Links 2/17/11

False toes belonging to Egyptian mummies were the world’s ‘earliest functional prosthetic body parts’ Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

Silly Humans Can’t Count: The 29% Effect Paul Kedrosky

Anonymous and the global correction AlJazeera (hat tip reader Ted L)

Desperately Seeking Search Ed Harrison

New Hacking Tools Pose Bigger Threats to Wi-Fi Users New York Times. Yours truly has alway preferred using an Ethernet cable whenever possible.

Shy U.S. Intellectual Created Playbook Used in a Revolution New York Times. NC readers beat the NYT! Richard Kline pointed out the Sharp/Otpor influence in Egypt a full two weeks ago.

Treasury Calls for Scrutiny of Egypt Wall Street Journal. I’d assume that horse has left the barn and is now in the next county, erm, country.

A report from Egypt Lambert Strether

China frauds that kill people John Hempton

DoD’s impending crisis a myth, critics say Federal News Radio

The Lens of the 2012 Election Kash, Angry Bear

For-Profit Colleges Look to U.S. House Measure for Rule Relief Bloomberg

Chairman Issa Issues Subpoena for All Countrywide VIP Docs House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform

Presidential cash stakes rise sharply Financial Times

Republicans Gear Up For Fight Over Consumer Financial Protection Bureau TPM

GMAC Wins Ruling in Maine Case Over False Foreclosure Documents Bloomberg (hat tip Lisa Epstein)

MERS Ends Foreclosures in Its Own Name (hat tip Lisa Epstein)

SEC escalates probe into Freddie Mac disclosures Financial Times

JPMorgan Chase Works Overtime to Make Up for Abuse of Military Families in Foreclosure Dave Dayne, FireDogLake

Bank Regulator Pushing For Modest Settlement With Industry Over Improper Mortgage Practices Shahien Nasiripour, Huffington Post

Do No Harm Hulu (hat tip reader Mark F). On billing abuses by not for profit hospitals.

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-02-17 at 1.17.22 AM

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  1. Richard Kline

    Regarding the NYT article on Gene Sharp, the archivist of non-violence, my jaw hit the floor when I saw the equivalent of a front page piece on him in the Shady Lady, but in pleasant surprise.

    Anyone with the slightest interest in public affairs should read his work, and I recommend it without reservation, bought his texts a generation since. Why? He does offer some good practical advice on organizing, but the body of his texts are descriptions, in exhaustive number and detail, of instances in which nonviolent protest was employed, how it was employed, and the result. You know, _facts_. The frequency and success rate is something I feel sure most of you don’t know. We hear endlessly about “defense budgets of huge X” and “militants seeking to Y” and “terrorists struck to day in Z” but what we don’t here are the times where powerful change is accomplished without ANY OF THAT. That is because the wielders of state power monopolize violence to their own discretion or seek to, and think almost exclusively in terms of violence as the resort or threat to enforce raison d’etat. Nonviolence has tremendous power of effect. One doesn’t win all the time, but the key point is ‘few people die.’ And accordingly bitterness is much less, so reconciliation is more accessible. Sharp alludes to some of this in the article. The Shady Lady scribe tries to scrub the left-wing patina off nonviolence in typically risable ‘Timespeak,’ but Sharp indeed calls himself ‘trans-partisan.’ While right-wing or chauvanistic nationalist usage of nonviolence is very much in the minority of historical instances, Sharp’s works list all of them with rest, just the same. The goal is to hold down the _violence_.

    So why did the NYT put out this rather amazing mention? . . . Welll, for one thing, there are significant indications that it was the CIA who supplied Sharp’s background material on nonviolence to the Serbs who undermined Milosevice. And I strongly suspect that the CIA was involved in sending the material into Burma as well, and for the same reason: raison d’etat, looking to undermine ‘anti-US’ regimes. Georgia is another area where this may have been done with the nonviolent organizing that did in Shervernadze. But in the larger view, and notwithstanding the problematic dangers faced by the Serbs post-Yugoslavia, all three were/are odious regimes which should and must end. Sharp was directly supportive of democracy activists in the Ukraine who overturned a fraudulent election, and we see Sharp’s material employed in Egypt to bring down a US-enabled regime. The organizing in Egypt was exceptional, but one should keep in mind they had three years to acquire skills and face to face ties through union organizing, demonstrations, and trainings so the techniques and strategies were well-commanded by them when opportunity came. We see more random violence in some other states in the region seeking democracy where training is less developed.

