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Links 12/16/11

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Dear readers,

Lambert Strether will be guest DJing tomorrow and Sunday! If you send links ideas to me, be sure to include Lambert at lambert_strether.corrente (at) yahoo.com.

Tobacco industry dying? Not so fast, says Stanford expert Stanford News (hat tip Doug Smith)

Airline launches maiden flight with transsexual attendants ThaiVisa (hat tip reader furzy mouse). This is cool. Thai trannies are really cute. See?

Addicted To Risk Naomi Klein TED via Huffington Post (hat tip reader Aquifer)

As Doctors Use More Devices, Potential for Distraction Grows New York Times (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Infinite Stupidity Edge (hat tip reader Aquifer)

US Sentinel Drone Fooled Into Landing With GPS Spoofing Slashdot (hat tip reader bob)

Exclusive: Iran hijacked US drone, says Iranian engineer Christian Science Monitor (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

French leaders declare a war of words on Britain Telegraph. Swedish Lex writes: “France launches a pre-emptive populist & vote-seeking missile strike across the Channel while awaiting its downgrade.”

Irish Economy Shrinks 1.9% — Has Its Worst Quarter Since Q1 2009 Clusterstock. So what about that urban legend that austerity was finally producing positive results in Ireland?

How James Murdoch’s phone-hacking cover-ups went belly-up Guardian (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

US Congress fights China on all fronts Asia Times (hat tip reader Paul S)

Congress reaches spending deal Washington Post

The People and the Patriots Boston Review (hat tip reader David J)

All Your Rick Perry Gay Sex Rumors Collected in One Handy Book Gawker (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Jon Huntsman leapfrogs Ron Paul in New Hampshire, says poll Christian Science Monitor (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Pennsylvania police officer filmed firing taser at teenage girl – video Guardian

Wis. woman, 84, stands firm against voter-ID law McClatchy (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

The assholocracy Language Log

The scandal of the Alabama poor cut off from water BBC. Since my mother lives in Jefferson County, I had wanted to post on this, but now am too late. This situation is horrific (she pays $50 a month as a single person in sewer charges, and it goes to $250 a month if she waters the lawn enough to keep the shrubs alive. Needless to say, her shrubs are dying. At least she can afford to pay. This article describes what happens to those who can’t). This is all thanks to JP Morgan plus local corruption (you can be certain Jefferson County would have BK’d sooner if the locals weren’t complicit).

G.O.P. Monetary Madness Paul Krugman, New York Times

US Treasuries: Surprisingly sturdy Financial Times. OK, I am generally loth to toot my own horn, but we’ve been consistent in saying the scaremongering around Treasuries was nuts, the trend was clearly deflationary, and high quality bonds and cash are the place to be in deflation.

As Sales Lag, Stores Shuffle the Calendar New York Times. Here that Black Friday was touted as being so super duper…

Occupy Goes Home Village Voice (hat tip reader Timotheus)

Occupy LA Plans to ‘Occupy ICE’ at Downtown Federal Building: Immigrant Crackdowns to be Protested LA Weekly (hat tip Yasha)

SEC Appeals Judge Rakoff’s Rejection of $285 Million Citigroup Settlement Bloomberg

Corzine: MF Staff Said Fund Transfer Legal Bloomberg. Corzine is sticking to the ‘I thought this was kosher” script, which is a get out of jail free card for fraud (fraud requires a demonstration of intent). Sarbanes Oxley was designed to close that down. If you were a certifying officer (and CEOs did sign certifications) and your internal controls were bad (and failure to understand what the proper handling of customer money amounted to would seem to be a major control failing), you do not get off the hook.

12 15 11 California Congressmen Write to President Obama in support of AG Kamala Harris not going along with multi-state settlement ScribD (hat tip reader Deontos). Better title: “California Congressmen Tell Obama to Go to Hell on Mortgage Settlement”

Treat foreclosure as a crime scene Matt Stoller, Politico

Antidote du jour:

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96 comments

  1. rjs

    NDAA should get more coverage:

    Obama administration backs bill authorizing indefinite military detention of US citizens – The bill would allow for the open-ended detention of anyone caught up in the “war on terror,” without trial or charges, including US citizens. This is the first explicit legislation to effectively abolish habeas corpus (the right to challenge unlawful detentions) and the constitutional rights to a fair trial (the Sixth Amendment) and due process (the Fifth Amendment). Another provision requires that such individuals be taken into military custody, with an exception for US citizens. The military seizure of US citizens is left to the discretion of the executive branch. This means the effective abolition of the Posse Comitatus Act, which has restricted use of the military for domestic policing for more than a century. The main concern of the administration was that the requirement for military custody could hamper actions of other agencies engaged in counterterrorism operations, such as the FBI and CIA. The White House has cited the extra-judicial assassination of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki (a US citizen) as evidence that there should be no restraints on the form through which executive power is exercised.

    http://jdeanicite.typepad.com/i_cite/2011/12/obama-administration-backs-bill-authorizing-indefinite-military-detention-of-us-citizens.html

        1. M.InTheCity

          Tom Harkin as well voted nay. He was my senator when I was growing up in Iowa. I think I’ll send him a note to thank him for not being a total tool.

