Links 4/29/14

California readers: Please come to our CalPERS hearing or encourage CalPERS retirees in the Bay Area to attend. It’s this Friday, May 2, 2014, 9:30 a.m., Superior Court of California, Department 302. That’s on the third floor of 400 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 (map).

Male Scent May Compromise Biomedical Research Science

Woman Has to Pay For Apartment Damage From Neighbor’s Exploding Corpse Gawker

Merck’s Former Doctor Predicts that Gardasil will Become the Greatest Medical Scandal of All Time Health Impact News (furzy mouse)

Warning: extremely nerdy content, harmful if taken seriously Cathy O’Neil

Bitcoin believers plot a bounceback Nikkei

U.S. Greenhouse Emissions Tied To Aging Nuclear, Coal Plants OilPrice

Higher risk of being fired for women CEOs Financial Times. Wow, this article manages to miss that a women CEO will be perceived to be higher risk regardless of whether that is actually true. Every study ever done show that identical material (resumes, writing samples) are scored lower when attributed to a woman as opposed to a man.

China plots massive state sector shake-up Japan Times

Egyptian court recommends death sentences for 683 alleged Islamists BBC

Al Jazeera sues Egypt for $150m after crackdown on journalists Financial Times

Confessed Brazilian Torturer Found Murdered Counterpunch (Chuck L)


Ukraine: Useless Sanctions And Then What? Moon of Alabama. Putin must be laughing.

U.S. Sanctions on Russia Don’t Nail Energy Sector Keith Johnson, Foreign Policy

US Treasury Secretary hits out at Putin and Rosneft with sanctions Telegraph

Wimpy Sanctions Will Embolden Putin Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Russia alarmed over US-Nato activity BBC

Russia cancels debt sales as crisis grows Financial Times

Short-Sighted Europe Cannot Resist Russian Gas OilPrice

15 people sought medical aid after radicals assault on demonstrators in Donetsk Strategic Culture Foundation

Europe’s Act in Ukraine’s Tragedy Project Syndicate. We need a new expression for “extreme propaganda.” This is a case example. “Big Lie” has lost its punch.

Ukraine: Hate in Progress Tim Judah. More of the same, starting with the astonishing first paragraph.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

Microsoft Rushes to Fix Security Flaw in Explorer Browser Bloomberg

Microsoft must release email data held on Dublin server BBC

A New Pencil-and-Paper Encryption Algorithm Bruce Schneier

The Branding of a Bug: How Heartbleed Became a Household Name Bloomberg

Discussions From the Council on Foreign Relations Which You May Have Missed Jesse

The Prelude to the End of the American Era Ian Welsh (Chuck L)

Mortgage Whistleblower Stands Alone as U.S. Won’t Join Lawsuit Bloomberg. Appalling, and parallel to when the DoJ would not join Alan Grayson on his suit versus Halliburton spin-off KBR over Iraq War profiteering.

Doctors Get Millions From Medicare After Losing Their Licenses Bloomberg

Obama Administration Argues in Favor of Right to Fire Public Employees Who Testify at Corruption Trials Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake

Federal judge: Delayed access to court records raises First Amendment concerns Columbia Journalism Review

Apartheid, just less black and white Financial Times. From last week, still important.

Bank of America Suspends Buyback and Dividend Increase New York Times. Not only can Bank of America not keep track of mortgages, it can’t even get its own accounts right. See: How Bank of America Botched Some Basic Accounting Business Week.

FOMC Week Tim Duy

Is the Fisher Effect Stable or Unstable? Angry Bear. On interest rates and inflation.

Markets’ unearthly calm MacroBusiness

When ETFs make things more volatile Izabella Kaminska, FT Alphaville

Pending Home Sales Rise First Time in 9 Months, Down 7.9% From Year Ago Michael Shedlock

GSE reform will drive up mortgage rates Housing Wire. This is one of several reasons why my sources on the Hill say will not happen. Plus Johnson-Crapo is widely known to be a gimmie to the banks.

How Much Will Mortgage Rates Rise In Fannie, Freddie Overhaul? Wall Street Journal

Poll Respondents More Embarrassed to Admit Credit Card Balance and Credit Score than Age or Weight National Foundation for Credit Counseling

From Outside or Inside, the Deck Looks Stacked Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times. On Warren’s book…

Piketty Dikitty Rikitty James Howard Kusntler. Entertaining and dead on.

