Links 7/21/11


  1. Foppe

    Nice article by Robert Sapolsky (primatologist, neuroscientist) from 2006: “A Natural History of Peace

    A baboon group, in short, is an unlikely breeding ground for pacifists. Nevertheless, there are some interesting exceptions. In recent years, for example, it has been recognized that a certain traditional style of chest-thumping evolutionary thinking is wrong. According to the standard logic, males compete with one another aggressively in order to achieve and maintain a high rank, which will in turn enable them to dominate reproduction and thus maximize the number of copies of their genes that are passed on to the next generation. But although aggression among baboons does indeed have something to do with attaining a high rank, it turns out to have virtually nothing to do with maintaining it. Dominant males rarely are particularly aggressive, and those that are typically are on their way out: the ones that need to use it are often about to lose it. Instead, maintaining dominance requires social intelligence and impulse control — the ability to form prudent coalitions, show some tolerance of subordinates, and ignore most provocations.

    The results were that Forest Troop was left with males who were less aggressive and more social than average and the troop now had double its previous female-to-male ratio. The social consequences of these changes were dramatic. There remained a hierarchy among the Forest Troop males, but it was far looser than before: compared with other, more typical savanna baboon groups, high-ranking males rarely harassed subordinates and occasionally even relinquished contested resources to them. Aggression was less frequent, particularly against third parties. And rates of affiliative behaviors, such as males and females grooming each other or sitting together, soared. There were even instances, now and then, of adult males grooming each other – a behavior nearly as unprecedented as baboons sprouting wings. . . By the early 1990s, none of the original low aggression/high affiliation males of Forest Troop’s tuberculosis period was still alive; all of the group’s adult males had joined after the epidemic. Despite this, the troop’s unique social milieu persisted – as it does to this day, some 20 years after the selective bottleneck.

    In other words, adolescent males that enter Forest Troop after having grown up elsewhere wind up adopting the unique behavioral style of the resident males. As defined by both anthropologists and animal behaviorists, “culture” consists of local behavioral variations, occurring for nongenetic and nonecological reasons, that last beyond the time of their originators. Forest Troop’s low aggression/high affiliation society constitutes nothing less than a multigenerational benign culture.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Why do genes want to have copies of themselves passed on and on at infinitum?

      Why did clay mineral particles have the duplicating desire in the beginning of life here?

      If you copy me, does it mean I am fulfilled?

      If you copy and paste my ideas, what does it mean my genes are happy now?

      Why do genes want to be Xeroxes?

      What happens when the planet, or the universe if full of one identical gene?


      What happened to gene individuality?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Left out ‘copies’ in front of ‘one identical gene.’

        My own first guess is that information is a ‘living thing’ in the sense that it wants to preserve itself. But this seems an over-reaction.

        My second guess is that the universe needs extra copies in case one got lost. Blame it on the faulty memory system of the universe.

        1. Graveltongue

          One of the wonderful/terrible things about nature is that monopolies are short lived. Whatever the environment provides to encourage such expansion, the life form that thrives will eventually consumes that which fed its growth.

          1. Patricia

            And our species knows this about nature, yet blithely expands itself into an overwhelming monopoly. This is one of a number of human idiocies that occasionally sends me into despair.

      2. GSo

        Genes do not “want” anything. Such questions are close to asking “why do water want to go to the sea?”. Clay minerals do not have desires, just like uranium does not have a desire to fision

        But I guess you already did know that.

  2. Foppe


    David Harvey approaches this same question in a recent lecture he gave in Zagreb (video). Basically, he on the one hand points out (against most marxists) that the notion of “labor” should be redefined to also include non-factory workers, such as those found in the services industries (restaurant workers, food distributors, cleaning workers), and the construction workers, and on the other that it is important to be more creative in the kinds of demands these organizations then make. For example, he notes how in NSW (Australia) the construction workers’ unions refused to build housing unless the houses were more environmentally friendly.
    Having said that, I doubt much can be achieved without some type of organization with a size comparable to the unions of old, because it is just too hard to counter the concentration of funds/power that the Kochs and friends can bring to bear. But I think the operative point is that people should accept that they should start smallish, rather than to hope for institutions magically coming into being.

    1. Foppe

      Whoops, forgot this: Re: “Is there a viable progressive politics that doesn’t hinge on a strong labor movement? Lane Kenworthy (hat tip Mark Thoma)”

  3. Anon

    It appears 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 10 Downing Street.

