Links 7/1/11

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Fracking emergency. Governor Cuomo plans to lift the statewide moratorium on hydrofracking. If you are a New York resident, please click on the link and sign the petition voicing opposition. For more details, see Economic benefits of shale-gas extraction unclear New Scientist (hat tip reader Robert M) and Cuomo Will Seek to Lift Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing New York Times

Drowning Fish? Greg Palast

Spiders Fleeing Pakistan’s Floodwater Take to the Trees Popular Science (hat tip reader Robert M). Click through to see the photo.

Local Laws Fighting Fat Under Siege New York Times. Yes, it’s really important to preserve restaurant profits rather than have them present information that might help patrons fend off heart disease and diabetes.

Massive botnet ‘indestructible,’ say researchers ComputerWorld (hat tip reader bob)

µChat: We Just Need Each Other BitTorrentblog (hat tip reader bob). Comments at Slashdot make its (considerable) significance clear.

Corn price plunges as US acreage rises Financial Times

Revealed: British government’s plan to play down Fukushima Guardian (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

OH I’M SORRY – YOU HAD A THEORY ABOUT GREEK DEBT TOO? LOL Greece (hat tip Richard Smith). A couple of days old but still germane.

The political economy of the European sovereign debt crisis Ed Harrison

Meet The Millionaires And Billionaires Suddenly Buying Tons Of Land In Africa Clusterstock (hat tip Andrew). Clusterstock has become critical of the worst neoliberal abuses (admittedly overseas). An encouraging development.

The Militarized Surrealism of Barack Obama Tom Engelhardt

Two Rulings Find Cuts in Public Pensions Permissible New York Times

The real causes of the economic crisis? They’re history. Philip Angelides, Washington Post. Richard Smith notes: “Angelides busts a bloodvessel. Only a small one. That’ll teach him not to pull punches the next time he writes up a financial crisis.”

Complex system leaves thousands of foreclosure properties to become eyesores Washington Post

Mark Halperin Was Right Marshall Auerback, New Economic Perspectives

Geithner Staying (for Now) New York Times :-(

NY Fed halts mortgage bond auction Financial Times. This is a BIG deal.

JPMorgan Scores Victory for Repeat Offenders Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg (hat tip reader Robert M). Today’s must read. If you suspected all that language in settlement agreements where the probable perp swears he will clean up his act was meaningless, you can refer to this article for the sordid details.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. rjs

    re fracking: It would be banned inside New York City’s sprawling upstate watershed, as well as inside a watershed used by Syracuse, and in underground water sources used by other cities and towns. It would also be banned on state lands, like parks and wildlife preserves.

    that means it all falls on poor rural folk who have no unified voice..

  2. BDBlue

    Fukushima is killing Americans. Preliminary data, of course. And I’m sure there are a million reasons why we can’t rely on it and should not at all worry about the nuclear disaster hurting us here. I’m sure the Government would warn us if something like that were going to happen. (heh) Still, an extra 3 dead babies a week cannot possibly be good news.

    1. BDBlue

      Also, Cuomo is a terrible governor and I continue to believe gay marriage was simply a bone he threw to the “left” to help build support for himself as he completely wrecks New York on behalf of corporate interests. I’m happy gays can marry, but it would be nice if they could not only marry, but also have good paying jobs, not be evicted, and drink clean water.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Reminds me of the bargain made for ending don’t ask don’t tell. Since you are murdering and oppressing for empire you can come out of the closet.

        Yeah boy, Dems these days sure are “special”.

  3. Philip Pilkington

    ‘Strauss-Kahn case is ‘close to collapse’, say reports’

    I was skeptical that Strauss-Kahn was being set up, but hey… proof, pudding.

    So, theories anyone? I think he was calling peoples’ bullshit on the Eurozone crisis and pointing out that it was an extend and pretend policy that would only end in tears. Remember, as head of the IMF he didn’t have to worry about the great unwashed turning up to the voting booth — so PIIG-bashing was unnecessary.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        Yves called me out for saying the story was phony, so I went & read the first page of the NY Times piece & she seems right. Yves has my apologies.

        Except that if it was a set-up, it still makes no sense. One would expect something more professional.

  4. lambert strether

    An excellent site on the Marcellus Shale in Tompkins County, NY:

    Although at least 39%* of the land area of Tompkins County now has a gas lease, these leases are owned by only 6%** of the adult, non-college-student residents of the County. Thus, a very small proportion of the total population that will be impacted by gas drilling will reap any possible financial benefits.


    Even though when the groundwater’s gone, only the 6% will be able to afford bottled water.