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


We are also including this monthly podcast from the Tax Justice Network as an experiment. If readers like it, we’ll feature it more prominently as a separate post.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. rjs

    you all know about this…
    The Toll Of 5 Years Of Drone Strikes: 2,400 Dead: Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued a pair of reports in October fiercely criticizing the secrecy that shrouds the administration’s drone program, and calling for investigations into the deaths of drone victims with no apparent connection to terrorism. In Pakistan alone, TBIJ estimates, between 416 and 951 civilians, including 168 to 200 children, have been killed.

    here’s how it’s playing in Pakistan:

    1. abynormal

      war monger
      …we’ll splatter our verbal napalm
      on the economic warriors
      of the wall streets of the world
      till their bonds are burned
      and clobbering men on the head
      with the truth
      will be the folly
      of the new special forces
      as i unleash on the world
      a multi-million megatonic fury:
      rjs / 1965 (H/T, one hella-of-a crystal ball ya got there rj)

  2. Bryan Sean McKown

    CALPERS Hearing Tentative Ruling May Be Available After 2:00 p.m., May 1 – Day Before Hearing

    SF Superior Court Tentative Law & Motion Rulings are available on-line the day before morning hearings in Dept 302 at Click the tab for On-Line Services. Often you can read the Judge’s tentative ruling before the hearing unless the Judge punts by advising: “Hearing Required”. Know what’s happening before you arrive. Tentative rulings are also posted outside the courtroom.

    1. Cal

      Maybe the CALTRANS employees who have had their pensions ripped off can get some clawback via a free or lowered rent in the huge mega luxury apartment complex being built by the fellow that lost their money? Perhaps a class action lawsuit on their behalf IMHO.

      Victor MacFarlane

      “MacFarlane lost more than $1 billion of CalPERS’ money on exurban housing developments in Southern California and Arizona. Unable to sell his St. Regis aerie for $70 million, he recently turned the penthouses over to his lender. CalPERS is no longer a client of his firm, MacFarlane Partners. Half of his employees are gone. ”

      “Over the past few months, MacFarlane has bought two Bay Area development sites. In late May, it grabbed a lot on upper Market Street in San Francisco, where it will build a 113-unit, $55 million complex. Two weeks later, it closed on the former WinCup manufacturing site in Corte Madera, where it will construct a $68 million, 180-unit apartment development.”

      Something fishy about the speedy approval process in Corte Madera:

  3. Brindle

    re: “Council on Foreign Relations…”

    Made me flashback to:

    “General Turgidson, I find this very difficult to understand. I was under the impression that I was the only one in authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. ”

    ………..”That’s right, sir, you are the only person authorized to do so. And although I, uh, hate to judge before all the facts are in, it’s beginning to look like, uh, General Ripper exceeded his authority.”

  4. Jim Haygood

    ‘A higher Fed rate would lead to a higher Fisher equilibrium inflation rate.’ — angry bear

    This silly claim is made based on two (2) years of data, when a full hundred (100) years are available (since 1913 for the CPI, and 1914 for the Fed discount rate). Let’s look at one of them years, 1929.

    On 9th August, the New York Fed hiked its discount rate from 5 to 6%, while the 12-month CPI change was 1.17%. Did inflation accelerate toward 6%? No, I’m afraid it did not. On the contrary, by Nov. 1931 the 12-month CPI change had sunk to MINUS 10%.

    The Fedsters, having desperately slashed the discount rate to 1.5% by May 1931, decided to repeat their mistake and promptly hiked it to 3.5%. This fresh leeching only served to send the economy and stocks spiraling down to their ‘dry heaves’ puke-a-thon in July 1932.

    All of this colorful history is posted here, where you can relive it just as the young Ben Bernanke did when he was studying to become a monetary rock star.

    Central planning, comrades: if it were E-Z, any idiot could do it.

  5. Greenguy

    Kunstler now mouthing Pareto’s circulation-of-elites hypothesis? What a surprise from a peak oil catastrophist. There is a political content (well understood by Pareto and Mosca a century ago) of conservatism in accepting Pareto’s vision of sociology, and if that’s the direction the Piketty conversation is going it is troubling. I don’t expect anything more from James Kunstler, who is well known as a pessimist and seems to be gleefully awaiting the collapse of modern civilization, but if even Paul Krugman is writing about Pareto the conversation may quickly be shifting from elite control to how elites can never be removed from control, which means political quietism from the rest of us (and is of course why Pareto was anti-Marxist).

    1. jgordon

      JHK and most others who are interested in how the human species will cope with peak resource use could give a fig less about political or ideological beliefs with regards to collapse. The conditions that are leading to societal collapse, as well as the potential outcomes of such, are technical in nature and must be dealt with in a rational, straightforward manner. Although there is certainly an element of politics here as well, as for a while now the elites in America have been inculcating political and economic ideologies that are, at least in the short term, to the perceived benefit of the elites and to the actual detriment of everyone in both the long and short term. In this regard politics has certainly been playing a large role in encouraging and rationalizing maladaptive responses to the ongoing collapse of society. Although another way of looking at it is that the elite political position has so far been a resounding success–if the goal has been to cut down on the surplus population as much as possible as this crisis drags on.

      That said, there are identifiable patterns and progressions associated with societal collapses, and using historical models of resource depletion versus societal dysfunction it’s fairly easy to place how far down towards dissolution the US (and other industrialized societies that unfortunately adopted the suicidal US model) are at the moment. It kind of offends me that there are people out there who ascribe a political agenda to those who are interested in how our society will undergo collapse, but I suppose that is the nature of our system and the human condition.

