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Lambert Strether

Lambert Strether



Articles by Lambert Strether

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/13/2019

3 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, I had a lot of trouble uploading graphics today, so this is a lighter Water Cooler than it should be. (Also reading about the debate made me think I was being beaten around the head and ears with bags of wet sand). And I don’t have time today to catch up with UPDATEs, as I usually can. So, enjoy your weekend and hopefully I’ll come back strong on Monday! –lambert
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

The Debate

“A Complete List of Everyone Who Lost the Democratic Debate” [Paste]. “1. Joe Biden lost because he rambles and his teeth maybe almost fell out.” The writer had this

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Live Blog: Democrat Presidential Primary Debate #5 in Houston

4 days ago

The fifth Democrat Presidential debate starts in one-half hour, at 8:00PM ET. I’m posting this well before time, since when you are reading this, I may (or may not) still be traveling, and so my presence may (or may not) be in spirit only. In either case, I’m sure comments will be lively!
Here is what NBC has to say about the event and the venue:

The debate is being held at Texas Southern University on Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET and will be co-hosted by ABC and Univision. Viewers should stock up on provisions — it’s slated to run for three hours.
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir, network correspondent Linsey Davis and Univision’s Jorge Ramos will be the moderators.

(I think I know what NBC means by “provisions,” but unfortunately there are no decent

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2:00PM Water Cooler 9/12/2019

4 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, today is a travel day for me, so I haven’t done anything time-stamped. As you caen see, I’ve basically thrown together today’s meal from random oddments I found in the fridge. Be sure to tune in at 7:30PM for tonight’s debate (when the post goes live). –lambert
Trade
“The contradiction at the heart of Trump’s trade war” [Jeff Spross, The Week]. “As economist Jared Bernstein recently pointed out, the president and his negotiators are working off two different theories of what counts as victory in the trade war. Trump himself is pushing something like “full import substitution” — jobs will return to America, the trade deficit will close, and stuff that gets made in China will be made here again. Meanwhile, the administration officials actually

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Links 9/12/19

4 days ago

Justify failed drug test before winning 2018 Triple Crown NY Post (RR). And probably bribed some breeders to get his foals into top-ranked Farm, too.
Banks Are Finally Starting to Account for Climate Change Risk Bloomberg
Confusion and Defiance Follow California’s New Contractor Law NYT. Stoller comments on the “defiance” part:

1. This transcript from Uber's general counsel is incredible. It is a polite version of a mafia threat to California's legislature. https://t.co/QGxjVPNO1t
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) September 12, 2019

Brexit

Brexit is an overly dynamic situation just now:
Brexit Disaster Capitalism: £8 Billion Bet on No Deal Crash-Out by Boris Johnson’s Leave Backers Byline Times. Hmm.
Fury as Tory Cabinet minister claims ‘many people’ believe judges are

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2:00PM Water Cooler 9/11/2019

5 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Trade
“Make Shoes in U.S., or Pay Tariffs? A Footwear Company Seeks a Third Option” [New York Times]. “‘It’s hard to imagine shoes and clothing coming back to the United States just because they are so labor intensive,’ said Chad P. Bown, an international trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. ‘What matters is wage costs. It’s just cheaper to make those things in other places.’ Even if tariffs succeed in forcing production back to the United States, Mr. Bown added, human beings are unlikely to secure the jobs. “The companies will figure out how to do the work with robots and technology,’ he said.” • Automakers haven’t figured out how to make cars this way. Can shoemakers? Anyhow, since this company doesn’t hire U.S.

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2:00PM Water Cooler 9/10/2019

6 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart:
And here is (are) the latest poll(s) as of 9/10/2019, 12:00 PM EDT:

Morning Consult, the behemoth, weighs in. Biden up (33%), Warren (16%) and Sanders (21%) have exchanged the lead again, with Sanders stretching it out (if you accept an average of all polls with no “secret sauce” for poll selection). And the polling detail:

I think dk has started a really neat project, and in the near future we’ll seek your feedback (within reason) for the tool

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2:00PM Water Cooler 9/9/2019