          Tonight – I am having a nice steak and a mai tai (or several) in order to deal with this. Better than screaming…

          1. Walter Wit Man

            It’s pretty easy when the vote doesn’t really matter and he’s been Senator for life. He can make these vanity votes.* I bet most Iowans will support his vote.

            If his vote mattered he would side with the empire.

            He is still thoroughly bought–he just evinces an earnest Iowa conscience.

            *My cynical guess is the party wanted an overwhelming victory and not a close vote so the few senior senators and/or senators who have to take a liberal position before an election were allowed a vanity “no” vote.

        2. Walter Wit Man

          If one thinks the Constitution forbids the indefinite detention of arbitrarily-labeled “terrorists,” then one must do more than merely vote no against the legislation.

          One must try to impeach the president that is engaging in these extra-constitutional and illegal actions. Wouldn’t one want to leave a party where the person engaging in the illegal killing of citizens was the leader of that party? Why join a war criminal party? What positives can possibly justify this?

          1. another

            The Constitution does forbid it.

            The Constitution is no longer in force. Therefore, the government of the United States of America has no legitimate basis. The consent of the governed is properly removed. Collapse of such a government is the better outcome.

    1. jim3981

      It was done on the 221st anniversary of the bill of rights to boot…

      The amendments were introduced by James Madison to the 1st United States Congress as a series oflegislative articles. They were adopted by the House of Representatives on August 21, 1789,[1][2] formally proposed by joint resolution of Congress on September 25, 1789, and came into effect as Constitutional Amendments on December 15, 1791, through the process of ratification by three-fourths of the States. While twelve amendments were passed by Congress, only ten were originally passed by the states. Of the remaining two, one was adopted as the Twenty-seventh Amendment and the other technically remains pending before the states.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bill_of_Rights

    2. Walter Wit Man

      It really is astounding–the assault on citizens and our liberty. It’s trite to say but I never thought this would happen just 11 years ago.

      The crazy thing is this assault you mention is but ONE of the fronts the fascists have opened against the American people. They have just begun new wars in Iran and Syria . . .

      The possibility of a drastic event(s) seems very high to me. With these fascists getting more and more overt it can only mean they are up to something big.

    3. ECON

      My God the Bill of Rights (220 years young) has not been protected in the “land of the free and home of the brave”. This action by Obama to not veto and complicit coward Reps and senators means the Constitution has been torn-up. Your country is not free and the brave not live there. The media are complicit. I know not the USA.

    4. umshini wami

      This blots out the sun. Really, what kind of news matters after this? We’re supposed to feel engaged and empowered by participating in some crap ritual of ‘choosing’ one dictator or another. Fuck that. There is nothing worth preserving in this country. Time to wreck it and see what you can salvage from the ruins. The place where I grew up is a cancer that has to be destroyed.

  2. MacCruiskeen

    It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Huntsman did relatively well in New England. We have a lot of independent voters here, and some of the primaries are open. I may go myself and vote for him, just because it would clearly confuse the Republican establishment if he did well.

  3. aet

    Today’s dose of political science:

    http://esciencenews.com/articles/2011/12/15/less.knowledge.more.power.uninformed.can.be.vital.democracy.study.finds

    …the URL says it all – the uninformed are in actuality vital to a democracy and its achievements.

    Thus, as in so many other things, it turns out that it only LOOKS like the “sun goes around the earth”: but in reality, “common sense” as to how things work is “out to lunch” – holding forth hypotheses that are simple to understand, but also simply wrong.

    The “moral” taught by all good science : That nothing is as simple as it seems, while everything else is complex.

    1. Ransome

      “Relating the results to human political activity, the study challenges the common notion that an outspoken minority can manipulate uncommitted voters.”

      Couple of comments. The uninformed don’t know what they don’t know. On a team, they tend to cluster and puzzle through problems because they vote and need some reason to vote. This makes them vulnerable to following a person that can connect the dots, without telling them what to do.

      The Republicans are pretty good at swaying uncommitted voters, the 20% that don’t know whom to vote for one week before elections. They offer an alternate reason to vote Republican such as I am a Cristian and share your values or I am a historian and I understand the value of Southern (or community) traditions. This connects the dots using an alternate worldview. Anything that will tip the voter in a direction. Uninformed voters are easy to manipulate with negative or positive propaganda, I don’t know about fish.

  4. jim3981

    “SEC Appeals Judge Rakoff’s Rejection of $285 Million Citigroup Settlement”

    Judge Rakoff deserves a thank you note!

  5. Doug

    Apropos juxtaposition alert: JP Morgan causes Alabama poor to live without water introduced by previous link about the assholocracy.

  6. sidelarge

    What I find both hilarious and sad about the French (or any other European for that matter) downgrade ado is that while bluffing and denouncing the US agencies, those people have been doing everything in their power to glorify the ratings and surrender to the clueless (or corrupt) ratingsters in Wall Street.

