Links Hanukkah

Giant Tsunami-Shaped Clouds Roll Across Alabama Sky LiveScience (hat tip Lambert Strether). I missed them.

Evolution: Watching Speciation Occur Scientific American. Hah, score one for your humble blogger. When I was in Alaska, the ship board marine biologist told us that there were two types of orcas in the area. I am muffing the terms of art, but one stays in the same location and does not eat other whales, while the other travels and does eat whales. And the two types do not breed with each other. I asked why they weren’t considered different species. She treated me like I was nuts. Turns out there this wasn’t such a dumb question.

Man suspected of torching 73-year-old woman in NYC elevator is charged with murder, arson Associated Press

The end of email? Financial Times. Oh, the victims of e-mail stress are legion! But social media as a solution seems nuts.

AT&T drops $39bn bid for T-Mobile USA Financial Times

Senators Turn Up Heat On Google Antitrust Probe Huffington Post

How Pay-Pal Squeezes Merchants with Unfair and Likely Illegal Business Practices AlterNet. I have not understood why PayPal is not regulated as a bank.

AT&T Is Paying the Biggest Breakup Fee Ever WSJ Deal Journal

ECB warns of global contagion risks Financial Times

Euro Zone IMF Loan Target in Danger as UK Declines Reuters

Spain grits teeth yet again as austerity deepens Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Hungary’s Constitutional Revolution Paul Krugman (hat tip reader Art)

Is Finland Really A Closet Member Of The Eurozone Periphery? Edward Hugh, Credit Writedowns

Video of Egyptian police stripping and beating a woman YouTube (hat tip Lambert Strether). Dated 12/17, already over 2.6 million views.

Hedge fund alarm bells are ringing over China Financial Times

China governments in hole as land sales plummet Caixin

Homeless kids in U.S. number 1.6 million: study Raw Story

Bloomberg Bird-Dogs Meredith Whitney’s Terrible Call Columbia Journalism Review

Occupy Atlanta Helps Save Iraq War Veteran’s Home From Foreclosure Huffington Post

Missouri, payday-lending haven Felix Salmon

BOMBSHELL Bankster Bonanza- Florida Supreme Court Kills Foreclosure Mediation! Matt Weidner

The ugly side of ultra-cheap money Bill Gross, Financial Times

Antidote du jour (photo by Sebastien Degardin):

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  1. Lambert Strether

    At the very end of the Alternet article: “PayPal’s Tennessee license expired in April and was retroactively renewed in October.”

    Retroactive legalization is how the law works for the 1%, in the unlikely event that it is applied to them.

    1. tom allen

      Perhaps the judge in the case was also featured in the antidote du jour. Kinda looks like a lawyer, or a blogger, or a commenter. :-P

    2. Paul Tioxon

      Capital One has operated nationally with only a Virginia State Banking license. In many states, it never bothered to be legally licensed to conduct banking. In March of 2008, in order to accept bailout money, it had to adopt a Federal NBA charter, National Banking Act. It has been repeated sued by state AGs for illegally operating without a license, most notably, the West Virginia state AG. Capital One has also repeatedly been shielded from the rule of law by Federal Judges, who refuse to recognize state law in regulating entire areas of bank operation, claiming Federal pre-emption, even when Capital One was not a Federal chartered entity. We operate under the Dual State Legal System of capitalism.

  2. Conscience of a Conservative

    About Meredith Whitney.
    Not only was she wrong, but the guys at 60 minutes showed once again how they are not a news show, but a producer of puff journalism. They’re track record at vetting their guests is awful.

    1. Bill C

      I remember when Mike Douglas was the enfant terrible of hard nosed TV interviewers, and reportedly badgered guests and made them terribly uncomfortable with really tough probing questions.

      He operated under bright lights, using only two backless stools, virtually no set, and of course (this was the 50s) he always had a lit cigarette hanging from his lips, squinting through the smoke.

      times change…….

      1. Bill C

        OOPS, I’m an old man, strike that parenthetical date, the show apparently didn’t begin till 1961, according to Wiki.

      2. PQS

        Did you mean Mike Wallace? I remember when just the sight of him approaching some figure of importance, cameraman in tow, was enough to make the interviewee retreat in terror.

        I’ve been so terribly disappointed with his son, Chris, who is a complete RW tool.

        1. Bill C

          Good Lord, did I screw that up, The Mike Wallace Interview ran from 1957-1961, per my original statement, per Wiki, with the correct name !

      3. aet

        Actually, it would have been interesting ( not to mention unusual to the point of weirdness) to see Mike Douglas give his usual guests the “third degree” in the manner you’ve just described!

      4. Westcoastliberal

        That’s funny! Mike Douglas (ROFL) Not only couldn’t he think of hard questions, he also couldn’t sing his way out of a bag.

