Eight Things to Know About the U.K. Vote — by Barry Ritholtz

Hat tip to Ian Bremmer

Well, the Brits have really done it now. All the experts told us people in the U.K. were smart enough to see that voting to leave the European Union was a mistake — but not to worry because the referendum was going to lose…

1. London, Get Used to It

It was a back and forth between New York and London in the bidding to be the capital of capitalism. That race just ended. This may be good for New York and Hong Kong in some abstract way, but more likely the center of European financial gravity will shift to Geneva or Brussels or Frankfurt; or maybe no one city replaces London and financial power is scattered all over Europe.

London’s ambition to be the world’s most important city is now over. Expect it to become more like Colonial Williamsburg: A tourist trap that attempts to depict what life was like in the not-too-distant past.

Barry goes on from there. My favorite Recovering Republican, damned good economist and sufficiently cynical to function as a real financial analyst in a world full of phonies.

Please click the link and enjoy it all.

Hope for reversing type 2 diabetes

Allan Tutty on the beach in SunderlandRobert Ormerod/NYTimes

Many experts believe Type 2 diabetes is an incurable disease that gets worse with time. But new research raises the tantalizing possibility that drastic changes in diet may reverse the disease in some people.

Recently, a small clinical trial in England studied the effects of a strict liquid diet on 30 people who had lived with Type 2 diabetes for up to 23 years. Nearly half of those studied had a remission that lasted six months after the diet was over. While the study was small, the finding offers hope to millions who have been told they must live with the intractable disease…

It is not the first time that people have reversed type 2 diabetes by losing a lot of weight shortly after a diagnosis. Studies have also shown that obese individuals who have bariatric surgery frequently see the condition vanish even before they lose very much weight.

But the new study, published in Diabetes Care, proved the reversal after diet can persist for at least half a year as long as patients keep weight off, and can occur in people who have had the disease for many years.

Another conclusion that losing weight and exercising is good for you.

The researchers followed the participants after they had completed an eight-week low-calorie-milkshake diet and returned to normal eating. Six months later, those who had gone into remission immediately after the diet were still diabetes-free. Though most of those who reversed the disease had had it for less than four years, some had been diabetic for more than eight years.

❝ When Allan Tutty, 57, learned five years ago that he had Type 2 diabetes, he asked health care providers if there was a cure. “It was a case of, look, you’ve got it, deal with it, there’s no cure,” said Mr. Tutty, who manages a home for people with brain injuries in Newcastle.

Later, Mr. Tutty spotted a notice recruiting volunteers for a diabetes study that asked, “Would you like the opportunity to reverse your condition?”

Mr. Tutty said he jumped at the chance, becoming one of 30 men and women ages 25 to 80 to sign up. Mr. Tutty was one of 13 participants whose fasting plasma glucose dropped, and during the six-month follow-up remained below the seven millimole per liter (or 126 milligrams per deciliter) that defines diabetes. Although Mr. Tutty completed the study nearly three years ago, his fasting blood sugars continue to range from 5.2 to 5.6 mmol/L, he said…

Going on a very-low-calorie diet may allow the body to use up fat from the liver, causing fat levels to drop in the pancreas as well. That “wakes up” the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, normalizing blood glucose levels.

While some previous studies have shown that blood sugars can normalize after significant weight loss, endocrinologists said they were impressed by the persistence of the lower blood sugar levels for months after the diet.

The participants in the Newcastle trial, who ranged from overweight to extremely obese, were told to stop their diabetes medications and start a 600- to 700-calorie-a-day diet, consisting of three diet milkshakes a day at mealtimes and half a pound of nonstarchy vegetables a day.

Mr. Tutty, who weighed about 213 pounds before the trial, lost a little more than 30 pounds, the average weight loss in the trial. The people in the study most likely to respond to the treatment were in their early 50s on average and younger than the nonresponders, and they had had diabetes for fewer years…

Good news is good news even when it hasn’t yet been carried forward to a point when more generalized conclusions may be made.

Good news for many folks in this trial. Especially those who learned a new “normal” diet and maintained exercise.

Tree-planting project helped Yorkshire town miss winter floods

Click here for the project blog — Heather bales impeding gully flow

Tree planting and other natural approaches have prevented flooding at Pickering in North Yorkshire over Christmas, at a time when heavy rainfall caused devastating flooding across the region.

An analysis of the Slowing the Flow scheme published on Wednesday concludes that the measures reduced peak river flow by 15-20% at a time when 50mm of rain fell on sodden ground in 36 hours. The scheme was set up in 2009 after the town had suffered four serious floods in 10 years, with the flooding in 2007 estimated to have caused about £7m of damage.

The work included planting 40,000 trees, 300 “leaky” dams and the restoration of heather moorland, all intended to slow the flow of water into the river and reduce its peak height. A new flood storage area was also set aside in fields near Newtondale. The project cost the government £500,000, significantly less than a proposed flood wall in the town.

