Links 7/12/11

The New York Times’ Defense of Antidepressants: More misinformation in the Age of Prozac Psychology Today (hat tip reader Foppe)

Qatar revealed as the world’s biggest contemporary art buyer The Art Newspaper (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

A political history of Africa since 1900 – interactive Guardian (hat tip Philip Pilkington)

Great Read: Greek PM Sends Open Letter To President Of The Eurogroup Saying: Our Problem Is Your Problem Clusterstock

True Europeans now need a ‘plan B’ George Soros, Financial Times

Welcome to Murdochia Foreign Policy (hat tip reader Skippy)

Carlos Montes and the Security State: A Cautionary Tale Chris Hedges TruthOut (hat tip reader May S)

America’s ‘detainee 001’ – the persecution of John Walker Lindh Guardian (hat tip readers Lance N and Jack P)

Robert Samuelson Chooses Badly Jared Bernstein. Veal pen warning on the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities

Alan Grayson To Run For Office Again WFTV

The trouble with mainstream media MacroBusiness

Category error from James Galbraith (of all people) Lambert Strether

Sheila Bair blames Geithner, Paulson and Bernanke for the credit crisis Ed Harrison

Manufacturing deficit fear Dean Baker, Guardian (hat tip reader John M)

White House Paints Doomsday Default Scenario New York Times. Frankly, this isn’t scary enough to be motivating.

Cisco Said to Plan Cutting as Many as 10,000 Jobs Bloomberg

Skinheads Hunt Native American Family: Guess Who Gets Arrested? Daily Kos (hat tip reader hondje)

Mortgage Company Completely Trashes Man’s Home, Steals All His Belongings – Cops Decline To Investigate Daily Bail

Will the AGs Turn the US into a Banktocracy? Barry Ritholtz (hat tip reader John M)

Nevada Supreme Court: You Gotta Prove Chain of Title Adam Levitin, Credit Slips. I’m late to link to this because I had wanted to write about it….oh well…..

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Jefe Pelota

    Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream had a multiplier of seven. This lower number forces lowest wages upward. The lower tier simply got more, and the upper got less. Simple aritmetic: highest paid takes home $350K gross, lowest is at $50K. Hardly cutting a fat hog at $50K

    Lets take the $50K gross x 25 voila, $1.25 Million. A sleek, fat-headed hog.

    Why twenty five? Both are arbitrary.

    Love the concept, it is a slippery slope. How much is ‘enough’?

  2. LeeAnne

    Nevada Supreme Court: You Gotta Prove Chain of Title Adam Levitin

    That several states led by their Supreme Courts are upholding the law is encouraging -a breath of fresh air. But no match for the gang of 50 Attorneys General cooking up an agreement to defy those same laws, bound to be worded for SCOTUS hearing, who in turn are bound to approve residential securitization as is, warts and all. This fits in nicely with their previous outlandish ruling against individual property rights under eminent domain.

    And also fits in very well with the US attack on sovereignty for the sake of global dominance, (see empire), and the global financial system. Just have a look at the BIS, central bank of all central banks (Bank for International Settlements) agenda here

    Additionally, the scheme fits in with using the UN as an arm of US military power while claiming falsely that the UN makes independent decisions that the US is only cooperating with. It has been the international arm, proxy of US anti-drug enforcement policy since the “Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961. The adoption of this Convention is regarded as a milestone in the history of international drug control.”

    Control -not prohibition. Intentionally, the UN role as proxy for US drug porhibition enforcement policy is always referred to as UN drug control to confuse the public and obscure its actual role as enforcer of US drug enforcement policy to the letter -including forfeiture laws.

    Thua, the UN has changed the name of that agency to the UNODC for United Nations Office on Drug and Crime. You’d think they were just studying the issue, and maybe making a few suggestions that can always be ignored.

    But no, their rules on politically correct speech are being cited to oppress the same people where the UN has used ‘drug control’ to organize police all over the world, trained and equipped by the US.

    The UN has never had military power. Their power is TRADE SANCTIONS against nations that do not adhere to US drug enforcement policy.

