Links 6/13/13

Pigs fed GM grain suffer health problems, study says Chicago Tribune (Cheyenne)

Think You Know All About Distracted Driving? Think Again AAA. In case you know any doubters…

Pettis: China must resist the bulls MacroBusiness

Guantánamo doctors must refuse to force-feed hunger strikers – physicians Guardian

Here’s something about Turkey, and everyone else Alex Harrowell

Greece’s state broadcaster defies government closure; RBS boss in shock resignation – as it happened Guardian

Crisis Course: High Court Skeptical of ECB Bond Buys Der Spiegel. Looks to be hyping the odds of an unfavorable decision for the Eurozone/PMT, at least according to Serious People

Italian showdown with Germany over euro looms closer Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

UK living standards at lowest in a decade Financial Times

Bank Bailout Blues Stall U.K. Recovery Wall Street Journal (Richard Smith)

Lawmaker accuses Google of dodging taxes PhysOrg

Oxford Pound plan to help local businesses BBC (Richard Smith). OMG, a local currency!

British Regulator Looking Into Currency Rates Trades New York Times

At least 93,000 killed in Syria – UN BBC

Syria: The Insurgency’s New Weapons Moon of Alabama

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

Snowden saw what I saw: surveillance criminally subverting the constitution Thomas Drake, Guardian

Hong Kong Groups Plan Protest to Support Edward Snowden Bloomberg. Wonder if any of these groups has any clout.

Edward Snowden: US government has been hacking Hong Kong and China for years South China Morning Post

NSA revelations will test China-US ties, say Chinese media Guardian. The odds of Beijing letting the Hong Kong courts play this one out rather than pushing them to extradite has just gone up considerably. Tsk tsking that legal processes must prevail would be a lovely passive-aggressive gambit.

Washington pushed EU to dilute data protection Financial Times

THE SECRET WAR Wired. Wow, if this PR plant was meant to inspire confidence, whoever was behind it was either mighty tone deaf or brilliantly subversive

Why I Don’t Care About Edward Snowden National Journal (Lambert)

Why you should worry about the NSA New York Daily News (Lambert)

More Americans see man who leaked NSA secrets as ‘patriot’ than traitor: Poll Reuters

A Federal Top-Secret Club That’s Not Very Secret or Federal

Companies scramble for consumer data Financial TimesBloomberg

Joe Biden: Al Gore ‘was elected president’ Yahoo (Lambert)

Mayor Bloomberg Asks Donors to Hold Money After Gun Votes Bloomberg. Too much ego on display. He should instead have funded an astroturf group to do this.

Carl Levin is a Truly Horrible Person Jon Walker, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Rudeness to Politicians Ian Welsh (Carol B)

The Gamification of Financial Education Lauren Willis, Credit Slips

Data Do Not Show a Shortage of Workers With College Degrees Dean Baker

Women’s pay gap looks better because men’s average pay has gotten worse Daily Kos (Carol B)

Exclusive – Wal-Mart’s everyday hiring strategy: Add more temps Reuters

Antidote du jour:


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  1. Chris E.

    House voted yesterday in favor of derivatives deregulation (this time it’s HR1256 — back in May it was HR992) — Dems split on the issue.

    The House passed the bill 301 to 124, with 73 Democrats voting for it. The legislation isn’t expected to be considered by the Senate, Representative Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, said April 25. Himes voted for the bill, as did Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the committee that oversees the agency.

    Alexis Goldstein (from Occupy) has a hilarious tumblr that combines the persuasive viral power of cat pictures with the hard-to-digest-yet-important issue of financial deregulation:

    Every single Freshman Democrat voted for the latest batch of bills that deregulated Wall Street. They voted for HR 992, which says banks can hold almost ALL of their risky derivatives in the FDIC-insured depository being two of the worst offending bills. HR 992, by the way, was written by Citigroup. And, except for Rep Joyce Beatty, the freshman also all voted for HR 1256, which says US banks can move derivatives overseas to dodge regulations.