    I’m fully aware of the significance of the AAA ratings given the structure of the Eurozone, but they are making sure that the effect of the downgrade will be amplified in the markets by making such a row and fuss over it involving other nations too.

    What an absurd spectacle.

  7. Jim Haygood

    FT’s article about US Treasuries exemplifies the media’s reflexive tendency to tout whatever’s doing well recently. In 2005, at the height of the housing bubble, a Time magazine cover headlined “Why We’re Going Gaga Over Real Estate.” Now, according to the FT, we’re all gaga over T-bonds — AREN’T WE? I know it’s all I hear about at cocktail parties … [/sarc].

    Perspective isn’t offered in the media. When T-bonds yielded a towering 14% in 1984, the media didn’t tell you what a great buy they were. Instead, they wrung their hands over bond investors’ horrific capital losses owing to the rising yield.

    The best estimate of future return from constant-duration bonds is their current yield to maturity — for 10-year U.S. T-notes, about 2 percent. Since bond yields don’t go negative, mathematically two things can happen. One is that yields can stay low (as the FT bullishly speculates with comparisons to Japan’s 1-percent yield). In this case, investors will receive the 2% coupon, plus some fleeting capital appreciation at the low points in yield.

    Alternately, with the 1984 high yield lying 12 percentage points in the opposite direction, a scenario similar to the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies could unfold. Although investors who rolled their T-bonds during those decades received gradually rising coupons, the rising yields also caused their prices to fall, such that the total return was near zero in real terms.

    Which scenario is more likely? Gold’s sixfold rise in the past decade suggests deep apprehension about monetary stability. As long as this apprehension is focused more on peripheral countries, ‘deep core’ regimes such as the U.S. and Germany benefit from safe haven status.

    However, a systemic crack-up (such as dissolution of the eurozone) might well force strong-currency nations to devalue in line with the new drachmas, escudos, pesetas and lire. Since a fiat currency regime is a global ‘race to the bottom,’ the penalty for not printing as fast as the reprobates and ne’er-do-wells is an ugly whiff of deflation — review the minutes of the last meeting (1931-1933), when the U.S. waited two years later than Britain to devalue, with appalling consequences.

    T-bonds at skinny yields are like the least ugly woman in the bar at closing time. Though some shitheel may take her home, it’s nearly inevitable that she’s gonna get promptly dumped. Considering the risks, the prudent might just skip the whole dismal drill.

    1. Susan the other

      Gain is the only oxymoron. If we had a true distribution system everyone from the bottom up would be thriving, no one would be skimming and getting away with it, and we would all be relatively happy. D I S T R I B U T I O N.

    2. Jim

      Jim, there are very profitable companies with profit growth of 15% giving rank-and-file workers real wage hikes of 1%. Others are freezing their pay for the next 7 years.

      How can the US have sustained inflation if median wages are stagnant?

  8. Mrwonkish

    Is it possible to get the follow link in the linkdump? Some great documentaries about the crisis both from an European as an American perspective.

    The Aftermath Project provides a social and cultural analysis of the crisis, to add to the prevailing economic and financial arguments. It develops the idea that the crisis was the result of of the same sources that led to the rise of global financial capitalism (deregulation of financial markets, greed, consumerism). These root causes have not been tackled and saving the banks with public money has induced a budget crisis in most countries ultimately leading to a shrinking welfare state and a social crisis. As a result of growing insecurity and fear, people are reacting both with anger and with alternative projects of hope. The Aftermath Project provides a closer look at the social consequences of the crisis and wants to open up a space for dialogue and debate on life beyond the crisis.

    The interviews and documentaries on this website are not about what happened after the crisis, but about the new economic and social landscape that is emerging from the ruins of global informational capitalism (not capitalism per se, but a particular form of capitalism) after its self-destruction. This is what we call Aftermath, not the end of the crisis, but the beginning of new forms of economy and culture that muddled through the crisis. This aftermath is being made of attempts to preserve financial capitalism under a new, more exclusionary form. It is also made of the desperate reactions of people left to their own devices. But it is also constructed by people, in different cultures, that seize the moment to reinvent their lives in ways that are both more rewarding and more sustainable.

    Manuel Castells & Bregtje van der Haak

    http://www.aftermathproject.com

    Definitely worth watching

  9. Jeff

    Re Alabama…

    If there is a per gallon charge rather than a flat fee at work here the partial solution is greywater.

    Water that’s been used for showering, laundry and other non toilet uses from sinks can be used to flush toilets and water gardens. It’s safe and its practical if it’s done right. Here is the originator of much of the greywater technology and the author of part of California’s plumbing code rewrite to allow greywater.

    Enormous amount of resources at this site:

    http://oasisdesign.net/

  10. The Heretic

    Dear Yves, thank you for an excellent selection of links and articles yesterday. A Tour de Force!