    Therefore, it is no coincidence that Portugal was downgraded to junk by Moody’s almost immediately after the success of their drugs decriminalization program was published; one banker noting that the cut to junk was unprecedented in relying on speculation. And, following within a few days, the “EU Bank Raises Rates, Accepts Portugal’s Junk Bonds as Collateral.”

    And, within days of Portugal’s published drug decriminalisation success, largely unreported, Bolivia was making history for being the first member since the 1961 Drug Prohibition Conventions to pull out. “Bolivia says it will officially pull out of the convention on January 1, 2012.”

    Drugs rule. Specifically, US drug prohibition enforcement policy, and forfeiture rights of police to seize property without trial where drugs are suspected are required of all 191 signers to the drug conventions by the UN.

    Now, the UN is cited as cause and authority for war and politically correct speech over sovereign nations and through them, their people.

    No, Virginia, the UN is not Santa Claus, the UN is the US imperial worldwide police enforcer. Their power lies in ‘trade sanctions.’ You just saw the operation against Portugal -swift and mean.

    US Drug Prohibition enforcement policy rules the world.

  3. LeeAnne

    Yves, are there rules against linking, or did I make a mistake again in my formatting? the link to BIS management speeches referred to above – last 2 years is here

  4. ella

    Time to eliminate tax entitlements.

    Tax entitlements are not constitutionally protected. The cost of the Bush wars, Bush tax cuts, Bush pharma giveaways in Medicare part D and Bush no bid contracts have driven us into a financial hole. The Republicans believe in magical tax entitlements will never balance the budget or create jobs.

    Do we need to reduce entitlements because we have promised too much? Yes. Let’s start with the tax entitlements first for we have clearly promise economic benefits that will never occur. Instead of prosperity, 30 years of tax entitlements and supply side economics have devastated the economy, government revenues and the middle class.

    Only people who believe in the tax entitlement fairy think that a budget can be balanced on the expenditure side with no additions to the revenue side. Good Luck.

  5. Jim Haygood

    ‘Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of more than 220% of GDP and can still borrow in financial markets long-term at interest rates of less than 1.5%.

    ‘So, what’s the problem?’ — Dean Baker in the Guardian

    Why, none, Deano. None at all — as long as Japan can continue to borrow at microscopic nominal yields!

    But should those yields on JGBs ever normalize, you’ll hear a giant sucking sound that’ll make Ross Perot’s fears about NAFTA sound like a pin drop by comparison.

    Let’s revisit this issue in 2021, and see how Dean Baker’s insouciant cheeriness over Japan’s ruinous debt level works out. I will bet that young Dean ends up with egg all over his face. Or maybe he’ll be running a Japanese vulture fund after the default — LOL!

    1. Philip Pilkington

      How would interest rates rise exactly?

      You’ve got to explain the dynamics if you’re going to call Baker on it.

      The Japanese banking system has massive floods of reserves in it from QE programs and government spending initiatives. These reserves yield what? Maybe 0.25%?

      That’s why investors run to buy treasury securities — they bump their returns up by 1.25%. What would you do? If you let your reserves sit around the banking system, you get 1.25% less yield. So, what would you do?

      Ever notice that massive debt-to-GDP ratios in sovereign countries drag the treasury yields DOWN rather than up? Yeah, it’s not a Dean Baker-led conspiracy. There’s a reason this happens — which I’ve outlined above.

      So, either call Baker on this out properly or else stop making vague, know-it-all assertions as if you have a crystal ball. Argument. Not assertion. Please.

      1. sidelarge

        Don’t expect any answer from him. He doesn’t even seem to have any idea about how the Japanese bubble and its massive fallout happened. I guess he thinks it happened because the jp government had massive debt or something.

        We are all too familiar with those whose entire opinions are based on “moral” arguments.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of more than 220% of GDP and can still borrow in financial markets long-term at interest rates of less than 1.5%.

      ‘So, what’s the problem?’ — Dean Baker


      He doesn’t see the problem? The problem is the Japanese government is hoping the long term rates would be higher than 1.5% by now, had the economy responded to the therapy.

