Links 7/19/11

Protect Your Pooch During Dog Days of Summer Wall Street Journal

UK Badger could be in trouble Guardian (hat tip reader Barbara W) :-(

Anti-Fraud Facial Recognition System Revokes the Wrong Person’s License Popular Science (hat tip reader Robert M). We warned you about facial recognition false positives!

Traffic Sports’ impact in the U.S. Insider ESPN (hat tip reader John L)

Experimental wind-farm produces tenfold power increase Science A Go-Go (hat tip reader Robert M)

School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions New York Times

Murdoch Newspaper Sites Down After Hacking Bloomberg

Murdoch’s Board Stands By as Scandal Widens New York Times

Director says Murdoch has full support of board Associated Press (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Inside Ireland’s secret liquidity FT Alphaville (hat tip Richard Smith)

France is next MacroBusiness

Is the deficit ceiling debate a Smoot-Hawley moment? Ed Harrison

White House threatens veto of balanced budget amendment Washington Post (hat tip reader Bruno)

Balanced Budget Lunacy Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Conditions for the next crisis are firmly in place

Fewer verbs and nouns in financial reporting could predict stock market bubble, study shows e! Science News (hat tip reader Robert M)

Soros’s Quantum Leads Hedge Funds Cutting Risk Bloomberg

Banks Face Tripling of Capital Levels as EU Moves on Basel III Regulations Bloomberg. Richard Smith notes: “Bets on whether banks will ever comply?”

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader James B):

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  1. Valissa

    Sean Hoare death: postmortem being held on hacking whistleblower

    Police are treating the death of Hoare, 47, as “unexplained but not thought to be suspicious”. Hoare was the first named journalist to allege that Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor, was aware of phone hacking by his staff.

    Hoare worked for the Sun and NoW with Coulson before being dismissed for drink and drugs problems, and had spoken openly to a number of news organisations about the practice of phone hacking.

    No, not at all suspicious… and of course, there is the classic “drink and drugs” excuse. Is anyone going to believe this story, other than warlord Murdoch’s directors and other tribal loyalists?

    1. Charlotte W

      Hey, they still believe Diana died in an ‘accident’. Even after reading her letters – wherein she said ‘they are going to kill me’- perhaps in a car accident.

      There ya have it… if the papers report it as an accident, and the police concur – no crime was committed.

      I still wonder how those two boys can participate in the fraud that is the Royal household! They killed their mum!!

      and not a peep.

      Has nobody read the accounts of centuries of murdered babies, spouses, brothers, sisters, and heirs apparent in that madhouse?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      He actually was so sick doctors were amazed he was still alive. His liver was apparently shot, and you do need a liver to live. This was reported in the Guardian by a friend of his, and the Guardian has been in the vanguard of anti-Murdoch reporting.

      1. Valissa

        Thanks for pointing that out. I read a bunch of articles on Hoare but surprisingly none mentioned that. Will try and hunt that down.

        1. Bill White

          His doctor told him that he must be dead, and so he died? Does this remind anybody but me of Bunbury?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            A lot of doctors do that until their ex-patients found alternative medicine.

    3. Moose in Dixie

      From what I’ve read, the real story is the police corruption angle. Scotland Yard had hard evidence five years ago that it wasn’t just one rogue reporter and PI, and that it wasn’t just hacking into the royals’ voice mail but hacking into thousands of people’s phones. But they buried that evidence and only told the prosecutors about the one reporter (and didn’t tell the thousands that their phones had been hacked). Several lawsuits since have turned up in discovery the total evidence that Scotland Yard had ignored. The connection between NI and the police is most suspicious.

      Just last week Sean Hoare told the Guardian and the NYT that some of the hacking and tracing of individuals’ locations was accomplished using POLICE TECHNOLOGY (triangulating the pings of cell phones), paying off the police for the privilege.

      A most untimely death.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        ONE WORD – TRUST.

        Once you lost it, people are going to read ‘unexplained’ death and wonder.

        And if you had said something about his liver, people are still going to wonder.

