Links 11/27/11

Dear readers,

Still having trouble with my account but this seems to be a DNS problem, not hacking.

Hungarian Hacker Pleads Guilty After Hacking into Marriott Computers and Extorting Job in Company’s IT Department Security Week

Peru protests at huge gold mine BBC

Britain unites with smaller countries to block US bid to legalise cluster bombs Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

UK tabloids brace for more damage at ethics inquiry Raw Story

Egypt Braces for Fresh Clashes After Protester’s Death New York Times

Activists accuse Mexican president of war crimes in drug crackdown Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

How the Plummeting Price of Cocaine Fueled the Nationwide Drop in Violent Crime Atlantic Cities (hat tip reader May S)

Mr. Romney on Foreclosures New York Times

Fewer Americans serve in the military than at any time since 1920s amid growing gulf in connections and attitudes Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

For Occupying Protesters, Deadlines and Decisions New York Times

LAPD’s handling of Occupy L.A. will be put to the test Los Angeles Times

Naomi Wolf’s ‘Shocking Truth’ About the ‘Occupy Crackdowns’ Offers Anything but the Truth AlterNet. OK, Naomi Wolf was journalistically sloppy. But does anyone doubt the crackdown was coordinated? And Holland has a history of policing the leftie ghetto. Frankly, journalists should be putting the onus on officials to explain how so many raids happened on the same day if there was not any coordination.

Slipping Backward on Swaps Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

Black Friday Sales Rise 6.6% to Record: ShopperTrak Bloomberg

One man’s haircut is another man’s unsecured risk FT Alphaville (hat tip reader Michael C)

Antidote du jour:

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    1. Jane

      Charming! – who can’t love Photoshop when something like this is produced?

      I loved Meerkat Manor when it was on Animal Planet and was fascinated by the familial relationships and the ‘warfare’ with neighboring meerkat families. One particularly memorable storyline was the isolation of one wayward female who had the temerity to get herself pregnant by a male from an enemy family.

      Warfare is everywhere.

      1. JTFaraday

        I tuned in to that maybe 3 times, and twice it was the episode of the sad death of singleton Mozart, after her brief rendezvous with Wilson.

        Come to think of it, they were separated when Wilson’s group went into battle.

        High tragedy.

  1. psychohistorian

    The cluster bomb story shows how sick and immoral our country has become….are we worse than Hitler’s Germany at this point? I despise our imperialist killings around the world.

    American empire can not end too soon. Why don’t all the “religious” leaders of America and the world incite their congregations to demand the killings stop? Evidently morality and religion are clearly no longer bedfellows, if they ever were.

    1. Jane

      IMO religion and morality never were bedfellows. One has only to consider all the atrocities carried out in the name of religion to make that abundantly clear.

      As a committed atheist, I believe that if religion were abandoned tomorrow, so would most of the wars. The majority of hatred that exists globally is religion-based.

      As to religious leaders inciting their congregations to demand the killings stop, I am not in favor of religious leaders preaching anything even vaguely related to politics from the pulpit. As it is relgious organizations are endorsing one political candidate or another and should therefore lose their tax-exempt status.

      1. Jesse

        As a committed atheist, I believe that if religion were abandoned tomorrow, so would most of the wars. The majority of hatred that exists globally is religion-based.

        Do you have any evidence to back up such a bigoted claim?

        1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

          «As a committed atheist, I believe…» Don’t the words “I believe” contradict the “I am an atheist” part? Even atheists seem to believe things that can’t be proven as long as the thing isn’t God…

          1. John Merryman

            To be completely amorally logical about it, monotheism is simply an attempt to replace a tribal based polytheism with a supranational theism. One and oneness are not the same thing, so the tendency to schism replaces multiple deities. The absolute, a universal state, is basis, like absolute zero, not apex, so a spiritual absolute would be the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell. Good and bad are the biological binary code of attraction to the beneficial and repulsion of the detrimental. Between black and white are not just shades of grey, but all the colors of the spectrum. It just happens to be politically convenient to claim the source is up there, rather than down there, because it gives those at the top moral authority to claim to be divinely chosen.

          2. Jane

            @ Parvaneh Ferhadi
            Don’t the words “I believe” contradict the “I am an atheist” part?

            On the contrary. My atheism only alludes to a denial of a supreme being or beings.

          3. RA

            War is not a product of religion nor will atheism do away with military conflict. War is a product of testosterone. So long as you have a sufficient supply of males with surging testosterone levels, you will have war. Compulsory castration is the only answer.

          4. JTFaraday

            Well, as a humanist, I like to pretend people can actually be better than Animal Planet, but I must say that on Meerkat Manor, the lady meerkats were the real alpha dogs.

          5. Procopius

            It makes one wonder (as Weil asks) what we have outside auditors for. Just more skimmers, I guess. After all, 0.1% is 300,000 people, not a small number. If we have to provide opportunities for all of them to steal millions we have to have a lot of phony enterprises. Including auditors? I don’t remember, does SOX provide any penalties for the auditors? I believe it is a felony for the CEO and CFO to falsely certify the adequacy of the controls (probably the penalty is a small fine, at most, without any admission of wrongdoing).