  11. K Ackermann

    This Robert Khuzami fellow is cut from the same cloth as Tim Geithner. He’s in a position of public trust yet advocates only for the banks and industry. He’s a REGULATOR arguing against a judge’s reasoned decision rejecting the whitewashing of crimes comitted by Citi.

    Its obviously blown Citi’s mind, hence the following bit of insanity:

    “Danielle Romero-Apsilos, a Citigroup spokeswoman, said the New York-based bank disagrees with the court’s rejection of the settlement. The agreement “fully complies with long-established legal standards,” she said.

    If the case went to trial, she said, “we would present substantial factual and legal defenses to the charges.”

    WTF?

  12. Tertium Squid

    From the Iran drone article, after they captured the drone. I found this rather peculiarly charming. Nerd-dom knows no nation:

    “We all feel drunk [with happiness] now,” says the Iranian engineer. “Have you ever had a new laptop? Imagine that excitement multiplied many-fold.” When the Revolutionary Guard first recovered the drone, they were aware it might be rigged to self-destruct, but they “were so excited they could not stay away.”

    1. Jim

      Let’s say Company A and Company B are fierce competitors. Company A’s security chief decides to leave a few trojan-laden flash drives in the parking lot of Company B, with Company B’s logo on them. If you’re an employee of Company B and find a flash drive with your firm’s logo, encased in a plastic bag, what do you do?

      My point? I’m not convinced that this was an accident. President Obama has been far sharper on foreign policy than his detractors give him credit for.

      (unfortunately, he’s been FAR below expectation in the fiscal arena)

      1. Mark P.

        Yes, I’ve had the same thought.

        Of course, due diligence would dictate that some of the people in Iranian intel — who are not total babes in the wood either — would also have examined the possibility.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Trouble at the Times-Titanic, comrades:

    (Reuters) – Janet Robinson will step down as chief executive of the New York Times Co at the end of the month, as the company continues to struggle with advertising declines and a years-long slump in its share price.

    She said that fourth-quarter advertising revenue is expected to “improve slightly” from the previous quarter’s 9 percent decline, putting a positive spin on yet another quarter of decreasing ad dollars.

    The Times Co gave no explanation for Robinson’s sudden departure, which caught analysts as well as company insiders by surprise. Times Co shares, which had traded in the mid-$30s during one point in Robinson’s tenure, closed trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange up 1.8 percent, or 13 cents, to $7.53.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/16/us-newyorktimes-ceo-idUSTRE7BE29W20111216

    Meanwhile — talk about dysfunctional! — get a load of this:

    Robinson, who will stay on in a consulting role for the next year that will pay her $4.5 million, began her career as a school teacher before joining the Times Co in 1983 in sales.

    Can you frickin’ believe it? As the Times-Titanic swirls round the edge of the drain, a CEO leaving under less-than-favorable circumstances gets a sweet $4.5 million golden handshake. Oh yeah, that’s gonna go over well with the frayed-collar, ink-stained wretches in the newsroom!

    I could see Kurgman inciting the scruffy lot to collectively bang their spoons on their bowls of gruel, as Robinson enters the company dining room. SHAME!

    Like Bank of America, the Times-Titanic is flirting with nickel-stock status, though B of A is slightly ahead in this unedifying race to the bottom. If ECRI ends up being correct in their 2012 recession call, this pillar of the MSM — the ‘Saddam’s WMDs’ paper, to long-time fans — is gonna topple.

    Oh, I could fill a barrel with my crocodile tears!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We Neo-Neanderthalists believe in making our own tools…self-reliance, if you will. Our ancestors were the original self-reliant cowboys and cowgirls who freely roamed the valleys.

      One of the self-reliance things we do is to wash everything ourselves. We wash our own furs, bartered Aurignacian tools/Venus figurines/ivory flutes, and our own brains.

      That’s right. We don’t let others wash our brains. We pride in doing the washing ourselves. We will have dirty brains before letting our brains be washed by others.

  14. PQS

    Re: Alabama water situation…how long before we see the bondholders try to get some kind of injunction against people buying bottled water and/or installing porta potties?

    I’m sure they will argue that they’ll crumble into dust if they don’t get their $4.5M a month in fees…..(that was the shocking number to me – that’s an awful big bill that I’m sure has zero to do with actual services rendered.)

  15. Stephen Nightingale

    Christine Lagard predicts armageddon, rapture and the end of the world while Hilary beams on.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/dec/15/imf-world-risks-1930s-style-slump

    And one sensible commentor:

    MichaelRosen

    16 December 2011 12:02AM

    So, wait a minute: we have a world population of people with a set of abilities and needs; we have resources. Five years ago, there were a few less people and few more resources – but not massively so in either case. Five years ago, we weren’t in a world slump, with prospects of mass world poverty. Now we are. So…o….o…what’s changed? A tiny, tiny,tiny group of people pissed about with money. But money isn’t a thing. It’s not a resource, or an ability or a need. It’s just an expression of equivalence. It just relies on sufficient numbers of people believing in it for it to work. But because a this tiny, tiny, tiny group of people were able to con enough other people to think that money could make more money, millions will suffer. And yet, the population, its abilities and needs and the resources aren’t significantly different between the before and the after,.