    Nonviolence can have tremendous power. Sharp compiled the source code, as it were, and makes it available to anyone. I suggest thinking about that the next time you see how much money we’re spending for invasions, bombers, and funding state torture around the world. None of that is necessary to defeat injustice: so what is it that we use or threaten all that violence for? Yes . . . you figured it right, friends.

      1. Richard Kline

        So lambert, I really appreciate your reportage from street level on recent events. Wish I was there myself. Watch your back and shake every hand you encounter, sez I.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Richard. you can see the same mindset in every aspect of every level of government in every country I can think of. As you say government want a monopoly lock on force/violence. I tend to put it in more colloquial terms,’I say that governments everywhere do not understand the old carrot and stick dicotomy’. This is an obvious problem with having authoritarian governments, they are represented by people who assume that they have the intellect and authority to decide how others should live, and in some cases, even if they should ‘live’.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If lethal force is physical violence, is anger/shouting/screaming/verbal abuse emotional violence?

      When we say non-violence, can we see protests without anger?

      1. Paul Repstock

        Anger is better than apathy. Anger contains seeds of hope, and recognition that the situation could and should be better than what we are seeing.

        Anger must be differentiated from envy or lust, it is a condition which seeks resolution from personal betterment rather than from denial of others.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I agree that there are times emotional violence, i.e. anger…something a little stronger than indignation, is an appropriate emotion and go screaming in an empty room is therapeutic.

          In that sense, violence movement is not all bad. Not everything has to be non-violence all the time, if we are talking about emotional violence.

          I think what happenend in Egypt was a violence (emotional) movement.

      2. Richard Kline

        So My, yes, there can be nonviolent protest without anger, and it is particularly powerful because it disempowers the anger and violence used against you. It takes training and profound trust amongst practitioners on the ground. This was very much the methodology of Gandhian satyagraha, to confront violence without anger. Not ever situation is suitable for this, of course. And one shouldn’t demand too much of people on the ground who are in threat of their lives with people they love and respect being killed around them. People are imperfect even at the best; it’s important to be fair to the emotional needs of those on the ground. And tactics often have to be fluid and improvised.

        I recommend that you get one or another of Sharp’s texts. They are real eyeopeners when, as I mentioned, contrasted with the endless reportage we have of violence, both state violence and insurgent action. There is another way. It isn’t necessarily harder or more costly, either, except in extraordinarily bad circumstances such as, say Colombia of the last twenty years or the USSR of the Purges, where official power had total impunity to seize and slaughter absolutely anyone they wanted and weilded if to the level of extermination.

        I don’t condemn anger, and I don’t necessarily condemn violence. But ones success and a good outcome are better where violence can be minimized and nonviolence shown to be explicitly pursued and enforced by demonstrators amongst themselves: it elicits sympathy at a profound social psychological level, that is its real power. There are several images from Egypt which stay with me that speak to that. One was protestors in Alexandria and Tahrir Square coming out of the mosques on 28 January and kneeling in prayer at the later appointed times before tanks and police with guns. How many people have the ice to shot a believer at prayer? Not all that many, and the action of nonviolence just delegitimizes and demoralizes the violent there. The police in Alexandria just quit in places, and started talking to the protestors. That’s beautiful, if you can get there . . . . The other one was on 12 Feb, after the Army told Mubarak to get lost the day before. Protestors returned to the square and totally cleaned it up; removed rubble; scrubbed burn marks off the streets; used paint thinner to remove liberation graffiti from walls _and tanks_. THAT is the spirit of nonviolence: we are in charge of our own behavior, and take responsibility for our own actions, both to resist the unacceptable and to repair the common ground. Really, really, beautiful. The protestors in Egypt had excellent commands of the methods which they made their own.

  2. attempter

    Re pro-bank federal judge in Maine:

    “A contrary ruling would mean that the outcome of every lawsuit could produce a later lawsuit by the unhappy loser, seeking damages on account of the outcome of the former lawsuit and claiming that it resulted from false testimony or false affidavits,” Hornby wrote.

    So he’s basically admitting that every case is likely to be fraudulent, and he’s looking for a way to protect organized crime from having to answer to the law in the courts themselves. Denying access to the courtroom in the first place is the first line of defense for corrupt corporatist “jurists”. I guess that’s one way to try to fix this, depending on how many corrupt judges there are.

