Links 11/12/11

Thanks SO much to all of you who contributed to our fundraiser! It looks like we just met our 1200 total. I had 1199 not counting at least 5 PayPal “pending” transactions, most if not all of which will be good. In addition, some of you seemed to tell me you were donating in the comment section and not via the “check in in the mail” so I am sure there are at least a couple of other donations not in my official tally. Well done and thanks so much for your support!

Nature is the 99%, too Aljazeera (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Western Black Rhino Of Africa Officially Extinct, Conservation Group Announces Huffington Post (hat tip reader Carol B)

Photos: Thais Celebrate Loi Krathong Festival Amid Floods Wall Street Journal (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

World’s smallest electric car has four-“wheel”drive R&D Mag (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

IEA Confirms The End Of Cheap Oil Countercurrents (hat tip reader May S). A little overwritten, but the summary of key points is useful.

EXCLUSIVE-Greece turns to Iranian oil as default fears deter trade Reuters (hat tip reader freude bud)

Finally, Berlusconi’s Departing — But That Won’t Help the Eurocrisis Unless Austerity Plans Exit, Too Alternet

On the Brussels’ Agreement: Europe’s Reverse Alchemy in full throttle Yanis Yarofakis (hat tip reader Valissa). Grim and very persuasive.

Eurozone Crisis: Here Are the Options, Now Choose Nouriel Roubini (hat tip reader Aquifer)

What is holding Italy back? Daniel Gros, VoxEU. Reader Michael Thomas sent this to his daughter in Milan. Her comment:

Don’t get me started! Read it and agree but kind of tell me something i dont know – bad governence, corruption at ALL levels, and disprspect for the law – until the old men stop pocketing all the money to further their interests instead of using it for basic and digital infrastructure and until italians stop trying to beat the system (not pay taxes) and glue themselves to propoganda tv, this country will continue tobe a mess.

There’s 30% unemployment for young people
40% of italians have internet at home (ie access to unbiased info)
96% watch tv which is all belusconi all the time (Instead of the 70 million euros tagged for digital infrastructure it all went to putting up more tv antennas)

Reclaiming the Republic: An Interview with Lawrence Lessig Boston Review

Occupy Denver Elects a Leader (hat tip reader 1 SK). And just my type!

Occupy Harvard left up to students Boston Globe

How the rich rig the system Salon

How a Neoliberal Shell Game Created an Age of Activism Juan Cole, TruthOut (hat tip reader May S)

John Maynard Keynes Knew What Occupy Wall Street Tells Us Today: “Banks and bankers are by nature blind.” James Galbraith, Alternet

Wall Street v. Elizabeth Warren Simon Johnson (hat tip reader Carol B)

Class Warfare and Revolution (Circa 1850) Richard Bookstaber (hat tip reader Onoreo)

CME offers $300m to MF Global customers Financial Times

A Big Market, but Not Necessarily Dangerous Floyd Norris. Not implausible but then why is no one willing to trigger an event of default on Greece?

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Sock Puppet

    Thank you for the “Nature is the 99%, too” link. We need to remember that, relative to the rest of the world, the US is the 5%, and relative to nature, the whole human race is the 1%. Let’s make sure we behave better that the Wall St 1%.

    1. Susan the other

      The Aljazeera article by Chip Ward cuts as close to the bone as our hypocrisy can withstand. We are killing ourselves with poison and denial. The profit seekers don’t know any other way because to change our way of living will be so wrenching it will feel like our own extinction. So when we all witness the true mass extinction going on right before our eyes our fear can only be turned into bravado by denial. There is only one way to turn things around: boycott. If we can’t make/buy it without harming the environment, we must do without. With 7bn people on the planet the prospects are terrifying. I wish someone would make a comprehensive list of everything we do not need. Like air conditioning, or an extravagant collection of housewares, or electronic games, yatta yatta.

      1. Sock Puppet

        Susan, book suggestion for you “The Circumference of Home” by Kurt Hoelting. One man’s life without a car for a year.

      2. CB

        I have a central ac unit, but I never run it. Can’t afford the electric bill it would generate. I have never lived with ac at home because, at 68, I was born before ordinary homes commonly had ac, so I wasn’t raised with it, either. Living without is difficult, believe me; 90 and 100 plus degrees heat is killer.

