2:00PM Water Cooler 10/24/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Shootings in Ottawa

Shooter had tried to rob a Vancouver McDonald’s with a pointed stick [CTV News]. But it was an Islamist pointed stick!

Leahy: Shooting is no reason to halt NSA reform [The Hill]. Such as it is.

Seven views of “terror attack” [National Post]. Despite the (editor-written) headline, the lack of hysteria, even from the right-wing Post, is remarkable compared to U.S. coverage.

Hong Kong

Tone change? “Protesters in the Occupy movement only want to voice their demands with no intentions to topple the government” [People’s Daily].

Three main protest groups to hold a “spot referendum” on continued occupation [Asian Correspondent].

Document dump by pro-Beijing forces on Occupy-related strategizing [Asia Times].

Hong Kong Law Society and Bar Association remained silent regarding their views on universal suffrage [Hong Wrong].

Why the very name “Umbrella Movement” is subversive: To a Mandarin-reader, the Cantonese phrase sounds out as “Cover-Hit Movement” [Quartz (Jeff W)]. Rendering this elegant, “small multiples” graphic meaningful for more than beauty:

“[T]he geometry of politics can be non-Euclidean”  [Asian Review of Books]. Lines in the sand can meet.

Class warfare plays its part [Voice of America]. Reading between VOA’s shopworn lines. 


Missouri’s statute on the use of deadly force is clearly out of line with international standards as it goes well beyond the doctrine that lethal force only be used to protect life [Amnesty International].

The Obama administration has no interest in taking on the civil rights violations committed by police and vigilantes across the country [Black Agenda Report].

Holder “exasperated” over Ferguson leaks [CBS]. Oh, please. 

Trenton NJ removes mural depicting Mike Brown’s face with the caption “Sagging pants is not probable cause” after police express concerns it sends a “negative message” [Star-Ledger].

Terrible coverage of the second Mike Brown autopsy — the one the St Louis Police Department leaked — from the St Louis Post Dispatch [Daily Kos]. Where “terrible” looks a lot like “planted and biased.”


WHO: Ebola vaccine by mid-2015 (but first Mali case) [BBC].

Texas Presbyterian nurse Nina Pham virus-free [NBC].

New York doctor, returned from Guinea, self-diagnoses, follows Médecins Sans Frontières protocol, checks into hospital [AP]. Post cover; Daily News cover; subways empty. Not.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Monica Lewinsky to FBI agents who accosted her at a food court after Linda Tripp set her up: ” Go f— yourself” [WaPo]. Quite sensible.


2014 is 2010: The Sequel except maybe not [WaPo]. Interestingly, the Ds are viewed as the party of “empathy.” Which is true. That’s how they get close enough to you to stick the shiv in your ribs.

Hillary takes a shot at the banks on the trail in Minnesota [Politico].  Where “takes a shot” means (quote) “make sure we don’t end up once again (!) with big banks taking big risks and leaving taxpayers holding the bag” instead of (say) criminal prosecution of executives. I mean, how’d that happen again? Did the banks find all those bailout trillions under a cabbage leaf? Were they gifted by little elves?

Ds succeed in turning Jack Trammell into a Blue Dog; just read the talking points [Times Dispatch]. Why would voters go for a fake Republican when they can have a real one?

Rs decide Social Security cuts are a bad idea [WaPo]. It’s a reverse Lucy and the Football! Now that the Ds have decided that feeding cat food to elders is peachy, the Rs say, “Sorry! Bad idea!”


Rand Paul, code-switcher [National Journal]. All good, ’til an oppo researcher aggregates the switching on YouTube.

America the Petrostate

Tom Wolf, PA D candidate for governor, promises to tax tracking to fund the public schools [HuffPo].

EarthJustice leverages permitting process to shut down crude-by-rail operation in Sacramento County [McClatchy].

Imperial Collapse Watch

“How did we lose our democracy? Slowly at first, and then all at once” [Op-Ed, New York Times]. Great quote, less solid analysis.

Joseph P Kennedy III, D-MA: “There are things happening [in Washington] – really!” [Gillian Tett, “Political apathy: who cares?” FT]. “PORGY: Hold it! Hey! Hold it down, kids. Don’t get excited. VOICE FROM CROWD: Who’s excited?” [High School Madness].

