Friday , January 17 2020
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Lambert Strether

Lambert Strether



Articles by Lambert Strether

Links 1/17/2020

11 hours ago

Scientists Design Bacteria-Based Living Concrete Smithsonian
Banking’s Problem Child May Be Due Another Tantrum Bloomberg
Euro zone slowdown has bottomed but no big bounce in sight: Reuters poll Reuters
Big Brother Australia aims to ban cash spending Asia Times
Extreme mega-fires force rethink on fighting blazes FT
The solution to the plastic waste crisis? It isn’t recycling Guardian
Brexit
EU’s funding for UK’s poorest areas ‘must be matched after Brexit’ Guardian. Lol no.
Harry and Meghan, and why members of the Royal Family can’t live in Canada Globe and Mail
Shares in French retailers sink following wave of strikes FT Finally some coverage.
Syraqistan
Iran crisis: Tensions reach boiling point as Iraq defies US to sign Putin missile deal Express
Crisis & Critique: The Return of Guaido?

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2:00PM Water Cooler 1/16/2020

1 day ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Trade
UPDATE “Jury Still Out As U.S. China Trade War Throws Up Winners, Losers” [Bloomberg]. “Donald Trump famously declared that trade wars are easy to win. With the phase one trade agreement between the U.S. and China now inked, observers are hesitant to declare a winner. While most welcomed the truce they also cautioned that the toughest negotiations are yet to come. For now, obvious beneficiaries include America’s farmers, refiners, crude and gas exporters who could see Chinese demand soar. U.S. finance firms including investment banks, credit card companies and ratings firms won allowances that will hasten their ambitions to grab a bigger slice of China’s $45 trillion financial industry. On the Chinese side, the truce offers relief for a slowing

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Links 1/16/2020

1 day ago

Incredible, secret firefighting mission saves famous ‘dinosaur trees’ Sydney Morning Herald (JH).
New Bone-Eating Life Form Discovered in Bizarre Alligator-Corpse Study Live Science
U.S. Crude Oil Production to Reach Record High in 2020 and Norway Offers 69 Continental Shelf Production Licenses Maritime Executive
Merkel Spends Big to Kickstart Germany’s Stalled Coal Exit Bloomberg zu
One in four countries beset by civil strife as global unrest soars Guardian. And by “global” is meant global:

Students singing a Bengali version of the Chilean song, "The Rapist is You" at a protest to oppose Modi’s visit to Kolkata. pic.twitter.com/ybVreEg5RO
— Shoaib Daniyal (@ShoaibDaniyal) January 11, 2020

Brexit

Industry leaders asked the UK government 31 urgent questions about Brexit and have

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2:00PM Water Cooler 1/15/2020

2 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, this will be longer on politics and with more UPDATES than usual, because I had to run down some rumors about the debates. –lambert UPDATE All done. If you’re returning, I did so much re-arranging and tinkering with the politics section that I didn’t mark each change.
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

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

* * *
2020

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart.
We have a two new national polls today: HarrisX and YouGov

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2:00PM Water Cooler Special: Warren Goes Rovian by Signal Boosting and Fundraising Off a Poorly Sourced Politico Hit Piece

4 days ago

I suppose the Warren campaign’s recently-released “claws out” nail polish merch was a sign of things to come:

Proof of that nail polish, which apparently was made by Claws Out for the @ewarren campaign. #iacaucus pic.twitter.com/HsVO6VO4oM
— Kim Norvell (@KimNorvellDMR) January 11, 2020

(Of course, I like cats because they don’t display herding behavior, and don’t react well to appeals to “unity,” so I’m not sure I understand the appeal of the merch. But I digress.)
For a quite awhile, the Warren campaign’s ethos was defined by “plans“; a series of white papers — I believe over sixty — released by the campaign to general applause in the political class for wonkishness. That ethos seems to have been abandoned in the wake of Warren’s butchered rollout of her #MedicareForAll “pay for” and

