Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘economy/finance’ Category

Elizabeth Warren Asks The Most Obvious Question Ever And Stumps A Bunch Of Bank Regulators

Someone drank too much coffee this morning before a Senate Banking Committee hearing and decided to “do the job we hired her for” and ask the question the rest of us have been “asking for years.”

That someone is my new favorite senator, Elizabeth Warren. Someone go on another Starbucks run for her, pretty please?

She asks several times, “When was the last time you took Wall Street banks all the way to trial?”
The Senators stumble and she finally says, “There are district attorneys and attorneys squeezing money out of ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin ground and taking them to trial to ‘make an example’…
I’m really concerned that ‘too big to fail’ has become ‘too big for trial.'”
(the last line was planned, she looked at her notes, but it was a good one)
  • At 1:20, she asks the question we’ve all been wanting someone to ask FOREVER. Then a government lawyer stumbles over his words.
  • At 2:20, she rattles off another one. Then a government lawyer stumbles over his words.
  • At 2:55, she asks another lawyer the same question. Said lawyer then tries to not stumble over her words.
  • At 3:25, she asks the same question again. That lawyer asks for some time.
  • At 3:45, she gets our back and goes for the knockout punch.
  • And then right after that you reward her good behavior by sharing this with everyone on the Internet.
  • You know you want to.
  • http://www.upworthy.com/elizabeth-warren-asks-the-most-obvious-question-ever-and-stumps-a-bunch-of-bank
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Who’s Really Crossing the U.S. Border, and Why They’re Coming

By Stephanie Leutert.  Saturday, June 23, 2018, 10:04 AM

Central American migrants riding freight trains through Mexico (Flickr/Peter Haden)

Over the past week, the separation of 2,000 children from their parents along the U.S. border has forced immigration into the national spotlight.

The majority of migrants aren’t dangerous criminals. Many are women and families—and many are fleeing gang violence rather than seeking to spread that violence farther north.

For the past two years, I’ve worked to document these issues at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin, and also in the Beyond the Border column for Lawfare—based in part on my fieldwork from across Mexico.

To understand Central American migrants means first abandoning the depiction of the “Northern Triangle” of Central America as a homogeneous region.

All three countries have different histories and contemporary political realities, along with varying security and development indicators that help explain today’s situation.

Using the World Bank’s measure, Honduras has the highest levels of poverty, with 30% of the population living at $3.20 a day or less, compared to Guatemala (25%), and El Salvador (ten percent).

Note: these States are dominated by US multinational companies who control the poorer countries

Meanwhile, 2/3 of Salvadorans live in cities, compared to 55 percent of Hondurans and closer to 50 percent of Guatemalans.

Finally, Guatemala’s authorities report that 40% of the population is indigenous, versus closer to 10 percent in Honduras, and an almost non-existent indigenous population in El Salvador (0.2 percent). These factors help explain what moves migrants from each country to travel to the United States.

Take the following map, which illustrates the hometowns of Central American migrant families apprehended at the border (as reported by the U.S. Border Patrol) from 2012-2017.

In Honduras, most families report that they are coming from major cities, such as San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa; the situation is similar in El Salvador, with migrants hailing from San Salvador and San Miguel.

This urbanization matters: these cities have high levels of urban gang violence, committed by MS-13 and Barrio 18. These groups have divided control of the cities up into a patchwork quilt and earn the majority of their money from local-level extortion. (The gangs are under the control of US multinationals who use them to extract more privileges)

 

Hometowns of Apprehended Central American Family Units

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FOIA request.

 

For Central American residents, control of these gangs over their neighborhood likely means a weekly or monthly extortion payment simply for the right to operate a business or live in their territory.

The price for failing to provide this money is death. All it takes is a neighbor or nearby shopkeeper to be gunned down for failing to pay the adequate fees, and it becomes clear that the only options are pay or flee.