    2. James

      Actually, nature is pretty much the 99.999%. We’re pretty much what is left over.

      Oh wait, 9-9-9 anyone? ANYONE? For pizzas? With extra toppings? And cheezy sticks with chocolate and fattening shit? And barrels of soda? Anyone?

  2. Richard Kline

    On Denver’s Alpha One, Yves, it takes one to know one. I mean that in all the best senses!!

    Something on my mind when I first came across this action in Denver—and it IS an action, make no mistake: ridicule takes the juice out of power—concerns the sense of humor I’ve seen come out of various Occupations. I may view my country with a jaundiced eye often, but one thing I do appreciate is the American sense of humor. Yet what I hear from the best jests from the Zones is . . . different. There’s really no sarcasm, and the zinger remark that’s typical to me of 20th century American humor is much less emphasized. Then too, there’s less irony than I would expect given that irony (personally I don’t care for it) has been the default mode of humor over the last two decades. There is, in my reading of it, a sort of calm, “That bullshit we’re being sold is just so ridiculous” tone to it. Of which this action in Denver is an archetypal example. The tenor reminds me quite a bit, actually of mid and late 19th century American humor in the vein of Sam Clemens in wry mode or Josh Billings. I’m sure no one is _trying_ for this particular tone, yet there’s been a vein of it in diverse locations. And this particular timbre of humor has been, to me, quite absent in this country for a very long time, so something in the process or the very actions themselves is faciliatating it’s re-emergence. We need more of it. “Wake up and smell the bullshit.”

    1. 1whoknu

      The comments under the press release of Shelby’s election are more of the same.

      November 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      November 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm
      Wes. Your concise response is profound. You have single handedly wiped away my years of independent rational thinking and opinions that I’ve come to derive from such thought and convinced me to agree with your views! Poignant. Now what is our solution again??”

    2. Susan the other

      How about this for wry humor. Austerity Solidarity. Lets give the 1% what they wish for. Lets not buy anything. Zip. Lets walk everywhere. Lets join OWS with signs that read “Give the 1% what they want!”

    3. Richard Kline

      Chant at Occupy Denver tonight Saturday 12 Nov, in a friendly tone mostly, just before the police charged: “You’re sexy, you’re cute, take off your riot gear.”

      It’s hard to get mad, let alone stay mad, at nonconfrontational folks saying positive things about you. In any one action, this has only an incremental effect. But the function over time is to undercut the authority and even more the morale of the governators. The sense of humor of the Occupiers is already a landmark in American history, to me; not just political history but social history.

  3. Schofield

    Professor Robert H. Frank’s progressive consumption tax is an interesting suggestion for moving towards better sustainability.

    1. skippy

      Warning…a Noble Bucket is required for this walk down a nostalgic road.

      Skippy…and some wonder how we got here[?].

  4. OWS Leadership Council

    Shelby has articulated Occupy Denver’s non-negotiable demands:

    1. Let me have some of that sandwich
    2. I need to sniff your crotch
    3. Drink from your toilet bowl whenever I want
    4. Going to hump your leg now
    5. Let’s play fetch
    6. Don’t let that car get away!
    7. Oops, hairball
    9. Look at this rat I got, it’s awesome
    10. Rights and rule of law for all the humans

    1. craazyman

      sounds like Zucotti Park!

      Ouch. Just kyddyng. :)

      I’ll take 1 and 10 and leave the rest for Shelby — an altruism the 1% should endeavor to emulate.

  5. MikeJake

    “Greece turns to Iranian oil as default fears deter trade.”

    I guess they’re finally over that whole Thermopylae thing.

    1. Anon

      Yeah, and Berlusconi had years and years in power to make everything of Italy he could have wanted.

      Look what he, as a made man, made.

  6. scraping_by

    It seems that both Occupy Denver and the local Denver gentry have been reading “The Spider and the Starfish” by Ori Bronfman and Rod Beckstrom. The Occupy protesters have created and are trying to preserve a distributed organization model while the powers-that-be are trying to create a hierarchy they can capture, control, and destroy.

    Bronfman and Beckstrom’s example for this process was the Apache tribe and its 200 year war with the Europeans/Mexicans/Americans. Their resistance was based on a broad opinion among the tribe members against assimilation. The structure for expressing this opinion was to follow men who were not political leaders ruling from position, but shamans leading by respect. The strategy of finding and killing the leaders didn’t work, since the rest of the tribe simply had other men they respected and listened to. Kept things fluid and going for generations.