    Any system that has that kind of failure built into it sounds like a crap system to me.

    1. skippy

      “Five years ago, we weren’t in a world slump” – Nightingale

      Five years ago people were in a manufactured electron of price induced lobotomy: flipping houses, hitting the bong of HELOC, Larry Kudlow pulling levers in your brain (revolving talking heads), equity was king (spirituous vapors magnified by the animal winds), war was a spectator sport whilst sinking piss, fat white fingers had GPS like accuracy, religion…I mean theocracy… oh mythology… um that which made every thing right in my mind, cheating was vogue, the good times never end, I have arrived!

      Skippy…that bloody five years ago?

  16. walter_map

    Need one more link:

    Is the government lying to us about the economy?

    Now, if you live in a country, like I do, where the government has lied its way into war after war, where the government deliberately broke every promise it made to the Native Americans, where sharecroppers were left to die of syphilis, and where the government routinely spies on its citizens, you’d be wise to be skeptical about any claim made by the government

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/is-the-government-lying-to-us-about-the-economy-2011-12-15

    It gets worse the more you look at it.

    1. PQS

      I’m not sure about lying to us, but I’m 100% sure about the following:
      1. The handmaidens in DC haven’t the faintest idea what to do about the economy – most of them aren’t smart enough to even know what the problems ARE, much less to be able to probe through the fog of BS that passes for “analysis” in our bought-off press.
      2. They oligarchs haven’t the faintest motivation to do anything about the economy, as it might slightly impact their moneymaking.
      3. Both groups are afflicted with an inability to think either outside the box or beyond the next election cycle. (See, for example, Mitch McConnell and every GOP contender, up to and including the O administration.)

  17. Sock Puppet

    Guardian live-blogging the Bradley Manning hearing here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/dec/16/bradley-manning-hearing-live-updates
    “The hearing has just opened with a dramatic statement by Bradley Manning’s civilian lawyer, David Coombs. In effect, he’s demanded that the presiding judge – known in an Article 32 hearing like this as the investigating officer – takes himself off the hearing because he is biased and a stooge of the defence department.”

  18. libarbarian

    The laws have been written to make actions by elites legal while making those same actions illegal for everyone else.
    First-degree murder requires intent, but you can still go to jail for a long time for killing someone without intent because we have concepts like second-degree murder and gross negligence? Why is there no equivalent of second-degree fraud? Why do these guys get effective immunity simply by feigning ignorance?

    Citizens on a jury have the power to fix this through jury nullification. As a juror, you are sovereign. YOU determine what “reasonable doubt” means. YOU determine what level of evidence constitutes “proof”. It is in YOUR power to set that limit as low or as high as you choose based on whatever factors YOU choose. This power is in YOUR hands. USE IT!!!

    1. ambrit

      Dear Libby;
      Hold it just a minute there. Juries are indeed a reflection of the society from which they are drawn. I was on a Federal Jury several years ago, (Southern District for Mississippi,) and the people ran the gamut. A lot of the arguing, (and there was a LOT of it,) revolved around knowledge; what did a term mean, what constituted intent, what was a reasonable presupposition of knowledge of a crime, what was a reasonable threshold of burden of proof, what was appropriate behaviour for agents of the State, etc. etc. A bloc of the jurors had to essentially be educated about the legal system, by the other jurors, to facilitate deliberations. Jury ‘nullification’ is a two edged sword. To advance any sort of “Progressive” agenda through this method, you need to supply a pool of educated and willing progressive people. Absent that, any competent legal hack can subvert the spirit of Justice. All we have left are “wheels..grinding exceedingly small.”
      Thanks for letting me rant. I feel virtuous again.

      1. PQS

        Yes. I sat in a jury selection pool and almost exploded when another potential juror (obviously a middle-class, college-educated 20-something (who said she majored in Chinese)) said that anyone who didn’t testify at their own trial might have something to hide and was probably guilty. This was during jury selection, and when the defense attorney noticed my visible discomfort, she asked me if I agreed with her. Through gritted teeth I explained the 5th Amendment and various other reasons why a defendant might not want to testify and that such an action was not an admission of guilt.

      2. libarbarian

        It would be hard to secure convictions for sure because even one hold out could derail it, but acquittals would be easy. All it takes is 1 juror to insist that he/she has “reasonable doubt” to secure a mistrial if not an acquital.

        To be blunt: If the prosecutor shows me this picture (http://blogs.smh.com.au/photographers/vietcong.JPG), I say “It’s amazing what they can do with computers these days. I still have reasonable doubt. Not Guilty!”.

        If only 10-20% of the people decide this is right, you can effectively nullify a large number of prosecutions.

        “Jury ‘nullification’ is a two edged sword.”

        Yes, and a two-tiered legal system when the laws are written to except some people while hammering others, is a one edged sword … aimed at you and me!