News of the Weird

  • FAA comes down hard on pilot who tried to skywrite “I Heart Dana” with his 767 [CBC].
  • Google release 750 free, Creative Commonsed icons as part of its “material design” project [Github].
  • Twitpic to shut down, denying users the ability to archive the photos they uploaded [Boing Boing]. But don’t worry. That will never happen with The Cloud.
  • Choose your anonymous router wisely after Anonabox fail [Wired].
  • Abbey Road’s rental contract actually prohibits any sampling of its distinctive acoustic signature [The Atlantic].
  • The right to lead poisoning shall not be infringed [McClatchy]. Washington shooting range poisoned dozens.
  • Squillionare Thiel blames the hippies [Business Insider]. Will Lewis Powell please pick up the white courtesy phone?
  • Frank Serpico still gets hate mail from cops [Politico].
  • Lessons from informed consent on California “Yes means yes” law [WaPo].
  • Slave-backed bonds in the Antebellum South were remarkably similar to mortgage-backed securities, says The Half Has Never Been Told [HuffPo].

* * *

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 (craazyman):


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. wbgonne

    Great roundup again, Lambert. You do an awesome job curating and presenting the news.

    A couple of quick comments:

    1. The GOP attacking Dems from the Left on social safety net cuts was entirely predictable and was in fact predicted. That Obama pursued his Grand Bargain anyway is the kind of thing that might actually cleave voters from the Democrats (hope springs eternal). The polling on social security is crystal clear. The people get it.

    2. Corbett’s proposal to fund public schools with fracking money is repulsive on every level. Maybe PA could recycle the fracking wastewater in the public school water fountains!!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Don’t give Corbett ideas. But there wouldn’t be any problem, because the kids who were really worried about drinking fracked water could buy bottled, privatized water. So it’s a win-win.

      * * *

      Thanks for the kind words [lambert blushes modestly]. NC is a tough crowd…

  2. Clive

    Re the umbrella protest guide graphic for HK… Love the way that the instructions contains a sidebar note the text of which is confirming which is the “open umbrella type” and “closed umbrella type” of manoeuvre. I like a “belt and braces” approach to instructions to avoid all possibility of any doubts to what the correct method of operation is ! Being funny aside, good luck to the protestors.

  3. JEHR

    Re: Shootings in Ottawa. It is sad that a Canadian soldier was killed while performing his duties. However, the political use being made of the incident by the government (and especially the PM) is appalling. If the shooter had not been a converted Muslin, he would have been seen as a petty criminal who went on a rampage to get attention for his addiction. He most certainly is not a “terrorist” in any sense of the word. The incident will be used to bring down more legislation that impinges on our civil rights. Glen Greenwald got it right (https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/10/22/canada-proclaiming-war-12-years-shocked-someone-attacked-soldiers/) and it is never too early to call out the truth.

    1. trish

      re the Seven views of “terror attack”
      interesting to me that only one person mentions a “lack of resources for helping” people , access to govt programs, etc. I think I read the shooter was unemployed, for one. Likely needed other supports. But mostly in this piece it’s all about the fight against terror, extremism…ie the military dude : “The best way to kill a snake is to cut off the head.”
      Well, sure, but gotta go after the right ‘snake.’
      (and oh, I hate the comparison of evil to snakes and the cutting off of their heads…most real snakes just want to be left alone to live their snake-y lives…).
      anyway, same with ‘disease.’ But going after the Terrorism ‘snake’ or ‘disease’ is more lucrative for the elite…

    2. Jagger

      If the Canadian elite wants to invade some 3rd World Country or get started on installing a police state, nows their time.

      1. JEHR

        Our government has already embarked on creating a police state: harsher crime sentencing, longer sentences, more prisons paid for by the provinces and soon, coming in with the next budget, ways to give CSEC and police forces more powers and resources. Stay tuned!

  4. craazyboy

    “Shooter had tried to rob a Vancouver McDonald’s with a pointed stick [CTV News]. But it was an Islamist pointed stick!”

    Yeah, but what if it was a tally stick and the shooter was trying to pay for his burger? The counter person at the Golden Arches doesn’t understand money and the whole thing was a misunderstanding. hmm?

    Never mind.

    1. trish

      I dunno…sounds like ISIS is ratcheting it up beyond Beheadings… and on North American soil! Like impalements or something!
      Better bomb somewhere Over There to smithereens.

  5. craazyboy

    I don’t know what New Yawkers are gonna do, but I’m adding medium rare meatball sandwiches to my “do not eat” list. Giving up on monkey-meat tarter and fruit bat sushi again too. Maybe for good.

