Links 6/2/10

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Male and female hedgehogs prefer different gardens BBC

Peak Wood: Nature Does Impose Limits Miller-McCune

Moneyless man reveals how to live a cashless life without starving Guardian

Spill Draws Criminal Probe Wall Street Journal. The big news yesterday. On the one hand, this has the benefit of putting VERY serious pressure on BP plus appeasing the public. But does Team Obama really dare to issue a criminal indictment against BP? As Eliot Spitzer proved to great effect, the threat of a criminal indictment was a blunt but very effective implement to force negotiations, because actually indicting a company could be a death knell. But the Obama administration track record suggests they would never pull the trigger.

How much worse can it get for BP? Independent

Selling Germany, buying Greece FT Alphaville

20 Questions Macro Man

Grandma Lehman Sues Big Bad Wolf JPMorgan masaccio, FireDogLake. From the weekend, but still germane

Commodities’ Biggest Drop Since Lehman Is Bear Signal Bloomberg

Escape Clause Seen for Goldman and the S.E.C Andrew Ross Sorkin

Did we miss a trick? Deus Ex Macchiato (hat tip Richard Smith)

Relative value, according to Mr. Market Annaly Salvos (hat tip reader Scott)

Stock markets: That sinking feeling Aline van Duyn, Michael Mackenzie and Jeremy Grant, Financial Times. A very good piece about the flash crash and the broader implications of high frequency trading and market fragmentation.

House 401(k) plan ‘slap in the face’ to Obama administration Investment News

Egypt opens Gaza border after Israel ship clash Reuters

Israel’s Indefensible Behavior Peter Beinart, The Daily Beast. Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. dearieme

    Oh what a good idea: BP is (I’ll bet) rather fully engaged in trying to deal with their oil spill. So let’s distract them with threats of a criminal prosecution now. How very lawyerly: let’s just assume that geology and engineering are just the same sort of thing as financial crookedness.

    1. Dirk

      First Bush and now Obama. Oh for the days when a President was actually required to have some leadership experience prior to election. I am a libertarian (Boo! Yes, I know this is a blog of disgruntled dems), but even I know that government must step in when the damage is projected to exceed the value that a private organization can pay. But that would mean Obama actually having to take command and—I don’t know—solve this problem. This “criminal charge” idea is such a cop out because we all know it’s all smoke.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        Ooooh, let me speak for everyone and tell you how scared we are!!!

        Sorry, most everyone on this site seems to love freedom. They have little tolerance for stupidity, however.

        I, for one, am certainly not a “disgruntled dem.” Disgruntled, sure. Dem? Not so much. A lover of freedom, sure. A believer in an over-the-top fantasy world where everything is perfect in the land of anarchy (except for the use of collective violence in defense of private property, natch)? Not so much.

        1. bob goodwin

          One thing I find distasteful about progressives is their pavlovian response to self identified dissenters. It may seem clever to ascribe exagerated opinions to make them seemed unhinged. But it does nothing to foster true debate. Libertarians have a different world view, but often common interests with progressives. The credit crisis has brought us together. So lets talk respectfully.

          1. Dirk

            Thanks Bob, though I suspect Anonymous Jones’ response was at least partially tongue in cheek as was my parenthetical remark.

          2. alex black

            Dirk – at one time the comment section consisted of a variety of folks – disgruntled Dems and Repubs and Independents, but all adults.

            Lately it’s been more like the kiddie’s table at Thanksgiving dinner, and many are cranky cuz they didn’t have their nap today.

  2. attempter

    Re the SEC and Goldman:

    So that looks like everyone who saw this as political theater is being proven right, except that it’s even lamer than expected. Now that the media cycle has moved on and Obama glommed all the PR he could out of it, he’d probably prefer to drop the case altogether.

    Oh well, the next best thing is at hand. The SEC can “settle” and not explicate any wrongdoing whatsoever, not even for show.

    But this is basically what we expected. To mix my allusions, sound and fury signifying nothing ending not with a bang but a whimper.

    Re Beinert on Gaza:

    Hmm, even a neocon like Beinert could be appalled by this? I’m sure he’s in a tiny minority. Right there on the same page is his colleage Leslie Gelb snarling, “Israel was right”.

    I finished my take on this:

    Re hedgehogs:

    Well, on a related topic, I just discovered this morning that the mystery marauders chomping leaves off my cucumber sprouts are chipmunks. But I never had a problem with them last year.

    Probably related to why the chipmunks are so rampant, I’m discovering that using half-baked compost with lots of still-intact acorns in it is a very bad idea. It’s like a varmint beacon.

    1. Cynthia

      I think it has reached a point where the only way for the Palestinians to avoid being totally exterminated by the Israelis is for them to learn from the Israelis on how to become such savvy terrorists that the Western powers will see them as freedom fighters.

  3. Bates

    RE: ‘Relative value, according to Mr. Market’ Annaly Salvos

    Mr Salvos does an excellent job of ignoring the fact that gold has quadrupled in price in the last 10 years, totally obliterating stock and bond performance.

    Mr Salvos is right; Mr Market has spoken… ‘if you are a long term investor in stocks and bonds and not gold, over the last 10 years, you have had your azz kicked!

  4. i on the ball patriot

    The Daily Beast – “Don’t blame the commandos for the flotilla disaster. Blame Israel’s leaders, who enforce the cruel and corrupt Gaza embargo, and their supporters in America.”

    Yuk! Daily propagandist twisted drivel!

    Yes, of course! God bless those Israel commandos! Don’t blame them!

    No! No! No! No! No! No! No! Don’t you dare blame them! They are BLAMELESS! Absolutely and completely and totally fucking blameless!

    All they did was descend on an unarmed Freedom Flotilla in International waters full of non violent peace activists, bringing supplies to the Gaza concentration camp, and gun them down in their sleep.

