Links 3/23/12

Back in Starbucks dependence mode….

How to Deal With Stylish Babies When You Are a Slob Gawker. One of the advantages of being an old Yankee is I’m immune to baby-induced sartorial pressures.

Pirate Bay to experiment with “Low Orbit Server Stations” (hat tip Lambert)

DoD Networks Completely Compromised, Experts Say CIO

Biggest threat to corporate nets in 2011? Hactivists, not cybercriminals Network World

From the USA: Not so intellectual property International Bar Association

Bolivia has transformed itself by ignoring the Washington Consensus Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

Eurozone ‘poster child’ Ireland slumps back into recession Telegraph. So how’s that austerity working?

Disappointment in Core, but Some Positive News in Periphery Marc Chandler, Credit Writedowns

Rating agencies found to be falling short according to EU regulator Telegraph. Quelle surprise!

Israel ‘turning blind eye’ to West Bank settlers’ attacks on Palestinians Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

Afghan villagers say shootings were revenge Christian Science Monitor (hat tip reader May S)

Soldier accused in Afghanistan massacre to be charged with murder Washington Post

Obama hits back at energy policy critics Financial Times

The Lovins Paradox: “this old canard” Sandwichman, EconoSpeak

Senate Passes Bill To Help Small Businesses Associated Press. This is exactly the sort of headline the Administration wanted. Must be nice to have a compliant press. And the HuffPo parroted the spin, even better.

Obama gets the conservative vote Financial Times. Sort of misses the point. Makes the issue out to be that Obama is less awful than Tea-Party-pandering Romney, when he is right wing on economic issues with left wing window dressing.

Is Participatory Rule-Making Possible? Nation. Nice idea, but how do you keep astroturf organizations from dominating the process?

Health-care ruling could be a blow to insurers Marketwatch

Why Ilya Sheyman And Progressives Lost Big In Illinois’ 10th District Primary Huffingon Post

Police Unleash Attack Dogs, Suspend Students for “Thought Crimes” After Students Protest Conditions at School Alternet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Las Vegas bets on desert water pipeline as Nevada drinks itself dry Guardian (hat tip Lambert)

NYPD must spy on all Muslims to protect us from Iranian photographers Salon

Worker Ownership for the 99%: The United Steelworkers, Mondragon, and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center Announce a New Union Cooperative Model to Reinsert Worker Equity Back into the U.S. Economy USW. So why weren’t they pushing this 20 or 30 years ago?

TAG Actually Gives Big Banks the Advantage Chris Whalen, American Banker

Repos Gone Bad: Are Big Lenders To Blame For Driveway Violence? Huffington Post. This is a horrifying and important story.

As Young Lose Interest in Cars, G.M. Turns to MTV for Help New York Times. As a proud car non-owner, I’ve never understood the fixation.

Ex-Goldman employee stages Japan protest Financial Times

Rich Would Skirt ‘Buffett Rule’ Wall Street Journal

Currencies dis/Conference with David Graeber Occupy Harvard (hat tip reader martha r). On the 23rd.

TBTF Sheriff Bill Black on the MF Global Cover-up: “All those that doeth Evil hateth the light!” Capital Account

Video: Deutsche Bank Changes Legal Structure of U.S. Subsidiary to Avoid Dodd-Frank Rule Wall Street Journal. The authorities could stop that if they wanted to. All they’d have to do is threaten to cut off its access to Fedwire.


What should be in the fundamental review of the trading book? Part 1: something simple Deus ex Macchiato. Generally sound, but notice how no one is thinking of stressing interest rate risks? Yet it was as mere 1/4 point unexpected move in 1994 that caused bigger losses than in the 1987 crash

Are the Good Times Never Coming Back? New York Times. Not under current leadership

A Must Read on the Financial Crisis Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

The higher education bubble mathbabe. I had wanted to write about this Bloomberg article, glad she did.

Antidote du jour:

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      1. Jim

        …or simply send a Peace Corp worker…

        U.S. denies spying allegations in Bolivia

        (CNN) — Bolivia President Evo Morales declared a U.S. diplomat “undesirable” Monday amid allegations that the United States asked a visiting scholar and Peace Corps volunteers to keep tabs on Cubans and Venezuelans in Bolivia.

