2:00PM Water Cooler 11/26/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Mike Brown, giant negro [Vox].

Handy map of the shooting [New York Times].

The human detail that I found most wrenching was leaving Brown’s body out in the sun, uncovered. Now, for me, there’s a second: Brown was running from Wilson so hard that he ran out of his shoes. Oh, and they’re sandals. While I’m not a subject matter expert in this area, it seems unlikely to me that a thug would set out to rob a store in flip-flops, exactly for the reason we see here. (UPDATE Sorry, wrong map. Now here’s one we hope you’ll really like. Note that this map corresponds closely to the “138 feet” map proposed in a Daily Kos posting.)

Will the Ferguson protests have “staying power”? [Christian Science Monitor]. This is a good round up of organizations and organizational styles, but in essence still “What are their demands?” From the armchair: I have the feeling demands can come last and organically. One of Occupy’s strategic problems was scaling to a large continent; the movements of that moment were very much of city squares: Tahrir Square, Puerta del Sol, Zucotti Park, MacPherson Park, Frank H. Ogawa (“Oscar Grant”) Plaza. But how does occupying that sort of ground work, in a continent of suburban sprawl? Especially when suburban sprawl defines “the heartland”? Well, the freeway stoppages of yesterday and today (Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, Oakland, New York) are a partial answer to that. Not a sufficient answer in and of themselves, but displaying adaptability.

And speaking of continental scaling [CNN]:


Impressive, especially for the day before Thanksgiving.

“Such seemingly un­or­tho­dox forensic practices” [Washington Post]. I love dry humor.

Michael Brown’s Mother: “My Son Doesn’t Have a History of Violence” [CBS]. My question is how long before Wilson becomes a hero on the right wing talk show circuit. I give it six months.

Pro-cop twits bully school superintendent into submission [Corrente]. Kudos to the feral right for hammering their framing firmly in place.

Fergusonians linking arms to protect Cathy’s Restaurant [CNN].

“The man, who is white and in his 50s, says he believes most of the trouble was caused by people from out of town” [BBC]. So if old white farts like me are saying out-of-towners….
Ferguson’s mayor says National Guard wasn’t deployed quickly enough to protect businesses [AP].

National Bar Association calls on DOJ to pursue Federal charges against Darren Wilson [National Bar Association].

Federally funded real estate segregation and today’s Ferguson [The American Prospect]. Awful, shameful stuff. Important.

The U.S. could learn a lot about domestic policing from what it preaches abroad [Foreign Policy].

Reading suggestions from Bill Moyers [Moyers and Company].

Nicely curated collection of random updates [New York Times].

Hong Kong

Mong Kok wants to escalate; Admiralty does not [Foreign Policy]. Mong Kok protesters re-occupy territory cleared by police [Times]. Summary of Day 59 [Roydon Ng].

Student leaders Joshua Wong and Lester Shum arrested [International Business Times].


Hillary Clinton’s offer to have a listening tour in Fergusion [New York Observer]. Ha. You didn’t fall for that, right? The cliche is “deafening silence.” Yes, the giant ocean liner that is Team Clinton steams onward, unconsidering of the waves and currents beneath and storms ahead. “Don’t be half safe. Take the Titanic!”

Climate Change

Obama unveils new guidelines to bring US up to par with ozone standards in other industrialised countries [Guardian]. A victory for environmental groups. Tomorrow, their question should be: “What have you done for me lately?”

Western States Petroleum Association PowerPoint deck leaked [Businessweek].

“Six Myths About Climate Change that Liberals Rarely Question” [Resilience]. Beyond the partisan celebrity death cage match.


Go shopping [AP].

“How all this shakes out will depend on one big wild card,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “Will current enrollees become savvy shoppers or just sit back and stay in their current plans?”

Because markets, right? We don’t even know, and so we conducted a ginormous medical experiment on the health of the American people without their informed consent, and one we didn’t even have to make. Goobers like Levitt are nutty ideologues who wouldn’t know what ethics are if Hippocrates came back from the grave and slapped them silly. I wrote:

[S]ince the mid-70s, when Canada adopted its single payer system, we’ve conducted the largest controlled experiment in the history of the world. We’ve had two political systems spanning the same continent, both nations of immigrants and once part of the British empire, both mainly English-speaking but multicultural, both with Federal systems, and both with a free market system backed by social insurance. And the results of the experiment? The “evidence”? Canadian-style single payer wins hands-down.