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2:00PM Water Cooler 1/13/2020

4 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

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

* * *
2020

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart.
We have a new national poll today from IDB/TIPP, albeit with a very small sample, as of 1/13/2020, 11:00 AM EST. On the average, the pattern of Biden first, Sanders strong second, then Warren and Buttigeig is stable, but Bloomberg is closing on Buttigieg, which is interesting or concerning. NOTE: If we take out the averaging, Warren is in second,

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2:00PM Water Cooler 1/10/2020

7 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
The news seems a bit light, as we all sink back exhausted from the war scare, now rapidly dropping off the front pages. –lambert
Trade
“U.K. Tells Trump That American Chicken Is Still Off the Menu” [Bloomberg]. “With the breakup near, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration is preparing to negotiate trade deals this year with the EU and the U.S. Typically such agreements take years. The timetable for these talks is months. With reelection on the brain, President Donald Trump is ogling the opportunity. “This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the EU,” Trump tweeted in December. While there are plenty of sticking points, count chlorine-washed chicken as early out of the gate. Most Americans

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2:00PM Water Cooler 1/8/2020

9 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, my connection was tooth-grindingly slow. I’ll have a bit more shortly. –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

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

* * *
2020

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart.
Today we have a small sample from YouGov, as of 1/8/2020, 12:00 PM EST. On the average, the pattern of Biden first, Sanders strong second, then Warren and Buttigeig is stable, but Bloomberg is closing on Buttigieg, which is interesting

Read More »

Links 1/8/2020

9 days ago

Woman rescued after being stuck inside clothing donation bin for 3 days Good Morning America
The Year and the Decade in Weather and Climate: A Meta-Lookback Weather Underground
Ross Garnaut’s climate change prediction is coming true and it’s going to cost Australia billions, experts warn ABC Australia
Australia’s leaders unmoved on climate action after devastating bushfires Reuters
Australia fires: How do we know how many animals have died? BBC
Central banks running low on ways to fight recession, warns Mark Carney FT
The Fed might be in denial about the next recession The Week
Bible Lobbyist: We Can’t Print Bibles in America Anymore Matt Stoller, BIG
Rediscovering the Neighborhood of Saturdays Belt Magazine
Syraqistan

Again, Iraq and Iran dominate the news flow.
The political class:

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2:00PM Water Cooler 1/7/2020

10 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, this Water Cooler will be shorter than it should be. I slept badly and late, and have places to go and people to see. Tomorrow will be better! –lambert
Trade
“Rising tensions in the Middle East are reaching grain farms in the U.S. Midwest. Fears of retaliation for a U.S. airstrike that killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani have sparked concern that U.S. wheat growers will lose access to Middle Eastern markets” [Wall Street Journal]. “The Middle East has been a growing destination for U.S. grain exports, particularly as American wheat farmers have sought alternate markets to make up for the impact of the U.S.-China trade war. Wheat futures have been sliding since the U.S. airstrike, and the Jefferies Shipping Index tracking maritime

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Iraq Coverage: Yet Another Cavalcade of Stupid at the Wall Street Journal

11 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Normally, although I don’t like the Wall Street Journal’s editorial line, I take the perhaps old-fashioned view that many if not most investors can’t completely lie to themselves, and so there’s a market for reporting excellence, especially on firms (e.g., Boeing) for which the Journal caters. But a recent article on Iraq, “Trump Pushes Iraq, Threatens Sanctions After Vote to Expel U.S. Troops,” has shaken my faith. Of course, not all the stupid comes from the WSJ. U.S. officials helped!
So this will be a very simple post: I’ll just go through the article, pluck out as many solecisms as I can, throw them into buckets, and comment briefly on them. The buckets: Obtuseness, outright errors, lazy reporting, ignorance, strange omissions, and a general inability

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2:00PM Water Cooler 1/6/2020

11 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

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

* * *
2020

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart.
Today we have two YouGov polls from IA and NH, as of 1/6/2020, 12:00 PM EST. On the average, the pattern of Biden first, Sanders strong second, then Warren and Buttigeig is stable.

