Monday Reads

audrey breakfast at Tiffany

Good Morning!

I’ve not been in a very good mood the last few days.  I’m trying to get my manuscript camera ready and have found that the adjustments to the font size and smaller margins have just about done me in.  It’s really messed up the pagination and my seemingly endless tables of statistics.  I am about ready to chew off all my nails and pull out quit a bit of hair.  It’s very nerve wracking.

Here’s a few links to get you start this morning.  I’ve been trying to read some interesting things in the hopes of finding some inner calm.

The best news of the weekend came when Larry Summers withdrew his name from consideration for FED chair.  The last thing we needed was yet another financial market sycophant in position that matters as much as that one.  The Fed has been one of the few functional institutions and thankfully, it looks like even congress respected the need for its independence.

The decision marks a disappointing turn of events for the renowned economist, who had operated at the highest levels of academia and government. But he has been dogged by controversies. Summers has come under fire for his support for deregulating parts of the banking sector while he was Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton. While president of Harvard University in 2005, he also sparked controversy for his comments on women’s aptitude in math and science.

People close to the White House said Summers faced not only a rebellion among liberal Democrats but also other challenges, including a debate over whether to launch a military strike against Syria that stretched out the Fed process and gave more time for opposition to build.

The major opposition for Summers came from Democratic Senators. 

Summers was a top initial candidate for the Fed job among senior current and former White House officials. Obama was also inclined to appoint Summers to the post, people close to the White House said. But the longer time dragged on without a nomination, the more liberal groups and some Democratic senators were able to organize to oppose Summers, who many on the left viewed as too close to Wall Street and not strong enough on financial regulation.

Opposition to Summers among Senate Democrats has been obvious for weeks but it escalated on Friday when Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) announced he would vote against Obama’s former economic adviser if he was nominated.

At least three other Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee were expected to oppose Summers — Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) – raising the politically uncomfortably scenario of Obama needing to rely on Republican votes just to get his choice for a Fed chief out of committee.

Obama has said the other candidates for the job are Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen and former Fed Vice Chair Donald Kohn. But Summers was said to be the president’s first choice and it’s unclear if he will fall back on one of these two candidates or look elsewhere.

There are some interesting studies on obesity and the way different people process food.  I found this article while reading my copy of The Economist.  Links to corn-flakes-1915the studies are provided in the article.  A lot of the differences may have to do with bacteria found in your digestive tract.

Even more intriguing is the notion that the same diet may be treated differently by different people. Four recent papers explored this theme. In one, published in Science in July, Joseph Majzoub, also of Boston Children’s Hospital, deleted in mice a gene called Mrap2. Dr Majzoub and his colleagues showed that this helps to control appetite. Surprisingly, however, even when the mutant critters ate the same as normal mice, they still gained more weight. Why that is remains unclear, but it may be through Mrap2’s effect on another gene, called Mc4r, which is known to be involved in weight gain.

The second and third papers, published as a pair in Nature in August, looked at another way that different bodies metabolise the same diet. Both studies were overseen by Dusko Ehrlich of the National Institute of Agricultural Research in France. One examined bacteria in nearly 300 Danish participants and found those with more diverse microbiota in their gut showed fewer signs of metabolic syndrome, including obesity and insulin resistance. The other study put 49 overweight participants on a high-fibre diet. Those who began with fewer bacterial species saw an increase in bacterial diversity and an improvement in metabolic indicators. This was not the case for those who already had a diverse microbiome, even when fed the same diet.

Jeffrey Gordon, of Washington University in St Louis, says these two studies point to the importance of what he calls “job vacancies” in the microbiota of the obese. Fed the proper diet, a person with more vacancies may see the jobs filled by helpful bacteria. In the fourth paper, by Dr Gordon and recently published in Science, he explores this in mice. To control for the effects of genetics, Dr Gordon found four pairs of human twins, with one twin obese and the other lean. He collected their stool, then transferred the twins’ bacteria to sets of mice. Fed an identical diet, the mice with bacteria from an obese twin became obese, whereas mice with bacteria from a thin twin remained lean.

So,BB found this great article on a discovery of a Mayan mass grave site.

Archaeologist Nicolaus Seefield found the gravesite in an “artificial cave,” which he explains to LiveScience had likely functioned as a water reservoir before the burial “since the cave’s floor was perfectly clean.”

