2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/14

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Lambert here: Readers, if you review Yves’s goals in sequence, you will see that the first priorities were to keep the site up and running, improve it technically, and provide Yves needed respite with staff time.

Only now, with the safety of the site secured — with your help! — can we even begin to think about funding what you read the site for: Content! Not only blogging, but the original reporting that Yves does, which does not come without cost, and not only in time.

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I urge you to not only meet, but exceed, Yves’s goals. All the gravy goes to content!

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Thank you!

* * *

Hong Kong

The curtain-raiser is over. Now the power players have entered [Asia Times].

Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung raked in  £4 million in secret fees from Australian engineering company UGL [Sidney Morning Herald]. Ooooooh, oppo!

Live: Pan-democrats vow to impeach chief executive over alleged payments [South China Morning Post]. And back at ya! (And Xi hates corruption, so this is doing him a favor. Right?)

Students to meet with top government officials Friday, including Leung and Lam [South China Morning Post].

Mong Kok is a “mosh pit” (well, maybe) [Times] and Hong Kong people identify as “Hong Kongers,” not as Chinese (well, maybe) [Times]. 

Tourism is up during protests [Quartz]. Could be holiday shopping. Still, one wonders what message Mainlanders will take home.

Female Voices about the #UmbrellaMovement [Matt Lemon Photography].

America the Petrostate

How Democrats betrayed the anti-fracking movement in Colorado [Boulder Weekly]. Important two-part piece (part two). Read thoroughly (glossary).

Opponents of fracking ban outspend proponents in Denton, Colorado [Record-Chronicle]. Almost 100 wells in the city already.

Cuomo administration “edited and delayed” a federal water study they themselves commissioned [Capitol New York]. If you want fracking, vote the straight legacy party ticket!

Methane emissions are fracking’s Achilles heel [New York Times]. So the industry shouldn’t be flaring it off, or letting it leak, as if they were sleazy con artists and bubble speculators out to make a quick buck, right?

Aerial photos of fracking in North Dakota [weather.com].

“Fracking rocks,” “Fracking is a good word” [WSJ]. Will George Orwell please pick up the courtesy phone?

Oil prices are plummeting. Here’s why that’s a big deal [VOX].

Susan G. Komen teams up with Baker Hughes, the ginormous oilfield service company [EcoWatch]. Who handles their PR, anyhow?


Thomas Eric Duncan dies in hospital in isolation, with some details of his life [Dallas Morning News]. Thoughts on quarantine [Time].

Burial teams go on strike in Liberia because of delays in receiving hazard pay [USA Today]. They need a helicopter drop. Why aren’t they getting one?

Ebola can’t be stopped at airports, or ship terminals or border crossings [Globe and Mail].

Economic impact from Ebola could reach $32.6 billion, says World Bank [CBS].

#Ebola on the Twitter; keen graphic [Time].

The moral of the ebola story is the need for effective global governance [BBC]. Hmm.

2014 and 2016

Somebody should really ask Mickey Kantor who his “Middle Eastern investors” were, when Hillary Clinton called Paulson with Kantor’s offer to buy AIG. I mean, it’s nice to see the elite rally round, but…. [Naked Capitalism].

Newest Democrat to throw Obama under the bus on ISIS: Jimmy Carter (!!) [Politico]. Next up, Dennis Kucinich?

The Great Game

“Whatever you do, don’t step off the curb.  That’s where danger lies in American life.  ISIS, not so much [Juan Cole]. Quite true. So why would anybody think differently?

Military town Fayetteville, NC and The Forever War [Reuters].

Stats Watch

EIA Petroleum Status Report, week of October 3: Inventory builds, refinery output slows (maintenance season). Supplies at the wholesale level are thin, which could lead to a squeeze [Bloomberg (EIA)].

Greed and Fear Index: Fear still extreme, up 1 to 7 [CNN].

Rapture Index: Steady [Rapture Ready].