Parents may also send their children to the United States or take them north as the gangs try to recruit them into their activities: Boys of 11 years old (or younger) may be recruited as lookouts and teenage girls may be eyed for becoming the members’ “girlfriends.”

Older women who date or at one point dated a gang member can become trapped and unable to escape the violence, with partner-violence a driving migratory factor for many women.

While the gang activities and gender-based violence can empty out neighborhoods, they are Not the only factors driving outward migration from these cities.

Across the region’s larger cities, LGBT migrants are fleeing discrimination and violence. At a recent trip to a migrant shelter in southern Mexico, I listened as the shelter’s director recounted the story of a father and teenage son who had fled Guatemala City only a few weeks prior: the father was afraid that his son would be killed for coming out as gay.

It is not an idle threat. Since 2009, 264 LGBT people in Honduras have been murdered. The La 72 shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco even has a building in the shelter dedicated to providing specialized housing for LGBT migrants.

Among migrants leaving Guatemala, some are fleeing gangs or societal violence in cities, but many migrant families and unaccompanied children come from the Guatemalan highlands, which are more rural, agriculture-based, indigenous, and have lower rates of violence (defined by homicides) than other parts of the country.

In asylum proceedings in the United States, women and children from this region frequently cite endemic family and domestic violence, and neglect from the local police who cannot speak their languages or do not answer their phone calls.

These areas have also been buffeted by a changing climate, frequent natural disasters, and droughts. And the poverty in these regions leaves residents with little ability for resilience in the face of unpredictable rains or external events.

Without an ability to live safely or prosperously in Central America, residents begin looking to head north to the United States. That means coming up with the $6,000 to $10,000 necessary for hiring a smuggler.

To obtain this money, residents may sell their land or property, rely on the generosity of friends or family in the United States, or borrow money from local loan sharks and leave their farms and property as collateral. This latter option has its own consequences: migrants who use loan sharks and then are detected and deported by Mexican or U.S. officials are unable to pay back the loans, losing their lands in the process and becoming displaced once again.

Once the migrants have found a way to raise the money—or if they set out without a smuggler—then they will begin their journey through Mexico. Their mode of transportation and experience will depend heavily on the amount of money that they have, the smuggler’s modus operandi, and whether they plan to seek asylum or try to pass between ports of entry undetected into the United States.

Migrants often find smugglers through recommendations from friends and family and they choose between various services on a sliding scale of prices. Migrants with significant amounts of money could choose to take planes to the U.S.-Mexico border and cross in to the country on fake documents; migrants with less money may pay to ride in a trailer through Mexico or take buses through the country; and those without any money at all will walk or ride on the roof of the trains that pass through Mexico.

These routes also change based on Central America’s geography.

Hondurans generally enter Mexico closer to the Gulf Coast, Salvadorans enter along the Pacific coast, and Guatemalans enter more frequently through crossing points in between. While the image of migrants riding Mexico’s train network dominates the migration narrative, this is far from the only way to reach the United States.

Surveys by researchers from El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) of Central Americans who were recently deported by U.S. authorities give a sense of these routes’ diversity.

In 2017, roughly 40% of Hondurans reported riding the train and 40 percent said that they traveled in a tractor trailer at one point in their journey. However, Guatemalan and Salvadoran migrants reported taking these two means of transportation at much lower levels. I

n fact, only 1% of Salvadorans and 8% of Guatemalans said that they had ridden the train at any point during their trip through Mexico, and instead reported primarily taking buses through the country.

The journey across Mexico is not, as Trump commented on Thursday, “like … walking through Central Park.”

Migrants are extorted, robbed, assaulted, raped, kidnapped, and murdered at alarmingly high levels and with almost complete impunity. The perpetrators vary by geographic area, including MS-13 and Barrio 18 in the southern part of Mexico (the very gangs that many are escaping); larger criminal groups such as the Zetas and Gulf Cartel in the northern parts of the country such as Tamaulipas; local kidnapping rings and bandits throughout the territory; and even municipal, state, and federal migratory and public security authorities.