Headline: “HealthCare.gov Is Fixed — 462,000 O-Care Sign-Ups In Week” [Talking Points Memo]. Marshall’s Obot bias is showing. First, healthcare.gov is not “fixed,” because the back-end is broken. And if you think that’s a minor issue, ask anyone who know who administers a website what happens when MySQL barfs and falls over or apache gets a case of aphasia; that’s their back-end. Second, I continue to point to the remarkable (remarkable for any administration other than Obama’s) lack of accountability for the launch debacle. The management #FAIL went straight to the White House. Did anybody’s head roll? No.

Stats Watch

Jobless claims, week of November 22, 2014: Higher. “There are no special factors to explain away the jump” [Bloomberg]. “[E]xplain away” rather does let the cat out of the bag, doesn’t it?

Durable goods orders, October 2014: Headline up, core disappoints. Looks like the bump is defense aircraft [Bloomberg].

Consumer sentiment, week of November 23, 2014: Buying climate measure best since 2007 [Bloomberg].

New Home Sales, October 2014: Soft, lower than expected, but a volatile measure [Bloomberg].

News of the Wired

Ruth Bader Ginsberg undergoes heart surgery to insert stent [ABC].

First espresso machine in space [Science Daily].

Traders shorting chickens [Bloomberg]. No, really.

Twitter slowly killing off third-party developers [Marco.org]. It’s like management is in a competition to make a great platform worse than Facebook.

Electoral democracy like that seen before 2006 will not return to Thailand for a long time [Foreign Policy].

Shakespeare folio found by librarians at a public library in St.-Omer, near Calais [New York Times].

Headline of the day: “Putin’s tiger goes on goat-killing spree in China” [Globe and Mail]. With bonus points for the strategic hate!

Atlanta Fire Chief distributes self-published book to employees calling homosexuality morally equivalent to bestiality, is suspended [Washington Post].

Story-telling as a tactic to bring about social change [Social Policy]. Query: Can all understand of public policy, or all public policy proposals, be expressed as narrative?

“The Other America” [Martin Luther King].

2014 Lovejoy Address by James Risen [Colby]. Note the St. Louis connection. The past is not dead. It’s not even past.

* * *

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 (ginnie nyc):



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. NOTaREALmerican

    Re: giant negro
    Having been born in Chicago almost 60 years ago, you have no idea the fear that phrase caused so many of us “white folk”.
    It might be intellectually indefensible but the fact of the matter is I’m glad I was never a cop with all the racial judgement baggage I’ve got from growing up in Chicago.
    I’ll also say I’m glad I’m not a black male, because if I was arbitrarily judged based on the color of my skin I’d have a bigger chip on my shoulder than I do now.
    I’m also glad I don’t have to deal with these issues anymore as I can now afford to live in a guilt-ridden limousine-liberal college-town fill to the brim with student loan bling and young debt-serfs.

      1. NOTaREALmerican

        Yeah, who knows. But I never thought I’d see Ferrari’s in this town but then (I thought) it makes sense, there’s a Chase Bank private client office so the Ferrari’s are attracted to that. Otherwise, they’d be in San Francisco with all the dot-com loot.

  2. EmilianoZ

    Re: giant negro

    the researchers showed that whites are quicker to associate blacks than whites with superhuman words like ghost, paranormal, and spirit

    This study inspired some jokes as it made the rounds, because it’s exactly this belief that we can blame for the sort of shitty movie that stars Will Smith as a mystical golf caddie.

    It made me think of another example: The Green Mile


    John Coffey, a 6 ft 8 in powerfully built black man…John possesses inexplicable healing abilities, which he uses to cure Paul’s urinary tract infection and revive Mr. Jingles after Percy stamps on him. Simple-minded and shy, John is very empathic and sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others around him.

    1. Propertius

      This study inspired some jokes as it made the rounds, because it’s exactly this belief that we can blame for the sort of shitty movie that stars Will Smith as a mystical golf caddie.

      Or, for those of us with longer memories, Sidney Poitier as the harbinger of the Apocalypse: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068317/

  3. Jess

    With respect to leaving Michael Brown’s body in the street for four hours, I think the real problem is that it was not covered with one of those yellow plastic tarps. In many states it is illegal to move a dead body until the Medical Examiner has performed his field examination. Often cops have to wait for the ME to arrive just to roll a body and pull out the victim’s wallet for ID. In addition, the CSU team has to document certain things like the position of the boy, hands, legs, distance to various objects, etc. (You can see demonstrations of this often on episodes of THE FIRST 48 which follows homicide detectives from the moment they get the call through the first two days of the investigation. Lots of time the bodies are left untouched until the ME and crime lab team have concluded their preliminary examination.)

