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Links 12/22/11

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Feeling blue? Blame it on the solstice McClatchy (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

Drought has killed up to 10 percent of Texas woodland trees McClatchy (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the U.S. Congress EFF (hat tip Lambert Strether). On SOPA.

Europe Banks Rush To Grasp Lifeline Wall Street Journal

ECB Bazooka is a fizzer MacroBusiness

How to avoid the ‘zombification’ of Europe George Magus, Financial Times

The eurozone crisis is not about market discipline Dean Baker, Aljazeera

Former tabloid reporter contradicts Piers Morgan’s testimony in phone hacking case McClatchy (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Confessions of a British tabloid newspaper reporter John Gapper, Financial Times (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Finland ‘finds Patriot missiles’ on China-bound ship BBC (hat tip reader YY)

FBI Reportedly Investigating Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac For Role In Subprime Crisis Huffington Post

Blogs bash Obama’s historic claim Politico. If you have any doubts as to whether Obama is narcissist, this should settle them.

Experts See a False Dawn in Economy’s Recent Gains New York Times

Correcting Data Error, Realtor Group Revises Existing-Home Sales Downward New York Times

Indignant rich round on protest movement Financial Times. The more they talk, the more they reveal how out of touch they are.

Why Are We Forced to Worship at the Feet of ‘Mythical’ Financial Markets Controlled by the Elite? Alternet (hat tip reader Aquifer)

TRACKING THE DOMESTIC WAR ON PRESS FREEDOM: LIST OF JOURNALISTS ARRESTED COVERING THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT eXiled

“We Own Wall Street” Eliot Spitzer, Slate (hat tip reader PQS)

At Wal-Mart a Microcosm of U.S. Inequalities Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg

LEGALITY OF NON TRANSPARENT TRANSFER OF MF GLOBAL ASSETS TO JP MORGAN QUESTIONED Managed Futures Education Center. Whoops, saw this a couple of days ago but neglected to link to it.

Antidote du jour:

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79 comments

  1. rjs

    re:
    Drought has killed up to 10 percent of Texas woodland trees

    just talked to my brother in texas…he lost every tree in his 29 wooded acres northwest of houston…& because of the burn ban, he cant even donate them to the boy scouts for firewood…

    1. Richard Kline

      The thought of millions of acres of dead juniper and pine come next fire season in Texas is enough to give one palpitations. It’s not quite dead stands of eucalyptus, but it’s the next best thing to firestorm kindling to be found. It had better be wet next year, or “Is Texas Burning?” will be the title of more than one documentary to come.

      1. BobS

        And a shitload of federal money will be poured into a state full of small government advocates, secessionists, and religious nuts who aren’t able to simply pray the fires out. Couldn’t happen to a nicer state.

  2. Richard Kline

    Regarding JPM and MF Global, look JippyMo got away with seizing Lehman’s assets (with goverment help) and got away with seizing WaMu’s assets (with government help), and got made whole out of AIG’s assets (with government help) when they deserved nothing but a loss. So absconding with a nine-figure lump from the Corzine’s drawers is not only right out of JPM’s playbook, they can bet that they’ll get government help to keep the wad. The rest of us can blow. Because, y’know, the guvmint licks JPM’s boots so the folks there don’t need to worry about things like laws and lawsuits.

    At least they aren’t shooting us in the streets (yet); otherwise, we’re just Nigeria on a different scale (bigger).

    1. Cynthia

      Being a megalomaniac is just as bad as being a racist, as some are now saying about Ron Paul. And this interview on 60 Minutes, that Yves has linked us to, clearly shows that Obama is a megalomaniac.

      Apparently the folks at 60 Minutes must think that Obama was coming across as a megalomaniac, otherwise they wouldn’t have edited all of his swollen-headed and self-congratulatory remarks out of the interview. And I must say that if 60 Minutes was free and independent from the plutocratic power brokers in Washington DC, as all legitimate news sources are supposed to be, they wouldn’t be trying to hide the truth that Obama has a very dark and dangerous side to him.