2017 Doctors Without Borders report noted that 68% of the migrants that it provided services to in shelters across Mexico had been the victim of a crime during the journey. Women and children are also at particular risk, with nearly 1/3 of the women reporting that they were sexually assaulted during their trip through Mexico.

And many Central American migrants are female—many more than the Mexican migrants who came before them. While female Mexican migrants averaged around 13 percent of all Mexican migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol from FY1995 through FY2017, Central American women averaged between 20 and 32 percent. I

n recent years these numbers have increased even more, with women constituting 48 percent of all Salvadoran migrants in the last fiscal year and Honduran women reaching 43 percent of migrants from their country.

 

Percent of Female Central American and Mexican Migrants

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FOIA request.

 

This change is even more dramatic when looking at families and unaccompanied minors. While these groups make up a small proportion of Mexican migrants overall, in recent years, Central American families and unaccompanied children have constituted on average between 40 and 60 percent of the migrants from Central America arriving to the United States.

The numbers of unaccompanied children peaked in FY2014 and have since declined slightly, while the number of families arriving at the border—particularly from Honduras and Guatemala—has remained steady.

 

Apprehended Unaccompanied Minors and Families Along the Southwest Border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration.

 

In other words, the families that the Trump administration has focused on separating make up an increasingly high proportion of the migrants who reach the U.S. border.

Previously, many migrants would seek to reach the United States by hiking through the desert undetected. But in recent years, families have begun crossing the border and waiting for a Border Patrol agent, or showing up at ports of entry, to ask for asylum. Before the Trump administration’s recent immigration crackdown, these families would be then taken to a family detention center, where they would have to pass a “credible fear” interview to be released—that is, prove that they have a real fear of returning to their home countries.

At least 77% of the families pass this hurdle and are released with an ankle monitor or after paying a bond. They can then begin their cases in immigration courts.

The Trump administration is looking to shake up this system. Under the current policy and the June 20th executive order, the administration is pushing to detain families together for months, if not years, while their cases are processed.

However, this flies in the face of the Flores settlement, a 1997 consent decree that courts have found to require that children not be detained for more than 20 days. The administration is now seeking to modify the settlement, a gambit that seems unlikely to succeed given the deciding judge’s previous rulings on the matter against the Obama administration.

 

U.S. Asylum Cases Received by the Executive Office of Immigration Review

Executive Office of Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Justice, https://www.justice.gov/eoir/file/asylum-statistics/download.

 

At the moment, the Trump administration’s policy is in flux. It’s not clear what will happen if the judge declines to amend the Flores settlement. Yet according to Politico, the administration focus on detaining adults indefinitely has hit it’s own wall—a casualty of insufficient resources on the part of the government.

And while the Border Patrol has announced plans to return to their parents the children who are in its custody, there are still thousands of migrant children separated from their parents and families that remain in gut-wrenching uncertainty.

Even in the best of situations, the current arrival of tens of thousands of Central American migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border would bring its own challenges: addressed effectively, it would require rethinking and shifting resources within the United States’ immigration and asylum systems to better process not just single adults but also mothers and fathers with toddlers and teenagers, who are in need of special protections.

But despite the administration’s claims to the contrary, the numbers of Central Americans arriving at the border are not near the all-time highs, and there is no infestation or invasion of MS-13.

What the data shows instead is something far less dramatic: men, women, families, and children who are arriving to seek safety and the basic American dream of a better life.

