2:00PM Water Cooler 10/1/14

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Hong Kong

The demand was for Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung to step down; that has not happened, as China National Day (October 1) celebrations continued [Asian Correspondent, live blog].

Leung: “It is my fundamental and constitutional duty to work towards the goal of electing the chief executive by universal suffrage within that legal framework” of the Basic Law [CNN].

Explainer from country risk firm: With patience, the protests will fizzle. But there are far worse scenarios, listed [Asia Sentinel].

Hong Kong police chief to force on tear gas: “I just want to tell everyone that you did no wrong” [Channel News Asia].

Mainland media on protests: No story here, illegal, instigated by foreigners, bad for business, and “extreme” [ABC].

“It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice” [HBR]. What mice is Hong Kong catching for the PRC, and will it continue to do so? For example, a viral post from a popular Weibo user: “Treat Hong Kong a little better. Everyone still wants to go there and buy the iPhone6” [Bloomberg].

UPDATE “‘Occupy Central; will have bad consequences for Hong Kong and all its people. If it continues, these consequences will be unimaginable” [People’s Daily, via Quartz]. More from [Quartz].

Hong Kong protesters recommend p2p technology, since cells are jammed: @telegram or @Firechatapp (and not WeChat Qq Skyp) [Reddit]. FireChat (San Francisco) does not have encryption [The Week]. Telegram (Berlin), however, does [GigaOm]. Telegram was recently hit with a DDOS attack [TechWorm]. And protesters’ Apple devices have been hit by malware [PCWorld].

Note: It seems that there’s a real, almost explosive, demand these days for social media apps that are less compromised than the majors; Ello and ProtonMail are other example. So stop whining about lack of investment opportunities, wouldja, squillionaires? Sheesh.

2014 and 2016

ObamaWar demotivates the Democratic base. 2010, here we come? [The Week]. Interestingly, Ryan Coole shifts focus at the end to this conclusion:

But let’s face facts: expecting our jalopy institutions to successfully navigate the rapidly shifting tangle of alliances in Syria is ludicrous. America is a country where the Secret Service doesn’t notice the White House has been shot until four days after the fact, and is apparently unfamiliar with how door locks work.

It sounds like Cooper’s been reading Naked Capitalism, or Golem XIV, or the Archdruid, all of whom would concur on our “jalopy institutions” (“corruption” is far too narrow a frame). Will institutional rot and demented and sclerotic elites become an issue in 2014 or 2016? Seems unlikely, but then what Ryan Cooper wrote above would have seemed unlikely too, until quite recently. It was also unlikely that Emperor Cuomo would have been challenged, but you can see Teachout and Wu working these same issues in their interviews with Naked Capitalism (the PayPal button is to your right), and they came out of nowhere to take 30% of the vote. So you never know! And remember that the legacy parties are jalopies, too, despite their fearsome appearance and noisy operation.

Hillary Clinton rolls out “evidence-based” talking point [WSJ]. NC readers know this phrase — this exact phrase, “evidence-based” — is a steaming load, at least in the Clintonian context.

Republican super-PAC America Rising: “Stop Hillary 2016, Obama’s 3rd Term” [The Hill]. Unsurprising. Obama was Bush’s third term.

And Ready for Hillary will probably stick around anyhow, even if Clinton declares in 2015 (they said they would disband) [MSNBC].


City of Ferguson makes record access hard in Mike Brown shooting with ginormous fees [AP]. In a way, this is not surprising; as Mark Ames has shown, lots of people have caught the brain bug propagated by libertarian Robert Poole that government should be funded by fees, not taxes, because freedom. Which is one reason Ferguson arrests so many of its inhabitants [Pando]. But the fees probably violate Missouri’s sunshine law [Sunlight Foundation].

It’s also not surprising Ferguson would make record access hard, given that the use-of-force record for the incident where the cops whacked Michael Brown and then left his body in the street, in the summer sun, for four hours, is missing or was never filed [VICE].

Officer Darren Wilson didn’t show up to testify at a hearing into a drug bust in which he participated and for which he had been scheduled to testify [Chicago Tribune]. Odd, since he received an award for the bust [LA Times]. In the same article, according to the defense lawyer in the hearing: The smart money thinks that Wilson won’t be indicted. This is looking more and more LA Confidential all the time, isn’t it?