    Its not the Israeli commandos fault that they pulled the triggers of their Israeli made high tech Tavor assault weapons, (tested and refined in the Gaza concentration camps and now in production for sale around the world) and fired on sleeping innocents making their skulls pop open and fly apart at speeds greater than the speed of sound.

    Its not the Israeli commandos fault that they splattered the brains of these peace loving innocents — brains full of dreams of love, and peace, and hope, and happiness — all over their pillows and pajamas as they slept and dreamed those good and honorable dreams.

    Its not the Israeli commandos fault that they preemptively gunned down freedom loving individuals and created endless grief for their friends and families and loved ones.

    Its not the Israeli commandos fault that they beat, and punched and kicked and brutalized innocent citizens of the world thereby intimidating and polarizing the rest of the world so that their leaders could sample world resolve.

    No, individuals under orders are not responsible for what they do. You can’t blame them. We all learned that at the Nuremberg trials, where Germans who used that “acting under orders” defense were hung by the neck until DEAD.

    And god bless those wealthy ruling elite rich white guy puppets, Churchill and Truman, for so cleverly using the Jewish people, their misery, their great culture and history, by creating scamerican fortress Israel, one of the most productive decoy nations on earth, where culture shifting mind control, divisiveness, and the research, development, and creation of the weapons of perpetual conflict, have been elevated to a high art form.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    1. Peripheral Visionary

      Well, “propagandist” is right, anyway.

      I will admit to a curious sense of detachment to this entire incident. It’s a bit like a convoy of self-styled “peace activists” trying to run the siege of Budapest in 1945 to get supplies into the city and then being shocked and appalled when the Soviets shoot at them. Yes, well, what did you think was going to happen?

      1. i on the ball patriot

        That’s an apples and oranges comparison I believe, but I fully expected the Israelis to act as they did.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      2. OutsideLookingIn

        I’m sure the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto (1940 – 1945) would have fully supported the Nazis ‘redirecting’ and if necessary shooting at any attempt to supply them with food and medical supplies.

    2. spc

      Any military/law enforcment formation in this universe would react in way the IDF soldiers did in this circumstances.

      If You don’t belive me You can do this,a small experiment.
      1.Get yourself a metal rod or solid club – blunt weapon.
      2. Go to nearest law enforcement station and enter the building.
      3. Start beating first encountered officer vehemently – I suggest focusing blows on skull – don’t stop…
      4. Wait for reaction…
      5. Your funeral.

      I can easly understand motives of IDF soldiers.
      At that level it wasn’t about politics, Gaza, Hamas, for them it was mere survival and saving buddies.

      1. i on the ball patriot

        They trained for this mission, they were ordered in, and they had plenty of time to consider the moral implications of following orders and killing people in their sleep.

        Deception is the strongest political force n the planet.

      2. gordon

        There are I think 10 injured Israeli soldiers. There are 9 dead people from the flotilla.

        Who attacked whom? Fairly obviously, the Israelis attacked the flotilla boats. Or are you saying the boats just happened to be under the helicopers and beside the Israeli boats when Israeli soldiers jumped on them?

        I suppose you would also say that Poles and Czechs who resisted Nazi Germans were silly and should have just stayed home. So should the people in those countries (and other countries) who continued to resist German Nazis after their armies had been defeated. Maybe US blacks should never have campaigned for civil rights because it was predictable that many would be injured and some would be killed…

        1. Coldcall

          oh right so a bunch of IHH members (3 of the 4 dead Turks are reported to have wanted to become martyrs – as reported by Turkish media) is compared to WW2 jews fighting the Nazis?

          Sorry mate but while i condemn totally how the Israelis behaved, you are being totally myopic.

          1. Skippy

            by Coldcall
            on Wed, 06/02/2010 – 00:36

            Jews 10, Gentiles 0

            games over folks, shalom :-)

            by Coldcall
            on Wed, 06/02/2010 – 03:15

            On no! You’ve ouuted me a joooooooo. Your amazing intellect was able to put the following together: “shalom” = he must be a jew. And only a jooooooo would make a joke such as Jews 10, Gentiles 0.

            Its a farking joke you moron! I suppose if i say “Bonjour” i must logically be fwench?

            Gotta say, i am dissapointed in the quality of antisemite on this site. Very poor showing guys.

            by Coldcall
            on Tue, 06/01/2010 – 23:46

            you’re being too rational. Cut it out! :-)

            by Coldcall
            on Tue, 06/01/2010 – 23:33

            You know, you should be writing for some trashy “progressive” platform like the Granuiad. Lots of hacks get paid good coin to write this type of intellectually dishonest drivel re Gaza; no reason you should be missing out :-)

            by Coldcall
            on Wed, 06/02/2010 – 00:32

            fascist little ditties do great business at the “progressive” Granuiad. Notice the quotes :-)

            jewish pirates! So thats why they call them skull-caps! Of course.

            Skippy….You are duplicitous.

    3. Valissa

      Israel’s Most Illicit Affair – A new book reveals that Israel’s secret relationship with apartheid South Africa went far deeper than previously understood.

      It’s bad enough that a former Nazi sympathizer was treated like an honored guest by the Jewish state. Even worse was the purpose behind Vorster’s trip to Israel: to cement the extensive military relationship between Israel and the apartheid regime, a partnership that violated international law and illicitly provided the white-minority government with the weaponry and technology to help sustain its grip on power and its oppression of the black majority over two decades.