Planet needs us, and we need us. Can mankind save us? Dystonia Culture?
‎”The planet needs us, and we need us. And we are the only ones who will save us.”
Kourtney Mitchell wrote in Wikipedia on the Dystopian Culture:
“A dystopia is a community or society, usually fictional, that is in some important way undesirable or frightening.
It is the opposite of a utopia.
Such societies appear in many works of fiction, particularly in stories set in a speculative future.
Dystopia communities are often characterized by:
1.  dehumanization,
2 .totalitarian governments,
3. environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society.
Elements of dystopias may vary from environmental to political and social issues.
Dystopian societies have culminated in a broad series of sub-genres of fiction and are often used to raise real-world issues regarding society, environment, politics, religion, psychology, spirituality, or technology that may become present in the future.
For this reason, dystopias have taken the form of a multitude of speculations, such as pollution, poverty, societal collapse, political repression, or totalitarianism.”
Although I do not claim to be well-read when it comes to science fiction writing (the only dystopian novel I can remember reading is 1984 and it scared the shit out of me), I don’t think you have to be a sci-fi scholar to see that we are living in a dystopian culture.
Civilization is a dystopia. It contains all of the characteristics of the basic dystopian narrative, and it’s only getting worse over time.
This culture causes and perpetuates the most reprehensible behaviors, and has created the most violent reality the planet has ever endured.
But what makes it downright insidious is its unashamed attempts at masking this reality by creating an entirely fake one to distract us, to keep us occupied while the planet and its community of life perishes.
Violence is not only inevitable in an extractive culture, it’s necessary.
By definition, civilization requires violence, because cities require the importation of resources due to its denuding the resources on its own landbase, and therefore must be violent towards other cultures and their landbases in order to secure necessary resources.
This culture is literally draining the planet dry, hurtling it towards a Venus-like future.
That this is even a possibility is horrible beyond description. Pathology is common in this culture.
The most notorious psychopaths – those running corporations, governments, military and police forces – are rewarded for their behavior.
They are afforded even more opportunities to enact violence on the planet and its life. Think about how morally depraved a culture must be to reward psychopathic behavior. To make it worse, this culture has created social conditions inevitably resulting in poverty and addiction and then punishes the victims of its own creation.
This is why victims of substance abuse can be imprisoned but corporate executives are allowed to retire with pensions. This is why homeless people are beaten, harassed and jailed for sleeping on the street but homes are allowed to sit vacant, and police protect the property of wealthy business owners.
In a more sane, just culture, such people wouldn’t be able to walk the streets safely. They would fear for their lives.
Anyone who pollutes air, water and soil or otherwise enacts violence on entire groups of people should be afraid to leave their homes.
But in this world we live in – this depressing reality – we consider the worst behaviors to be of the most benefit. To read the complete article go here: http://tinyurl.com/adw9xep
‎”The planet needs us, and we need us. And we are the only ones who will save us.”

Syria: Destroyed for a second time?

Nizar Ghanem published on OpenDemocracy on March 25, 2013

Note: Remember this article was published in 2013, thus any numbers in casualties have to be at least quadrupled.

The Syrian social movement has to be conscious of the necessity of establishing a just economy.

Strong checks need to be built against the post-war government so that all Syrians understand the conditions of aid and consequences of reconstruction plans on their lives and the lives of their children.

The war in Syria has already resulted in the human, economic, and material destruction of the state and society. The numbers are staggering.

Seventy thousand people have been killed so far and more than two million refugees are dispersed across refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

(For example, Lebanon alone witnessed the arrival of 2 million refugees, on a population barely 4.5 million. And the UN and colonial powers are pressuring Lebanon Not to repatriate the Syrian to the liberated regions)

In addition to the partial destruction of major cities such as Aleppo, Homs, and Daraa, their infrastructure, industries and individual households.

Any future government will be faced with the task of the reconstruction of Syria. Who gets to reconstruct Syria, and how, will be both a reflection of the triumphant forces on the ground, and another phase in the Syrian social struggle.

(Note: the colonial powers and the “Arabic” Gulf States and Saudi Kingdom are dragging their feet since then on contemplating infusing financial aid to Syria. Actually, the Syrian government has expressed that it will be picking and choosing those who decide to invest).

