Links 9/1/11

Toroidal Bubbles Forbidden Knowledge (hat tip reader Aquifer)

‘Anti-cancer virus’ shows promise BBC (hat tip reader John M)

Despite Promises and Spin, Afghan War Disastrous for Women AntiWar (hat tip reader May S)

Google Public Data Explorer Via @LorcanRK. So far it looks like a very sawn-off version of Wolfram’s CDF but we will see what other data sets become available.

IMF and eurozone clash over estimates Financial Times. The IMF dares to suggest bank balance sheets have taken a sovereign debt hit, and Eurozone officials have gotten bent out of shape. I guarantee the IMF estimates will prove to be low.

IMF Estimates Show Damage To European Banks Global Finance. The IMF numbers, for non-FT subscribers.

Un petit French funding problème FT Alphaville. MMMF retreat from Eurobanks making funding more expensive,  for French banks in particular.

Tail risks and contract design from a financial stability perspective The Bank of England inspects some financial market chocolate teapots. Via @creditplumber, who picks off one telling quotation: “Some banks have told us they think they shouldn’t be required to hold capital and liquidity to deal with some extreme events – leaving the public sector to be the capital provider of last resort.”

Obama’s Re-election Is at Risk, Gallup Editor-in-Chief Tells Dartmouth Audience Dartmouth Now

US defence contractors ‘waste’ $12m a day Financial Times. Quelle surprise!

N.Y. billing dispute reveals details of secret CIA rendition flights Washington Post (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

US appeals court considers wiretapping lawsuits Associated Press

AT&T’s Hubris Columbia Journalism Review

T-Mobile’s Strength as Industry Maverick Is Questioned New York Times. As a happy T-Moble customer, I beg to differ.

In 50-state foreclosure negotiations, dispute underlines basic questions Washington Post

IA AG’s Office Whining That They’re Not Getting Credit for Settlement Bank of America Violated Marcy Wheeler

Bank of New York Mellon Chief Resigns in a Shake-Up New York Times

Nebraska Gov. Heineman Comes Out Against the Keystone XL Pipeline Dave Dayen, FireDogLake

Goldman Takes a Dark View Wall Street Journal

Tying Health Problems to Rise in Home Foreclosures Wall Street Journal (hat tip Lisa Epstein)

Clegg backs Cable in battle over bank reform Independent. The consensus seems to be ‘no reform until after the election’ now. That’s 2015 or so.

Our economy is fundamentally broken MacroBusiness. The Australian economy, that is.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Foppe

    Secret files: US officials aided Gaddafi

    Communication with US officials

    I managed to smuggle away some documents, among them some that indicate the Gaddafi regime, despite its constant anti-American rhetoric – maintained direct communications with influential figures in the US.

    I found what appeared to be the minutes of a meeting between senior Libyan officials – Abubakr Alzleitny and Mohammed Ahmed Ismail – and David Welch, former assistant secretary of state under George W Bush. Welch was the man who brokered the deal to restore diplomatic relations between the US and Libya in 2008.

    Papers and files were strewn about the offices of Libya’s intelligence agency [Evan Hill/Al Jazeera]

    Welch now works for Bechtel, a multinational American company with billion-dollar construction deals across the Middle East. The documents record that, on August 2, 2011, David Welch met with Gaddafi’s officials at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo, just a few blocks from the US embassy.

    During that meeting Welch advised Gaddafi’s team on how to win the propaganda war, suggesting several “confidence-building measures”, according to the documents. The documents appear to indicate that an influential US political personality was advising Gaddafi on how to beat the US and NATO.

    1. Caveat Emptor

      “Constitutional governments and aristocracies are commonly overthrown owing to some deviation from justice…the rich, if the constitution gives them power, are apt to be insolent and avaricious… In all well-attempered governments there is nothing which should be more jealously maintained than the spirit of obedience to law, more especially in small matters; for transgression creeps in unperceived and at last ruins the state, just as the constant recurrence of small expenses in time eats up a fortune.” – Aristotle, Politics, Book V. 350 B.C.E.

      Continue reading on Open proposal for US revolution: end unlawful wars, criminal economics.

      1 of 4 – National Nonpartisan |

      Guest posting at Washington’s Blog.


      Richard Maybury Early Warning Report and “Whatever Happened to Justice”

      An economic system is the result of its legal system. The two fundamental principles of the old English Common Law expressed in 17 words: do all you have agreed to do and, do not encroach on other persons or their property.

      The first rule is the basis of contract law, and the second, the basis of tort law and some criminal law.

      These are the two laws taught by all religions. This is why they were the basis of Common Law — the law common to all.

      Political power is the privilege of violating these laws. This is why it corrupts.

