Links 12/16/10

Arctic’s vanishing sea ice presents polar bear with a new danger – grizzlies Independent

The graveyard of giant icebergs BBC

Cannibalistic Mormon Crickets Paul Kedrosky

No sexiness in the city: Female staff ordered to wear loose-fitting skirts and flesh-coloured underwear by UBS Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

U.S. Tries to Build Case for Conspiracy by WikiLeaks New York Times is Back PCWorld

WikiLeaks reveals BP blowout in Azerbaijan Raw Story

New Estimates of Food Poisoning Cases New York Times. Our resident MDs are encouraged to chime in, but I have been told by a medical researcher that there is no such thing as the 24 hour flu, and that if you think you have that, you really have food poisoning. So I suspect these numbers are an undercount.

We’re living longer… but not healthier: Children born today will suffer an extra year of disabilities than those born three decades ago Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

Riots in Athens and Rome Cryptogon (hat tip reader Scott)

Buiter: ‘European sovereign debt kerfuffle’ FT Alphaville (hat tip reader Swedish Lex)

Germany defiant as Europe suffers Telegraph (hat tip reader Swedish Lex)

Mortgage Servicing Adam Levitin and Tara Twomey

Kurdish oil demands to Maliki revealed Iraq Oil Report

Lehman creditors unveil’ rival bankruptcy plan Financial Times

Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis – Part II (House Judiciary Committee, link hat tip Barbara W) C-SPAN

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2010-12-16 at 4.30.45 AM

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    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And that’s why birds do it, bees do it.

      Even educated fleas do it.

      Let’s do it, let’s fall in love …

    1. Rex

      I can’t figure which anecdote that would be. (I think you guys mean the “*Antidote* du jour”.)

      What are those, punk squirrels?

  1. attempter

    Re food poisoning:

    Offhand I’m not sure exactly what the government and NYT are up to here. On the one hand the downplaying of the incidence of food poisoning seems to make the corporate system look better. But it also contradicts their Shock and Awe propaganda for why we need this “food safety” bill, whose goal is clearly to further empower corporate agriculture and disempower smaller producers and distributors. I suppose they themselves aren’t sure what’s the right party line in all cases.

    This part comes through loud and clear:

    But Dr. Morris also said that the study signals the need for better data collection in general. Today, the C.D.C., the Food and Drug Administration and the Agriculture Department all gather data on food safety in separate databases, making it hard to share data.

    “We are not where we need to be in terms of national data collection systems,” he said.

    This refers to the “traceability” provisions of the bills. But the government already has full power to trace and enforce against the big producers who are the entire source of the problem. It merely refuses to use that power, because the FDA and USDA are just as much flunkeys of Big Ag as the Treasury Dept is of the banks.

    (BTW, the bill doesn’t actually fix that particular issue, the lack of database coordination. But it does impose onerous new reporting requirements on small produce growers and distributors.)

    So that part at least is pro-corporate propaganda, that the problem is insufficient regulatory power.

      1. attempter

        I’m settling on the idea that food sovereignty – the idea and the actions of building it – is the affirmative key upon which to build the movement. America needs tens of millions of small, autonomous farmers and growers. That’s the goal; the strategy and tactics have to be reverse-engineered from it and then embarked upon. My Jubilate in Place and organized land redemption ideas are meant to comprise a first step toward it.

        If it’s true that there must be:

        1. A single focusing idea which is affirmative and inspiring, as well as rationally necessary;

        2. A complex of day-to-day actions upon which to economically and politically build;

        3. A righteous basis for any resistance action which is forced upon us;

        then I don’t know what idea holds greater promise. And Peak Oil, the unsustainability of industrial agriculture, means it’s physically (energetically) necessary anyway.

  2. russell1200

    Sarah Pallin seems more like a chippy chirpy Mormon Cricket than Mitt Romney. We’ll see if she takes a bite out of him.

  3. Yearning to Learn

    Although the two linked medical articles are interesting, they are really too vague for me to make an especially interesting comment.

    (that said, I’ll make an unintersting comment… actually I later broke it into two comments, one for each article).

    The problem with food poisoning vs gastroenteritis (“Stomach flu”) is that the symptoms are exactly the same, and the treatment is usually exactly the same as well unless it is bacterial food poisoning which is fairly rare.