      1. SqueakyRat

        For all the hooting, I have yet to see anyone come up with the President (outside of Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Johnson) with a stronger first-term legislative record than Obama. Saying he “doubled unemployment” and “tripled the national debt” are plain lies. He passed a historic health care reform and a stimulus package that probably staved off a depression. He ended DADT, ended the Iraq war, and delivered crucial cuts to the payroll tax and unemployment extensions. And all in the teeth of a rabid GOP that knows no shame.

        1. justanotherobserver

          Yeah – the guy tries to talk up his accomplishments and gets labeled a narcissist. that’s pretty weak.

          The problem is that the good he is done is overshadowed by his ridiculous policy of providing aid and comfort to the bankers.

          I generally I agree with most of the Obama criticisms I see here, because when it comes to the financial side of things, the only thing he’s got going is that he avoided a GD II, but not by much.

          And as you said, I wish the folks on this list would give a little more grief to the Republicans who are attemping to ruin their lives. Obama has done some good, and he’s been considerably better than McCain would have been.

          I mean seriously, can you imagine ?

          Having said all that I’m not voting for Obama in 2012, I’m voting against the republican, as usual.

          1. justanotherobserver

            that’s a ridiculous comment.

            I made no such claim.

            What I said, as if it will matter, since you are not paying attention, is that republicans are ruining lives and yet seem to get less grief than Obama.

    2. Cynthia

      Let me also add that it doesn’t really matter if Ron Paul is a racist, as some news sources are suggesting. What really matters is that he is too antiwar, too anti-Wall Street and too anti-police state for the one percent’s liking. The only thing they like about him is that he’s anti-Social Security, but that’s not enough for them to back him as president.

      The one-percent are blissfully delighted with their man Obama, and I think that Obama will be reelected because that’s what the one-percent wants. Why change horses in mid-stream? From what I can tell, it doesn’t matter one iota whether Magic Undies Mitt or Lying Liar Newt or even White Cap Racist Ron is the GOP frontrunner.

      This is nothing more than a rigged horse race with lots of bread and circus for the mindless masses. Period.

      1. scraping_by

        Is Dr. Paul having an “Al Gore says he invented the internet” moment?

        Certainly his “unorthodox” economic views are just what the MSM’s owners would like to keep out of the public debate. And what’s the good of being a job-creator if you have to put up with backtalk?

        Speaking as one who thinks he’s mostly batshit crazy, this is beginning to sound like he’s getting the same old pile of slurs. The slander campaigns of the big media giants are repellant no matter what the supposed target’s sins and omissions.

        http://www.howhegotthere.blogspot.com/

    3. justanotherobserver

      I wasn’t clear on the point of the article. It basically contains the comments of a bunch of right wingnuts about how bad the president is.

      WTF? What did you think they were going to say.

      Hardly proof of his narcissism or lack thereof.

      3 2 1 … and no I’m not saying that he isn’t, just that I’m not really going to be convinced if Erick the idiot says he is.

      1. JTFaraday

        Oh, you really missed it then. It was worse than I thought:

        “The “60 Minutes Overtime” video shows Obama telling correspondent Steve Kroft:

        “The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do.”"

        60 Minutes *edited* this from the interview actually aired, as one of referenced blogs noted:

        “NewsBusters pounced on the comments with a story under the headline: “60 Minutes broadcast edits out laughable Obama claim as 4th best president.””

        Give him another four years, and he’ll be Number One for sure.

    1. JTFaraday

      ttp://icanhascheezburger.com/2011/04/22/funny-pictures-cat-has-a-bunny/

      For those depressed by the solstice.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We all do weird things when we sleep – let that be the lesson of today’s antidote.

      Who knows, mabye one day someone will post a picture of a slumbering MMTer hugging a golden calf?

