Links 12/8/10

Oriental hornets powered by ‘solar energy’ BBC (hat tip reader John M)

Ford Starts to Ship an Electric Delivery Van New York Times. This idea is 17 years overdue. I test drove a GM electronic car protoype in 1993, and the plan was to push for electronic delivery fleets to meet electronic vehicle purchase requirements mandated in California and the Northeast. Instead, the industry pushed to have the legislation rolled back.

California judge orders illegal GMO sugar beet crops destroyed Natural News (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Hackers Attack, Take Down Site of Bank that Froze Assange Cash AlterNet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

It’s the establishment vs the web Hindu

U.S. Arrests Online Seller Who Scared Customers New York Times. So it takes a front page New York Times article to get action against this sort of thing?

Loose Change Noam Scheiber, New Republic

You’ve Been At This Pundit Thing Too Damn Long, Old Man Moe Tkacik

Murmurs of Primary Challenge to Obama New York Times

Epitaph from the Imperial Graveyard Tom Engelhardt

India’s battle against hunger beset by problems of delivery and corruption Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

€6bn cut and run Independent (Ireland, hat tip Richard Smith). It looks as if the major parties are backing the bailout, see here and here.

Why banks don’t write in English Felix Salmon

FDIC Launches Investigation of Officials of Failed Banks DSNews (hat tip Lisa Epstein)

Lehman Retirement Plan Sues Fuld Over Repo 105 Bloomberg (hat tip Richard Smith). The irony is priceless.

Antidote du jour (hat tip Richard Smith):

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  1. rjs

    re: Oriental hornets powered by ’solar energy’

    maybe we could genetically engineer that yellow stripe into future generations of humans, thereby reducing their food consumption…the excess cropland could then be diverted into more ethanol production…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Most people are missing a bigger story.

      Those high academic-test scoring kids from Shanghai are also powered by solar energy.

      It’s called Chinese Exceptionalism. I heard from the guy who just won the Confucius Peace Award…I think.

    1. Jojo

      Damm! I was hoping that alligator would show the cat who was the real boss. Guess he wasn’t very hungry.

  2. rjs

    re: FDIC Launches Investigation of Officials of Failed Banks – “In a move reminiscent of the last time the United States was in such dire financial straits…In the 1980s and 1990s, the savings and loan (S&L) crisis prompted the government to investigate and prosecute hundreds of bank insiders, sending more than 1,000 to prison, and collecting $4.5 billion.”

    thats not the way i remember it; i remember the article appearing in newsweek that neil bush pilfered over a million from the silverado S&L in denver & lost it playing cards in the back office…he never went to jail nor was he fined; the next week his daddy started the war in iraq and the silverado story died…

  3. Chucky

    I really do love that Moe Tkacik post regarding Ezra Klein.

    Matt Taibbi’s piece this week is all about folks like Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias who earn their “lefty” badges in their first couple of years in the workforce before cashing into long careers as pseudo-lefty opponents of progressives.

    1. Jessica

      Thank you for pointing to the Matt Taibbi piece.
      His analysis was excellent in both aspects: tearing into Matt Bai’s fluff piece for transferring social security funds to the rich who do not pay social security tax on most of their income and his analysis of the faux-progressive ecological niche in the mainstream media’s reproduction of untruth.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Vitaly Borker (‘online Seller who threatened customers’) sounds like a thoroughly nasty piece of work. Quite properly, state authorities filed harassment and stalking charges against him.

    What is so wrong is the ‘piling on’ by the feds, with their customary ‘kitchen sink’ mail and wire fraud charges, which criminalize routine communication to the extent that the potential sentences of 20 years are four times higher than for the underlying crime covered by the state charges.

    What part of Amendment V do they not understand?

    ‘… nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb …’

    Although the US Constitution on paper contains some of the most radical pro-defendant provisions to be found anywhere, in practice severe sentences, prosecutorial supremacy over judges, and double-jeopardy state/federal charges put Americans at the highest risk of going to prison of any people on earth.

    Yeah, NYC’s crime rate is down. But it didn’t have to be accomplished by destroying the constitution.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I agree, the response was over the top. Having a detective call on him much earlier would probably have stopped him cold. If it didn’t, then something more aggressive would be warranted.