    2. Maximilien

      Re Meredith Whitney:

      Why doesn’t Bloomberg (or somebody else) go after that buffoon Jim Cramer. I googled his stock predictions for 2011. Here’s a few of them:

      Year-end Dow: 13,300. As I type, 12,071. Wrong by a wide margin.
      Alcoa: Buy. $14 at the beginning of the year, $9 now. Wrong.
      Bank of America: Buy. $15 at the beginning of the year, $5 now. Wrong.
      Home Depot: Buy. $35 at the beginning of the year, $40 now. Amazingly, Jim was right on this one!

      Oh well, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        He was also big on Lender Processing Services after the stock started tanking as a result of the recent litigation.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Strap an infrared night camera on him and we will see if this guy is really a vegetarian or not.

  3. Rex

    In: Hedge fund alarm bells are ringing over China…

    “The picture being painted certainly looks familiar: much of the wave of stimulus money released by Beijing since 2008 went into construction and property. And so it is that western traders, wary of the lessons of subprime America, are now looking with some astonishment at the price even modest properties command relative to average earnings.”

    There is a video linked in the article showing many big empty buildings, which reminded me of another (I think I saw it here) from back in May…
    China’s Ghost Cities and Malls

    I’ve been expecting to see more repercussions about this. It can’t just melt away easily. World-wide perfect storm brewing?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Ming China’s Great Wall could not keep out Nurhaci and his banners of Machu warriors.

      Today’s Great Walls of Residential Houses likely will not keep out those invading deflation-barbarians from abroad either.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Cornell’s president David Skorton is quoted in a Times-Titanic article about a new Roosevelt Island campus informally called “NYC Tech”:

    “New York City is positioned to become the new technology capital of the world.”

    Allow me, kind sir, to express my skepticism. It is based on several reasons:

    1. Back in the 1990s, when central planners viewed silicon wafer fabs as the road to riches, New York State had a grandiose plan to establish a ‘Silicon Forest’ or some such around Albany. It never happened.

    2. America’s ‘higher ed bubble’ could be compared to last decade’s housing bubble: it sports vast overcapacity in an overpriced, government-subsidized, low-productivity product. Bloomberg’s answer: subsidize even more of it.

    3. Technion Israel, as Cornell’s joint venture partner, will bring to bear Israel’s technology not only in semiconductors, but also in security, surveillance, and control of subjugated populations. This technology is of interest to the U.S. and Bloomberg personally — but many of us would prefer that it wasn’t.

    4. Where is the public input, when the mayor ‘revealed details of the $2 billion plan for the first time’ yesterday? Valuable land on Roosevelt Island and $100 million in infrastructure are on offer at public expense. Meanwhile, existing science and technology universities in the city — among them Cooper Union, Columbia, Manhattan College, and NYIT — will face a large new subsidized competitor. Does this make sense?

    5. Bloomberg hints that he personally may be involved in the project financing. Doubtless it will be an open, level playing field to secure the most favorable terms — NOT!

    Unfortunately, the high-handed style on display in the founding of NYC Tech is the norm in America’s sprawling corp-gov-education complex. As they say in Hizzoner’s office after clearing out an OWS encampment, ‘SEASON’S BEATINGS!>’

    1. Susan the other

      Isn’t Roosevelt Island just another big real estate deal gone bad? My daughter went out there to check out the apartments and all the “amenities” and came away with a full-blown case of the willies. She said it was creepy.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I know people who live there who live there who like it. It is VERY close in (one train/tram stop from midtown east) and still quiet, kid friendly, and relatively affordable. But it was originally established as middle class housing in WWII. I’m not up on what they’ve done there recently, but I believe they’ve kept building more apartments, with the latest batch targeting the affluenza. That may well have bombed.

  5. Rex

    “As they say in Hizzoner’s office after clearing out an OWS encampment, ‘SEASON’S BEATINGS!”

    Oh my! Nice holiday gallows humor.

  6. MacCruiskeen

    “And the two types do not breed with each other. I asked why they weren’t considered different species.”

    Actually, the issue of how to classify populations that could interbreed physically, but generally don’t in nature, is not really a settled question among biologists. It is, as the article says, “evolution in action,” but at what point do they actually constitute a new species? It is not always clear. See also: polar bears and brown bears.

    1. TK421

      You’re absolutely right. The ship biologist seemed to think there have to be huge hurdles between two species, and so if there aren’t any hurdles it’s silly to ask if we’re looking at two species.

      1. evodevo

        YOU were right. I don’t know where this “biologist” got her degree, but evidently she flunked Evol.101. Ernst Mayr’s biological species concept has been around since the ’40’s (“groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations, which are reproductively isolated from other such groups”). If they inhabit the same area, but don’t interbreed, they are probably isolated species. Granted, the species concept is fluid, but it sounds like she hadn’t done much work in taxonomy or phylogenetics.

      1. Maximilien

        Yes, Homo Sapiens Nescio. That is, “knowing man who doesn’t know”. As in, “Congressman, I’m sorry, I just don’t know.”

