Links 1/28/11

No Leftovers for Tyrannosaurus Rex: New Evidence That T. Rex Was Hunter, Not Scavenger ScienceDaily (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Governments stockpile food staples Financial Times. Um, the time to stockpile is when supplies are abundant.

25 Years of Digital Vandalism William Gibson, New York Times

U.S. cash crude – Grades hold gains as spreads blowout Reuters (hat tip reader Michael Q)

Watching terror coverage on TV University of Haifa (hat tip reader Paul S)

Small Explosion at Davos Hotel Shatters Glass and Calm New York Times

Their Own Private Europe Paul Krugman, New York Times

Koch conference under scrutiny Politico (hat tip reader Paul T)

Dubai’s artificial islands “sinking” BoingBoing (hat tip reader Don B)

WikiLeaks Spurs On Protests By Releasing New Egypt Corruption Cables Clusterstock

Andrew Bacevich, Pentagon, Inc. Tom Engelhardt

New York Sets Hearing To Review Fraud Claims By Bond Insurers Automated Trader. Reader Arthur notes:

You might remember Morelle as the guy who was trying to get CDS regulated as insurance back in ’08. The feds shut him down, but he’s still interested in this stuff.

Property: Overarching problems Financial Times. Richard Smith points out that the observation attributed to McKinsey has also been made on this blog….

For Housing, A Quick Fix Or Less Risk Floyd Norris, New York Times. Norris endorses John Hempton’s proposal, which you read here first.

States May Require Redocumenting Loans in Foreclosure American Banker (hat tip reader Mary S)

The FCIC archive: A nearly complete listing Lambert Strether. Per his e-mail: “A data conversion effort that shows FCIC’s “Resource Library” is farcically bad and obfuscatory.”

U.S. Chamber Attacks FCIC as “Job-Killing” WikiLeakers Mary Bottari, Huffington Post. If the CoC cared a rat’s ass about generating jobs, I might take this a hair more seriously.

Nearly 1 in 4 Nevadans who were foreclosed on could’ve made payments but chose to walk away Reader Timo points out:

Supposedly 23% of foreclosures out here are ‘strategic defaults’ but they quote people who essentially ran through all their savings or were told by their bank that they needed to be in arrears before qualifying for a mod first. And the report seems to throw people like that in with the ‘real’ strategic defaulters. Guess they have to if the “real” strategic defaulter remains mostly a myth.

The comments on the newspaper/blog article are also quite interesting…

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-01-28 at 5.45.53 AM

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  1. tenletters

    Someone turned off the internet and text messaging in Egypt. The chorus of US officials keep repeating that Mubarak needs to start initiating reforms. Sec Clinton and VP Biden standing by their man, and staying several steps behind the times. Perhaps we in the West should more often remember that it is possible for Arabs and Muslims to be neither radical nor our allies. Start initiating reforms? More like start initiating exit plans.

    1. DownSouth


      I picked up on your comment and link from yesterday and used it in a comment I wrote today on this thread.

      I also wrote a comment regarding the Egyptian situation on this thread today.

      The puppet dictatorships the United States keeps propped up in the Middle East are losing power, and the response of the Obama administration has been to up the ante by deploying even greater levels of violence.

      Let me use this as an opportunity to plug VBS.TV’s documentary “The Taliban in Pakistan.” Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 here. It shows how Obama’s senseless murder of innocent people in the Middle East is radicalizing the region.

      Obama very much needs Islamist radicals, because this “nurturing enemy” plays a key role in keeping the corrupt status quo in the United States, which he represents, propped up.

    2. Stelios Theoharidis

      I don’t know why anyone listens to S&P, Fitch, or Moodys anymore, but this seems pretty significant.

      Standard & Poor’s downgraded Japan Thursday because it expects the country’s “fiscal deficits to remain high in the next few years” as it continues to deal with problems like debt, deflation and an aging population.

      The rating agency lowered Japan’s long-term credit ratings to AA-minus from AA

    1. ginnie nyc

      dearieme: LOL!. I recognize that cats have a large lobby behind them, Yves, but could we have more hedgehogs, please?

  2. rjs

    BofA unit ordered to halt foreclosures – A Nye County district judge has ordered ReconTrust Co., a unit of Bank of America Corp., to stop most of its foreclosures in Nevada, based on allegations made by a Pahrump woman. The order signed by Nye County District Judge Robert Lane on Jan. 20 restrains ReconTrust from foreclosing on “any real or personal property situated in the State of Nevada.” The bank holding company is also named in the lawsuit. Suzanne North, who operates a children’s day care center out of her home, originally alleged that ReconTrust was operating without a state business license. In an amended complaint, she claimed that ReconTrust served her with a foreclosure notice before Bank of America appointed ReconTrust as trustee. The Las Vegas Review-Journal was unable to obtain a copy of the amended complaint. In a statement, Bank of America said: “ReconTrust previously faced a nearly identical order in Utah, and it recently prevailed in challenging that order in federal court. Until the current situation is resolved, ReconTrust intends to comply with the order.” ReconTrust had about 7,500 foreclosure sales scheduled in the Reno and Las Vegas metropolitan areas when the order was signed.