    Thus, we don’t usually bother trying to figure out which is which. At times the history will give us clues, but it can give falls signals too…

    For instance: a person shows up with bloody diarrhea and a history of eating the same food implicated in a Salmonella outbreak… that’s probably food poisoning.

    a different person shows up with non-bloody vomiting and diarrhea, and their kid is in daycare where ‘something is going around’, and this person hasn’t eaten the same foods as the child has recently… that’s usually gastroenteritis (stomach infection).

    a family comes in and 4 of 6 are throwing up and vomiting all within hours of one another, and all of the vomiters ate Dad’s special chili… food poisoning again.

    but the key: the research used in the article is based on a lot of hunches and guesstimates. A good very preliminary first step but far more data is needed to come up with a practical answer.

  4. Yearning to Learn

    as for the “live longer but sicker” article, I’d have to see the actual research. My guess is that this is TRUE, but it doesn’t necessarily mean what we think it does.

    Medical advancement has changed aggregate data over time. Depending on how you sift through the data you will get different and sometimes surprising results.

    For instance:
    Before the invention of surfactant (a lung medicine) premature babies prior to 27 weeks were mostly not viable. It was considered a “stillbirth”. Thus that baby would NOT count towards future health metrics.

    however, with surfactant we have babies down to 22 weeks who are saved. some of those babies do very very well. some on the other hand have chronic medical problems (sometimes severe, sometimes not). problems like chronic lung disease (very common), pulmonary hypertension (somewhat common), cerebral palsy, GI disturbances, and so on. obviously the life expectancy of a 22 week is far lower than a 40 week infant.

    PRIOR to surfactant you had aggregate data that looked one way.

    AFTER surfactant you add all these kids with chronic medical conditions. Adding them in will make the “average” or “median” child sicker…

    Life statistics of a 40 week child born before the advent of surfactant compared to a 40 week child born after surfactant may actually be better.

    see? it’s all about how you pull the data.

    the same problem exists in all fields…
    keeping Cystic Fibrosis patients living longer…
    keeping cancer survivors living longer
    keeping obese people living longer
    keeping heart attack patients living longer….

    every “extra” year we “give” to these people with chronic medical diseases counts “against” the how-long-do-people-live-without-disease metric!

    Basically: the question is:
    did they match statistics of the 1998 to 2006 cohorts? are they the same “types” of people… or are we comparing apples and oranges?

    I’d like to see the disease statistics for 20 year olds from 1998 and 2006.

    lastly: as others have pointed out: projecting out 50 years is difficult. We have to discern how they did it.

    my guess: is they looked at mortality and morbidity statistics for elderly people in 2006 and 1998 to do it. (this is complicated and I will not go into it)… but basically, the retro-engineering their data, which has its own issues…

  5. Cynthia

    I suppose that UBS is requiring its employees dress up like squeaky-clean churchgoers in hopes that we won’t notice that UBS is engaging in criminal activities. This notion that how you look is more important than how you act didn’t work for Barack Obama, so there’s no reason that the criminals at UBS should think it’ll work for them as well.

  6. F. Beard

    Re the UBS dress code:

    The counterfeiters must look respectable, mustn’t they?

    …squeaky-clean churchgoers… Cynthia

    It’s about time then they hear a few sermons on usury (Deuteronomy 15) and debt forgiveness (Deuteronomy 15), eh?

  7. Jim Haygood

    Doug Short graphically presents the astonishing fact that the yield on the 3-year Treasury note has catapulted by an eye-popping 140% (one hundred and forty freaking percent — not a typo) since Bensane Bernanke announced his delusional QE2 program only a few weeks ago.

    As today’s news confirms that 30-year mortgage rates have popped by a full point from their lows (just what the PhD economic doctors ordered for a sick housing market, natch), the Fed’s ‘MMT Meltdown’ is revealed in its full splendour.

    Turns out that too much ‘free money,’ like too much Halloween candy, can make you sick to your stomach.

  8. Hugh

    If I had to guess, I would say the government is happy to come up with a study that suggests that food poisoning is less of a problem than previously thought because it lets them off the hook comparatively speaking for their very low rate of food inspection. I haven’t looked at this in a few years but the last time I did inspection of the US food supply was minimal and that from international sources (where there were even more concerns) was virtually non-existent. During the Bush years, it was all about deregulation and self-regulation. Under such a lax health regime you would expect the incidence of food poisoning to increase.

  9. lambert strether

    On the UBS requirement for flesh-colored underwear, I’m surprised that nobody’s made the Bananas reference. Punchline: “So we can tell.”

    I mean, how’s HR going to enforce this? Random checks?

  10. leroguetradeur

    Well, that flesh colored underwear, I can hardly restrain myself when I see it under those loose skirts. I mean, what more can a girl want? Its so fabulously retro, it summons up fantasies about square shoulder pads and tweed suits and hard perms. Lots of dark lipstick. Real Well of Loneliness stuff. Mmmmm! Bring it on!