  3. René

    “Think about it. The more people who lose their homes and material wealth in this manipulated downturn, the more people who stop, think and re-evalute. The more people who realize the financial and political situation is engineered for the good of a very few and not the people, the more wake up. The more people who are directly offended by these draconian new anti-freedom laws and intrusive surveillance methods, the more startled, questioning and activated they will become.”

    http://beforeitsnews.com/story/1531/481/Why_The_Globalist_Agenda_Is_Backfiring.htm

  4. Foppe

    French study suggests maggots may clean wounds faster than surgery:

    Medical Xpress) — For thousands of years, people have used maggots to clean out wounds, particularly in battlefield situations when there were few other options. Use of maggots (fly larvae) virtually disappeared in the modern world though once antibiotics arrived on the scene, but that may change as a new study conducted by a team in France has shown that at least for some types of wounds, maggots may be the preferential form of treatment. The team, made up of doctors and researchers from various facilities in France, conducted a study with elderly male volunteers who had lower leg wounds or skin ulcers that weren’t healing well, and as they describe in their study published in Archives of Dermatology, the patients that were treated with maggots, fared better, at least in the first week, than did those treated with conventional surgical procedures.

      1. justanotherobserver

        really it’s biotech. mother nature is incredibly technological. you have a proton pump in your stomach to generate hydrochloric acid, AND you have a barrier to it the HCL.

        your liver is an engineering marvel.

        like hell it’s low tech. you try and “develop” a maggot :-)

        1. craazyman

          and some people think it all came together through random mutations.

          Darwinism will eliminate that idea eventually.

          hahah ahaha hahah (Just cracking myself up).

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Obama’s bullshit excuse doesn’t even pass the smell test.

      Why no jury trials? Are prosecutors afraid? Prosecutors usually love over-charging people and letting God sort out the innocent–like when it comes to young black men charged with drug crimes. They are obviously treating the rich differently by not charging them when they would charge other people with these same facts.*

      But they couldn’t be more wrong. I bet juries all over America would love putting white collar criminals in jail. Why not try? Let’s test the conventional wisdom that’s it’s too hard to prove.

      It just took a gamble on someone like Barry Bonds why not Jamie Dimon? I bet Barry Bonds was more likable than these wanker bankers. Juries are probably champing at the bit to punish these guys. I couldn’t think of less sympathetic defendants, actually.

      Bullshit it’s too hard to get a conviction. Prove it. Go lose a jury trial first.

      *For instance, MF Global. If a small time solo practitioner (like lawyer or accountant) took client money from his trust fund and put it into his personal account and then lost that money gambling it in the stock market, you bet the government is going to charge you with a crime. The government is going to make you prove that it was simple negligence rather than an intentional crime. Sure, maybe you avoid punishment by saying your were professionally negligent, maybe, but almost all prosecutors I know are going to assume the opposite and charge you with a crime and make you prove it (unless one is a rich banker, I guess).

      1. Up the Ante

        “Why no jury trials? Are prosecutors afraid? ”

        They know juries will convict these clowns. So as a favor to the teams of lawyers that would defend them they have removed the jury component.

        I’ll combine your Connaughton link with Spitzer’s as Spitzer makes claims that are not defensible, like this,

        “.. much of what led to the crisis was not blatant illegality: It was horrific judgment exercised by senior executives and regulators. ”

        Spitzer thinks a jury wouldn’t convict on Sarbanes-Oxley alone ??

        And, as usual, Eliot does state what needs to be done, “all records”,
        “First, disclose the substance of, and all records relating to, any meetings between senior officers of the company and any regulator over the past five years. On behalf of the public and shareholders, we need to understand what happened in the regulatory process and why; ”

        http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_best_policy/2011/12/occupy_wall_street_we_own_wall_street_a_new_movement_to_stop_corporate_america_s_misbehavior_.html

        Purge these hotbeds of conspiracy.

    1. ambrit

      Friends;
      How then do they handle the part of the government debt that was ‘gifted’ to the financial sector?

    2. skippy

      Service sector in Australia is 70% of GDP, industry and Ag the rest.

      Skippy…CC and interest free periods were not enough ( consumer demand brought forward as salable debt )… they went for RE-CRE… electrons of price… that is one big red button to some.

  5. Jef

    Come on folks lets get real.

    “If you have any doubts as to whether Obama is narcissist, this should settle them.”