  3. attempter

    The requirement to redocument is good although obvious. It’s quite a commentary on what a cesspool this place has become that something so obvious and fundamental ever failed to be done in the first place, and now could even be controversial, let alone fiercely resisted.

    Why do we suffer such criminals to live?

    Re strategic defaults:

    For the non-rich there’s no such thing as a “strategic default”. If the definition is that one can afford to pay but walks away, then under this intentionally engineered economic collapse, where the system is liquidating as many of the middle class as it can as fast as it can, there’s no way anyone can confidently vouch for his continued ability to pay his mortgage, even if he can nominally afford it at the moment. One might need that money for food a few months from now.

    So for the non-rich, to walk away is always at least in contemplation of future financial hardship. None of us know by now what we can really afford.

    That looks like my cat when she tries to sprawl on the keyboard.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The cat is thinking, if you are fingering that thing all day and all night long, well, that’s something he wants to be in on.

  4. russell1200

    Half to laugh that they are still arguing about the hunting techniques of T-rex.

    Unlike other known dinosaur eocologies, there were actually very few other predator types around with T-Rex. It is possible that T-Rex young were filling the small dinosaur nitch, and that they stayed in family groups centered around the (larger) dominant females.

    T-Rex seems to have taken over in one of the least publicized extinction events that occurred in the mid-Cretacious. There was an hypoxia event in the northern hemisphere that caused an enormous population turnover in the areas that effected it. Since hypoxia is one of the scarier possible outcomes of global warming, that is what they should be worrying about.

    1. Jesse

      I watched the fellows putting forward the theory that T-Rex was a scavenger, and it appeared to be tortured to the point of being ludicrous. The thing seemed to be based on the small front legs and the inability of T rex to grasp live prey. Perhaps someone should have taken them to the river to observe how crocodiles hunt.

      I see far to many shows like this, where they take a ‘possibility’ and start gluing it together with other ‘possibilities’ and come up with an elaborate theory that if one steps back and looks at it, is laughable.

      Hmmm. Sounds like modern economic theory.

  5. Ina Deaver

    So this is what happens when a cat who likes to get in the middle of the newspaper figures out that you’ve started reading online. . . .

  6. BB

    Did you notice that the impotent conclusion of the Republican version of the FCIC report is a stunning recapitulation of Karl Marx’s fundamental argument: namely, that capitalism is simply doomed to recurring crisis from which there can be no technocratic salvation? And it was the Democrats who played the part of the capitalist apologists, promising that capitalism is fixable, that crises are not inevitable, and that proper management can ensure that capitalism can continue crisis-free? When I saw the report, and the Republican insistence that there was nothing to be done to prevent the crisis, I realized that they had gone so far to the right that they came out on the far left.

    1. Sherparick

      I would say that position that Capitalism can be disciplined and controlled for the general good is the traditional one for New Deal Liberal Democrat. Further, although again I expect to get flamed about this on this blog, the history of the U.S. from 1933 to now, particularly through the 1960s, supports this theory. Only as CEOs and new wealth of the Sun Belt waxed in influence and diminished the New Deal and its institutions has Capitalism worse features. Frankly, it is very hard for me to see a left wing movement in the U.S., with its racial and ethnic divisions being more strongly felt than any class idenity. Further, homeowners, even under underwater homeowners, and holders of 401K plans don’t want to see what wealth they have left expropriated by the State at the moment. In fact, the Social Security Program is a huge interest that the average person has in making sure the current regime continues (which is why Bismark thought it up to help preserve the Hohenzollern monarchy in Germany, but Wilhelm and his generals got themselves into a war they could not win, but even then the German state passed pretty much intact to Weimar.) Your point is correct if you mean that by destroying all of these ameilorating institutions, the Right will eventually set the stage for a real social revolution in another generation.

      As we drift more to crony capitalism and oligarchy, the examples that our Energy policy is run chiefly to enhance oil industry profits, so our Defense policy is now chiefly about enhancing the Contractor’s profits.

      1. attempter

        Further, although again I expect to get flamed about this on this blog, the history of the U.S. from 1933 to now, particularly through the 1960s, supports this theory.