    And of course, the reason is pointed out here:

    Six days after the vote, several freshmen Democrats were in New York to meet with bank executives, a tour organized by Representative Joe Crowley, who helps lead the House Democrats’ fund-raising committee. The trip was planned before the votes, and was not a fund-raiser, but it gave the lawmakers a chance to meet with Wall Street’s elite.

    So, yea, more of the same…

    1. AbyNormal

      i can’t get past paywall(s) but i’d sure like to read more…if anyone out there could link it (i’d owe ya’)

      Derivatives clearinghouses want exemption from EU bank losses
      The EU’s proposed rules for winding down failed financial institutions would require that derivatives clearinghouses share in losses suffered by other creditors. Clearinghouses argue that they should be exempt because failure to pay them could create systemic consequences.

      (i guess so at nominally 1,144TRILLION)

  2. MacCruiskeen

    Re: distracted driving. One of my favorite games to play when I am riding to work is “Drunk or on the Phone?”It is a guessing game, when I see someone driving in a fashion that might suggest inebriation. Since actual drunk driving is relatively rare in rush-hour traffic, and yakking on the phone is not, the answer is almost always “phone,” so it is not really a difficult game.

    1. Klassy!

      Hmmm… more likely to be harmed by a terrorist or distracted driver? That’s a tough one…

      1. ambrit

        Hey Klassy;
        Who says the two have to be distinct? Distracted drivers are a priori, terrorists, and thus subject to the full weight and fury of the Law.

    2. Garrett Pace

      The researcher on this, Dave Strayer, was my old professor long ago during my college days. He’s been beating the drum about this for fifteen years and has never had success breaching the public consciousness.

      I don’t know why humans believe that if their hands are dedicated to driving, they are being responsible regardless of what their brains are doing.

    3. JeremyGrimm

      How about bad signage and strange syntax in road patterns as distractions for drivers in an area of town unfamiliar to them. I don’t have a GPS and often find it extremely difficult to see and read the street signs, road markers and patterns of road design. I have full acuity and pay full attention to my driving and have trouble getting to a new destination without getting lost or having to make last minute decisions and maneuvers. — I guess I have no choice but to get a GPS now. I’ve already given in and picked up a cell phone for emergencies now that pay phones are so rare.

      1. optimader

        1.) glasses;
        2.) review a road map;
        3.) please stay in the right lane;
        4.) do you drive a Toyota Corolla?

        1. sd

          I can see you’ve never driven in California – famous for posting road signs after the exits.

          1. optimader

            Yeah, I’ve have been burned on that before. Areas on the east coast are like that as well, rather than posting Exit BLAHBLAH 1 mile on right they will put an exit sign with an arrow right at the exit.

          2. ChrisPacific

            Another favorite for out of town drivers is direction arrows painted directly on the road (with no signage) so that in heavy traffic you only find out what kind of lane you’re in when it’s too late to change.

            For bonus points, use an inconsistent scheme for successive intersections. Varying the straight ahead lane is a good trick here (straight+left turn/right turn only, left turn only/straight+right turn…) The main street of Waltham, MA is a good example.

    4. bob

      It’s the only instance where I support the death penatly.

      You are in a 3000 to 5000 pound hunk of metal. Presumably, the goal in getting into that machine was to get somewhere.

      Get there, or get the hell off the road.

  3. Expat

    RE: Carl Levin is a Truly Horrible Person
    Can’t the military brass see that their problem with sexual abuse is the same as the Catholic Church’s? Keeping it in the system didn’t help the Catholics and it won’t help the US military. Guess the military is not promoting its best to top positions, or this problem would be understood and addressed instead of being covered up.

    Not too surprising that Levin would ensure that Congress’s regulation of the military was based on what senior officers wanted rather than what was plainly needed. Congress loves a uniform!