    Seriously folks we really need to get over the desire for hero worship.

    Everything a President says and does is entirely scripted by “advisors”. GW Bush should have put paid to that reality.

    Obviously the POTUS gets to improvise a bit and some are better than others at this but no single individual president is responsible for a single action or decision.

    The sooner we accept this the sooner we can possibly get back to a Democratic participatory government of sorts.

    I am so discussed with op’ing on the stats, past, present, and future of whom ever is in office or attempting to get there as if they are a sports hero on a baseball card. It’s entirely irrelevant and a major distraction/misdirection.

    There is a machine and it uses who ever best suits its purpose to maintain the course. It will use alternating dynamics such as right/left, dem/repub, strong/weak, and yes even black/white to reach and maintain a “happy median”.

    Unless and until we challenge the machine we should never expect any kind of hope or change.

        1. René

          WRONG! Its Ron Paul. The only thing I have in common with the man is my skin colour. He can wake up a critical mass of people, we only need 20% of the Americans!

  6. Caveat aleator

    Re: Legality of Non Transparent Transfer of MF Global Assets to JP Morgan Questioned

    from the article: “Mr. Koutoulas reports that JP Morgan would not even discuss the issues. “I can see that you disagree with me,” said Mr. Koutoulas, whose organization represents over 7,000 MF Global clients, mostly professional investors. “They won’t even meet with me and talk with me.”

    ……Mr. Koutoulas is rallying the futures industry to boycott use of JP Morgan. “Call your FCM and if they are using JP Morgan say ‘We won’t do business with you if you work with JP Morgan…”

    But why would this problem be limited to the futures industry?

    Suppose the following scenario:

    1) A client places an order with mutual fund company GX to buy $1 million worth of mutual fund XYZ
    2) GX accepts the order and debits the clients’ money market account.
    3) GX actually buys only $100,000 worth of the stocks comprising XYZ, and keeps the rest of the money for itself.
    4) Because 10% of the reported holdings are real, GX is able to meet all of the clients’ modest redemption requests and the fraud will not be exposed unless the shareholder tries to redeem more than 10% of his/her shares all at once.

    Is there anyone who believes this type of fraud isn’t possible, even with reputable discount brokers such as Charles Schwab, Vanguard or Fidelity?

    If so, where in the diagram above, or elsewhere, do you think such a scenario would be exposed, intercepted, or prevented?

    After MF Global, what, if anything, can ordinary investors do to protect themselves? Should they, for instance: close all margin accounts and revoke all margin agreements? Buy US Treasuries from Treasury Direct to eliminate the middle man?

    Should customers who already hold Treasuries in a brokerage account try to re-register these through Treasury Direct? etc.

    Any suggestions?

    (“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on.” – William S. Burroughs)

    1. A Good Bankster

      Listen, you don’t need no stinkin’ money.

      I, or one of my colleagues is going to end up with all your money anyway, sooner or later. Why postpone the inevitable?

      You might as well just hand it over now, that way you won’t have to wake up one morning to find your accounts have all disappeared and your net worth has been reduced to zero. And when you call your broker in a panic, all he can say is: “I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout no stinkin’ money”.

      And when you show him your financial statements, he just laughs.

      So hand it over now, to me or one of my colleagues. Get it over with, and be done with it. And as long as you’re handing the money over to someone, it might as well be me.

      I’ll try to make this as painless as possible for you.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      I don’t see how the scenario you describe is anything but embezzlement. Sure, they dressed the crime up a bit and made is seem complicated, but in the end they are just stealing client money–on a grand scale.

      If a small time professional, who has a fiduciary duty to his client (like lawyer or accountant), were to take client funds and commingle it with his personal or business accounts, and then lose that money in a venture or investment, he would most likely be accused of a crime . . . probably embezzlement, at least.

        1. reslez

          Which is to say, if laws were broken no one really cares; they simply haven’t gotten around to changing them yet.

