Daily Archives: June 6, 2012

Bilderberg 2012: were Mitt Romney and Bill Gates there?

A banner welcomes Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to the 2012 Bilderberg conference. Photograph: Hannah Borno for the Guardian

Another conference over. Charlie Skelton talks to some of the 800 activists outside the gates to find out what they learned

Guardian | Jun 5, 2012

by Charlie Skelton

What a Bilderberg it’s been. Big names, big money, big decisions, big crowds. Somewhere around 800 activists outside the gates (up from about a dozen in 2009), and inside? Well, here’s what we learned.

A Mitt Romney attendance?

Four eyewitnesses on the hotel staff told me Willard Mitt Romney was here at Bilderberg 2012. My four eyewitnesses place him inside. That’s one more than Woodward and Bernstein used. Romney’s office initially refused to confirm or deny his attendance as Bilderberg is “not public”. They later said it was not him.

Bilderberg steering committee member is Ron Paul’s biggest campaign donor

So, was he being crowned, or singing for his supper? Will Mitt Romney follow in the august footsteps of Clinton, Cameron and Blair to have attended Bilderberg and then shortly become leader? Four years ago, Senator Obama shook off his press detail and nipped (many think) into Bilderberg. This exact same hotel.

Did Romney have to get down on one knee in front of David Rockefeller? This sounds flippant, but it’s a serious question: has Bilderberg switched allegiance? Are they going to toss away Obama after just one term?

I put this question to author and Bilderberg expert Webster Tarpley. Is Wall Street going to throw its chips in with Romney? “I think there’s a frisson that’s gone through the ruling class against Obama,” he says. The leak we had from the flirty hotel staffer corroborated this. “They don’t seem to like Obama very much,” he said.

Tarpley’s conclusion is this: “They want Romney and Mitch Daniels, who will run together as moderate rightists.” Governor Daniels of Indiana was on the official list.

The official list is nonsense

The Washington Post saw Bill Gates come in. And I’ve got three eyewitnesses from inside who confirmed he was here. This is his ear:

You won’t see the names Mitt Romney or Bill Gates on the officially released Final List of Participants because, well, the list is a nonsense. It’s nothing like a complete list of people who attend Bilderberg. It’s a smokescreen, a bit of spin. So can we all, please, stop repeating it as gospel?

Attending Bilderberg 2012 as an ‘international’ participant was Bassma Kodmani.

So who is Bassma Kodmani? The answer to that question is also the answer to the question: what the hell is happening in Syria? This is where it gets interesting (and worrying) for Bilderberg followers.

Kodmani was at Bilderberg in 2008, the last time it was here in Chantilly. She is a member of the European Council on foreign relations – its parent group, the council on foreign relations, is a sort of über lobby group, a couple of rungs down from Bilderberg, but still hugely powerful.

There’s a lot of CFR/Bilderberg crossover. Honorary chairman of both is David Rockefeller; co-chairman of the CFR is Robert Rubin (he was here); and on the CFR’s board of directors are Fouad Ajami and Henry Kravis, both at Bilderberg 2012.

Bassma Kodmani is also the executive director of the Arab Reform Initiative. This body, set up in 2004 by the CFR, is helping to steer “a comprehensive process” of “democratic reform” in the region. In 2005, the Syrian National Council came into being. Bassma Kodmani was a founding member, and is on the executive committee. Kodmani is one of the SNC’s two spokespeople, alongside Radwan Ziadeh (who has a flawless Washington pedigree – look him up). According to its website, the SNC is a non profit public policy research organization register in the District of Colombia and headquartered in Washington DC. Just up the road.

I asked Tarpley about Kodmani. He doesn’t mince words. “She’s a Nato agent, a destabilizer, a colour revolution queen. The fact that Kodmani was there is a scary one for Syria”, says Tarpley.

To those gathered outside, at least, it looks increasingly like, at this year’s Bilderberg, the war of regime change got signed off. In the airport lobby, on the way home from Bilderberg, I looked up at a TV monitor to see Bilderberg attendee and CFR board member Fouad Ajami talking about how Syria is about to become another Libya. That sound you can hear? It’s all those juicy defence contracts being scratched out around Chantilly. Fuel the jets and open the champagne, boys. We’re going in.