News of the Wired

  • Origins of Big Data in Allende’s Chile [New Yorker]. (See here on Stafford Beers and “anarchist cybernetics”).
  • Do casual users trust Apple with OS updates anymore? [Daring Fireball].
  • Google search app can now find bills in your email and remind you to pay them [WSJ]. So I guess automatic withdrawal from your bank account is next?
  • Raspberry Pi Irrigation Controller [Instructables].
  • Julian Assange, “When Google Met WikiLeaks” (review) [Counterpunch]
  • Man practicing open carry law robbed of gun [KOIN6]. “I like your gun. Give it to me.” Thanks, ammosexuals.
  • “Curse of Columbine” [ABC]. Thanks, ammosexuals.
  • San Francisco regulates AirBnB rentals with permitting, tax [Engadget]. 
  • Coups are not a cheap way of replacing governments [Economist].
  • University installs anti-homeless cages on outside heating vents [A Treat for the Eyes].
  • Squillionaire Mexican cement king Carlos Slim advocates three-day work week [CNN].
  • Kali Barbie [India Today].

* * *

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 (Barry B):


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. Tatanya

    Ebola, globalisation, world government. Just when I find myself wondering if I might be a wee bit paranoid about the PTB, an opinion piece from an economics editor at the BBC happens along. I had to have a stiff drink after reading it.

    1. frosty zoom

      there are so many things that a single global government could do. no more countries, no more exchange rates, no more “my book is better than yours”..


      alas, only humans will want the job (or maybe cats), so we’re doomed.

      1. cwaltz

        It’s a pipe dream. Particularly since a very, very old book that is worshiped by many as the divine word of God says that if we have a single government then we are well on our way to the end of days and that the person heading said government is the devil.

    2. hunkerdown

      The tyranny of international law and international lawyers, sold as a replacement for the foibles of democracy. Golem XIV totally called it. I think he might deserve a promotion to Golem XIII. Heck, I’d hire ‘im as Golem III.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author


        Whichever factions of the transnational overclass that had pandemic options in their portfolios are doing very well with the current churn, thanks very much.

      2. Mark P.

        ‘ I think he might deserve a promotion to Golem XIII. Heck, I’d hire ‘im as Golem III.’

        [1] Yeah, our real-world Golem XIV is on the money.

        [2] But no promotion to Golem III is possible. For those who don’t know, that’s because III is a far earlier model than XIV among the Golem line of super-AIs which the Pentagon developed as part of the Superintelligence Race during the Cold War in the early 21st century — which is still ongoing in the 21st century because Polish SF author Stanislaw Lem wrote his meta-novel back in 1981, when the Cold War was still happening.


        Basically, Golem XIV is built at a cost of $276 billion only to announce its ‘total disinterest regarding the supremacy of the Pentagon military doctrine in particular, and the USA’s world position in general.’ Golem thus is given by the disgusted Pentagon to MIT, where it lectures to a few humans that it selects before it transcends the planet.

        Essentially, it’s an excuse for Lem to impersonate a superintelligence and hold forth on his ideas about biological, technological and universal evolution. And it’s not a bad impersonation of a superintelligence, since Lem was a guy who reputedly scored an IQ of 175 and back in 1960 had already worked out the concepts of nanotechnology, the Singularity, virtual reality, data mining and much else. Not coincidentally, Lem despised most American SF except for Philip K. Dick.

        1. sid_finster

          For those who care, Philip K. Dick figured out that Stanislaw Lem did not actually exist and was apparently an invention of the secret police.

          Mr. Dick then saw fit to inform the FBI of his discovery.

    3. TimR

      ORIGINAL POST 11:01 a.m.: Gov. Rick Perry today announced the formation of a 17-member task force to better the state’s readiness to deal with pandemic diseases.


      WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Congress have set an Oct. 17 deadline for the Obama administration to lay out details of how it plans to battle a growing outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

      The Defense Department has tapped 3,200 troops to deploy by late October to Liberia, where they will help build and staff 17 100-bed Ebola treatment units across the country.