      Like many illicit love affairs, the back-door relationship between Israel and the apartheid regime was secret, duplicitous, thrilling for the parties involved — and ultimately damaging to both. Each insisted at the time that theirs was just a minor flirtation, with few regrets or expressions of remorse. Inevitably it ended badly, tainting everyone it touched, including leaders of American Jewish organizations who shredded their credibility by endorsing and parroting the blatant falsehoods they were fed by Israeli officials. And it still hovers like a toxic cloud over Israel’s international reputation, providing ammunition to those who use the comparison between Israel’s 43-year military rule over Palestinians and the now-defunct system of white domination known as apartheid to seek to delegitimize the Jewish state. …

      Now comes Sasha Polakow-Suransky, who is an editor at Foreign Affairs magazine, a Rhodes scholar, and an American Jew whose parents emigrated to the United States from South Africa. His singular achievement in his new book, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa scheduled for publication on May 25, is to have unearthed more than 7,000 pages of heretofore secret documents from the bowels of South Africa’s Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and Armscor, the state defense contractor, including the secret 1975 military cooperation agreement signed by defense ministers Shimon Peres and P.W. Botha.

      The Israeli government sought to block release of the pact to the author, but the post-apartheid South African government ignored its protests. The black-majority government, led by the African National Congress, “is far less concerned with keeping old secrets than with protecting its own accumulated dirty laundry after 15 years in power,” Polakow-Suransky notes.

      1. Cynthia

        Let me point out that blacks worldwide have a monopoly on the term “apartheid,” just as Jews worldwide have a monopoly on the term “Holocaust.” So I think this is why the Palestinians are having an especially hard time making the case that they are victims of multi-dimensional discrimination, much less victims of a slow-motion genocide. But if the Palestinians were either black in color or Jewish in faith, the Western powers would have already rescued them from the bloody jaws of Israel. So until the US and its allies come to realize that discrimination isn’t bound by any particular color of skin and that genocide isn’t bound by any particular type of religion, Israel will continue on its quest to either totally drive the Palestinians off their homelands or totally drive them into extinction. It seems to me as though the US and its allies don’t mind being aiders and abettors of Israel’s apartheid-bordering-on-holocaust against the people of Palestine, otherwise they would have already declared Israelis to be human rights abusers of the worst kind and then cut off all support to them.

        Thinking counter-factually, had the victims of apartheid in South Africa been brown instead of black and Muslim instead of Judeo-Christian, I’d bet money on it that today they’d still be victims of apartheid. In other words, being black as well as being Judeo-Christian is what’s freed them from apartheid. And had the US and its allies decided to side with the Muslims instead of the Jews in this Hell of a Holy war in the Middle East, I’d bet money on it that the Palestinians would now be totally free from Israeli apartheid.

        1. Peripheral Visionary

          Eh? Blacks are routinely discriminated against in any number of nations; the primary problem is that most of the nations where they are discriminated against, they are being discriminated against by other blacks. Bushmen and Twa are routinely discriminated against by other black ethnic groups in ways that would make discrimination against blacks in the U.S. or Europe pale by comparison.

          The problem is that that discrimination does not fit neatly into the evil-white-imperialist-versus-good-black-victim template that every Westerner is taught about since youth, and so gets ignored. The evils-of-imperialism theme has become so deeply ingrained into Western thought (see any number of comments on this blog for how completely this theme dominates some peoples’ thinking) that they literally cannot comprehend anything fitting any other model. They are completely insensitive to injustices that do not fit the model (as with discrimination between various black ethnic groups), and hyper-sensitive to injustices that do (as with the old apartheid South Africa).

          But even at that, the Israeli-Palestinian situation doesn’t really fit the whites-discriminating-against-blacks model, as both groups are technically white, and by way of complexion are indistinguishable to most Westerners. What’s more, Palestinians were previously considered to be Arabs, which historically have been a dominant, imperialist group, not an indigenous, subjugated group; and while I am aware of arguments regarding the designation of Palestinians as a distinct ethnic group, the reality is that they are ethnically, religiously, and linguistically a direct extension of one of the most powerful and wealthy groups of people in the world.

          The simplistic good-versus-evil model just doesn’t work. No matter how much people want this to fit a nice, simple model, it doesn’t, it is a complex and difficult conflict, and that is precisely why solutions are so hard to find.

        2. Valissa

          Living in a town with a large Armenian population I can tell you that the folks there certainly don’t think that the Jews have a monopoly on “holocaust” terminology. About a 10 minute walk from my house is The Armenian Library and Museum of America… it’s a very educational place.

          On a related issue, I know a non-Jewish Polish fellow whose parents were in a concentration camp (polish intellectuals, lapsed Catholics I think) in WWII. When as an adult he tried to get some therapy/counseling for his childhood issues from this he repeatedly ran into the problem that he wasn’t Jewish… those who specialized in treating psychological problems stemming from history of concentration camps were all Jewish… and they wouldn’t see/treat him because he wasn’t.

    4. chad

      “All they did was descend on an unarmed Freedom Flotilla in International waters full of non violent peace activists, bringing supplies to the Gaza concentration camp, and gun them down in their sleep. ”

      How can you ever expect to be taken seriously after making a statement like that? The video footage alone refutes that entire paragraph.

      1. i on the ball patriot

        Chad, here’s another viewpoint (first link below).

        And while reading it consider that terrorist governments always infiltrate demonstrations as a matter of good terrorist practice so as to foment a self defense action in the protestors that can be used for PR purposes. Also consider Chad that planting dope and weapons on ‘bad guys’ is not an unheard of practice in the world just as in scamerica. You need to get an education on how gangster cops, that work for gangster politicians, really behave. You need to read, “Cops you won’t see on TV’s COPS”, at Unknown News (second link below).

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        1. chad

          Only the first link you gave had anything to do with the flotilla.

          This is the best I could do trying to find evidence from the article of commandos killing them while they slept.

          “”Under darkness of night, Israeli commandoes dropped from a helicopter onto the Turkish passenger ship, Mavi Marmara, and began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck,” the FGM report says. Some of those they shot were asleep.”

          You’re going to have to do better than that.

          I stand by my earlier statement.

          1. i on the ball patriot

            Chad — still living people — THAT WERE THERE — reported that these innocent people were were shot in their sleep.

            Errrr … like still living people people that were there reported that the scum bag fascist Nazis routinely killed innocent Jews in public executions of intimidation in the concentration camps because they dared help another Jew that was being summarily punished for some contrived offense.

