2:00PM Water Cooler 10/21/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


CDC adopts Médecins Sans Frontières PPE and supervision model [USA Today]. About time.

The Nigerian infrastructure that defeated ebola [Economist].

Lancet study: Fewer than three people a month infected with ebola will try flying out from West Africa [Guardian].

Measuring the “economic fear factor” in West Africa using, among other techniques, GIS information from cell phones [WSJ].

Sierra Leone residents note that ebola spreads around the same routes that the 1991 civil war did [ABC].

Hong Kong

To me, it’s quite remarkable to see talks between student leaders and the Hong Kong government broadcast on big screens to thousands occupying Admiralty, no matter the outcome of the talks [Reuters]. What happens if (when) the Mainland takes this in?

Reaction quotes from all sides after talks end [South China Morning Post]. This is the first round; there will be more [BBC].

CY Leung’s problem with democracy: If the public nominates candidates, the population that earns less than the median could dominate the process [WSJ].

[LEUNG:] If it’s entirely a numbers game and numeric representation, then obviously you’d be talking to the half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than US$1,800 a month.

Obviously, we in the United States have much to teach China, if only they would allow it.

Corporate entities suing Occupiers also have votes in Hong Kong elections, under the system of “functional constituencies” [Hong Wrong].

Anti-Occupy protesters besiege Jimmy Lai’s newspaper, Apple Daily [The Diplomat].


Former FBI official believes leaks could be “strategic” [CNN], and former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch believes leaks from Darren Wilson grand jury are efforts to let some people down slowly [KSDK]. Good luck with that.

Governor Nixon to announce efforts to redress Ferguson issues [St Louis American].

State legislator spends an hour getting herself arrested in Ferguson, igniting WikiPedia war [Wikipedia]. D midterms outreach? 

Three arrested in smashing pumpkins protest [St Louis Post-Dispatch]. Pumpkins being a reference to the #pumpkinfest in Keene, NH, a terrifying example of white-on-white crime.

Cops give state legislators crash course in basic police training [St Louis Post-Dispatch]. Check the picture. Pulling out all the stops, aren’t they?

A compilation of Cointelpro-like incidents in Ferguson [Daily Kos].

Occupation at St Louis University ends [Fox].


Hotline’s Race Tracker [National Journal]. Political races.

Sleazy private equity “No Labels” D mole Greg Orman and R silverback Pat Roberts are pencil neck and pencil neck [WaPo]. Meanwhile, the Orman campaign seems to have gone, if not dark, quiet [Business Insider].

Ds cave on Ebola both to counter R bedwetting and separate themselves from Obama [WaPo].

Six Senate races too close to call, according to Real Clear Politics poll aggregation: Kansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Colorado [US News].

Obama campaigns in gubernatorial, not Senate, races [Bloomberg].

One right-wing trope that’s true: Ds take Blacks for granted [Philadelphia Inquirer].

America the Petrostate

$80 a barrel oil could pop fracking bubble [Bloomberg].

Duke researchers describe geochemical fingerprinting technology to trace fracking fluids [Charlotte News Observer]. Better make the fingerprints trade secrets, then!

Big Oil funds astroturf operations against local local drilling regulations [HuffPo]. Enter Josh Penry and Kristin Strohm. Ka-ching!

Fracking ban in San Benito County, California fought by Big Oil, while Jerry Brown does nothing [San Jose Mercury News].

Political Economy

“The central bank put lives on”; Yves had explained here  [Bloomberg]. $200 billion a quarter. So where’s my cut?

Fed has no numbers on how many jobs have been crapified [Bloomberg]. Odd!

Where Grosse Point begins, and Detroit ends [Daily Mail].

Stats Watch

McDonald’s Q3 profit down 30% on U.S. sales slump, which is odd when you remember that hospitality was a bright spot for September’s retail sales. I guess the market for food-like products isn’t what it was….

Redbook, week of October 18: Retail sales in stores up year-on-year, but not month on month, despite cool weather apparel sales and Halloween on Friday [Bloomberg].

Rapture Index: Unchanged [Rapture Ready].