    2. Lambert Strether

      This is why, again, it would be very useful to understand Piketty’s academic and party context in France. Is he some kinda French Third Way-ist, for example?

  6. Banger

    Ukraine links–pretty good stuff.

    I took particular interest in Judah’s piece in the NYRB, once a journal that critiqued U.S. policies (Gore Vidal where art thou?) at least somewhat. It was largely atmospheric and accurate in its good reporting but, since it is forbidden now to color too far outside the lines, basically comparing the East Ukrainians as Serbs. Hate is indeed being spread in East Ukraine by Russian agents and sympathizers but this is a crisis started by the West which did exactly the same in Kiev, i.e., deliberately inflamed the situation not just in the winter but for over two decades. Now Russia is playing its geopolitical game but that’s what we have here, another great game.

    As for Fischer’s piece (he’s the radically pro-NATO, pro-U.S. former German FM) it is an excellent example of pure crap coming out of the U.S./NATO side that is bent on war, chaos and war to keep the current oligarchs in power perpetually.

    Ukraine will, like the former Yugoslavia, blow up and the posturing and movements within Russian, European, and U.S. ruling circles will be as much fun to watch as the struggle between the “West” and the “East.” There’s an Orwellian scent to all this–war for war’s sake–nostalgia on all sides for the Cold War when we could draw simple lines between “them” and “us.” Never mind that ruling elites in the USSR and the US colluded to keep the Cold War going after JFK and Khrushchev (read JFK And The Unspeakable by James Douglas for the best look at the Cuban Missile Crisis and its tragic aftermath–featuring letters between the two leaders that are heartbreaking and beautiful) fell out of power in their respective ways–these guys wanted to end the Cold War and were about to shake up the whole stupid arrangement.

    I’ve criticized US/EU policy but I don’t want to imply Russian “innocence” or anyone’s innocence–only to say that this is all a complex and Machiavellian game which all of us, in the end, are a victim of. This situation could have been easily defused by both sides-but there is no doubt in my mind that this policy stems from neoconservatives who have spread their infection into the European ruling elites and almost the whole of the U.S. media and public intellectual class (this latter matter is always easy). Again, their agenda is “world domination” and nothing short of complete rule over every living thing on the planet will suffice. I fear that there may be false flag attacks, lies and propaganda like the fake anti-Semitic business (echoing the fake “yellowcake uranium” and a host of other lies during the lead up to the war in Iraq). I hope that the American people, suddenly more cynical, will ignore the media whores and come to the basic conclusion, as I think they mainly have, that Ukraine is none of our business. It will be, I hope, the role of the American people to defuse the march towards war.

    1. mundanomaniac

      “Machiavellian game” … on the “Grand Chessboard”. The cocoos eg which Mr. B., the security advisor of polish heritage chained into the american dreams … of all things it, the “game of the russians”.
      Now they experience da cool master Putin. Two masterly draws: Syria and Krim.

      My short piece, adressing the current deployment of the “gods” (archetyps):
      (unfortunely in german, but with 4 Charts.)

      1. mundanomaniac

        I vorgot to say, that I would have appreciated, if da cool master would have had a similar cool idea about the rotten identity of russias corrupt allies, a perception of the poisonous consequences of immoral scent with the elite

  7. E.L. Beck

    RE “Higher risk of being fired for women CEOs”

    It seems that, in some instances at least, the board appoints a female CEO, all the while conscious of rotting timbers in the ship’s hull, and through no fault of the newly appointed CEO.

    It’s as if the male-majority board wants to have a bit of fun while appearing “forward thinking.”

      1. El Guapo

        As much as it would disappoint her remaining cultists, we must hope the world will be spared another Clinton presidency. 4 terms is enough.

    1. ArtSmith

      Hmmm. I’ve had the same thoughts to be honest. Hand the whole mess over to the women once you are sure the situation cannot be acceptably salvaged? Sort of like the gradual loss of status and salary as soon as any profession gains a critical mass of female practitioners…

  8. Ron

    Kusntler has discussed the relationship between magical thinking and fossil fuel usage for years and he is on the right track but most humans love there cars and all things modern and will never give up hope that technology will enshrine the current lifestyles. Magical thinking in the U.S. is acute given the large percentage of religious belief in afterlife and the popularity of FOX news.

    1. abynormal

      “Magical thinking in the U.S. is acute given the large percentage of religious belief in afterlife and the popularity of FOX news.”
      its not magical…its paid for. blaming folks living under the same regime only fuels the mongers ‘turn on your neighbor’ end-game…making your blame game no better than ‘theirs’.

      “I may be running out of options, but running out isn’t an option.”