        I don’t raise this lightly. I have considered this and I know it attacks some basic aspect of the “rule of law”. These aspects are already under attack by a corrupt legislature that legalizes crimes by certain people against others. Prosecutors don’t worry about demonstrating intent when they prosecute someone who is accused of fraud in trying to get a mortgage – it is generally assumed that any false information supplied is, itself, evidence of intent.

        When a family member was facing charges for an act she was tricked into doing (she was victim of a fraudster and signed documents put in front of her without reading them carefully) I had her Federal Public Defender tell me, point blank, that “Intent does not mean you knew you were committing a crime when you did the act. It ONLY means that you intended to do the act itself. As long as they can prove she did actually sign them then she is guilty by law regardless of what she thought she was signing”
        So, yeah, after that experience I get pissed when I hear the SEC say they have to prove that some guy not only did the deed but knew it was illegal too. Either he is lying through his teeth or there is already a two-tiered system of justice when it comes to fraud.

      3. libarbarian

        Contrary to what my rant probably implies, I have actually thought this out more than I have indicated.

        I dont have time, after my previous rant, to write it out now. Maybe later.

    2. Stephen Nightingale

      It is perfectly easy to kill someone in this country in full public view, and get off with only a light slap. All that is required is that you be in 4 wheels and they be on 2. Just make sure you don’t have a cellphone in your hand at the time.

  19. melior

    Stoller: “Knowingly violating the ban [on foreclosing against active duty grunts]carries up to one year in prison for each count. JPMorgan apologized for its violations, because for banks, being sorry when caught is what really counts.”

    Mandatory minimums. Three strikes. Rule of law.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      It’s odd that liberals don’t demand that the AG and/or Obama be fired for failing to prosecute the fraud on Wall Street.

      Going back 3 years ago this was one of the main things people implicitly thought was going to happen in the Obama administration; Obama was going to investigate fraud and prosecute some people and clean it up. Even though I was extremely skeptical of Obama’s intentions three years ago, I wasn’t cynical enough because I never imagined Democrats would let Obama and his AG get away with doing nothing and covering crimes up.

      Apart from deserving to be fired for failing to prosecute Wall St. fraud, both men deserve to be impeached for:

      1. Failure to prosecute torture. They have a duty under international law to prosecute and they both violated that duty. The evidence shows they intentionally looked the other way.

      2. Covering up torture. The C.I.A. (and others?) admit to destroying video evidence of alleged torture while the actions were still subject to criminal punishment. The administration failed to prosecute the willful destruction of this evidence and therefore took part in the cover up (as well as doing so in other ways, e.g. not releasing photos, engaging in propaganda, etc.).

      There very well are other impeachable offenses but those two are big ones associated with the AG’s office.

  20. ambrit

    Friends;
    Referring to the Alabama water story, a similar more stealthy process is ongoing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The coastal counties have ben compelled to go to total centralized water and sewer services. The rationale is groundwater contamination and public health ‘concerns.’ The practical result is gentrification. The stock answer to complaints about the results of the process is that “they can always move away.” Didn’t that happen to a previous group of Southerners during Andy Jacksons time?

    1. Sock Puppet

      Water issues need our attention. I’m fortunate to live in an area with abundant clean ground water, a community well and water association, and a septic system. My water bill is $65 a quarter. Nevertheless there have been attempts to privatize the water supply (sell it and rent it back, effectively) which needed a lawsuit to defeat. I urge all not to take your water for granted. The renters spy a revenue stream and will try to control your water.

  21. Aquifer

    Re Alabama H2O story –

    Whatever happened to the concept of “odious (or, in this case, odorous) debt”? Seriously …

    Sounds like they are ripe (in more ways than one) for a “Cochabamba moment”. Go for it! Seriously …

    (I seem to make light of this situation, but have spent my activist mettle and money over the years in H2O protection issues, hence my moniker – there is nothing more fundamental, other than air, than water – but sometimes the only thing one can do in the face of absurdity is attempt to interject some humor as an antidote to insanity – I hope that is understood ….)

    1. liberal

      Huh? Krugman is dead-on in that article.

      NB: you can be against the way the current monetary system is essentially a giveaway to the banksters and still agree with everything Krugman wrote there.

      1. Kevin

        Yeah I see what you’re saying. But inflation numbers are so biased when they continue to take out fuel and food costs. Of course commodity prices were going to come down in response to reduced global demand in the face of this recession. Let’s see what happens as the years progress… blowing up the Fed balance sheet with toxic debt is clearly not a recipe for success, and no one in politics (Dem or Rep) have better suggestions than Ron Paul does.

        1. liberal

          Again, huh?

          I don’t like the Fed anymore than anyone else, but the fact of the matter is that anyone who claimed that increasing the monetary base was going to increase inflation doesn’t understand how the banking system works.