    1. skippy

      Umm…something about oil wells and coal mines in ones back yard and *now* abandoned towns and city’s only a few decades back…memory fails…so much over load of information…must remember…I compel you to consume…compel too consume…bright lights…flickering shadows… happy people consuming[!!!]

      Skippy…daddy…billy’s family has an oil well and he has all of the good stuff…why can’t we…pleaseeeeeeee’s…I’ll….keep my room clean…promise[XXX fingers].

      PS. instead of a fireplace we can substitute a well as the hearth of the home…I see a 3D CG movie opportunity here, are you game?

    2. Cedric Regula

      I’ve been maintaining a scratch list of our energy sources.

      For electric power, I’ve eliminated the following:

      1) Coal
      2) Nuclear
      3) Natural Gas

      That means about 90% of our existing electric infrastructure needs to disappear.

      Then transportation fuel is nearly all oil. Scratch that too. Home heating is about half gas, half fuel oil. Gone.

      Happy conserving!

      1. Carla

        Yeah, Cedric. Looks like we’re going to have to learn to live with less. What a shocker that is.

        We can actually get serious about sustainable economics ( OR keep our collective heads in the sand.

        But there is so little oxygen to breathe in the sand…

        1. Cedric Regula

          For starters, I was hoping we could wean the NE off of fuel oil heating since they found all this NG, and could build the pipeline infrastructure for home heating. Then we wouldn’t need to ship all those ever depreciating dollars off to the Middle East. Or to Chavez or to gulf oil drillers for that matter.

          Looks like my plan may be screwed.

          Then NG trucks and buses were a no-brainer, and NG cars are here now too.

          Then NG power plants emit half the CO2 of coal plants and only cost a third of the price to build new ones. The problem with wind is, like solar, it is intermittent power and also only 7% of the US population lives in a good onshore wind area. Offshore wind is estimated to be about the most expensive energy source there is. So a combination of NG power plants and long haul power grid would make much more wind power feasible and reliable with NG power plant backup (they cycle well).

          And if we ever get batteries working good enough, all electric cars are a go too. Then we use the car batteries to store power during off peak time (at night) or peak wind (at work in the parking lot)

          But that was my plan for global warming. Screwed too.

          There is nuclear…well, never mind. Can I interest anyone in the new and approved GEN III? Much safer, but they cost a ton of money.

          So that leaves Energy Shock Doctrine.

          I don’t think we will like it very much.

    1. bob

      The slashdot post had a slightly better explanation.

      “waste”, authored by Frankel while he was still working at Nullsoft/aol. AOL pulled it immediately, but it was already loose.

      It’s the basis for a TON of the darknets out there. And, because of some “features” of the orignal program (linux ported by now) it makes “listening” to anything extremely difficult and resource intensive.

      It could be called secure, depending on the build out of the network and the nodes.

      This is now replacing the old IRC based command and control systems for botnets.

      Frankel’s story is worth reading.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      If you try encrypting normal messaging, you are asking to have the NSA all over you.

      This apparently keeps sending bits through the pipe. So your messages are such an itty bitty part of the traffic it’s very hard to sieve them out.

  5. Dave of Maryland

    Foreclosed – and abandoned – properties becoming eyesores.

    If you don’t like squatting, I have another solution.

    Pass a local ordinance requiring all foreclosed properties to be listed with a bona-fide local real estate agent within 30 days, and sold within 90 days thereafter.

    Properties which remain unowned and unoccupied 120 days after foreclosure are to be seized under eminent domain and sold at auction. No exceptions whatever.

    If you want solutions, stop looking for leadership at the top of the heap, because it ain’t there & isn’t coming back. These problems have local solutions. It’s a grass-roots thing.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Dave;
      Around here,(central Missisippi,) the local city council has a program up and running to demolish the worst ‘eyesore’ properties. You wouldn’t believe, (well, maybe you would,) the trouble they’re having coming up with the true owners of some of those properties. (Hint: Speculative property deals and slumlords.)

    2. Tertium Squid

      Sounds like a great idea until a third of the properties in your zip code are for sale and the price of your house goes down 50%.

      (Which it probably should anyway, but make no mistake that maintaining the shadow inventory has perverse benefits to local homeowners.)

      1. Dave of Maryland

        If property prices in your neighborhood go down by a third, stop paying your mortgage, wait until you’re foreclosed on, and then if your locality has a “sell it or we take & sell it for you” ordinance, sit tight where you are & when your auction day comes up, buy your place outright.

        This was what we used to do in New York when cars were impounded for eighty zillion in unpaid parking tickets. Wait until the auction day & then outbid the scalpers for our own cars. We could afford to pay more than they could.