        2. skippy

          Have you not even read the old testament, women, children even the unborn were slaughtered in the name of, repetitively. US against THEM mentality was the excuse, echos of the Wests history.

          Bigoted claim? Try murderous claim if that makes you feel better, the very soil still toiled today was quenched with its blood offerings, ingested for generations, by believers deed.

          Skippy…upon request I can fill this thread with the horrors bestowed upon children’s eyes before it was their turn at the sword or burning rubble once called home.

          PS. Funny thing, after the destruction – collapse of the city – state – Egyptian cannon system in Canaan. The poorest moved to the highlands to the West and started a collective – socialistic – egalitarian society. Look what it has become…sigh…they didn’t even adorn their pots and vessels with art, to reminiscent of their past masters tastes. Sorta like sites that worship metals and bestow finery at every turn.

          1. F. Beard

            Have you not even read the old testament, women, children even the unborn were slaughtered in the name of, repetitively. skippy

            Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. Romans 11:22

            Plus you gloss the Conquest of Canaan:

            1) The Canaanites were given centuries to repent of such things as child sacrifice. They did not. Further, the Hebrews did not fully obey the Lord and instead let some Canaanites remain in the land. Those that remained led many of the Hebrews to adopt their practices. Later the Hebrews themselves were punished for such.
            2) The Lord used fear to drive many of the Canaanites out before the Hebrews arrived.
            3) The Bible commands love toward aliens.

            But in any case, Christians are not under the Old Testament law.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I imagine in the Tao of God, one deviates from one’s intended target when one puts in words what can’t be put in words – the God that can be named is not the eternal God…or something like that.

            Sorry if that will increase unemployment by putting theologians and preachers out of work.

          3. skippy


            One of the 613 mitzvot (precisely n. 596) prescribes that no inhabitants of the cities of six Canaanite nations, the same as mentioned in 7:1, minus the Girgashites, were to be left alive.

            While the Hebrew Bible contrasts the Canaanites ethnically from the Ancient Israelites, some modern scholars, particularly “Biblical minimalists”, consider the kingdoms of Israel and Judah to be a subset of Canaanite culture on archaeological and linguistic grounds.[13][28]

            Skippy…personally I prefer multi faceted research that is cross refracted over the myopic sort. The point is beard, they were all one and the same, right down to regional DNA.

          4. F. Beard

            that no inhabitants of the cities of six Canaanite nations, the same as mentioned in 7:1, minus the Girgashites, were to be left alive. skippy

            I believe that is true. Interestingly, the Gibeonites tricked the Hebrews in making a covenant with them to spare their lives by pretending to not live in the area. The people were angry at their leaders for being tricked but:

            But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. This we will do to them, even let them live, so that wrath will not be upon us for the oath which we swore to them.” Joshua 9:19-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            Later on Saul broke that covenant and the Lord was angry:

            Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the LORD. And the LORD said, “It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” 2 Samuel 21:1 [NASB]

            What have we here? A blood-thirsty god who nevertheless insists His people keep deals they were tricked into? Or something much interesting?

          5. skippy

            The hole region was a constant blood bath, century’s of blood…. Historically its hard to find a parallel, yet its the baseline upon which Western civilization is built. A mob that says it knows a thing, when it can not, yet is enforced upon the living, in a contract with out proper disclosure.

            Skippy…I did not sign any contract, although those that do damn themselves to blood, until their perceived end…great plan. Why would human beings sign such a contract of never ending death is beyond me. Oh yeah, afterlife reward, kinda like derivatives paying off in the long run.

          6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Is that the only name ‘approved’ for use for any of us?

            He didn’t give him a last name. Mabye last names are not kosher.

        3. Evelyn Sinclair

          God is good:

          King James Version

          10And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,

          11And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;

          King James Version

          1Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,

          2A people great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak!

          3Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.

          King James Version

          1When the LORD thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the LORD thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses…

          ….this kind of attitude might go a ways toward explaining why the “1%” banksters keep saying they’re “doing God’s work.”

      2. another

        Jane: Unfortunately, though gods are imaginary, religions are all too real and not going away anytime soon. Like most institutions these days (public or private), they are used by the already powerful to cover their otherwise naked greed for ever more wealth and power. It still fools a lot of the people all the time.

        1. Dave of Maryland

          And this is somehow worse than what went on at the Coliseum on any given Tuesday afternoon for I don’t know how many decades? Slaughter without religious sanction.

          There are people who hate religion, either because they’re scared of it, or because they’re too dense to sense that there’s more to life than the crassly physical. These people have always been with us and always will. It is the shame of the modern age that they have been permitted to claim science as their own, thereby disfiguring it.

          People kill other people. Men kill other men. Religion, which, to a killer consists of imaginary things, is merely their rationalization.

          Get the killers out of religion, get rid of murderous fools like George Bush and his Crusades, and then tell me your problem with religion.

          1. wunsacon

            Agree/disagree here…

            >> Coliseum on any given Tuesday afternoon for I don’t know how many decades? Slaughter without religious sanction.

            Even when some events (coliseum “party”) or governments (Soviets) are superficially non-religious, the coliseum stands and countries are filled primarily with religious people.

