Links Bastille Day 2010

The Techno-Sponge The Futurist (hat tip reader bob)

Trust moves HC seeking demat accounts for Hindu deities Times of India (hat tip Richard Smith, via Tyler Cowen)

Nick Turse, American War Versus Real War Tom Engelhardt

Leading by Example: Elites’ Apt Pupils Launch ‘Surge’ in Uganda Chris Floyd

Media moral standards Glenn Greenwald Salon (hat tip reader Francois T)

Rules Seek to Expand Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s New York Times. This make me nervous. A blog reader who is involved in biomed gave an theory of Alzheimer’s which his company is pursuing which is quite different than the conventional reading and has better explanatory power than other theories (much too long to explain here). I may be remembering our conversation incorrectly, but I recall him saying that people can have brain plaques, die with them and not exhibit Alzheimer’s symptoms (this article contends they are a “unique marker”). One cancer specialist pointed out one of the flaws with the now-repudiated full body MRIs that they identify small cancers, when unbeknownst to most people, we are constantly developing small cancers, but the vast majority either reverse course or grow so slowly as to pose no threat. I wonder if some brain plaques might be like that, and we are setting up to overtreat people when we don’t understand the underlying disease mechanism very well.

Diabetes Drug Maker Hid Test Data, Files Indicate New York Times (hat tip reader Francois T)

Congress: Little evidence TARP helped small banks MarketWatch

Wall Street Fix Seen Ineffectual by Four out of Five in U.S. Bloomberg

Obama faces growing credibility crisis Edward Luce, Financial Times

Senators seek probe into alleged BP-Lockerbie link Associated Press

‘The Marcellus Gas Shale Play: Information for an Informed Citizenry’ – a talk by Professor Ingraffea NYRAD (hat tip reader John L)

Prime custody, and the business of collateral FT Alphaville (hat tip Richard Smith)

How Bad is the Job Situation? Mark Thoma

Dramatic and Far-Reaching Michael Panzner

Interview with Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the ECB, and Libération, conducted by Jean Quatremer ECB (hat tip Richard Smith, who noted, “How Trichet thinks…some snorters in here…”)

Antidote du jour:

Picture 14

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  1. IF

    Ex-IKB Chief Ortseifen Convicted in Trial Over Subprime Risks

    “Ortseifen is the first German bank executive convicted over the financial crisis. He faced claims he misled investors by downplaying effect of the looming U.S. subprime crisis in a press release on July 20, 2007. IKB received a bailout package 10 days later and subsequently got as much as 12 billion euros ($15.3 billion) in guarantees from Germany’s bank-rescue fund.”

  2. dearieme

    On the matter of Oldtimer’s disease:-

    “All medical research is rubbish” is a better approximation to the truth than almost all medical research.

      1. aet

        I cannot count the number of people I have met who have had their lives prolonged or enhanced by things which are the results of medical research.

        Perhaps you feel we ought also to abandon all economic research, and run the economy by the use of ancient nostrums and moral statements from old superstitions.

        And don’t you routinely disparage cimate science too?

        Does any science meet your standards?
        Or do you “lack faith” in all science, and put your faith in the Ruler’s “gut feelings”?

  3. alex

    re: Wall Street Fix Seen Ineffectual by Four out of Five in U.S.

    More proof that we Americans are not quite as stupid as sometimes claimed.

    1. aet

      Nor are the people they have elected to represent them: here’s a new rule, worthy of note:

      I guess all the things prohibited by this rule werre rampant before its passage.
      Which is illuminating, too.
      Rules look back, as well as forward, in time.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Re: Alzheimer’s. A cartelized health scare system (particularly the pharmaceutical industry) has an incentive to expand disease definitions, creating an expanded market for earlier-stage treatment.

    For instance, designating the blood pressure range from 120/80 to 140/90 as ‘pre-hypertensive’ greatly enlarges the market for antihypertensive drugs.

    A society which refuses to address the dietary issues which aggravate the prevalence of these diseases, but instead pays for palliative treatment after the damage is done, will go broke. Is going broke, I should say.

    Uh, what were we discussing? ;-)

    1. gordon

      Thanks for posting the correct link.

      I was interested to read the comments under Juan Cole’s post on this. Most commenters were sceptical of the original conviction of al-Megrahi, and demonstrated no outrage at his release. This is under a post obviously intended to arouse outrage about how the UK Govt. was kowtowing to BP! There are occasions when the commenters are better informed than the author of the post.