7 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Trade
“U.S. manufacturers are investing less in their factories and workforces as they cope with uncertainty from the trade dispute with China…. [S}ome companies are putting business plans on hold and others are cutting capital spending, decisions that will ripple across supply chains as suppliers adjust to a leaner purchasing market” [Wall Street Journal]. “Truck maker Navistar International Corp. expects to spend 25% less on capital projects this year compared to last year, and Caterpillar Inc.’s capital spending dropped 16% in the June quarter from the year before. U.S. imports of capital goods also fell in July to the lowest level since 2017. Company executives says the shifting contours of the tariffs between the U.S. and China have made it more

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2:00PM Water Cooler 9/6/2019

10 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, comments are open once more. Moderation will be slow, and please be even more excellent to each other than usual, to minimize the need for it. Thank you! –lambert
TPP
“A growing tug-of-war over tariffs is underway between suppliers and retailers. Target Corp.’s recent directive to suppliers to absorb the costs of new levies highlights the financial strains that are stretching from factories to store shelves” [Wall Street Journal]. “Target and other store chains have warned the U.S. government that consumers would be on the hook for the new tariffs on imports from China, with higher prices at checkout. But Target sent a letter to suppliers late last month saying it ‘will not accept any new cost increases’ related to the levies that started

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2:00PM Water Cooler 9/5/2019

11 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, I have returned, and opened comments once more. Moderation will be slow, and please be even more excellent to each other than usual, to minimize the need for it. Thank you! –lambert
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart. A reader said they preferred curves to stairsteps, so curves it is:

And here is the latest poll as of 9/5/2019, 1:00 PM EDT:

I think dk has started a really neat project, and in the near future we’ll seek your feedback (within reason) for the tool

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R.I.P. Immanuel Wallerstein, Sociologist and “World Systems” Theorist

13 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Immanuel Wallerstein, author of The Modern World-System (Volume I, 1974[1]), Historical Capitalism (1983), The Decline of American Power (2003), and 30 other books, died on August 31 of this year. He was 89 years old. Oddly, or not, although he was a Senior Research Scholar at Yale, was head of the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems and Civilization at Binghamton University, and received the Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award from the American Sociological Association, there has as yet been no obituary for him in any major[2] English, Five-Eyes newspaper that I can find (France; Spain; Italy; Brazil; Romania; Iran (English); Turkey[3]; and Turkey (English).
This will not be an obituary for Immanuel Wallerstein; I

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2:00PM Water Cooler 9/3/2019

13 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, because a Water Cooler with no comments seems like a little bit of a misnomer, I’m enabling comments for this post. Please be even more excellent to each other than usual, so as not to overwhelm our still vacationing moderators. And as Yves warned, moderation will be slow. –lambert P.S. There will be no Water Cooler tomorrow, because I’m really mentally still on vacation, and traveling too.
Brexit
I mentioned this morning that the Brexit situation seemed overly dynamic:

Watch: Conservative MP Phillip Lee defects to the Liberal Democrats, crossing the House of Commons during a speech by Boris Johnson
His move means the prime minister has no working majority ahead of a crucial #Brexit vote
[tap to expand] https://t.co/vi78s0o5JA

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Links 9/3/19

13 days ago

Sulphur-crested cockatoos raiding wheelie bins are (annoying) examples of animal behavioural adaptation ABC Australia
Governance changes came about after some lively debates Pensions & Investment. CalPERS. “Lively debate” sounds a lot like the diplomat’s “full and frank exchange of views.”
Dorian Hammering Grand Bahama Island: Prolonged Storm Surge Threat Ahead for Southeast U.S. Weather Underground. Moving at one mile per hour.
Latest Boeing 737 MAX delays imperil return of jet by Christmas Seattle Times
Uber and Lyft face an existential threat in California — and they’re losing The Verge (DL).
“I’m a Terrible Person”: Behind the Epic Meltdown That Ended Travis Kalanick Vanity Fair
Brexit

Brexit seems like an overly dynamic situation just now; here are some live blogs, all with

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Starving Seniors: How America Fails To Feed Its Aging