    During the OJ case the cops got in trouble for covering Nicole Brown’s body with a blanket because it caused trace evidence transfer and cross-contamination. That’s why cops and firemen and even EMT’s have those yellow plastic sheets which are carried in sealed plastic bags and cleaned thoroughly after each use. I believe that those plastic body covers are even placed in an evidence bag and either accompany the body to the ME’s office or get sent to the crime lab.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s an excellent point (though I’ve got to say the photos of Brown with his face showing… Eesh).

      Can any readers confirm with personal experience or links? And does it really have to be four hours? And can’t they at least put on latex gloves and close his eyes?

  4. lightningclap

    The protests are about more than this one incident; in many areas of the U.S., law enforcement are murdering citizens on a regular basis, with no accountability. In Ferguson, there is an extreme example of tickets and fines being used as a revenue stream for the city, with an atmosphere of constant harassment. Someone bring in the USAG (lol).

    Re: Stories- A lot of our problems relate to people’s need to have a neat “story”, with white-hat/black-hat and a nice conclusion, just like in the crappy TV shows we were raised on. The problem is, reality isn’t best described that way. The topics discussed on this site would not be served by a cinematic or literary portrayal…the real story is too messy, with competing interests and no clear resolution.

    1. Propertius

      I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said here, and especially with your call for an investigation of the Ferguson PD. However, I must point out that the question of institutional corruption may well have nothing to do with this particular incident.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      It may be. The problem is that narrative trumps mess in discourse. I dunno. Maybe all the deconstruction crap that destroyed so many English departments from the 80s onward has a bright side to it after all. If we could stop people from making narrative short circuits in their mental models of complex systems we might all be better off. There’s have to be a reward for that, though; psychic energy of the degree, if not the kind, that “a good story” gives. Hmm… Thoughts, anyone? I’m sure this isn’t a new issue.

  5. James

    The officer said he then pushed Brown with the door and Brown hit him in the face. Wilson told grand jurors he was thinking: “What do I do not to get beaten inside my car.”

    Hmm… Start the car (if it’s not running already, which it should have been) and hit the gas maybe? I know that’s what I would have done, gun or no gun. And why was he trying to get out of the car anyway, when he was so close to this terrifyingly big black man that he couldn’t even open the door?

    Too many questions that will never be answered. Wilson’s being coached, cause he don’t remember any of it. His mind checked out and went on a little vacation.

    1. Propertius

      And why was he trying to get out of the car anyway, when he was so close to this terrifyingly big black man that he couldn’t even open the door?

      Presumably to make an arrest. Cops are typically expected not to run away from dangerous suspects, after all.

      1. James

        And yet he’s terrified of the guy and so close he can’t even open the door? Sorry, doesn’t wash. Not even from a practical stand point.

        1. pretzelattack

          i’ve read that1 witness out of the witnesses testify, aside from wilson himself, said that brown charged wilson. and this witness changed their story to say this. one. i dont know that this is true, i haven’t waded the witness statements yet, but if true this seems to me to be an exceedingly slender reed to support a no bill in this case. there were a number of other witnesses, and the grand jury (or at least 4 members of it) fixated on this witness as credible?

    2. Gaianne

      “His mind checked out and went on a little vacation.”

      Seems likely. It would certainly explain a lot.


      1. psychohistorian

        Sorry, but “…went on a little vacation.” and consciously killing a man don’t go together.

        1. James

          It could indeed be argued not consciously, which if it had came out at trial, it no doubt would have been. And that’s my point! I think the cops were more afraid of this being portrayed as a weak cop who snapped in his moment of crisis than they were of it being portrayed as a rather heavy-handed crackdown on a poor black kid.

          All of this would explain his immediate and extended disappearance afterward as well.

        2. James

          And people guilty of “crimes of passion” type murders who are arguably not in their right mind are put on trial and convicted every day. But in this case, I argue that Wilson took an extended mental flyer. He was a weak and cowardly individual in need of authoritative approval who sought out employment as a cop to compensate for his character flaws, which were tragically exposed during his moment in the spotlight. Michael Brown will be forgotten soon enough, but how many more Darren Wilsons are there out there strapped with a gun ready to take their place in the limelight?

  6. Jim

    “One of occupy’s strategic problems was scaling to a large continent.”

    “But how does occupying that sort of ground work…Freeway stoppages of yesterday and today are a partial answer to that…not a sufficient answer in and of themselves.”

    In my opinion the occupations must be capable of holding enough ground (specific sites or series of sites) over a long enough period of time to generate local, regional and eventually national support. In addition such occupations must be structured in such a way that they are capable of protecting all participants involved from the police/security structure. If the average citizen begins to actually see such “successful occupations”they might begin to literally experience the possibility of some kind of power shift potentially taking place–especially if by this point some specific demands within an alternative political vision have been formulated.