There is a risk of a neo-liberal approach to reconstruction, which puts markets and growth ahead of people and culture and promotes the ethics of profit seeking, rather than socialized systems of economic organization. This would be a second destruction of the soul, character and material organization of one of the oldest urban spaces on this planet. (The new Syrian society is Not about to let the multinationals set their conditions)

The Baath party was never a haven of economic equality. (At least in the few years before the outbreak of the war. Syria enjoys universal health care and education)

Syria was run as a private enterprise, where a broad coalition between the regime and a politically obedient business class in Aleppo, Damascus and other major cities was forged. The economy itself was reeking of corruption, crony capitalism and monopolies.

Emulating the Chinese model, where economic liberalization goes side by side with political authoritarianism, the Baath regime underwent a liberalization process after 2000. This process of privatization transferred state property to trusted individuals with close links to the regime.

The Makhlouf family was notorious for its corruption; it controlled transportation systems such as Tartous port and air transport, telecommunication companies, part of the oil industry, real-estate projects in addition to major business deals with the Syrian army.

This business empire, which came out of the liberalization policies of Bashar Assad, was one of the reasons cited for the Syrian uprising.

The reconstruction of Syria raises the main question posed by political economy – that is, the dilemma between economic growth and distribution.

Who gets what in the after-math of the Syrian uprising? Should the economic benefits of reconstruction go either to a bloated internal elite, or to foreign companies, the main conditions that brought about the uprising will remain intact.

There is an obvious need for attracting foreign capital to invest in infrastructure, rebuild households, cities, bridges, and factories. Also, an invigoration of economic growth is needed. But who shall be the prime beneficiaries from this process is an important question that will be asked by the same social forces that paid the real price for ousting the regime.

The example of Iraq is useful in this context.

The economic liberalization policies that invited international consultancy firms into a process of privatizing the oil industry and other government assets, led to an increased surge in violence, which destabilized Iraq for a considerable time.

The liberalization process is a fragmenting force that weakens the central state in relation to various agencies whether it be foreign, or local business networks, NGOs and other institutions.

In societies that already experience sectarian tension and weak governance structures, this process could lead to the creation of cantons and ultimately encourage war-lords and the fragmentation of state institutions. Iraq is evidence of that.

Another significant example is Lebanon.

After two decades of civil war, the reconstruction boom of the ‘90s left Lebanon with high internal and external debt approaching $50 bn. (It reached now $90 bn, or 130% of the GDP, and a third of the budget goes into repaying the interest)

(Lebanon didn’t need to borrow money: it was a political decision from the new elite and militia/mafia leaders to spoil the economy. The war in Lebanon didn’t end with a victor and the militia leaders remained in power)

Also, the privatization process was conducted in a way that benefited a tight business community in a patronage relationship with the political class. The development process favoured a marginal elite, while neglecting the peripheral regions.

The repercussions were enormous as Lebanon failed to develop a solid infrastructure, public transportation and more generally a clear economic plan to generate jobs.

Instead of a developmental state that took care of nurturing the productive forces of society, the reconstruction of Lebanon brought about the opening up of the Lebanese markets to international capital flows which resulted in a real-estate bubble that both destroyed the urban space of coastal cities in addition to creating a staggering inequality.

The destruction of Syrian infrastructure has already whetted the appetite of multi-national companies. Competing Qatari and Turkish firms are busy designing plans for the reconstruction of the main cities. (Actually, that was their plans until they failed miserably)

Russian, Iranian and Chinese firms are not far off either. (They will reap the profit of the reconstruction)

How the conflict gets settled will definitely include a divvying up of reconstruction contracts, in ways which would reflect the regional political balance of power.

What will make the liberalization process of Syria even more traumatic is that it is going to be done under extremely weak and broken state structures. It would indeed be an ironic outcome if Syria went back to the situation it found itself in postcolonial times.

Let us not forget that Syrians, like many other third world countries, supported the nationalization projects precisely in order to wrest the control of foreign capital from their country’s assets and resources.