    3. swiss vault

      As someone pointed out here recently, margin accounts have hypothecation provisions too. You have to trust not only Fidelity or Vanguard or Schwab but all their potential counterparties (and what if that’s JPM?). So having closed all of my margin accounts, I’m part way to controlling the risk of expropriation by fraud, theft or government-sanctioned racketeering.

    4. Caveat aleator

      According to the Bogleheads discussion forum, JP Morgan is the custodial bank for Vanguard mutual funds. I’m not sure about Schwab or Fidelity.

      And until now, I always considered Vanguard the safest financial institution in the US.

      I need to do more research on this.

    5. Lloyd C. Bankster

      @ Good Bankster,

      You’ve got to be more tactful in dealing with potential clients, my man. Don’t you know that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?

      First lure them in with sweet-talking; promise high returns and if safety is a priority you guarantee their money is 100 percent safe in your hands. And then, once you’ve wined and dined them, once they trust you completely, once they’re asking you for advice on their golf game, *that’s* when you go for the jugular, clean out their accounts and move the money offshore.

      @ Caveat aleator

      Ignore the Bankster, and ignore everything I said to him above. I can assure you that your money will be 100 percent safe if you invest it with my firm. The nightmare situation you described above could never happen, because my firm has so many controls in place to prevent anything like that from ever happening. Plus the auditor and the custodial bank would both have to be in on the fraud, and what are the odds of that?

      If your priority is sleeping at night, knowing your money is in good hands and 100 percent safe, then invest with my firm and you won’t be disappointed.

      So how’s your golf game, Mr Aleator? I’m only a +3 handicap and will be glad to help you any way I can. Practice, my man, that’s the ticket. While your friends are chasing women and drinking, you want to be out there on the practice range, hitting 200-300 golf balls a day.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Floyd Norris of the Times-Titanic voices his hearty approval of the ECB’s $640 billion, 3-year LTRO operation:

    “Talk tough, and open the vaults.”

    That should be the slogan of Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank.

    In recent weeks, the new president publicly insisted the central bank would never do any of the things that Germany opposed. It would do only what central banks normally do. It would lend to banks.

    This move will help to recapitalize European banks over time. Assume a spread of 2.5 percentage points for the three years [when banks borrow from the ECB at 1% and buy higher-yielding government bonds]. On the money borrowed this week, that would produce 37 billion euros in profits for the banks.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/business/a-central-bank-doing-what-central-banks-do.html?_r=1&ref=business&pagewanted=all

    What is wrong with this picture? Norris thinks it quite normal and acceptable for banks to extract 37 billion euros in profits from an interest rate arbitrage. Visions of candy canes dance in his pointy head. But actually, it is artificial and harmful.

    During the hard-money 19th century, yield curves on average were flat. Short rates actually went up in financial crises, as one would expect since risk is higher.

    Only since the advent of central bank manipulation of short rates has the yield curve become positively sloped most of the time — including, quite perversely, during crises.

    Make no mistake: European banks’ €37 billion spread profit represents a monopolistic rent, extracted at the expense of the rest of the economy. A bank cartel masquerading as a public agency enables this looting. The same is occurring in the U.S.

    What are the costs to the victims? Ask retired folks, who get miniscule yields on their savings accounts and CDs, in order to subsidize plutocratic banksters. Worse, when real interest rates go negative, as they are today, people go to speculating since saving is not rewarded. Serial bubbles end up driving the economic cycle. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley (investment bankers who outrageously can borrow ‘free money’ from the Fed) are far better equipped to navigate casino-like markets than ordinary people who don’t trade for a living.

    If you object to the outsized influence of the ‘one percenters’ on the economy, Job No. 1 is to STOP SUBSIDIZING THEM. That is, unmask and abolish their central banking cartels.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Another basic point which Norris never addresses: does the ECB’s vast lending program constitute ‘printing money’? Michael Ashton thinks it does:

      The solution so far looks to be just naked printing in everything but name.

      The take-up of the 3-year ECB lending facility today was an enormous €489bln, a number which will likely grow to be more enormous before it shrinks. And there is just no way that I can see that the ECB can sterilize the activity on such a scale.