News of the Weird

  • Apple computers automatically collect “strikingly precise” location information by default under both Yosemite and iOS8 [WaPo]. Handy tips on turning that off. We hope.
  • How should neutral “platforms” handle death threats? [Pando].
  • Poignant interviews with Congress critters on the “living hell” that is Capitol Hill [Esquire].
  • Ideological polarization and media consumption, with handy chart [Pew Research].
  • Text analytics show Republicans moving right [WaPo].
  • Skin has a sense of smell [New York Times].
  • What Edward Snowden’s girlfriend should wear on the run [Vogue].

* * *

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 (Amos):


I only hate grass in the form of lawns.

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. dcblogger

    To me, it’s quite remarkable to see talks between student leaders and the Hong Kong government broadcast on big screens to thousands occupying Admiralty, no matter the outcome of the talks [Reuters]. What happens if (when) the Mainland takes this in?

    Is my memory correct? That the same thing happened in Poland in 1980? The negotiations between the Gdansk Shipyard workers and Jurazelski gov’t were televised?

    1. hunkerdown

      Not having access to AppleCare is becoming an ever smaller price to pay for running a Hackintosh.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’ve seen the Hackintosh sites… But it seems like you’ve got to me really really price about your hardware; not just the model numbers, but the actual components, so it’s a little scary.

  2. wbgonne

    $80 a barrel oil could pop fracking bubble

    I hope so. But I’ll believe it when I see it. So much has been sunk into this insane enterprise that I will be (very pleasantly) surprised if it collapses that easily. What about all the pipelines, ports, equipment, containers? Sunk costs abandoned just like that? No backup plan? How will Beau Biden get his cocaine money? Well, I hope we find out.

      1. hunkerdown

        Evil is apparently a necessary qualification for VPOTUS. Can you think of one in recent history that hasn’t sold influence out the back door for personal or family gain?

  3. EmilianoZ

    Still no mention of the passing of PM Gough Whitlam. I think this is very disrespectful towards our Australian readers, and we know there are many of them. He might not have been PM for long but look at his achievements:

    In a rapid program of reform it called “the program”, the Whitlam government created Australia’s national health insurance scheme, Medibank; abolished university fees; introduced state aid to independent schools and needs-based school funding; returned traditional lands in the Northern Territory to the Gurindji people; drafted (although did not enact) the first commonwealth lands right act; established diplomatic relations with China, withdrew the remaining Australian troops from Vietnam; introduced no-fault divorce laws; passed the Racial Discrimination Act; blocked moves to allow oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef; introduced environmental protection legislation; and removed God Save the Queen as the national anthem.


    1. Glenn Condell

      And for women equal pay, contraception, parental leave, support payments; for culture the Arts Council, the National Gallery, the Film Commission, and ABC Youth Radio.. plus he made Edna Everage a dame! Much of this was begun in the two weeks after his election before a cabinet could be formed; he and faithful deputy Lance Barnard were sworn into the 27 ministries between them and proceeded to fulfil promises that did not need legislation – China recognition, end of Vietnam and conscription, equal pay, sanctions on South Africa… Gough’s motto, knowing his time would be brief, was ‘crash through or crash’ and he crashed enough through before he crashed to become immortal. He tops my list of great Australians.

      Fun facts: taught Greek by ‘dry as dust’ Enoch Powell at Sydney Uni, he later became a good friend of Gore Vidal with whom he would trade Latin tags from Juvenal or Martial. Won Aust National Quiz Championship in 48 and 49. Fought in WW2 as a navigator in the Air Force.

      I read a fascinating interview with Peter Carey the other day:

      ‘How closely, I wonder, do Carey’s own views align with those of Felix Moore? Much of Amnesia deals with two murky historical events: one is the battle of Brisbane in 1942, when Australian and American servicemen fought each other on the city’s streets; the other is the constitutional crisis of 1975, when the British governor general dismissed prime minister Gough Whitlam and his progressive cabinet. In Moore’s view – and Carey’s – this was, unambiguously, a CIA coup’


      So a hero, and a martyr. Despite this, he never held grudges and a characteristic of the coverage of old foes’ reactions to his death is how fond they all were of him as a man, and how much they respected him as a politician. Malcolm Fraser (‘Kerr’s cur’ in Gough’s dismissal speech) became a close friend, John Howard ‘always enjoyed his company’ and future Lib leader Malcolm Turnbull almost cried in parliament paying his tribute.