  5. steve from virginia

    Access to the Internet is a basic human right?

    Ha haha! It’s more like the claim is sign of the top in Internet penetration.

    Typical post- modern ‘aktion’. Let’s not get dirty, relax in Starbucks instead and fight for revolution recreation whilst sitting on one’s ass sipping cappuccino.

    1. attempter

      That’s quite a preverted response, unless you’re really a reactionary.

      1. We the people built the Internet. We paid (and pay) for it. It’s public property which, like so much else, was criminally privatized. It should be a public utility.

      2. It’s the most important communication medium. I suppose you also still think the Old Boys should be able to form “private” clubs, keep out women, blacks, Jews, and anyone else uncouth, and then make all the real political and economic decisions in those clubs.

      3. For someone who seems to be pretending to want “revolution”, you sure are flip about how the non-rich are supposed to educate themselves and organize once they’re all knocked offline while the criminals monopolize the pipes.

      I guess you sneer at net neutrality as well.

      Let’s ration Internet access by wealth! It’s worked so well so far for everything else!

      No wonder I got sick of Peak Oilers and don’t go to those sites anymore. They tend to prefer making armpit noises to real rage and compassion.

        1. attempter

          Well, since we the people, by way of bailouts, illegitimate privatizations, pork, subsidies, “free trade agreements”, government-sanctioned accounting fraud and Akerloff looting, and every other form of corporate welfare, are by now the rightful owners (paid many times over) of all large corporations and all their assets, then there shouldn’t be a problem.

          But if felons are to be stripped of the right to vote, then we know of one class who must be completely disenfranchised.

      1. Michael Cain

        “We the people built the Internet. We paid (and pay) for it. It’s public property which, like so much else, was criminally privatized. It should be a public utility.”

        You and I live in different realities. I’ll grant you that the initial low-level protocol was developed using government funding; at the time, though, there were a number of competing protocols, and no assurance that TCP/IP would be the winner. Per the rules at the time, that technology eventually passed into the public domain.

        The network we use today was, by any reasonable measure, built entirely with private dollars by companies expecting to make a profit. The routers are designed and built by companies like Cisco and Juniper. The backbone routers and fiber optic cables were paid for by companies like Level 3 and Qwest. The last-mile distribution runs on fiber/coax and fiber/twisted-pair networks built by private companies. The last several feet is all derived from Ethernet these days, a technology developed entirely by a private company.

        The government owned and operated ARPANET, to which you may be referring, was decommissioned entirely in 1990 — it was never privatized.

        1. ScottS

          Good point. I think government subsidized municipal and inter- and intra-state fiber connections are an excellent idea! As long as we get to opt-out of the absurd claim that Customs can steal a web site’s URL.

        2. liberal

          I don’t know much about this stuff, but what about NFSNET? ALOHAnet? Plus the fact that a huge chunk of the revenue of companies doing anything related to engineering like this comes from DOD.

          Finally, no government involvement ==> no internet. We’d have a bunch of walled gardens. That’s probably where we’re heading to, slowly, unless the FCC decides to enforce a strong version of net neutrality.

        3. attempter

          1. Although I’m not an expert on it, according to what I read the TCP/IP was developed by ARPANET cadres who simply took their public-funded expertise private. So if TCP/IP was in fact the pivotal intellectual innovation, that’s still the result of publicly-funded research.

          2. As for the physical infrastructure and the massive subsidies the telocom rackets have always received, here’s a good primer:

          “Why Consumers Demand Interent Freedom” Fact #6:

          I’ll venture it would’ve been a little tougher to wire every house if the public hadn’t already built the entire infrastructure of roads, rights-of-way, telephone lines, and so on.

          Even if I’m not 100% sure about the provenance of the ideas themselves, where it comes to the physical infrastructure I’m satisfied: On its face it’s clear the rackets are parasites.

          3. In general and as always, no such infrastructure or realized ideas can exist at all without a big, lavishly funded government to uphold it. So even if something like the Internet truly had been the result of private ideas (but it wasn’t) and technically funded by private money (which it wasn’t), it still would stand only on the public foundation, would exist only upon the public strength, and therefore no one would have any right to extract rents from it.

          As always, even if capitalism were correct, that would still only entitle one to profit based upon one’s personal unique productive contribution.