      And even:

      17 things you need to know about Ebola – Vox

      17…… 17…….. 17………. ??

      Guys (if I can call you dark overlords of the DD and media “guys”.. hey you call us “folks”) what is it with that very specific #?

      Coincidence???? Hmmmm….

      Just a little numerological paranoia… If we have any numerologists, please tell us what 3x 17 (or 4x) might be a “sign” of… What twisted NWO calling card is this..

      1. don darnel

        This is great timing as one of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Deputy has now contracted Ebola. The 12 people at the clinic he walked into must be terrified now.

  2. wbgonne

    “If you want fracking, vote the straight legacy party ticket!”

    Fracking: The Progressive way to bake the planet!

  3. tejanojim

    Sorry, but that Vox article is garbage. Libya is still a chaos basket, Iraq has all sorts of problems, and US tight oil is probably peaking. If prices slide further, a lot of marginal production will get shut in, and the price will spike right back up again. See links for more on regional turmoil and sharply reduced profits for oil majors since 2008.



    1. Grizziz

      Agreed, the Vox article is BS. Another journo piece formatted in ‘If, then … But!…yet.’ With a couple of charts of let’s pretend for the sake of ‘Wow’ that those numbers are not mere chained iterations of estimates upon estimates ad infinitum.

  4. Vatch

    “Methane emissions are fracking’s Achilles heel [New York Times]. So the industry shouldn’t be flaring it off, or letting it leak, as if they were sleazy con artists out to make a quick buck, right?”

    The whole point of fracking is to get natural gas that can be used as fuel or as a raw material for creating nitrate fertilizers. If it’s flared or leaked, that destroys the whole point of fracking. If they can’t do the job properly, they shouldn’t be allowed to do it at all. Of course, because of the poisons that are used, even if they can do it properly, they still shouldn’t be allowed to frack.

    1. wbgonne

      Fracking is a fraud. Fracking only exists becuase it provides “cheap” carbon fuel. But to a larger extent than even conventional oil drilling, fracking is cheap only because it forces the costs of its externalities onto others, i.e., us. Proper regulation would begin to force frackers to account for their externalities, which will make fracking more expensive and, ultimately, no longer “cheap” or cost-effective. That’s why fracking is and will remain unregulated for the forseeable future. The neoliberals have placed their bet on fracking and house rules say the neoliberals always win (as long as “the house” is standing).

      1. beene

        For those who have changed to gas the cheapness of the fuel is going to be short lived and we can thank the Democratic Leadership for fracking and pipe lines to export to raise prices.

        Did I fail to say destroy ground water quality across the USA, or the concerns of methane leaks.

        “His old friend, former First Lady, former Secretary of State and likely future presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made headlines in Mother Jones recently. The investigative magazine reported that Clinton spent a good portion of her time as Secretary of State traveling the world in order to secure access to millions of acres of shale gas to be developed by U.S. companies.”

        “It isn’t that the administration is unaware that exporting LNG will raise natural gas prices in the U.S. Podesta’s Center for American Progress researched this issue and found that exports would severely impact domestic gas prices. “


    2. cwaltz

      I will never in a million years understand why anyone would think drilling into the Earth’s plates is a good idea. *shakes head*

    3. Ulysses

      For anyone concerned about tracking in NYS, there’s this important upcoming event on November 15th in Ithaca, NY – “Collateral Damage from Fracking: Coming together to Protect Communities”. A day-long conference, from 9-5, at Textor Hall, Ithaca College (96 B). Speakers include activists, lawyers and municipal officials. Topics include infrastructure, air pollution, waste disposal and transportation.”

      1. wbgonne

        Good luck! With the DC Dems in the bag for fracking, I think state and local is the only way to go. I also saw a note at Daily Kos that there is a protest planned in FL at the governor’s personal residence. Something New Yorkers might consider.