        In other words, foreclosure would not mean dispossession. It would mean 120 days until you got your property free & clear. And the municipality gets guaranteed property taxes.

        Eminent domain, post-foreclosure, also looks like an end run around pre-foreclosure quiet title motions.

        1. Tom g

          I’m really liking this thread of logic here. Really good ideas that should be implemented nationwide.

        2. ambrit

          Dear Dave;
          As usual, the Devil is in the details. If I’m not mistaken, after a foreclosure sale, unless you’ve previously declared bankruptcy, the lender can still dun you for the difference between the mortgage balance and the sale price. Might be good to have some ‘cousins’ ready to step up for you at the courthouse steps. Then they can ‘rent’ it back to you.

    3. Cedric Regula

      – properties becoming eyesores

      Anyone who has toured any of our urban big city neighborhoods has probably noticed that this problem has been with us a very, very long time.

      Tho most attempts at urban renewal have been thwarted when city planners can’t figure out where to put the poor people whilst renewal is taking place.

      There are a bazillion empty apartments in China, I hear, but utilizing this resource may take more cooperation among all concerned parties than we could hope for. But a New Detroit in China’s automaking district is an intriguing thought, anyway. And I am glad the City of Los Angeles won’t need to pay $400K per South Central “home”. CA has enough problems.

      However, I think this may be the Invisible Hand at work, and if the human race is still around 50 years from now, something wonderful may come from it!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Invisible Hand is so invisible you can’t see if it’s working, just becuase you can’t see it.

        1. ambrit

          Mr MLTPB;
          That lot doesn’t ‘work,’ it ‘rents.’ (Reminds me of the famous line from “Young Werther”: “And as for living, our servants can do that for us.”)

    1. Cedric Regula

      The government certainly is not a household, but if it were, it would be one hell of a messy place. Probably due to operating with no constraints far too long.

      Other than that, more MMT blather from Auerbach. If the non-household is messy, you can clean it up with toilet paper. Someone should tell these people that the world history of unconstrained fiat currency has never ended well. Being a reserve currency gives us a lot of probably undeserved resilience, but that just makes for global contagion.

      And I wouldn’t want to be forced back on a gold standard by financial accident in this day and age either. Global mining reports indicate we hit Peak Gold in 2003. We probably wouldn’t live thru the hyperinflation-priced-in-fiat-deflation-priced-in-gold all happening simultaneously.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I will be more for MMT if I could be sure I am close to the gov’t deficit spigot.

          1. Valissa

            Searching on “MMT” on any search engine is quite an adventure. The commonly understood meaning of that acronym here is barely seen on the first page of results.

            An obviously limited list is here Ooops Modern Monetary Theory not listed. One of you MMT’ers needs to get on the ball and ‘submit new definition.’

            These come kinda close though ;)

            MMT = Methadone Maintenance Treatment
            MMT = Miniaturized Munition Technology
            MMT = Mood Management Theory

  6. rps

    Meet The Millionaires And Billionaires Suddenly Buying Tons Of Land In Africa…. “Hedge Funds Grabbing Land in Africa,”

    Obviously, the hedge fund guys napped during history 101; Uprisings. Hint, Mau Mau is not a hawaiian dress. Its’ anagram, Uma Uma does not refer to a good time with Thurman.
    The Imperial British East Africa Company has been renovated by a bunch of hedge fund guys. As if the indigenous population has forgotten apartheid…..

    1. ambrit

      Dear rps;
      Don’t ever forget that those colonial empires were built and run with the willing and opportunistic cooperation of local groups. “Divide and conquer,” not just for Imperialists anymore.

  7. Keating Willcox

    Dave of Maryland is correct. But, I would add that before foreclosure, a community could discuss options with the homeowner such as allowing the homeowner to take in boarders, allowing local homeowners to buy out the mortgage and keep the homeowner as a tenant, perhaps even a spot rezoning of the house as a multi-family coop. If that fails, as Dave suggests, immediate sale. Provide accounting incentives for the bank to get rid of these properties as fast as possible, and book the loss.

    1. ambrit

      K W;
      It’s indeed all in the regulation. This, however, requires political will and some finesse. Both in short supply in the District of Colombia recently.

    2. Valissa

      Back in the olden days local banks held the mortgages for the homes in local communities. The bank lenders often knew these folks, if not personally, then at least as fellow memebers of the community. Because the relationship was local, they could be more flexible about how to handle potential foreclosures, thus more likely to create a win-win situation for the bank and homeowner.

      However, due to financial innovation the whole mortgage game has changed, and become way morme complex and convoluted. “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They blather on and on about how much they have done for the world.

        They don’t look at the other side of the ledger.