Occupy Bilderberg turned up

A statement of support from Occupy London was read out at Occupy Bilderberg. A symbol of Anglo-American unity, like Bilderberg itself. The statement protested against (amongst other things): the rise of an undemocratic “technocracy” – a “network of cronies” in which financial “experts”, largely from the international banking community, who have been appointed rather than elected, are handed the reins of government.

So here you’ve got the (broadly speaking) liberal left protest movement, with its anti-corruption and pro-transparency agenda, finding common ground with US libertarians and an anti-Obama, anti-fascist, pro-union New Deal American like Webster Tarpley.

As Tarpley says: “Bilderberg creates a singularity, where a lot of seemingly disparate things come together.” That applies not just to the people inside – megabank money and government – outside the security cordon you’ve got Occupy Bilderberg rubbing shoulders with US veterans, German students who’ve flown over for the event, truckers from Michigan, Orthodox Jews, Ron Paul supporters, anarcho-syndicalists, academics and grandmothers.
Why? In the words of the statement from Occupy London: “the profound denial of a participatory, direct democracy which the Bilderberg Conference represents.”

Mainstream news turned up

Finally. The Washington Times sent Ben Wolfgang, the Guardian sent Ryan Devereaux and the Times of London actually tried to get a journalist inside – Alexandra Frean was turned away at the gates. But she tried. At least she tried. That’s a start. We can work with that.

There was speculation before the conference that on the Bilderberg agenda this year would be how to implement a unique EU internet ID. Who would be pushing that through? Step up Neelie Kroes, EU commissioner for digital agenda.

Presumably Eric Schmidt (Google) and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn) would have been sharing podium-space with Bill Gates at that session. That’s if there was one, of course.

30,000 secret surveillance orders approved each year, judge estimates

If the government spies on you but brings no charges, you’ll never know.

arstechnica.com | Jun 5, 2012

by Nate Anderson

A federal judge estimates that his fellow federal judges issue a total of 30,000 secret electronic surveillance orders each year—and the number is probably growing. Though such orders have judicial oversight, few emerge from any sort of adversarial proceeding and many are never unsealed at all. Those innocent of any crime are unlikely to know they have ever been the target of an electronic search.

In a new paper, called “Gagged, Sealed & Delivered” (PDF), US Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith bashes this culture of continuing secrecy. (Magistrate judges are important members of the federal judiciary; they handle many of the more routine judicial matters, such as warrant applications and initial case management.) In his work as a judge, Smith has become dismayed by the huge number of electronic surveillance orders he sees and by the secrecy that accompanies them.

When police execute a traditional search warrant, they generally bring with them a copy of that warrant and show it to the homeowner or target of the search. That’s not always the case, of course; sometimes warrants remain sealed while a case is in progress so as not to tip off a suspect.

But when surveillance enters the digital realm, secrecy becomes the norm. Digital “warrant-like” requests to access stored e-mail in an online account, or to wiretap an Internet connection, or to obtain “pen register” information, or to track a cell phone, are obtained from magistrate judges, many times in secret dockets that don’t even appear in the federal government’s official PACER document system. They come after one-sided (“ex parte”) proceedings in which only the government is heard. And they are generally sealed, only to be unsealed once a criminal case is filed. If no such charges are ever brought, the search warrants and the affidavits defending them can remain buried in the murkiest bits of the federal court system; even knowing that they exist can be a challenge. ISPs, which are often targets of such orders, may also be forbidden from disclosing them.

Most of this surveillance is governed by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986–a law so in need of reform that digital rights advocates and corporations alike have made it a key legislative priority. ECPA provides a host of tools to keep searches secret—so secret that they effectively avoid appellate review, making it difficult to know whether they are being properly issued.

Through a potent mix of indefinite sealing, nondisclosure (i.e., gagging), and delayed-notice provisions, ECPA surveillance orders all but vanish into a legal void. It is as if they were written in invisible ink—legible to the phone companies and Internet service providers who execute them, yet imperceptible to unsuspecting targets, the general public, and even other arms of government, most notably Congress and the appellate courts.

Judge Smith set out to find out how much ECPA surveillance exists in the US. Precise numbers were impossible to come by, even for one of the judges involved in issuing such orders, but Smith combined an earlier government survey with data from his own court’s docket to produce what sounds like a reasonable estimate.