      When that happens, people will find worthwhile investment opportunities in the private sector to put their money, instead of getting less than 1.5% from the government or something like 0.25% from the post office.

      1. Cedric Regula

        Sure. Obviously the reinflation therapy hasn’t worked yet, but when it does – they are dead gyro meat!

    1. curlydan

      My favorite part of the article was “the voluntary retirement packages included one year’s pay and medical benefits, and were offered to about 5,800 employees, two people said”. This is a _retirement_ package? Just call it severance! Who is going to “retire” with one year’s pay and medical?

  6. Yackoff Smirknoff

    In stalinist Russia, dissidents were abducted by security force in middle of night and sent to labor GULAG and killed.

    In America, now dissident are abducted by police in middle of night and taken to GULAG too.

    I thought there was joke, but it is not funny.

    1. Jim

      Valissa, but why must the ECB/EZ help Greece? Germans don’t want a fiscal union, and neither do the Greeks. Or is this a case of the Technocrats knowing what’s good for Europe better than the voters themselves?

    2. aet

      That’s called ‘freedom of contract’, and is why it is good to have agreeable counter-parties in any deal.
      Flexibility is always a plus in an uncertain world.

  7. Valissa

    re: The trouble with mainstream media

    2 very important paragraphs from that article:

    In essence, the public’s main concern today is the abysmal state of the jobs market. As you can see from the chart above, however, mainstream journalists are largely ignoring this issue. Instead, they are obsessed with writing about the machinations of Congress and party politics, issues that the general public is actually not all that concerned about. In political journalism, this has been termed “horse race” journalism — the tendency of reporters to treat politics like a sport; hence the obsession with poll numbers and constant comparisons between different candidates.

    Never is this tendency more apparent than after political debates, when talking heads on cable television waste hundreds of hours pontificating about irrelevancies such as body language, which color tie a politician decided to wear, or who had the shiniest teeth. How about some policy analysis or fact checking? Oh no, the public isn’t interested in that…

    These days I simply ignore all the horse race journalism…

    “it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.” – Shakespeare’s Macbeth

    1. okie farmer

      Valissa, it’s actually worse than that. The mainstream media isn’t just about ‘horserace jounalism’ or infotainment, they are systematically in the business of misinforming the public on every major issue confronting us. They are part of “the enemy” conglomerate best described thus: government-as-ongoing-criminal-enterprise. I really consider MSM as the PR arm of the criminal enterprise; that way, if I’m watching or listening to MSM, I’m simply decoding every single word to understand the deliberately obscured criminal intent.

      1. Valissa

        Very good points. I don’t remember exactly when I figured out that there was some serious power & control seeking purposeful intent behind all the “bread and circuses” (more like it gradually dawned on me until I thought OMG & WTF!). But when I finally did, like you, I spent some time decoding. Then after a while, I decided that wasn’t worth my time or energy anymore as the same message was basically coming through adn the emotional aggravations weren’t worth it. Now I mostly ignore it (practice my “detachment” and work on my sense of humor) and if I really want to learn something about the world I read books.

        1. Eureka Springs

          Nightline’s debut on the Iran hostage crisis made it clear to me. I think I was thirteen years old… nobody had to tell me… it was plain to see. I wish one of my parental units had a Marshall McLuhan book on the self at the time.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          …the emotional aggravations weren’t worth it…


          Inside every human body, there are certain number of energy centers, each with its own vibrational frequency.

          When someone plays unsolicited music or provoked unwanted emotions in you, these centers are unnecessarily set into vibration.

          A good Zen master can retune those centers natural frequencies to avoid resonance; but for most people, it feels like one’s being violated, much like a woman feels violated when someone sticks a foreign object into her body.

          1. Valissa

            Adverse circumstances test our courage, our strength of mind, and the depth of our conviction in the Dharma. There is nothing exceptional about practicing Dharma in a good environment and atmosphere. The true test is if we can maintain our practice in adverse conditions.
            -Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That’s so true.

            A real master mediates in the noisy marketplace, not some remote mountaintop, nor some peaceful retreat by the Indian Ocean.

            Learn to retune your energy centers.