            Nevertheless, were it not for differing beliefs in a Sky Daddy, people would probably find other reasons to kill each other. (But, it would be nice to test that hypothesis.)

          2. K Ackermann

            It’s not just the murderous fools, it’s the brainwashing and hypocracy.

            The good work done by an inner city pastor or priest who keeps his doors open late for that suffering soul praying to stay out of the bottle one more night is completely undone and overshadowed by scum such as Ted Haggard who clock out from a hard day of gay bashing and fundraising via guilt, only to blow off his family in order to hook up with a crack pipe, some amyl nitrate, and a male prostitute.

            It’s the use of God as a dog whistle by the truly endless vermin and parasites that prey when they ask their “flock” to pray.

            The sheep are asleep in the field, while the shepard fleeces the flock.

      3. James

        Faith does not imply religion (nor even belief necessarily), and religion definitely does not imply faith. Religion is merely the politicization of belief – a club with “divine” aspirations. Like all clubs with mass appeal, religion is therefore a watered down version of the real thing, not to say that some of genuine faith might not submit themselves to the constraints of religious club membership (all though it baffles me why) for whatever personal reasons.

        For me, the question of atheism and religion comes down to this: are you comfortable in simply acknowledging that you simply don’t know what comes next after your death (do you have “faith” that the ultimate reality is simply bigger than you can currently understand and that it will all workout OK, whether or not you “believe” in this or that or not), and are you comfortable in not “hedging your bet” by subscribing to this or that juvenile belief system that promises you an eternal reward for living a moral life, something any reasonably intelligent person should see the advantages of with or without some sort of cosmic carrot being dangled in front of them. If not, then religion’s got something to sell you.

        In the end, I don’t so much despise religion (although, I too despise it’s very real effects), so much as I just have to ask, what’s the point of it all? And to that, I have to answer that the evidence seems pretty conclusive. As many throughout history have noted, religion’s use as a social control mechanism is highly advantageous for whomever the powers that be are at any particular moment in time. And it’s use as an existential shortcut for believers who are afraid of confronting their own mortality is equally comforting for club members.

        In that sense, the current alignment of politics and religion in the US is simply good business. Opportunistic pols doing whatever it takes to get elected (with the added advantage of winning huge voting blocks just by paying lip service to a narrow range religiously defined issues), and religious fundamentalists doing what they’re told by club leadership. Win Win! Politicians can coast to victory on the back of some cheap religious platitudes which may or may not be sincere, and religious club members can do what they do best: turn off their brains and follow the crowd. Talk about “a marriage made in heaven!”

    2. Bill

      “Evidently morality and religion are clearly no longer bedfellows, if they ever were.”

      OTOH, killing and religion always have been…….

      except for certain groups, such as Quakers……

        1. Bill

          Yes it is sad, but every religion seems to have shrunk, though some are much louder than others.

          Quakers do not proselytize, often don’t advertize,
          but many young people raised as Quakers remain..

          The world would be better IMO if there were more
          groups dedicated to peace and nonviolence.

  2. Middle Seaman

    Cluster bomb and Hitler are morally far apart. Hitler’s wars killed tens of millions of people while cluster bombs victims are probably in the double digit.

    The failure to have a moral scale that is other than binary supports a lot of hate and anger. Also, relying on child victims for moral justification sounds cheap and even demeaning.

    1. Kathleen4

      Hitler gets mentioned anytime anyone cannot express immorality(myself guilty) bc of “our” Western education. That being stated, look into the case that Henry Kissinger could be tried for genocide in Cambodia(one charge including cluster bombs) and troll the internet for sources regarding the US led Imperial-Torture/Death Prison Complex.

    2. Jackrabbit

      The failure to have a moral scale that is other than binary supports a lot of hate and anger.
      Yet an unprincipled moral stance that allows for some to be expendable is repulsive and promotes wrongdoing.

      Also, relying on child victims for moral justification sounds cheap and even demeaning.
      Until the fight comes to YOUR door and its YOUR children that are being slaughtered.


  3. Cathryn Mataga

    Actually I kind of like the ‘let it crash’ plan a little bit. I think trying to hold up prices has broken the housing market. Loans and improvements on artificially highly priced houses are risky, because there’s always the possibility of further decline. Prices of houses have to be supported by wages. If the wages aren’t there to support these prices, then everything stays stuck on the market forever.

    What we need are housing prices where the Walmart Employee can buy a house, then, there will just be more cash buyers come into the market and because those values are at bottom, loans make more sense because the risk of further decline is gone.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If only the government would declare, by fiat, you must pay your taxes with houses (or fractional shares of)…

    2. PQS

      Walmart’s employees can’t even afford groceries without goverment support, much less a mortgage. Yet Walmart posts profits every quarter into the billions and Sam Walton’s daughter is busy buying zillions of dollars of artwork to put into a museum in her hometown.

      Walmart = world’s largest employer. Also world’s largest user of government support services for its employees: food stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid.

      Why more people aren’t outraged by this, I don’t understand at all. I haven’t set foot in one in years, because I refuse to support them in any way.