Any reconstruction that fails to invest in the productive capacity of the Syrian economy, and in creating long-term added value and durable job opportunities for thousands of Syrians will weaken Syria, both state and society.

This obviously depends on the source of funding.

Capital flows coming from the Gulf region are most likely to invest in the market for real-estate, rather than productive sectors. Any Syrian transition plan would do wisely to diversify capital sources, while making sure that Syria’s market is not dominated by large monopolies or oligopolies.

At the same time, special attention should be given to investment in productive sectors and innovative growth such as in telecom, IT and manufacturing. The Syrian National Council has presented a generic plan for the reconstruction of Syria, which by no means responds to those challenges. A testament to what might come.

Syrian cities possessed an authenticity that it is hard to find in the current Middle East. The urban space reflected the history of an entrenched civilization that gave the world one of the first writing systems, theology, art and science. The Syrian revolution and its heroic escalation against the autocratic regime held onto the values of human dignity, equality and freedom.

It would be a tragedy if we were made to witness a second destruction, whereby the urban space is given to multinational companies who would engineer yet another Dubai at the expense of Syrian culture.

The Syrian social movement has to be conscious of the necessity of establishing democracy, and strong checks against the post-war government, to make sure that Syrians understand the conditions of aid and consequences of reconstruction plans on their lives and the lives of their children.

Do not destroy Syria twice.

Building your backlist (and living with it forever?)

Authors and musicians have one, certainly.

This is the book you wrote seven years ago or the album from early in your career. The book keeps selling, spreading the ideas and making a difference. The album gets played on the radio, earning you new fans.

“Backlist” is what publishers call the stuff that got published a while ago, but that’s still out there, selling.

The Wizard of Oz, Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits and Starsky and Hutch all live on the backlist.

Without a backlist, all book publishers would go out of business in no time.

The backlist pays dividends long after the work is over.

Advertisers didn’t used to have a backlist. You paid for that magazine or newspaper or TV ad, and within just one cycle, it was gone, forever.

Today, of course, the work you put on the internet has a good chance of staying there for a very long time. The internet doesn’t easily forget.

That TED talk, then is going to be around for your grandchildren to see.

The review of your new restaurant, or the generous connection you made on a social network–they’re going to last.

I almost hired someone a few years ago–until I googled her and discovered that the first two matches were pictures of her drinking beer from a funnel, and her listed hobby was, “binge drinking.” Backlist!

Two things are going to change as you develop a backlist:

–You’re going to become a lot more aware of the posterity of the work you do. It’s all on tape, all left behind.

Just as you’re less likely to litter in your own backyard, the person aware of his backlist becomes more careful and civic minded.

–You’re going to want people to pay attention to your backlist… in my case, the free videos, various ebooks and printed things I’ve done over the years.

In your case, maybe it’s your blog, or the projects you’ve built or the reputation you’ve earned.

Your history of work is as important as the work you’ll do tomorrow.

Posted by Seth Godin on March 21, 2013

Sometimes, more is not what you want: just enough news is better

“Fitting in more than anyone else” doesn’t work, even in high school.

Seeking to be the most average, the most non-descript and the most inoffensive doesn’t lead to growth.

“More informed” wears out too.

If you get more news, faster, via Twitter, say, you’re not going to have a significant advantage over someone who has just enough news.

Understanding what every single person is saying about everything, all the time, leaves you little opportunity to actually make something.

Having more on your to-do list probably isn’t the best idea either.

Drug Research Contracts: Keeping Pharmaceutical companies out of reach from procsecution?

An article published in the NYT in November 29, 2004

“Of the 12 studies for (the church of Pfizer), all 5 of the reports claiming positive results, meaning the drug worked without worrisome side effects, that were submitted for possible regulatory approval were published.

The 7 other studies were inconclusive or negative, which can mean that the drug failed to work or that the test failed because of its design.

(Two of the studies were never submitted to the Food and Drug Administration to support an application for the drug’s approval.)”