    They continued resistance in one form or another until the shamans were appointed leaders by the BIA and given small herds of cattle. At that point, the shamans had position and wealth to protect and their attitude toward the rest of the Apaches changed. In response, the attitude of the rest of Apaches changed to them. The tribe dissolved into poor, marginal individuals.

    Devner’s best would prefer an expected-looking face to put in front of the camera who can spout a lot of anti government slogans, or better yet, go to the other protesters and do Barry’s thing of “I’m sorry guys, it’s just not going to happen this time.” Their elected dog shows there’s a lot more going on here than the MSM “hippie kids” meme suggests.

    1. Otter

      It is an old tactic, going back at least to Imperial Roma, perfected by the English (Norman) and American authorities.

      Grab a few likelylooking people. Declare them to the ringleaders. Hang, draw and quarter them in public. Announce that the rebellion is over.

      The thriftstore version is to grab anyone, plant some substances on them, apply for overtime credit.

  7. bmeisen

    Occupy Frankfurt working with Attac and Campac mobilized several thousand demonstrators today to form a human chain around Frankfurt’s banking district. The chain wove its way through the red-light district around neighboring bank towers to a gathering point in front of Deutsche Bank’s twin empty excel-table towers, in all several kilomoters long. There were so many demonstrators that over much of its length the chain was doubled. Speakers addressing the subsequent plenary included representatives of the organizers, labor unions, environmental groups and comedians. The crowd was diverse and I guess there were substantially more middle-agers and retirees than 20-somethings.,1472798,11140076.html

      1. Glenn Condell

        Well, I must have been eating in the top part of the paddock lately cos I caught sight of meself in the mirror this morning (normally the 15 yo daughter is parked in front of it) and thought my dad must be visiting.

        I read the first two paras of that piece and needed a lie down, but was no closer to genuine understanding afterward. Even electricity – I know how it works, but why is still beyond me. It is almost but not quite as complex as derivative mortgage backed security hedging CDO thingamybubs.

        Off for a swim, left my run a bit late as storm clouds gather, but I do enjoy the odd dip in a downpour. Had to work yesterday so no short-stay Occupation possible, but not even sure if still going. Media remarkably but not unexpectedly silent. Best you up there…

  8. Joe

    Our global economy is the biggest Ponzi Scheme of all … Depleting earth’s assets, which we depend on for life, to pay for current withdrawals.

  9. Valissa

    Berlusconi resigns, crowds in Rome celebrate

    More than a thousand demonstrators waving banners mocking Berlusconi flocked to the president’s residence at the Quirinale Palace as the motorcade carrying the billionaire media entrepreneur, who has been Italy’s longest serving prime minister, entered.

    The crowd grew so unruly that Berlusconi was forced to leave secretly via a side entrance and return to his private residence.

    Cheers broke out when they heard that Berlusconi had resigned and the square broke out into a party atmosphere. People sang, danced and some broke open bottles of champagne.

    An orchestra near the palace played the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah. “We are here to rejoice,” one said.

    … After the resignation, hundreds shouting “Jail, Jail, Jail,” moved from the presidential palace to Berlusconi’s residence to continue the noisy celebrations below his windows.

    End of an Era: Italy’s Berlusconi Resigns

    I’ll drink to that! Cheers! Congratulations Italy!

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…
    Wont get fooled again – The Who

  10. b.

    Re: Reverse Alchemy. It looks like Europe’s “leaders” are suffering from a systemic case of Lemmingitis.

  11. b.

    On a more serious note, I am not really down with Simon Johnson’s discussion of Warren. It has a similar irrelevant and distracting thrust as the new genre of “The Ugly Rich” stories popping up everywhere. It is not whether or not the Have Too Muchs are virtuous, it is that They Have Too Much.

    “Warren has no radical theories” is telling, because at the end of the day, Warren is a structure conservative that is intellectually unable to reform the system. You cannot by means of consumer protection polish the turd of inequality and inbred wealth, at levels incompatible with an open, just society. We are witnessing pervasive corruption of democratic institutions to the point of dysfunction, and an abrogation of the rule of law through oligarchy. You can’t fix that the way you fix a toaster.