    The success of the site occupations would create the necessary leverage to enter into negotiations at a local, regional or even national level.

    Perhaps some type of intersite coordinating group could be formed to help guarantee self-generated democratic forms–capable of supplying information to all participants, especially new recruits. Such a co-ordinating group could also be the vehicle for moving from a local to a regional level.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It may be. I’m not sure about a coordinating group for the same reason I don’t think the “cell” model works any more: Surveillance is so pervasive. So, I’d argue, maximum transparency rather than minimum is a necessity. And you can always be transparent about non-violence…

      1. Ulysses

        Speaking of non-violent direct action, these stirring words from the MLK Jr. talk, linked above, still ring very true today:

        “I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non­-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I’m absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.”

        From police violence, to bankster fraud, to the wanton destruction of the environment, to murder by drones, etc. we can’t afford to remain unheard. No more business as usual!! Our intolerable conditions today, like those a half-century ago, are indeed contingent. A better world is possible and we must keep demanding that with all of our heart and soul.

        1. RWood

          Reading Lambert’s response above and thinking about Dr. King’s true statement:
          “I’ll be the first to say that we will never have a truly integrated society, a truly colorless society until men and women are obedient to the unenforceable.”
          His focus on “militant non-violent” resistance to racism was enabled, in part, by the truths he asserts at the end, but actually because he knew there were hundreds of thousands who would perform that resistance on the strength of their collective, shared, empowering conscience.
          It hasn’t been our ability to face down that threat of genocide, the expanses of wars–much less the endemic racism in this nation–and so the forces of ill will now assert their greatest power, ecocide.

    2. RanDomino

      You’re more or less describing Black Bloc, which is used for protection from police violence and to attack the Spectacle through a sort of reverse Broken Window Theory; the Spectacle does not acknowledge anything outside itself (“TINA”), so attacking its symbols states that yes, there is.

        1. different clue

          I wonder how many blac bloccers are undercover police agents sent into demonstration-situations to draw police attention and fire and lend that fire and attention the appearance of plausible credibility.

        2. RanDomino

          Young black man shot by police -> Bullshit process -> Peaceful protests -> Nothing happens,
          Young black man shot by police -> Bullshit process -> Riots all over the country smashing shit, blocking freeways, hundreds of arrests -> Numerous public officials and legal experts declare the process to have been bullshit,
          I think the evidence is clear on what kind of strategy is more likely to get results.

          1. lambert strether

            Says the bloc that turned Occupy Oakland from a force that could shut down the port of Oakland to a ranting fringe of 200 in just a few months. If you were paid, you couldn’t have done a better job.

      1. Jessica

        Could you explain what you mean by The Spectacle or point to something that does?
        Thank you

            1. lambert strether

              Oh, please. I don’t have time for such nonsense. Please go try to rehabilitate yourself elsewhere.

        1. carl

          The Spectacle was a trope employed by Guy DeBord and other Situationists to describe our culture’s obsessions with mass media and consumptive acquisition. The assumption is that distraction by The Spectacle keeps our eyes off those who would steal freedoms and crush inner lives.

          see: “The Society of the Spectacle”, Crimethinc.’s “Days of War, Nights of Love.”

          1. different clue

            And to think that the very first place I ever heard about the spectacle or Guy Debord or
            the situationists was in an article by Chris Walters in a paper called Acres USA. More people should subscribe to it. Really.

  7. James

    The Lovejoy Address is fantastic. Thanks.

    It is difficult to recognize the limits a society places on accepted thought at the time it is doing it. When everyone accepts basic assumptions, they don’t seem to be constraints on ideas. That truth often only reveals itself in hindsight.

    And so today, those who really challenge the basic assumptions of the modern American society are often considered just as dangerous, just as criminal, as the abolitionists.

    The conventional wisdom of our day is the belief that we have had to change the nature of our society to accommodate the global war on terror. Incrementally over the last thirteen years, Americans have easily accepted a transformation of their way of life because they have been told that it is necessary to keep them safe.

  8. dearieme

    “I’m not a subject matter expert in this area, it seems unlikely to me that a thug would set out to rob a store in flip-flops”: I don’t see what you are driving at, since his having robbed the store and roughed up the clerk seems undeniable. Are you implying that he was high, or drunk, or insane?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Evidence on “roughed up,” please. IIRC, that’s one of the many leaks, but it’s not in the transcript. As for the cigars, maybe; I haven’t seen the store tapes. In any case, the issue is whether Wilson actually knew about the putative robbery, and again, I’d need to look at the transcript to see how softball the questioning was; I’ve seen the point made, I think by Yglesias, that Wilson’s story of Brown handing the cigars to his (uninterviewed?) friend before allegedly striking Wilson is so odd as to have been reverse engineered; a “narrative throwdown” as it were. In any case, if lifting some cigars from a convenience store warrants summary execution, we’ve got big problems.

