Links 1/8/12

Don’t Hold the Salt: Attempts to Curb Sodium Intake Are Misguided Atlantic (hat tip Ted L)

Marine biologist could get 20 years in prison for feeding whales Sideshow (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Stricken NZ cargo ship breaks up BBC

China’s party bureaucrats like high-end cars Los Angeles Times

Beijing to issue new smog data after online outcry AFP

Eurozone strains increase with grim new economic data Guardian

How Cecil Beaton helped save the Queen Telegraph

A Viewer’s Guide to Iowa Caucus Coverage Jay Rosen (hat tip Lambert Strether)

The Great Debate©: The Job Guarantee Brouhaha Global Economic Intersection

More on the Celebration Over December’s Job Report Dean Baker, Firedoglake

From East and West, Foreclosure Horror Stories Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

Raskin Urges Penalties on Mortgage Servicers Reuters. Less here than meets the eye. Raskin is urging tougher penalties in the foreclosure reviews…where the process is already set, conflicted reviewers are being approved by the OCC, and the Fed has no ongoing role in the process. So one Fed governor says bad words about servicers? Nothing of consequence will happen. Contrast this speech with the far more serious (from an institutional perspective) communiques this week from the Board of Governors and the NY Fed. No mention of servicer bad behavior (save one of them, I can’t recall which, did chastise servicers for underinvesting in systems for servicing defaulted loans).

Woman says GE-owned subprime lender deceived, defrauded her iWatch News (hat tip Max Gardner)

Florida man who offered to buy AMR will face trial McClatchy. Buzz Potamkin: “To the Obama crew only those with no money commit fraud.”

Black Women Seek Independent Presence at Freedom Plaza Afro (hat tip Lambert Strether)

How Occupy Iowa Caucus Won ‘Uncommitted’ Delegates Huffington Post (hat tip Lambert Strether)

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader furzy mouse):

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    1. G3

      Not many know Einstein was a socialist or that he was spied on by FBI for the same. Shocking how much of our history has been white-washed.

      Mark twain & Helen Keller are socialists too. But lame stream media’s attitude when doing any story on them : “Be vewy vewy quiet, mkay?”

      1. Ransome

        I thought Twain was an anti-Imperialist and a lousy capitalist, investing in projects that failed, or maybe he was gullible.

    2. René

      In Europe, socialism meant paying a little bit more taxes which went straight into education, health-care and infrastructure, i.e. the central nervous system of the continent.

      Lets be honest, the European rulers gave us good run with “social democracy” after 1945. What is next? Could someone ask Mario Monti, Lucas Papademos or Mario Draghi? Maybe they know?

      1. Jim

        Europe would arguably be thriving today had it not been for the ill-conceived EuroZone. Why these overpaid Eurocrats in Brussels could have thought that very different nations could share a currency is beyond me.

        You want someone to blame for the demise of the European welfare state?

        Blame the idiots in Brussels who imposed the EuroZone on unwilling countries.

        1. René

          Those European politicians, however, were also attendees at the Bilderberg meetings, Trilateral commission etc. Furthermore, don’t forget the influence on European politicians by lobbyists.

          We have to get our conspiracy facts straight and wake up to the fact that the U.S. and Europe are intertwined at the top by the global inherited rich.

    1. G3

      Yes, that deserves a lot of coverage. The “liberal” paper of record’s attitude towards its on unions. NYT is all over the place on labor. Steve Greenhouse is a good labor reporter. Although he did a very misleading piece on USPS few months back and kind of “centrist” on teachers unions. The editorial page is nasty on teachers unions and scratches the education deform crowds’ backs. But once in awhile they editorialise about the inequality and tout unions as a solution. Yes, unions for thee, not for me.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      “a developing revolt” they say: for the Times, a “revoltin’ development” no doubt.

      “Flat awesome.”

  1. Vikas Saini

    The opinion piece on salt by the interventionalist/chef is pretty weak.
    As Yves might say, it needs a proper shredding, but a perusal of the comments below the main piece is good evidence for why we’re doomed, doomed I say! (with my best John Stewart/Lewis Black voice).

    The Yanomamo of the Amazon survive quite nicely on a hundred milligrams or so and the usual rise in BP with age seen in “civilization” looks to be attenuated– this habit seems to be enough to keep them engaging in what they really spend time on: violence. Of course, that could be due to sodium deprivation….[snark off]

      1. Sock Puppet

        Oops the chef is also a cardiologist. Atlantic’s mobile site doesn’t show the byline. Still a chef though…

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The Japanese consume far more salt in their diets and have the longest lifespans of any nation. Want to engage in more single data point generalizations?