  6. rental_hell

    ‘For the first time in history, a judge has ruled that an illegally-planted, genetically-modified (GM) crop be destroyed.’

    Um – maybe in the U.S. this is somehow a ‘first,’ but it is quite routine in Germany. At least destroying the crops is routine – possibly it is unnecessary to actually involve a judge, since the German laws in this regard are quite clear – and have survived a challenge in the German Supreme Court.

  7. Give Sympathise Control

    At least this is getting some notice in the mainstream media.

    And it’s not just the “little people” they’re doing this to. Apparently even CEO-types aren’t immune:

    ‘Equally puzzling is the case of Williams, the chief executive of a food distribution business in Kansas City, Kan. Williams lives in a 3,000-square-foot house with a luxurious patio and pool out back. Before his GMAC nightmare began, he says his credit score was 794 out of 800. “I’ve never been any days late on anything, ever,” Williams says.

    ‘But when Williams, 52, tried to pay his $2,500 monthly mortgage payment online on Aug. 5, he found out that GMAC had put a “stop” on his mortgage account.

    ‘Since that day last August, Williams has found himself trapped in an alternative banking world worthy of the Twilight Zone. The trouble couldn’t come at a worse time for Williams and his wife, Carol. She was in the process of buying the upholstery business where she has worked for 10 years. Bank of America lowered Carol’s credit limit, citing “serious delinquency on other accounts.” And the couple’s credit score is sinking by the day.

    ‘During the past four months, Williams says he has talked with 25 GMAC representatives. He has twice contacted the offices of the CEO and the chief financial officer. He has sent packages of paperwork documenting and verifying his claims. And, he says, various GMAC employees have promised to straighten it out immediately. All the while, GMAC has repeatedly refused to take his mortgage payments, going so far as to mail them back to him. It is routine for banks to refuse payments once they start foreclosure proceedings.

    ‘Finally, on Nov. 9, a GMAC employee who said she worked in the executive offices contacted Williams and told him that an audit had revealed the bank had lost his loan’s paperwork. But she couldn’t explain why the stop had been put on Williams’ account, why the bank was rejecting his payments or why the bank was assessing him for late fees every month. She said she would send letters to his credit agencies to correct the misinformation.

    ‘On Nov. 15, she sent Williams a package of documents for a loan modification and stressed that it was urgent that Williams “immediately” sign and return them, “prior to the Nov. 24 regulatory deadline.” If Williams didn’t do so, the GMAC employee said in an e-mail, the loan modification “would no longer be valid.”

    ‘Williams emailed the woman with several concerns and questions about the documents but he never heard back from her. He felt the only option he had left was to hire a lawyer. “It’s really a bite — and I can’t tell you how it chafes me — to have to pay hundreds of dollars an hour just to get to make my house payment because the mortgage company can’t find their loan documentation,” says Williams.

    ‘GMAC spokesman James Olecki says the bank is looking into Williams’ situation.’

    1. attempter

      Although I’ll side with anyone against the banksters, in a case like this I can’t help but wonder:

      1. Prior to this, did this guy consider himself a Randian superman?

      2. If so, has he reconsidered?

  8. Hugh

    I don’t know about murmurs. The hot topic now in the left blogosphere is challenging Obama. Obama fatigue has hit even some of the most Democratic-oriented sites, like dkos.

    The Ezra Klein send up describes a common phenomemon of “making your bones and then sitting back on your laurels.” I bet everyone can think of examples no matter what their walk of life.

  9. Huckleberry

    Those alligators have obviously been hand-fed. That is a Not To Be Encouraged No-No.

    That said, I thought the one on the left looked a little like Lloyd Blankfein.

  10. YY

    The gator looks reptilian enough to be Republican, but I somehow doubt that the cat was in the mood to compromise.

  11. Keith

    God I hope Obama gets a primary challenge and I hope whoever it is wins. I voted for him in 2008 and I will never make that mistake again.

    If the DOJ really went after the fraud in the financial system…oh wait, fraud is the financial system. I guess I finally get it that if they cleaned up the fraud we wouldn’t have a financial system. So I guess it’s o.k. for them to let this crap go on.

    I’ve never been so disgusted with my country even during the Bush years.

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