    (We can probably guess what he’d think of RICO prosecutions, if there existed such a conscientious prosecutor.)

    It’s a core element of their strategy as well as their ideology: The combinations and collaborations of power are simply the natural baseline and shouldn’t be called combinations at all, while combinations among the people are unnatural, automatically suspect, and to be subject to the most rigorous scrutiny.

    Here again, we must simply turn this right side up. We the people have an absolute, unquestionable right to combine in any way we choose for any purpose we choose, whereas any meeting among two or more of the “elites” and their flunkeys must be considered a criminal conspiracy until proven not to be.

    Here we have non-rich individual laymen up against a massively wealthy, tightly coordinated organized crime enterprise, and this “judge” is worried about how unfair it would be to let the atomized individuals enter court as a group. That’s what’s become of even the most basic ideas of fairness and human decency in this cesspool. Nothing short of an absolute scouring and purification will suffice to clean out such a befouled sty.

    1. Francois T

      I have only one question for this…”judge”

      How much did they pay you?

      The nonsense implied in this judgment is staggering. This REMF is basically saying that if it declared GMAC behavior a crime, then it is very possible that multiple similar crimes were committed; thus the Courts cannot be bothered having so many people looking for redress as victims of the crime. Therefore, the Court will claim it ain’t a crime. Problem solved! It’s a decision that cannot withstand scrutiny on appeals.

      Yet another public official afflicted by the Kendrick curse.

      1. attempter

        It’s a disguised, inverted rocket docket. This one disposes of anti-bank lawsuits at a record pace by setting up an insurmountable barrier to many of them being filed in the first place.

      2. Paul Repstock

        The bullshit is coming hard and fast from every side of this; we won’t have any shortage of fertilizer for decades to come.

        By Jessica Holzer and Maya Jackson-Randall


        WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he isn’t sure a small-bank exemption from a plan to rein in the debit-card processing fees banks charge retailers would work.

        “It is possible that the exemption will not be effective in the marketplace,” Bernanke said Thursday in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, in response to a question from the panel’s chairman Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.).

        The Fed’s proposal to limit debit fees, or interchange fees, stems from last year’s Dodd-Frank financial law. The law provides an exemption from the debit-fee limits to banks with less than $10 billion in assets.

        But community banks and small credit unions have argued that merchants will discriminate against their higher-fee cards, which will force the smaller banks to charge the same, lower fee as large banks.

        Bernanke acknowledged that possibility Thursday, saying “it’s possible merchant will reject cards from smaller banks.”

        -By Jessica Holzer, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9228;

  3. Foppe

    Re: the wifi article: This is an utter nonstory as soon as you have decent (WPA, WPA2) protection; hacking these will (as the article mentions) cost weeks, and by that time it’s fairly likely that another session has started, which means the ‘hacking’ will have to be done all over again.
    Oddly, the Firesheep thing was mostly meant as an inducement for people (esp. website builders) to stop using cookies for everything, rather than as really attacking the crappiness of unencrypted/WEP wifi. But maybe this really isn’t all that interesting, or the nyt didn’t quite pick up on that.

  4. Ignim Brites

    The Lens of the 2012 Election Kash, Angry Bear argues that Republicans are sseking to wreck the the economy for the sake of power in 2012. Well maybe. But it would be just as apt to say that for the sake of power in 2012, Republicans are acting vainly and naively. Same could be said for Dems. Meanwhile, the most likely determiner of the state of the economy in 2012 will be the BenBernank. And there too vanity and naivete will play a major role.

  5. Ina Deaver

    Fake rock climbing equipment hits me where it hurts. Now I have to go and examine every cam, friend, nut, clip, and binding I own.

    No fair.

    Used to do work for a company whose wrenches were being faked in China, along with their trademarked coloring and logo. They likewise were not tempered properly, and failed under stress. When you have enough load on a pipe wrench to make the shaft fail, you don’t necessarily fall 200 feet to your death, but you have a pretty high likelihood of injury nonetheless. This crap has to stop.

  6. Chris

    Re China fraud:

    Whole Foods is selling
    “organic” food grown and packaged in China.

    If it were stuff like bamboo shoots or other Asian/tropical items, that would be one thing. What’s outrageous is that the produce is stuff that is grown in the U.S. such as spinach and “California Mix”.

    In addition, organic food purveyors like Woodstock Farms are also selling food grown in China…Woodstock Farms has this written on their packages:

    “Supporting small farmers and the local economy everywhere”.