    Total cost of vetting said to be £145 (US$235):

    Electoral Commission returns show that the [Conservative] 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.

    According to a former British civil servant, this could mean that every meeting Coulson attended at No10 was a “potential [security] breach”.

    Another one for Inspector Knacker, I think. And possibly a head or two to roll in the security services?

  4. Ignim Brites

    Munchau’s piece on the Euro is consistent it seems to me with the prevailing winds of the commentariat in the matter of the Euro. Mostly pessimistic. Yet the Euro remains historically high again the dollar. Can anyone explain that?

    1. Hugh

      If I had to guess, I would say it is likely various euro bonds are paying higher interest rates due to the instability in the eurozone and this is causing investors to move out of dollars and into euros to chase the yields but I really don’t know this field well.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Currencies can trade out of whack with fundamentals longer than any other “investment”.

  5. Externality

    “Is there a viable progressive politics that doesn’t hinge on a strong labor movement?”

    Only if the Left can move beyond divisive identity politics and race-specific programs and focus on issues of class privilege and wealth redistribution, thereby ensuring that housing, college attendance, and health care are available to all. While Americans are fighting endless culture wars, the rich were busy winning the class war. The top tax rate fell from 91% to 35%, with capital gains rates falling to 15%. Taxes became more regressive, and the rich were able to ensure that their economic interests are protected by both parties.

    Karl Marx, Theodore Roosevelt, Emma Goldman, FDR, and Saul Alinsky all warned that allowing ethnic or similar divisions (e.g., the “nationalities question”) to divide the working classes would allow wealthy oligarchs to divide-and-rule.

    That is exactly what happened: the wealthy were able to split the working and middle class New Deal coalition along ethnic, racial, and religious lines. We now have two (2) parties of the rich, both encouraging a perpetual, Manichean struggle over issues that are irrelevant to the oligarchs. Endless battles over abortion are divisive — and ultimately irrelevant to million- and billionaires with the money to buy a plane ticket and get an abortion elsewhere. It is not just Republicans attacking LGBT people and people of color; the Democrats have people such as Robert Reich testifying before Congress that the stimulus jobs should not go to “White male construction workers.” Comments like Reich’s are repeatedly replayed on conservative media, driving White male construction workers to vote Republican. Both parties want the poor and working classes to fight with each other, not the rich. The Left, at present, helps the Republicans make sure that happens.

    1. also, hate to say it but

      it won’t stop until the Left is no longer the pro-immigration and pro-welfare party either.

      Immigration appears to have been largely to depress employee wages, even professional salaries. Activist groups have managed to even help gut temporary worker legislation (by essentially banning it) in Ontario, claiming to help the average worker but that has actually caused irreparable harm to new job-seekers by removing what was a fairly easy way to get a ‘foot in the door’ so to speak.

      While the welfare state (which the middle class largely pays for) does more to maintain the status quo system of inequality than anything else. That way there’s also another divide-and-conquer – the working ‘middle class’ and the idle lower classes.

      1. Foppe

        Bah, that’s solvable easily enough. Just stop demanding people get greencards, and don’t extradite immigrant workers who complain to the police or other authorities about the fact that they are being abused by their employers. Then the advantage for employers of using and attracting illegal immigrants disappears, and the problem is solved.

      2. ScottS

        When was the Left ever pro-immigration? Pro-immigrants’-rights, yes. These, however, are not the same thing.

        What’s sad is that I think everyone in the low- and middle-class can agree on the only solution to immigration — tariffs and capital controls being reinstated. NAFTA is our own little version of EU hell with a common market, but no fiscal transfer.

    2. Just Tired

      Ex – you are so right. IMHO the Democrats have done more to make the Repugnant party what it is than any conservative who ever lived.

  6. jim a

    Antidote du jure: I can’t be the only person who thinks that the sow’s ear looks like Trump’s hair.

  7. Cedric Regula

    Willem Buiter thinks water will be bigger than oil FT Alphaville

    I like reading Buiter’s stuff on central banks, but on water I think he his out of his element, as it were and as it were. Seems to be more of an airhead, methinks.

    The existing state of the art for saltwater de-sal cost is $3/1000 gallons. Considering the bulk of US population is reasonably near coastal areas, transportation via pipeline or whatever s/b doable.