    A truly horrible person would be caving in to military demands for personal gain. Levin’s just an advocate, just as he was for the auto industry as it went from great to terrible based on favours asked for and given by Congress.

    1. Bill

      Keep in mind there a plenty of old guard military who don’t want women there anyway, much less those who “cry” when they are sexually assulted. Team playing is valued way above any internal “problems”.

      And Carl Levin must surely have been promised a lucrative afterlife as a military consultant.

      1. down2long

        Re: The comparison of the military and the Roman Catholic Church, and their higher ups. A friend of mine was a former Jesuit priest (gay, wised up: Church wouldn’t let him be a husband of Christ.) He said the difference between priests and nuns was that the priests elected the weakest among them to top posts so that they could be easily manipulated, whereas the nuns elected the smartest among them to actually lead.

        Think the analogy holds for the military and U.S. government, from Dimon White House Majordomo Obomba on down.

        Don’t think the voters are in on the scam, but they don’t give a shite anyway. “See what’s on the television. Think there’s a game on. Or “E”.” Whatever.

      2. LucyLulu

        There are far more men who are victims of sexual assault in the military than there are women.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        I’m not positive of this but I think that General Helms would have been the first female four-star in the Air Force, and possibly the first one in any service.

  4. Jane Doe

    Something to watch is whether the E U will now reverse weakening privacy regulation reform to appeal to Americans.

    The value of the original proposals is that they had real teeth, which would curtail private sector abuses

    If the EU stays with the weaken reform that will mean they are In accord with the tactics of DC

    DC wants to weaken privacy law in the private sector

    Eg Obama proposed reform I effect would block state laws including sine that allow consumer rights to sue

    What’s gone unreported is what tech companies are getting from. DC

  5. Klassy!

    I don’t know how any physician can justify an order for an NG tube down the prisoner’s throat.

  6. Jim Haygood

    A developing tragedy threatens Capitol Hill, comrades:

    The Affordable Care Act — signed into law in 2010 — contained a provision known as the Grassley Amendment, which said the government can only offer members of Congress and their staff plans that are “created” in the bill or “offered through an exchange” — unless the bill is amended.
    Currently, aides and lawmakers receive their health care under the generous Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. The government subsidizes upward of 75 percent of the premiums for the health insurance plans. In 2014, most Capitol Hill aides and lawmakers are expected to be put onto the exchanges, and there has been no guidance whether the government will subsidize those premiums. This is expected to cause a steep spike in health insurance costs.

    It could be politically difficult to change this provision. The provision was put in the bill in the first place on the theory that if Congress was going to make the country live under the provisions of Obamacare, the members and staff should have to as well.

    If their fears are borne out, the results could be twofold. Some junior staff will head for the private sector early while more seasoned aides and lawmakers could leave before the end of the year so they can continue under the old plan.

    Certainly, it shocks the conscience that Congressional employees should be expected to live under the same rules as the teeming masses. But there’s worse:

    ‘If the issue isn’t resolved, and massive numbers of lawmakers and aides bolt, many on Capitol Hill fear it could lead to a brain drain just as Congress tackles a slew of weighty issues.’

    OMG, OMG. Without the MacArthur-grant geniuses who created Obamacare on the job, how will we ever manage?

    1. Butch in Waukegan

      OMG, OMG. Without the MacArthur-grant geniuses who created Obamacare on the job, how will we ever manage?

      Simple — outside contractors.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Butch, I just can’t get over the inhumane language — ‘aides and lawmakers are expected to be put onto the exchanges.’

        Why, it’s as if (in 19th century terms) we were speaking of sending them to the slave market in New Orleans … or transporting them to Australia.

        Don’t exchange me, bro!

  7. diptherio

    Clicking around on the National Journal Website, I came across this:
    International Response to NSA: WTF America?