  4. Jesse

    Re: Cocaine Price crash

    And there’s the missing piece in the DEA’s theory. Once the margin of profit for dealing small amounts of crack cocaine disappeared, being part of the drug trade was no longer worth the persistent threat of violence or the stiff criminal penalties. A 70 percent drop in cocaine prices like the one that occurred in the mid 1990s combined with competition from decentralized sources for methamphetamines and prescription narcotics would completely eliminate the minimum wage drug dealer as a viable profession.

    This goes with what many have been saying for years now: If you want to bankrupt FARC, Mexican Cartels, the Taliban, etc, drive the price down to that of powdered sugar.

    And although this article makes clear that the possibility of serious jail time played a roll in dis-incentivizing individuals from entering the drug trade, there’s no reason to think that legalization – including the ability to purchase at local pharmacies for those old enough to make informed decisions – wouldn’t have a similar effect in the cost/benefit analysis (with the added bonus of not having to lock up our minority communities at astounding rates.)

    1. KenWInIA

      Unfortunately, there are also people profiting from locking up the minorities. Often, the same people say that their added bonus is that these minorities are now denied the right to vote. Also, the communities of the minorities are devastated by the breakup of families this causes. This gives the morally indignant a way to blame the communities for the damage infilcted upon them. Who wins?

  5. another

    “OK, Naomi Klein was journalistically sloppy.”

    The point could be argued. However, the referenced piece is by Naomi Wolf!

    1. aletheia33

      thanks, it’s good to hear from david degraw about his work with OWS. also good to hear someone speaking of OWS in the first person plural, instead of second or third person. he doesn’t claim to lead or speak FOR OWS, but he speaks OF OWS as one whom OWS belongs to and who belongs to OWS.

      looking forward to many flowers to bloom in the spring!

  6. PC in SC

    a typo:

    “OK, Naomi Klein was journalistically sloppy. But does anyone doubt the crackdown was coordinated?”

    you mean “Naomi Wolf”

      1. aletheia33

        why this passionate, detailed attack on naomi wolf’s whole piece? it’s presented as an independent column in the guardian, and wolf doesn’t appear to be claiming for it the status of an objective news report. it’s commentary. it’s her take on what she sees. in that, it’s interesting, and the reader can take or leave her assertions as he or she chooses.

        i took it as the latest weigh-in from one of the chattering classes on the “DHS collaboration” story. the real truth about what went down, as yves’s comment suggests, is far from being fully out. the results of the FOIA requests wolf mentions (and they are very worthy of such mention) should be followed and reported. meanwhile, we can read her take on the situation as one voice in the unfolding story.

        surely the MSM have been far sloppier and truly have smeared OWS all over the sidewalk. the constant repetition of the same portrayal of them as dirty, lazy, and a threat to public health and safety (all outright lies) does point to a concerted effort by some powerful players. we do live in an oligarchy, and this is what that looks like. that may not be a justification for counter-smearing with sloppy journalism. but why does this alternet writer see the need to come out so strongly toward this particular piece?

        it would have been far more effective, for someone who claims to have concern about the silencing of protest anywhere, to drily point out wolf’s slippages, without mounting such a dramatic, passionate attempt at a full takedown. someone genuinely concerned to support occupiers’ right to unimpeded protest could have written an insightful piece correcting all of wolf’s errors in such a way as to place the basic issues she raises in sharper relief, bringing more nuanced, clarifying attention to them while helping to keep the unfolding story on an objective track. that is not what holland has chosen to do. why not?

        i have to say that this sentence in his piece seriously undermines his own credibility (journalistic or any other kind) in my book: “DHS was created in part to facilitate greater communication and intelligence-sharing between federal and local law enforcement agencies – advising local authorities is one of its defining roles.” anyone who at this stage of our advanced emergency can present this development as harmless (which he does), and not follow it up with an explanation why, in fact, it should scare the bejesus out of every american citizen, is seriously out of touch.

        he claims to be a civil libertarian. if this piece is an indication of how people practice that calling today, it’s no wonder we’re in such deep trouble.

        does he really believe it’s possible there are no federal employees on the ground at most of the occupations observing, recording, photographing, building files, and identifying leaders, or feds in offices planning ways to snuff out the occupy movement? there are no federal agents anywhere planning to recruit, or recruiting, new members to the OWS cause to create mayhem and discord? and there’s no one on the local level anywhere who communicates with these feds about their activities? if he really thinks the situations is as benign as that, one has to wonder what drug he is on.

        and does he really mean to say that even if such activities are taking place, the current u.s. executive, to whom all agency heads are accountable, isn’t ultimately responsible for such activities? someone please correct me–is this just an ethical, not a legal, responsibility that the executive holds?

        there is an important question regarding to what extent, if any, it’s justifiable to put out propaganda as strongly spun as the MSM do in order to fight fire with fire. is propaganda ever a good means, however good the end? and where does rhetoric and passion leave off and propaganda begin? presidential elections are won by those who identify the lies that will appeal to the widest demographic. it is very difficult to uncover truth behind the wall of riot shields and other defenses mounted by the 1% against the informing of the 99%.

        as yves says, if TPTB want to challenge any conspiracy assertions of the 99%, let them present verifiable facts to support such a claim.

        the destructive deeds of threatened elites all too often exceed the worst imaginings (verifiable or not) of those they abuse.