The skeletons found there were not “in their original anatomical articulation,” he says. “The observed hatchet marks on the cervical vertebra are a clear indication of decapitation”; most had their lower jaw detached, and the “spatial pattern” of the bones is consistent with dismemberment.

The archaeologists believe the dead were either prisoners of war or Uxul nobles; they hope upcoming isotope analysis will reveal whether they were from Uxul — which is near what is now the Guatemala border — or elsewhere. Neat fact from LiveScience: “Uxul” means “at the end.”

It wasn’t the only Mayan discovery of the summer: A “lost” Maya city was discovered in June.

happybreakfastThere are many things that depress me about how eager Republicans are to punish poor people for whatever their perverse reasons.  What really gets me is how they continue to ensure that poor children will have no chance.  Early childhood education has usually be the one program that every one agrees on because it’s efficacy is amazing.   The sequestration has led to a large number of children being tossed out of Head Start.   I find this beyond troubling.  Early childhood education has been shown to be one very effective way to fight inequality.  Here’s yet another article on how this country has started to do things all wrong.

In many ways, we do education backwards in this country. We skimp and shortchange the poor children who need education the most, while at the same we lavish public moneys on those who need it least. Take, for instance,this article about the outrageous practice of taxpayer subsidies for the legacy admits of rich alumni of elite colleges.

In this context, advocacy for educational programs that alleviate, rather than exacerbate, inequality is particularly welcome. That’s why I especially appreciated today’s New York Times’ Opinionator blog, in which economist James Heckman writes a great op-ed about the dramatic impact of early childhood education in the lives of poor children. Heckman, as you may know, is a Nobel Prize winning economist from the University of Chicago. He’s a typical University of Chicago economist in that yes, he’s a free market true believer type. But he’s been studying pre-K programs for poor kids for years, and he supports them for conservative reasons: because they are economically rational. Early childhood education for at-risk kids is one of those (relatively) rare government programs that the free market types like because it produces not just equity, but also efficiency.

Here’s an interesting piece on the connections between the Koch Brothers and the Tea Party.  It seems the Kochs just have their nasty little fingers in every thing that is unraveling our democracy.

Politico.com, the Washington insider website, has the money-in-politics scoop of the year: It has unmasked a previously unknown political money laundering operation, set up by the energy billionaires and libertarian Koch brothers, that raised $256 million and secretly spent almost all of it last year against Democrats.

The “Koch brothers’ secret bank,” which is what the website calls the Virginia-based group, whose formal name is Freedom Partners, is the glue that has been holding together the right-wing pantheon of pro-corporate, anti-regulatory, anti-Obama, anti-labor front groups that are against everything from healthcare reform to labor unions to financial market reform to progressive taxation.

“The group has about 200 donors, each paying at least $100,000 in annual dues,” Politico reported, saying Freedom Partners would soon be filing papers with the IRS disclosing its existence. “It raised $256 million in the year after its creation in November 2011, the [IRS] document shows. And it made grants of $236 million—meaning a totally unknown group was the largest sugar daddy for conservative groups in the last election, second in total spending only to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which together spent about $300 million.”

The fact that secretive right-wingers could amass and spend a quarter-billion dollars in a presidential election cycle and go undetected under federal campaign finance law is an astounding indictment of the American electoral system, revealing that all the laws intending to inform the public about who is slinging political mud are meaningless. The mockery goes even further when considering the section of the federal tax code the group is operating under: 501(c)6. That designation is for trade associations, which lets the group conceal its donors.

Trade asociations, like trade unions, were created to represent single industries or crafts. Freedom Partners’ “trade” is the business of political assassination. What follows is Politico’s list of the groups, causes and amounts received from the Kochs’ cartel. The group’s members are drawn from the energy barons’ semiannual political conferences, which feature speeches by Congress’ Republican leadership.

So, that’s a little this and that from me this morning.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


26 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. RalphB says:

    The Kochs really seem to be performing a buyout attempt of the government.

  2. RalphB says:

    The UN report on Syria is supposed to be released today. I doubt it will have any effect on the conspiracy theorists though.

    • Fannie says:

      I suppose the words “crimes against humanity” won’t matter to the conspiracy theorist. They intend on slamming the door shut on anything that Obama comes up with.

      I am glad Obama has considered diplomatic measures………….it can be a win for both the Kremlin and White House……..We may not agree with Russia, and like his policies, but it matters when you allow the negotiators in (Sergie Lavrov), we must denounce, and remove weapons to prevent further “gassing of men, women and children”.