    For the White House, this is more than just a fleeting international tiff. Next week, President Obama heads to Northern Ireland for the G-8 Summit, and Germany’s Angela Merkel has already said she will push Obama on the NSA and the “possible impairment of the rights of German citizens.” Italy’s data-protection chief said the NSA’s data-mining “would not be legal in Italy.” Politicians have also taken issue with the NSA in the United Kingdom, where Foreign Secretary William Hague faced down other members of Parliament in his defense of the U.K.’s participation in the program.

    A prediction: any countries expressing discontent with the PRISM program will experience acts of terrorism within the next few years which “would have been preventable, if only they had a allowed more surveillance.” Just a guess.

  8. ambrit

    Re. the WalMart staffing piece. The big Blue D.I.Y. Boxxstore I toil for presently has already started mixing temporary workers with part time workers. The resulting hybrid monster is a worthy successor to the late lamented Herr Doktor Professor von Frankensteins creation. It combines the “best” of both worlds. Marginally competent at its’ task, and weakly motivated to carry out its’ allotted duties. As can be expected, the volume and virulence of customer complaints is now reaching an intensity previously unknown within these unhallowed halls. In their defense, most customers aren’t blaming the hapless hybrid worker drones, but evince a clear eyed understanding of the corporate greed behind this “cost cutting” gambit.
    The “old timers” are now waiting for the Corp to announce some sort of medical insurance repudiation. When this happens, don’t stand in the doorway. You might get trampled by the exiting horde of more knowledgeable cadre workers.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Klassy;
        Thanks. I always work on the assumption that both political science and economic science adhere to the doctrine of falsifiability. If I can put forward concrete examples that disprove some dogma or other, I’m happy.
        (It’s also quite therapeutic. Resisting the pressures to conform abounding in large organizations is hard work, on several levels. The strength and influence of, for want of a better term, the moral dimension in human social systems seems to me to be the “bean counters” primary weakness.)

    1. optimader

      That toxic optimization “algorithm” that does not account for exogenous variables like… consumer satisfaction. I hate Home Despot if for no other reason than in my experience they will have either the cheapest Chinese knock off cr*p, I prefer to spend more money when I need something so that it doesn’t disintegrate or not fulfill my intended need, or they will invariably have only 9 of 10 bits of something so I end up on a scavenger hunt.

      The endgame for the bigbox is their driving of consumers back to independent hardware stores for convenience and lumber yards and contractor suppliers for bigger bill of mat’ls and suppliers like McMaster Carr and Grainger for all manner of fittings and equipment.

  9. Hugh

    Re Carl Levin, they are all truly horrible people. It was just that it was Levin’s time to play revolving villain just as some other time he might play the revolving hero. If we look past the personalities, the same corrupt institutions and policies always remain in place or are expanded. It is like Ground Hog day only everything gets a little worse each day. I like Expat’s comment above. The military has failed miserably and persistently to address sexual violence, but where they won’t fight for women, they will fight to protect their turf.

    I think a long extradition process fits into the government’s plans against Snowden. It will allow time for the public’s attention to move off him and its illegal and unconstitutional spying programs, and then it will destroy him. From its point of view, this will send a message to other potential whistleblowers. We will get you no matter how long it takes.

    Meanwhile Clapper who lied to Congress (a crime) will go on and if he retires it will be on his own schedule. The only thing that will derail this chain of events is if whistleblowers continue to come forward despite the consequences and show just how corrupt and criminal our leaders and their activities are.

    European protests over the NSA spying should be viewed as farce. Their intelligence services have almost certainly been working hand in glove with the NSA and CIA and relying on their spying programs. And of course, Europe’s political leaders will have known about this.

    Chris E.’s first comment on this thread is a great example of corruption in action and how it infects anyone and everyone in the system. I don’t know where these derivatives’ bills will go in the Senate, or even if they are needed. I thought the CFTC recently backed off of regulating derivatives. And aren’t banks already sticking their derivative exposures on the FDIC? I suppose these bills would formalize the process. In any case, a great illustration of who the real traitors to our country are.