        1. Susan the other

          15 years ago my doc told me that in the US we have a fattier diet and our blood vessels are thicker, sometimes dangerously so, and that in Japan, due to their diet, their blood vessels are clean and that is why they have a higher incidence of stroke – from ruptured blood vessels. It would be interesting to understand the dynamic between blood levels of salt and its emulsifying effect on the lining of blood vessels.

      1. Vikas Saini

        With respect,
        The proper question is how much longer would they live with lower salt intake. In 1960 when the Japanese conducted a campaign to lower their salt intake the greatest decline (4 gms) was in the northern islands (Akita) which had the greatest intake, where BP declined and the stroke mortality declined 80%. They live long, but they could live longer. Of course that would cause a bigger drawdown of their national savings….

        Sasaki N. The salt factor in apoplexy and hypertension: epidemiological studies in Japan. In: Yamori Y, editor. Prophylactic Approach to Hypertensive Diseases. New York: Raven Press; 1979. p. 467-74.

        Most estimates of our intake in our pre agrarian period are under 500 gms. Work cited in Mel Konner’s book Paleolithic Prescription estimates the Na/K ratio has reversed in the last 10,000 years, not so different from the trends in omega-6 to omega-3 ratios.

        New research shows that people can habituate to salty taste in both directions, so reductions to lower concentrations are not so onerous, while rising levels are necessary in a restaurant arms race.

        In England they have reduced Na content in packaged foods gradually with nary a peep of protest from the masses about taste.

        Yet the variance in Na content in foods can be insanely huge, for no obvious reason.

        I routinely admit people in heart failure after a sodium binge and my patients who really reduce sodium often have to stop their BP meds cause their pressure drops. Same happened to me.

        The drive to eat salt is powerful for a reason: not the moronic one usually cited that we “need” it in vast quantities, but just the opposite: because our ancestors never had access to it and it was precious, especially in case of injury and hemorrhage.

        but one gram of sodium for a “snack” meal? please.

        we can debate the merits of nanny state legislation, whether in finance or in nutrition, but just ’cause something is a hard problem doesn’t mean a solution is false.

      2. ozajh

        I know one anecdote is not data, but in my own case I know both numbers on my blood pressure unexpectedly dropped about 10% in a 6 month period about 30 years ago. Reviewing the situation with my GP, we realised the only significant lifestyle change was that I had (unintentionally) reduced my salt intake sharply over the period due to NOT working overtime 2-3 nights a week (where my habit was to buy a high-salt evening meal of fish and chips from the local takeaway).

        For me it was, and presumably still is, the difference between going on permanent medication and not. (I freely admit being grossly overweight is certainly also a factor, but I know for a fact my BP was high when I was genuinely young and fit, but ingesting a lot of salt.)

      3. Paul Tioxon

        The Japanese do not eat at McDonalds 3x a day, putting 10 grams of salt into their systems before you add the fritos corn chip, the snyder pretzels or the movie pop corn. Fancy chefs who promote their own cooking isn’t what I’s call double blind data testing. The problem isn’t with people who live on the super model diet of cigarettes and vodka, it’s the vast majority of overweight and heart diseased people who need to hear this message. If you are thin, you’re in, don’t worry about it. But if you are fat, and standing in line KFC, be afraid, be very afraid.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Violence is the “knee-jerk” response of primitive minds to THREAT, even challenge, to Phallic Authority. Indeed, this response to “fight or flee” is wired into the human brain regions as a legacy from our pre-human ancestors. Who can tell how violently “Macho Men” must react in the face of “Female Defiance” of their absolute authority to dominate? We know that we are at a very primitive level indeed, when we see the evidence of how much MILITANT police and soldiers HATE women, even as they need them as *Moms*, sex objects and breeders. This is “THE WAR AGAINST WOMEN” in flagrante delicto.

      Dr. Gabor Mate is an accomplished expert on the re-activation of such primitive responses to fear, abuse, life-threatening confrontation and neglect, and other TRAUMA (physical, sexual, emotional, psychological) experienced first in infancy/childhood in dysfunctional Authoritarian families or families living under Despotic Regimes: later re-activated through learning terror and impotence or violence, via fear/abuse/genocide campaigns of Agents of the Regimes, using the FORCE of arms, torture, trauma, and fear propaganda against the “nation’s” own citizens (considered War Crimes since Nuremberg).