            I can’t bring back the dead Chad.

            You can stand by your earlier — deflective of the morality involved — statement as long as you choose.

            Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    5. Richard Kline

      Gaza Ghetto = Warszawa Ghetto: the only difference is who’s inside. Those who make Israel’s policies think nothing of assassinating anyone in their way, and have killed activists before with impunity.

      I find it difficult to even consider economic issues when a criminal state whose acts are an unbroken series of crimes, most of them against humanity, goes unpunished, unchallenged by the putatively moral nations of this world, actively abetted by my own government. As so often in the past, it will be individuals of conscience who put their lives and fortunes on the line to change this. And I live in hope the it’s the MV Rachel Corrie which breaks Israel’s despicable starvation blockade of those whose ancestors were ethnically cleanesed from the fine pure homes too many in Israel presently, transiently, call their own instead.

  5. Ignim Brites

    Interesting article on the impact of the drilling disaster on the British public. This on top of Britian’s already precarious public financing suggests (1) that a major collapse of the British economy is nigh and (2) the US government and the American nation will receive a good deal of the blame from the British people.

  6. Bates

    Mr Money…

    Very, rough comparison of pump price of premium gas in US…

    1960 ~ $ .30 Now ~ $3.00

    What has changed?

    Take away all the hoopla and bull shit…What is left is the fact that the Fed has lowered the purchasing power of the dollar by a factor of 10 since 1960 in terms of energy delivered via a gas pump…

    Meanwhile, oil priced in gold has remained fairly constant with a few bumps along the way. The price of a barrel of crude oil today is about 2.0 goldgrams, which is the same price crude oil has been at anytime over the last fifty years.

    The reason the central banks hate gold is that it exposes their fiat currencies for what they are…baloney! If one wants a store of value, it is not to be found in fiat currencies.

  7. Roger Bigod

    The administration’s response to the spill is pathetic. The phrase “Obama’s Katrina” has them in a panic, which is certainly understandable. But they’re too late and totally off base.

    BP is facing 3 sets of expenses here. One is stopping the flow of oil and gas. They have an exceedingly strong motivation to do this as fast as possible –without blowing out the remaining barriers to flow. They’ve proceeded as fast as possible, starting with the lowest risk interventions and working up. The top kill failed, but they got valuable information about pressures and flows. The ROV performance has been at the bleeding edge of technology. The appropriate response is disappointment, mixed with relief that the casing or blowout preventer didn’t fail.
    And no little admiration for the efforts of the ROV techs. They didn’t succeed but they didn’t fuck up. Obama’s statement that he was “enraged” is not only contrived and phony, it demonstrates a lack of understanding of the process. It’s as if Churchill was enraged with the troops for not holding Dunkirk.

    The artificial expense is fines based on the quantity of spill. BP’s incentive is to downplay the amount to the maximal extent possible, short of provable perjury. And to a first approximation it doesn’t matter. More serious is the use of dispersants, which hide the amount spilled and avoid the nightmare PR of soiled beaches. There’s a good case that it causes more environmental damage in the long run, but that will never be proven. Perhaps the lesson for policy making is that a fine based on quantity of spill can have bad side-effects.

    On cleanup and tort liability, the incentives are to be as psychopathic as possible, consistent with avoiding so much resentment that Congress punishes them. Exxon set the standard here.

    It’s difficult to escape the impression that Obama views the whole situation with disdain. About all you can say about the picture of him staring at the tar ball is that it isn’t as creepy as Bush’s night of the soul monologue in a deserted Jackson Square.

  8. Anon48

    Re: Moneyless Mann and is thrid of four legs to surviving without cash- Bartering

    It’s a good thing Moneyless lives in the UK and not the US or he might have found himself “bartering” with IRS. They consider profits from that type of activity to be a taxable event. Their interpretaion would be the income is equal to the fair market value of whatever he got in return from the bartering activity. He would only get to deduct his cost basis(items paid via cash) for items he traded away against that income.

    Whoa…I can see I’m having a real productive day :)

  9. Hubert

    re Grandma Lehman
    Another piece in the puzzle.
    Maybe we can do some open source algebra to bring some light into the biggest financial crime ever:

    A+B+C = D

    A) Equity Lehman 20 bn
    B) Loss to subordinated debt 150 bn
    C) Money stolen from London prime brokerage counterparties: 15 bn
    D) damage in total: 185
    (all my estimates, from the hip)

    Now in accounting identities, we will have to find responsible business lines where the losses might have occured. Unfortuanately tho other side is more convoluted:

    D= E + F + G + H + I + J + K + L + M + N + ………..

    E) Losses on Residential Mortgage Bonds/CDOs 20 bn ?
    F) Losses on Leftovers from Pipelines of their mortgage origination subs x?
    G) Deficiency in Assets presumably sold but hoops, maybe not: REPO 105 – max 58 bn
    H) Commercial Real Estate in various forms (Archstone ….): 20 bn
    I) Money stolen by Barclays – 5-10 bn
    J) MOney stolen by JP MOrgan 3-8 bn
    K) Money stolen by various other Derivative counterparties ????
    L) Bankruptcy court and lawyers, 1 bn counting – let´s say 2 bn
    M) Hot Air In LEH Derivative Book ?????
    N) Neuberger Berman – 2,6 on book – appraised for 8 bn, sold for 1 bn – loss 1,6 bn.

    E – F – G might be very well interconnected
    G depends on quality of “REPO” assets. My guess: 20 bn – might or might not be included in e and/ or f.
    All has to add up to 185 bn and I have trouble reaching 100 bn. The solution of this riddle might bring quite some jailtime for Dick Fuld – that should be enough motivation to bring it along.
    Yves – for the sake of earthly justice – would you motivate your readers to join in this endeavour ?