There have been town hall meetings [CNN]. But sparsely attended [KDSK]. The protests continue [WaPo]. And no wonder [MSNBC].


If ISIS is not the successor of Al-Qaeda, then the 2001 Bush AUMF does not authorize the strikes in Syraqistan. In fact, ISIS is probably not; its organizational structure differs significantly from Al-Qaeda’s [Just Security].

Stats Watch

ADP employment report, Septemer: Above consensus at 213,000 vs. 200,000 (USA Today says 207,000) (private payroll only) [Bloomberg]. Manufacturing: 35,000. Service sector: 155,000. Construction 20,000 [WSJ].

EIA Petroleum Status Report, for week pof 9/27: Inventories fall and refineries slow [Bloomberg]. Crude supplies essentially in line year-on-year [NASDAQ].

News of the Wired

  • Arduino will sell a 3D printer kit for $800 [Engadget].
  • A drone that wraps around your wrist, flies off at  touch, and comes back [Visual News]. Will the Apple Watch do that? If not, why not?
  • New media prof bans devices in class, very sensibly [WaPo].
  • Hoboken school staff drafting resolution to landfill the the school district’s laptops, quite sensibly [Hechinger Report].
  • Lingo of Lambda Land [Another Word for It]. How do you recognize a poem when you see one?
  • Black kid kept three years in Rikers waiting trial [New Yorker].
  • Forgotten atrocities mired in the courts [Foreign Policy].
  • Management is not about sorting apples [rc2.org]. As we know from the “few bad apples” of Abu Ghraib, among many examples.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant:


I’m indulging myself with this photo from my own garden, because I’m amazed that poppies are still blooming in October; we had a few hot days before the current chill.

Talk amongst yourselves!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. dearieme

    “our jalopy institutions … where the Secret Service doesn’t notice the White House has been shot until four days after the fact”: the TV lets me look with contempt at the small private army that attends His Imperial Excellency when he sallies forth from the White House. It’s comforting to think that it’s all a charade, and that they are the security equivalent of the Keystone Cops.

  2. diptherio

    NC readers know this phrase — this exact phrase, “evidence-based” — is a steaming load

    Anytime you see “evidence-based,” read “based on a true story.”

  3. Mark P.

    Annals of Surveillance Capitalism
    This is significant. Architecture of NSA surveillance walked through by whistleblower/former technical director W. Binney

    ‘Retired NSA Technical Director Explains Snowden Docs’

    So it’s a long presentation, with slides, but you should pay attention to it, especially when Binney gets to the segment on ‘Parallel Reconstruction.’

    Sample —

    William Binney: Yes. Now, it even gets worse, because once NSA has all this data, they have to have a customer for it, and it’s now turned out to be law enforcement. Okay. It’s the FBI and DEA and they’re going directly into these databases and querying them and looking for criminal activity and then they use this data to go arrest people.

    And when they do that, they can’t take it into court, because it wasn’t acquired with a warrant, so it’s not admissible in court. And, these are the rules for the– this is the– in the DEA is this SOD, or the “Special Operations Division”. It’s specifically tasked to look at NSA data for criminal activity.

    In the SOD is FBI, CIA, DEA, of course, DHS and the IRS.

    People who can look at the communications connectivity in MAINWAY and say, “Oh, here’s all the people in the Tea Party. Or here’s all the people in any religious organization or the Occupy or any of it.” They can see all of that. So I maintain that that’s how the IRS is targeting Tea Party people. Then of course it goes down and it says you cannot reference this data–

    1. alex morfesis

      tea party people…right…not that they are a phony non entity…a pre tea party offshoot here in tampa bay area was filled with koch-heads and obvious intel types from the other english speaking countries…it was NOT spontaneous…NOR grass roots…at least not here in this part of florida…i was dragged into these soirees by some old radical who wanted to see if I saw what he was seeing…