    Beware of QAI or Quality Assurance International. They are a group of ‘certifiers’ that hires locals to ‘allegedly certify that produce is grown to strict organic standards as to soil quality, no pesticides, handling, storage etc. Corruption in China?

    Want a little melamine, lead, cadmium, industrial
    waste with your ‘organic’ ‘certified’ food?

    1. Paul Repstock

      LOL Chris; you must get past it. All of the “Security for sale”, mechanism is ‘for sale’. Whether it be the TSA, or certifying lablers, or the ratings agencies, none of them are answerable except to their ‘bottom line’…:(

      Always in the end, every one of us must rely on our selves and our ability to judge.

  7. Chris

    Re:Desperately seeking search

    This guy has an axe to grind with Google.

    His recommended search engine Blekko is a pay for
    placement joke.

  8. kevinearick

    this is a bit long, but many will find it useful…

    Devotion: Building the Bridge

    The old economy has run out of time, but, if you look, you will see relative quantum solutions throughout the Bible, hidden under the religious zealotry.

    So, we are blowing the seam on Family Law, pulling the false-work in need of replacement, to give new families an equity stake in the economy, as required to balance the system and ignite organic growth again. Track 0 is built and ready. Track 1 is education, not energy. Work on the tracks simultaneously and place them in the queue of queues, which will order their entry for you. Success principles, words alone, will not work, nor will berating mistakes. Allow revelation to move you forward.

    You will never have all the details. “God” is the unknowable constant in the integral, tuned in from both sides with an LRC circuit of LRC circuits. The alpha and the omega meet, are dialed up, at the looking glass, a multiplexer of multiplexers. “God” and science are like a portfolio of spectacles, and the unknown spirit naturally expands faster than knowledge gained from the resulting timeline, a delay mechanism of delay mechanisms throwing out symptoms. Eliminate time from the equation. Each of us was created to do great things. Don’t sell yourself short.

    You are building an ark, extending a balanced fulcrum on both ends, with complimentary pairs. Help your spouses fake it while they develop each layer of devotion beyond the superficial, which is like an eggshell, strong in one dimension. The integral/derivative path goes spirit/impulse/outcome. Don’t waste time trying to repair derivatives in the rear-view mirror. The unknown lies ahead. When you feel stuck, allow the unknown to guide you.

    “God” plays heads I win, tails you lose. Do likewise. Begin by filling up the queue with wave cycles to get momentum. With momentum, segments may be added onto stacks out-of-order, leaving the queue to order them as the pipeline pieces are added. Load the spring of springs with extra segments until their cycle mates are found, by building the circuits as you load the stacks. Learn to endure and you will always find joy on the other side of the looking glass.

    The external protons, designed to capture the electrons, tend to appear as social butterflies, with lots of mercy, but the electron is actually part of the electron of electrons, thereby ensuring a steady supply of exit gates for the electron, from legacy control. Superficial love is one thing, devotion is another. The electrons must pull the outer-most protons through the looking glass wall and on to the elevator, to the next associated orbit.

    Be careful about expressing impulsive behavior, especially where you live, among the repressed spirits, which are nearly everywhere now. Turning passion into productive output is tricky, requiring an appropriate ramp in the community. What you do outwardly determines your reputation today, but your inner life determines the future.

    Love is action, resulting in outcomes, not words. Without love, there is nothing, but there is a time and place for all things. Once originated, black holes can be quite unforgiving, and the days of do-overs are coming to an end for most. Hate has only one ending.

    Privilege comes with responsibility. Religious marriage was destroyed, and replaced completely by the civil law of legacy, once again, by ignoring that rule. You must be prepared to surrender unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s upon demand, including spouse and children. Like follows like; have fun, but protect the sanctity of Marriage at all cost. Place your trust in the unknowable if you wish to dis-empower Caesar.

    Identify and beware authority, especially among the young lieutenants (with cell phones), who have not yet acquired the wisdom of experience to keep black holes separated until needed. Many will lose their families; keep working. Learn to absorb losses/demons over time, where they belong. An ounce of prevention is the best medicine. The law of the lord is perfect, to make the simple wise.

    As you may recall, the legacy families and new family formation form the opposite poles to the motor, and the middle class serves as the tuning LRC between them. When agency shorted the returns on new family formation to itself, promising to liquidate wealth in the direction of the legacy families, it created the cancer, disconnecting the supply feed and discharging the middle class capacitor. Avoid judgment and love will net out.