  5. Denise

    Yves, I listened to this today and you may be interested – re food crisis/riots 2008/09 unwittingly engineered by Wall St via complex futures trading on agricultural commodities (predominantly wheat/rice). Sickening. Money is indeed God to some.

    select “Food Bubble”

  6. LeeAnne

    The Techno Sponge article is great. It would be interesting to hear comments on this blog about the thesis that technology causes deflation and is here to stay because production becomes cheaper so quickly.

    How much of US ingenuity in the form of creative products and cooperative ventures has been given away and stolen or simply traded away to underdeveloped countries in treaties that scam its rightful US citizen owners, by calling Americans stupid, and money laundering the profits back to the top 0.5% of US corporate executives and their cronies?

    It seems that our winner-take-all economy has thrived on the biggest PUT of all -profiting on the weakness of Americans; the more dumb downed, the more illiterate and non-English speaking, the worse the education system, THE BIGGER THE PROFITS for the top 0.5% guaranteed, and the risk taking other 4.5%.

    Sounds like Mafia to me.

    1. aet

      “US ingenuity”….now like land, a species of “national property”?

      Ingenuity belongs to no nation, but to individuals.
      Tech and science do not follow lines drawn upon maps by powerful men.

      Americans are not the ones who have been exploited by the third world, no matter who is stated to “owns the science3”

      1. aet

        Perhaps you have not noticed the hundreds of millions of better off people on the planet since 1980, or the hundreds of millions of more people who are now alive.

        Increased production and productivity from tech does indeed change the economy. Things do get cheaper.
        So what’s the problem?

        1. eric anderson

          What’s the problem? The problem is that the Fed has set itself the task of making things more expensive, which they oddly refer to as “price stability.” (Sort of an Orwellian re-definition. When our money becomes worthless at a less-than-torrid pace, we have price stability. Yeah, right.) We’ve become so accustomed to the debasement of our currency that we think 2% inflation is “good.”

          I heart deflation. It’s the only way to get a real return on my savings without the frakking government trying to grab a share of it. Bring on the sponge!

      2. LeeAnne

        Transnational corporations moved American jobs to China as well as American technology for the profit of American corporate executives and bankers (Hank Paulson has made about 70 trips to China representing his personal crony business interests even while he was Treasury Secretary). There is no separation between transnational corporations and US government; corporations are in charge as you can see clearly in recent British Petroleum posture.

        There is lots of literature on PRC (Public Republic of China) US technology theft. Its hard to know where to begin in a comment. Try Inc. Magazine 2006 here “America’s most innovative industries are being robbed every day on the floors of Chinese factories. Here’s how to make it stop.”

    2. aet

      It sounds strange to hear an American claim some right of veto over the decisions of other Americans as to how they ought to deal with their own property, and then to couch this in “nationalist” tones of “US citizen’s property”.

      Incoherent, almost.
      Who are you to second-guess the trading decisions of the owners of US intellectual property rights?
      For this is what your post seems to advocate.

    3. wunsacon

      LeeAnne, I agree with you and agree with that article. Aet takes exception with one part of your comment, which I didn’t read as your main thrust.

      1. LeeAnne

        Thank you wunsacon. the “who are you to ….” is not only an ad hominum attack but also rather strange.

        Too strange for a response.

  7. LeeAnne

    happy happy unemployed vs not so happy

    The poor, blacks, young and democrats can take it -they’re optimistic. Whites newly affected by joblessness not so happy are “retarding recovery.”

    PEW finds that …” For instance: blacks suffer much higher unemployment than whites (15.4 percent vs. 8.6 percent in June) but believe more strongly than whites that recovery has begun (47 percent to 38 percent). Pew’s explanation for this is politics. With a Democratic administration, Democrats are more upbeat and Republicans are more glum.”

    A survey of the naive would no doubt produce a similar result.

    As long as the vacuum in US leadership remains, this kind of crap will continue being produced.

    But that too will come to an end; hopefully, sooner rather than later.

    Vive La France!

    1. aet

      It has always been the case that people become sadder as they age, for very natural reasons.

      That fact is not going to increase my unhappiness any, no more than does the need to breathe oxygen.
      That’s just life.