His estimate finds that 50,000 sealed orders were likely generated by federal judges in 2006, the year the judge analyzes. With 60 percent of these presumed to be ECPA-related surveillance orders, Judge Smith finds that magistrate judges issued more than 30,000 secret electronic surveillance orders that year. To put that in context, “this volume of ECPA cases is greater than the combined yearly total of all antitrust, employment discrimination, environmental, copyright, patent, trademark, and securities cases filed in federal court,” he notes.

Smith isn’t calling for the abolition of surveillance or anything too terribly radical. He understands why notice of a warrant may be delayed—but he wants the system made far more accountable.

Perfect transparency in criminal investigations is neither practical nor desirable, but ECPA’s present system of gagging and sealing is surely overkill. If my diagnosis—that ECPA’s regime of secrecy has choked off the oxygen of appellate review necessary for a healthy regulatory scheme—is correct, then the cure is relatively straightforward: open up the information arteries. Greater transparency would enable meaningful oversight not only by appellate courts but also by Congress and the general public.

One simple way to do this would be to open sealed warrants automatically after some period of time. At the moment, most warrant orders are sealed indefinitely, only being unsealed if a prosecutor or investigator in the matter bothers to go back to the judge and bring up the issue. In Smith’s own “home court” in Houston, magistrate judges issued 3,886 sealed electronic surveillance orders between 1995 and 2007. In 2008, 99.8 percent of them still remained sealed.

That’s especially bad news for those never charged with a crime, who will probably never learn that they were a target of government surveillance. And that number isn’t trivial. Smith estimates, based on some limited data released by the Department of Justice, that it’s “reasonable to infer that far more law-abiding citizens than criminals have been tracked in this fashion.”

The situation, says Smith, is bad for democracy and for a transparent judiciary. Fixing it will be up to Congress, which has to decide where to draw the line between personal privacy and the needs of law enforcement. In Smith’s view, any fix “will require the elimination of ECPA’s current gag, seal, and blindfold.”


Israel demands travelers log in to private e-mail for airport security check

Israel bars activist as ‘terrorist’ for refusal to open e-mail

RT | Jun 5, 2012

An American peace activist entering Israel has been ordered by airport security officers to open her e-mail account. When she refused, they alleged she is a terrorist and sent her back to the US the next day. Her experience is not unique.

­When Sandra Tamari, a Quaker peace worker, came from St. Louis to Israel to participate in an interfaith conference she expected some security delays. During past campaigns, she had called for boycotts and divestments targeting Israel. However, she was startled when a guard ordered her to open her Gmail account. She said the officers found out the address while going through her personal papers.

“That’s when they turned their (computer) screens around to me and said, ‘Log in,’” she recounted.

When Tamari refused to do so, an interrogator said “Well you must be a terrorist. You are hiding something.”

Tamari said she was searched, placed in a detention cell and flown back to the United States the next day.

“The idea that somebody my age, a Quaker, on a peace delegation with folks from the US, would be denied entry; that never crossed my mind,” she stressed.

Najwa Doughman, a Palestinian-American from New York City said she experienced a similar ordeal several days later, when she went to Israel on vacation.

An interrogator told her to open her Gmail account, saying she would be deported if she failed to do so.

Israel pries into private e-mail for security check

“She typed in gmail.com and she turned the keyboard toward me and said, ‘Log in. Log in now’,” Doughman recalls “I asked, ‘Is this legal?’ She said, ‘Log in.”

Doughman said the interrogator searched for key words such as “West Bank” and “Palestine” and made fun of a chat in which Doughman discussed a graffiti she had read on Israel’s barrier with the West Bank. The agents also reportedly copied out the e-mails of Doughman’s friends.

Doughman and her traveling companion, Sasha al-Sarabi, said they were both approached because of their Arab names. They were repeatedly questioned over whether they had planned to visit the West Bank and participate in anti-Israeli demonstrations.

Acknowledging that she had been a member of a Palestinian activist group in college, Doughman stressed that her trip to Israel was purely for vacation.

“The interrogator asked me, ‘Do you feel more Arab or more American? … Surely you must feel more Arab’,” Doughman recounts “I told her I was born in the US and studied there, but she didn’t like my answer.”

After hours of questioning the two women were denied entry. They said they were subjected to strip searches, placed in a detention center and sent back to the United States the following day. They also stressed that they weren’t allowed to call the US embassy.

A US embassy spokesperson said the mission does not comment on specific cases, but indicated that the embassy is “usually” contacted when an American citizen is barred from entering Israel or any other country.