      The NEURONAL CIRCUITRY created in childhood REMAINS forever lurking in our brains/nervous systems, leading many to try to “cure the agony” via the ingestion of mood-altering/mind-altering DRUGS, leading to addiction to: sugar, nicotine, ethyl alcohol, TV/Google/Facebock, marijuana, meth, cocaine, heroin, hashish, pornography, violent games, unto V IOLENT ASSAULT, TORTURE and MURDER, as “Military/Security” Authorities for the *Homeland*.

      “My friends, we got trouble, right here in River City.” Our Police, Soldiers, and BlackOPs guys are MADE, if not born to be violent, in USA!USA!

      Civilized men and women at NC, unite! We have nothing to lose but our enslavement to the primates running the asylum.

  2. ambrit

    Re. the Afro piece: The kicker here is that the #Occupy folks have a permit from the Park Service?!? That is more telling than the Class issue raised by the black women. The Spectre of Cooption looms above this entire effort.
    On another front, do notice the Reelect Obama ad on the right sidebar. Not just happy smiley successful socially acceptable family prop agit. Notice how the mans shirt cuff on his right arm appears to suggest a handcuff, joining him not only to his family members, but to generations of enslaved ancestors too. This touch in an ad on a Black Pride blog is sweet to see. It’s truly wonderous what a billion dollars can buy nowadays.
    I’m wondering who is doing their advertising campaign. Is the job outsourced, or does the government really have evil geniuses on its’ payroll?

    1. Sock Puppet

      I get no such ad. I notice the page is facebook aware – it shows my facebook profile pic next to the comment button – and is doubtless aware of other sites I visit. The ads one sees will be determined by one’s online life, not by the site. True of most ads these days.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Remember, however, that every Occupation in every city is different. I believe that Occupy Wall Street handled the same situation very, very differently. Remember also that besides whatever they put in the water in DC, there’s also perhaps the greatest number of potential co-opters and operatives in the known world. Presumably, the occupations are resilient enough to correct for this sort of thing.

  3. JEHR

    I see you have found Canada’s secret weapon–comedian Rick Mercer. He makes the best, finest and most apt commentary on our political system. He regularly rants about our politicians and you will notice the bit about putting a collar on Flaherty, our finance minister, who has made our debt the biggest ever! Thanks for the clip.

    1. Susan the other

      Funny clip. Just like to add that if you are dreadfully knock-kneed sometimes it helps to wear your snowshoes backwards.

  4. Lambert Strether

    Combine the Baker piece on the DISemployment numbers with the uniformly favorable coverage of same in our famously free press, and the moral is that the dominant elite factions are building the narrative to favor The Droner for 2012. And why wouldn’t they? He’s given the 1% excellent service, the fundamental metric being that not one single bankster has been prosecuted, let alone jailed.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      F.Beard – re *puritanism* vs. Protestantism in Ireland, see below the words of John Butler Yeats, artist, and father of the poet, Williamm. Butler Yeats:

      “We solved all our doubts in matters of conduct by thinking well of our fellow creatures, which is exactly the opposite of what puritans do, and we prided ourselves upon it; we considered it a gentlemanly trait. Our censorious neighbors, who thought badly of each other, we dismissed from our minds as vulgar people. (86)

      “The malady of puritanism is self-exaggeration, ‘self-saturation’ is the medical term. …That is the malady, the excess, and there’s plenty of it in puritan middle-class England, but the good side is that the puritan belongs to himself, whereas the votary of religion of social enjoyment belongs to his neighbors and to society, so that not even on his death bed can he return to himself. … The man of society possesses a quick facility in making up his mind. He does not belong to himself, and the rules of society are written on his heart and brain. He is what is called well-bred. (90)

      Commerce is war, each man watching to take the bread out of his neighbour’s [sic.] mouth, and puritanism with the doctrine of inherent badness of human nature is well calculated to hearten the fighters. … The ordinary puritan, in a buoyant strength of high animal spirits, reacts against every kind of depression. He is a pessimist as regards other men, as regards himself a confirmed optimist. (92)

      “EARLY MEMORIES; SOME CHAPTERS OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY JOHN BUTLER YEATS” (“MCMXXIII, Printed and published by Elizabeth C. Yeats at the Cuala Press, Churchtown, Dundrum, in the County of Dublin Ireland. Finished in the last week of July ninteen [sic.] hundred and twenty three, the second year of THE IRISH FREE STATE”).

      1. F. Beard

        He is a pessimist as regards other men, as regards himself a confirmed optimist. (92) LeonovaBalletRusse

        Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; … Philippians 2:3 (NASB)

        He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

        Silly Puritans. Trusting in John Calvin rather than their own understanding of the Bible?