  7. Sock Puppet

    Cocaine price crash: excluding marijuana, prescription drug abuse now dwarfs illegal drug use by number of users. Big Pharma has muscled in to the recreational drug market. With oxycontin etc they have taken over the heroin market.
    Now, if just let them come up with a decent prescription version, they could do the same with cocaine and put those mexican cartels out of business!
    The US, with a little investment, could become self sufficient in recreational drugs!

    1. Sock Puppet

      Some data and maps from the cdc.

      Looks like many americans have figured out that it’s cheaper and less risky to get your “doctor” to “prescribe” something that to make it or buy it on the street. Our sick care industry benefits too, to the tune of $72 billion a year. Blacks seem to be excluded from this “legal” source, so are incarcerated for their drug use.

      1. Maximilien

        I read an interesting anecdote in “Manufacturing Depression” by Gary Greenberg (fabulous read btw). Greenberg, being a psychiatrist, was able to obtain some Ecstasy made by a drug company. Pure and accurately dosed.

        He and his wife took it together. And then, according to Greenberg, they went to heaven (my words). The experience for both of them was completely….well, ecstatic.

        Based on that sample of two, I say “Ecstasy for the people!”

  8. Wade Leftwich

    Re email problems —

    Looks like you could be over your 7 GB Gmail quota. Here’s the bounce message I got when I tried to send a message from my gmail account to

    This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification



    Delivery to the following recipient has been delayed:

    Message will be retried for 2 more day(s)

    Technical details of temporary failure:
    Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 452 452-4.2.2 The email account that you tried to reach is over quota. Please direct
    452-4.2.2 the recipient to
    452 4.2.2 r4si18947645pbk.164 (state 14).

    —– Original message —–

    MIME-Version: 1.0
    Received: by with SMTP id w2mr36191510pbe.25.1322312273965; Sat,
    26 Nov 2011 04:57:53 -0800 (PST)
    Received: by with HTTP; Sat, 26 Nov 2011 04:57:53 -0800 (PST)
    Date: Sat, 26 Nov 2011 07:57:53 -0500
    Subject: Test originating at
    From: Wade Leftwich
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

    1. rudolf

      yes, i tried to send an email and received the same error, the problem seems to be the Quota.

      This can be checked at the footer of the Gmail window,
      and probably you have something like this:
      “100% full – using 7662MB of your 7662MB”

      The best is to get rid first of emails with heavy attachments,
      – a search for “ppt has:attachment” will bring serious candidates for deletion
      – “mp3 has:attachment” too

      Maybe all the Antidote du Jour emails could be forwarded to another account and then deleted.

      Another possibility is to use Mozilla ThunderBird, or MS Outlook, or similar, to download the old messages and delete them from the server (this has to be configured in Gmail and in the email client)
      – i did this to download my 2007-2009 emails
      – after reaching enough free space, you don’t let the mail client download any more emails
      – the inconvenient of this is that sometimes you’ll have to search in two places (online and local client)

  9. lambert strether

    Wolf’s real sin was purporting to speak for Occupy when she cannot and should not.

    As for Holland, suspicious though I am — and entirely plausible though it is that a major operation like this could be mounted, domestically, in secret — he makes a good prima facie case.

    There’s also the idea of “emergent conspiracy’: independent actors nevertheless making similar plays. After all, they all draw from the same pool of consultants and weapons catalogs.

    After all, the Occupations may not really have engaged 1% attention in any substantial way — the 1% could be that well insulated, and there’s good looting in Europe right now.

    If I had to guess where Federal involvement was, it would not be at street level, but in intel, via data mining of twitter and Facebook, interception of cell phone calls, back doors at the ISPs, and so forth. That would take DHS/NSA involvement, of course.

    I wonder if there’s a Presidential Finding on any of this….

    1. Benedict@Large

      “Wolf’s real sin was purporting to speak for Occupy when she cannot and should not.”

      It was an opinion piece, as all articles appearing in “Comment Is Free” are.

      1. Lambert Strether

        And we all know what opinions are like. Seriously, though, Wolf isn’t just presenting opinion. She purports to have done reporting, writing “That is, until I found out what it was that OWS actually wanted.” Needless to say, had Wolf meant to write “Here’s my opinion on what it is that OWS actually wants,” she would have done so.

        1. Benedict@Large

          Wolf in fact offers three items as alegedly being on Occupy’s list of desired reforms. The first two are no-brainers, being often mentioned, and Holland does not dispute them. It’s only the Congressional graft story that Holland doesn’t like. He claims essentially that the story is too obscure, and yet the story was a big news item for several days which certainly fell within Wolf’s window of reference.

          Now I think it’s pretty unlikely that anyone formulated their objection to the aledged practice with wording anywhere close to Wolf’s, so I certainly think that the solution-oriented wording she used is quite likely her own, but I don’t see how Holland’s suggestion that Wolf was never told this by any Occupiers holds any water. He simply couldn’t know.