    Finally, it may be premature to call Greece a failed state, but it sure looks like a failing one. What with Cyprus being a basket case and unrest in Turkey, NATO’s whole southeast flank is looking pretty dodgy.

    1. dSquib

      “Re Carl Levin, they are all truly horrible people. It was just that it was Levin’s time to play revolving villain just as some other time he might play the revolving hero.”

      Just what I was going to post. Though Levin does assume the role with some relish.

  10. Hugh

    I should add that skippy had a comment at the end of the links yesterday about how Australia has big time signed on to the NSA spying bandwagon.

    And Ian Welsh has it right. Michelle Obama is not just a public figure but a political one. As such, calling her out on the Administration’s positions is perfectly legitimate. There is something very Marie Antoinette about the idea that she is supposed to be treated with royal deference.

  11. charles sereno

    In praise of Chris Pyle —
    He was interviewed this morning on Democracy Now! He reminds me of the glory days of the Church Committee. Less than 40 years ago. When pundits like Friedman, Brooks, and Toobin weren’t the a la carte rage. When “pinhead” professors could be like Chris Pyle. Listen carefully to his answers to questions. A testament to a lost generation of critical America.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For me, clean tech does not harm nature AND humans.

      Dirty tech does.

      It matters not that it does not emit carbon if it harms humans.

      Look around and you will see a lot of dirty-tech companies.

      1. optimader

        not too many clean tech enterprises come to mind if you analyze a product up the value added chain.
        There are always compromises, unfortunately enterprises that purposefully create mutagens and essentially non biodegradable/non-recoverable pollutants tend to be very profitable/popular.

    1. Klassy!

      Oh– and since I’m still fixating on Jeffrey Toobin (ever since seeing him on CNN where it was quite clear he took Snowden’s leak as a personal affront and then following it up with that load of crap in the New Yorker) he declared that the Scotus decsions today were “boring”– i.e. not DOMA or prop 8. This is CNNs legal analyst? Sorry the issues aren’t sexy enough for you, Jeffrey.

      1. Klassy!

        Stick him in a room with Hendrik Hertzberg and see who can outinsufferable the other. Winner gets a date with their boyfriend in the White House.

  12. charles sereno

    I hope this report, or some equivalent, will appear in tomorrow’s Links —
    Disclaimer: I haven’t yet had the opportunity to read the Science article. Nevertheless, such nonsense, that one of 30 people in the Middle Ages were lepers (based on the analysis of 5 skeletons), is what the MSM will jump on. I invite NC readers to think about and comment on the responsibility of scientific reporting.

      1. optimader

        I have a friend, who link I posted here previously, he is producing a documentary having spent the last 13 or so scientific seasons on Antarctica.
        This last season was on the Pine Island glacier (PIG) which is being studied, (specifically, its interaction w/the the water underneath it). I
        t’s of scientific interest due to unprecedented thinning primarily due as I understand to warm water currents undermining it.
        PIG is of particular interest as it is essentially the keystone that retains a vast icesheet. PIG is presently hung up on a geological feature on the ocean floor but that submerged ice interacting w/ the geologic bump is being rapidly melted.

        The skinny is that when it slips free, sooner rather than later, the retained ice sheet will then be free to slide into the ocean rapidly. The point of interest is the ice sheet is a massive volume, sufficient to rapidly raise the Oceans not mm or inches but feet.

        He confides that he isn’t bullish on present coastal property values.

        1. charles sereno

          Here’s an idea (actually I stole it reading Popular Mechanics when I was a kid). When the humongous ice shelf the size of New Guinea breaks loose, attach it to a fleet of tugboats and transport it to the Persian Gulf. It would take decades before it melted. Meanwhile, it would make the nearby deserts bloom! These days we just lack imagination.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s a good point.

      Who knows what Mona Lisa looked like when she was growing up? Maybe it’s better a lot of things stay private.