  2. Anon

    News Corpse’s Conintelpro-like ops get even weirder, and Alex Marunchak, 25 years an NI staffer and who ran the NoTW Irish edition, is mentioned in connection:

    UK Force Research Unit (FRU), said to be active in Northern Ireland vs the IRA (BBC TV Panorama film, first aired 14 March 2011)

    Trailer for Panorama film elicted this comment when placed on YouTube:

    difficult to understand, but the basics are a hit squad illegally operating under british authority infiltrated the IRA using tactics similar to false flag attacks to encite [sic] war upon the IRA – exposed after 25 years – members will be indicted for murder, the State of Britain will be exposing its dirtiest laundry

    Believe it or not, Manrunchak also received payment from the London police for work as aUkrainian language interpreter.

    What the heck is going on here? Which way is? Who is the front, who is the back? Who is in charge?

    And as UK blogger extraordinaire Alex Harrowell notes,
    it’s about time some attention was paid to the role of the security services in all this, for example, the security services’ vetting procedures – because how on earth did someone like Coulson manage to insert himself into the heart of the British government?

    Harrowell additionally says that a trail of phone hacks would appear to exist, and that this could be audited, if the will is there:

    Yesterday’s New York Times claims that Miskiw and others on the NOTW were able to locate mobile phones by paying £500 a shot to a corrupt police officer. That is to say, this policeman had access to the lawful intercept systems that are part of all GSM and UMTS cellular networks, or at least he could task people who did. ETSI Specification 01.33 defines this as a standard element of all GSM networks and the corresponding 3GPP TS 33.106 does so for UMTS ones.

    If this is so, they could certainly also get pen-register information – lists of calls to and from given phone numbers – and even tap the calls themselves.

    This is a massive violation of the UK’s critical national infrastructure security, of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, and of the Data Protection Act. News International, their police contact, and the police force responsible (not necessarily the Met) should all be prosecuted.

    There is an urgent need to audit the lawful interception systems’ logs, among other things to find out if there are other unauthorised users out there. International standards foresee a detailed audit trail as part of these systems in order to preserve the legal chain-of-evidence. If the Interception Request message was submitted in proper form from the police to the telcos, the operators are legally in the clear, but if I was in charge of their network security I’d suspend processing the requests until such an audit was carried out as we now know that an unknown but significant percentage of them are illegal.

    But if NI, a single tentacle of News Corpse, had Conintelpro-like intel about the Stakeknife/FRU op in Northern Ireland, and had already succeeding in repeatedly compromising the British police in respect of the Data Protection Act and other British laws, were they using this to, er, incentivize the British security state/police to *not* push too hard against Murdoch’s empire, and *not* vet types such as Andy Coulson too closely? (And John Yates, of course until five minutes ago was head of counterterrorism for the Met.)

    Inquiring minds, etc.

    1. Externality

      For years, Americans and Brits have been told by their respective elites that “privacy is dead,” that “if you’ve done nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide,” that concerns about privacy are a sign of guilt, and that the very concept of personal privacy is contrary to the collective good. Perhaps now, American and British elites are beginning to understand why average citizens are concerned about the purportedly “outdated” idea of personal privacy.

      The Regulatory of Investigative Powers Act of 2000 gave almost every governmental entity in the UK, including local district and city councils, the authority and ability to invade citizens’ privacy with little or no oversight. Everything from wiretapping to electronic surveillance to informants to physical surveillance could be authorized by a single bureaucrat without evidence of actual wrongdoing. Agencies that lacked, for whatever reason, the ability to conduct physical or directed surveillance (e.g., informants, undercover agents) could simply submit requests to agencies with the physical and legal ability to do so. Stasi-style surveillance was used, for example, make sure that children were attending “good” public schools actually lived within their catchment area, track down litterers, and to identify people not cleaning up after their dog.

      According to the Guardian,

      When the act was passed in 2000, only nine organisations, including the police and security services, were allowed access to communications records but privacy campaigners say that too many public bodies now have access to the information. In 2007, there were 519,260 requisitions of communications data from telephone companies and ISPs.