      1. Valissa

        Most of the people I know (including myself and my husband) have gotten happier/mellower with age. This study seems to confirm that fact.

        Happiness May Come With Age, Study Says
        It is inevitable. The muscles weaken. Hearing and vision fade. We get wrinkled and stooped. We can’t run, or even walk, as fast as we used to. We have aches and pains in parts of our bodies we never even noticed before. We get old. It sounds miserable, but apparently it is not. A large Gallup poll has found that by almost any measure, people get happier as they get older, and researchers are not sure why. “It could be that there are environmental changes,” said Arthur A. Stone, the lead author of a new study based on the survey, “or it could be psychological changes about the way we view the world, or it could even be biological — for example brain chemistry or endocrine changes.” …

  8. tyaresun

    On demat accounts for Hindu deities:
    People make offerings to these deities with the belief that they are alive and respond to the pleas and offerings of their devotees. The HC has to grant this request for the sake of consistency. Case closed.

  9. bird

    Beware the Alzheimer’s association. Science is not important to them. They support only pharma products that costaplenty. You will notice they have no effective treatments they support. Sad but true, they appear to be a marketing firm that is but a mouthpiece for a company that sells drugs. Drugs that have worse side effects than the disease.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      Yes, this is a dog-bites-man, water-runs-downhill story. If you don’t recognize this Alzheimer’s play as just another variant on the old snake oil con (with shills aplenty), then you’re probably not paying close enough attention.

      Cherchez l’argent.

      Bon 14 Juillet!

  10. LeeAnne

    a nice clear simple graphic presentation of recent American wages and productivity here

    by Richard Wolff bio here

    Bring on the revolution ! Vive La France!

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Re: “Capitalism hits the fan”.

      The fan will simply chop-up capitalism and spit out another “ism” which will – in the end – be run by the sociopaths.

      What none of the “ism” people – or anti particular “ism” people – can admit is that human psychology determines who gets all the loot.

      The dumbasses will always worship the smartest amoral scumbags of their tribe. “Fix” that problem and ANY of the “ism’s” would work just fine.

      1. LeeAnne

        I’m personally a big fan of capitalism -with a big caveat -strong regulation and oversight.

        Its the best system I know of for channeling ‘animal spirits’ for doing good, adding value and employing people while drawing clear lines between greed and virtue at least as clearly as we do between degrees of assault and murder. The US was very successful, a leader and admired for it.

        We had that with anti-trust, labor unions and Glass Steagal which were dispensed with illegally by allowing Wall Street to use Washington insiders for hire that sold out the people who you call dumbasses.

        You have to respect the desire of most people for civilized behavior while they take care of their own responsibilities in a society that prides itself in specialization for its success. This country has not encouraged anything like the Renaissance man who is a politician, philosopher, doctor, lawyer and engineer.

        Social programs help balance disparities in ability to work; like children, mothers and mothers-to-be, the old, sick and disabled.

        All systems of organizing people require TRUST for survival; check out the military. That has been sorely abused most clearly by Wall Street and TSY/FED/BIS; the international cabal of BANKERS.

        I will concede that no sooner do people throw off their chains successfully than they look around to find replacement shackles. That’s why I find the communist ideology so silly.

        No system is going to work where money, a mathematical construct, relates directly to power. We really are on the road to serfdom.

        The facts of the presentation remain interesting, and I don’t know

        And I agree with you that the isms, idealogies, move about and don’t describe a whole lot, particularly in an economy as big and diversified as the US.

        1. NOTaREALmerican

          Re: We really are on the road to serfdom.

          I personally think the peasants need to suffer more for change to happen. And even then, only the younger people can change things. The old-farts are way to mean.

          Right now, despite all the “bad” news, the peasants are still hoping “their dear leaders” (the Red or Blue Team of the Republicrat Party) will come up with something magic (like more debt which can be consumed). The peasants I hang with aren’t suffering yet, and aren’t near suffering; everybody is just playing their own game of extend-and-pretend.

  11. Francois T

    Re: Obama credibility crisis

    In the current political and economic environment, Obama suffers from a fatal personal flaw: he hates confrontation.

    Confrontation is exactly what was (and still is) needed from a leader right now. A bad ass, gung-ho leader who welcomes the hate, relish the fight, and exhibits a willingness to drop by the back alley with brass knuckles, nuntchaku and an attitude to match, ready at all times for a fight against whomever refuse to do what must be done in these very difficult times.