    2. Benedict@Large

      Re: “Naomi Wolf’s ‘Shocking Truth’ About the ‘Occupy Crackdowns’ Offers Anything but the Truth”

      Naomi Wolf’s piece was indeed a bit sloppy, but Josh Holland’s response itself suffers from its own sloppiness. Several items jump out:

      (1) Holland pretty much accuses Wolf of making up Occupy’s concern over the Congrssional graft story. His proof is apparently because no one from Occupy told HIM that. Perhaps Wolf simply showed up and asked her questions the day after the story ran while it was still fresh news? Isn’t that a far more plausible explanation?

      (2) Holland never identifies Wolf’s article as an OPINION piece, which all “Comment Is Free” articles are. Now of course, that doesn’t allow Wolf to just make up facts (and Holland is right to correct her factual errors), but it does allow her any room for conjecture that she wants to take. That Holland finds Wolf’s conjectures excessive is a matter of taste; not of a lapse in Wolf’s journalistic ethics.

      (3) Holland’s article offers its own conjecture when he waves away the scope, severity, and timing of these responses by suggesting in so many words that these are the things mayors do. Excuse me? Mayors in cities such as Oakland, in which the mayor’s budget proposal closed 14 of 18 of the city’s local libraries due to alleged severe cost constraints, simply tell their police, hey, cost is no object, bring in every cop in the region, weapon them up, and beat the crap out of these trespassers, and if we get our asses sued to bejezus somewhere down the line, who cares? Sorry, but that story is AT LEAST a far out as Wolf’s.

      1. JTFaraday

        True enough. After all, Glenn Beck accused OWS of being influenced by the French anarchist text, “the Coming Insurrection,” and yet there are only a mere two copies in the People’s Library catalogue and no one would accuse him of a breach of journalistic ethics.


        When it all comes out in the wash, Wolfe will probably be closer to consensus opinion, even if she has to audacity to speak out of turn. At least she didn’t tell them to occupy the D-Party.

    3. MontanaMaven

      Lambert, my opinion is to also be “suspicious” of Holland and also this piece. He also made a mistake saying that Chris Hayes exposed the lobbying firm’s effort to be hired to discredit Occupy on November 24, but I saw it on his Saturday morning show on November 19. The attempt to co-opt the Occupy movement will come in many forms.

      Very important is the news that tomorrow the Senate is set to vote on a very scary done in secret bill.

      The Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Senators Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and John McCain (R-Arizona), approved the bill despite its provisions for military detention of any suspect (even those apprehended within the United States) accused (not proven) of involvement in any terror-related offense. Presumably, military detention would include those accused of offenses as innocuous as “lying to a federal agent,” unrelated to actual terrorism yet classified as terror-related.

      Lindsey Graham claims that the whole world is a battlefield and that the whole world includes the United States. Ergo Americans can be imprisoned without being charged and without a trial. Yikes! Mark Udall has an amendment that would reverse this perversity.

      1. Hugh

        The only purpose of this act is to put in place the precedents to suppress the 99%. It is part of an ongoing coup by the elites against the rest of us. McCain and Graham have no interest in the Constitution, only the preservation of the power and privilege of their class. I can’t help thinking that if terrorism were their real concern with this law, then Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, and most of Wall Street would be quaking in their boots, because they are the true terrorists of our times.

    4. aletheia33

      as i said above (alas before i read this discussion of the wolf/holland thing), i have no doubt that feds are working on OWS on the street level. i think it would be really unusual in relation to past fbi behavior if they weren’t doing so right now.

      and now that we have dhs to coordinate all the agencies and intel at all levels–federal, state, local–it’s all so much more efficient than when fbi activity was the worst one wanted to suspect. (though many also have suspected cia.)

      hope readers will definitively correct me if i’m mistaken on what’s been usual at the fbi before today.

      not entirely unrelated: i hope all will contact their senators regarding the vote tomorrow on bill empowering military detention of americans on home soil without charges or trial provision (thanks to the nc reader who posted an alert on this a couple of days ago):

      1. aletheia33

        ah i am glad to see montana maven has posted on the monday bill vote above.
        and i agree with hugh, this is likely being pushed through now to enable crushing of the protests more easily.
        apologies for the repetition, i must learn to read more thoroughly before posting.

  10. Ep3

    Re: black Friday.

    Yves, my men’s clothing client saw terrible (compared to previous years, even years during the crash) sales friday, Saturday and probably today. One thing is the weather. Friday here in Lansing, michigan it nearly cleared 60 degrees F. We had been having a good November. Their store is in a shopping plaza that has stores of all kinds that should have drive traffic. I haven’t spoken to the retailers, but just from judging by car and foot traffic, it was really quiet Friday. I live in a town of 8k and it was dead here as well, which is strange, because in the town ppl would have been moving to get out of town for various stores. Our local big chain grocery store was also slow most of the weekend.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      Here in Bel Air, MD (20 miles NE of Baltimore, home of Aberdeen Proving Grounds), I was out on Friday and Saturday. Traffic in the streets was a bit heavier than normal, but only a bit, as it was moving nicely. Nothing like what I’ve seen for holiday shopping.

      Anyone else want to report?

      1. psychohistorian

        I drove through the center of Portland, OR on Friday at a crawl and saw LOTS of folks out buying stuff…sadly. Portland is not as “advanced” as some might think.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I guess for some, Friday was black and for others, Friday was red.