    1. Jim Haygood

      The Well of Loneliness became the target of a campaign by James Douglas, editor of the Sunday Express newspaper, who wrote, “I would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel.” Although its only sexual reference consists of the words “and that night, they were not divided,” a British court judged it obscene because it defended “unnatural practices between women.” ‘

      Flesh-coloured underwear, no doubt, are a silk-slickened on-ramp of the road to perdition.

  11. Chris

    I just want to say I like the cute animal pictures.

    At first I thought they were nutso and a symptom of a scrwe loose in our author. Then I ignored them. Now I really like them because in all this realm of artificiality and
    fiscal stress based on hallucinated wealth and evil
    beings, they stand in a lovely contrast and remind us that we are just part of nature.
    Thank you Yves and please keep up the great work.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Just remember this word: Life-continuum.

      We are not separate from the rest of the living world; there exists a continuum.

      So, animals are welcome here.

  12. Pau;l Repstock

    I really hate to remind people why we are here after all this “cute stuff”..”)

    Be very happy if you are only a bank victim, instead of an employee…unless you get the $10 million bonuses.

    From UBS:
    “Employees should ensure that natural roots are not showing if they have coloured their hair.

    Men should wear a “straight-cut two button jacket and pants that make up part of a classic professional suit.”

    They should not wear ties that do not match the “morphology of the face” nor socks with cartoon motifs.”

    1. Hillary

      I once worked for a commercial real estate company that had my favorite dress code ever. A few highlights:

      -no leather pants, skirts, vests, or blazers
      -no golf shirts unless golfing that day
      -for men: no v-neck sweaters without a collared shirt underneath
      -for women: open-toed or open-backed shoes were acceptable but not open-toed and open-backed shoes

  13. ScottS

    “The REPO, or repurchase, market had been growing strongly since 1990 — growing at a rate high enough to cause concern for both markets and governments. We could see it growing in a number called M3, which was one of three measures of the total money supply, along with M1 and M2, which were released by the Fed in a report every quarter.

    Notice I said were released — past tense. M1 and M2 still are released every quarter, but M3 — the only public measure of the REPO market available anywhere, stopped being published by the Fed on March 23, 2006, ostensibly to save money.”

    What I’ve wanted to know for a while is this: if M3 was growing rapidly in the run-up to 2007, did it collapse, and therefore aren’t we in severe deflation? If you count stocks, bonds, and exotic instruments loosely as a kind of currency, aren’t we in unprecedented deflation, and no amount of money the FED “prints” would ever add up to what was “lost”?

    It’s what makes me think the 1% CDs look better everyday.

      1. ScottS

        Haha, well investing in the stock market that it looking bubblicious at the moment is guaranteed not to get me millions.

        I’m calling the double-dip in stocks in January or February next year.

        This is starting to sound like Trader’s Huddle — I apologize.

        Let’s see, what’s more interesting? Per UBS’ suggestion, I’ll be purging my sock drawer of all my loud argyle socks later tonight.

        As a software engineer, I laughed out loud reading the dress code article. Last time there was a dress code intervention was with a co-worker who wore the same free t-shirt for days at a stretch. Odor was a large factor.

        1. Pau;l Repstock

          NP on the trade talk. Anyone who thinks they are not in the market are either in serious denial, or they live in a cave in the mountains??

          Your (and everyone else’s), “Double Dip”, is rather the abyse, if it happens?? The only thing staving it off now is Mr. Obama’s unemployment deal.

          A restrictive dress code like the one above is a symptom of a very bad economy. I know bankers are annal, when you add the scarcity of jobs, they become even more abusive.

          1. ScottS

            Fair enough, but no one comes to Naked Capitalism for stock tips and that’s what I like.

            But the abyss is NC-worthy. In my opinion, it’ll bounce just like 2007-2008. But banks aren’t coming back. They are suicidally incompetent. No bailout can fix stupid of that dimension.

            For the dress code, it seems to be the more necessary the professional image, the crazier and riskier the people working in it. My law school friend worries about the toll it’s taken on his liver. I hear stories about accountants partying, auditors anyway. And we’re getting a look at what goes on in the banking world every day.

  14. Phil

    Relating vaccines to stomach flu smells of the usual engineered confusion and distraction. The Lame Street Media whips scare-anoids out the gazzo rather than deal in evidence, like explaining last year’s swine flu fizzle.

  15. ScottS

    Charter School front group Parent Revolution take over a public school in Compton:

    I was shocked how obviously biased this article is. No attempt to even present the opposing argument. Public educators as depicted as mustache-twirling vilans.