        Those dates, which correlate closely with the beginning of oil’s heyday and the realization among the elites of Peak Oil, including the global discovery peak in 1964 and climaxing with Hubbert’s correctly predicted US production peak in 1970, support the theory that capitalism used the oil surplus to allow a temporary mass middle class to form. Which was also necessary for Cold War propaganda. And then there was the real fear of revolution in the 30s. In those days everyone thought the people had alternatives if capitalism became too predatory.

        New Deal-type liberals think they engineered a kinder, gentler capitalism, when the truth is that capitalist liberalism is deployed when capitalism gets into trouble and/or has rivals. It’s capitalism’s first, preferred option prior to fascism itself. Liberals are simply a kind of capitalist consultant.

        That fascism is where we seem to be headed now. That the Republicans (and implicitly the Dems as well) are inadvertently confessing that Marx was right is part of this increasingly ruthless mindset.

        1. eric anderson

          Maybe it is not so much Marx being right, as nature being what it is, even human nature and mass behavior — cyclical. You can fight the cycles, but it’s like the old king standing in the tide commanding it to retreat.

          If this is correct, Republicans are merely being realists. I am not arguing for lawlessness. I want the fraud prosecuted. I want tax loopholes removed and fairness restored. But I suspect that even if the system is reoriented along those lines, cycles will still occur.

          People are losing faith in virtually all institutions. Perhaps that is because they observe the impotence of their institutions in the face of a very complex reality.

          Obama in his State of the Union said, “The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from.”

          Of course, then he went on to contradict himself and name all the areas in which the government should attempt to meddle, to drive industry/business in that direction, especially touting clean energy as a jobs engine. Ludicrous, incoherent, but there you have it.

          Wasn’t Keynes admitting the inevitability of cycles when he proposed surpluses in good times and deficits in bad? That sounds very wise. Unfortunately it was never tried. Isn’t the inherent assumption that we could not prevent or counteract cycles, but maybe mitigate them a bit?

          1. attempter

            Isn’t the inherent assumption that we could not prevent or counteract cycles, but maybe mitigate them a bit?

            Yes. That’s how Keynes wanted to try to “save capitalism from itself”, because for all his disparagement of Marx he knew that capitalism inevitably generates these cycles of destruction.

            But Keynes was really being utopian if he believed his ideas would actually be taken up under any but extreme conditions, if even then. As we see today, whatever “even then” there was is long gone.

            I guess it’s worthy of Schadenfreude that the very word “Keynes” is an all-purpose epithet in the mouths of the very capitalists Keynes wanted to save from themselves.

            The company you keep, and all.

  7. Jim the Skeptic

    Andrew Bacevich, Pentagon, Inc.

    There is no doubt that we need a serious discussion about military spending. But it will never come about as a result of pieces like this one.

    It could inspire a conversation about the Congress living up to its responsibilities.

    We got into Afghanistan for all the right reasons but then the military’s political masters screwed up by denying the effort enough assets. By the time that was corrected, it was too late. The object of the entire endeavor was to collect the members of al Qaida and now they sit safely in Pakistan. We are unwilling to invade Pakistan so it has become a sanctuary.

    The mission was converted to something else, call it nation building or whatever. The Congress can refuse to fund this any longer.

    Then perhaps we could have an adult conversation about military spending. There are still risks in this world and we need a competent military. What we do not need is another aircraft carrier group, or another fighter aircraft program, or any number of other very very expensive military programs.

    The argument that we must constantly develop new military hardware is seriously flawed. The B-52 has flown for decades with periodic upgrades. We went into WWII with less than the best equipment. The US Army fought WWII with light and medium tanks which went up against German heavy tanks. Tactics and training compensated. That has also proven to be the difference in the air.

    We pay huge sums of money to develop the latest new military technology. Then the Russians or the Chinese steal that technology and build some copy. Which means that we have to spend even more money to develop and deploy the next generation of equipment.

    It has occurred to me that if we just stopped trying to stay on the cutting edge, we would save a lot of money and force the Russians and the Chinese to do their own development! Build out the new technology once it becomes obvious that it will shortly become the standard, and stay just ahead of the others.

    1. spc

      I think that’s possible to come up with exact technology in independant way, without “stealing”.

    2. maude

      The Russians and the Chinese don’t need to steal our secrets anymore. We give it to them along with the means to make our military hardware. Why? Because then we make an extra buck! It’s not even about ‘protecting’ us from our enemies anymore. It is just another industry that we fund with taxpayer dollars. Oh, and by the way, it also helps keep the unemployment numbers down, otherwise we would have another 1 million on the rolls.