        Morales said a security assistant for the U.S. Embassy — identified by the Bolivian Information Agency as Vincent Cooper — violated the rights of Bolivian citizens and offended the country, the news agency reported Monday.

        U.S. officials admitted that someone at the embassy made an inappropriate suggestion, the information agency reported, but the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Philip S. Goldberg, denied Monday that the embassy asked anyone to spy.


    1. tom allen

      Yeah, it’s fricking 80 degrees (Fahrenheit) in March in Minnesota. And we’ve had hardly any snow or rain. Remember last year’s drought in Texas? We’re a bit worried about that up here.

    2. Diogenes

      Glad I moved to LA from Phoenix, given the temperature rise.

      At least I’ll have some ocean breezes this summer instead of the walls of dust I endured last summer.

  1. Jim Haygood

    Some piquant words from the Supreme Court, in a case which establishes the right to counsel in plea bargaining:

    “Criminal justice today is for the most part a system of pleas, not a system of trials,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. “The right to adequate assistance of counsel cannot be defined or enforced without taking account of the central role plea bargaining takes in securing convictions and determining sentences.”

    “In today’s criminal justice system,” Justice Kennedy wrote, “the negotiation of a plea bargain, rather than the unfolding of a trial, is almost always the critical point for a defendant.”

    Quoting from law review articles, Justice Kennedy wrote that plea bargaining “is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system; it IS the criminal justice system.” He added that “longer sentences exist on the books largely for bargaining purposes.”

    While superficially sounding like a progressive addendum to the landmark 1963 Gideon v. Wainwright decision providing indigents the right to counsel, this new decision de facto nullifies the Sixth Amendment guarantee of ‘the right to a speedy and public trial.’

    How did we get here? It began in the 1980s, when Congress both expanded the reach of federal criminal law, and established harsh sentencing guidelines which effectively took discretion away from judges and handed all the bargaining power to prosecutors. New ‘derivative offenses’ such as racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering — nonexistent in our common law tradition — facilitate the ‘piling on’ of charges, so that even nonviolent offenses can potentially draw a sentence of decades.

    When a plea deal offers the certainty of a sentence that’s only a fraction of the potential maximum — and policy dictates that those who insist on trial and are convicted should get the maximum sentence — any rational defendant will plead guilty, even if they are innocent. The NYT catalogues the results of this night-and-day change in the U.S. justice regime:

    Some 97 percent of convictions in federal courts were the result of guilty pleas. In 2006, the last year for which data was available, the corresponding percentage in state courts was 94.

    Back in the days of Jimmy Carter, when the U.S. began critiquing totalitarian regimes such as the Soviet Union and China for human rights violations, their 99% criminal conviction rates were cited as examples of a kangaroo court justice system. Jimmy Carter was quite right. But unfortunately, his own country is the prominent rights abuser now, filling the world’s largest gulag with its Supreme Court-approved conviction machine. And it’s ‘ALL LEGAL’!

    1. Walter Wit Man

      When one looks beyond the rhetoric it is indeed apparent the U.S. is a police state.

      As you point out, the few civil liberties victories are hollow victories, usually distracting us from an even greater violation of civil liberty.

      The recent decision outlawing the GPS units on cars in some instances is a good example. The Court has eviscerated the 4th Amendment so it is almost meaningless, yet they will occasionally put on pretenses (when it doesn’t really matter) for the rubes and to clear their consciences.

      Frankly, one is better off being arrested in Syria rather than America, in general. Especially if you are a black or brown person.

    2. Supreme cesspool

      Yeah, legal like Lubyanka water cells. CCPR Article 9(3) is the supreme law of the land, and it acknowledges your human right to appear before an officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power. State practices undermining that right, like extortionate sentencing to coerce a plea, are illegal. Kennedy, the dimwitted, treasonous hack who cast the only vote that counted in the Bush 2000 coup, serves solely to keep human rights out of reach of the US population. If we lived in a more civilized age, Justice Kennedy’s entrails would be extracted and burned before his eyes.