        Smart people have done more damage to the world than not-so-smart people.

        Let’s start with the biggies:

        Financial weapons of humongous destruction? Smart people.
        Nuclear bombs? smart people
        The internal combustion engine? smart people
        Carcinogenic chemicals? smart people
        Trash on Mt. Everest? Smart People
        Gunpowder? Smart people
        Fractional reserve banking? Smart People
        Neo-liberalism? Smart people

        Gotta look at both sides.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That’s so correct.

            Smart people do to the world at a much faster rate than not-so-smart people.

            If not-smart people had been in charge, we would be only half way (maybe even only one third way) up Al Gore’s global temperature chart, because not-so-smart people do everything slower…probably still have not invented the internal combustion engine.

    1. bob

      Tor is and has been a VERY good thing for spooks. I don’t think it’s the other way around.

      Tor, of course, depends on the number of exit nodes. Who do you suppose runs those nodes? Hint- Your ISP would kill your internet if you tried to host an exit node. You would also be leaving your self open to constant harassment from the FBI, depending on what was “exiting”.

      1. anon^2

        As far as I know, hidden services don’t require exit nodes.

        However bad exit nodes are a problem.
        Go into your .torrc file and tune your exit nodes to only ones you trust. It is explained at the end of this document
        (sorry it is in German). In the example, the exit nodes of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) and German Privacy Foundation are the only ones allowed.

        Some ISPs will allow or encourage tor exit nodes, more outside the U.S. (

          1. anon^2

            Is your argument that tor can be used to anonymize traffic by spies? Tor is not a certain or even the best tool for anonymity. People who need stronger anonymity (there is no such thing as absolute anonymity) should use freenet in darknet mode.

            My only point is that tor hidden services provide a P2P chat network like mu chat. Also, there are certain settings in tor configuration that should be made if you decide to use it.

    1. Albert W.

      Looks like the NYPD and its allies are trying to cover up the cover-up. According to his blog, they came back the next day with back up. Very ominous.

      Yves, your staying abreast of this story has definitely helped with publicity. The more people become aware of the police corruption and intimidation that routinely goes on in NYC, the better.

      1. Francois T

        As a matter of fact, both Clusterstock, fraud4closure and ZeroHedge have posted on the case.

  8. dearieme

    My paper carried the quotation as “Obama is a d-“, which I’d assumed stood for “douchebag”, an American insult that entertains me because I have no idea what a douchebag might be. I am relieved to find that the censored word was actually “dick” because I understand enough American to know what that means. It’s your sticky-out bit, isn’t it?

    1. Valissa

      Looks like lemurs to me. And they remind me of one of the satirical cartoon characters on “Penguins of Madagascar” (fabulous Nickelodeon cartoon series by Dreamworks), a lemur called King Julien, who is a wonderful parody of an “elite” in action.

      From Wikipedia
      The King of the Lemurs is a comically conceited character who has little regard for others, even his subjects. He has a tendency to use malapropisms and misinterpret figures of speech.

      1. Cedric Regula

        Seems a good guess. A google search shows lemurs with a big, striking, striped tail. No tail shown in this picture tho.

        I download these pictures and use them for windows 7 wallpaper slideshows. I guess I’ll name the file “lemur”.

        1. Valissa

          I would think copying the daily antidote photo would give rather low resolution. However Yves does generally have excellent taste in her photos selection so I can see why someone would copy them.

          I use Webshots to get photos for my wallpaper – they have beautiful photos on every subject! The easy to use Photo Manager that you can download for free from their site also allows you to include your own photos.

          1. Cedric Regula

            Resolution is not bad. I have a 52″ Sony LCD HDTV – Computer – Internet – Netflix – Stereo – IP Phone and they look good. They don’t fill the screen of course.

            Didn’t know about Webshots. I’ll check that out too. Thx.

  9. Hugh

    Ed Harrison’s post is interesting because he invokes kleptocracy and implies that it is a feature of capitalism. On the other hand, he maintains that kleptocracy, if moderate, is manageable, if not, it will lead to collapse and revolution.

    In the past, I have distinguished between the trait and the disease. Kleptocratic tendencies, or traits, are endemic to capitalism. We can seem them assert themselves from time to time over the last 2 1/2 centuries. But about 35 years ago, something changed. We went from having the trait to having the disease. The disease of kleptocracy is inherently unstable and can only end in collapse, revolution, or both. That is our future. We will experience serial collapses until either revolution or chaos ensues. But unlike what Ed Harrison asserts, this does not imply either the replacement of an old elite with a new elite, or a return to capitalism.