    In a word, a leader with his/her heart at the right place, but capable of eliciting fear and loathing in the heart of every political enemy.

    The very antithesis of Barrack Obama.

  12. dh

    German Authorities Raid Bank Offices in Tax Investigation

    The Swiss authorities were furious after Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, agreed in February to pay a Swiss bank employee €2.5 million, or $3.2 million, for a CD that allegedly contained the names of 1,500 Germans with Swiss bank accounts who may have evaded taxes in their own country.

    ==> Those damn Germans, why can’t they leave the Swiss crooks alone?


    LOVED TODAY’S “Antidote du jour:”

    Really made my day….. ;-)



  14. Armand Eddon

    I have to believe that behind every post advocating default, debt jubilee, etc, stands a self-interested and over-extended slave to Moloch [and the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made …]. Why should foolish decisions be socialized to a) the many responsible households who have paid their mortgage in full; b) renters; c) those who were too young to have bought but who will be plenty old enough to pay your bills in time?

    Personally, I bought 3 acres in the countryside and a 16×80 manufactured home for $40k 14 years ago, planted 300 trees, and am now completely retired at age 58. Lots of time for meditation, exercise, reading, socializing, etc – and it’s all free. Property tax is very low, sure don’t need TV, computer and books are free at the nearby town library, etc. Just need gas, food, electricity, and occasional maintenance. Health care is free too – my body takes care of itself – doctors will just take your money and credit for nature’s healing, while actually making you sicker in most cases. Yes, I will die some day – so will you – but I will live free in the mean time.

    You are only free when you have what you need, don’t want what you don’t have, and are wise enough to know the difference. How many can say that?

    America – “land of the free?” HA HA HA!

  15. Valissa

    In honor of Bastille Day and the French Revolution, here is a history of the political terminology of Left, Right & Center.

    Excerpt from “Culture and Politics: An Introduction to Mass and Elite Behavior” by Oliver H. Woshinsky (pg 130-131)

    The words left and right were first used during the French Revolution… When the king called the Estates General into session in 1789, that body had not met for well over a hundred years. It had no established traditions and few precedents to guide its operations. One of the many questions it had no immediate answer for was who should sit where. As it turned out the more radical members of the assembly, those most eager to upset the old order of things, began sitting, purely by chance, on the left side of the hall – that is to the Assembly President’s left as he looked toward the chamber from his central podium.

    Now where would you sit if you supported the status quo? If you backed the king and aristocracy, accepted the power of the Catholic Church, scorned the “upstart” middle classes, and feared the “unenlightened” peasantry, where would you sit? Naturally you would want to put distance between you and the “radical loonies” over there on the left side of the meeting room. You and your buddies would move far away. You would want, in fact to sit on the far right side of the hall as distant from the radicals as you could get, which is exactly what happened. Radicals sat to the Speaker’s left and reactionaries to his right. Naturally, moderate legislators had little choice but to sit somewhere between the two warring factions. They ended up taking the center seats and quickly became known as the centrists.

    These seating arrangements occurred first by accident, then by choice. Finally, they became a long-established tradition. For decades in French politics you could pinpoint any legislator’s exact degree of radicalism or conservatism by observing just where in the legislative chamber that person ended up sitting. The power of the French Revolution was such that not only did these terms sweep around the world and retain their significance in the political discourse of most nations today, but these very seating arrangements (a semicircular hall with parties seated left to right to indicate their degree of radicalism) can still be found in many places.

  16. Ronald

    RE:Nick Turse, American War Versus Real War

    The killing of non combats by American troops and the lack of much if any compassion expressed for these acts by Americans civilians back home puts American culture in a harsh spotlight.

    My own experience in Vietnam from 66-67 with the 1st Air Cav both in the field and working at the division tactical operation center in An Khe, I saw significant non combat deaths. The division was killing on average 3000 civilians per quarter and those were folks that we actually counted, so add the 12 U.S. infantry divisions along with the various NATO infantry groups combined with free fire zone deaths we probably killed over a million civilians.

    Most of these deaths were not due to infantry soldiers killing directly but artillery,air support, B-52 strikes, Naval shelling were the main instruments of death.
    Warfare in Vietnam was basically technology driven that is the American side had fire power so the NVA would not engage American units in the field unless they were extremely close, within a few feet so that the Americans could not call in artillery or air support and the fighting was done then at very close range which resulted in large number of casualties for both sides. The American response was basically to bomb everything in sight hoping to kill as many people as possible.