Israel has been increasingly strict in letting international activists onto its territory following a 2009 incident, in which nine Turkish activists in a flotilla trying to break the blockade of Gaza were killed by Israeli naval forces. Since then, Israel has prevented hundreds of activists traveling by boat or plane from entering, sometimes reportedly using social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter to identify campaigners beforehand.

Diana Butto, a former legal advisor to the Palestinian Authority and a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, said e-mail checks, especially of people of Arab or Indian descent, were on the rise, with entry denied in most cases.

Butto said authorities typically want to check the people’s itineraries, the articles they had written or their Facebook status updates.

“The problem is there’s no way to honestly say you’re coming to visit the West Bank without falling into some type of security trap,” she said. “Either you lie and risk being caught in a lie, or you tell the truth … and it’s not clear whether you’ll be allowed in.”

Jobless worked unpaid at queen’s jubilee and slept under London Bridge

Queen Elizabeth II leaves Westminster Hall after a Diamond Jubilee Luncheon given for The Queen by The Livery Companies of The City of London on June 5, 2012 in London, England. For only the second time in its history the UK celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of a monarch. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne  with a carriage procession and a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral. Getty Images

msnbc.com | Jun 6, 2012

By Ian Johnston

A group of unemployed people were brought to London to do unpaid work at the queen’s jubilee celebrations and told to sleep under a city bridge, a British newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The Guardian newspaper reported that long-term jobless from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth in western England were taken by bus to the capital city for “work experience” as crowd-control staff lining the route of the river pageant and other events, and the chance to get paid employment at the London Olympics.

The security company that ran the security operation said while the unemployed people were not paid, they did receive boots and clothing worth more than $180 and a security industry license costing about $390. It added that the bridge incident “should never have happened.”

‘Raining and freezing’

One of the group told The Guardian that they arrived in London at 3 a.m. local time Sunday after a four-hour bus drive from Bristol.

“We all got off the coach and we were stranded on the side of the road for 20 minutes until they came back and told us all to follow them,” the woman told The Guardian. “We followed them under London Bridge and that’s where they told us to camp out for the night … it was raining and freezing.”

She and another jobless person — the paper said both did not want to be named for fear they would lose their welfare payments — said they had to change into security clothes in public and had no access to toilets for 24 hours. After a 14-hour shift Sunday, they went to sleep in a tent on the outskirts of the city.

They claimed they had initially been told they would be paid and only learned they would not as they got onto the bus Saturday night.

The jobless group was working for Close Protection UK, a private firm that won a contract to provide stewards to help control the crowds during the jubilee celebrations and will also provide stewards for the Olympics.

“The London Bridge incident should never have happened but was to some extent outside our control,” Molly Prince, managing director of Close Protection UK, said in an emailed statement.

‘Not for the faint hearted’
“The nature of Festival & Event work is such that we often travel sleeping on coaches through the night with an early morning pre-event start,” she added. “It is the nature of the business and there is no misconception about this, it’s hard work and not for the faint hearted.”

However she said the bus drivers had “insisted on leaving” after they arrived in London at 3 a.m. Sunday.

“For this we sincerely apologize,” the statement added. “… The Drivers said their work was done even though they were there 2 hours ahead of schedule.”

She said the firm would not be using the bus company again.

Prince wrote that most of the people who worked at the pageant were “happy, fed and looked after as best [as] possible under the circumstances.”

“We are not in the business of exploiting anyone,” she added.

Prince said in another email to msnbc.com that the Guardian article and media spin “could jeopardize my entire business.”

She added the “20 or so volunteers” had been taken “off the job” Tuesday.

The jobless people were placed with Close Protection UK by a charity, called Tomorrow’s People.

Abi Levitt, the charity’s director of development services, told msnbc.com that the drivers’ departure was a  “very unfortunate incident.”

She stressed taking the unpaid work was “absolutely voluntary for a day at the jubilee.”

Mother arrested for cheering at her daughter’s graduation ceremony

Humiliation: Shannon Cooper cheered as her daughter walked across the stage to get her diploma from South Florence High School Saturday night, but just minutes later, she was handcuffed and arrested

Daily Mail | Jun 5, 2012

By Paul Thompson

A mother has claimed she was arrested at her daughter’s graduation – for cheering too loudly.

Shannon Cooper was handcuffed and escorted out of the arena where she had been watching her daughter Iesha receive her High School diploma.

