Links 2/3/10

Emotional Weather Report h+ (hat tip reader David C)

Clare Short says cabinet misled on Iraq war legality BBC (hat tip reader Michael T)

Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds Guardian. From January, but still pertinent. I was posting in 2007 about depleted uranium, a truly depressing topic.

The Great American Financial Sandwich: AIG, PwC, and Goldman Sachs Francine McKenna. PWC was not only the auditor to both Goldman and AIG, but had been brought in at AIG specifically to clean it up after the Greenberg-era irregularities.

Courts move to ban juror use of Blackberry, iPhone, Twitter and Facebook Network World

Why Anti-Depressants Are No Better than Placebos Newsweek (hat tip reader John M)

El-Erian Says Retreat in Stocks Will Worsen as Economy Slumps Bloomberg

Empty creditors, the teamsters, and CDS Deus Ex Macchiato (hat tip reader Richard Smith)

Dodd Calls Obama Plan Too Grand New York Times. In case you had any doubts who Dodd really sees as his constitutents…

A Good Guy in D.C.? Bruce Krasting

Shadow bank losses FT Alphaville (hat tip reader Michael T)

Antidote du jour:

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  1. DoctoRx

    Re the Newsweek antidepressant article:

    1. Much more clearly effective than the SSRIs are the old class of tricyclic antidepressants (Elavil and many others). But the side effects of these drugs were often worse than the depression.

    2. When the first SSRI, Prozac, came to market over 20 yrs ago, I was astonished to find that it only had short-term trials, with weak (alleged) efficacy reported, but was immediately being prescribed forever.

    3. The drug Wellbutrin was approved as a 3-times a day drug with very marginal evidence of efficacy, and significant side effects. Its sales were small. It then was turned into a twice-a-day drug only on the basis of comparable blood level studies to the 3/day version. Sales ramped up. Then a once-a-day version was approved on the basis also only of a blood level study. Sales jumped a good deal more. So we ended up with a blockbuster where any semi-close look at the efficacy data raised serious questions about efficacy.

    The truth is that the most important placebo effect in drug sales starts with the doctor. There is no doubt that an attractive salesperson with drug samples is more important to prescribers than proof or even strong scientific evidence that the drug product should be prescribed.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      I have a huge problem with what appears to me to be the over-prescription of almost every drug in America.

      That said, studies like this drive me *crazy*. First, they assume that because they test a bunch of *non-genetically identical* people who are experiencing *different symptoms*, they can come to a solution that a drug has no effect. No, all they have proven is that there was no effect above placebo across that *particular* group. Maybe the drug just helps certain people with a certain genome. Maybe the drug just helps certain people with certain symptoms. As I say constantly on this site, they know less than they think they do.

      This is definitively not a plea to use or prescribe more drugs. I have refused almost every drug a doctor has tried to prescribe for me because my experience in my youth was that the side effects always seemed worse than the original problem. However, in this one particular case, while it is impossible for me to prove that a placebo would not have worked as well, I know a *large* number of people who have experienced deep depressions that *seemed* to have been pulled out of the spiral by SSRIs. I do not know much more than that, but I’d like a targeted study versus placebo that identified those particular symptoms and had enough participants to hold constant against different groups (gender, age, ancestry, etc.). I am very confident that these drugs are over-prescribed; I am not confident at all that they have no positive or ameliorative effects.

  2. Ina Pickle

    I have an admission to make: part of what I love about this site is the insightful analysis, and part of what I love is that Yves is obviously up when I am. ;) I have a certain sympathy for women whose days begin by five – holidays and weekends included.

    And I love it when I’m letting the coffee run through the machine, fire up the wifi, and Yves has already digested the news.

  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    On a related topic to the depleted uranium, when we invaded Iraq, we rushed to check UN ware houses which still had a great deal of the catalysts and materials for creating WMDs. When our forces arrived they found the buildings still had the UN locks, they broke those locks and saw everything was where it was supposed to be. Our soldiers left and left the goddamn doors open. Now these same materials are being used in IEDs. What a wonderful world!

  4. Cynthia

    William Sidis, who was estimated to have an IQ of over 250, was an atheist as well as a socialist. I’m sure that intelligence is strongly correlated with atheism. But I’m not so sure intelligence is also strongly correlated with leftist thinking. Even if it was, many on the Right would simply blame this on Asperger’s getting the better of him.