      1. Ron

        the afterlife is not magical thinking? .. a neighbor believes that oil wells refill after a few years and that global warming has been over stated since they continue to update the computer models that make these projections..he learned this from watching Fox news…

        1. abynormal

          oh and your going to learn your neighbor while berating him on his ‘beliefs’ ?
          come on you can do better…if not, maybe you should seek murdoch for a position’)

          A fanatic is always the fellow on the opposite side.
          Will Rogers

    2. worker-owner

      “Never” is a long time. As energy pricing rises faster than median income, personal automobiles become increasingly a luxury (again). People will HATE it but will adapt out of necessity. On the “magical thinking point” … humans are prone to magical thinking … do we really believe it is any better or worse than in the past?

      1. optimader

        smaller cars, safer environment for motorcycles, light electric rail, electric street cars. We hardly have to go medieval, more like rewind the efficient and effective transportation solutions from few generations ago.
        It’s hardly like liquid HC fuels haven’t been expensive before, more a case of an incredibly provincial perspective in this country (US).
        Paraphrasing an old Zen quote: “A wise man can even live comfortably in Hell”

        1. Jess

          Regarding motorcycles, I watched a MythBusters segment a couple of years ago in which they demonstrated that motorcycles actually emit more pollutants. I know, sounds very counter-intuitive, but nevertheless, may be an issue. Seems to me two cities with pollution problems, Toyko and Mexico City, have high concentrations of motorcycles and scooters. But could be wrong.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Surely that’s motorcycles as is, i.e., poorly regulated. It’s got to be more expensive, in carbon terms, to push around a couple of tons of metal, than the far lighter motor-cycle.

          2. Doug Terpstra

            Hey, I strongly represent your incineration about motorcycles. Actually, I think you’re right. Often, on returning to the carport I give a couple of throttle twists to alert the Yorkie and practically gag on the gas fumes. It makes our ULEV truck smell like an air-freshener. Still, at triple or quadruple the mileage, I figure its a noble sacrifice … and only really a sin if you enjoy it.

              1. optimader

                “they demonstrated that motorcycles actually emit more pollutants.”
                Of course “motorcycle” could mean anything from little more than a bicycle w/ a two stroke engine to a 1650CC BMW, and compared to what?

                At the highest level, from the perspective of F=MA and KE=1/2MV^2 I’ll be kind to them and say they arrived at counterintuitive conclusion.
                It takes more force to accelerate a larger mass to a speed and therefore the energy consumed increases linearly w/ mass and to the square of velocity, so I think we’re safe to conclude that pushing a 300hp Sears Shed up to and maintaining 60MPH will consume more resources than a vehicle that has 80% less mass and a fraction of the rolling resistance and air resistance.

                “Seems to me two cities with pollution problems, Toyko and Mexico City, have high concentrations of motorcycles and scooters.”
                They also have high concentrations of diminutive stature people w/ dark hair, could that be it?

                Now take every motorcycle rider in Tokyo and M. City and put them in a Ford Explorer and run the data set again.

                1. allcoppedout

                  Athens has the small, dark-haired and pollution. So that’s your prissy equations done for Opti!

                  1. optimader

                    Don’t shoot the messenger, your bone to pick is w/ Mr. Newton.. or is it bone to smoke?? something like that.

                    –Alternatively we could make all small, dark haired people ride bikes?

                    1. allcoppedout

                      Were any sheep involved Opti? I hear Newton can’t be trusted on sheep. Of course, I speak as an economist now …

                    2. optimader

                      Them sheep are all liars!

                      A ventriloquist cowboy took a walk in the country and saw a rancher sitting on his porch with his dog.
                      Cowboy: “Hey, cool dog. Mind if I speak to him?”
                      Rancher: “This dog don’t talk!”
                      Cowboy: “Hey dog, how’s it goin’?”
                      Dog: “Doin’ all right.”
                      Rancher: (Look of extreme shock)
                      Cowboy: “Is this your owner?” (Pointing at rancher)
                      Dog: “Yep.”
                      Cowboy: “How’s he treat you?”
                      Dog: “Real good. He walks me twice a day, feeds me great food, and takes me to the lake once a week to play.”
                      Rancher: (Look of disbelief)
                      Cowboy: “Mind if I talk to your horse?”
                      Rancher: “Horses don’t talk!”
                      Cowboy: “Hey horse, how’s it goin’?”
                      Horse: “Cool.”
                      Rancher: (An even wilder look of shock)
                      Cowboy: “Is this your owner?” (Pointing at rancher)
                      Horse: “Yep.”
                      Cowboy: “How’s he treat you?”
                      Horse: “Pretty good, thanks for asking. He rides me regularly, brushes me down often, and keeps me in the barn to protect me from the elements.”
                      Rancher: (Look of total amazement)
                      Cowboy: “Mind if I talk to your sheep?”
                      Rancher: (Gesticulating wildly and hardly able to talk)……”Them sheep ain’t nothin’ but liars, every darned one of ’em!!!!”