      I could be wrong. I always could be wrong. But whatever this does for the ‘ol can, it certainly seems to represent another goose for the global reflation trade.

      http://mikeashton.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/nomination-for-a-new-villain/

      1. Susan the other

        If the EU could bring itself, its 26-country pact, to admit that the ECB is actually printing money (printing credit) it would be an easier step to vote to nationalize the ECB and eliminate the banks’ profit. Nationalize is not the right term since the EU members are separate nations. Need a new term for them. But it is still the right term for the US. And we should do it as well. Because it is our money.

        Dean Baker cheered me up today: “…the claim that the euro crisis is a story of profligate governments being reined in by the bond market… This is what is known in economics as a “lie.” Spit my coffee.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You have a point there about the word ‘nationalize.’

          Since we are talking about the European Union, maybe they ‘unionize’ the bank.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Per the MacroBusiness piece, the amount of liquidity creation is less than it appears, since some of the euros are coming by ending use of other, shorter-ter facilities. And my buddies who follow the German media remain convinced that the ECB is not willing to balloon its balance sheet to anything close to the 2 to 3 trillion euros that most observers see as necessary to stabilize the system.

      3. psychohistorian

        I think I have said before that since the US has been printing for some time that others would have to adjust accordingly….if this charade is to continue propping up that which must not devalue.

        And once you start printing, it is hard to stop and go a different direction. But these are interesting times.

        So have we legally declared this War on Finance yet? And who is it with? Is it just another of those wars where the public loses a lot of people and money? Can we vote no?

        Have a laughable holiday folks!!!!!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It looks like the Money-printing Olympics.

          We will see who wins the most ‘gold’ medals (Oh noooooooooooo!!!!!!).

  8. PQS

    The Walmart article by Jeffrey Goldberg is a nice opinion piece, but the comments section is being taken over by 1%er apologists…..depressing and infuriating how many Americans are so willing to defend the ignominy of a clueless heiress in the face of the towering economic injustice of the “world’s largest employer”.

    1. barrisj

      I have always maintained that Wal-Mart had/has a can’t-lose strategy of both capturing a local market and concomitantly ensuring that its local customer base will continue to grow by actually creating the economic conditions to bring more people into their stores. How? Piece of cake: one just drives down competition by underselling, force the competition to cut costs, which usually means slashing wages/salaries of employees, thence immediately gaining an enhanced customer base because consumers no longer can afford to shop elsewhere other than Wal-Mart, and Bob’s yer uncle. Ah, market forces, you have to love them!

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why blame the realtors for having to revise their numbers?

    They are not the only ones making mistakes. Look at scientists revising the size of proton or the speed of light.

    It would not surprise me if we are closer to the Sun than the distance we are told. It feels warmer than it should be.

    1. barrisj

      And how many times have we heard the old saw from parasitic RE agents that, “It never has been a better time to buy [a house] than now!!” I mean, look at “the numbers”. Oh, you mean those numbers, the NAR numbers…umm, sure.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Acutally I do blame the realtors. So, I take back what I wrote.

        My point was we shouldn’t hope for much improvement asking physicists to help realtors out. They have their own problems measuring things.

    2. reslez

      They are not the only ones making mistakes. Look at scientists revising the size of proton or the speed of light.

      Science is the systematic practice of noticing when you’re wrong and telling as many people as possible. Something that would benefit other disciplines.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Realtors also do that…a few years late.

        Our government GDP calculating bureau does that very well also…always lettting as mnay of us as possible know the mistakes they have made.

  10. Susan the other

    If lack of sunshine is starting to make you a little looney, take some vitamin D. I take D3. It works for me and I don’t need a big dose. Just 2000 iu a day works for me.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Even after all this time
      The sun never says to the earth,
      “You owe Me.”

      Look what happens with
      A love like that,
      It lights the Whole Sky.

      - From The Gift by Hafiz

      Unfortunately, I feel a little different about the Sun than this Persian guy. I think the Sun palys favorites.

      The Sun shines more for people in the Atacama Desert than he does for the people of Seattle.

      I think that’s favoritism.