  10. Peripheral Visionary

    Re: Peak Wood

    A fairly clear example, in my view, of the “narrative” approach to journalism, where convenient facts are lined up to support the narrative while inconvenient facts are not so much dismissed as ignored outright. The interesting thing is, the article’s point is not necessarily wrong, but there is a lot of abuse of the facts getting at it.

    One central problem for the article is the simple fact that so many of the regions cited have actually seen a major resurgence of forest growth. Most of New England is now heavily wooded, a strong contrast to even a century ago–if you can find photographs of Vermont in particular comparing different time periods, it is striking how much forest has returned (and “an elegy for the woods of southern Maryland”–really? has anyone involved in this article driven up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway within the last twenty years?) But that fact, inconvenient for the argument being made, is simply omitted entirely.

    Another inconvenient fact is that most of the clearing of woods in the Eastern U.S. was not for fuel, it was, well, to clear the woods. The early settlers were primarily agriculturalists, and they need the land cleared, so they cleared it, with the lumber being used in construction, or to a lesser extent, as fuel, although I suspect in many cases it was simply burned. The clearing of the woods was not an accidental by-product of a short-sighted approach, it was the intended result of a conscious decision. When agriculture in New England and the Mid Atlantic began to fade, the woods came back.

    And another problem–the old Native-Americans-as-good-stewards-of-the-land trope. I’m not saying that there isn’t any truth to it, but it has become so much of a trope that it is worth investigating every time it makes an appearance. The Native Americans, it turns out, also engaged in significant efforts to thin the forests, just as the New England settlers did, and just as the Aborigines in Australia did.

    And the reason for that is the most fundamental problem with the argument being made: dense, old-growth forests are not, ecologically speaking, ideal. I realize that old-growth carries with it a certain romantic, Tolkienesque charm, but the more mundane reality is that most flora and fauna do best in a mixture of forest and meadows. Old-growth supports very little other than the trees–the canopy shades out the ground, which precludes ground vegetation, and with it the host of animals that depend upon it. Ecologically, the richest areas are the forest boundaries, where the trees meet the meadows. The Native Americans knew that (yes, I have succumbed to the trope), which is why they engaged in deliberate burns to open up space for the animals and the plants they used as food.

    I think they article’s point on depletion of resources still stands. But I do think it would have been a much more interesting read with some of the more complex aspects taken into account rather than simply being ignored.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      Peak Wood is the point at which erections begin to diminish in the male, and marks the end of a man’s virility. It is typically diagnosed after 12 months without good wood. In many males it also involves a narrative of lies of omission about the condition of the wood.

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  11. Debra

    Cool little critters at the end.
    Moneyless man and the IRS ?? Our favorite bureaucracy, right ?
    (I think somebody a while ago had a little problem with the IRS, and took it out on a building, right ?)
    Thanks for Moneyless man. I’m going to order the book.
    I’m already doing some of the stuff he does, like distributing leftover food from the Farmer’s Market to my friends…

  12. Angel

    Here’s a theory I haven’t seen anywhere on the flotilla attack.

    1 the attack was at night.
    2 the idf says they used paintball guns.
    3 the activists were expecting harsh treatment.


    1 an idf commando foolishly fires off a few rounds of paint onto an activist from the helicopter. Gun sounds to the uninitiated like a silenced rifle.
    2 activist is hit, in pain, feels something wet, and thinks he’s been shot. Darkness and panic make it difficult for activists to verify event.
    3 Activists begin to suspect the worst.
    4 activists arm themselves with found objects and begin attacking soldiers
    5 soldiers armed with joke weapons are quickly overwhelmed. Idf doesn’t understand why they’re being resisted with such ferocity.
    6 idf okays live fire
    7 activists are shot, “confirming” their worst fears
    8 shootings continue until activists are subdued
    9 activists who could explain the chain of events are dead, and therefore nobody knows why the fighting began.

    This view explains how the idf ended up in a pit of snakes without intending to, and why the activists resisted as they did, without requiring evil motivations for either side.

    Ultimately Israel is responsible for raiding the ship in darkness when misunderstandings were most possible. But if I am right, Israel is not guilty of intentionally attacking a civilian ship. They are guilty of botching a raid.

    So there you are madam webber!

    Free gaza!

    1. Coldcall

      I’m a little dubious on the first part of your reconstruction. Most folks even thinking that they are being fired at will run to cover, which would be inside the ship (away from the open deck). There is clear footage (Turkish video) of the Turkish activists kitted up by the stairs filing onto the deck as the Israelis are arriving from above.

      My view is that a small hardcore of activists (unknown to most on the boat) did intend/plan to fight the Israelis. BUT that doesnt excuse the Israelis terrible handling of the whole operation and their commados being put into such a miserable and frigtening situation that they got their side arms out and started killing their assailants. I suspect some of the killing could also have occured from a sniper/s on the helicopters once they believed their comrades were in mortal danger.

      They stabbbed up one of the Israelis very badly (the one they threw overboard) so at least some of those activists had murderous intent.

      1. Skippy

        The real question is: “Is the blockade itself lawful?’” says Douglas Guilfoyle, a specialist in international and maritime law at King’s College London. “Everything else turns on that.”

        Mr. Guilfoyle says that under the international Law of Armed Conflict a state that has legally established a blockade can enforce it by boarding vessels in international waters that it reasonably expects might breach the blockade.

        But a blockade itself is illegal, he says, “if it will cause excessive damage to the civilian population in relation to the military advantage gained… so therefore intercepting a vessel on the high seas to support or enforce the blockade would not be lawful.”

        Skippy…lawyers paradise…sigh.

        1. OutsideLookingIn

          A blockade can only be lawful in the context of a state of war.

          While hostilities undoubtedly exist between Hammas as an organisation and Israel I am not aware of a state of war having been declared between the ‘government’ of the Palastinians in Gaza and the State of Israel.

          Hence the ‘blockade’ cannot be lawful.