      I did saw a puttee kat…

    2. Paul Tioxon

      This is such bullshit. The IRS does not target someone who fucking applies for tax exempt status. If you are saying they are going through individual tax returns, looking for people who donate to Tea Party groups and are claiming a tax write off, they of course then have to see if the the group is tax exempt. There is no targeting. It is called processing, which according to the republicans, is criminal by the fact that the IRS does its job in any capacity at all. Targeting? Do Irish Catholics get targeted for claiming a tax deduction for their parish church? You have to identify a tax exempt group as tax exempt, if someone writes it up as tax deduction on their returns. The group has to apply to the IRS for initial tax exempt status to begin with. You can not simply proclaim yrself Tax Exempt by the grace of god and free enterprise. “Targeting” is right wing speak for having someone review IRS forms for content, especially application by political groups who are pretending to be some sort of charity or benevolent association. The tea party is not a charity, mutual aid society, but a political organization promoting candidates for election as well as the issues that candidates must uphold to in order to pass political muster in order to run at all.

      You know, we watch ACORN get destroyed in public by republican operatives who hate poor people organizations but somehow, the NSA is spying on the tea party!! Really, with the black helicopters emitting contrails?

  4. Mark P.

    Also, some of you may be unaware that there were efforts to do data surveillance with anonymization controls — Binney’s THINTHREAD, Poindexter’s TIA — that got killed.

    If you didn’t know why, it’s what you’d expect. Follow the money —

    William Binney: Yeah. They all wanted to kill THINTHREAD because it stopped them from feeding on $4 Billion. And then a following $4B. Their whole objective was to– and they lied in Congress about it, too. And we had evidence of that, too.

    Question: And those were–?

    William Binney: TRW, Booz Allen and all the big guys. There were like 15 different companies that were involved in the thieving

    Question: Just to put the question out there, I’m curious of how much influence these large corporations also had in shaping NSA policy?

    William Binney: It was directly. Yeah, it was directly influenced. I mean, they wanted to feed on all this money and they had all this influence and they used it with [Michael] Hayden and Bill Black from SAIC. SAIC was the major contractor for TRAILBLAZER right up front. They were the ones that got the multimillion dollar contracts right up front– multi hundreds of millions, sorry.

    1. jgordon

      It kind of begs the question, why not just let the government give these guys bags full of money without having to go through the rigamarole of spying on everyone in America. I mean, it’s a win-win: we get to keep our civil rights, and they get money for no work. Right?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I was just discussing a similar idea with a friend. Why don’t we put all these guys on an island and pay them a lot of money to stay there? They can have meetings and do PowerPoints and even go on the TV (only on their island), and even do the imaginary army thing, like Hitler in his bunker, and leave the rest of us alone.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Being declared in contempt of court pushes Argentina’s Widow K over the edge of the abyss:

    Argentinian opposition politicians have accused the country’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, of being “completely out of touch with reality” after she gave a rambling televised address in which she claimed the US may be behind a plot to overthrow her government and possibly even assassinate her.

    “If something should happen to me, don’t look to the Middle East, look to the North,” Fernández said during the address on Tuesday night, in which she alluded to an alleged plot against her by local bankers and businessmen “with foreign help”.

    Fernández had previously claimed to have received death threats from Islamic State (Isis) because of her friendship with Pope Francis. In last night’s speech, however, she seemed to suggest the threats against her, received in three emails to Argentinian security officials, had come from the US.

    “I’m not naive, this is not an isolated move by a senile judge in New York,” said Fernández. “Because vultures look a lot like the eagles of empires,” referring to the bald eagle, the national symbol of the US.



    A picture says a thousand words … take one look at that tormented visage, in the photo accompanying the article.

      1. Jim Haygood

        They were out to get the head of the central bank, brother:

        Argentina’s central bank president, Juan Carlos Fabrega, resigned this afternoon. He will be replaced by the head of the National Securities Commission, Alejandro Vanoli.

        Yesterday President Cristina Kirchner criticized Fabrega indirectly. In her fourth speech yesterday at Government House (one in a formal act, three from the balcony), the central bank head fared badly: the president warned of “maneuvers” in banks and brokerages operating in Argentine securities traded overseas in dollars. She accused the central bank of not having sufficient controls over dollar outflows.

        Then, the President said that when the Central Bank lowered from 30 to 20% the level of assets in foreign currency that banks may hold, some sold in advance. “It seems that privileged information was leaked, because when others were buying dollars, they sold,” she said, turning her aim against the monetary authority.



        Foreign currencies, comrades: think twice before you traffic in contraband.