    “Nor will this be the only school it organizes for a parent takeover in California. Parent Revolution, with 10 full-time staff members and a $1 million annual operating budget, is funded by blue-chip philanthropic endeavors, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wasserman Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.”

    So Wal-Mart and Microsoft are taking over schools.

    1. Pau;l Repstock

      Scott: Something needs to change. This is not a corportion, but rather the parents who want an education, not a babysitting service. I know there are many fine teachers and schools, I also know there are many I wouldn’t send my dog to.

      Specially in primary school this is important. Sadly the lower grades are viewed as least important???

      1. ScottS

        Well Paul, I don’t disagree that something needs to give. But what is a private company going to do that public educators can’t do?

        How are they going to do more with the same or less?

        Cut teachers’ salaries? That’s not going to attract the best talent.
        Give parents more input into curriculum? Okay, look at Texas and Kansas to see what parents do to curriculum.
        More contracts to fast food companies to provide school lunch? That’s hardly an improvement.
        Sponsorship and advertising deals? More mental pollution and pro-corporate bias.

        Even ignoring the story developing now that parents were lied to about what they were petitioning for (some where told it was a petition for school beautification), what is this private industry magic we’re supposed to believe in?

        I saw what deregulation did to energy utilities. Within months of deregulation in California, we were having energy “shortages.” Come to find out later that Enron was manipulating the market for their own profit.

        When you introduce the profit motive, what exactly is gained for kids?

        1. Paul Repstock

          Scott. Read the article. These parents want to run the school. They are just getting some funding by charitable foundations.

          Bill and Mellinda Gates are not Microsoft!!!!

    2. Cynthia


      Now that Mark Zuckerberg has hopped onto the charter-school gravy train, you can add FaceBook to the list of plutocratic corporations that are trying to take over our public schools. Sorry, but “Parent Revolution” sounds too much like FreedomWorks. And I don’t know about you, but it makes me cringe whenever I hear news about how corporate plutocrats — be they the Koch Brothers or the Walton family or Bill Gates and his wife or Mark Zuckerberg and his soon-to-be wife — are using AstroTurfing tactics to further privatize the public sphere.

      1. ScottS

        Plus NYC now has a media CEO with no education experience as their head of education. Randian supermen will show our degreed and credentialed teachers how they’ve been doing it wrong all this time!

        Paul, I can be convinced that private education has some value or advantage, but I haven’t seen it yet. Charter schools can test way better when they can pick and choose their students. It’s simple selection bias.

        I’ll bet 100% of people smoke if you poll a cigar shop.

    3. Cynthia

      Let me also call to your attention that Mark Zuckerberg has joined the ranks of billionaires in pledging to give away at least half his fortune to charity (see link below).

      I bet this means we’ll have Facebook in every classroom across America, causing Zuckerberg to become an even bigger billionaire. And since Facebook is akin to the boob tube in that it serves as an obstacle to learning, our kids will fall even further behind their Asian counterparts in math and science, thus making us even less competitive in the global economy. But because Obama values the global economy more than he does the American economy, don’t be too surprised when he gives Zuckerberg some sort of presidential metal for being successful at using Facebook to dumb down our kids!

      1. ScottS

        Cynthia, the rich are our betters. They should be able to buy their way into office to run our government and design our education to prepare our kids for “the real world.” And we should be grateful for their help!

      2. mustapher

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  16. affinis


    I know you’ve posted in the past about the power of protest, and lamenting the relative lack of protest currently (e.g. “Protest works. Just look at the proof”).

    In light of that, I thought you might find something here (particularly the first item) worthy of inclusion in the daily link list.

  17. Paul Repstock

    Affinis: and everyone else..

    It is not just about the people who know what is happening. It is about the ones who kust don’t care and those who know that they will benifit from the changes comming.

    When the world reads about the things snivelling coward Americans are embracing without even a whimper of protest, the world is shocked.

    This latest Homeland Secuity gambit about worker registration comes straight out of Gulag Russia, and your unions are drooling at the thought of being in control of the program…finally, they will be able to say who works and who does not.

    1. Paul Repstock

      If you dislike what I’m saying: ask yourself one question. What politician has wanted to or ‘dared to’, come out with statements of position against The Department of Hoeland Security??

      Where are your tough guys who fought against tyrany and oppresion in the movies: Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stalone, Arnie, …Oh right, that was ‘the movies’, and most of them are dead..:(

  18. Conscience of a Conservative

    Apologize if this question appears naive or has been previously discussed, but I fail to see how Wikileaks differs from the Pentagon Papers.

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