She said she was left humiliated after being taken out and put in the back of a police van.

The arrest she said ruined what was supposed to be on of the happiest days of her life.

Her daughter didn’t realise her mother had been arrested until friends told her.

‘They’re locking your momma up for cheering — and I was like that isn’t right because other people was cheering and they didn’t lock them up,’ Iesha told WWAY TV.

Cooper said she wasn’t cheering any louder than other parents during the ceremony for graduates from Florence High School in Florence, South Carolina.

She said she was arrested after her 18-year-old daughter walked across the stage to collect her diploma.

Officials said police had warned parents prior to the ceremony that screaming would result in them being removed from the Florence Civic Centre.

Cooper said she was handcuffed and placed in a police van before being transferred to a detention centre.

She was held for several hours before being released on a bond of $225.

Cooper said: ‘Humiliation. I don’t even think humiliation could describe how I felt. You know, because I feel from just my feelings and then looking at my daughter how she felt.

‘I could take you know you know if I did something ,but like I said, yes they said you’ll be escorted out no problem. I’ll be escorted out. I’ll go nicely because I’m gonna cheer. It was hard work. I went through so much to get her to this point you know,’ explained Shannon.

She added: ‘I didn’t do any more than the others did. Which I feel like no one should have went to jail.’

Iesha said she was devastated to see her mother arrested at the milestone event in her life.

‘That’s all I can picture, me crying, looking at the police van knowing my mother is in there,’ said Iesha.

Cooper said her arrest meant the graduation plans for her daughter had to be postponed.

Police refused to comment about the case, but said the people who got disorderly when they were escorted out of the civic center were arrested

Pictured: Unsuspecting multi-millionaire Ben Goldsmith smiles alongside the US rapper who ‘had an affair with his Rothschild heiress wife’

Close: This instagram photo taken around seven months ago shows Ben Goldsmith’s close relationship with rapper Jay Electronica

Daily Mail | Jun 3, 2012

By Sam Greenhill and John Stevens

All seems good with the world in this picture of a happy-looking Ben Goldsmith as he enjoys a spot of hunting with the American musician Jay Electronica.

But the image of the smiling pair, which is believed to have been taken seven months ago, may come to haunt the millionaire after his wife Kate had an alleged affair with the rapper.

The tinted instagram picture emerged today and shows Mr Goldsmith and Electronica standing shoulder to shoulder – Mr Goldsmith seemingly oblivious to any issues in his relationship.

Mr Goldsmith’s spat with his wife over the alleged fling took an even uglier turn yesterday as he took to Twitter to publicly accuse her of fretting more about her image than their ‘devastated children’.

He took to Twitter to broadcast his anguish about the end of their nine-year marriage amid reports the heiress has been having an affair with a US rapper.

Mr Goldsmith ridiculed the 29-year-old for hiring a PR firm to ‘fix her reputation’. He told his 6,000 followers: ‘A bit late surely? How about focusing on her devastated children?’

Heiress Kate, 29, a scion of the Rothschild banking dynasty, has three young children with Mr Goldsmith, son of the late billionaire Sir James Goldsmith.

Enjoying the high life: Kate Goldsmith takes to the sky in a helicopter to travel between a Jay Z and Kanye West concert

Mr Goldsmith’s comments came as pictures emerged of the opulent interior of their family home in Kensington, West London, which went on the market for £20million just before the couple had their final separation.

The ‘unique’ detached property, built in 1860, has more than 5,600sg/ft of living space across four floors, complete with solid oak flooring, a summer house and spacious garden in one of the capital’s most desirable districts.

Mr Goldsmith is said to have confronted his wife after discovering explicit text and email messages from hip hop star Jay Electronica.

Matters came to a head last Wednesday in a fierce bust-up at the couple’s home, in which he is said to have slapped Kate and kicked a child’s toy at her in fury.

His wife called police who arrested Mr Goldsmith, 31, on suspicion of actual bodily harm. He later accepted a police caution.

The Eton-educated financier also posted a Tweet yesterday which said: ‘Ps, in case you missed it’, and pointed his followers to an article in the Daily Mail about his wife’s alleged infidelity.

However, by late afternoon it appeared Mr Goldsmith had had a change of heart about airing his marriage troubles in public.

Both the Tweet about the Mail article, and the earlier one about his wife hiring a PR company, were deleted without explanation.