  5. Ransome

    We had terminal unemployment not temporary. The jobs were lost. It will take time to create new jobs.

    On the upside, I am so down on executive management that the pendulum must swing back. A just in time workforce is too destabilizing and requires management to be on the ball. My guess is management will want the workers to take over running the companies again so they can snooze, Dilbert style. Most likely the social contract will be patched up and workers will feel more secure. Management by an executive team of outsiders with a one month worldview will fade into the past as another failed experiment. Managers will come up through the ranks, stay in positions to gain actual experience, mentor the newly promoted and pay attention to details. We will go back to producing quality goods. (Start with anything that has chrome or galvanizing on it.)

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Ransome, the Executives of Death today will go the way of the Dodo bird. Below is the the COMPLEX WAY toward “The Human Use of Human Beings”–such as that called for by Weiner, Bateson, and Ilich decades ago:

      Today I saw the classified ad in NYT print, recruiting teachers (esp. of math and science), for “Avenues: The World School” in New York City. I can very well imagine that this schools’s graduates will not be today’s “Executives” who are “cookie-cut” to order by the Ivy League dinosaurs:

      This is a highly ambitious “International School” in the heart of NYC. I imagine they are placing a number of teachers there who have the right contacts, and who are “up and comers,” but today–especially under the wing of George Soros in economics at INET (Institute for New Economic Thinking), and in political economy at OSF (Open Society Foundations)–the TREND is for RESPONSIBLE ELDERS with sober experience and self-critical disposition to usher in “the next generation” with appropriate CRITICAL SKILLS, exp. SELF-CRITICAL skills. At this our national moment of extreme crisis and radical transition, we are alert to the necessity to reverse the trend of Old Regime Corporate Totalitarian thinking. This is the most important outcome of insuperable frauds and incurable ruin born of the self-reinforcing “crimenogenic environment” (William K. Black) that has built up in business, banking, politics, and academia since the 1970’s (the topic of my intense research for six years). Hence, maybe Avenues is OPEN to older teachers.

      Perhaps the greatest influence in George Soros’ life–apart from that of his father (See Tivador Soros: Masquerade” with Forewords by Paul and George Soros [New York, Arcade Publishing, 2000; 1965])–has been KARL POPPER, with whom he studied at the London School of Economics. This influence was most notably revealed to the public in George’s “The Alchemy of Finance.” It is a fact that, over his lifetime since then, George Soros has APPLIED the COMPLEX PHILOSOPHY of Karl Popper, as both a hedge fund manager, and as a philanthropist, virtually transmogrifying Popper’s thought into the PRAXIS of Open Society tenets, via his personal discovery process through “scientific experiments” of his own design, also as a philanthropist funding GRANTS for the performance of grounded PROJECTS (including in New Orleans) at home and abroad (Open Society Institute unto Open Society Foundations – – See new Director from HARVARD in 2012: Christopher Stone.

      Today, regarding the ruin of the “Real Economy” by a Monopoly Finance System in Late Stage Capitalism, George Soros is leading the way into “New Economic Thinking” via his INET. You may have seen the publicity surrounding the meeting of his sponsored group at the “New Bretton Woods Conference” last year. Quite recently, the need for our radical transition from “Godzilla Banks” to employment from the ground up, funded by other means, has become the hot topic. See PavlinaTcherneva video interview at or at, together with blogs and videos by William K. Black and Michael Hudson.

      What has come to the FORE is the validity to us today, of Karl Popper’s philosophy anent “The Open Society and Its Enemies” in_conjunction_with_that of the “Logic of Scientific Discovery”. At the London School of Economics, POPPER was “Professor of Logic and Scientific Method”. For a quick overview of Karl Popper’s philosopy of *language*, *learning*, and *self-criticism*, please SEE: — “Karl Popper — Uncertain Truth 1/6” [through 6/6]- a video recording of the endearingly brilliant Popper speaking with others on these topics, and especially on his “evolutionary theory of knowledge: that we learn by trial and error elimination, we learn by our mistakes.”

      Soros has stood on Popper’s shoulders, and according to Popper’s philosophy, he has brought *greater knowledge* into the world through applying his principles. Connected with this is the development of his concept of JUST “AGENCY” and its importance for the creation of a Just Society, based on learning through doing and doing better: our “scientific knowledge* not only in the arts and sciences, but in politics and very life. His latest thoughts on Agency can be found in “THE SOROS LECTURES At the Central European University” (New York, Public Affairs, 2010).

