Why I get most of my news coverage from Bloomberg TV

Yes, I enjoy “magazine pieces and panels on MSNBC. Also watch Sky News and the Canadian Broadcasting Company via apps on our Apple TV. And I wish Al Jazeera America was still around. But, the sidebar and crawl on Bloomberg – and onscreen staff segments – keep me up-to-date with our world better than any of the “all-American” networks.

True, also, of a number of online sites – from The Big Picture to VOX.

They’re Back..! Subprime Loans, Cars, this time instead of houses. Defaults Are Soaring

❝ It’s classic subprime: hasty loans, rapid defaults, and, at times, outright fraud…Only this isn’t the U.S. housing market circa 2007. It’s the U.S. auto industry circa 2017.

A decade after the mortgage debacle, the financial industry has embraced another type of subprime debt: auto loans. And, like last time, the risks are spreading as they’re bundled into securities for investors worldwide.

❝ Subprime car loans have been around for ages, and no one is suggesting they’ll unleash the next crisis. But since the Great Recession, business has exploded. In 2009, $2.5 billion of new subprime auto bonds were sold. In 2016, $26 billion were, topping average pre-crisis levels, according to Wells Fargo…

❝ Few things capture this phenomenon like the partnership between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Banco Santander SA. Since 2013, as U.S. car sales soared, the two have built one of the industry’s most powerful subprime machines.

Details of that relationship, pieced together from court documents, regulatory filings and interviews with industry insiders, lay bare some of the excesses of today’s subprime auto boom. Wall Street has rewarded lax lending standards that let people get loans without anyone verifying incomes or job histories. For instance, Santander recently vetted incomes on fewer than one out of every 10 loans packaged into $1 billion of bonds, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The largest portion were for Chrysler vehicles.

Some of their dealers, meantime, gamed the loan application process so low-income borrowers could drive off in new cars…

❝ Through it all, Wall Street’s appetite for high-yield investments has kept the loans — and the bonds — coming…Reid Bigland, Chrysler’s U.S. sales chief, said Santander has been a “good partner.”

Typically, you look to see which regulators have had staff cut by the sleaziest members of Congress. That’s where the money-grubbers most inclined to fraud are focused. Nowadays, with today’s version of the Republican Party in slim control of both houses of Congress – with the pimp-in-chief in the White House – you can be assured the beat goes on!

Some Antibiotics in First Trimester Raise Risk of Major Birth Defects

❝ Several common types of antibiotics were linked both to major congenital and to organ specific malformations in infants when taken during the first trimester of pregnancy, a retrospective Canadian cohort study found.

❝ Exposure to antibiotics, such as clindamycin, doxycycline, quinolones, macrolides and phenoxymethylpenicillin, increased the risk of these birth defects, reported Flory T. Muanda, MD, of the University of Montreal, and colleagues.

However, there was no increased risk of major congenital malformations linked to exposure to amoxicillin, cephalosporins, or nitrofurantoin, the authors wrote in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology…

❝ Researchers examined data from the Quebec pregnancy cohort, an ongoing population-based cohort with data on all pregnancies covered by Quebec Public Prescription Drug Insurance from 1998 to 2008, comprising about 140,000 infants.

Be aware.

❝ They concluded that, despite the small absolute risks associated with these birth defects, “physicians should consider prescribing safer antibiotics for the treatment of maternal infections when possible.”

Callista Gingrich nomination to the Vatican stinks on ice


What passes for job qualifications inside the Beltway

❝ Let us consider the qualifications of President Trump’s nominee to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Holy See: one Callista Gingrich of Virginia.

❝ She is a former clerk on the House Agriculture Committee…She is the author of children’s books about an elephant named Ellis…She sings in the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception…She plays French horn in City of Fairfax Band…And, she testified Tuesday, she has “looked at some of” Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change.

❝ But really, Gingrich was receiving a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because of one qualification: She is married to Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House and a major backer of President Trump.

And now, for his support of Trump, he is getting the ultimate patronage: the chance to live in Rome on the taxpayer’s dime while his wife, the president of Gingrich Productions, enjoys a plum posting…

❝ National Catholic Reporter’s Michael Sean Winters called it “astonishing that a party that celebrates family values at every turn has a president who is on his third wife and who has bragged about his extramarital affairs and who is appointing an ambassador to the Vatican who had a six-year affair with her future husband while he was still married to his second wife.”

The nomination of Callista is also Trump’s beatification of Newt, who has done as much as anyone to coarsen American politics — and to pave the way for Trump — with his name-calling, demonizing and brinkmanship.

Appointments like this one are often payback for loyalty. With a so-called president who values loyalty as the dearest form of obedience, I guess no one should be surprised at an appointment as incompetent as anything else he’s done to demean the presidency.

When Smokers Quit, Their Sinusitis Eventually Goes Away. In About 10 Years.

❝ Smokers with chronic rhinosinusitis who kick the habit should see their condition gradually improve to the level of a nonsmoker, although it may take 10 years, study findings suggest.

❝ Cigarette smoking is a known cause of chronic sinusitis and smoking also makes symptoms worse, so it stands to reason that quitting smoking would be beneficial to people with the condition.

But the newly published, cross-sectional study is actually the first investigation to quantify the severity of symptoms and quality-of-life impact of smoking on chronic rhinosinusitis…said senior author Ahmad Sedaghat, MD, PhD…

❝ In their effort to quantify the impact of smoking and smoking cessation on CRS symptoms, Sedaghat and colleagues utilized the aptly named SNOT questionnaire — a 22-item indicator of sinusitis symptom severity.

Har.

❝ They recruited 103 former smokers with CRS and an equal number of CRS patients with no history of smoking for the study. For the ex-smokers, time since quitting ranged from a few months to more than 50 years…

Outcome measures were compared between cohorts and checked for association with time since smoking cessation for former smokers.

❝ Compared with nonsmokers, former smokers had worse SNOT-22 scores and EQ-5D VAS scores and they also reported using more CRS-related antibiotics and oral corticosteroids in the past year.

Among former smokers, each year since quitting was associated with a statistically significant improvement in SNOT-22 score…

So, if you’re getting all bummed out because your dumb smoking habit is killing you – QUIT. You will feel better over time. Strictly subjective, I can verify that. I quit smoking 59 years ago. Progressive changes in lung function were really apparent the first couple of years – and extended through at least a decade.