      Where you find these laws most closely obeyed, both by the people and the governments, you will find the most liberty, prosperity and peace.

      Where the two laws are not widely obeyed follow tyranny or chaos.

      1. Caveat Emptor

        That looks pretty random.

        That’s in response to Jim Haygood
        September 1, 2011 at 8:46 am

        “A citizen may not gain standing by claiming a right to have the government follow the law.”

        The State, Slick Lawyers, The Law … tools of opportunity.

  2. Jim Haygood

    From the story about wiretapping lawsuits:

    In a separate ruling [federal judge Vaughn] Walker decided the telecom customers did not have standing to sue the government directly because – unlike the plaintiffs in the Al-Haramain case – they had not suffered specific harm beyond those suffered by any other citizen.

    In a decision last year, Walker described the latter case as “citizen suits seeking to … punish and bring to heel high-level government officials for the allegedly illegal and unconstitutional warrantless electronic surveillance program or programs now widely, if incompletely, aired in the public forum.”

    But, he noted, “A citizen may not gain standing by claiming a right to have the government follow the law,” and said those issues are best resolved in the political arena.

    There you have it, folks — a no-account citizen has no standing to compel government compliance with its own laws. All the aggrieved little citizen can do is to vote for the Depublicrat of her choice. The Attorney General and the federal prosecutors are all appointed by these parties, and are most unlikely to bite the hand that feeds.

    Citizen-led grand juries might once have served this function. But they’ve been turned into pro forma rubber stamps for prosecutors.

    As ol’ Benito M. used to say, ‘All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.’

    Have you kissed the flag today, comrade?

    1. ambrit

      Dear Comrade Jim; (No, no, that’s too snarky.)
      Dear Gospodin Jim; (There, that’s better..)
      I too caught that quote. About as brazen a declaration of “Might Makes Right” as we’re going to see. And in a Court Opinion at that. (Are Star Chamber Courts going on now too?)
      Following that up, I clicked on over to the Hawaii Link to read about the new pleadings on the wiretapping suits. The usual stuff, but, did you notice the Air Guard banner ad at the top of the page? If I wasn’t convinced otherwise, I’d swear that was, in layout and composition, an old Nazi Party ad extolling the virtues of fighting for “Volk, Reich, und Furher.” I hope we don’t end up being all nostalgic for the ‘good old days’ of Mussolini style crypto-Fascism.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Comrade Ambrit:

        You know, we would like to welcome you back into the good graces of your federal family. But it’s evident that you’re going to need some remedial resocialization first. You can start here:

        Don’t think of it as the federal government but as your “federal family.”

        The Obama administration didn’t invent the phrase but has taken it to new heights.

        “Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal and territorial partners along the East Coast,” a FEMA news release declared Friday as Irene churned toward landfall.

        The G-word — “government” — has been nearly banished, with FEMA instead referring to federal, state and local “partners” as well as “offices” and “personnel.”

        Hmmm … how would one go about becoming a ‘tribal partner’? My tribe’s called the ‘mescaleros’ …

        1. ambrit

          Dear Tribal Partner;
          So, now it’s the ‘Family.’ Some sinister connotations there, for sure. Not just your usual ‘Family’ but also ‘The Family’ of House of David fame. (Look up the late River Phoenix and take a look at his background. An excellent tome about it is “Gods Whores.”) Plus, as an added gift just for buying into it, new improved ‘Family Values!’
          This all reminds me of an episode of “Yes Minister!” Unfortunately, our American Cousins don’t go in for much in the way of irony or humour when it comes to government. Trust me on this, I’ve had numerous awkward moments with folks here in the Deep South when I trot out my skewed sensibility about governance.
          I just hope the ‘Resocialization’ Seminars are held in some nice quiet venue. I’d hate to tell anyone that I spent my summer relearning the core values of America in Club Gitmo!

    2. attempter

      “A citizen may not gain standing by claiming a right to have the government follow the law,” and said those issues are best resolved in the political arena.

      Some would say the fact that this law exists indicates that the issue has been resolved in the political arena, at least until the law is changed. (That is, a civics textbook would say that. Anyone who sincerely believed in “good government” would say that. Anyone who believed in “checks and balances” would say that – how can a judge legitimately arrogate to himself the power to decide which laws are real laws and which ones are mere political puffery?)

      This just goes to show what total and irredeemable scams our “law” and our system “politics” are, and how any solution can come only from completely outside them.

    3. Hugh

      IANAL but to have standing an individual must claim a specific injury that has resulted to him/her from the government not following a specific law. Trying to remember back to this case, I think the idea was that the NSA had intercepted the electronic communications of millions of Americans but the plaintiffs could not show that they specifically had had their communications intercepted. It was a Catch-22. They needed to have the government release evidence on whether or not they had been surveilled but they could only do so if they had standing and to have standing they needed to have evidence that they had been surveilled. The al-Haramain case was different in that the government had accidentally released evidence that those involved in al-Haramain had been surveilled so they could prove they had standing.