    P.S. If we get no investment in supply, and instead privatize and de-regulate existing geographical monopolies and maximise profits for investors – then that is something completely different, of course.

    1. Sock Puppet

      Mr. Regula, please read your link carefully. The cost for desalinating sea water is $5-8 per $1000 gal. The $3 is for fresh water augmented with either 50% desalinated brackish water or 10% seawater. Also note that the energy fraction of the cost is about a third. That fraction will rise with increasing energy costs. Still and all a useful technology for extending the life of seawater infiltrated coastal aquifers, and combined with conservation should keep coastal communities in water. The great plains corn belt is another story…

      1. Cedric Regula

        I re-read it and got the $3 from the Figure 2 graph for saltwater. Brackish is $1.50.

        Looking at Table 1, they give a range for new saltwater of $3-$8. New brackish is $1.50 to $3.00.

        They say “combined supply” – saltwater is $1.11-$3.00.

        Yes, it uses energy. I’ve seen some experimental approaches where they are using solar, but the kind this article is about is the most common type around the world today.

        For now I made the assumption we need water growth for population growth and also to prove that Buiter is wrong about water being like oil. Seems to me we would still need corn in that case and we will keep the population growth away from the corn belt. There is a huge aquifer extending below the entire Great Plains and we have already developed an entire pump industry that makes specialized pumps designed with the express intent to pump this water to the surface for irrigation. So at this point I’m just hoping we don’t screw that up.

        1. Cedric Regula

          I’ve been giving this a little thought lately. First of all, I don’t like population growth, so don’t blame me if it doesn’t work or costs more money.

          I do think someday we may have to move away from the expectation that tap water should be drinkable. Sometimes I wander thru my Walmart Supercenter when contemplating the future of the human race. There I have found 1 gallon generic bottled water for $1. So at $3 to $8 per 1000 gallons of for de-sal plus transportation cost shouldn’t move the needle much.

          Then I researched how much the stupid, landfilling, 1 gallon plastic bottle costs. About 30 cents. But then on the next trip to Walmart I noticed a stand where you buy your own reusable 5 gallon bottle and can re-fill it with water from the stand. These are sort of heavy, and I noticed little old ladies in the checkout line, so some solution is required there for a full scale change over to bottled water.

          1. Sock Puppet

            Good thing to research. Overall I think we’re in agreement. Eater is a renewable resource unlike oil. But great plains and desert states are going to be paying much more.

        2. propertius

          There is a huge aquifer extending below the entire Great Plains and we have already developed an entire pump industry that makes specialized pumps designed with the express intent to pump this water to the surface for irrigation. So at this point I’m just hoping we don’t screw that up.

          Failing that, of course, we can just invade Canada.

        3. ozajh

          I presume you are referring to the Ogallala aquifer, which IMHO is already being over-exploited.

  8. Valissa

    €4.3 million to support jobless car workers in Germany

    The massive unemployment of German car workers in Arnsberg and Düsseldorf districts in Germany was caused by the decreasing demand of Europeans for new motor vehicles. According to surveys, the demand for new cars dropped by 5.6 % in 2009 and was followed by a large reduction in production. Consequently, suppliers as well as manufacturers were forced to discharge hundreds of workers.

    “The car industry has been severely affected by the financial and economic crisis. Today’s decision will help the redundant workers on the path to a new job through training and support to help them gain new skills,” said Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Commissioner László Andor.

    Despite the supposed strength of Germany’s economy, they are not paying for their own jobless workers transition. Just another back door bailout.

    1. Valissa

      There has always been climate change on this planet, and that has always had various side effects on humans and animals (good and bad). Suggest reading some geology or archeology for more science on this. Of course humans will always find things to fight about… including the definition of climate change and what percentage of it is currently caused by human activity and cow farts (and what, if anything we can realistically do about it). It’s a totally lame article, IMO.

        1. Valissa

          There has been much worse climate change than this. I’ve been interested in geology since I was a kid, and it is a fact that the climate of the earth is always changing and many things effect this process. The fact that so many people believe in climate change end times is a an obvious tell about the state of science education. But the force of apocaphilia and group think is strong. btw, one can be an environmentalist, and realize that humans contribute to warming (and also a little bit of cooling) without getting caught up in the propaganda and hype.