    4. wbgonne

      Fracking is a fraud because it delivers “cheap” carbon fuel only by forcing others (meaning, us) to absorb the cost of its externalities in the form of environmental degradation. Proper regulation would compel frackers to account for their externalities but that would make fracking too expensive to be viable so it won’t happen. Fracking is unregulated and will remain so because the neoliberals who run the country and the world have decided to make money by fracking.

      (My earlier reply, which was brilliant, went into moderation so we’ll have to settle for this.)

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Actually, it’s even worse. The Atlantic seems to be targeted for drilling, except there’s a news blackout, and so our coast is a target for ports and pipelines.

  5. Larry

    In regards to the iOS update issue: My very large global company issues iPhones to tens of thousands of employees. I was told by same company to avoid updating to iOS 8 at all costs. The early employees who did so lost all company network functionality. Kind of a big issue give that the phones are issued to conduct work. I imagine other corporate types have similar issues.

    1. hunkerdown

      The Archdruid decreed several months ago that the only obscenity he would allow on his blog was “frack”. I may just have to revoke the role of emphasizer from the word for which it stands in essentially all conversation, and add a bit more environmental spice to my speech…

    1. grizziz

      Blue-eyed, too!

      But you gotta luv that the India Today picks out a Hindu from Northern Nevada, Rajan Zed, as the complainer in chief. Though, not being unfamiliar with controversy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajan_Zed_prayer_protest), his name roughly translates as ‘king zero.’ Having a slightly oxymoronic name may be totally in tune with Hindu teachings, but to my tin ear, “King Zero infuriated by Barbie-fication of Kali” has that tempest in a teapot quality that is inspired by public relations people trying to grab a little attention for a struggling artist’s exhibit.

      1. ChrisPacific

        The little offhand remark at the end about the (Barbie and Ken) Mary and Jesus on the cross ‘also drawing comment’ amused me. I did a quick Google search and yes, there have indeed been comments.

  6. abynormal

    FRISCO (CSBDFW.COM) – First responders have transported a Dallas County Sheriff’s deputy to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to be monitored as a possible second case of Ebola.

    The patient, Michael Monnig, was transported from a Frisco Care Now facility where he was complaining of “stomach issues,” according to sources.

    According to CBS 11’s Andrea Lucia, Monnig’s children said he woke up this morning feeling sore and a little nauseated. He went to clinic as a precaution.

    “We were told by federal officials, county officials that you would have to come in direct contact with Duncan or direct contact with bodily fluids, and he did not,” said Monnig’s son, Logan about the possibility of his dad contracting Ebola.

    Monning was not one of the 48 people being monitored by federal, state and local health officials because he never had direct contact with the patient. Monnig did enter the apartment where Duncan stayed after Duncan had been admitted to the hospital.

    Care Now facility first? bad day for anyone else at that doc in a box

      1. abynormal

        waiting for test confirmation but it seems he was a ‘first responder’. two different stories going on…he escorted Mr. Duncan or he delivered the quarantine notice to the apartment.
        he wasn’t ‘suited’ to be doing either.

        why doesn’t CDC have professionals on the same page. this is so unnecessary…

      1. abynormal

        there’s tweet pics of ‘unsuited’ first responders picking up the sheriff from CareNow…a few had mask an gloves but thats it.

      2. abynormal

        make that sheriff deputy…

        “The patient claims to have had contact with the Dallas ‘patient zero,'” according to a statement from Baird-Hanks.

        Sgt. Chris Dyer, president of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Association, told KXAS/Channel 5 that the patient is a Dallas County Sheriff’s deputy who was one of five officers who had entered the Dallas apartment in which Duncan was visiting.

        Dyer said the deputy was not exhibiting all the symptoms of Ebola, but was not feeling well.

        The association had told the deputies to take their temperatures every morning and that if they did not feel well to visit their doctors.