      On average, it would seem to be purple (darkish) Friday.

    3. Hugh

      I think media cheerlead Black Friday sales as part of their corporate boosterism. Come January things never look as good as originally touted.

      Just looking at the coverage, Best Buys and Walmart appear to have done well. Locally though I heard that other national change stores had no lines and normal waiting for checkout.

      1. Maximilien

        MSM reports record sales ($52 billion) and 226 million shoppers—and it’s still Sunday.

        How do they get these figs so FAST? I mean, it takes a large corporation longer to do its quarterly report.

        Are these numbers estimates, or total baloney?

  11. Ron

    RE:One man’s haircut is another man’s unsecured risk:

    Financial market casino players making leveraged bets using cash/assets as collateral might want to re-think the soooothing words that their accounts are segregate from the broker and therefore safe if the broker goes BK.

    “What if the financier (sitting on the collateral) goes bankrupt? The over-collateralisation leaves the counterparty exposed on what is effectively an unsecured basis. They have volunteered collateral which is worth more than the loan, but may now never receive the assets back.”

  12. lambert strether

    From Yalie Shiller’s hideous Op-Ed in today’s Izvestia:

    First, there is a lack of scientific proof [BWA-HA-HA-HA!!!] that government spending — fiscal stimulus — will do much to remedy unemployment. Second, there is a lack of appreciation of the human impact and social consequences of high, long-term joblessness.

    Utterly corrupt discourse, worthy of citation in Politics and the English Language.

    First, note the lack of agency. “There is a…”, used in parallel construction, too! Well, how did these states of affairs come about, perfesser? Magic? And could academic choice theory have any bearing on the matter?

    Second, the pretension to science. Last I checked, the last economic theory that claimed to be scientific — the -ism that shall not be named — was on the ash heap of history. So too, based on experimental results, should be the neo-liberalism that has rewarded Shiller and others of his ilk so (comparatively) well. And yet here Shiller is, prating away.

    NOTE The gardener named “Green,” the veterinarian named “Katz,” the academic economist named “Shiller”…

    1. Hugh

      Yes, Shiller is shilling for the Establishment. I mean how seriously can you take someone who took the Super Committee, aka Cat Food II, seriously?

      There is just something basically dishonest about his focus on multipliers to discredit stimulus. He cites studies from the Journal of Economic Literature which is a highly regarded journal of a thoroughly discredited profession. It’s like looking for an authoritative source on supernovas and quoting the Journal of Astrology.

      But to get back to stimulus, we all know that not all stimulus is the same. It does depend on where it goes and how long it is for. Tax cuts are, especially for the rich, provide no stimulus whereas safety net spending, unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc. provide immediate if temporary stimulus. You want to make those gains longer term, you make that commitment of stimulus longer term. Infrastructure stimulus say can have little overall effect, on the other hand, if most of the money goes to China to buy the materials for it. Yet Shiller mashes this all together just so he can reject it.

      But while Shiller criticized multipliers/stimulus by citing what he at least considered conflicting literature, he uncritically accepts tax increases without specifying on what and on whom. There are huge differences between increasing taxes on corporations and the rich on the one hand and the poor and middle class on the other. Yet Shiller doesn’t bother to distinguish between these even in broad terms. So while he is super demanding of evidence when it comes to multipliers when it comes to taxes, an approach he favors, he is exactly the reverse.

      Then to add insult to injury, he turns around and embraces stimulus and obliquely multipliers:

      “The contractionary effects of tax increases could have been offset by some expenditure increases that would stimulate the economy and help provide jobs.”

      Now it is arguable that tax increases, again specifically those on the rich, need be contractionary but what Shiller is saying is that tax increases have a negative multiplier while at least some unstated “expenditures” are stimulative, that is have positive multipliers.

      Having made a hash of all that, Shiller then proposes a $150 billion subsidy to businesses to support workers’ wages, and hopefully encourage hiring. But as so many of us here have been saying for an age, we have a demand deficit. Employers aren’t going to start hiring until demand picks up. Sure, they’ll take that $150 billion and redistribute it to profits and their own pockets or, if it is only for new hires, leave it on the table.

      I know this Shiller is the same one in the Case-Shiller index but reasoning this sloppy and stupid shows again why economics is such a steaming pile but steaming pile or no can still get you tenure at one of the premiere Ivies.

      1. Jessica

        Economics is not a “steaming pile”. It is a part of the intellectual structure of 1% dominance.
        What gets tenure at an Ivy is not ramdom “steaming piles”, but economics that supports the interests of the 1%, in particular by making questions of use to the 99% unaskable or at least tres gauche, very inappropriate.
        What Hugh writes (which is very good) makes me think that he understands this.
        So much of what passes for respectable discourse is actually highly contaminated morally. It is not merely false. It is fraudulent and can easily be seen to be fraudulent. But the price of admission to much public discussion is to pretend not to notice this fraud. And we carry that habit over even to forums, such as NC, where one could point out intellectual fraud without being excluded from the discussion.
        As a result, if one opposes the (obviously toxic to the 99%) conclusions, one says either “I don’t understand how XX can miss the fact that YYY” or some variant on “XXX is a moron/asshole”. Most of the time, these two statements could be more truthfully restated as “XXX is a propagandist” (straight prostitute) or “XXX’s public statements are crippled because XXX is paid to stay within the bounds of what supports the 1%” (some kind of high-priced mistress).
        Much of this discourse is only important in a Kremlinological kind of way.
        By the way, I do not mean to imply that the sex trade causes as much harm as the 1% and their intellectual priesthood. I am just addicted to analogies.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think in Zen, when you occupy nowhere, you occupy everywhere.