      The government in these cases has also used the state secrets defense. This too involves a Catch-22. You can’t classify material to hide governmental wrongdoing, but since the government has classified the pertinent materials you can’t show they have been improperly classified, that is they have been classified to hide the wrongdoing.

      In the larger sense I agree with you. The Roberts court has shown itself to be hostile to individuals. You see this in both Citizens United and the Walmart cases. My impression of the Roberts court is that it will deny standing to individuals except in certain criminal cases where it grants standing but usually rules against the individual. About the only time that 5 votes can be mustered for individual rights, as in Boumediene, is when the case is pitched as an encroachment on judicial turf.

  3. Leviathan

    Afghan War disastrous for women? Should read: Afghanistan disastrous for women, and war can’t fix that. Sad but true.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Leviathan;
      A similar war is going on here in the West too. Ultra fundamentalist sects and fellow travellers are striving mightily to roll back any and all aspects of womens control over their reproduction. Not just abortion, (an entirely unique case I’ll posit,) but contraception of all types. Being released from the demands of uncontrollable pregnancies, unless one entered holy orders of course, was a fundamental and truly transformative event in the female half of the human races history. The old guard male dominance party has been battling against this ever since. After all, power is at stake. So, let Afghanistan be a cautionary tale for the rest of us. No one guarantees that History moves in only one direction.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        Abortion is important, but small beer.

        How about all the women forced into porn in order to make a living? Millions of them.

        1. aet

          “Forced” as in all people are “forced” to make a living?

          Or “forced” as in, at the point of a gun?

          If the latter, then please provide some evidence of your claim….or is this something you “just know”?

          How about all the men “forced” into gay porn? Or are there none such?

          1. aet

            And precisely how, or in what way, is it immoral in any way to be “forced” to make a living, if such force is not actually and factually coercive?

            Or are you implying that all people performing in the adult entertainment business are coerced to do so?

            For that implication is simply untrue.

          2. ignorance is bliss

            Today’s Hidden Slave Trade

            She did not offer a portrait of the good life. Speaking through an interpreter, she told about the time in D.C. when a guy came in who looked “like a mental patient, a psycho.” Weirded out, she wanted nothing to do with him. But she said the woman who ran the brothel assured her everything would be fine.

            It was fine if you consider wrestling with Hannibal Lecter fine. The john clawed at this woman, gouging her flesh, peeling the skin from her back and other parts of her body. She was badly injured.

            According to the government, the woman was caught up in a prostitution and trafficking network that ruthlessly exploited young Korean women, some of whom “were smuggled into the country illegally.”


  4. Leviathan

    As for the connection between health problems and foreclosure, well duh! But people need to have this quantified and laid before them as a cost to the crisis, or it is not “real.”

    Depression is depressing.

  5. Susan the other

    Obama now has a 38 percent approval rating, and sinking. I wonder what he is sinking about… sorry. Anyway what I’m sinking is that his speech next week will be a great dud. He’ll try to derail Schneiderman, foist another useless help-homeowners boondoggle on us, pretend like he has a clue about jobs, and talk about how wonderful the military is. Or, if he has seen the light, he should step aside now so another serious candidate can come forward. But who would be that foolish?

  6. Stephen V.

    Thanks Yves & Aquifer for the Toroidal lingk!
    Here’s another goodie:
    When Jules Verne wrote A Journey to the Centre of the Earth over 100 years ago, he imagined a place of glowing crystals and a turbulent sea, complete with prehistoric animals and giant mushrooms.

    What was actually beneath our feet was a complete enigma. Even to this day scientists astonishingly know more about the rings of Saturn than they do about the core of our own planet.

    But that is beginning to change. “We’re at a golden age in terms of the real discovery of the bulk of the deep Earth,” says seismologist Professor Rick Aster.

    And remarkably, not everything Verne imagined was wrong.

  7. Jefferson's bones

    Obama’s Re-election Is at Risk, Gallup Editor-in-Chief Tells Dartmouth Audience

    Obama has two choices. He can either quit the race and go the Clinton post presidential route, cashing in on all those favors and in a few years become mega rich. Or, he can start a war prior to the election and win on the coattails of his Commander-in-Chief uniform.

  8. Foppe

    Wonderful place, this NPR: “Will Consumer Queasiness Drag Down The Economy?