                    3. abynormal

                      thats Hysterical Opti…dang i needed that, Thanks!
                      (btw i never did get that 2stroke mixture tightened down…moved on to a water cooled jack hammer an 2 more bikes later… well i ain’t been right since’)

    3. Banger

      I suggest to you that there is ample data suggesting paranormal activities that cannot be reduced to hallucinations or the “madness of crowds” as hyper-rationalists and those who believe that if you can’t measure something it doesn’t exist. I won’t go into it–other than suggest a look at the career of John E. Mack for starters or take a look at Charles Fort’s work. The sheer magnitude of the experience of human beings across millennia attests to the existence of every possible type of weird experience (much of it making little sense in the same way Flatlanders in Edwin Abbott’s famous book could not understand the paradoxical existence of three-dimenstional objects)–but still, there it is including my own personal experiences and that of hundreds of people over the years who I’ve spoken to.

      Magical thinking, as properly defined, is just another world for wishful thinking imagining a world that conforms to our petty desires and prejudices.

  9. Chris

    Are we seriously linking to Health Impact News? website that makes some outrageous claims without any evidence or linking to any information regarding the clinical trials of Gardasil. He could at least link to the VAERS database that tracks adverse events. Snopes also debunked the comments that were supposedly attributed to Diane Harper.

    1. CapeCodSkeptic

      +1000. I’m a long-time lurker, first-time poster, and I come to this site for informed comment on all things related to finance and economics. But in my day job, I’m a toxicologist, who just happens to have a son with Asperger’s Syndrome (i.e., I’m a bit acquainted with autism-spectrum disorders). I would hate to find contributors promoting antivax quackery and woo on this site.

    2. StealthBadger

      Yeah… long-time lurker here too. I read that with the same sick sense of shock and horror I had when someone I was close to started telling me that Atheists were going to hell, and that she was upset because she couldn’t get close to someone who she knew she wouldn’t see in the afterlife.

      1. optimader

        If you run the numbers on who can actually make the Heaven’s Gate fee, Hell will have a much more diverse and interesting population.

    3. spooz

      Its best not to put all vaccine criticism into the same box. We are not talking about measles here. All vaccines carry some risk, but that risk is usually offset by the risk of getting disease without it. That is not the case with Gardasil, imo.

      The article from Health Impact News gets its information from the French magazine Principes de Santé (Health Principles). They interviewed a former pharmaceutical industry physician with Gardasil manufacturer Merck who claims the vaccine is ineffective, making the high cost and any side effects a significant factor. He claims that profits, not outcomes, were the driving force in developing the vaccine. No surpise coming from Big Pharma.

      The case against Gardasil should not be focused on the general risks of vaccination but instead on the sketchy research involved in the rollout of this particular vaccine.
      Most HPV infections usually clear up without any intervention within a few months after acquisition, and about 90% clear within two years. Of the remaining 10% that don’t clear up, only half go on to become cancer. Even those cases take 15 or more years to progress to clinical infection, and progression to invasive cancer can be prevented when detected early with regular Pap smears.

      Dr. Harper, who was involved with the Gardasil clinical trials, had concerns about the lack of placebo and lack of data on duration of the vaccine’s efficacy (which could give women a false sense of security, convincing them to forgo Pap smears). Since most of the 11,000 new US cases of cervical cancer occur in women who have not had a Pap smear in five years, the need for this vaccine is questionable. Harper claims that the incidence of cervical cancer in the US is already so low that “if we get the vaccine and continue PAP screening, we will not lower the rate of cervical cancer in the US.”

      A new test approved by the FDA specifically looks for high risk strains of HPV, which can be easily treated on an outpatient basis. What is notable is that the Gardasil vaccine is touted as a way to reduce costs of treatment, but when you consider the fact that only a small fraction of women will present with the high risk strains of HPV, the high cost of Gardasil (about $400 for the series of 3 shots) for all women will outweigh by far the cost of treating infections clinically.

      1. CapeCodSkeptic

        I don’t believe anyone was consciously equating Gardasil with the marvelously effective and life-saving childhood vaccines like MMR. I do have a couple of comments in response, though:
        1. The majority of the text at the linked HIN site was a press release from SaneVax, Inc. whose anti-vax efforts have been covered extensively by Orac and other EBM bloggers.
        2. It is not clear to me how closely Dr. Harper was “involved” in the Gardasil clinical trials, but she has certainly been documented as being supportive of HPV vaccines in the past.
        3. Yes, cervical cancer is rare in the US compared to developing countries; but Gardasil has been shown to prevent HPV infection in a number of studies, and infection results in disease for at least some number of infected women and men.
        4. This is a risk assessment issue; the problem is that one can never really know their own individual risk. Preventative measures, if available, are likely to be attractive.
        5. I have read the argument about adjuvant placebo used in the clinical trials; is this the “sketchy research” to which you refer? If not, please advise.
        6. Of course, one would love for Merck to just give this stuff away, but patents (which expire in a little over a year from now).

        1. tert

          “Cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, paralysis of the lower limbs, vaccine-induced MS and vaccine-induced encephalitis can be found, whatever the vaccine.”

          note the “whatever the vaccine” part

          was it yesterday that Yves said “this is a financial blog, not a political blog?”

          well it sure as heck ain’t a medical blog!