      I would have thought the logic on the shoes was clear; what kind of pro wears shoes that will fall off his feet when planning a robbery? Makes no sense.

      1. EmilianoZ

        Wilson said he thought Brown was armed. Using a gun to rob some cigarillos sounds like using a steamroller to flatten a mosquito.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          One more layer to the implausibility. Almost as disportionate as, oh, using Fallujah-style armored vehicles against peaceful protesters. Why, it’s almost as if the same sort of mind was at work in both cases, isn’t it?

    2. Linda Amick

      Given the desire by ALL local official groups in St Louis/Ferguson to demonize Mike Brown, I long awaited an extended, official report (including the store clerk version) on the supposed robbery of the cigars or mention of the stolen cigars at the murder site.

      Nothing. Makes me wonder about the veracity of this aspect of the story.

  9. dearieme

    “The man, who is white and in his 50s, says he believes most of the trouble was caused by people from out of town”

    People are forever saying that sort of thing. But suppose it’s true: who funded them?

      1. pretzelattack

        thank you for your posts on ferguson. i haven’t been so sickened since the runup to iraq–maybe this will wake people up (hope springs eternal). i read that garth brooks cancelled his appearances, which i infer means he isn’t happy with this no bill; i would think his fans would include a number of reflexive cop supporters.

    1. different clue

      How much does it really cost for out-of-town riot-trolls and looters-of-opportunity to just drive in or bus in? Why is outside funding even necessary?

  10. Jeff W

    “Mong Kok wants to escalate; Admiralty does not”

    “Escalate” could mean a lot of things.

    From the New York Times here:

    Mr. Wong [Yeung-tat, who is connected with Civic Passion] has called for “flash occupations” of new sites, organized over the Internet, that would strain police efforts to contain them. “It doesn’t take a lot of human resources, and it’s flexible,” he said.

    I think that raises some interesting issues about where the movement might (or should) head next, at least tactically. I really hope these various groups (at least Civic Passion and the two student groups, the HKFS and Scholarism) are talking to each other and not sniping at each other.

    “Student leaders Joshua Wong and Lester Shum arrested”

    Joshua Wong and Lester Shum were detained, along with HKFS General Secretary Alex Chow, for more than 30 hours starting 26 September. The High Court, in ordering Wong’s release, said that Wong’s detention had been “unreasonably long.” I’d assume the court will be looking at the current detentions with the same legal standard.

    1. Jeff W

      A little more detail from the (pro-government) Standard here:

      [Joshua] Wong was allegedly beaten when he was arrested, said Oscar Lai Man-lok, spokesman of Scholarism.

      The federation [Hong Kong Federation of Students] pledged to “escalate” its actions, but did not give any details.

      Regardless of how they feel about the protests, people will not like the fact that Joshua Wong was beaten, if he was, and it seems like Admiralty and Mong Kok might be converging towards “escalation,” whatever that means.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Not on the ground, so I can’t tell if “escalation” makes sense.* On the one hand, the Mainland’s military force is overwhelming. On the other, how do they exercise it in the narrow streets of Hong Kong with the world watching? So far, they’ve played it smart and let divisions fester in Occupy, but if that tactic doesn’t work, what then? On the third hand, if the students no longer have the support of the majority of the population — if one trusts the polls in the SCMP! — how do they escalate without logistical support from the whole city?

        * From the smashing of the LegCo doors, I take it to mean something along the lines of seizing a building and provoking a long siege. But I don’t know. They’ve been very imaginative, more than me!

        1. Jeff W

          From the smashing of the LegCo doors, I take it to mean something along the lines of seizing a building and provoking a long siege.

          I think the smashing of the Legco doors had more to do with some rumor regarding the passing of some “online version of the Article 23 antisubversion law” than any change in the overall protest strategy. Judging from Wong Yeung-tat’s comment, I was taking “escalation” to mean just something that was more “disruptive” but in a more targeted, more effective way. Of course, I have no idea either.

          Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume the “flash occupations” that Wong alludes to are very short-term nonviolent actions that are more directed at government offices. That wouldn’t need the logistical support from the whole city and, besides, the support from the populace would probably rise because the protesters would not be blocking the streets—and a change like that might be more effective in gaining some momentum through some “small wins.” (Even another dialogue with the government would count as a small win right now.)

          And you do that strategy in parallel with others—like setting up a “sunlight referendum” or work stoppages by the HKCTU. One thing doesn’t preclude others. (As I alluded to in a different comment, even if the protest leadership made loud, repeated demands that the Hong Kong government make a formal request to the NPCSC to reconsider its 31 August decision, that would represent an “escalation” of sorts—it’s not doing that now.)