    Phil Angelides is an Establishment liberal in the Krugman mold. He will criticize Republicans. He will talk about the “recklessness” of Wall Street. He will even talk about prosecutions. But he refuses to see that the problem was not that there was criminality in the financial sector but that the whole sector has become a criminal enterprise. The liberal myth is that the financial sector can be reformed. It is the few bad apples story writ large. Remove the bad actors and put in some new regulations are all that’s needed. The system is fundamentally sound. The problem is that the system is criminal. That you cannot reform. You can only dismantle it and replace it with something else.

    You can make a similar point about the political system. It is not about reform. It is not about those crazy Republicans. Just replace some officeholders, pass some new laws, and everything will be OK because the political system too is sound, no, the problem is not some Republicans and some Democrats, or even all Republicans and some Democrats, it is all Republicans and all Democrats and even the few stray independents like Bernie Sanders. The problem is the political system itself.

    Like Krugman, Angelides can not see that the Establishment of which he is a part is the problem. So what he gives us is just another meaningless exercise that distracts from rather than focuses in on the issues.

    1. Foppe

      Are you familiar with David Harvey’s work, Hugh? (Specifically his recent book The Enigma of Capital?

  10. Hugh

    So you want to know what the real madness is in these kleptocratic land grabs and dispossessions in Africa? Look at the demographics. Per the Census (with a little rounding), Africa as a whole had a population of 228 million in 1950, 1 billion today, and an estimated 2.27 billion in 2050.

    Regionally, East Africa had a population of 68 million in 1950, 337.4 million today, and an estimated 853.4 million in 2050.

    For Western Africa, the figures are a population of 64.3 million in 1950, 315.2 million today, and 742.4 million in 2050.

    Central Africa had a population of 28 million in 1950, 131.3 million today, and an estimated 271 million in 2050.

    Never bet against the demographics. These kleptocratic “investments” are doomed. They would need very short time horizons to extract what wealth can be gotten out of them before demographic pressures destroy them.

  11. Cedric Regula

    File: Oh My God

    If anyone is wondering whether Mark Zandi deserves the Nobel Prize for Biggest, Buttkissing, Mainstream Economist; this should clinch it.

    Mark Zandi: Jamie Dimon Would Be “Fabulous” Replacement for Tim Geithner

    But that does beg the question of what do we get next. More puppets or the puppet masters. Then the top spot is open at JPM, good news for Timmy.

    1. Cedric Regula

      Maybe we’ll at least get a movie out of it. Trading Places II. Eddie Murphy(as Timmy) ties his legs up behind him, gets on his pushboard, and pushes himself over to JPM headquarters. Dan Ackroyd (as Jamie) dresses down to his $400 silk tie and boards the private jet for Washington. Not sure what happens next, but orange futures market manipulation would be old hat.

      1. ambrit

        Mr Regula;
        As out of touch as this lot is, Tangerine Dream futures sounds appropriate.

        1. Cedric Regula

          Haven’t listened to Tangerine Dream in a very long time, but my recollection is it took at least 5 bong hits to synch with the music.

          But I’m quite certain their Tangerine Dream will somehow end up sounding like rap to our ears.

          1. Francois T

            5 bong hits?

            Mbwahahahahaha! What’s that you were toking Bro? Straw from Uncle Joe’s barn?

            2 hits maximum of Vancouver Gold or Hawaiian Stick and every molecule of my being was in perfect synchronicity with the ethereal waves from Pheadra or Stratosfear.

            Speaking of which


            Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Far out man!

            See ya later people!


  12. Francois T

    Re: JPM repeat offender

    Dunno what’s more depressing; the article or the realization that on the Bloomberg web page sidebar were links pointing to 2 articles written by the über-shill, pathological lying sack of turd called Amity Shlaes.

    WTF is Bloomberg thinking?

  13. Externality

    “Over two years after Attorney General Eric Holder instructed a special prosecutor, John Durham, to ‘preliminar[ily] review’ whether CIA interrogators unlawfully tortured detainees in their custody, Holder announced on Thursday afternoon that he’ll pursue criminal investigations in precisely two out of 101 cases of suspected detainee abuse.”

    The cases dropped included CIA officials water-boarding a prisoner “183 times in a single month.”

    1. Thomas Barton, JD

      It is so appalling that our current AG Holder and our current President Obama are behaving on these matters precisely in the way I would imagine the gruesome team of John Mitchell and President Nixon to do so. How can any one embrace a reelection of President Obama in the face of this outrageous sin of omission—–Yes we can obliterate the suffering of those 99 simply by ignoring them. yes we can. Yes we can worship the exercise of unencumbered Presidential Power at the expense of individual human beings. Yes we can and yes they will.

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