            Thus the motto – when you hear that beat, don’t sway your hips.

        3. okie farmer

          That has been my exact trajectory too. I think I gave up on watching/listening about 8 or 10 years ago – too much aggravation and lost time; you know, five minutes of my life I can’t get back, etc…

  8. acat

    sadly so true. The debates(bwhaaaaa) have been turned into childish shows of one up man ship by the inclusion of the “moderators” who are normally “journalists” who have to toe a line lest their bosses toss them out on the street where they belong.

    That whole shtick is so gruesome … so gruesome.

    Why can’t the candidates sit on a stage and have a debate among themselves without the “stars”.

    Are they not able to converse and reason as a normal being?
    If not then why are they being elected?

    shame sham mockery.

  9. Valissa

    re: Manufacturing deficit fear

    Manufacturing fear is what people in power have always done to try and get their way… even before the advent of our continuous media propaganda world. Of course people are ignorant about the budget and the economy. There is a reason basic money knowledge is NOT taught in schools, and why economics is so obfuscatory.

    From this article I came across a much more fun to read piece…

    The News of the World closes as media’s tectonic plates shift

    my favorite paragraph:

    A tectonic shift is taking place in our culture, namely the transition from a print/broadcast era in which information, opinion and entertainment is transmitted down a pyramidal social structure, to a pro forma egalitarian web culture in which there is no longer the mediation of a class of editors and opinion-formers, but instead everyone swims about in a protoplasmic gloop of titillating supposition. Marshall McLuhan’s equation of the medium with the message has become a shibboleth to be lisped on a thousand thousand message boards, but less widely understood is that the “glocal” phenomenon of the web plus the internet has yet to crystallise into a definable medium – we live in an interregnum between cultural hegemonies, and in such times, as Marx observed of political interregnums, the strangest forms will arise.

    Self has some great wordsmithing here with: “protoplasmic gloop of titillating supposition”

    Back to the issue of power and social control…

    …it’s often said of the Chinese Communist party that it has bribed its people with consumer goods in exchange for political conformity, arguably we here in the “liberal” west have been bribed with the cultural freedoms of unlimited malicious gossip, porn and other transgressive experiences in return for swallowing the bitter pill of economic neoliberalism with its ever widening gap between rich and poor.

    In the last analysis, you don’t have to be a Marxist to grasp that at root, issues of media influence are good old-fashioned questions about who owns the means of production and dissemination – but it probably helps.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I thought the information super-highway would speed the hauling away of junk information to information-landfill, but it turns out that junk information just uses the superhighway to spread itself faster and wider.

      It’s not unlike the HIV virus that took advantage of flying.

      1. ambrit

        Dear MLTPB;
        Which HIV virus do you speak of? It is evolving quite rapidly. There are several distinct varietys now.
        The lady writer was quite right in extolling a “Fear of Flying.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Those are lovely.

            I made a teabowl called ‘Bleeding Heart Bleeding Hearts’ by painting, with underglaze, one heart that was cut and the heart is shown bleeding heart-shaped blood, all done in Ox-blood Red (well, not quite Ox-Blood Red. I would be quite rich if I know how to mix that glaze).

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Dang, wrong place.

            It should be in reply to those lovely heart-shaped flowers.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe you’re right…just the ones with wings then.

          The thing I really worry about is if they ever discover a pink, heart-shaped harmful (to humans, from an anthropocentric view, of course) bacteria, do you think the media would promote it as the next lovable, adorable and cutest thing to have in order to distract us?

          Oh, look, it’s pink and it’s heart-shaped.

          1. Cedric Regula

            In FL they have lovebugs. They come out a few days of the year and fly around. They look like two flying bugs stuck together. If you ask “Why do those look like two flying bugs stuck together?” you will sooner or later get an answer, of sorts.

            So far they are harmless to just about anything except the paint job on your car. Will make spots if you don’t go to the carwash soon.

          1. Cedric Regula

            That reminds me. Cryptonomicon is the last Neil Stephenson novel I haven’t read yet. Got to get to that soon.