“In her Zoloft study, Dr. Wagner acknowledged that she had received “research support” over the years from several drug manufacturers including Pfizer, which paid $80,000 to the Galveston center in connection with the Zoloft test.

But she did not state that she also received sizable payments from the company for work she did related to the study.”

Dr. Karen Dineen Wagner of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Published in November 29, 2004 under “Contracts Keep Drug Research Out of Reach”

(Page 3 of 5)

Dr. Wagner, vice chairwoman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Galveston center, declined to be interviewed for this article but did reply to some questions in writing. Officials of the Galveston center insisted that the industry money she received did not affect her work.

A Researcher’s Role

It was hardly surprising that many manufacturers of popular antidepressants already approved for use in adults would turn to an established researcher like Dr. Wagner to test them in young patients.

In the late 1990’s, she was one of a small number of researchers with experience in testing drugs intended to treat children with problems like attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder.

Over the last decade, Dr. Wagner has led or worked on some 20 studies published in medical journals, and the government has financed some of her work.

She has also attracted a large number of including those aimed at testing whether antidepressants approved for use in adults were safe and effective in children and adolescents.

Dr. Wagner’s role varied in 12 industry-sponsored trials in which antidepressants were tested against placebos for depression or other problems. On three of them, including a Zoloft trial, she was a lead investigator, working with company researchers to plan, analyze and write results up for publication.

On the others, her duties were limited to overseeing test patients at her clinic.

Of the 12 studies, all five of the reports claiming positive results, meaning the drug worked without worrisome side effects, that were submitted for possible regulatory approval were published. The seven other studies were inconclusive or negative, which can mean that the drug failed to work or that the test failed because of its design. (Two of them were never submitted to the Food and Drug Administration to support an application for the drug’s approval.)

Because many of the antidepressant studies were unpublished, many doctors never heard about the results.

Their findings were typically disclosed in limited settings, like talks at meetings of medical specialists or on a poster displayed in a room with dozens of other posters, which is a typical way of disseminating research results at professional conferences.

Several researchers who worked on the pediatric antidepressant trials said that in many cases they had little incentive to submit ambiguous or failed trials to medical journals because they thought the papers would be rejected by journal editors.

One of those researchers, Dr. Neal Ryan, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, said there has typically been little publishing interest in studies with inconclusive findings or those that failed to work because of study design, a type sometimes referred to as a negative study.

“No one gets famous from publishing negative studies,” Dr. Ryan said.

In response to a question, Dr. Wagner wrote that in all the cases where she was the lead investigator, test results had been or would soon be published or presented at medical meetings.

It was her study of Zoloft for childhood depression, financed by Pfizer, that attracted the most attention and criticism. Results were published last summer in The Journal of the American Medical Association as the debate on pediatric antidepressant use was rising; the study concluded that the drug effectively treated depression.

The finding received widespread publicity in newspapers, including The New York Times.

“This study is both clinically and statistically significant,” Dr. Wagner said last year. “The medication was effective.”

But some academic researchers said that the difference in improvement that the study found between young depressed patients taking Zoloft and similar patients who received a placebo – 10 percentage points – was not substantial.

Asked about complaints about the trial, Dr. Wagner referred to a statement in The Journal of the American Medical Association in which she responded last year to critical letters.

In that statement, Dr. Wagner said she believed that the 10 percentage point difference was “clinically meaningful.”

A Possible Conflict (of interest?)

In her Zoloft study, Dr. Wagner acknowledged that she had received “research support” over the years from several drug manufacturers including Pfizer, which paid $80,000 to the Galveston center in connection with the Zoloft test. But she did not state that she also received sizable payments from the company for work she did related to the study.

Note: Dr. Karen Dineen Wagner participated in more than a dozen industry-financed pediatric trials of antidepressants and other types of drugs from 1998 to 2001.

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Successful organization? Is Good work easier to find than ever before?

Successful organizations have realized that they are no longer in the business of coining slogans, running catchy ads, and optimizing their supply chains to cut costs.