    • dakinikat says:

      BI: Politics ‏@bi_politics 1m
      Here’s the full UN report on the ‘unequivocal’ use of chemical weapons in #Syria http://read.bi/1aF5W6h

      • RalphB says:

        “This is a war crime and a grave violation of the 1925 Protocol and other rules of customary international law,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in a statement on Monday.

        “I trust all can join me in condemning this despicable crime. The international community has a responsibility to hold the perpetrators accountable and to ensure that chemical weapons never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare.”

  3. RalphB says:

    I think a lot og the press corps wanted a neat story leading to a nice little war and are angry they didn’t get it.

    tbotp: President Obama holds fire — but media doesn’t

    President Barack Obama is damaging his presidency, weakening America’s standing in the world, and displaying “inexplicable” incompetence.

    The media figure making those accusations isn’t Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh, Charles Krauthammer or Glenn Beck. The critic doesn’t host a right-wing talk show, anchor a Fox News program, or write for the pages of the Weekly Standard. In fact, he’s not even a conservative.

    • Fannie says:

      Ralph if he would launched a cruise missile, they would still be saying Obama is weak, and incompetent.

      I wish they would look up the term Diplomacy:

      The art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states. It usually refers to international diplomacy, the conduct of international relations through the intercessions of professional diplomats with regard to issues of peace making, trade, war, economic, culture, environment, and human rights. International treaties are usually negotiated by diplomats prior to endorsement by national politicians. In an informal or social sense, diplomacy is the employment of tact to gain strategic advantage or to find mutallly acceptable solutions to a common challenge, one set of tools beings the phrasing of statements in a non-confrontational, or polite manner.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Obama simply can’t win, no matter what he does.

        • RalphB says:

          MSM has made up their mind, he can’t be allowed to win. This attitude seems to have started when DOJ looked at James Rosen and has only went downhill from there.

          • janey says:

            If you don’t like MSM listen to MSNBC, a much more left wing outlet and balanced. Yes, they sometimes criticize the Pres but not as a matter of propaganda. I can’t stand any of the other channels, they go to the repubs first and longer.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Oh well. Joke Line. He’s no liberal–just another Broderite villager type.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Police search for active shooter on grounds of Washington Navy Yard in Southeast D.C.

    A D.C. police officer is among the people shot at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning.

    A police spokesman confirmed at 9:20 a.m. that the officer was shot near the room where a lone gunman has barricaded himself after allegedly shooting at least three people on the Navy Yard grounds in Southeast Washington.

    The U.S. Navy said that three shots were fired around 8:20 a.m. at the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters building, where about 3,000 people work.

    Police said that at least three, possibly four, people were shot. All are in critical condition, authorities said.

    A “shelter in place” order has been issued for Navy Yard personnel, authorities said.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Colorado flooding strands National Guard

    Fifteen Colorado National Guard members and other first responders were stranded Monday on high ground after rising floodwaters the day before forced them to abandon efforts to evacuate residents from flooded areas near Lyons, a National Guard spokeswoman said.

    The troops and emergency workers are stuck there until the waters recede or helicopters can come to rescue them, Colorado National Guard Master Sgt. Cheresa Theiral said.

  6. Fannie says:

    Good morning. On the subject of eating disorders, the Miss America Pageants have a history of bad food processing. The recent selection of Nina Davular, has brought out the bad taste of hate in this country. They are out tweeting away with racist remarks about her identity.

    “The liberal Miss America judges won’t say this, but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represents American values”………………another one tweets “Miss Al Qaeda”. If she would have been black, she’d be called a Muslim. People are not helping to improve America, they are participating in the outright destruction of our 21st century society.

    It’s enough to make you puke.

  7. dakinikat says:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/16/markets-are-thrilled-larry-summers-wont-be-fed-chair/?hpid=

    Since news broke Sunday afternoon that Larry Summers has taken himself out of the running to lead the Federal Reserve, the reaction in financial markets can only be described as elation.
    The Standard & Poor’s 500 index opened Monday morning up 0.9 percent, and the Dow Jones industrial average up 155 points. Bond markets rallied, as well, with 10-year interest rates falling from around 2.9 percent Friday to 2.79 percent Monday morning, and the dollar fell against other currencies

    roflmao

  8. Fannie says:

    Excellent