      1. aet

        From your comment it seems you would cast your vote i – if you had one – in this particular set of cases with Justice Scalia and the dissenters, rather than with justice Kennedy and the majority.

      2. aet

        From your comment it seems you would cast your vote – if you had one – in this particular set of cases with Justice Scalia and the dissenters, rather than with Justice Kennedy and the majority.

      3. supreme pismire

        To clarify, my opinion is that, if polished to a high gloss, the skulls of the supreme court justices would make elegant vessels from which to sip my finest wine.

  2. F. Beard

    Gorgeous bird!

    I love nature shows. The narrator dutifully talks about how evolution did this and that but the video often tells a different story.

  3. Externality

    From the Associated Press, as posted on the website of the Wall Street Jounal:

    Documents show NYPD infiltrated liberal groups


    In April 2008, an undercover NYPD officer traveled to New Orleans to attend the People’s Summit, a gathering of liberal groups organized around their shared opposition to U.S. economic policy and the effect of trade agreements between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

    When the undercover effort was summarized for supervisors, it identified groups opposed to U.S. immigration policy, labor laws and racial profiling. Two activists — Jordan Flaherty, a journalist, and Marisa Franco, a labor organizer for housekeepers and nannies — were mentioned by name in one of the police intelligence reports obtained by the AP.

    [The article goes on to discuss, among other things, how the NYPD apparently went on to monitor a film festival in New Orleans later that week where Flaherty introduced a film about Palestinians.]

    The April 2008 memo offers an unusually candid view of how political monitoring fit into the NYPD’s larger, post-9/11 intelligence mission. As the AP has reported previously, [NYPD intelligence chief David] Cohen’s unit has transformed the NYPD into one of the most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies in the United States, one that infiltrated Muslim student groups, monitored their websites and used informants as listening posts inside mosques.

  4. Marty Heyman

    Yves and friends,

    I LOVE these link-lists ALMOST as much as the rest of the content on the site. The editorial comments are usually terrific. Yves, the comment to “Is Participatory Rule-Making Possible?” evokes two reactions. Yes, it would be nice if the government behaved as if the will of the People mattered. If we can’t evolve governance to address the corruption from special interests (astroturfing, etc.) we will continue to have a government that is sensitive primarily to the will of the special interests (“astroturf”).

    1. ScottS

      I came here to post this as soon as I heard. Could it be that Obama’s bromance with everyone from Clinton’s cabinet is finally over? Next up: Timmay. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out!

    1. Walter Wit Man

      And like the Bachelor Obama will take an interminable amount of time to deliver the magic rose to its rightful owner while selling crap to us.

    2. James Sterling

      Shall I compare thee to a Summers’ day?
      Thou art more temperate
      Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May
      And Summers’ lease hath all too short a date

  5. Marty Heyman

    Yves, WOW, two in a day. THANKS for highlighting the USW’s discovery of the light ;-). You ask The Right Question. Now that they’ve discovered a potentially useful strategy, we hope this initiative can create jobs and help the workers re-estalish one of our historically valuable industries.

  6. fresno dan


    “Below is the full deposition of Michele Sjolander, an alleged Executive Vice President of Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. Her stamped signature “appeared” on the promissory note late in the lawsuit with Bank of America and others months after employees of both Fannie Mae and BAC Home Loans Servicing filed affidavits that an un-endorsed note was the “true and correct copy” in the case.

    Apparently these types of “ta-da” endorsements are fairly common for Countrywide and a lot of them have the names of Michele Sjolander and Laurie Meder on them. The Defendants in the case had gotten Mrs. Sjolander to sign a Declaration that the “ta-da” endorsement in the case was in fact “true and correct” after twice trying to enter the endorsed note in the record without authentication.

    Then there was an opportunity to depose her on January 25th, 2012 in Van Nuys, California. At the deposition, she revealed that she did not place the endorsement on the note and in fact is not allowed into the area where endorsing is supposedly done (at Recontrust, by Recontrust employees) without an escort.

    She also stated that she does not know the name of the person who supposedly did place the endorsement on the note. She stated that the endorsement is placed on the notes with a rubber stamp onto which is carved her name, Laurie Meder’s name, and all the other information that appears on the endorsement.”