          1. Skippy

            Thanks for trying but, thats not how it works.

            United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a declaration of war against Nazi Germany on December 11, 1941.A declaration of war (aka DOW, DoW) is a formal performative speech act or signing of a document by an authorized party of a government in order to initiate a state of war between two or more nations. The legality of who can declare war varies between nations and forms of government. In many nations power is given to the head of state or sovereign. In other cases something short of a full declaration of war, such as a letter of marque or a covert operation, may authorise warlike acts by privateers or mercenaries. The official international protocol for declaring war was defined in the Hague Convention (III) of 1907 on the Opening of Hostilities.

            It has been noted that “developments in international law since 1945, notably the United Nations (UN) Charter, including its prohibition on the threat or use of force in international relations, may well have made the declaration of war redundant as a formal international legal instrument.”[1] In addition to this, non-state or terrorist organisations may claim to or be described as “declaring war” when engaging in violent acts.[2][3] These declarations may have no legal standing in themselves, but may still act as a call to arms for supporters of these organisations.

            SO….are you saying that all palestinians have declared war along side hamas, and should all americans be acountable for the actions of its goverment when killing people abroad for what ever reason…eh?

    2. Coldcall

      Actually there’s new video footage taken from the ship’s cctv showing the Turkish IHH brigade getting their weapons ready long before the Israelis arrive. They are clearly seen getting their pipes, bats, and even broken bottles ready for the israeli arrival.

      So Im afraid that falsifies the part of your reconstruction suggesting that the IHH members reacted to being hit by paintballs.

  13. Peripheral Visionary

    “As Eliot Spitzer proved to great effect, the threat of a criminal indictment was a blunt but very effective implement to force negotiations, because actually indicting a company could be a death knell.”

    I don’t disagree, but I am cautious about regarding the threat of a criminal indictment as yet another tactic for the government to use in dealing with recalcitrant companies. The question in a criminal investigation should be: was a crime committed? The question in a criminal investigation should never be: can we find some crime to charge against them to bring them in line and/or set an example for the others? That is politics, not justice, and not benign politics, but rather the vicious unprincipled politics exercised by undemocratic states, whose so-called justice systems are used as just another tool for manipulating and controlling society.

    Please don’t misunderstand; if BP committed a crime, then I certainly feel they should be charged with one. But if this is a fishing expedition looking for something to keep the media’s attention, or if it is a punitive expedition looking for somebody to be made a public example of, that could potentially qualify as an abuse of the system.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Regarding BP, don’t we have a moratorium on off-shore drilling NOW?

    So, how can they drill another well, a relief well? Sounds unlawful to me.

    Secondly, aside from its illegality, what if this relief well blows up too? I only ask this because we are dealing with Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens here.

  15. Coldcall

    RE: Beinart’s piece

    That’s perhaps one of the most genuinely balanced op-eds on this tragedy:

    I cannot blame the commandos for resorting to deadly force in the face of that mob, and i doubt any nation’s special forces units would have reacted with any more restraint. Anyone who thinks they would could been able to behave rationally being stabbed, beaten and thrown overboard is deluding themselves.

    But Beinhart is right that the planning, and even the fact that this scenario ever became possible is the fault of the powers that be in the Israeli government.

    For the sakes of Israelis, and their friends around the world, they need some constructive and flexible leaders to commit to a final settlement with the Palestinains.

  16. Bob Visser

    re Beinhart
    I have been following this blog for quite some time now and considered it’s creator and her guests, in general, reasonable and intelligent people. Unfortunately I got this evening a most unpleasant surprise when reading Beinhart’s contribution. Recommended reading nogal!! by Yves Smith.
    The following sentence that raised the hair in my neck was: “It is not the Israel naval commandos who should be judged guilty. Upon dismounting….. in the belly of an armed mob” Please go to the various witness reports freely available all over the internet and you will get another picture than the one painted by the Israeli propaganda machine. These socalled commandos are no less guilty than the Nazis that strangled the Warsaw Ghetto during WW2, to mention only one of the many atrocities committed. I know I was a victim too. The BBC, long considered a neutral reporter, is disseminating the same subtile propaganda. Do I now have to conclude that NC is in the same boat? BV

    1. reprobate

      You miss why this piece is important. Beinart was the former editor of The New Republic, owned by Marty Peretz. The magazine has always defended the AIPAC orthodoxy. For someone like Beinart to break ranks and say the treatment of Gaza is a huge problem is a big deal. Yeah, the defense of the IDF is off key, but is there any piece on this incident that is pitch perfect?

  17. RedSt8r

    @all the anti-Israeli comments
    North Korea’s military intentionally sinks a South Korean navy ship kiling 46 sailors. Yawn, shrug, “eh, so what, it’s just dear leader again”. No outrage at all, just some serious finger wagging by Hillary.
    Meanwhile Israel is engaged in a constant defense of its existence. Hamas, Iran and other Arabs have a publicly stated government policy of wiping Israel off the face of the earth. Again we get the yawn, shrug, so what.
    Israel announces it will stop any ship trying to break the well known Egyptian and Israeli Gaza embargo yet the Turks, Hamas, Palestinians and their myriad supporters proceed anyhow.
    When the Israeli’s do board the ship they are attacked and they defend themselves. Frankly at that point I don’t care how many palestinians are killed. All they had to do was put their hands up and let the Israeli’s search the ship. That’s it. That’s all they had to do.
    Then again, all that has to happen for peace is for the Palestinians and their supporters to lay down their arms and recognize Israels right to exist. That’s all they have to do to stop the killing but they will not do it.
    Why it so many place all the blame on Israel is mystifying unless one assumes anti-semitism is rampant or Israel is being demonized as a proxy for anti-americanism.
    By the way, wasn’t it the Arabs (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, et. al.) who first attacked the Palestinians?