    But I do think that if Sidis were alive today he’d probably be palling around with brainy computer geeks, instead of with leading-edge leftist intellectuals. But I’m not so sure that keeping his nose to the digital grindstone would have kept him out of jail any more than speaking his mind about social injustice did decades ago.:^(

    1. anon

      Off topic, but it brought this to mind:

      “The world is a grindstone and life is your nose” – Fred Allen

  5. MichaelC


    I expect there a sovereign CDS debacle brewing.
    Any insight?

    This may be a good time to expand on the wrong way risk story. BIS was raising alarms recently, but I haven’t followed the story much.

  6. charles

    “I was posting in 2007 about depleted uranium, a truly depressing topic.”

    The area has no effective sewage system, stagnant household waste, has been exposed to the fumes of MASSIVE industrial fires (big dioxins generators) during the war, lots of male parents/grandparents were veterans of the Iran/Irak where significant chemical warfare occurred, but, OF COURSE, the only matter on which you focus your attention on is the use of depleted Uranium !

    Not that I consider it a wise desision to use Uranium rounds : Uranium is probably best left for other uses. Nor that I deny that there may be some health effects. It is just the (inconscious?) rhetorical device : Nuclear/”We are all going to die” vs Non Nuclear/”I don’t even mention it” that I denounce here. It is just a cheap trick.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Do you even know anything about depleted uranium? Obviously not, because US troops who served in Iraq II have been getting bizarre cancers at unheard of rates, and DU is widely seen as the culprit.

      So you are the one engaging in sensationalistic attacks, having not bothered to do your homework.

      1. NoName


        You are my favorite blogger by far, but over the last few months your comments have increasingly gone from being extremely level-headed and almost earily detached to far more emotional. Please relax a little; something as insignificant as random comments by anonymous posters shouldn’t be ale to faze you, no matter how off-base you find them

          1. Maggie Knowles

            As I recall, some of my best lessons learned were from teachers who called me out on my ignorance with impatience. I agree with Yves response, if more people did their homework, we’d all be better off.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You supply a link to a pdf from “” that is dated 2003. “”

          The very same site has information that supports the argument I made:

          It also appears to have no information more current than 2003. It would not include evidence based on more recent information, particularly Iraq War exposures.

          Here is a widely-cited, peer reviewed article from 2005:

          Here is more recent news coverage:

, which includes this bit:

          “I’m horrified. The people out there – the Iraqis, the media and the troops – risk the most appalling ill health. And the radiation from depleted uranium can travel literally anywhere. It’s going to destroy the lives of thousands of children, all over the world. We all know how far radiation can travel. Radiation from Chernobyl reached Wales and in Britain you sometimes get red dust from the Sahara on your car.”

          The speaker is not some alarmist doomsayer. He is Dr. Chris Busby, the British radiation expert, Fellow of the University of Liverpool in the Faculty of Medicine and UK representative on the European Committee on Radiation Risk, talking about the best-kept secret of this war: the fact that by illegally using hundreds of tons of depleted uranium (DU) against Iraq, Britain and America have gravely endangered not only the Iraqis but the whole world…..

          On hearing that DU had been used in the Gulf in 1991, the UK Atomic Energy Authority sent the Ministry of Defense a special report on the potential damage to health and the environment. It said that it could cause half a million additional cancer deaths in Iraq over 10 years. In that war the authorities only admitted to using 320 tons of DU-although the Dutch charity LAKA estimates the true figure is closer to 800 tons. Many times that may have been spread across Iraq by this year’s war. The devastating damage all this DU will do to the health and fertility of the people of Iraq now, and for generations to come, is beyond imagining….

          EU soldiers who served as peacekeepers in the Balkans, where DU was also used. Indeed their leukemia rate has been so high that several EU governments have protested at the use of DU…..

          There’s lots more where that came from.

  7. i on the ball patriot

    Suck article!
    Suck author!
    Suck publication!
    And a suck energy and time wasting petition!

    The government is totally corrupt, it is not just the congress.

    If you truly want your ‘democracy’ back you will have to get out on the streets and fight for it with election boycotts.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

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