  11. Hugh

    Military equipment has serial numbers all over it. How difficult is it really to read some of these off and know exactly where those Patriot missiles originated?

    1. psychohistorian

      You ask too many questions……grin.

      Just breathe, this too will pass….just not soon enough for some of us.

  12. kevinearick

    Stupid, Willful Ignorance, A Christmas Story

    So, I’m a proby on a Kone job. My boss is a six-figure corporate corporate guy with an “anxiety-ridden” wife who expects him to go straight to work, straight home, call several times in between, and hand over the check. The other team leader is a six-figure union union guy, with a smart-ass politician for an apprentice. Each team is working on an elevator and my boss is working as efficiently as possible to make the other team look stupid, while the union guy is wiring all kinds of troubleshooting traps.

    As expected, we are done far ahead of the other crew and my boss is pissed because he must help finish the other elevator, and complains accordingly to his boss. Then we come to the traps at start-up and my boss fails to figure them out. As expected, The Adjuster, a hefty six-figure elevator god, mason ring and all, is flown in from another country, with The Bible, the stupid elevator operating system (arbitrary, capricious, malicious) manual that only he has access to. As expected, he rolls out a big production number, and fails to identify the problems, as the union guy laughs to himself. He reverse paralleled fire service interruption through a reverse wired door open/close.

    After watching the sh**-show for two days, I jump in the elevator, turn the fire service key back, and swing my leg in front of the door before it shuts. The elevator doesn’t move and the lights go out. I wait. They jump the circuit to get me out, the adjuster admonishes me for being so stupid, and the three of them start re-wiring the board, as the union guy laughs to himself. Later, the union guy tells the corporate guy that I wired the alarm bell wrong, which is a simple direct, and both expect me to feel inferior.

    I had also been shaming the crew into going out to union breakfast after the first work period, when we would walk by the union president (Otis), diligently working on a nearby escalator without breaks, weeks longer than necessary, while his apprentice watched, because the apprentice was not allowed to use tools.

    The system moral is that the law is the problem, not the solution. The solution is people, willfully ignored by system operators. The corollary is to be careful who you f*** with. The individual corollary to the corollary is if you see a worker bee in the coffee shop at 9am having a double bloody mary with three coffees and a Camel short on either end, don’t bother calling the boss; the elevator is the least of your problems.

    Never allow the herd to lead you astray from your true aspirations. If you do, no matter how old, just reset. We have all had to discard sunk costs, and late bloomers are often the best. Patience in the face of adversity; you are known by the enemies you keep.

    Merry Christmas

  13. Tim

    Yves,
    Excellent special report by Reuters on Forclosure Fraud:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/22/us-foreclosures-idUSTRE7BL0MC20111222

    Excellent in the sense it provides specific examples of the two tiers of justice in America. The only bad part of the article is the last quote, that to paraphrase, says “it’s a mystery as to why that is the case” instead of spelling out the only obvious answer as to why is that our justice system has been corrupted by big banks with big money.

  14. EmilianoZ

    RE: Arrest of OWS journalists

    Stanley Rogouski, an OWS protester and photo-journalist, had an interesting piece about his own arrest:

    http://stanleyrogouski.com/blog/stanley_w_rogouski/2011/12/how-mike-bloomberg-snatched-my-eyeballs-for-the-department-of-homeland-security.html

    That happened on the 12th of December in NYC. He was arrested along with about 20 protesters. What’s interesting is that most were like him photo-journalists. They were targeted. John Knefel, another arrestee, wrote about the same event in Salon:

    http://www.salon.com/2011/12/14/my_37_hours_with_the_nypd/singleton/

    It’s interesting to compare the 2 accounts. People endure incarceration very differently. Rogouski’s account is the most vivid.

    I think OWS should issue some guidelines on what to do, how to behave, how to support each other during detention. Rogouski’s observation seems to be that the ordeal had a divisive impact on men but not on women.

    Rogouski also has some interesting info about the retinal scan.

    1. Aj

      Interesting link. The tea party and MMT have somewhat common goals, that´s quite a novel idea. Wonder what Yves thinks.

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