          2. ambrit

            Ah ha! I thought the ‘peculiar young man from Providence’ had reincarnated. Now you give me proof! (Although I do like Terry Pratchets’ “Necrotelecomnicon.”)

  10. Anonymous Jones

    I thought the Whitaker article on anti-depressants was great.

    I’m so glad you linked to something worthwhile in this debate. Whitaker used both facts and logic in an attempt to distinguish the trials, the meta-studies and the subjects based on study design and levels of depression and/or illness. He also soundly rebutted the framing of the facts by the NYT.

    Of course, it is generally wise to remember that none of these studies can ever do real hypothetical, alternate-universe, hold-everything-constant tests. Those tests do not, and cannot, exist. Side by side placebo tests on non-homogenous inputs is, yes, the best we have, but it *does not*, and can *never*, prove anything to the level indicated here in the past. We do the best we can with the information, however limited, that is at our disposal.

    Hubris is often the root cause of the downfall of the intelligent. A little humility about our limitations is rarely a bad thing.

    1. Valissa

      Yes, shockingly he used facts and logic! Is the MSM reading public ready for this? How many would even bother to read such stuff?

      For me the “money quote” in Whitaker’s excellent article is the last paragraph… which perhaps should have been the first paragraph.

      As I noted in Anatomy of An Epidemic, the real problem we have in this field of medicine is that academic psychiatry hasn’t been honest in what it tells the public about psychiatric medications. If the medications are to be used wisely, and in an evidence-based manner, we need to have an honest discussion about what science is telling us about the drugs. But on Sunday, in this essay “In Defense of Antidepressants,” the American public has been treated to yet another dose of misinformation.

      Is it posible for people whose incomes depend in some way on the psychiatric medications industry to have an “honest discussion”? How many people (as a percent of population) are actually concerned whether “medications are to be used wisely”? Is it even possible it have an “honest discussion” of any sort in the MSM today?

      1. alex

        Valissa: Is it posible for people whose incomes depend in some way on the psychiatric medications industry to have an “honest discussion”?

        Of course not (as H.L. Mencken noted many years ago).

        Of course the same is true of anyone who’s living depends on a particular “therapy”. While I’m willing to be educated by anyone who can cite scientific studies to the contrary, as best I recall there’s also very little scientific evidence that psychotherapy is effective, let alone which approach(es) work best for what types of problems.

        1. Valissa

          “very little scientific evidence that psychotherapy is effective”

          alex, anecdotal evidence from many people in my life over the years supports that statement many times over. My mom first tried to commit suicide when I was 13 (and was diagnosed and prescribed ad nauseum) so I developed an early and highly motivated interest in the field of psychology, and have been studying related knowledge for the approx. 40 years since then. Without going into a long personal history, let’s just say… once upon a time I was a believer in psychology and psychiatry and now, based on real life experience I’m mostly not. That quite oversimplies my thoughts and feelings on the matter but this is only a blog comment to strangers.

          My mom finally regained her mental and emotional “sanity” on her own, and today you would never know she was once diagnosed to be a crazy woman. No therapies ever really helped her. Her eventually taking charge of her own reality did, although it took her about 25 years of lots of trial and error to figure that out.

          1. Valissa

            To be fair, a SMALL percentage of the people I’ve known have found therapy to be helpful and productive once they found the right therapist. And I have one friend who feels her anti-depressants make a big difference in her life (the past 5 years or so) so who am I to argue with her. Unfortunately many more who went into therapy either found it unhelpful or started thinking they’d been “helped” by it when all they have is a descriptive self-diagnostic they proudly proclaim to others as excuse for why they are not happy or successful. btw, my observation is that psychologists are generally better healers than psychiatrists, if it works at all.

            I guess I’d say my problem is more with the current psychological paradigm (including financial and cultural components & implications) and it’s underlying epistemology, rather than with the generally good-hearted and well meaning therapists and practitioners.

          2. ambrit

            Mz Valissa;
            Indeed, psych is mostly art, little science, but we humans keep slogging along, incrementally adding to our knowledge. We’re actually not doing badly for a discipline only 100 years old.