          I really doubt the possibility of military force by the mainland. Beijing might be threatening the Hong Kong government with that behind closed doors—who knows?—but even the leadership has to realize that the sight of PLA tanks rolling through Hong Kong streets would be utterly disastrous, far worse than being making some concessions on the democracy issue. I still think the “third way”—“no compromise, no bloodshed”—is really the way the Hong Kong government and the mainland are hoping this situation will play out.

          1. lambert strether

            Well, if the Mainland can’t intervene militarily… That opens up a lot of options, doesn’t it?

            That said, I still like the idea of lots and lots of voter registration; apparently the voter participation rate is quite low.

  11. Jackrabbit

    The fearing-for-his-life story doesn’t make sense. I think it was rage. This kid had defied his authority.

    FYI: Both Michael Brown and Officer Wilson are about 6’4″. Michael Brown was little heavier but Wilson had the huge advantages of training, experience, and a gun.

    That Michael Brown would try to grab for Wilson’s gun also doesn’t make sense. Why would he escalate from jaywalking to cop-killer? Wasn’t he supposed to be heading for college (he had a future)?

    Wilson could’ve just called for backup and followed the kids from a distance. Instead he pursued them and kept shooting as they ran. Michael Brown, probably hit as he fled, knew he couldn’t escape so he stopped and turned (otherwise, why stop?). WHY THE HECK would Brown – probably injured and having done little to justify Wilson’s shooting – then contemplate charging a gun-toting Wilson? For all intents and purposes, it was/should have been over at that point.

    To cover up these logical inconsistencies, Wilson has to paint a picture of Brown as a crazed, vicious assailant. And he does just that, saying (from The Telegraph): “. . . he looked up at me and had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.” But he also says that when grappling for the gun Brown said to him: “You are too much of a pussy to shoot me”. That is really over the top.

    H O P

    1. pretzelattack

      yeah that’s exacly what somebody would say when the possession of the gun is in doubt, rather than concentrating on keeping from being shot. as witness 40 would say, dang.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m not a subject matter expert in the argot of black youth. But now that you say “over the top,” “You are too much of a pussy to shoot me” sounds to me more like Wilson’s idea of the worst thing Brown could say, rather than something Brown actually would have said. Can anyone confirm?

      1. Jackrabbit

        Whether you’re black, white, or purple, WHY would you taunt a officer that is reaching for his gun like this?

        That is why I highlighted this. IMO it is very implausible AND was not necessary for Wilson to say in his testimony (he already had the description of Brown as a “demon”). What it really seems to speak to is Wilson’s mindset. Brown had the temerity to question, defy, and resist Wilson’s authority. This seems to have sparked rage from Wilson. IF (a big ‘if’) Brown had attempted to grab Wilson’s gun then that rage might have been somewhat justified but I just don’t see that as plausible.

        But this statement may also be an appeal to his fellow officers who may feel that when one or more officer(s) are perceived as a ‘pussy’ then their policing job becomes more difficult and risky.

        1. James

          We’ll probably never know the truth of the whole situation, but I think “wholesale fabrication” sums up The Coward Darren Wilson’s story well enough for me. He’s a liar and a coward who never should have allowed to wear a badge and carry a gun, and the whole mostly white political apparatus involved in this case is covering for him. Wasn’t the first time and it certainly won’t be the last.

  12. Kim Kaufman

    Thank you Yves and Lambert for your consistently great work curating the best and most interesting for us. And thanks to everyone else making this such a great community.

    1. bob

      ” In 1971, US President Richard Nixon closed the ‘gold window’, ending the free exchange of dollars for gold, guaranteed by the US in 1944 at Bretton Woods.
      In 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reopened the ‘gold window’, without asking Washington’s permission.

      He re-opened the gold window? So now rubles can be redeemed for gold? At what rate?

      Complete lie.

      He also says that it is generally accepted that gold is the anti-dollar, its values moves opposite the dollar. Wrong again. It’s generally accepted among gold bugs, but facts, reality, numbers and charts show a completely different story.

      What ever putin is doing, he’s doing for putin. Not for russia, or gold, or a more fair exchange rate system.

    2. vidimi

      i think there’s more to this than meets the eye. just recently, the netherlands repatriated 122 tons of gold from u.s. vaults. it could be a coincidence, but they could also know something. my hunch is that when the next big crash happens, probably now only a few months away, there’s going to be a big move on the dollar as well. wonder if china has been secretly dumping u.s. treasuries?