          I don’t trust all the government stats either, but it should be pretty apparent that right now the big threats are deflation and permanently high unemployment. Not saying that inflation would never be a threat, or that deflation is right around the corner, but AFAICT the only way to deleverage the economy is either debt forgiveness or inflation. I don’t like that anymore than anyone else, but that’s what we’re stuck with right now.

          As for Ron Paul, I think he’s great on foreign policy and his distrust of the fed, but on nearly everything else he’s a right-wing nutjob.

          1. F. Beard

            but AFAICT the only way to deleverage the economy is either debt forgiveness or inflation. liberal

            There is a 3rd option – a ban on further credit creation and a bailout of the entire population equally, including savers, metered to just replace existing credit as it is paid off.

            Since the total money supply (reserves + credit) would not change then little price deflation or price inflation should be expected.

        2. Kevin

          The 1% policy enacted by the Fed in ’02 took around 5 years before larger than normal inflation took hold. It will happen again, just not right away. Timing is difficult, and it will come. I’ve been hedged for over 3 years with precious metals, and it’s worked out beautifully. Monetizing this nation’s debt will hurt the purchasing power of the dollar, the question is when and how badly.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Infinite Stupidity.

    I think a better title may be ‘Transfinite Stupidity.’

    I like transfinity.

    By the way, I got the feeling the author of that article is saying we should be properly called Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens. Am I correct here?

    1. Glenn Condell

      My takeaway was that the globalisation of human contact, while obviously on the one hand expanding the potential for innovation, on the other decreases its actual occurrence. There is more scope for possible lines of useful inquiry to be thrown up, but a lower percentage of people will feel obliged to act on that potential, instinctively aware that ‘copying’ rather than leading/creating in this cloud/herd is the path of least resistance and at least as likely if not more so, to tick the societal boxes that matter to them.

      Smaller disparate groups, not drowsy from being immersed in a huge cultural warm bath, need innovators more and so more arise. The percentage of people happy to snooze and copy rather than work to create is higher in a ‘fat and happy’ collective than in a more discrete ‘lean and mean’ cultural space. So our growing TwitFaceGoogle sphere, while promising greater progress thru mass cohesion, might actually militate against the chances of species-usefulness being ‘selected’ by a critical mass of the membership, more content to copy than create.

      I’m unsure if the threat of this trend, assuming it exists, outweighs the scope for greater innovation via shared experience in real time, in ‘tinkering networks’ for example.

      Coming at it from the standpoint of community resilience – robustness against external shock or simple degradation of environment (whether physical, economic, political) – I’m again not certain whether the global social cloud provides a measure of security by virtue of its breadth and potential for immediate conveyance of new ideas and approaches to issues, or whether the old world of dis- or only loosely connected social networks, by virtue of their very discreteness, provides more fertile ground for production of the innovators we require to keep evolving.

      It seems the author feels the old structures were friendlier to the chances of ‘random’ outliers like Einstein emerging. The opportunities for individuals to engage in the independent processing of large amounts of raw data from which useful bits of ‘randomness’ might arise may well be higher in the ‘social cloud’ but he thinks the very ubiquity and reach of the social cloud, and perhaps its behavioural norms and customs, might tend to a lower actual rate of those instances that do prove decisively useful than was the case in systems that obtained prior to it.

      Time will tell I guess.

      1. JTFaraday

        Earlier this morning I was thinking a bit about bureaucracies, specifically about how the US middle class has become a product of and is dependent upon large sclerotic institutions that are all networked into an essentially national command and control system in which a few “thought leaders” at the top virtually dictate what it is possible to think and do.

        One could distill a transition in the business world, just as one example, from the middle class businessperson as small proprietor to the contemporary pure product of bureaucracy in the figure of the MBA (or undergrad business major).

        But this is equally true in other areas of inquiry. A Freud, who got people thinking about the inner lives of persons, could never happen today. You would be a crank. I read Freud as a teenager, and today I guess I’m a crank.

        Really, I think that intellectual sclerosis has long ago set in around these parts. The other day someone said we are in a new Dark Ages. I say that all the time. Intellectually and ethically/morally. Intellectual follow-the-leader and “do as you’re told” walk hand-in-hand.

        So, I don’t think we need the global internet for sclerosis to set in and it’s possible it could open up new spaces where people can breathe. On the other hand, I take your point.

        The thing about “the China miracle” that gets me is that nothing China exports comes from China. But then again, that’s not necessarily the byproduct of the internet per se, either, but the hegemony of mega-corporate bureaucracy.

        We got more from China when it exported a handful of cooks who became small proprietors. :)

        1. JTFaraday

          OMG, I am a crank. I once abandoned the large state university system for a small school that had at the time, among other one-off curricular offerings, a program in psychoanalytic thought.

          I’m doomed.

  23. Walter Wit Man

    The media reports that a U.S. judge issues a judgment finding Iran responsible for 9/11.

    Yep, you read that right.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dV-Zyglws4E&feature=g-all-lik&context=G278c088FAAAAAAAAAAA

    Of course the media story down plays the fact that this is a default judgment and Iran never showed up to defend itself but of course the story delves into the evidence consisting of 3 defectors from Iran . . . wonder if one of them was the guy Hillary Clinton recently sent back to Iran . . . .