      On the other hand, I hope they don’t occupy Yosemite, unless there is some inequality or injustice going on in the parks system I am not aware of.

      I like our national parks quiet. No ‘peaceful’ shouting/taunting, if you will.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I didn’t agree when I was younger, when peace officers told me about being too loud and disturing the peace, but these days, I don’t think you can be a man of peace if you shout too loud when I am trying to sleep/work/study/concentrate/meditate/relax.

        1. aletheia33

          i suspect this is protesters’ intent and not just a byproduct: to disrupt our sleep, work, study, concentration, meditation, and relaxation. the way a fire alarm does. since in their view, the situation is an advanced emergency.

          does a moment come in history when this is warranted? a question i’m considering, like you. and peace and quiet are two watchwords of mine. on the other hand, adverse conditions might promote rapid advancement in one’s meditation practice. zen master unfazed by mosquitoes and all.

          and on yet another hand, many of the dedicated occupiers at zuccotti park have come to hate the constant drumming.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That is very good and I agree

            We must not be afraid of being called ‘not peaceful’ if we have to shout to be heard.

            The delusion is that we are ‘peaceful’ when we are loud.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I would add that I am not for physical violence, which is difference from emotional violence like anger.

            A just, not physically violent, protest can be emotionally violent.

  13. Susan the other

    Scary stuff today. George Washington on the coming police state? Troops in the big cities soon? Romney still running for president? And there was a piece by Chris Whalen extolling the virtues of Newt. (zero hedge) That one really surprised me because Whalen has been so spectacular on the need for regulation/transparency in finance. My opinion of Newt is that he is a lot like Palin because he seems to start talking before he knows what he is thinking. The difference being that he recovers with more finesse. The really scary thing about Newt is his attitude toward OWS.

    1. scraping_by

      You’ll know the police state has really arrived when they begin to eliminate the useful idiots who put them into power. The Tea Baggers, the Evangelicals, the economics professors, the corporate lawyers and lobbyists, maybe even the staff of Fox News. Think Stalin’s show trials. The Night of the Long Knives.

      Newt’s still out lying to the Evangelicals and Romney’s still posing for press photos, so we aren’t there yet.

  14. Miles

    RE: “Naomi Wolf’s ‘Shocking Truth’ About the ‘Occupy Crackdowns’ Offers Anything but the Truth AlterNet. OK, Naomi Klein was journalistically sloppy…”

    You accidentally say Naomi Klein the second time instead of Wolf. Klein is never sloppy.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Often we don’t know the person behind the name we read and it’s easy for any of us to get those abstract symbols mixed up.

      What is in a name? Without a name, for the system to work, we would have to be each assigned a serial numaber. On the other hand, with a name, it makes easier to say, this is mine and that is yours.

  15. Susan the other

    About Peru’s Conga Gold Mine: Why is gold such an obsession? It has been so since prehistoric times. Since the times when we were even more like monkeys than we are now. Not to impugn monkeys. There are gold mines that date back at least 10k years. And the spectacular doo-dads from masks to jewelry to idols – what the hell are they really worth? Are they worth the arsenic poisoning and environmental damage of their mining? Clearly they are not. Nor are gold coins. Gold is, as the conquistadors put it, a sickness. Can’t we all just get over it?

    1. F. Beard

      Can’t we all just get over it? Susan the other

      I propose that gold (or anything else, especially common stock which “shares” wealth rather than reaps it) be allowed for private debts.

      Let gold bugs learn firsthand the limitations of gold as money.

        1. F. Beard

          The “plan” is to force us to use gold to pay our taxes thereby greatly increasing gold’s utility and its price.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Everything in moderation.

      Interesting about the fascination with gold way back when we were more monkey like.

  16. Cal

    Black Friday is about trying to get the 99% to imagine
    they are the 1% by going further into debt purchasing tomorrow’s landfill before any of their neighbors do.

  17. Herman Sniffles

    Regarding Mr. Romney on foreclosures, what a choice we will have in the next election. We can vote for the worthless incumbent who has demonstrated beyond a doubt that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the foreclosure mess, or we can vote for his opponent who has now clearly stated that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the foreclosure mess. Boy, what a choice, and all brought to you by the bankster terrorist mafia sociopaths. Let’s hear a big cheer for OWS!

  18. MichaelC

    Links recommendation Re MF Global re SOX:

    Since this is your beat (and Jonathon Weil’s at BBG),I thought you and your readers would be interested.

    They punted on SOX w Mozillo. Maybe Corzine is a better poster boy for a SOX conviction.

    Kudos to Weil for bringing it up.

    That irritating SOX law is bound to trap some (and then some other bigger) fish eventually.

    Maybe Corzine is a better fish than Mozillo.

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