          1. Pete

            Yes, the pharmaceutical cartel is just acting altruistically. They’re here to help, even if you didn’t ask for it or dare to make any informed choices about neurotoxin deliveries via vaccines. And any scientist or doctor who should dare raise a red flag, risking his or her career while running the full gauntlet of corporate cultist assault must be part of the “anti-vax propaganda” movement.

            …Must be time to pop a couple Vioxx and leaf through my GMO seed catalog.

        2. petal

          Thank you, CapeCod. Immunology researcher here who also spent time in GYN Onc. Clicked on link, started reading, scrolled down, and was really disappointed.

        3. spooz

          1) ad hom, it doesn’t matter who publishes the information, only that the information is accurate. Since you can’t tell the difference, look up Dr Charlotte Haug’s JAMA editorial “The Risks and Benefits of HPV Vaccination”. Haug says that given the uncertain benefit of the vaccine only a small risk of harmful effects is acceptable, and goes on to point out the limitations of the system used for collecting adverse event reports. She is also very critical of the marketing, with Merck & Co promoting Gardasil as a guard against cervical cancer instead of as vaccine against certain strains of HPV. Dr. Haug comments that, in view of the uncertain benefit from the HPV vaccine, “only a small risk of harmful effects from the vaccine” is acceptable.

          2. Dr. Harper was a “principle investigator in the Gardasil clinical trial. She described her role in a Huffpo interview:

          “Principal investigator means that I was responsible for assembling a research team to recruit participants, deliver the health care during the study, collect biological specimens at the correct time, and retain subjects over the entire time frame of the study. After the data collection is complete, I have a professional/medical/clinical obligation to review the data for interpretation, comment and publication. There are instances when industry will exclude a PI from participating in the data publication process. In total, for Merck and GSK, our team enrolled and followed nearly 3000 women in these studies. We have been participating in these trials as early as1997 when the first protocols were written.”

          (please don’t make another ad hom argument on Dr. Harper’s quote, because it was published in Huffpo. Those kind of arguments are dishonest and tedious.)

          3. It is not clear whether the risk of serious side effects is greater than the risk of cervical cancer from the trials.

          4. For countries like the US, where women are well screened by pap smears, benefits are doubtful when side effects are considered. The vaccine could prove be more valuable in developing countries lacking affordable gynecological services (which experience 5 to 12 times higher rates of cervical cancer than the US) since the adverse events may outweigh the risk, but the cost would be prohibitive.

          5. Regarding the research, problems include
          -ethical issues of using children in clinical trials
          -only two years to develop and market a vaccine, not long enough to test efficacy or safety.
          -aluminum adjuvant placebo used produced severe adverse reactions, making its usefulness as a placebo and the data questionable.
          -placebo trials ended early
          -Poor analysis of events: for 90% of the manufacturers reported side effects, no follow up information was given with which to investigate the events further.
          -studies were funded by Merck, which creates a conflict of interest and possible bias
          -I could go on and on, hopefully this short list will satisfy you

          6. Even if the cost of the vaccine came down, it would not eliminate the need for women to have pap smears, since the duration of efficacy is unknown and only Gardasil protects against only 2 of 15 high risk HPV strains.

          Its a good thing I like digging for facts; your points seemed disingenuous to me.

          1. CapeCodSkeptic

            1. Nope, not ad hom, but I definitely have a problem with HIN, and SaneVax, Inc. Not good science, and their disinformation campaigns have been covered ad infinitum at Respectful Insolence and other science-based medicine blogs, as I mentioned before.
            2. I don’t know Dr. Harper, but her comments on HuffPo are as unlikely to persuade me as her interview on Katie Couric’s show. I don’t need to attack her personally; I also don’t need to swallow every thing she says.
            Haug’s editorial (ca 2009) is thoughtful and raises some important questions best handled between patients and their doctors; but additional studies on efficacy and safety have been published since that time (see below). Yes, it will take some time to see results for prevention of cancer, that is the nature of this particular beast because of lag. Personally, I don’t find long lag time a persuasive argument against vaccination. In addition, maybe more oncogenic HPV strains will be included in a future vaccine.
            3. According to Merck’s own published circular of vaccine-related info, as well as published studies, the benefits outweigh the risks, in terms of decreased infection rates. Time will tell WRT cancer incidence.
            4. Disagree on the doubtfulness of benefits in US; again, this is a risk assessment/risk management decision. Would that more Americans understood these terms, maybe then anti-vaxers would be laughed out of the public domain. For developing countries? Cost prohibitive, yes, at least until generics enter the picture.
            5. Phase II and III clinical trials with the quadrivalent vaccine were conducted ca. 2000 & later; that’s a bit longer than 2 years; yes, yes, bias, vaccine makers are inherently evil; children are allowed in clinical studies and this is covered by the Children’s Health Act of 2000 (which responds to FDA’s Pediatric Rule of 1998). Side effects: correlation does not equal causation; patients suffer from all kinds of reporting biases that are documented in the medical literature; VAERS is a mess (and yes, I’ve reviewed VAERS data on HPV), the site is acknowledged by the CDC as being prone to attack by all kinds of people with agendas; see BMJ Oct. 2013 for yet another recent study on lack of adverse effects in vaccinated girls (but admittedly two of the authors have received BigPharma money before, so of course the study is all bunk). Aluminum adjuvants have been used in vaccines for over 70 years, and the Gardasil studies had both an adjuvant placebo and a saline control. Amazingly, despite their old age and ubiquitous use, Al adjuvants now appear to be the target of anti-vaxers, (read all about it on the SaneVax and AoA websites!!) because their original target, thimerosal, was proved NOT to be an etiologic agent for autism.
            6. I claimed nothing about pap smears; in fact, the argument can be made that women who get HPV vaccines are more vigilant (and informed) about their health than other women, and may be more likely to continue with annual pap smears.
            7. Unfortunately, I’m not getting paid by BigPharma, and it is late, so I’ll close with this, and will not comment further. Parents can make up their own mind about whether the vaccine is right for their children–no one is forcing them to take it. As for me, if the vaccine results in a decrease in oropharyngeal cancers, which are reportedly on the rise in the male US population (JCO October 3, 2011), that’s a good thing. And cheap at twice the price.