      Some of us at NC have mastered, and can demonstrate, the skills so vital to our nation’s correct development as fully *HUMAN beings*. Now we must advance as a civilization with greater knowledge, gained through the “scientific process” of experimenting as we go, LEARNING through “trial and elimination of error, learning from our MISTAKES” (Popper). But NOT as robots and super-quants-on-the-make, and “Executives” on the order of the Plantation Boss, Fuehrer, or Military General, or deadhead CEO. Who among us at NC might find his/her place at Avenues: The World School, or anywhere in the world: working for the good with the help of a Grant from the Open Society Foundations? Can we ourselves not help to realize a *vision of open-hearted democracy*?

      I rest my case.

      DISCLAIMER: I have never been, am not now, and do not expect to be employed by Avenues: The World School, George Soros, or the Open Society Foundations. I just can’t help promoting what’s good for us all: a Periclean dream of open democracy, risen through us, in deed.

      –Nova Bernard Thriffiley, Ph.D.(Indiana University, Bloomington)
      former ballerina in The American Youth Ballet of Tatiana Semenova

  6. b.


    George’s swill – has he read Matt Stoller?

    Snark (mine) aside along with the disbusive fad (theirs) of using of “liberal” and “progressive” to attribute career ‘stablishment actions to worldviews the perps do not actually hold….

    He, too, starts with *that* thought, scarily intriguing, whether mouthed by Will or Stoller: If you assume – rightly or wrongly – that you need Big Bad Government to Do Big Good, you will always be undone by the machine you created. Means, meet and defeat end.

    I’ll buy that. It’s the assumption I still question. Sustainable democracy rests with informed and empowered People, through a government held accountable, not with Big Bad Government. Democracy at gunpoint? Neither here nor there. Neither liberal nor progressive either. Authoritarian means can never lead to liberal ends.

  7. Susan the other

    I wish the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology would focus its online courses on the most useful, practical applications of recycling. From collection, to smelting/melting, to shredding, sanitizing and bundling. And then go on to the practical uses for these products. Furniture, clothing and accessories, housewares, gardening systems, energy capture, building supplies. Every little town in America could start not just a recycling yard, or center but go beyond collection and sorting to reprocessing and remanufacture. Design. Build.

  8. Hugh

    I think Baker must be reading me because he makes many of the same points Saturday that I made Friday when the jobs report came out. Excuse the blogwhore:

    I entitled it “The improvement that wasn’t”. The BLS jobs and employment numbers have been screwy for a while because their modeling does not take into account either kleptocracy or that we have been experiencing a balancesheet recession. On top of this, we are into various revisions that make or are going to make comparisons more difficult. The report for January released next month will shift to using 2010 Census data for the first time.

    I have been pointing to for some time now that the BLS defines about a third of the unemployed out of the labor force and so outside its measures of unemployment. This is an important point. These people did not choose to leave the labor force. The BLS defines them out of it. So the next time you hear some airhead broadcaster reporting that X thousands left the labor force in a month, this is what is really happening.

    I am now reporting a real unemployment number recapturing those unemployed the BLS jettisons. Instead of the 13.1 million currently reported, there are 20.4 million, and the U-3 unemployment rate is not 8.5% but 12.7%.

    Revising the broader U-6 measure of un- and under employment in a similar fashion puts the number of disemployed at 28.5 million.

    Beyond on all this, we have to understand that the quality of American jobs is deteriorating. You can see this in part in the sectors that are adding jobs but also in wages. Wages increased 2% in the last 12 months. The CPI increased 2.9% in the last 11. The December number is not yet out. So basically wages are growing more slowly than inflation. That is even those with jobs are continuing to fall behind.

  9. Hugh

    The medical community has gone back and forth on sodium for years. Most figure I think that a low sodium diet couldn’t hurt. Think of it as a kind of medical inertia. Much larger problems, however, are a lack of exercise and diets that lead to obesity.

  10. Tim

    Well I read the Raskin speach pretty much in its entirety, and given the context of it being a speech to law school types I foud it very positive that the central theme of the speech was enforcement.

    I imagine she badmouthed as much as she could without being out of line with the current policy response, which is obviously inadequate.

    What are the required enforcements as part of the servicing laws that were broken? Is it only monetary penalties or is it criminal too? If it does include criminal enforcements then I believe we should be reading between the lines that she expects there to be criminal charges brought to bear in addition to the monetary ones she discussed in that speech.

    Maybe I’m too optomistic, but I really appreciated where she was leading in that speech. Very refreshing from a governing official, especially the Fed.

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