    Laws, rules, truth, signatures….optional for banks.
    AND…why is not every executive at Countrywide being prosecuted for a well crafted, designed, and implemented fraud, perjury, and numerous other financial criminal acts?
    Rubber stamps don’t commit frauds, bankers do!!!

  7. Eureka Springs

    First I’ve read about Illinois 10. However, as a lean Progressive type on issues I am weary of those who both call themselves a Progressive and a Democrat. It reads and sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.

    The entire huffpo article should be read by those quoted most of all… it’s all about the sport/ players/ inside baseball…. nary an issue mentioned. And they have the audacity to wonder why there was low turnout!

    If you are a Democrat you are part of the problem. For that matter, if you are aligned with MoveOn, you are a part of the problem.
    If you “win” as a Progressive Democrat you are at the very least ready to lose/compromise away 98 plus percent of what you claim to stand for.
    Ultimately you will preserve an ongoing criminal party enterprise and or be taken down by your own party.

    When I hear someone claim to be a Progressive and a Democrat it makes as little sense to me as someone saying they are both a Republican and for gun control.

    Lord have mercy we need multi-party proportional representation in this country even more than we need and end to corporate personhood. Additionally primary voting should be no more than five or six regions, all 50 states primary voting within the same five or six days about eight weeks out from Nov. election day.

    1. Hugh

      Excellent point. Our political discourse is littered with zombie terms and issues, often carrying the opposite of their original meanings. Sheyman is a sham progressive. His run was an attempt to coopt the brand. At the same time, it was another iteration of what has become the joke meme of “More and better Democrats”. His loss though will be dumped on progressives. “Progressives can’t win,” “the electorate rejects progressives,” etc., etc.. What the electorate showed in Sheyman’s case, however, is that an unconvincing “progressive” is just, well, unconvincing.

      The shorter form of the Sheyman run is that either he would win by coopting the progressive brand or he would lose and in losing tarnish it.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Perhaps “Faux-ccupier” would be a better spelling.

            But then a faux ami, or not, would be “f*** y**-pier” (of the D regulars trying to hijack the brand, like the odious Sheyman).

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Good comment.

      I think the term “progressive” is intentionally vague. They’re mindfucking us.

      Remember, the progressive caucus has been the largest caucus in the House. Many think Obama was given a liberal mandate. Indeed, most Americans hold liberal opinions on some of the most important issues to the progressive caucus. This should be a progressive era.

      And the progressive caucus has an agenda we all can pretty much figure out. They’ve told us what it is. And it’s popular! It’s making the rich pay their fair share, or ending our wars, saving Social Security, etc., etc. Or the public option. They said they would vote against any health care reform unless it contained this provision, because it was so important. It was the one policy line in the sand the progressives drew. They said it was their number one issue in the primaries in 2008.

      But we are going the opposite direction–to the right. And progressives seem confused.

      It’s because we are being fucked with. Mindfucked. There is a group of elite that run the entire political process, both Republican and Democrat.

      I don’t know of any good Democrat office seekers/holders. They are all corrupt. I won’t even vote for a Democrat for City council because right now anyone that provides support for the Democrat party is providing support for one of the most pernicious and evil institutions on earth, responsible for massive death and destruction and much more to come if people keep supporting it.

      1. Martskers

        Wanna see how bogus the whole concept of Democratic
        “progressives” is? Check out the vote in House
        (and, for that matter, the Senate on the mis-named
        JOBS bill (it ought to be called the Fraud Under Consent of the Kleptocrats bill), that will, by eviscerating the
        minimal protections of Sarbanes Oxley, pave the
        way for securities fraudsters to have their way.

        Many of the members of the so-called “Progressive
        Caucus” in both chambers voted FOR the bill, and
        Obama, the ultimate bogus progressive, will apparently sign it.

        There are very few progressives in Congress any
        more (we just lost another, with the defeat of
        Dennis Kucinich, who voted against the bill, whilehis successor, Kaptur, voted FOR it), and the ones who claim to be are so easily co-opted by the Republicans and dirty campaign
        money, their self-designation as progressives is,
        itself a fraud.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Good points. The *real* progressive caucus can’t be any larger than 23 in the House.