          1. Just a thought...

            So you’re a climatologist? Or a kid interested in geology?

            I would suggest that aet is on the right path. People who lack the credentials to speak authoritatively on the matter should get out of the way of experts trying to do something about the problem.

            Of course, if you’re a climatologist then by all means continue sharing an opinion that is at odds with the overwhelming majority of the people in your profession.

          2. paper mac

            “The fact that so many people believe in climate change end times is a an obvious tell about the state of science education.”

            Yeah? When’s the last time you were in a climatology classroom? When’s the last time you bothered to actually engage with the climatology literature? If you had done so recently, you’d know that some of the most conservative projections of future drought conditions (ie show, by midcentury, almost the entire US consumed by drought significantly more severe than that which gave rise to the Oklahoma dust bowl (see this map- -3 to -4 is equivalent to the OK dust bowl). I’d call the dust-bowlification of the breadbasket of North America pretty fucking apocalyptic, wouldn’t you?

            Is the climate a dynamic, ever-changing system? Yes. Has the climate changed drastically in the past? Yes. Were those changes well-tolerated by complex organisms like ourselves? Not unless “mass extinction” is your definition of “tolerate well”. The reality is that we’re ending the holocene epoch that our agricultural complexes depend on. You may be sanguine about that, all while bemoaning the state of scientific education (which you clearly have no knowledge of or involvement in), but scientists aren’t.

          3. Valissa

            I reckon I have have a pretty good propaganda detector by now. All the best propaganda is based on science. I am NOT questioning that humans contribute to climate change, I am questioning how much and what should be done about it, and that’s based on reading many different scientists opinions on the issue from many different sources over many years.

            Whenever the hype and emotion is as strong as it is about an issue like this, that’s a sign that propaganda and big money games are afoot. The big money in climate science right now is given to those who agree with the establishment position which you all are heartily endorsing (this effects getting promoted or published). The climate establishment is promoting catastrophic global warming as a collective belief for all kinds of reasons. It’s a kind of pre-disaster capitalism. As with any other issue… follow the money. btw, the history of science is full of examples of the scientific establishment being wrong.

            I wish we could go back to straight forward pollution as the enemy. I really hate this whole climate change/global warming schtick re-direct of attention away from that.

          4. Valissa

            The experts know better, eh?

            All those expert economists that make up the economics establishment?

            Or how the AMA, and all those well educated expert doctors?

            Or the APA (American Psychological Association), what do you think of all the experts there?

            Or how about all the PhDs in Nutrition that disagree with each other about dietary needs? Aren’t they all experts?

            I think lots of people forget that one of the big points of the ’60s was to question the establishment. That rule applies to all establishments of every kind.

          5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            One thing we should have learned is ‘Don’t leave it to the experts.’

            Science education 101, lesson #1: If you don’t know for 100% sure that what you going to discover (which is often not the main or proposed aim of the research undertaking) will be put to bad use causing damages that outweigh its benefits, don’t do it. And since scientific discoveries are prone to be accidental, making it nearly impossible to pre-assess, this moral imperative says basically, don’t investigate.

          6. Jim

            Few people realize that about 10,000 years ago, Manhattan was under a two mile-high glacier.

            Or that the Great Lakes area was once a vast ocean, well before the ice age. That’s why Morton’s salt got its start in Chicago.

          7. Jim

            I’d also like to add that there’s a certain pol who enjoys jetting tens of thousands of miles to deliver climate speeches he could have done via Cisco Telepresence. Is that pol a climatologist? Or can one apply for an exemption?

          8. Just Tired

            Climate change is just something else for us to argue about while our pockets are being picked. My own $.02 on the subject of experts is, it is an unfortunate part of the human condition that only unbiased experts can be trusted; and professional experts are virtually assured of not being unbiased. (I added that last part in case it appeared we would run out of things to argue about).