    1. ChrisPacific

      This dovetails well with Lambert’s link to Golem XIV, who has a few things to say about the Argentina situation in relation to democracy, sovereignty and international law. Complete with unflattering pictures of Ms. Kirchner courtesy of factcheckargentina.org (they have quite a large supply).

    2. JGordon

      These days saying something is a “conspiracy theory” almost makes it true by default, at least until its definitively disproved. The only thing that would make this theory of the Argentine’s president more certain to be fact is if someone in the Obama regime came out and denied it. That’s probably why they’ll keep quiet on the subject.

  6. Jeff W

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the Hong Kong government’s strategy of “waiting out” the protesters is handed down from Beijing.

    And, separately, “a senior Hong Kong official said the city’s government was open to meeting with organizers of the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement” but if the students insisted on the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, the chance of such a meeting would be low.

    So we have a threatening editorial from the People’s Daily, a wait-’em-out strategy, and some gestures at a meeting, a grab bag of conflict resolution approaches.

    Meanwhile, as Reuters points out, it’s peaceful protest that strikes at Beijing’s worst fears.

  7. TimR

    Banger October 1, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    The Brits weren’t all that efficient–except very early on–but they were certainly more efficient in running an Empire. The problem with the U.S. Empire is that no one can admit it is an empire so they have to continually pretend they want to spread “democracy” when clearly they don’t.
    Some argue the British Empire continues in some sort of covert form. It’s enormously complicated of course, but it seems to me even a mainstream thinker could admit there might be elements of truth to that. In terms of the “special relationship” between US/Britain. And somewhere I’ve seen it argued (maybe from Sibel Edmonds..) that the American spies are clods compared to their Brit counterparts. That the real elaborate intrigue and scheming comes from the British.

    Specifically, the Larouche followers (which W. Tarpley used to be) argue the BE never died…


    Anton Chaitkin paints this dualistic picture between an aristocratic BE mindset, and the mindset of the American Revolutionaries. That that war never ended in a sense, it goes on in a covert form.

  8. abynormal

    “The earth is attempting to rid itself of an infection by human parasite.”
    Preston, The Hot Zone
    “People are terrified by how fast the disease is spreading,” Alexis Bonte, FAO Representative in Liberia, said in a statement. “Neighbors, friends and family members are dying within just a few days of exhibiting shocking symptoms, the causes of which are not fully understood by many local communities. This leads them to speculate that water, food or even crops could be responsible. Panic ensues, causing farmers to abandon their fields for weeks.”

    The International Monetary Fund said in a separate report that restrictions on public transport, internal travel and trade are burdening the country’s ability to distribute the food that is available.

    The combination is driving up food prices rapidly, said the IMF even as “panic buying” is boosting demand, according to the World Bank. The IMF is projecting an inflation rate of 13.1 percent by year’s end, compared with 7.7 percent before the Ebola epidemic started taking its toll.

    Projections for inflation are moving upward, with the IMF estimating an inflation rate of 13.1 percent by year’s end, compared with 7.7 percent the year before.

    On top of it all, the revenue coming in to the Liberian government has dropped sharply, by 20 percent, Liberia’s foreign minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan told the United Nations earlier this week. “Consequently, our ability to provide for basic social services and continue to fund key development projects are significantly diminished.”

      1. skippy

        Sniffing around for some sovereign debt I see jimbo… Must be tiresome beating down price to a buy signal…

        Skippy…. Ebola on your thoughts???? Colonialism is the gift that keeps on giving… eh… warning ownership rights rescinded with out notice….

  9. Mick StJohn

    Hobokin wants to landfill laptops. Wrong, wrong.
    those need to be recycled by a reputable organization. of which there probably isn’t one in New Jersey.

  10. Lambert Strether Post author

    On the umbrellas of Hong Kong (hmm, good title for a movie) furzy mouse writes in:

    [T]he airheads on TV are saying that the moniker “umbrella revolution” is silly or trivial….well, the umbrella IS one of the 8 auspicious symbols of Buddhism, which surely most HK natives know…

  11. Benedict@Large

    The sparsely attended Ferguson meetings may at least partially be due to the Justice Dept.’s new rule that the press is to be kept out, supposedly because public meetings work better when they are held in private

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