      […] Concern was heightened in June 2008, when 121 councils revealed they had used the legislation during a 12-month period to monitor behaviour by examining the private communications of residents.

      Anyone who expressed concern about the national security state being abused was accused of being a paranoid conspiracy theorist, undermining the War on Terror ™, etc. Anyone who worried about creating national databases containing medical records and/or prescription drug histories was similar ridiculed.

      Now, to quote President Obama’s former pastor, “the chickens have come home to roost.” The elites are learning that their privacy is dead; any minor functionary anywhere in the UK (or US) can investigate them at the behest of their political opponents, the media, foreign governments, etc. Any pharmacist can access their prescription drug records to see whether they have been prescribed controlled substances such as oxycodone, Valium, or Desoxyn (methamphetamine HCl.)

    2. Anon

      Well, color me shocked.

      The Guardian is suggesting that Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s ex-NOW spinmeister, might have only had the light-touch, private-sector “austerity” vetting before he was allowed to enter Downing Street, total cost £145 (US$235):

      Electoral Commission returns show that the party last year used Control Risks Screening to vet several staff at a cost of £145.70 per check. If this is the level of vetting undergone by Coulson it is likely to have involved only the most cursory checks of online records.

      The party said last night it would not comment on the company or the level of scrutiny involved in Coulson’s clearance, which involves a check of health records, police files, financial history, MI5 records and possible interview if recommended by the security service.

      My god, these people are stupid.

    1. Cedric Regula

      I really don’t know about France, and they can do whatever they want, but I just went grocery shopping and picked up some shredded coconut so I’ve got small change for parking meters and stuff like that.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        So true – we’ll be flooded with cheap out-of-thin-air (high altitude problme?) money.

        I think it’s time we the people demand thick air money.

    2. Sy Krass

      After France comes all emerging market countries, then China, then Germany, then Japan, then US, then comes Mad Max (remember Mel Gibson has already collapsed). Follow the yellowbrick road, follow the yellowbrick road, follow, follow, follow, follow, folow the yellowbrick road! We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizrd of Oz!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

    1. Jim

      Technology no where near ready for Mars. In the 60s, the US spent what today would be 100B annually to get to the moon (actual NASA budget today is 20B). Only reason US spent so much was Cold War.

      1. Valissa

        Of course the technology is nowhere near ready… if it was then Mars wouldn’t be the big inspiring dream that it is. I know that is rather paradoxical but humans are like that. As the actor said to the director “what’s my motivation?”

        The Mars Society is working extensively with science students at MIT and other science oriented colleges, as well as acting as a gathering point for scientists, engineers and entrepeneurs. Maybe it will take a lot longer to get to Mars than they hope, but I expect much useful technology will be developed in the meantime.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It seems like going to Mars is postponing the problem, not solving it, a sort of extend and pretend.

          1. Valissa

            As a student of history I can safely say, that’s how humans generally operate. It’s part of our charm.

            A principle is the expression of perfection, and as imperfect beings like us cannot practise perfection, we devise every moment limits of its compromise in practice.
            -Mohandas Gandhi

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Most of the time, when we buy and sell, we compromise our principle a little.

            Say I think gold is worth $5000/oz and an MMT guy who thinks it’s only worth $400/oz.

            But if the MMT guy holds true to his principle, he should sell it to me @ $400/oz. But who’s going to hold him to it if he compromises his principle of $400/oz gold. Most congradulate him.

            And if I hold true to my principle, I would buy it from him at $5000/oz, as a matter of principle.

            So, it would seem, everytime we enter into a transaction in the market, we compromise our principles.

          3. psychohistorian

            I think that mankind needs to have a frontier like space that is pushed instead of wars between each other for scarce resources for the inherited rich.

  3. Valissa

    No surprise here, as the kibuki had to wind down at some point… the Senate has been “saved” by the “gang of six” working behind the scenes to save the oligarchy.

    Obama calls new Senate plan a ‘very significant step’ in debt talks

    The plan, drafted by a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Six,” has been in the works for months. After struggling to reach consensus and apparently disbanding last week, the group now says it’s nearing agreement on a proposal, which could offer an alternative strategy for pushing an increase in the debt limit through Congress before the Aug. 2 deadline.