  13. Jess

    Something I just noticed from studying the photograph: the SUV, where the incident started, is at the left. The spot where Brown’s body fell is to the right. But the black dots indicating shell casings are even farther to the right than Brown’s body. Every semi-auto handgun I’ve ever seen ejects spent casings to the left. That’s because the weapon is generally held at arm’s length, several feet from the shooter’s face. Conversely, most semi-auto assault weapons eject to the right, but a few can be set to eject left for left-handed shooters. (The idea is not to have casings bouncing off your face as it rests on the stock.) Anyway, if the diagram is correct, this means that Officer Wilson had to run past Brown, essentially forcing Brown to turn back toward the SUV. If Wilson was still between Brown and the SUV, the shell casings would be to the upper left of Brown’s body. (Approximately the area occupied by the graphic of his name.)

    1. Minor Heretic

      Wilson’s SIG Saur P229 ejects to the right. The point is that Wilson said that Brown ran 20-30 feet away from the car and then 10 feet back at him. In fact, the spread of the spent casings shows that Wilson pursued Brown for 150 feet before shooting him.

      The prosecutor threw the game, that much is obvious.

      1. Jess

        Thanks for correcting me on the Sig. Never been a Sig fan so not familiar with them. (Grant that it’s a good weapon and used by many law enforcement agencies incl. Secret Service.)

      1. Minor Heretic

        “Hunting” implies too much forethought. Wilson had other, better options. He was dealing with *two* suspects, let’s remember. Leaving his vehicle and pursuing on foot only made sense if he was willing to use deadly force to protect himself. He crossed that Rubicon. And all this for a shoplifting incident.

        It’s speculation, but the psychological scenario that makes sense is that Wilson challenged Brown and Johnson and they showed insufficient deference. What followed was Wilson cutting them off with the vehicle, banging Brown with the door, grabbing Brown, and otherwise throwing a cop tantrum. Brown did not respond well, and Wilson escalated to deadly force without any pause at an intermediary level. Wilson had to maintain his social dominance at all costs, including Brown’s life.

        I recommend that everyone read “Violence: A Microsociological Theory” by Randall Collins. He writes about the social barriers to violence. Those barriers are constructed of social rituals that establish the participants as in-group members. That barrier is lower when dealing with a member of an out-group. To Wilson, Brown must have been the ultimate out-group member.

  14. Howard Beale IV

    Elderly should take cholesterol-lowering statins: US study: Yahoo News

    “A total of 97 percent of people in the age group, and 100 percent of men, should be on the medication even if their cholesterol levels are normal, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association.

    The research is based on controversial recommendations made late last year by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, which called for more adults without heart disease to take medication to prevent future health problems.”

    Great way to keep Social Security alive: massive increase in fatal fulminant liver failure cases.

    “We don’t have great data on the efficacy of statin medications in the elderly so the guidelines drew a cut-off for the recommendations at age 75,” Miedema said, emphasizing that research was needed for the age group.

    Why not just leave them alone and not prescribe them anything at all ?

    I think we need to start investigating who’s paying off who in these JAMA articles.

      1. Foppe

        I’m sure that’s true for the general population, but please keep in mind that we’re faced with a sick population with regards to atherosclerosis/CHD/related diseases. From a 1999 editorial in the Am. J. Cardiology:

        (When the serum LDL cholesterol is about 100, the total cholesterol is usually about 150 mg/dl.) Pure vegetarians (assuming that they do not have familial hypercholesterolemia and do not eat too much saturated vegetable fats) usually have total cholesterol levels 150 mg/dl and LDL cholesterol levels 100 mg/dl. Most persons on our planet actually have serum LDL cholesterol levels 100 mg/dl, and few of them have atherosclerotic events. It is the adults in the developed world who have the higher levels. If it is advisable to decrease the serum LDL cholesterol level to 100 mg/dl after a heart attack, surely it must be useful to seek that level before a heart attack, and then the atherosclerotic event would be unlikely.
        It is useful to know what cholesterol number is needed to prevent an atherosclerotic event. The recommendation to lower the LDL cholesterol to 160 mg/dl if the LDL is 190 mg/dl, and no other atherosclerotic risk factors or events are present, is simply inadequate. Most coronary events occur in persons with serum LDL cholesterol levels between 130 and 160 mg/dl. The LDL cholesterol goal of 130 mg/dl for the individual with >= 2 non-LDL risk factors (systemic hypertension, man >= 55 years, woman >= 45 years, cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, low [35] serum HDL cholesterol) is too inadequate a goal to prevent atherosclerotic events.