  9. Typing Monkey

    I’m surprised this didn’t make your links today. Especially since the trend is for things to get a lot worse for the foreseeable future

    “Consumers, particularly in the lower-income end, are being forced to use their credit cards for everyday spending like gas and food,” said Tavares, who’s based in Atlanta. “That’s because there’s been no other positive catalyst, like an increase in wages, to offset higher prices. It’s a cash-flow problem.”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I appreciate the link, but not the unwarranted criticism. I am one person, not a newsbot. Please lower your expectations

  10. rps

    Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News ran ‘black ops’ department, former executive claims”

    “‘I don’t like that sadness,’ he thought. That sadness is bad. That’s the sadness they bet before they quit or betray. That is the sadness that comes before the sell-out.”
- Ernest Hemingway,

  11. rps

    News International ‘deliberately’ blocked investigation

    “I would always rather not know. Then, no matter what can happen, it was not me that talked.”
- Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

  12. Foppe

    Pakistan’s middle Class Extremists”

    he stakes are particularly high in Pakistan. The country provides haven for Islamist terrorists that operate in India and Afghanistan and is itself the victim of a militant insurgency that has killed or injured some 35,000 Pakistanis since 2004. Currently, programs meant to address the problem of homegrown Pakistani militancy by alleviating poverty dominate the Western aid agenda. The 2009 U.S. Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, for example, proposed spending $7.5 billion on economic development in Pakistan, with the express aim of “combating militant extremism.” To test the assumption that poor people are more likely to become radicalized, we fielded a 6,000-person, nationally representative survey of Pakistanis in the four provinces of Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province) in the spring of 2009.

    The survey measured attitudes toward four important militant groups: al Qaeda; the Afghan Taliban; the so-called Kashmiri groups, which include Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen, among others; and sectarian groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba. The survey was much larger than any previous effort and, for the first time, included rural Pakistan. Previous studies had been undermined by low response rates, perhaps because they asked Pakistanis directly about their support for militant groups. Instead, we measured attitudes toward the groups using an indirect questioning technique called an “endorsement” experiment. We presented respondents with a set of four policy issues, including World Health Organization’s administration of polio vaccinations and the redefinition of the Durand Line separating Pakistan from Afghanistan, and asked how much they supported each. Some respondents were told that one of the four militant groups supported the policy. Comparing the support for each policy of those who were told a militant group supported the policy with those who were not gives the measure of support for the group.

    The data revealed four findings that undermine common wisdom about support for militancy in Pakistan.

    verall, the findings suggest that arguments tying support for militancy to individuals’ socioeconomic status — and the policy recommendations that often flow from this assumption — require substantial revision.

    Most governments, including that of the United States, are still reeling from the global recession and looking to make budget cuts where possible. Development assistance aimed at alleviating poverty should not be stopped; countries such as Pakistan have legitimate development needs pertaining to education, health care, and economic growth to support its massive youth bulge. But expecting those programs to reduce militancy is misguided. There are many good reasons to offer development assistance, but counter-radicalization, counterinsurgency, and counterterrorism are not among them.

    1. Hugh

      Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are the two biggest backers of terrorism. It says a lot about the War on Terrorism that they are our two biggest “allies” in it.

      Pakistan is the world’s first failing state with nukes. It is also by far the largest with a population of nearly 170 million.

        1. skippy

          Cough…I was informed it was *left wing politicos* in America. Hence the need to identify ones self as a true patriot by lapel pins, festooning ones intimidate background with old glory, identifying with a Homeland mindset ( born here with the “right lineage” preferably Sons of the Revolution stuff{ one of these days I should get my papers, hedge thingy }), gather, congregate in front of Roman *might makes right* architecture yet_lament_BIG_ Government, although_BIG_Military is cool~~~~cause it gives you a woody, et al.

          Yeah I know its like that…and that’s the way it is…

          Alternatively Pen and Teller do Wall st, its tricky!

          Skippy…funny thing about the NSSAR, um…their fathers or fathers fathers came from over seas, and were *Politically Left* of where they came from, ergo why do they hate their every own history, meet their ancestors reincarnate. Oh well, head back in Mr. Bucket, BTW have you a spare?

          PS. how many religions can one lose in a life time…eh…every day…a new cliff…which to throw…ones self from[!] base-jumpers are pussy’s…eh…they should try *reality* base-jumping or is that…what…they are avoiding…in truth.

  13. Valissa

    Eurozone leaders draw up radical plan to safeguard euro. Draft agreement at emergency summit provides for vast expansion in the role and powers of eurozone bailout fund

    I’ve recently started reading The Creature from Jeckyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve, by G. Edward Griffin, and all I can say is… ZOMG! the European financial solution being discussed comes right out of the list of bankster strategies in Chapter Two “The Name of the Game is Bailout.”