    “We’ve gone from a Gang of Six to a mob of 50,” exulted Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), as he emerged from the meeting. The proposal, Manchin said, “shows great promise.”

    “I will support it. It is a fair compromise,” added Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.). “This is a way forward where we can do the work that we have come here to do.”

  4. Cedric Regula

    Experimental wind-farm produces tenfold power increase Science A Go-Go

    This a major advance for wind farms and takes care of one of the three remaining bugaboos of wind power – that being power generated per square mile.

    The two left are intermittent – which is ok to a point, and the other is the more constant wind oftentimes happens to be in places that population centers are not. We still need regional grid build outs for that one.

      1. Cedric Regula

        I’m of mixed emotions over “slow”.

        The technology has been rather marginal, so if you go fast – you end up building lots of crap. But you’ve got to “jumpstart” the industry somehow.

        From “Big Solar, Wind Projects Backed By U.S” they talk of the new CA projects…..

        “All told, the projects will provide 550 megawatts (MW) of new electrical generation capacity,…”

        That is very slow considering a single coal unit does 550MW. Then wind and solar only have a 20% up to maybe a little more than 30% capacity utilization factor. That means the annual energy delivered is only 20-30% of that 550MW peak power rating (achieved at peak wind or peak sunshine).

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If we cover one side of the planet with enough propellers, can we escape from the Sun?

          I think this master-slave relationship has gone on long enough.

          We are born free to roam the universe. (That was what my rebellious dog told me before she left.)

          1. Cedric Regula

            No the earth rotates. Besides, the wind is blowing the propellers, not the other way around.

            But wind is unlimited, if we could just get government to blow enough of it.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            What about solar wind propellers…check that, one giant, arbitarily large, solar wind propeller.

          3. Cedric Regula

            That would work – in outer space.

            Imagine a solar sail fashioned like a big bra with the D-cups in outer space and the strap buckled in Washington DC so we have steering ….

          4. Valissa

            Harnessing solar wind is another sci-fi technology that’s coming a bit closer to reality.

            Out-of-this-world proposal for solar wind power

            Perhaps even more esoteric is this paper by a couple of Russian researchers…

            Harnessing of the power of the solar wind particles
            captured in the Van Allen belts

          5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Interesting possibility…if we can make it big enough, we can say goodbye to the Sun.

            Wonder if we need permission or visa to orbit around another star? You think the aliens might object?

          6. Valissa

            Like birds being kicked out of the nest when they’re ready to fly. At least Mother Earth won’t have to worry about empty nest syndrome.

          7. ScottS

            Are these square-rigged or triangular sails? Can the sails be made of photovoltaic cells?

      2. Jim

        You need a battery breakthrough for technology to be viable. Otherwise, all you’re doing is forcing working-class Americans to pay higher rates than they otherwise would. Ironically, the same Dems who demonize the Ryan Austerity Pact have no qualms about having Al the Plumber pay 18 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity, when the natural gas power plant can deliver it for 8 cents a kilowatt hour. Personally, I’m against both, the Ryan Austerity Pact and Regressive Renewable Power.

        When the battery breakthrough comes, I’ll fully support it.

        1. Valissa

          Agreed. The battery problem is being researched pretty extensively as the winner of that research competition stands to get very rich indeed. Science and technology changes tend to be bursty rather than slow and steady, but our visions always exceed current reality. There is a reason science fiction is generally about the future.

          1. Valissa

            Ooops, cut and paste error. Meant to say “Science and technology changes tend to be bursty jumps out of the slow and steady grind”

        2. Cedric Regula

          Not really. Demand is not constant around the clock and NG power plants are easily cycled up and down to do load matching. That means wind could supply a significant portion.

          Also, in states that are lucky enough to have both good wind and solar potential, studies have concluded there is enough mismatch in power availability of each that they complement each other somewhat. Plus it’s likely that large scale solar thermal plants and wind farms could share the same long haul transmission line, which is a major cost component. Plus, here in hot country, air conditioning load is the major component of demand and that happens at peak sunshine.