The report concludes that the scheme prevented flooding that would otherwise have occurred to homes and the town museum. The work supports the calls for a more natural approach to flood risk management that followed a series of serious floods in recent years.

Not a be-all and end-all, the fact remains that utilizing natural defenses can prevent a significant portion of flood events – and serve the public interest by diminishing the effects of extraordinary events.

That the plantings cost significantly less than measures proposed by a government doing their level best to spend less and less on public needs is praiseworthy. This also increases the odds of getting such projects past Tory beancounters.

Nursery ‘raised fears of radicalisation’ over boy’s cucumber drawing

School authorities think Daddy doing this really means he’s making a bomb

Staff at a nursery school threatened to refer a four-year-old boy to a de-radicalisation programme after he drew pictures which they thought showed his father making a “cooker bomb”, according to the child’s mother.

The child’s drawing actually depicted his father cutting a cucumber with a knife, his mother says, but staff misheard his explanation and thought it referred to a type of improvised explosive device.

On Friday the boy’s mother showed the Guardian video footage of her son in which he is playing happily on the floor of his home, and is shown a cucumber and asked what it is. “A cuker-bum,” he says, before going back to his toys.

The footage was taken by the mother at the family home in Luton after the nursery discussed referring the child to a de-radicalisation programme out of concerns that pictures drawn by him referred to explosions and an improvised explosive device known as a “cooker bomb”.

In between the odd tear and laugh of disbelief, the mother spoke about the experience, which she said had left her shaken and upset, and involved her being told at one point:Your children might not be taken off you … you can prove yourself innocent…”

A spokesperson for the nursery…said…“Under statutory guidance, as reflected by our own safeguarding policies, early years providers are required to record – and if necessary, report – any incidents that they feel may warrant further attention or discussion.

“In this instance, after seeking advice from the appropriate agencies, we concluded that no referral was necessary…”

Don’t you just love cover-your-ass language?

The child’s mother says that she remains disappointed that no apology was made and claims to have come under pressure from the nursery to sign a form which appeared to endorse its assessment.

“When I dropped him in one day they were there as a pack, with his various pictures and a report,” she said.

“Some of the pictures were just scribbles, but I said that I knew one of them and it was of his dad cutting a cucumber. She said: ‘Well, he said to us that it is a cooker bomb.’ For the life of me I didn’t associate the two words.”

She said that she was left distraught by the experience and particularly by what she says was a mention of social services. “The thing you think about is that they take children away from families,” she said, “so that was the worst thing you could say to a parent…”

The conversation, she says, also turned to what her son had been watching on television: “I said to her: ‘Can we just put it to bed? I won’t let him watch Power Rangers … I actually went home and put parental control over the kiddie channels…”

“Initially I was so upset and distraught that I told him not to do any more drawings … God bless him, he said: ‘I won’t draw anything … I’ll just draw a house, or the remote control. And I said: ‘Don’t draw the remote!’”

Sounds like anything that could happen here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Petty bureaucrats, small-minded authority pimps in charge of children want to run other people’s lives as if everyone shared the fear-and-trembling crucial to their own pitiful existence.

BTW, this isn’t so much a Liberal vs Conservative thing. Pointy-headed psychologizers are as responsible for the demise of much Western education as anyone else. Mostly worrying that you may harm a child’s self-image for life by suggesting they actually learn stuff.

Governments have way too many crap politicians who have learned it’s easier to pass repressive laws by shouting it’s needed to “protect our children”.

Thanks, Honeyman

Apple gives Brits same answer they gave Obama on opening encrypted data — NO!

Apple is opposed to a new British law it says would require it to provide authorities with access to encrypted data as it would create vulnerabilities hackers could exploit, Chief Executive Tim Cook said…

Britain last week unveiled a draft surveillance bill that would place explicit obligations on service providers to help intercept data and hack suspects’ devices, potentially undermining the end-to-end encryption on Apple’s iMessages.

Speaking to students in Dublin, Tim Cook said Apple would need to create a “back door” in the encryption to comply and that this would expose data to hackers…

“We believe that the safest approach for the world is to encrypt end to end with no back door. We think that protects the most people,” he said…

Experts say parts of the new bill goes beyond the powers available to security services in the United States and critics have denounced it as an assault on privacy. The British government says the law is vital to keep the country safe.

The Director of Britain’s eavesdropping agency GCHQ said on Tuesday, blah, blah, blah

Cook said if Apple’s encryption were undermined, then the “bad guys” the British government is seeking to intercept will simply use alternative encryption tools.

“If you close down the major companies from using encryption, the bad guys aren’t going to stop using encryption. They are just going to go to another source.”

I agree with Ed Snowden that the best defense available to ordinary geeks is strong encryption. Apple is the leading company taking a stand to defend that policy and therefore gets the most flak from the cops of the world. It doesn’t matter which country they’re representing from their view at the top of the heap – I trust the politics of the “security matters more than privacy” clowns about as far as I can throw them uphill into a heavy wind.