          Of course politicians are going to pretend to be progressive–it’s evidently popular.

          Unfortunately I don’t know any “progressives” that are helping–including Kucinich. Progressive just means liberal Democrat to me. There is no good to come from the Democrat gang and therefore it is indefensible to caucus with them (or even trust them when making deals for that matter).

    3. Dupa

      Yep, there’s more to civil society than electoral politics. Parties exist to keep us from associating freely. CCPR Article 25(b), supreme law of the land, requires the free expression of the will of the electors. You’re just pulling your pud when elections fail to meet those legal standards. Africans know enough to boycott phony elections. Why don’t we?

      The Dem hack mantra is, nothing matters but your rigged pointless vote, and it will get and more frantic as the ritual comes to a conclusion. All you poor Dem grassroots dupes, you think the Dems are your party like some broke low-normal redneck thinks Dook is his football team. They have nothing to do with you. You do not exist in their world.

  8. RanDomino

    “…combines worker ownership in a cooperative business with the collective bargaining process”

    How do you have “collective bargaining” when the workers own the fucking business?? When you own it yourself, you don’t bargain- you just do it!

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Sounds like the Democratic party’s plan: negotiate against themselves.

      Seems contradictory on its face, but I can see how it makes sense.

      For instance, collective bargaining has set of procedures to conduct business by voting and nominating, etc., so maybe that’s the part they want to adopt–not the part about negotiating worker wages down (or up). Unless only some of the workers own the business and the other workers are hired.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Oh, I’ve actually worked for one of those companies.

          I guess it’s better that the owners rub elbows with the the hired help as they boss the help around.

          It’s better than other corporate forms, I guess.

          1. Lambert Strether

            It remains to be seen whether this is a baby step, or a senile stumble.

            One point in its favor is that it has received no attention at all in the national press.

  9. Susan the other

    Adam Levitin on the SEC failing to handle banks properly; and future bank regulation. Over my head. But of course a mega bank must make mega profits so they object to scaling down. Scaling down except for sucking deposits out of every corner of the country. And other things. Still over my head.
    Sorry about this blabber.

    1. craazyman

      It seems to be over everybody’s heads, from what I can tell reading it. I didn’t sail over my head (but it did whizz by my right ear) as much as it splatted like a watermellon that fell off the back of a truck. Reminds me of Aristotle’s four causes. I wonder what caused them in the first place? And what caused the thing that caused them? You can keep going forever. It was probably leverage if you go back far enough.

    1. Jim

      Bolivia far from perfect, but you must compare it to other Latam economies.

      Let’s focus on Mexico. No capital gains or dividend taxes. Top marginal rate of 28%. No estate tax. A national sales tax of 16%. Total tax take is 11% of GDP.

      In other words, Mexico is the Washington Consensus.

      Growth in Mexico over the last 29 years? 0.5% GDP/Capita, annual.

      0.5% over the last 29 years.

      Let’s compare Mexico to Argentina, another country that has gone its own way.

      Recall what so many said when Argentina left the dollar peg. I recall Domingo Cavallo, in early 2002, arguing that if Argentina abandons the dollar as its currency, it won’t recover for decades.

      Well, Argentina left the dollar and boomed far more than any other country in Latam over the last decade.

  10. ScottS

    Re: As Young Lose Interest in Cars, G.M. Turns to MTV for Help New York Times.

    Haha, wow. Who watches MTV anymore? You know the conversation went something like this:

    CORPORATE UNDERLING: As you can see in this graph, sales continue to decline in the under 30 demographic…

    GM EXEC: God dammit! How come these young punks aren’t buying our cars?!

    CORPORATE UNDERLING: They like socializing with their friends either face-to-face or through social media…

    GM EXEC: Sonova bitch! We’ve practically turned our cars into rolling smart phones! What else could they want?

    CORPORATE UNDERLING: Well, they still see cars as anti-social pollution-spewing death machines. They think they’re just uncool.