          1. Valissa

            In different ways I think you are both right.

            From Thomas Edison:

            Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.

            Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.

          2. Cedric Regula

            Also, I think we will be at least 20 cents/kw-hr in ten years no matter how we get there. We have an aged electric infrastructure and at least half of it will be retired in 10 years (unless they decide the 40 year old nukes are safe for another 40 years, and old coal doesn’t really pollute or make CO2 – could happen).

            The EIA just did a study of new construction cost and it is a shocker.

            The goods news is wind power is supposed to be near parity with a NG plant now, when connected to a local grid. But adding long haul power lines from windy areas to the big city doubles the construction cost. That’s why T. Boone Pickens scaled back his big wind farm plan.

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            When there was only one Model T chugging down the dusty backroads of the Midwest, no one, could foresee the carbon emission problem we have now.

            It’s like a little foreign borrowing looks kind of cute, but a lot of foreign borrowing and you need a bailout.

            So, the question for solar is this – if the whole planet is covered with solar panels, how does it impact the environment?

            And if the whole planet is covered with super efficient wind mills, how does it impact the envirnoment?

            I ask this because humans work like this – if one guy has it, then everyone must have it.

    1. toxymoron

      “Science a GoGo” says it all; that bird will never fly. Please note that develops vertical axis wind turbines for good reason: they hardly work, and fail often.

      As an aside for Cedric ‘intermittence’ is not an issue in any ‘serious’ country. Basically, you plan (daily) energy production (wind, nuclear, coal, imports, hydro) based on expected demand. Between planned production and real consumption, there is a small margin, where you play with voltage and/or phase changes while getting more/less energy produced. Now if you have few wind turbines, their production falls in the ‘small margin’ and can be ignored (you don’t think about that production, in the same way you don’t consider lots of people putting on their microwave at the same time). If you have many wind turbines, their production profile is known, and wind production can be included in the daily profile in the same way as hydro or nuclear or whatever other source you may have.
      But this reasoning only holds if you have someone pondering production and consumption profiles, and not only stock market values.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Bigger hole in Portugal?

    I just read it on AEP’s blog, dated yesterday (7/18/2011).

  6. financial matters

    France is next MacroBusiness

    “”Once the markets realise that it is actually the F-PIIGS then the ECB will have no choice but to back flip on every single prudent banking rule and the floodgates for a Euro QE program will open. Nothing is being fixed and the news just gets worse by the day.””

    QE doesn’t seem such an easy game to play in the EU. It would seem that a fiscal union would have to happen first..

  7. Seriously???

    I read this bit of gibberish today:
    “There is a “pretty widely held” consensus among economists that the [BLS]’s methodology exaggerates inflation because it doesn’t fully account for how individuals respond to rising prices, said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

    It accounts for those who buy cheaper brands of wine or steak when those prices rise, though not for those who opt instead for beer or chicken. That means it overestimates inflation, which leads to cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries, veterans and federal retirees that are bigger than necessary to maintain their purchasing power.”

    So if people buy cheaper food, prices haven’t risen and people have maintained their purchasing power?

    1. Cedric Regula

      Zandi is an idiot.

      Plus he should at least give the Cat Food Commision credit for this economic insight.

  8. Seriously

    ^ Well, to be fair to Zandi, he’s only saying what the consensus is among economists. The second paragraph is the Bloomberg reporter either being an idiot or paraphrasing idiots.

    1. Cedric Regula

      I’m not even sure you could get that one past the “consensus of economists” without some loud guffaws.

      Plus they all have PhDs, including Zandi, so maybe they aren’t idiots, and just believe we all are.

      So when somebody tells us that changing our eating habits from a filet and a nice french red wine to cat food and tap water so we can budget the same amount of money to food – is not inflation, let’s not be fair.

      P.S. Zandi also recently announced Jamie Dimon would make a fine replacement for Geithner whenever TG leaves.

      So would you buy an inflation theory from this man?

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