protected’ MaxxPro MRAP vehicles for service on the streets of the United States.”

These MRAP’s ARE BEING SEEN ON U.S. STREETS all across America by verified observers with photos, videos, and descriptions.”

Regardless of the exact number of MRAP’s being delivered to DHS (and evidently some to POLICE via DHS, as has been observed), why would they need such over-the-top vehicles on U.S. streets to withstand IEDs, mine blasts, and 50 caliber hits to bullet-proof glass? In a war zone… yes, definitely. Let’s protect our men and women. On the streets of America… ?”

“They all have gun ports… Gun Ports? In the theater of war, yes. On the streets of America…?

Seriously, why would DHS need such a vehicle on our streets?”

Why indeed?  It is utterly inconceivable that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is planning a coup d’etat against President Obama, and the Congress, to install herself as Supreme Ruler of the United States of America.  There, however, are real signs that the Department bureaucrats are running amok.

About 20 years ago this columnist worked, for two years, in the U.S. Department of Energy’s general counsel’s office in its procurement and finance division.  And is wise to the ways.   The answer to “why would DHS need such a vehicle?” almost certainly is this:  it’s a cool toy and these (reportedly) million dollar toys are being recycled, without much of a impact on the DHS budget.  So… why not?

Read more: here

Its just for training..Move along… There’s nothing to see here…
-Moose

A Look at the Richest Oil Barons in the U.S.

Via: OilPrice.com

By Charles Kennedy | Tue, 05 March 2013

Forbes has recently released its latest rich list, so now would be a good time to look at the world’s billionaires who have benefited most from the US oil industry.

The Koch Brothers, Charles and David, are the joint 6th richest people in the world with fortunes of $34 billion each. Their fortune has been created from massive refineries, pipeline networks, and chemical plants,

Harold Hamm, the CEO and founder of Continental Resources, is the 90th richest person in the world with his 73% stake in Continental worth $11.3 billion. He was there at the beginning of the Bakken shale formation, and helped to develop it into the monster that it is today. In 2006 the Bakken was producing 100,000 barrels per day, and now it produces 550,000 barrels per day; Hamm and his analysts believe that it has the potential to reach 1 million bpd.

Then there are Phil Anschutz and George Kaiser, both with fortunes of $10 billion, and tied on the Forbes list at 109th.

Anschutz has built empires in oil, railroads, and telecoms, with his biggest to date being in the world of entertainment with his company Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).

Kaiser’s family fled Nazi Germany, before settling in the US and founding the Kaiser-Francis Oil Company; George took control in the late 60s.

Read more: here