      1. Jim the Skeptic

        Maude said “Oh, and by the way, it also helps keep the unemployment numbers down, otherwise we would have another 1 million on the rolls.”

        If we are to use government money to fund jobs, then let’s build parks.

        Don’t get me wrong, I spent 4 years in the Army. It was a very valuable experience.

        Our military is better than others because it is mostly a meritocracy. And officers and NCOs spend their time getting better and better at what they do and we should be grateful.

        But defense spending is out of control.

    3. Keenan

      The US Army fought WWII with light and medium tanks which went up against German heavy tanks. Tactics and training compensated.

      Actually it was more the superior industrial capacity of the U.S. One high ranking German POW had told his American captors: “One of our tanks was better than ten of yours, but you always seem to have eleven”

      1. MarcoPolo

        And Rommel had Montgomery tied in knots for months while at one point having just 13 tanks operational.

          1. Jim the Skeptic

            Keenan said “I’m sure Patton must have had some choice remarks on that episode of the North African campaign.”

            Interesting comment. Patton took over from Fredendall a on 6 March 1943. Too late for my father.

            On 14 February 1943 the Germans began their first major attack into American lines in Tunisia. My father’s field artillery battery was staked out on a low hill overlooking Sidi Bou Zid along with an infantry company and a tank company. The attack began at 6:30AM and by noon that hill (Djebel Lessouda) was surrounded and bypassed.

            Two days later they were ordered to try to make it back east to American lines. Didn’t work out and Dad was in a German POW camp for 26 months.

            My uncle was a tank driver, also in the 1st Armored Division and survived Kasserine Pass as the German continued east.

            Fredendall was sent back to the US to run training commands. The military does not reward screw-ups in war time.

      2. Jim the Skeptic

        Keenan said “Actually it was more the superior industrial capacity of the U.S. ”

        My point was that we were not using state of the art equipment. Our tanks were lighter than the Germans.

        And to make it worse our’s used gasoline instead of diesel.

        My uncle said the they referred to them as “Ronsons”.

        Ronson made cigarette lighters which they advertised “would light on the first strike”. So did those American tanks.

        1. Keenan

          Thanks for your replies and sharing your family member’s experiences. Jim. If I recall correctly, Sherman M4s may not have been fielded at that point. Your uncle may have been driving a “Grant” or a “Lee”. Even the US M26 heavy with a 90mm gun fielded at the very end of the war had a gasoline engine. It was the first US tank to use “Christie” torsion bar suspension which already in wide use by the Germans, Russians, etc.

          I understand that in the war against Germany, the US had more tanks counted as destroyed than it had fielded. The US armor recovery units scoured the battlefield for those burned out “ronsons” that could be resurrected and refitted. One can hardly imagine the task of cleaning out one of those hulks. I’ve read that even several coats of paint couldn’t mask the smell of death.

          1. Jim the Skeptic

            Hey, you know your stuff!

            My uncle would have been driving the M3 Grant. He was in Company G, 3rd Battalion, 13th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division according to a letter which he wrote to my mother just before the North Africa campaign.

            Also I had a second uncle who was a motorcycle messenger in the 1st Armored Division who also survived the North Africa campaign and the war.

            For reference I use a copy of George F Howe’s “Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West” which is on the internet now. And I have a few records from the National Archives for my father’s unit.

          2. Keenan

            I’m just a reader of the histories, no personal experience.
            I learned a lot from Belton Y. Cooper’s “Death Traps” concerning his armored division in the ETO.

            If you’ve ever seen Bogie’s WW2 film “Sahara”, I’m pretty sure the tank is an M3. It looks antiquated compared to their opposition at the time. Thanks for your mentioning Howe’s book.

            My Dad & Uncle were in the Pacific. Both made it back without suffering permanent effects.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    No time to read the article, but are they referring to the mortgage on the Dubai island as being ‘underwater’ or is the artificial monstrosity actually sinking…perhaps due to global warming?

    1. Nicholas Weaver

      Actually sinking. Not due to global warming, but erosion.

      The maker denies this, but its actually quite obvious:

      A 4 year old sattelite photo:

      A current Google sattelite photo:,+dubai&aq=&sll=25.264444,55.311667&sspn=0.833326,0.877533&gl=us&g=Dubai+-+United+Arab+Emirates&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=The+World&ll=25.218919,55.173855&spn=0.104206,0.109692&t=h&z=13

      1. eric anderson

        I am reminded of a song the children used to sing in church. It is from an aphorism of Jesus.

        The wise man built his house upon the rock…

        The foolish man built his house upon the sand…

  9. Hugh

    Dubai’s artificial islands sinking. What a great metaphor for the world economy. Pointless, built for the rich, and collapsing.

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