    When it comes to the economy, there’s a lot to worry about: jobs, home prices, debt. And all of those concerns seem to have come together in the latest snapshot of consumer confidence: It plunged to its lowest level in two years.
    The concern is that a country full of increasingly pessimistic consumers will stop spending and undermine the recovery.
    And despite very low interest rates, there’s no rush to buy homes.

  9. Eureka Springs

    Funny things happening this week among the D veal pen crowd, like MoveOn and Russ Feingold et. al.

    A few days after blogs like NC declare the AG’s/ BOA 8.5b settlements all but dead… the veal penners all send out their first calls to action… expecting you to demand the settlements be rejected.

    Reminds me of Clinton telling y kos victims early on to let Obama “pass anything (health care related) and call it victory.”

  10. BondsOfSteel

    I am shocked and elated that the DOJ is standing up for T-Mobile customers.

    T-Mobile is by far the most consumer friendly US carrier. They don’t try and second sticker you with needless add ons (unlike Verizon). They will unlock phones for you if you just ask. They are cool with you using non T-Mobile GSM phones (iPhones) on their network! Their HSPA+ network is the best 4G network.

    IMHO, the only reason ATT has been taking customers from T-Mobile is the merger and the lack of 3G iPhone support. If the rumors are true that T-Mobile will get the new 4G iPhone, they will not only be competitive, but the best US carrier.

    1. curlydan

      Isn’t AT&T challenging this? The cynic in me sings, in the words of Lenny Kravitz, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”.

  11. Aquifer

    Re Obama re-election in trouble

    “To improve their standings, Newport said, politicians must find a middle ground between the delegate model, in which elected officials follow the mandate of the electorate, and the trustee model, in which politicians make independent decisions.”

    Seems to me politicians have rejected both models and prefer the market model in which they will go to the highest bidder …

  12. Hugh

    Re Goldman Takes a Dark View, I could not help thinking how bogus it was. It was made to look all cutting edge and deeply insightful when it amounts to no more than what we have been saying here openly for a year, only not as much and not as well as here.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Defense contractor waste 12m/day?

    That’s covered in a book called ‘5,000 Years of Government Waste,’ I believe.

    Contraty to popular belief that governments are inherently wasteful, seducing virtuous government officials into wasting public money, the book speculates that wasteful people existed first and got together to establish wasteful governments in the Fertile Crescent.

    It also suggests that government waste can be overcome by more government spending, in order to achieve pre-determined goals.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      The only thing that can stop public waste is having the private sector do everything, but then we’d have to eliminate private waste, and the only way we could do that is to have the government do everything. I think we should allow both the private sector and the public sector to do everything. Then there would be no waste.

  14. Abe, NYC

    Have been on T-Mobile for the last 10 years (since Voicestream), and never found a better plan. Quite happy with their support, too. Both are likely to get much worse if AT&T took over.

    Having said that, it’s still bloody expensive, USA has the most expensive cell communications in OECD. I don’t quite understand how Deutsche Telekom aren’t making exorbitant profits charging their consumers almost twice their European rates.

  15. SR6719

    “The Warren Commission’s Report is a remarkable document, especially if considered as a work of fiction (which many experts deem it largely to be). The chapters covering the exact geometric relationships between the cardboard boxes on the seventh floor of the Book Depository (a tour de force in the style of Robbe-Grillet), the bullet trajectories and speed of the Presidential limo, and the bizarre chapter titles – “The Subsequent Bullet That Hit,” “The Curtain Rod Story,” “The Long and Bulky Package” – together suggest a type of obsessional fiction that links science and pornography.”

    “In the waking dream that now constitutes everyday reality, images of a blood-spattered widow, the chromium trim of a limousine windshield, the stylised glamour of a motorcade, fuse together to provide a secondary narrative with very different meanings.”

    — J.G. Ballard (The Atrocity Exhibition)

    1. B. Traven

      “Dr. Nathan found himself looking at what seemed a dune but was in fact an immensely magnified portion of the skin over the iliac crest.”

    2. ambrit

      Dear SR6719;
      Good old Ballard! A man who lived the ‘waking dream’ if anybody ever did. From the Bund to Fleet Street to Wall Street, a long trail to get back to where one started from.
      In reference to JFK, the best demonstration of how absurd the Warren Commission really was is an interesting tome titled “Mortal Error.” I’m not fully convinced about his scenario, but his arguements that the ‘ballistics’ evidence used by the Warren Report is delusional are compelling. The man even comes up with a credible explanation for the ‘Magic Bullet!’ (We must remember that the Warren Commission was a political body, not a scientific investigation.)

    1. ambrit

      Dear Dr. Dr.;
      From personal experience I know that Dolphins have a sense of humour. They are clearly playing with those air rings. Play is the sign of experimental investigation. These critters could well be sophonts, just not a variety we presently understand.

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