      1. optimader

        AS for Snowden, he appears to have been a pretty boring version of that peculiar form of life referred to as a teenager.

        1. charles sereno

          Boring or exciting or everything between has a claim on privacy. Sometimes that claim is thoughtlessly signed away. I’m bothered by the bottom-eaters fattening themselves on opportunistic detritus. Makes me puke. There, eat my puke. (Not you Optimader)

          1. optimader

            …There, eat my puke..
            I know a black lab that would be your best friend, particularly if you fancy beef stew

  13. Hugh

    The opinion for the Supreme Court gene case can be found here:

    The sequence in nature is

    DNA (with coding and non-coding segments) > pre-RNA (with coding and non-coding segments) > RNA (with coding segments only) > proteins

    Using reverse transcriptase, the end product can be engineered not into proteins but back into DNA comprised of only the coding segments. This is called composite or cDNA. The Court 9-0 held that Myriad Genetics which discovered the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes and developed a test for them could not patent the naturally occurring genes (large strings of DNA with coding and non-coding segments) but could patent the much smaller cDNA because it does not occur in nature.

    I am unsure of the exact impact of the decision. Conceivably, it leaves open the door to tests using different but similar versions of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes (even in the coding stretches of normal genes there can be variation or benign mutation), but I don’t know if anyone will bother to. The decision could stifle research on these genes because one would either have to go through Myriad Genetics or develop alternate versions of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes. This might lead to questions about the standardization and applicability of results.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Saddam’s WMDs, meet Assad’s WMDs:

    American intelligence analysts now believe that President Bashar al-Assad’s troops have used chemical weapons against rebel forces in the civil war in Syria, an assessment that will put added pressure on a deeply divided Obama administration to develop a response to a provocation that the president himself has declared a “red line.”

    Standard playbook: faced with intractable political difficulties at home, provoke an incident against a plausible foreign enemy.

  15. rich

    PBSC cuts staff and faculty hours to avoid paying for health coverage

    Palm Beach State College is cutting the hours of more than 100 part-time employees and hundreds more adjunct faculty to avoid having to provide health care coverage required for workers under the federal health care law.

    Workers who now work 30 hours a week will work 27.5 hours a week after July 1, according to a letter sent to employees in April and confirmed by a college spokeswoman. The school’s 895 adjunct faculty members, who teach more than half the classes at the college’s four campuses, will be limited to teaching three credits per semester.

    The move has angered many college workers, especially after The Palm Beach Post reported last month that PBSC President Dennis Gallon is the state’s fourth-highest paid college president. Gallon earns $455,714 in annual compensation and benefits, including $95,666 a year in lieu of a car or housing allowance. PBSC has an annual operating budget of $112 million.

    PBSC spokeswoman Grace Truman said the college is reducing part-time employees’ hours to comply with the federal law.

    None of the employees whose hours are now being cut currently receives health benefits. But many would have been entitled to it under the law if their hours had not been reduced.

  16. subgenius

    re:wired article

    The first known piece of malware designed to destroy physical equipment, Stuxnet

    Really? This is a factual fail – journalism fail, or military intelligence fail. Certain members of society were building code to screw printers and hard drives way back (pre-internet I think, but it is so long ago I can’t be sure) and before that were sending looped black sheets through faxes for similar reasons…

    1. optimader

      We can all be comfortable with the knowledge that malware code the NSA chucks out at targets cannot be reverse engineered, respecified and deployed in an unintended and manner destructive to our interests.

  17. F. Beard

    re Guantánamo doctors must refuse to force-feed hunger strikers – physicians Guardian:

    A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. Proverbs 12:10

  18. owenfinn

    Yves, I thought you and your readers might be interested in this video of a recent presentation at Temple University Japan campus covering the LDP`s proposed changes to constitution. It`s rather long but very informative.

    They are seeking much more than changes to Article 9. Pretty terrifying actually.

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