  6. dearieme

    “Despite the … headline, the lack of hysteria … is remarkable compared to U.S. coverage.” Canadians have been less hysterical than Americans since the late 18th century.

    1. JEHR

      It seems pretty hysterical to me as we have been talking about terrorists and terrorism non stop since Wednesday and that is without a real terrorist in sight!

  7. Jeff W

    “Hong Kong Law Society and Bar Association remained silent regarding their views on universal suffrage”

    That seems to be some old news, since it links to an article from early May. Ambrose Lam, in fact, was forced to resign as Hong Kong Law Society president after he made remarks defending China’s white paper (that reasserted China’s “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong) issued in June.

    The Hong Kong Bar Association (the barristers) gave its opinion in its consultation document in late April (the executive summary is here) and basically split the difference down the middle, saying that the nominating committee was the only body that could nominate the Chief Executive but that (1) it doesn’t have to be a copy of the Executive Committee (the body that currently chooses the Chief Executive and gave CY Leung 689 votes) and (2) special weight should be given to the nominating committee being “broadly representative.” (It also noted that the requirement that any candidate must “love our country, love Hong Kong”—which is in the decision of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee—was “highly questionable as a matter of law.”)

  8. Jeff W

    “Document dump by pro-Beijing forces on Occupy-related strategizing”

    Peter Lee is a bit too cynical regarding the pro-democratic side. It’s not exactly sinister that Joshua Wong and Alex Chow “demonstrated an unambiguous enthusiasm for civil disobedience” and that all that was needed was an “adequate pretext”—as if they contemplating the burning down of the Reichstag. A few days after the July 1 protests, where he and Lester Shum sat down, locked arms, and started chanting “”Our own government, our own choice,” sparking a confrontation with the police, Chow said “In the past 30 years, the democracy movement has been too slow and too painstaking.” The students were kind of fed up with the more deliberative steps that the older generation, the pan-Dems and the founders of Occupy Central, Beny Tai, Chu Yiu-ming and Chan Kin-man, were taking. They were ready for something different—and it looks like the older generation was also.

    And, no matter how much “hand-wringing” the pro-democracy side did over what the National People’s Congress Standing Committee [NPCSC] decision might say, the actual decision did foreclose any chance of genuine democracy in Hong Kong.

    Here’s what the decision says, in relevant part:

    II. When the selection of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is implemented by the method of universal suffrage:

    (1) A broadly representative nominating committee shall be formed. The provisions for the number of members, composition and formation method of the nominating committee shall be made in accordance with the number of members, composition and formation method of the Election Committee for the Fourth Chief Executive.

    In other words, the nominating committee is supposed to be pretty much the same as the election committee that chose the Fourth Chief Executive—none other than the wildly unpopular CY Leung.

    And, by referring repeatedly to the method by which the Chief Executive would be voted in by as “universal suffrage,” the NPCSC signaled that that was the end of the process as far as voting for the Chief Executive was concerned—take it or leave it

    That’s the decision that Peter Lee says caused the pro-Dem side to make “hyperbolic” declarations. After years of universal suffrage being deferred indefinitely into the future, the “universal suffrage” that was given, in a kind of bait-and-switch, was “you vote but we decide.” Probably that dynamic accounts more for the sense of grievance—and determination—of the pro-democratic side than the actual desire for democracy itself. (And, democracy aside, those doing the deciding don’t exactly have a great track record, given that all three Chief Executives have been widely regarded as failures.)

    In that context, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam’s blandishments at the talks that “there is always 2022”—exactly the halfway point in Hong Kong’s 50-year status as a “special administrative region”—could hardly be viewed by the pro-democratic side as persuasive.

    “Tone change”
    I would say so also. I would bet that, in consultations with Beijing, the government is stressing the need to give more concessions. The Delphic pronouncement the day before the talks of Chief Executive Leung that “there’s room to make the nominating committee more democratic” (even though the NPCSC decision seems designed to preclude precisely that) was another sign that the Hong Kong government is getting the clear message that the pro-dem side is not going to “pocket” the political reforms and just go home.

    1. beene

      “This matter concerns the complete genome of
      viruses such as the Zaire Ebola virus, the Lake Victoria
      Marburg virus, the Machupo virus and the Lassa virus, which
      are absolutely among the most dangerous pathogens in the
      world. The delivery would place the recipient in the
      position of being able to create replicating recombinant
      infectious species of these viruses.”

      Is this a population control issue for the USA or new method of terrorist control method for the military?

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