    You are building a new middle class track system to provide yourselves and your prodigy with an equity stake in the new infrastructure system, based on all you have learned, your unique skills, and your continuing desire to learn. “Joy is the net of love by which you catch souls.” Do not mistake impulse for spirit, though it is ever more tempting to do so. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.”

    There are ghetto-fabulous critters caught within imploding hick-holes everywhere because Einstein popularized the work of others on only half of the reaction, which has run its natural course. You must choose between pleasing men and pleasing the unknown. Better to fear the unknown than to fear men, but better yet to love.

    Good luck.

    (thank you Felicia)

    1. craazyman

      will you return to the home planet soon, space brother, or will you linger here among them, watching them, and waiting for their resurrection in a higher orbit?

    1. Paul Repstock

      LOL,,,turning his back on her highness…tut tut! Off with his head I say! It’s a wonder that CNN showed any of that at all??

      1. skippy

        Non-violence met with clockwork orange brand thuggery, who would have thunkit!

        All in the land of Freedom or is that the land where one put’s on ones own chains, the subtle torturous nuance is delicious, Hillary is what one finds at the bottom of the rabbit hole along with assorted courtiers, all overseen by the un-see-able.

        Skippy…”Sanity is a cozy lie”…Susan Sontag

        This is also a book about how war itself is waged (and understood) in our time, replete with vivid historical examples and a variety of arguments advanced from some unexpected literary sources. Plato, Leonardo da Vinci, Edmund Burke, Wordsworth, Baudelaire, and Virginia Woolf all figure in this passionate reflection on the modern understanding of violence and atrocity. It includes as well a stinging attack on the provincialism of media pundits who denigrate the reality of war, and a political understanding of conflict, with glib talk about a new, worldwide “society of spectacle:’ just as On Photography challenged how we understand the very condition of being modern, Regarding the Pain of Others will alter our thinking not only about the uses and meanings of images, but about the nature of war, the limits of sympathy, and the obligations of conscience.


        PS…my defectiveness is apparent…my dysfunction is proof of my awareness…i embrace it…blithe denial is a child’s blanket…take that away…and they bawl…socio-psychopaths require the cover their blankets afford them…burn the blankets…

    2. craazyman

      Could be our Egypt moment, dood.

      I feel a thickening brittleness forming in the Pilot Wave, like a hillside about to crumble in a storm. And the Gnostic amplitudes of the spirit wave are the rainsoaked winds against it. Weird to watch this forming in the noousphere, the mind pictures just stream by in image after image in n-dimensional Hilbert space. I should probably get back to work, instead of sitting here staring at the wall, watching. LOL.

  9. Paul Repstock

    A small update on Global Theatrics:
    Many people are aare that Middle East tensions ratcheted up yesterday due to Israel’s revalation that Iran as sending Two Warships throught the Suez Canal on wednesday night. And Israel issued loud and strident condemnation of this act (of provocation??).

    However, this was not news! Iran had announced on January 26 that they were sending a frigate and a supply ship to Syria for a year. Also, ?The Suez Canal authority requires a 48 hour advance notification for transit by any warship. (Iran still has not contacted them)??

    Therefore, I ask, “What could possibly be Israel’s motive?” One does not need to be very sckeptical to find a likely motive. On tuesday the tensions were easing in the Middle East and around the world. This had the effect of easing market presures everyhere, prices were going down on commodities and currencies, the shortsellers were in full bay. Then the buying started, prices began to rise…and suddenly BAM!..A loud and strident announcement from Israel!

    The rest is history, I wonder who engineered it and how much they paid?? LOL

    1. Paul Repstock

      Some of you may wonder at my post and it’s contentions.

      Hoever, the verifiable facts are that:
      a) Israel had known of Iran’s intentions for at least 20 days and said nothing?
      b) Israel knew for certain that the Iranian ships were not going to pass through Suez on wednesday. (a simple phone call to the Canal Authority would have confirmed that)


  10. sam

    Wait, Social Security is supposedly not going to be able to do its job with the money it gets, and the “answer” is to let it fail to do its job; Defense is supposedly not going to be able to do its job with the money it gets, and the answer is to give it more money?

    Double standard much?

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The 29% Effect – it always puzzles me why we don’t understand that 1 pound of lead is heavier than 1 pound of cotton.


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