13 days ago

Lambert here: Everything’s going according to plan!
By Laura Ungar, who health issues out of Kaiser Health News’ St. Louis office, and Trudy Lieberman, a journalist for more than 45 years, and a past president of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Originally published by Kaiser Health News.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Army veteran Eugene Milligan is 75 years old and blind. He uses a wheelchair since losing half his right leg to diabetes and gets dialysis for kidney failure.
And he has struggled to get enough to eat.
Earlier this year, he ended up in the hospital after burning himself while boiling water for oatmeal. The long stay caused the Memphis vet to fall off a charity’s rolls for home-delivered Meals on Wheels, so he had to rely on others, such as his son, a generous off-duty nurse and

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My First Real Jobs

15 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
I’ve written before, on Labor Day, about factory work in Providence, Rhode Island, which I loved, and today I got to thinking about the jobs I had when I was in junior high school. This post will be short because there wasn’t much to them!
My first real job — that is, my first transaction with another person where I performed work in exchange for money — was shelving books in my local public library in the Midwest, where I grew up.
I was in Junior High School. The librarians knew me, because I had devoured the children’s section, the young adults section, and was moving through the adult section at a good clip (Stephen Potter, Emile Zola, C.P. Snow, Matthew Josephson’s The Robber Barons, Tom Wolfe, Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, and so on). I guess they

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Links 9/1/19

15 days ago

Manta rays form close friendships, shattering misconceptions National Geographic
Ethereum ‘Almost Full’ as Controversial Coin Gobbles Up Capacity Bloomberg
RIP Shareholder Primacy Boston Review
Superhuman AI for multiplayer poker Science
Crowdsourced archaeology shows how humans have influenced Earth for thousands of years Phys.org
Brexit

Brexit: Michel Barnier rejects demands for backstop to be axed BBC
Hard Brexiteers simply don’t know their Irish history The Irish Times
What to expect from Boris Johnson RTE
Investors pull billions from UK on prospect of no-deal Brexit FT
French Businesses Wake Up to the Reality of a No-Deal Brexit Bloomberg
Brexit bombshell: Archbishop Welby savages Remoaners by telling them to ‘stop whingeing’ Express
Final sovereignty on Brexit must rest with the

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AOC calls out Barbara Boxer for helping Lyft fight against California labor bill

15 days ago

Lambert here: Good for AOC. I’m beyond tired of nonsense like Boxer’s from Democrats, especially from putative progressives, most especially when the nonsense reinforces California’s corrupt and dangerous tech oligarchy. Remember when Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, cashed in at Uber? And then with the Zuckerbergs? Good times.
By Jessica Corbett, staff writer at Common Dreams. Re-posted from Alternet.
New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out former Sen. Barbara Boxer on Twitter Thursday for helping the ride-hailing company Lyft fight against a proposed state-level bill in California that aims to expand workers’ benefits and rights.
Boxer — who retired from the U.S. Senate in 2017 — revealed in an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this

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Clever Tactics “Add Oil” to Hong Kong Protests (and not “Hidden Hands”)

17 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Let me start out with a sidebar on “add oil” (加油), which you see all over the coverage of the Hong Kong protests: It originated, says the OED, as a cheer at the Macau Grand Prix in the 1960s, meaning “step on the gas” (which is good to know, because I thought that the underlying metaphor was adding cooking oil to a wok preparatory to frying). It translates roughly to “go for it!” Here, an apartment block encourages the protesters by chanting it:

#HongKongers in Tin Shui Wai screaming “Add oil, Hongkongers 香港人加油”
Proud of you all!!! So loud and so many people screaming together! #HongKongProtests#HongKongProtesters#StandwithHK#AntiELAB#HongKong#FollowBackHongKong#HKLastWord pic.twitter.com/2VAhDE7krc
— yannnnnn (@yannnnnn111) August 27, 2019

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2:00PM Water Cooler 8/30/2019

17 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart. Today, I figured I’d include all the bottom feeders, and used a “stair step” presentation, which, although a little jarring, conveys the idea that polls are only slices in time; it’s the voters who move in curves, whereas the polls really are jagged proxies for whatever is happening out there in the dark matter of the electorate:

And here are the numbers as of 8/29/2019, 12:30 PM EDT:

Sanders took a big hit in the YouGov poll, the latest. However,

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Links 8/30/19

17 days ago

Monkey Shatters Zoo Glass With Sharpened Stone in Impressive Prison Break Attempt Gizmodo
Facebook quietly ditched the ‘It’s free and always will be’ slogan from its homepage Business Insider Australia (KW).
‘Worst of wildfires still to come’ despite Brazil claiming crisis is under control Guardian
Amazon’s indigenous warriors take on invading loggers and ranchers Guardian (Furzy Mouse). “At the end of the 40km expedition, the warriors felt empowered. In a war ritual, they marched back to their homes in Rapkô village. As their families gathered round, they showed mobile phone clips of the raid they had conducted on the intruders’ huts.” The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.
Brexit

Tory minister filmed admitting Boris Johnson’s move to suspend parliament

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Marshall Auerback: We Are Clearly Living in a Bizarro Capitalism Era—And It’s Time to Change How the World Manages Economies

17 days ago

Lambert here: For those not familiar with “Bizarro World”:

More pertinently:

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
Remember “Bizarro Superman,” the character who represented the polar opposite of Superman and all that he stood for? Today we have an economic equivalent in the form of Bizarro Capitalism. In the good old days, borrowers paid interest on the money that was loaned to them, and bankers paid depositors a savings rate to entice them to store their money at the bank. Now it’s increasingly the other way around.
Judging from the speeches given at the recent annual Jackson Hole gathering of the various bigwigs in the global central banking scene, the mutation of our economy

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A European Perspective on Boeing’s 737 MAX Debacle: An “Existential Crisis” for a National Champion

18 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Der Spiegel has published a well-reported[1], long (~10,000 words), and devastating article on the Boeing 737 MAX crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302: “Boeing’s Crashes Expose Systemic Failings.” (The original German version was published on August 3rd, 2019; we in the Anglosphere were only able to read it on August 23.) The article is very solid (reader Harold comments: “Teutonic thoroughness”). For example, here is a detail that is new to me. Of Flight 302:
The plane smashed into the ground at a speed of 926 kilometers per hour (575.4 mph) — and physics did the rest…. The kerosene in the tanks didn’t explode and nothing burned. The fuel evaporated instantaneously due to the extremely high speed at impact.
Yikes! In this post,

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2:00PM Water Cooler 8/29/2019

18 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Trade
“Google to shift Pixel smartphone production from China to Vietnam” [Nikkei Asian Review (Furzy Mouse)]. “Working with a partner, Google started work this summer to convert an old Nokia factory in the northern Vietnamese province of Bac Ninh to handle production of Pixel phones, two people familiar with the company’s plans said. This is the same province where Samsung developed its smartphone supply chain a decade ago, so Google will have access to an experienced workforce. The push to develop a Vietnamese production base reflects the twin pressures of higher Chinese labor costs and the spiraling tariffs resulting from the trade war between Washington and Beijing. The U.S. internet giant intends to eventually move production of most of its

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Links 8/29/19

18 days ago

While Wall St. Talks of Recession, Bond Investors Make a Killing NYT
FBI agents raid home of union president amid investigation into illegal payments and corruption Business Insider
Funders threaten to quit Facebook project studying impact on democracy Reuters (EM).
Brexit

Boris Johnson Is Planning A Series Of Extreme Measures In The Coming Weeks To Force Through Brexit Buzzfeed
Jacob Rees-Mogg rejects criticism of UK parliamentary suspension FT
Why it makes sense for Boris Johnson to behave like Donald Trump The Spectator. The UK’s constitution has been broken for some time.
Protests and petition against suspending UK parliament RTE. Certainly that worked with… Worked with…
When you’ve lost anyone at The Telegraph… Thread:

I argue in the @Telegraph that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of

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Libra: The Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns

18 days ago

By Barry Eichengreen, Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley; and formerly Senior Policy Advisor at the International Monetary Fund; CEPR Research Fellow. Originally published at VoxEU.
The repercussions and regulatory impact of Facebook’s proposed Libra currency are still unclear. This column, part of the VoxEU debate on the future of digital money, assesses the information as yet made available about Libra, including the implications for its exchangeability, scalability, privacy, and security. It is clear the design of the currency is yet to be finished, and many questions remain about its governance and structure.
Details about Libra, Facebook’s planned global currency, are not easy to decipher. This may be because the currency’s own