  17. Sundog

    Wilbur Ross: “While the form of the government is communistic, the society is capitalistic. I would argue that in many ways China is a more capitalistic environment than we are moving into.”

    Jim Rickards, “Ten Reasons why China is not a Stable Business Environment”

    (That’s a very good blog post by Rickards on China, but I would take issue with his last line. Anyway I want to contrast what rust-belt LBO wizard Wilbur Ross said with the following news report.)

    “Sealed management” looks like this: Gates are placed at the street and alley entrances to the villages, which are collections of walled compounds sprinkled with shops and outdoor vendors. The gates are locked between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., except for one main entrance manned by security guards or police, there to check identification papers. Security guards roam the villages by day. […]

    Jiang Zhengqing, a supermarket owner in the gated compound of Laosanyu, told the China Daily newspaper in May that he doesn’t even know if he’ll be in business next year because of the drop in customers.

    “Before, the streets were crowded with people in the afternoon but now the village is deserted,” he said. “I can’t understand why the government has invested such a large amount of money into putting up these useless fences, rather than repair our dirty public restrooms and bumpy roads.”

    Cara Anna (AP), “Beijing starts gating, locking migrant villages”;_ylt=AlrEEJZnSOM.E.t_FHVDoHVzfNdF

    Wilbur Ross has long been active in restructuring US rust-belt firms. The NYT editorialized about one Ross property, the Sago Mine in West Virginia, where 12 miners died in 2006.

    The mine, with more than 270 safety citations in the last two years, is the latest example of how workers’ risks are balanced against company profits in an industry with pervasive political clout. Many of the Sago citations were serious enough to potentially set off explosions and shaft collapses, and more than a dozen involved violations that mine operators knew about but failed to correct, according to government records.

    Sadly, in the way mines are often run, the $24,000 in fines paid by the Sago managers last year constituted little more than the cost of doing business. In the Appalachian routine, miners balking at risky conditions down below can quickly forfeit their livelihood if they have no union protection.

    “The Sago mine disaster”

  18. Hugh

    The expansion in the diagnosis of Alzheimers has been going on for probably 5-7 years now. There are many different kinds and degrees of dementia. It used to be that Alzheimers was a diagnosis of exclusion, that is if you ruled everything else out you could settle on an Alzheimers diagnosis. But this was squishy. On the one hand, it was said that you could only be sure of an Alzheimers diagnosis at autopsy if brain slices showed the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimers. But as Yves points out and if memory serves some 90% of the brains of the elderly will show such features. So you had to marry the patient’s symptomatology with the post-mortem findings to confirm the diagnosis. This was hardly ideal but goes to show that even with a very restrictive definition, there was a squishy aspect to the diagnosis.

    Now everybody is forgetful, and as we get older it is common for our episodes of forgetfulness to increase. In most individuals, this is not significant. It only becomes so when the forgetfulnes interferes with a person’s ordinary activities of daily life or when it becomes potential dangerous to them. Most of this is ordinary run of the mill non-specific senile dementia.

    My impression has been though that physicians now refer to generic dementia as Alzheimers. It has become the default diagnosis. This is a big change. Rather than being the diagnosis of last resort, it has become the diagnosis of first resort. Rather than being highly specific, it has become the general diagnosis or even synomym for any dementia with no specific etiology. I must admit I feel uncomfortable with this shift, that is unless it is made clear that Alzheimers does not mean what it once did and is now being used generically to refer to dementia.

  19. Doc Holiday

    Oil hits Louisiana’s largest seabird nesting area

    Biologists say oil has smeared at least 300-400 pelicans and hundreds of terns in the largest seabird nesting area along the Louisiana coast — marking a sharp and sudden escalation in wildlife harmed by BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
    The finding underscores that official tallies of birds impacted by the spill could be significantly underestimating the scope of damage.

    … duh!

  20. doc holiday late night

    Watchdog: Small banks struggling despite bailouts

    The 690 small banks that took bailout money are even worse off, according to a report Wednesday from the Congressional Oversight Panel, which monitors the $700 billion financial bailout. Already, one in seven has failed to pay a quarterly dividend due to Treasury. They can’t afford the payments, which will nearly double in 2013.

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