And freelancers and soloists have discovered that doing a good job for a fair price is no longer sufficient to guarantee success.

Good work is easier to find than ever before.

What matters now:

  • Trust
  • Permission
  • Remarkability
  • Leadership
  • Stories that spread
  • Humanity: connection, compassion, and humility

All six of these are the result of successful work by humans who refuse to follow industrial-age  rules.

These assets aren’t generated by external strategies and MBAs and positioning memos. These are the results of internal struggle, of brave decisions without a map and the willingness to allow others to live with dignity.

They are about standing out, not fitting in, about inventing, not duplicating.

TRUST AND PERMISSION: In a marketplace that’s open to just about anyone, the only people we hear are the people we choose to hear.

Media is cheap, sure, but attention is filtered, and it’s virtually impossible to be heard unless the consumer gives us the ability to be heard. The more valuable someone’s attention is, the harder it is to earn.

And who gets heard?

Why would someone listen to the prankster or the shyster or the huckster?

No, we choose to listen to those we trust. We do business with and donate to those who have earned our attention.

We seek out people who tell us stories that resonate, we listen to those stories, and we engage with those people or businesses that delight or reassure or surprise in a positive way.

And all of those behaviors are the acts of people, Not machines (Not robots emulating humanoids).

We embrace the humanity in those around us, particularly as the rest of the world appears to become less human and more cold.

Who will you miss? That is who you are listening to .

REMARKABILITY: The same bias toward humanity and connection exists in the way we choose which ideas we’ll share with our friends and colleagues. No one talks about the boring, the predictable, or the safe.

We don’t risk interactions in order to spread the word about something obvious or trite.

The remarkable is almost always new and untested, fresh and risky.

LEADERSHIP: Management is almost diametrically opposed to leadership. Management is about generating yesterday’s results, but a little faster or a little more cheaply.

We know how to manage the world—we relentlessly seek to cut costs and to limit variation, while we exalt obedience.

Leadership, though, is a whole other game. Leadership puts the leader on the line.

No manual, no rule book, no überleader to point the finger at when things go wrong. If you ask someone for the rule  book on how to lead, you’re secretly wishing to be a manager.

Leaders are vulnerable, not controlling, and they are racing to the top, taking us to a new place, not to the place of cheap, fast, compliant safety.

STORIES THAT SPREAD: The next asset that makes the new economy work is the story that spreads.

Before the revolution, in a world of limited choice, shelf space mattered a great deal.

You could buy your way onto the store shelf, or you could be the only one on the ballot, or you could use a connection to get your résumé in front of the hiring guy.

In a world of abundant choice, though, none of these tactics is effective. The chooser has too many alternatives, there’s too much clutter, and the scarce resources are attention and trust, not shelf space. This situation is tough for many, because attention and trust must be earned, not acquired.

More difficult still is the magic of the story that resonates. After trust is earned and your work is seen, only a fraction of it is magical enough to be worth spreading.

Again, this magic is the work of the human artist, not the corporate machine. We’re no longer interested in average stuff for average people.

HUMANITY: We don’t worship industrial the way we used to. We seek out human originality and caring instead.

When price and availability are no longer sufficient advantages (because everything is available and the price is no longer news), then what we are drawn to is the vulnerability and transparency that bring us together, that turn the “other” into one of us.

For a long time to come the masses will still clamor for cheap and obvious and reliable. But the people you seek to lead, the people who are helping to define the next thing and the interesting frontier, these people want your humanity, not your discounts.

All of these assets, rolled into one, provide the foundation for the change maker of the future.

And that individual (or the team that person leads) has no choice but to build these assets with novelty, with a fresh approach to an old problem, with a human touch that is worth talking about.

I can’t wait until we return to zero percent unemployment, to a time when people with something to contribute (everyone)  pick themselves instead of waiting for a bureaucrat’s permission to do important work.

Posted by Seth Godin on March 27, 2013


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