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2:00PM Water Cooler 8/28/2019

19 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Trade
“The freight railway route from China to Europe is not generating business volume” [Freight Waves]. “The much popularized Chinese one belt one road (OBOR) strategy seems to have hiccups on its path, as evidenced from the statements made by the state-run China Railway admitting that several of the intermodal containers on trains connecting China to Europe run empty. Empty intermodal containers have been a perennial problem that Beijing has had to contend with on this trade route ever since services commenced a few years ago…. The problem with the railway system is that it has not convinced exporters on its apparent utility of being faster than maritime and cheaper than air transport. Most of the exports to the EU from China are manufactured in cities

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2:00PM Water Cooler 8/27/2019

20 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, brunch ran a little late today. I’ll add some more in a bit. –lambert UPDATE All done!
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

I’m abandoning the RCP poll on the Democrat Presidential nomination race, despite the fancy presentation, because I don’t like the way the polls used keep changing (and RCP doesn’t include Reuters/IPSOS either, at least not now, even though Reuter is one of the polls that the DNC uses to determine — if that’s the word I want — candidate eligibility for the debates. So I’ll try FiveThirtyEight (I know, I know) for awhile. Here are results going a week back,

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Links 8/27/19

20 days ago

Why Is Mold Fuzzy? Live Science
Japanification: investors fear malaise is spreading globally FT
Recession watch: Does anyone know what they’re talking about? Columbia Journalism Review
Wall Street Prepares for the End of a Crucial Era Bloomberg. The end of LIBOR.
$572 million verdict handed down in Oklahoma opioid trial The Oklahoman. One of the more subtle and most pernicious effects of Google’s search algo is that it prioritizes global sources over local ones. I would far rather link to The Oklahoman on an Oklahoma story than the BCC, yet the BBC is at the top of Google results and I had to go look for The Oklahoman which, at the link, consolidates plenty of other coverage of this continuing story. Surely Google’s programmers are well-paid and smart enough to work out that The Oklahoman

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2:00PM Water Cooler Special: Reader Report from the Field on Biden in New Hampshire (and It’s Ugly. Very Ugly. Come ON, Man)

21 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Alert and long-time reader Petal attended a Biden rally Friday, August 23, at Alumni Hall in Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center, Hanover, NH, the first of his two campaign appearances that day. There were 400 people in the hall, and another 150 outside (Manchester Union-Leader). Petal attended, and wrote up a report on the rally in the form of a long comment; I’m hoisting that comment in this post, and then adding some Q&A from readers from the same thread. The media coverage focused, as it does, on a Biden “gaffe,” this one about Obama being assassinated (WaPo; AP; Reuters).
Here is Petal’s report, which I have lightly copy-edited. I also integrated some material from Petal further down in the comment thread in square brackets, [thus].

Okay, here it is.

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2:00PM Water Cooler 8/26/2019

21 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

I’m abandoning the RCP poll on the Democrat Presidential nomination race, despite the fancy presentation, because I don’t like the way the polls used keep changing (and RCP doesn’t include Reuters/IPSOS either, at least not now, even though Reuter is one of the polls that the DNC uses to determine — if that’s the word I want — candidate eligibility for the debates. So I’ll try FiveThirtyEight (I know, I know) for awhile. Here are results going a week back, last updated 2019-08-26:

The pipeline for major polls feels oddly clogged. Over the weekend, we got a

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Links 8/24/19

23 days ago

After using tools, crows behave more optimistically, study suggests Phys.org.
Mark Carney calls for global monetary system to replace the dollar FT
How Uber Got Lost NYT. Deck: “The once-swaggering company is losing more money and growing more slowly than ever. What happened?” Lol. See Hubert Horan at NC here (2016), here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (2019). Series title: “Can Uber Ever Deliver?” Another victory for Betteridge’s Law.
Department stores make room for used fashion Associated Press. The economy is fine.
Brazil
Amazon fires: Brazil sends army to help tackle blazes BBC
They’re not wrong:

EU to Brazil: We'd like cheap beef in return for carsBolsonaro to farmers: Get fucking burning

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