  7. TK421

    “When I was in Alaska, the ship board marine biologist…”

    Was William Kristol on that ship, raving about this great politician he had discovered who would make a great VP candidate?

    1. Phoenix Woman

      Nah, he was too busy cutting and pasting old progressive research on Ron Paul newsletters — you know, the sort of cutting and pasting he *didn’t* do when Ron’s son and ideological clone Rand was running for Senator?

  8. Collin

    Who can afford presents Santa?

    Income levels of America’s major religious groups compared to the average U.S. income distribution.
    Over $100,000 per year:

    8% Black Christians
    9% of Jehovah’s Witnesses
    13% of Evangelicals
    16% Mormons
    16% Muslim
    18% National Average
    18% (Other)
    19% Unaffiliated
    19% Catholic
    21% Christian (Mainline)
    22% Buddhist
    23% Christian (other)
    28% Orthodox
    43% of Hindus
    46% of Jews

  9. PQS

    Re: Paypal:

    Recently, one of my favorite humor blogs “Regretsy” launched a fundraiser to bring holiday cheer to kids and their families. Because she used the “wrong button” to collect money, Paypal came down hard and insisted that the site refund all the money collected. Essentially, the blog is not a non-profit, so she was not supposed to use a “donate” button, which Paypal apparently reserves for charities only. Not that this was clear in the instructions or anything, and not that the blog was able to make even an inch of headway with Paypal’s legal beagles by explaining the situation. The whole episode left a very bad taste in my mouth, as I’m sure it did many others….this site raised something like $4000 from readers in a matter of a few days, and then had to give most of it back due to Paypal’s bureaucratic BS.

    So much for all that blather about “new media” and etc. Same as the Old Media.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, I had a big argument with them over my Donate button, since they don’t make their for profit/not for profit views known. I started invoking IRS rules (as in you donate to political candidates and those donations are not tax deductible) and they backed down.

  10. Susan the other

    The article on speciation and the killer whales was very interesting. It is happening all the time. It sounds less and less like evolution pushes a species by random variation, but, instead has a mechanism for adaptation that is smart enough to save itself. Also, I wonder if this info above means that the more promiscuous the species the less it speciates. Humans could be doomed! Just speculating. Humans are not evolving by visible changes. It is said that it is because there are no more isolated populations. But it is interesting to think that we are still evolving right in front of our own noses.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The hope is our descendants will be wiser than us and completely replace us (we may not necessarily be wiped out by them, but maybe we will be wiped out via our own foolishness).

      How will they look? I imagine with shorter arms and smaller hands (so they won’t grab as much), smaller mouths but bigger ears (for better listening). Legs will be shorter as there is no need to travel far – they are localists, anti-globalists. They see all the wonders of the universe in their own backyards and valleys. Their hearts will definitely be 3 or 4 times larger. I think their brains will be smaller than ours, the region(s) in the brain that worships gods, money, celebrities and science will be 100% gone, hopefully.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Spain…Austerity Deepens.

    “Even saints days have been culled, shifting the holiday to Mondays to end the “bridge” of long weekends.”

    Here is a question to ponder about – If God had been less omnipotent and took, say, 16 days to create the world and rested on the 17th day, then, our economy would be running on 16-day work week. Does that mean we would be more productive?

    In other words, does a less omnipotent God means a more productive human labor force?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe we work only 15 days if there is a dispute whether HE rested on the 16th or the 17th day and the compromise is we rest on both days.

      1. ambrit

        My Dear MLTPB;
        I read somewhere that the Pharonic Egyptians used a ten day work week coupled with a four day ‘weekend.’ “Sic Construit Gloria Mundi.”

  12. rich

    Anyone know anything about this candidate?

    A New Presidential Candidate;

    We begin with a new candidate running for President of the United States in the 2012 election representing a newly-formed party, the Justice Party. The former mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson, joins us to lay out his populist, progressive third party platform that does not rely on corporate money or the mainstream media, but instead plans to energize grassroots people power that has emerged with the occupy movements.

    1. Praedor

      I remember Rocky Anderson in SLC when I was in grad school at Univ of Utah in the late 90s, early 00s. He is a good guy. A solid progressive, certain NOT to go DLC or neoliberal on you.

      He’s a real deal good guy.

      1. James

        By proposing an alternative candidate for president ONLY? Really? Word. Gonna take A LOT more than that my friend.

      2. Susan

        I heard that Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein are talking about running together, on one ticket.

        That would be awesome, really awesome.

  13. Tempus

    Only at idiot would let “social media” replace email. Governments and corporations would LOVE for people to rely on the social medias as their sole means of communication. No privacy whatsoever there…though you COULD use GPG and encrypt posts on such sites. You would have to specify the encrypted text to certain people so they would be able to decrypt it but still…better to use email.

    Special note: It is still possible to have totally anonymous email (I have 100% anonymous yahoo, gmail, and other accounts for instance). Just to prove it can be done I also created a 100% anonymous facebook account using one of my anonymous emails as the means of verifying it – all done via the Tor network.

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