    1. Foppe

      Ugh.. This monetarist solution isn’t going to do jack shit for the trade imbalances (and the impossibility of direct competition between member states) that are causing the problems. Let them set up an internal tariff system; the bancor sounds nice but would still destroy too many jobs, as there is no way to redistribute the trade imbalance money properly.

      1. Cedric Regula

        I copied this blurp from Z H (sssh). So their first take on it makes it sound like a stumbling move towards the “fiscal union” in the eurozone, or EU, or both.

        “The best analogy I have heard so far about today’s European Solution is that EFSF is being asked to do a lot of what TARP did for the U.S. I cannot disagree with that assessment. The EU is clearly pushing it well beyond it’s original design. The question that remains to be answered is, who would fund the EFSF? There are stories that EFSF might buy assets from the ECB at cost. It is clearly going to lend to countries at rates that are massively off-market. It may buy debt in the open market? It may recapitalize banks? I am not sure it can have such a broad mandate and get the rating it needs or to get outside investors. What private investor would have lent to TARP? I think for this program to work, Germany and France will have to suck it up, skip the whole CDO methodology and just fund the EFSF directly. TARP only worked (or got the money it needed and was flexible enough) because the U.S. government gave the treasury carte blanche to do what they wanted. “

        1. Valissa

          European deal could lead to two-speed Europe

          Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, said the deal had pulled the eurozone back from the brink of disaster and laid foundations for the creation of an EU “economic government”. He hailed it as “a historic moment” that would provide “bold and ambitious” plans for the creation of an embryonic EU treasury in the form of a European Monetary Fund.

          “By the end of the summer, Angela Merkel and I will be making joint proposals on economic government in the eurozone. Our ambition is to seize the Greek crisis to make a quantum leap in eurozone government,” he said. “The very words were once taboo. We will give a clearer vision of the way we see the eurozone evolving. We have done something historic. There is no European Monetary Fund yet, but nearly.”

          “Power is the ability to define phenomena.” – Huey Newton, the cofounder of the Black Panther Party

  14. Thomas Barton, JD

    AEP has a good article at the Telegraph on the new package for Greece. It has several flaws just ask the Irish and Portuguese and it makes a mockery of just what default is and the consequences. It rightly points out that this is a watershed for the expansion of the EU into a quasi-fiscal union. Ms. Merkel will find that Germany does not want to take on the equivalent of 10 crippled East German economies. AEP has used the metaphor of crossing the Rubicon. I believe that this day will mark the end of Merkel as a viable leader in germany. She has done what the Allies did at Arnhem in World War II,, they strove a bridge too far.

  15. Foppe

    Pressure on David Cameron to explain why Andy Coulson was spared tough security and background checks increased as it emerged both his successor as director of communications and his former deputy are being vetted to a higher level than he ever was.

    Labour called on the cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, to reveal who inside Downing Street decided not to seek the highest level of security clearance for the former News of the World editor and whether the decision was discussed with the prime minister. Ivan Lewis, the shadow culture secretary, said it was “now a matter of urgency that this information is put into the public domain otherwise it will fuel the belief that there was knowledge about Andy Coulson’s involvement in illegal activities before he was employed”.
    A former senior counter-terrorism official said it was “unthinkable” and “very surprising, that someone would not be vetted to the higher ‘DV’ level when they are working in No 10, that close to the PM”.

    He said: “Developed vetting is an intrusive analysis of someone’s character. It potentially could have picked up phone hacking. It would look into everything about them, including allegations made publicly, in the media, about them.”

    The contrast between Coulson’s and Oliver’s security vetting emerged after 24 hours of refusals by Downing Street to say what Oliver’s security status would be. Adding to the impression Coulson was afforded special treatment, Gabby Bertin, Coulson’s former assistant who is still Cameron’s deputy press secretary, is also undergoing full checks.

    Downing Street sources claimed security was not a high priority at the start of Cameron’s premiership, but became more important with the start of military action in Libya. There was also said to be concern at the £500 cost of the vetting process.

    On Thursday, a string of former Downing Street press advisers said they could not understand how Coulson could do his job properly without the fullest security clearance which involves Ministry of Defence investigators gathering details of psychological problems, alcohol and drug histories and mortgages, personal property, and debts. Applicants are also required to give details of any person to whom they have given more than £1,000.

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