            1. H. Alexander Ivey

              Your long reply with lots of words well organised into bullet points does not make up for your cheap shots, poor reasoning, and sincerity masking a let-them-eat-cake attitude. But you give away your laissez-faire view with your “Parents can make up their own mind about whether the vaccine is right for their children–no one is forcing them to take it. “. Yes, they ARE forced into vaccinations, and the parents do not have enough info to decide – that is the role of the government acting on reasonable and prudent advice from unbiased, un-“conflict of interests”, experts in the field of vaccination and immunisation.

              Yves’ rules on ad hominem attacks prevents my further writing on your posting, so good day to you sir.

  10. rich

    The Milken Global Conference Gets More and More Cozy With Government Operatives Every Year
    In the early days, the Milken Global Conference was mostly about venture capitalists, top CEOs of non-crony businesses and top-flight entrepreneurs, but each year the conference gets more and more littered with opportunistic politicians, crony businessmen and government revolving door operatives.

    Check out these characters from this year’s list of speakers:

  11. jfleni

    RE: U.S. Greenhouse Emissions Tied To Aging Nuclear, Coal Plants

    Once again, the “serious” experts are just talking to themselves, like some old guy in his dotage (or in his cups)!

    1. Poison-Dwarf-bros and similar power-crats are almost panic-stricken trying to prevent rooftop solar from eating their “coal-smoke and nuke-me” markets; tactics will include “butt-kisser” politicians outlawing whatever hurts their profits. Ultimately it will not work; costs will drive it not politics, and their expensive efforts will be wasted.

    2. In about a year, the first versions of effective battery systems to store solar/wind output will become available, mainly as a result of electric vehicle technology; they won’t be perfect, but WILL be much better than current technology, and have nowhere to go but up.

    3. In a fairly short time, “coal-smoke and nuke-me” will be mostly historical artifacts, something the “experts” could not predict, even in their wildest dreams.

    Goodbye “Poison-Dwarf-bros”, nutty Princelings,Canuck PMs and their mammoth grease-pits, and all the rest.

    1. Brian

      I wonder if it will be before or after we can no longer breathe. For the rollout to be a success, I am guessing it would need to be after.

  12. rich

    Wall Street’s Pension Gamble

    In the national debate over what to do about public pension shortfalls, here’s something you may not know: The texts of the agreements signed between those pension funds and financial firms are almost always secret. Yes, that’s right. Although they are public pensions that taxpayers contribute to and that public officials oversee, the exact terms of the financial deals being engineered in the public’s name and with public money are typically not available to you, the taxpayer.

    To understand why that should be cause for concern, ponder some possibilities as they relate to pension deals with hedge funds, private equity partnerships and other so-called “alternative investments.” For example, it is possible that the secret terms of such agreements could allow other private individuals in the same investments to negotiate preferential terms for themselves, meaning public employees’ pension money enriches those private investors. It is also possible that the secret terms of the agreements create the heads-Wall-Street-wins, tails-pensions-lose effect — the one whereby retirees’ money is subjected to huge risks, yet financial firms’ profits are guaranteed regardless of returns.
    North Carolina exemplifies the latter problem.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Credit card balance and credit score vs. age or weight.

    That seems natural.

    Why would anyone wear his credit card balance on his shirt?

    Age or weight – that’s not too hard to guess, plus or minor a tolerance. Most people accept that to be fairly public information.

    So, out of habit, it carries over on the phone, if the polling is done that way.

  14. ftm

    The link to the anti-vaccine screed should be pulled. Having links like this undermine NC’s mission.

    1. abynormal

      omg, Bill is that You? well shiver me timbers!

      “The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s heading up to about nine billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care & reproductive health services, we could LOWER that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.”
      Bill Gates

      1. ftm

        Is this supposed to be funny?