The PR company Mrs Goldsmith retained is Project Associates Ltd, a Mayfair-based reputation and crisis management firm.

A spokesman at the firm said Mrs Goldsmith was concerned that ‘inaccurate information’ was being given to the media designed to ‘deflect from the gravity of last week’s incident involving the police’.

He added: ‘Kate is devastated, she has had a very frightening time since she and her husband initially split five months ago, and this is just another sad development.

‘Her main concern now is for her children who will remain with her at the family home.

‘Kate has no further comment at this time. In the meantime she is seeking legal advice on a number of matters.

‘Her family wish to add that they are completely supportive and they remain very much on speaking terms.’

Mr Goldsmith has moved out of the family home and is staying in Italy with his mother Lady Annabel, and will now file for divorce.

At the weekend he told the Mail on Sunday: ‘I’m pretty shell-shocked by everything. All I am thinking about now is my children.’

The couple are from two of the country’s wealthiest families. Mr Goldsmith inherited an estimated £300million after the death of his father, who built up a £1.2billion fortune.

Kate inherited an £18million fortune after the suicide of her banker father Amschel Rothschild, and is related to the Guinness brewery family on her mother’s side.

The couple have known each other since they were teenagers and were regulars in society publications such as Tatler before marrying young in September 2003 at a wedding attended by 600 guests.

In 2010 Mrs Goldsmith set up a record company called Roundtable Records, which led to her spending time at gigs and clubs in London as well as travelling to Los Angeles.

She got to know the 35-year-old rapper – real name Timothy Elpadaro Thedford – last autumn.

Yesterday Jay Electronica posted a bizarre message on his Twitter page which read simply: ‘#LoveIsOnTheWay’.

Last week, the union between the son of the late financier Sir James Goldsmith and his wife, a scion of the Rothschild banking dynasty, collapsed in the most spectacular fashion.

Mr Goldsmith apparently confronted his  29-year-old wife last Wednesday after discovering explicit texts and emails between the pair.

After initially denying the affair, Kate admitted it when her husband told her he had read the text messages.

There was a fierce row, during which Mr Goldsmith is said to have slapped Kate and kicked a child’s toy at her.

Ben then took their children to school, and by the time he had returned his wife had called the police and officers were at the house to arrest him.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that a 31-year-old man from Kensington, West London, was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and taken to a police station, where he accepted  a caution.

Mr Goldsmith is away on a pre-planned holiday with the couple’s three young children. But he has said he plans to sue for divorce on the grounds of adultery.

While friends of Ben’s say his wife is still ‘obsessed’ with Electronica, last night a friend of Kate’s claimed the affair happened during a five-month break from Ben, and ended after three months.

Whatever the precise truth, it is still a startling end to the marriage that marked the union of two hugely powerful dynasties.

That Kate Goldsmith has been carrying on with a rapper known for his sexually explicit lyrics is undoubtedly a scandal, even for a family that is no stranger to colourful goings-on.

Last night, one friend told the Mail that the Goldsmith family are incredibly angry and that the divorce will be nasty.

‘Ben is going to start proceedings at the earliest opportunity,’ says the friend. ‘It will be a fight. They will fight over the kettle and the teapot!

‘There is a lot of anger. Lady Annabel (Ben’s formidable mother) is especially incensed and upset.’

Both Ben and his 29-year-old wife are wealthy in their own right,  and unravelling their fortunes to reach a divorce settlement will  be complicated.

Sir James left his family a £1.2 billion fortune when he died in 1997, much of which is tied up in trust.

Kate and her family were left £18 million — considerably less, but hardly a pittance — when her father died. Amschel Rothschild, a banker, was found hanged in the Hotel Bristol in Paris in 1996, aged just 41.

Feelings are running high at the moment, and another complication is the fact that Kate’s sister, Alice Rothschild, is going out with Ben’s elder brother, Zac.

Zac’s own ten-year marriage to Sheherazade Ventura-Bentley collapsed in 2009 after he began an affair with Alice, and they now live together in a house on the Goldsmiths’ family estate in Richmond, South-West London.

Zac’s divorce is still not finalised, as lawyers continue to work out a financial settlement between him and Sheherazade.

According to one friend, Alice now finds herself in a tricky situation. ‘Alice is well-liked in the family, but the Goldsmiths are asking, how much did she know about Kate and this rapper? Alice and Kate are close. It’s very awkward.’