        I am not oblivious to the fact that the LDL cholesterol goal of 100 mg/dl is simply unobtainable for most United States adults, but nevertheless, it is useful to know what number is necessary to prevent our most common fatal disease. Most Americans do not achieve the present generous goal recommendations for cholesterol with diet and/or drug therapy. Whether or not we are willing to alter our diet sufficiently and/or to spend the money necessary to obtain the lipid-lowering drugs, and then take them religiously to achieve this goal is up to us.

        (That said, CHD and all related diseases (ED, atherosclerosis, liver/kidney failure) are pretty much all reversible on a low-fat pbd, so long as you don’t start too late.)

    1. lee

      From Science Based Medicine (http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/an-apple-a-day/#more-29608) comparing an apple a day to statin use:

      – What would happen if everyone over 50 were offered a statin, and 70% complied?

      – What would happen if everyone over 50 were told to eat an apple a day (or one extra portion of some fruit) and 70% complied (and assuming no overall increase in calorie consumption)?

      This is what the numbers showed:

      The estimated annual reduction in deaths from vascular disease of a statin a day, assuming 70% compliance and a reduction in vascular mortality of 12% (95% confidence interval 9% to 16%) per 1.0 mmol/L reduction in low density lipoprotein cholesterol, is 9400 (7000 to 12 500). The equivalent reduction from an apple a day, modelled using the PRIME model (assuming an apple weighs 100 g and that overall calorie consumption remains constant) is 8500 (95% credible interval 6200 to 10 800).

      That statin would save 9,400 lives, while eating an apple would save 8,500 lives per year. Not only is an apple a day just about as effective as taking a statin, it has fewer side effects. The increased statin use would also cause over a thousand cases of muscle disease and 10,000 new diagnoses of diabetes.

      The authors did not recommend replacing statin use with eating more fruit. Using statins still has a net benefit to overall mortality. But it does show that a simple nutritional intervention has the potential for a similar benefit, at lower cost and without side effects.

  15. bob

    Good map/ariel view of the scene, finally.

    I’ll just add to this, from yesterday-


    After Wilson finally gets out of the car, Brown runs around the back for cover. Wilson has his weapon drawn and has already fired two shots at Brown. Wilson runs around the front of the car to try and cut off Browns escape. He fires one shot from the front right of the car at Brown, who is now hiding behind the car.

    Then, they play hide and seek on both sides of the car. Blood stains, Brown hiding behind the car, Wilson on the other side, until Wilson chases him behind the car, giving Brown a chance to escape up the road, putting distance between them. Wilson fires one round when he comes around the car from behind it at Brown fleeing up the street.

    Wilson was HUNTING, not trying to apprehend an unarmed man.

    1. bob

      “front” of the car is facing right and down. Wilson was traveling right, stopped, and backed up, turning, in front of Brown, who was traveling left and up, on foot, in the road.

      1. bob

        I stopped reading the witness reports when it became obvious that they were made only to baffle with bullshit.

        The job of both the police and DA’s office is to vet and then present “credible” witness reports to the grand jury. It is not to include every might-have-been-a-witness report and present it to the grand jury. All witness testimony was also prefaced by the witness being assured “security” and “anonymity”, because, you know, this case is high profile….

        I hazard that it was the most “witness” testimony in a grand jury hearing ever. Quantity overwhelms quality.

        The weakest witness reports, I’d argue “irrelevant”, were often scheduled right after higher profile/information testimony.

        I bet the DA’s office had a story board and a hollywood consultant, probably from reality TV.

        While it looks like a giant mess in hindsight, there was a method to the DA’s apparent madness- To cast doubt everywhere they could. Sprinkle in some bad “witness” after adding forensics…you baked a “trial”.

        1. bob

          The movement of both brown and wilson, prior to the “incendent” and the postion the car ended up in, backed up, across the other lane, are pretty much settled fact.

          The car was not, as the diagram might appear to show, pointed into the curb. The rear of the car was closest to the curb, the front in the middle of the road.

  16. Howard Beale IV

    What this country/world needs (to paraphrase Paul W Klipsch when it came to loudspeakers and amplifiers) is a good Bitcoin-funded darknet-based floating deadpool (pitchforks and guillotines are so 1800s.) The problem is, how do you successfully authenticate when someone has been successfully rendered a non-participant?

      1. different clue

        This reminds me of something by an extreme libertarian that I read years ago. I could never hope to find it now. It basically said that if a bunch of people wanted someone assassinated, they could put in escrow a bunch of money to be given to whomever could without footprints or fingerprints achieve the death of that chosen target. The writer came up with all kinds of words about how this could be done “legally” and “unprovably”.

  17. lightningclap

    Oh man I love his books! Haven’t thought of him in years. Great stuff, really helped me develop a different perspective on inside-the-beltway machinations.

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