        It is unknown how many other people may have been exposed to the patient. The facility is in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and is holding patients in the facility until getting clearance from the CDC. http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/morning_call/2014/10/frisco-carenow-patient-with-ebola-symptoms.html

  7. Oregoncharles

    “Jimmy Carter (!!)” – was a terrible president, I think because he was crooked (deeply beholden to the Rockefellers, the Trilateral Commission, and Kissinger – of all people). Deregulation actually started under him. His environmental/energy moves were largely window dressing.

    I think he’s been trying to make up for that ever since he lost his re-election.

    1. jgordon

      All renewable/infinite energy scheme promising unlimited, cheap energy till now have proven to be so much vaporware. So just for future reference it would be a good idea not to get excited about something until a full-scale power plant has been running on a cost-effective basis for a while.

  8. JohnL

    Was in a doctor’s waiting room yesterday. A guy sneezed. Everyone moved as far away as possible.

  9. Jeff W

    “The curtain-raiser is over. Now the power players have entered”

    There’s another player in this situation that Lee doesn’t mention but I am sure the pro-reform side is well aware of: the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), one of the two most influential labor groups in Hong Kong.

    The HKCTU was the main union behind the successful 40-day dockworkers’ strike in 2013 against Hongkong International Terminals (HIT), owned by Li Ka-shing, (one of the tycoons summoned to Beijing at the start of the student boycott of classes in September). The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the key players in the protests, visibly supported the strike at the time.

    The HKCTU got 10,000 workers to stop working in support of the Hong Kong protests and issued a statement strongly condemning the violent attacks on the protesters in Mongkok. (In addition, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, which is affiliated with the HKCTU as well, has strongly supported the protests.)

    This article in Counterpunch points to other tactics, besides civil disobedience, that the pro-reform side might use—“[d]elegations of notables, lobbying, public hearings, accountability sessions…mass mobilizations”—and says “If the Hong Kong movement included significant support from trade unions, particularly its longshore union, an effort could be made to enlist the world’s longshore unions to refuse to load and unload cargo from Chinese vessels entering their ports.”

    While I’m not so sure about the likelihood of successfully enlisting the world’s longshore unions, the HKCTU and Hong Kong’s longshore union, no great fans of Hong Kong’s tycoons, do support the pro-reform movement. Joshua Wong of Scholarism told journalists today “[Hong Kong Chief Secretary] Carrie Lam will know that while facing student leaders inside, [she should not] forget the activists outside the government headquarters.” Whether he had the trade unions in mind is anyone’s guess.

  10. teri

    Re: Ebola, some thoughts. I wonder if the 4000 troops we have sent in to the affected African nations might end up being a possible way for the disease to spread in the US. (NOT saying anyone is doing this intentionally.) However, these guys are not medical doctors trained in infectious diseases, although I assume they are getting some training on the ground right quick-like. They will presumably be given leave-time, which they will spend back here stateside, and they will also be rotated out periodically; the ones rotated out come home or go on to another thus-far uninfected country we have military operations in. And they don’t necessarily travel on commercial airlines, which is where the only attention is being paid to travel restrictions and/or screening. What guidelines has the Army set up for testing these guys before they travel? Will they have to undergo a 21-day quarantine in an isolated ward before traveling? Or, to get all conspiracy-theory about it, is there a secret vaccine these soldiers get before going into Africa, so we needn’t worry about the possibility of transmission of Ebola this way? I ask about this because while I have read a number of articles about the fact that we are sending troops in, not a single article has mentioned anything about the safety procedures, if any, being used to keep the troops from bringing the virus back here.

    What happens if Ebola hits a place like Detroit, where a large chunk of the population has no money for medical care, badly run and overwhelmed facilities for the poor and 22,000 families with their water cut off, leaving them with not even the most basic first-line sanitation? Wouldn’t even have to be Detroit. Any large city with poverty pockets is similarly at risk. BS Obamacare or not, poor people have less access to medical care, and the medical care available is pretty marginal.

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