There’s a very cold ‘blob’ in the North Atlantic Ocean

day after tomorrow

Last week we learned from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the first eight months of 2015 were the hottest such stretch yet recorded for the globe’s surface land and oceans, based on temperature records going back to 1880. It’s just the latest evidence that we are, indeed, on course for a record-breaking warm year in 2015.

Yet, if you look closely, there’s one part of the planet that is bucking the trend. In the North Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland and Iceland, the ocean surface has seen very cold temperatures for the past eight months:

What’s up with that?


First of all, it’s no error. I checked with Deke Arndt, chief of the climate monitoring branch at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, who confirmed what the map above suggests — some parts of the North Atlantic Ocean saw record cold in the past eight months…

And there’s not much reason to doubt the measurements — the region is very well sampled. “It’s pretty densely populated by buoys, and at least parts of that region are really active shipping lanes, so there’s quite a lot of observations in the area,” Arndt said. “So I think it’s pretty robust analysis.”

Thus, the record seems to be a meaningful one — and there is a much larger surrounding area that, although not absolutely the coldest it has been on record, is also unusually cold.

At this point, it’s time to ask what the heck is going on here. And while there may not yet be any scientific consensus on the matter, at least some scientists suspect that the cooling seen in these maps is no fluke but, rather, part of a process that has been long feared by climate researchers — the slowing of Atlantic Ocean circulation…

The fact that a record-hot planet Earth coincides with a record-cold northern Atlantic is quite stunning. There is strong evidence — not just from our study — that this is a consequence of the long-term decline of the Gulf Stream System, i.e. the Atlantic ocean’s overturning circulation AMOC, in response to global warming.

The short term variations will at some point also go the other way again, so I don’t expect the subpolar Atlantic to remain at record cold permanently. But I do expect the AMOC to decline further in the coming decades. The accelerated melting of the Greenland ice sheet will continue to contribute to this decline by diluting the ocean waters.

This won’t lead to anything remotely like The Day After Tomorrow (which was indeed based — quite loosely — on precisely this climate scenario). But if the trend continues, there could be many consequences, including rising seas for the U.S. East Coast and, possibly, a difference in temperature overall in the North Atlantic and Europe.

A good time to go back and watch at least the first portion of Day After Tomorrow. The movie does a good job of explaining the slowing of Atlantic Ocean circulation and what potentially can happen. There are climate scientists who agree – and some who disagree. A localized effect can become a regional effect and vice versa.

What is fairly likely is that if the circulation is interrupted by what has long been a predictable feature of global warming, folks in NW Europe and the UK who’ve been getting used to a generally warmer year-round batch of seasons better get out their woolies. The Gulf Stream circulation brings a fair chunk of warmth to what should feel like Poland or even Belarus. And may, soon.

Good news in the UK — Renewable electricity overtakes coal

Click to enlarge

Britain generated more of its electricity from renewable sources than from burning coal for the first time in the second quarter of 2015, as more wind and solar farms were built.

A record high of 25.3 per cent of the UK’s power came from wind, solar, biomass and hydro-electric sources in the three months to June, up from just 16.7 per cent in the same period the year before.

By contrast the share of electricity from Britain’s ageing fleet of coal-fired power stations fell to 20.5 per cent, down from 28.2 per cent a year previously…

The Department of Energy and Climate Change said the record share of renewable generation reflected not only more renewable capacity, such as the construction of big new offshore wind farms, but also “more favourable weather conditions for renewable generation”.

Biomass energy, which is also classed as renewable, also increased following the conversion of part of Drax, Britain’s biggest coal-fired power plant, to burn wood instead.

The drop in coal power also reflected the closure or temporary shutdown of other coal power stations and an increase in the UK’s carbon tax which made coal plants less profitable to run.

You don’t need an amplifier to hear the tears falling from the dark orbs that pass for eyes in the Koch Brothers. They cry for every penny of profit lost by their fossil fuel brotherhood of pollution.

Welcome to Dismaland — Banksy’s dystopian theme park

Inside the walls of a derelict seaside swimming resort in Weston-super-Mare, UK, mysterious construction over the last month—including a dingy looking Disney-like castle and a gargantuan rainbow-colored pinwheel tangled in plastic—suggested something big was afoot. Suspicion and anticipation surrounding the unusual activity attributed to fabled artist and provocateur Banksy has reached a Willy Wonka-esque fervor. Well, if Banksy’s your bag, continue fervoring

The spectacle has since been revealed to be a pop-up art exhibition in the form of an apocalyptic theme park titled Dismaland – “The UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction” – that will be open to the public for five weeks.

Hardly a better reason to book travel to the UK under – way under – a Conservative government.

More photos inside the article

Thanks, Honeyman