    “No radical theories” is idiotic, because not only could the case be made that this is reinforcing Rove’s long-term objective – limit the discourse to “conservative theories”, keep fundamental, “radical” reform off limits – it also reinforces his obfuscation that we are dealing with revolutionary, radical, anarchist, eat-your-children finance. The radical theories are advanced by the elites, their bankers, and their political retainers – radical theories such as Cheney’s pseudo-Keynes “debt does not matter” on supply-side tax cuts, or the concept that a sovereign nation should opt to default voluntarily for political gain.

    The question is not whether we need radical theories – we bloody well needed them yesterday – the question is, which radical theories are matching the structure of the crisis. Because when you are facing systemic failure, you need to reform the system at the root, not patch it up at the tail end, and any systemic reform is by definition “radical” to both those that benefit from the system, and those that abhor any proposition of change because of cognitive deficiencies.

    That is why Warren is ultimately a sideshow, and Rove certainly knows that. Whatever her ultimate impact on his and his masters’ bottom line, her tireless efforts to improve the system – to make it suck less – are serving no purpose but to extend its lifetime – no matter that trends that cannot go on forever, won’t. The oligarchs have moved beyond profit maximization, and are destroying the host society that they themselves depend on. Inbred wealth, intellectually as well as genetically, is always characterized by short-sighted greed and wanton sadism.

    Too Big To Fail banks are not the radical theory advanced here – the radical notion is the same as it has been for thousands of years of post-tribal “civilization”, it is the notion that there is no wealth that is Too Big To Afford, Too Big For Liberty. That notion has been with us for so long, it has become the conservative position, conserving nothing but the privilege of the privileged.

  12. b.

    On the same notion of inbred (i.e. interest/positive feedback loop cumulative) wealth is incompatible with stability, prosperity, and basic civil and human rights: Lessig can be counted on to get it exactly backwards. To wit less:

    “The Occupy movement is a wonderful counterforce. But the challenge is for the movement to frame itself in a way that makes it clear that what they’re talking about is not wealth, but wealth procured through this corruption.
    The question isn’t whether money is speech.”

    Wealth Too Big is Too Big no matter how it came to be – legally or not, through hard work or not. It is Too Big.

    How do you even define corruption – abolishing the estate tax, reducing interest rates on rents and interest income? Here on NC we read several times about the History of Debt, which is essentially – until now, when the Flat Earthers of Finance and Economic Scientism are trying to square to global circle – a History of Debt Forgiveness.

    For Lessig to dismiss challenges to – and thus affirm – the notion of money as speech is to really demonstrate how profoundly structure conservatism fails when we are left with a legacy of self-defeating and downright lethal incentive structures. You cannot reform a system rigged to implode.

    Incidentally, the whole notion that is is relevant and worthwhile to discuss the virtues and legitimacy of the Have Too Muches is the mirror-image of disputing the virtue of the protesters, dissenters, and dissidents. It does not matter whether, pace Lessig, the 99% are against wealth in general, or only against “illegitimate” or “illegal” wealth, whether for all the right or all the wrong reasons. As the Euroligarchs are demonstrating, you can have inequality or you can have democracy, but you cannot have both. Italy and Greece both have rigged domestic societies that prevent the population at large to put together a strong economy if they tried. To sustain staggering inequality in the face of pervasive failure, even faux referenda and rigged elections cannot be tolerated.

    Lessig pretends that we can discuss the marginal tax rate without discussing wealth that is not “procured through corruption”. That is a remarkably shortsighted proposition.

    Take the classic visualization of gravity: billiard balls on a rubber table. The larger and denser the balls, the deeper their impressions on the elastic “spacetime”. Introducing the concept of a mathematical singularity, black holes are presented as a hole that tears the rubber. Compound interest and the positive feedback loops of a rentier-dominated society are merely exponential (not hyperbolic), i.e. will not reach infinity in finite time, but the effect is the same – if the wealth accrual of the past speeds up the accrual of wealth in the future, then the very fabric of society will tear. We can ditch all that puritan bullshit about who is more unwashed and more virtuous by focusing on the effect that self-reinforcing inequality has. Because, as a society, we no longer have the time for soap operas, we need to resolve who we want to stabilize what is inherently evolving towards collapse.

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