    2. Foppe

      This talk about ‘less hubris’ and ‘more humility’ is all just peachy, but how about we add some scorn and indignation over the fact that that nyt op/ed was ever published, and that this Kramer fellow has a medical licence given that he’s this incompetent and willing to deceive in order to defend his profession?

      1. Dameocrat

        That would be censorship. BTW, how come you show up on several blogs only discussing this issue.

        I have suffered from depression and I am sick of people attacking the existence of my illness and the the treatments for it. My treatments ssri were successful and did not result in addiction. I am not a 24 hour antiantidepressent person like yourself, so I know I dont have a right to talk.

        Yves is having a temper tantrum and an extrapolating her own experience to people like me.

        1. Foppe

          Dear shill: this fellow is a (presumably tenured) academic. This means that he has to try to either be more or less competent on matters scientific (at least when making statements about something within his own area of expertise), or know to keep his mouth shut. Yet what this fellow has produced is a horribly written, badly argued and misleading piece, which contains arguments that, further, rest on an incompetent (deceitful) interpretation of other people’s work.
          It shouldn’t be that big a leap to at least take away his professorship, so that he can go and make these claims on personal title only.

    1. Valissa

      For years now I have thought it was ironic that I went to work for Booz Allen & Hamilton in 1984! I only last about 2 years there, but I was working on a pretty cool project back then in conjunction with some engineers. The military had this wacky idea that this new thing called the internet could run on broadband along with cable TV (since those signals only used a portion of the bandwidth available over coaxial lines). I remember telling my supervisor that while I was happy working on internet based projects I would refuse to work on the standard defense stuff. He took it well enough and admitted I wasn’t the only employee to say such things.

      1. Valissa

        ooops that should read… “in conjunction with some Air Force and civilian DoD engineers”

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Qatar – the world’s largest contemporary art buyer.

    It just shows today art is all about power and money, and not about individual creativity anymore.

    The only art of meaning is what you creat yourself. It actually means something to you. Moreover, in the progress, you bring creativity into your life. It could be anything – the way you chew your food, brush your teeth, make your own chopsticks or take out your trash. You can do it realistically, in abstraction or by impression.

    The stuff you hand on the wall – that’s to brag, to show off your money or display your power.

    1. Cedric Regula

      I believe that MLTPB makes his own chopsticks, and that they are very artistic.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thanks, but I am not that talented.

        I am, though, trying to grow my own artistic vegetables.

        I intend to kill them later by eating them alive.

    2. scraping_by

      And of course, we know that the CIA funded Abstract Expressionism during the 1950’s. Will Alan Jones find a connection? More bizarre things from the tin foil hat sector of the national mindscape have turned out to be actual factual.

      Bunch of rich posers, anyway. Most of the children of old money I’ve known were mouth breathers, challenged by pulling their thumbs out and interested in dope and dollies, not profound students of the culture.

      As long as they don’t count the money spent against their Islam-required alms.

  12. Benedict@Large

    Re: White House Paints Doomsday Default Scenario

    The market only sets interest rates on US treasuries if the government lets them. There is no operational need for the government to offer treasuries at all, and so the government is free to set rates on them at whatever it wants, while the market is in turn free to buy or not buy them based on their own needs. Unfortunately we have a President who is about as qualified to run the financial ship of state as is Paul Ryan, and so we live in a down-the-rabbit-hole wonderland of non-problems escalated to the proportion of crises, while we are told that our real crises are merely the best of all possible worlds.

    [Please, hold all your quantity of money garbage. That’s just bond vigilante crap they use to try and get everyone to believe they actually do control the rate.]

  13. Bernard

    yes the press only carries the water for the Elites, not like anything they say means anything or even true. like Izvestia and Pravda, both the Party organs for Party speak.

    so off the mark and all PR campaign. Never hear the Press push any buttons, upset the status quo. like what is going on with the Guardian and outing Murdoch and his empire. to show how far Murdoch’s web goes. to be so lucky here in America.

    the US Press is so America focused, always see them suck up to the Powers that BE. never what the people value as newsworthy. selling time and ads, that’s about it. they know where their bread is buttered.

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