    GM EXEC: Uncool, eh? I know how to fix that. I belong to the same country club as the head of Viacom. We’ll get the MTV to shill for us. Kids will do anything the MTV tells them to do!


    1. craazyman

      pretty funny. not like the old days when a lime green Trans-Am with orange racing stripes and fake leather seats was the coolest thing on earth. Oh, and with an 8-track tape deck above the cigarette lighter. Pass the bong dude. I can hear the bud crackling under the flame.

      1. ScottS

        It seems pretty straight-forward to me: youth culture has always been about freedom of association. In the 19th century and early 20th, bicycles were “cool” because they allowed people (especially women) a freedom of movement — and therefore association — they didn’t have previously. Post WWII, when white flight spread the distance between friends out, bikes were supplanted by cars for the same reason: freedom of movement meant freedom of association. Now, social networking allows freedom of association without requiring any movement.

        I can vouch that people under 30 don’t see what their parents see in suburbia. And, as a bonus, rejecting cars and suburban bliss is a rebellion against everything their parents stand for.

        1. craazyman

          wait ’till you hit the mid-40s and if city life hasn’t killed you, you’ll be ready for the green lawn and garden. LOL.

          and car. Trans-Am even!

          1. ScottS

            At the rate things are going, I’ll be glad to make it to my mid-40’s regardless of environs. Mayans and all that.

            They don’t make the Trans-Am any more — maybe that’s why kids aren’t biting. But then, the supposedly youth-oriented cars disproportionately hook old folks. Such notable examples: Scion xB, Honda Element, Chevy Camaro. The first two were obviously aimed at youthful anti-car buyers, “lifestyle” outdoors types, etc. Both only found solid success in the salt-and-pepper set.

            But to your point, when I see what’s going on in Atwater Village, Eagle Rock, and Pasadena, it makes me think something has changed. They are between the downtown grittiness and the plastic fantastic behind-the-Orange-Curtain scene. I don’t think people living in these areas see themselves leaving their artsy village just because they have kids. And they don’t have to since the crime is quite a bit lower than downtown, and the schools can be quite good.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Has anyone else noticed a crazy amount of car commercials lately?

      Trying to get rid of them before $5 gas hits?

    3. reslez

      It’s far easier easier for kids to gain the attitude “cars aren’t cool” when more and more of them can’t afford one and don’t have a job to drive one to anyway.

  11. Valissa

    Politics puts Etch A Sketch back in the picture

    While Romney’s opponents are hoping the remark will erase his momentum and reframe the debate, the biggest winner might be Ohio Art.

    Its stock, which trades over the counter, had nearly tripled by Thursday afternoon to $9.65, and major stores reported a jump in sales, said chairman Bill Killgallon.

    “We’re proud that one of our products is shaking up the debate,” he said.

    … “We have a left knob and a right knob,” he said, “so we neutrally speak to both parties.”

  12. okie farmer

    SPIEGEL Interview with Tomas Sedlacek, Czech economist,1518,druck-822981,00.html

    SPIEGEL: Communism, under which your generation grew up, didn’t achieve this form of self-sufficiency in half a century.

    Sedláček: Because it wasn’t viable. In truth, it isn’t communism but capitalism that drives the permanent revolution. It drives people to work harder and harder, because it presents them with the very credible possibility of success. Communism could never do that. Karl Marx thought and wrote in the world of Oliver Twist. If he were alive today, he would probably not recognize the need for a revolution.

    SPIEGEL: But it isn’t up to economists to set ethical standards.

    Sedláček: Yes, it is. Ethics forms the core of economics. It leads straight to the question of the good and right way of living, or Aristotle’s concept of eudemonia. For him, maximizing benefit without maximizing good would have been pointless. A market economy without morality is a zombie system: The robots function perfectly, but in the end they leave behind a trail of devastation. We have to return to our origins and talk about the soul of the economy.

    SPIEGEL: Such quasi-religious impulses must be quite foreign to both your fellow economists and the politicians you have advised.

    Sedláček: The belief in progress is an eschatology used in the secular realm. There is no such thing as value-free economics. To claim that economics is value-free is a value judgment in itself — an ideological position. Every purchase decision is also a moral decision.

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