Indeed. So how did Kate Goldsmith come to fall for a rapper? How did the affair begin, and what will happen between them now that her husband intends to divorce her?

Kate Rothschild and Ben Goldsmith were just 21 and 23 respectively when they married in 2003. They were young — perhaps too young.

When they married, Ben was the more confident of the two, and the ‘dominant’ one in the marriage. Kate, say those who know her well, has a more vulnerable air.

‘People often say she’s rather like Princess Diana,’ says a friend. ‘Her father’s suicide had a profound effect on her, and she has this way of making people protective of her.’

But as the marriage wore on, Kate grew in confidence  and, say friends, became tired of ‘being told what to do all the time’ by her husband. They began to grow apart.

And then Kate met Electronic.

The singer’s background could not have been more different from the Rothschild girl, who was educated at Bryanston School in Dorset.

Electronica was born and raised in the Magnolia Projects in New Orleans, Louisiana, an area known for poverty and violent crime.

He rose to prominence in 2007 when a track entitled Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge) became popular on MySpace, the social networking site.

Three years later, Jay-Z, one of the world’s biggest selling rap artists, signed him to his Roc Nation stable of musicians.

Kate has her own record label, Round Table. Thirty-five-year-old Electronica has been based in London for the past couple of years. Presumably the pair met through their links with the music industry.

According to reports, but denied by Kate’s friends, the affair is believed to have begun about a year ago, with Kate besotted by the singer, whom she calls Jay Jay.

Both her family — her mother, Anita, is the daughter of merchant banker James Guinness — and the Goldsmiths are said to be aghast at the affair.

‘Ben is heartbroken, devastated and thoroughly miserable,’ a friend of the couple reportedly said.

While Kate’s friends claim the affair is over, his friends have a different view.

‘He suspected Kate was cheating on him because she has been behaving increasingly erratically for some time,’ says one.

‘She is obsessed with this chap, who is one of her clients. She is always on the phone to him, and out with him until four or five in the morning most nights. Sometimes she even stays with him.

‘Ben was paranoid about their friendship months ago, but when he confronted her about an affair earlier this year she denied it.

‘Then, last week, he found a series of texts and email messages. They were very intense messages planning sexual liaisons.’

On the face of it, it is a classic tale of a posh girl falling for a bad boy. But according to another source, it is not quite like that.

‘He has this “street” persona, but Jay Electronica is not really like that — he’s much gentler, a vegetarian and Buddhist,’ says another friend. ‘He and Kate feel they have a spiritual connection, and Kate tells friends he is the first person to really understand her.

‘And although he comes from a poor area, he has been successful, he has money, and he pays for Kate when he takes her out.’

The affair has uncanny echoes of a previous scandal involving Kate’s great aunt, born Pannonica Rothschild, who went on to become Baroness de Koenigswater.

It is a strange story. In 1948, Nica, as she was known, became bewitched by an unknown black jazz pianist, Thelonious Monk, after hearing a recording he had made of Round Midnight.

At a time when mixed-race relationships were frowned upon, she abandoned her husband and five children, moved into a hotel suite and set about finding him. She finally tracked him down in 1954 and devoted the next 28 years to him until his death.

Nica’s family disowned her. Kate can expect to be similarly shunned by the Goldsmith clan.

Friends say that the situation is difficult, too, for Jemima Khan — Ben’s older sister, who was on good terms with Kate, but will now be expected to cast her adrift.

‘It’s hard, but Lady Annabel will expect all of them to rally behind Ben,’ says the friend.

So what of the future? Electronica returned to the U.S. last week to attend his grandmother’s funeral, but is expected back in Britain soon. No one knows what will happen next between him and Kate.

As early as this week, the lawyers will get involved.

This week, Kate was still at the Kensington house, which was put up for sale two months ago. When the Mail knocked on the door yesterday, a young blonde woman came to a side door and said: ‘We don’t want to talk to you.’

But a friend told the Mail: ‘Kate is devastated. She has had a very frightening time since she and her husband initially split five months ago, and this is just another sad development. Her main concern now is for her children, who will remain with her at the family home.’

Lady Annabel, the Goldsmith family matriarch, is on holiday in Sicily and could not be contacted. But she was well aware that it was her husband Sir Jimmy’s wish that one of his children would one day marry a Rothschild.

He would never have imagined that such a union would end like this. But then no one did, least of all Kate’s husband Ben.