    1. reprobate

      You omit a key point that changes the picture completely. The ship was in international waters. Israel has no business boarding it. The fact that it was destined for Gaza is irrelevant. There was no justification for action of ANY sort until the ship was in Israeli territory.

      1. Skippy

        The real question is: “Is the blockade itself lawful?’” says Douglas Guilfoyle, a specialist in international and maritime law at King’s College London. “Everything else turns on that.”

        Mr. Guilfoyle says that under the international Law of Armed Conflict a state that has legally established a blockade can enforce it by boarding vessels in international waters that it reasonably expects might breach the blockade.

        But a blockade itself is illegal, he says, “if it will cause excessive damage to the civilian population in relation to the military advantage gained… so therefore intercepting a vessel on the high seas to support or enforce the blockade would not be lawful.”

        Skippy…lawyers paradise…sigh.

        1. aet

          UN and Great Britain and Egypt seem to be pretty clear on this particular blockade’s status.
          No person ought to sit in judgment of their own suit or cause.

          1. aet

            Thus it is no cause for wonder that States and P:rinces continually seek to do so.
            For what State or Prince does not seek their own advantage?
            But IMHO, peace in the long term is always the most advantageous path, no matter the State or Prince.
            Many others disagree.

    2. the civilized world

      “…besides, you bunch of antisemitic holocaust-deniers, you can’t run the world’s biggest concentration camp without a blockade, sooner or later you run out of razor ribbon and Arab untermenschen start sneaking out and getting food and clothing and stuff, it’s the camel’s nose under the tent, and before you know it they’re exterminating us again…”

      Time for you to come to terms with the fact that we’re losing patience with you dipshits.

    3. Skippy

      The declaration was made in a letter from Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, a Zionist organization. The letter reflected the position of the British Cabinet, as agreed upon in a meeting on 31 October 1917. It further stated that the declaration is a sign of “sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations.”

      The Treaty of Sèvres (10 August 1920) was the peace treaty between the Ottoman Empire and Allies at the end of World War I. The Treaty of Versailles was signed with Germany before this treaty to annul the German concessions including the economic rights and enterprises. Also, France, Great Britain and Italy signed a secret “Tripartite Agreement” at the same date.[1] The Tripartite Agreement confirmed Britain’s oil and commercial concessions and turned the former German enterprises in the Ottoman Empire over to a Tripartite corporation.

      Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.[2]

      A legal analysis performed by the International Court of Justice noted that the Covenant of the League of Nations had provisionally recognised the communities of Palestine as independent nations. The mandate simply marked a transitory period, with the aim and object of leading the mandated territory to become an independent self-governing State.[65] Judge Higgins explained that the Palestinian people are entitled to their territory, to exercise self-determination, and to have their own State.”[66] The Court said that specific guarantees regarding freedom of movement and access to the Holy Sites contained in the Treaty of Berlin (1878) had been preserved under the terms of the Palestine Mandate and a chapter of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine.[67]

      According to historian Rashid Khalidi, the mandate ignored the political rights of the Arabs.[68] The Arab leadership repeatedly pressed the British to grant them national and political rights, such as representative government, over Jewish national and political rights in the remaining 23% of the Mandate of Palestine which the British had set aside for a Jewish homeland. The Arabs reminded the British of President Wilson’s Fourteen Points and British promises during the First World War. The British however made acceptance of the terms of the mandate a precondition for any change in the constitutional position of the Arabs. A legislative council was proposed in The Palestine Order in Council, of 1922 which implemented the terms of the mandate. It stated that: “No Ordinance shall be passed which shall be in any way repugnant to or inconsistent with the provisions of the Mandate.” For the Arabs, this was unacceptable, as they felt that this would be “self murder”.[69] During the whole interwar period, the British, appealing to the terms of the mandate, which they had designed themselves, rejected the principle of majority rule or any other measure that would give an Arab majority control over the government of Palestine.[70]

      The terms of the mandate required the establishment of self-governing institutions in both Palestine and Transjordan. In 1947 Foreign Secretary Bevin admitted that during the previous twenty-five years the British had done, their best to further the legitimate aspirations of the Jewish communities without prejudicing the interests of the Arabs, but had failed to “secure the development of self-governing institutions” in accordance with the terms of the Mandate.[71]

      Skippy…check it out then formulate an opinion

    4. OutsideLookingIn

      “Hamas, Iran and other Arabs have a publicly stated government policy of wiping Israel off the face of the earth. Again we get the yawn, shrug, so what.”

      And what have Hamas, Iran and other Arabs actually done to effect this policy of wiping Israel off the face of the earth? Extremists in Hamas have fired off a few ineffective rockets in Israel’s direction and, ah…

      What has Israel actually done in response to this threat? Bombed the Lebannon with incendiaries and cluster-bombs which killed thousands of civilians and are still killing them, created a ghetto of the Gaza which closely resembles what the Nazis created in Warsaw and other cities for the Jews, and now attack and kill humanitarian activists in international waters.

      For many years I sympathised with Israel and wished it well. Then in recent years I began questioning whether than sympathy was justified. Now I will donate to the Free Gaza movement:

  18. kevinearick

    answer to whatsyouragenda?

    The moral of this story Mr. University President, not to put too fine a point on it, but I will:

    Next time you see one of us chatting to a janitor or secretary in the hallway, and remember that we make more money than you do, keep you f—— mouth shut and move on, or you can fix all this f—– up technology, and we’ll train your students, which you failed by funneling all the money to your brothers and sisters running and building on to the hospital, which is already 10x too big for the population it “serves”.

    This is just the beginning of the technology blow-outs. I sure hope you took my suggestion and started re-thinking university education. In the Great Depression, the unemployed didn’t have access to the Internet. Now, they are getting a better education than they could have received at Harvard, for free.

    Some of us get paid to fix things and some of us get paid to ignore problems.

    In short, don’t go to war unarmed. Raising your own pay to insulate yourself, while going to war with the unemployed is a bad, bad move.