      I must admit I got a bit moist too, watching this excellent doco on the man and his times last night. Perhaps because what he did, that storming of the ramparts to take power back for the people, seems so impossible today.


  4. Blurtman

    Why would a democratic republic threaten China’s leadership? The folks can elect representatives who can then ignore the will of the masses. Works in the USA.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Better the kleptocracy you know than the kleptocracy you don’t know.
      Or: you go to war with the kleptocracy you have.

    2. Grizziz

      I agree, the people of Hong Kong should slate a DINO(democrat in name only) and wind up electing a non-redistributive Marxist, just like Beijing.

    3. jrs

      Well you know a bunch of idealistic protestors might actually want the real thing, see right through the imitations (in a way American’s brainwashed by decades of democratic propaganda don’t).

    4. hunkerdown

      Do you think that such a regressive charter as the US Constitution could become the fundamental law in a “middle-class” nation today? More likely, you’d get something along the lines of the Grundgesetz that spells out and bans every abuse of state power used in the past three or thirty centuries, and what kind of state is that?

  5. Bill Smith

    Lancet study: Fewer than three people a month infected with ebola will try flying out from West Africa.

    So a ban on non-essential travel would be a good idea. (At least no tourist visas for a while?) After all, 1 person infected with Ebola caused about 1,000 people to be placed under watch in the US.

  6. Jeff W

    …it’s quite remarkable to see talks between student leaders and the Hong Kong government broadcast on big screens…

    I had the same thought.

    I liked the comment of HKFS representative (and HKU student union president) Yvonne Leung Lai-kwok: “…I really wanted to say to [Chief Secretary for Administration] Carrie Lam: ‘Long time no see’.”

    Even though there was “no breakthrough” in the talks, which was what everyone expected, I think there were some positive aspects for the students and virtually no negative ones for them:

    The student representatives continued their flawless framing of the situation at every opportunity: they pointed out the government’s responsibility to represent the views of the populace to Beijing and HKFS Secretary-General Alex Chow said Hong Kong’s leaders can either be “heroes” or “villains.” They’re not making any missteps.

    Lam conceded that “We cannot deny that…something huge has happened. Such a social movement is large-scale and its impact is far-reaching” and said the government would consider making a report to Beijing with a ‘reference’ on the protesters’ decisions. That’s not quite just a report; the formal six-step election amendment process requires that the Chief Executive make a report to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress [NPCSC] and the report sent in July as part of that process—which said that “mainstream opinion” favored the nominating committee alone putting forth candidates—was widely viewed as a whitewash of public opinion. A supplemental report would allow the HK government and the NPCSC a face-saving opportunity to make a reassessment “in the light of the actual situation” in Hong Kong, as the Basic Law actually requires them to do. There had also been a hint the day before from Chief Executive CY Leung that the nominating committee could be made “more democratic” I doubt either of those concessions—the possibility of a supplemental report or of changes to the nominating committee—are made off-the-cuff, without careful consideration of what latitude is viewed as possible and they become—or can become—the new baseline as talks move forward. (These might allow the idea of a “public recommendation” in the election process (as described here), which echoes Benny Tai’s proposed (or threatened) “shadow elections,” to break the current impasse.) I have no doubt the student representatives and their allies, pretty savvy and shrewd, especially as compared to the local government, are figuring out just how to leverage these concessions to their advantage.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks for the great detail on the report and amendment process. (It is, I suppose, no new thing for Chinese at the periphery to be governed, often badly, from the imperial metropolis, so I am guessing there’s a lot of material about this bureaucratic process, and perhaps even poems.)

  7. TulsaTime

    I have a hard time believing that Nigeria has contained Ebola, considering the endemic corruption that is so characteristic of Petro States. Time will be the ultimate test of this claim, as well as staying clear in the future.

  8. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to the Bloomberg article on Citigroup bankers saying that the financial markets need a minimum of $200 billion per quarter from Central Banks to keep the markets from selling off.

    Nice. If this is true, I think we need a national vote on this issue.

Comments are closed.