        I guess I don’t find it funny when people have a knee jerk reaction against vaccines. Ignoring the vast benefits of vaccines doesn’t seem too different than ignoring how human activity contributes to global warming. You either think there is something to science or you don’t. If uncontroversial science has now become joke fodder,
        the future is indeed bleak.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          This is straw-manning. The article is not about vaccines in general. It is about a former Merck doctor reporting that ONE SPECIFIC VACCINE, Gardasil, has low/no efficacy, is overpriced, and Merck knew damned well but is selling it anyhow.

          1. ftm

            Re: the original link
            Agree the cost of Guardasil is too high. Don’t agree there it has no/low efficacy. But what was disturbing about the link, is it sings the common refrain of all anti-vaccine screeds that the vaccine is dangerous — there is no convincing evidence presented or that i’m aware of that Guardasil is dangerous. It also implies that an insider doctor at Merck denounces the vaccine, and there is no evidence the doctor ever worked at Merck or has any specific expertise in vaccines.
            RE: my last comment. It was not strawmanning as I was responding to a joke that implied that Bill Gates was big on vaccines — IN GENERAL– because they are unsafe and would reduce population growth.

            I’m a long time reader and supporter of NC. I love your financial analytic and investigative work. But links like this which are full of misinformation do not mix well with your core mission of telling the truth.

  15. Colin Brace

    James Howard Kunstler has become a repetitive bore. He writes the same thing, year in year out. Yes I am sure he is right, Western Civilization (TM) is going down the drain, but his impatience for it to happen is tiresome.

    1. Banger

      Kunstler is married to his ideas and cannot look at things afresh. He and others have been predicting collapse and disaster for too long to be taken seriously. Still, some of his ideas are ok and he has style–but tends to not think very deeply.

  16. Jackrabbit

    Apartheid, just less Black and White, Financial Times

    should be read in conjunction with

    From Outside or Inside, the Deck Looks Stacked, Gretchen Morgenson, NYTimes

    I have previously said (here at NC!) that we have a system of economic apartheid. In capitialism, inequality is a given, but what we have now is extreme inequality that is govt-sponsored and protected. The Deck is stacked in many many ways: tax advantages, QE, corporate welfare, propaganda, ‘war’ on the middle class, judicial prejudice, etc. The ‘Apartheid’ article talks about how inequality is the new liberal concern (b/c no one talks about global warming anymore). Obama has proposed a faux solution but there is unlikely to be any real solution as long as ‘vote with your money’ politics continues.

    As so many have already pointed out, oppression and extreme inequality are counterproductive and threaten the elite. Yet it seems that nothing will change until ordinary people reach a point of desperation. When government tells the people who to hate, its called war; when the people figure it out for themselves, its called revolution. (ht someone on ZH)

  17. Jackrabbit

    Judicial Watch forces release of Benghazi documents

    Judicial Watch announced . . . that on April 18, 2014, it obtained 41 new Benghazi-related State Department documents. They include a newly declassified email showing then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes and other Obama administration public relations officials attempting to orchestrate a campaign to “reinforce” President Obama and to portray the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack as being “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.” . . .

    The documents were released Friday as result of a June 21, 2013, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit . . . to gain access to documents about the controversial talking points used by then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice for a series of appearances on television Sunday news programs on September 16, 2012. Judicial Watch had been seeking these documents since October 18, 2012.

    “Now we know the Obama White House’s chief concern about the Benghazi attack was making sure that President Obama looked good,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And these documents undermine the Obama administration’s narrative that it thought the Benghazi attack had something to do with protests or an Internet video. Given the explosive material in these documents, it is no surprise that we had to go to federal court to pry them loose from the Obama State Department.”

    (apologies if this has previously been linked to on NC)

  18. abynormal

    im on day 2 of nasty Southern tornados and it would be ever so helpful if the weather channel would stop telling me to call and warn a loved one of incoming ‘hooks’ and debris because for all their bells n whistles i can’t tell WHAT STATE their radar is reading
    details people details

      1. abynormal

        we cooled off enough to bypass the worst…some how our front jumped and slammed down on NC. last nights storms were sad to follow…if an F5 is the finger of God then a nocturnal tornado has ta be God’s finger jammed down his throat.

      2. abynormal

        Insane! this same storm has just produced 5 INCHES OF RAIN IN 45 MIN ON PENSACOLA FL. i can’t even imagine.

  19. just me

    re antidote – sudden pang for Maurice Sendak

    deep pang

    thank you, Maurice
    miss you, Maurice

  20. Jessica

    About “Piketty Dikitty Rikitty” by James Howard Kunstler
    I don’t trust anyone who will be profoundly disappointed if there is no multi-billion person die-back.

  21. allcoppedout

    Buzz, buzz, the day of biological intelligence is over at last. I always wonder why there are humans in Star Trek, given our evolutionary adaptation to zero gravity is squilch. Cant see the point of them carbon-based lifeforms in the film though. What use are they?

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