    Have a nice day. See you at the wall.

  19. Richard Kline

    Tier of furry critters: ” . . . After that, it’s lemurs all the way down.”

  20. Coldcall


    Do you understand the context at ZH?

    I meant every word of what i said at Zerohedge. I’m sorry if you are offended but that is how i deal with blatant antisemites using the cover of the Israeli/Paletine conflict. Notice i dont hide under cover of different handles :-)

    and that doesnt mean i am not highly critical if certain Israeli behaviour.

    1. Skippy

      The usage of duplicitous does not convey an emotional reference to the state of my mind, it points out a problematic set of terms and inferences which are dubious at best when compared on different blogs.

      In your glibness you became that which you decry, just the flip side of that coin.

      You never made the point of condemning the IDF over there (TD blog), and I have had a few read your statements and they see you as cheering on the IDF and mocking the palestinians as a hole, not just hamas.

      Skippy…in your defence that hole thread was a fracas of ignorance on most occasions..if I was to have an emotion connected to it, it would be sorrow.

      1. Coldcall

        You are right. I concede nothing in the face of anti-semites going by handles such as “Shylockcracy”.

        ZH is full of conspiracy theorists, while i think Naked Capitalism is more high-brow. Two different blogs. I treat folks as they deserve to be treated.

        If someone wants a polite debate on the Turkish peace flotilla great, if they are going to make stuipid comments re Jews, then I’m not going to waste by time naively debating them.

        By the way, i think you picked out some of my better one-liners over there. Except you missed a a few as well.

        PS: Do you post there under Skippy, or some other psuedo? because i wont believe you if you say you never post there :-)

  21. Coldcall

    wait a minute….you’re Chumpiwumpikins arent you? You use a similar format under skilly by ending your messages as such: skippy……………

    Chumpikins over at ZH end every post with:

    “I am Chumbawamba”

    Am i mistaken?

    1. Skippy

      Your ability to investigate and formulate arguments are becoming self evident in their wanting:

      by skippy
      on Tue, 06/01/2010 – 20:00

      Marla with all due respect, no self respecting weapons analyst would give a definitive call on the manufacture, type and nomenclature of said weapon based on the quality of this image.

      Skippy…BTW did the IDF boys use aussie passports again and if the film was in colour…wearing ugly shirts?

      by Marla Singer
      on Wed, 06/02/2010 – 07:23

      I’m not calling all that. I’m calling it a paintgun. (Watching two people shot with it feeds part of my analysis).

      on Tue, 06/01/2010 – 20:30

      Boarding a ship on the high seas with out the ships Captains permission, has been an act of violence since time immortal. If it is ok for the IDF to break any law it chooses too, only by the statement, that it feared its intent….where the fk does that leave us….ad absurdum indeed.

      Skippy…A posse ad esse non valet consequentia…

      by skippy
      on Wed, 06/02/2010 – 00:26

      The Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the British Mandate for Palestine truly were a ad-hoc approach to placate Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild. Personally I just wish this held true through the test of time: it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

      I retract my piracy statement even with the on going litigation/debate with regards to the state of its sovereignty, as piracy is described under (UNCLOS).

      The horse is out of the gate now….sigh.

      by Marla Singer
      on Wed, 06/02/2010 – 07:06

      I am really glad SOMEONE finally got that reference. (Some of) my faith is restored.


      Most of what I hear you saying is akin to *I thunkit there for it is so* purely reactionary thought processes, with little or nil evidence to support your theory’s, just spray and pray tactics.

      Skippy…BTW some might be offended by your usage of high brow, continue to chew foot by all means my good man.

      1. Coldcall

        Sorry i never noticed a Skippy on ZH. I dont normally go following folks around the internet, i think its called stalking :-)

        But I asked you if i was mistaken, and you showed me your log, and i accept that.

  22. Coldcall


    For some reason there’s no reply option to you post, so im posting here, hope you catch it:

    “SO….are you saying that all palestinians have declared war along side hamas, and should all americans be acountable for the actions of its goverment when killing people abroad for what ever reason…eh?”

    No I did not sat that. I said Hamas and Israel are at war. I think its far too complex to say that all palestinians are at war with Israel because the Fatah constitents do not appear to be at war along side Hamas.

    BUT Hamas is the elected government of Gaza and Israel has every right to blockade their primary port for receiving weapons. The Turkish flotilla’s intent was to break that *gaza* embargo, not to take aid to the West Bank.

    1. Skippy

      It seems you only cheer for one team and do not take in the larger scope of this conflict, both have blood on their hands. My question to you is, which are the bloodiest, whom is the disposesed, the weaker, yet which side claims the status of under dog, threaten from all sides (BTW which is Americas new tune).

      America lost a few thousand, in attempting to fix this we have killed hundreds of thousands and with no end in sight, is this the road that we sould stay on?.

      Again I point out an act that preempts all Palestinian acts:

      Irgun (Hebrew: ארגון‎; shorthand for Ha’Irgun HaTzva’i HaLe’umi BeEretz Yisra’el, הארגון הצבאי הלאומי בארץ ישראל, “National Military Organization in the Land of Israel”) was a militant Zionist group that operated in the British mandate of Palestine between 1931 and 1948.

      Irgun members were absorbed into the Israel Defence Forces at the start of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. In present-day Israel, the Irgun is commonly referred to as Etzel (אצ”ל), an acronym of the Hebrew initials.

      See here:

      So one group decries acts and tactics that helped them to achieve their goals, why is the whole world dragged into this fracas where as other larger events don’t get the same treatment, I submit to you that their is undo influence to this regard.

      A hole lot of the pot calling the kettle black in my book, they are more alike than not, and either would like to admit.

      Skippy….and before you pop off with your anti-shtick, for it seems to be your only response to any debate, I lived with the surname that in Germanic means tin or sheet metal for about 20 odd years.

Comments are closed.