  24. Fíréan

    So who are the holders of the bonds in the deal which drove Jefferson County towards bankruptcy, and who are presumably still profiting from the set up ? ( as long as it doesn’t go to bankruptcy)?
    Some people have gone to jail for corruption, for offering and accepting bribes, and yet the bond deal still holds ? Am i missing something ?

  25. Hugh

    It is good to see a return to normalcy in today’s links. The election campaign is being repeated as the usual contentless horserace. Krugman is waving fingers at those crazy Republicans. Europe is sinking deeper into recession. Christmas sales numbers aren’t matching the hype. After hitting the Iranians with Stuxnet, the CIA flies a super-secret spy drone, that it knows can be hacked by a couple of computer geeks with a transmitter, repeatedly over Iran. The SEC continues to act as the financial industry’s bitch. And Corzine is still a crook. Pretty much business as usual all around.

  26. scraping_by

    Re: Alabama water

    Writing from the relative safety and prosperity of Heartland America, it’s sometimes easy to fall into the MSM’s minimization of Greek austerity (and soon, Italian and Spanish). When a government is captured by debtors it’s not a pretty sight. Even the right wing howlers never warned their useful idiot audience about this level of disfunction.

    It’s creeping closer, geographically and historically.

    Them today, us tomorrow.

  27. aeolius

    RE: Drone groan

    I want to talk about a genuine American traitor. Ain’t Manning. But it is that unnamed General,probably with two stars who was in charge of the Sentinal Drone program.
    Why is he a traitor?
    Because he spent umteen of our dollars and the cutting edge of our military secret computer, metallurgy etc tech.
    It seems like a scene straight out of “Spaceballs”
    He allowed some second rate scientists in Iran to give him the rasberry. He lost our prized hardware on a cheap trick.
    And there was no way to have that thing blow itself up.
    But this seems par for the course. We lost part of a cutting edge ‘copter in the Osama caper.
    The cowboys in the AF when they get a new toy have to put it in harms way. We lost an early stealth fighter in Bosnia and the B2 was sent on a mission in Shock and Awe (thankfully it returned unharmed). Bush did hand over a pretty secret recon plane to the Chinese on Hanan Island.
    These acts were all pretty serious. But nobody got called before Congress. No one got Frogmarched out of the AF.
    Remember there were House hearings after Pearl Harbor and IIRC couple of Admirals were blamed. The captain of the Pueblo was pretty well blamed for allowing his ship to be seized.
    Spaceballs indeed.
    Maybe we can get Mel Brooks to run as an independent candidate for POTUS. At least he has a sense of humor.
    The rest of the crowd are trying to be serious. Even he could not have written the race for the GOP nomination.
    In Bosnia

  28. Jackrabbit

    Second follow-up:

    Sprint: CarrierIQ has been Disabled on our Devices
    - Sprint says it is no longer using CarrierIQ (though the software is still on user devices)
    - 26 million Sprint handsets have the technology
    - reports that Sprint has asked manufactures to remove the software from phonse in future updates

    Carrier Responses to Senator Al Franken
    - Sprint and T-Mobile were biggest users
    - Verizon did not use CarrierIQ
    - Samsung and HTC phones most affected (Carriers generally requested phone manufactures to pre-install the software)

  29. Dorie Kavan

    I am a transsexual woman and I ask you to please take note that the word “trannie” or “tranny” is extremely offensive. It is a word that is used to demean and sexualise trans women. (By the way, don’t ask a gay man or any other member of the LGB community if it is offensive – ask a trans person.)
    You could not not have been more offensive than if you had used the word “cunt” or “nigger” or “faggot” in any other post.

    1. Jack

      You are not a woman. You are a man pretending to be a woman. That is your right and privilege. However, don’t expect other people to conform their taste or beliefs to what you have chosen for yourself.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Re “choice.” At the risk of igniting a flaming permathread, Dierdre [once Donald] McCloskey might disagree — or not (read both quotes: “who I am” and “so I lied” in the excerpts….

        I’m not an expert in this discussion, and so I may have just dropped a brick. If so, somebody will let me know!

        However, if the word “tranny” is offensive, I suggest it be avoided for the sake of moving discussion forward, if indeed it needs to be moved forward.

      2. Maximilien

        Jack: A trans-sexual woman is most definitely NOT “a man pretending to be a woman”. Please educate yourself about the issue and then report back.

  30. Gina

    Hey there, I’m not trying to stir up anything, this is strictly an FYI, but the word “tranny” is a derogatory term to us trans people. In our world, it’s the eqivalent of calling an african-american the n-word or a gay man a f*g**t. Again, not trying to start a big “thang” just a lil bit of enlightenment!

    Thanks!

  31. SH

    Spin of the day from ESPN

    Kobe Bryant’s marriage is
    on the rocks after his wife, Vanessa, filed for divorce.

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