And the numbers:

For IA, let’s shift over to the daily polls, not averaged out, as of 1/6/2020, 12:00 PM EST:

And the numbers:

A three-way tie for first between

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Links 1/6/2020

11 days ago

The secret lives of fish-eating, beaver-ambushing wolves of Minnesota National Geographic
How a mid-20th-century hunting guide may fill the gaps on climate change in Maine WaPo. Citizen science!
Australia commits billions of dollars to wildfire recovery AP
‘Lithium fever’ grips Portugal as mining project raises temperature FT
Fed focuses on repo market exit strategy after avoiding year-end crunch Reuters
‘The Fed Is a Political Institution That Pretends Not to Be Political’ (interview) William Greider, FAIR. From Counterspin in 2007; still germane.
William Greider memorial service: January 12, 2020 2 pm at Friends Meeting of Washington (RJ). Map.
Syraqistan

Trump says he’ll sanction Iraq if US troops forced to leave The Hill. Trump: “We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen

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American Pot Is The Gold Standard. But Canada Leads The Export Game — For Now.

11 days ago

Lambert here: There’s opportunity here for Presidential candidates with a little courage, particularly if amnesty is coupled with legalization.
By Markian Hawryluk, the senior Colorado correspondent for KHN, based in Denver. He has reported on health care for more than 25 years. Originally published at Kaiser Health News.
DENVER — In a large warehouse, LivWell Enlightened Health feeds its cloned cannabis plants a custom blend of nutrients, sprays them with filtered water and pumps extra carbon dioxide into the air. LivWell releases three types of insects to clear the plants of unwanted pests without the use of toxic pesticides.
Every part of the growing process is meticulously documented and evaluated to constantly refine the process.
After 20 years of experience, legal marijuana growers

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Iraq Parliament Calls for U.S. Troops to Be Expelled (plus Cavalcade of Stupid)

12 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, this was originally going to be a pure cavalcade of stupid Tweets on Iraq — as usual, the problem was too much noise and not enough signal or, to put matters more structurally, the interference patterns generated by multiple and overlapping disinformation campaigns — but then events intervened, in the form of a vote in Iraq’s parliament to expel U.S. troops. As we shall see, this vote may be more equivocal than we think, but it’s surely significant, even historic, and so I’ll cover it first. Then I’ll segue into the cavalcade. (Also, for grins and to show that not all hope for humanity is lost, I will intersperse the occasional item that is not stupid.)
First, Iraq’s parliament. From (sigh) the New York Times, “Iraqi Lawmakers Urge End to

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Links 1/5/2020

12 days ago

A message to Australian Prime Minister Morison:
[embedded content]
I spent New Year’s trapped by Australian bushfires that looked like a scene from a warzone Business Insider. Photo essay, takes time for page to build.
Stunning photograph shows bushfire smoke turning the Australian sky into a re-creation of the Aboriginal flag Daily Mail (CL).
On Fires in Australia Ecological Rants (Sub-Boreal).
Forecasted attribution of the human influence on Hurricane Florence Science
Turkish jet company blames rogue employee for Ghosn escape FT
Weekly Economic Release Summary: What Is Consumer Confidence Saying About The Economy In 2020 Econintersect
New York offered to pay part of Amazon workers’ salaries in early HQ2 bid Engadget (KW).
Brexit

Brexit: Johnson to open trade talks with Ursula von der

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Australia’s Bushfires Are A Wake-Up Call: We Must Build A More Humane Economy Before It’S Too Late

12 days ago

Lambert here: Interesting theory of change.
By Katherine Trebeck, a research and policy adviser with Oxfam. Originally published at Open Democracy.
Back in the 1800s, scholars in the field of economics cast an envious glance at their colleagues in science.
They envied physics, with its laws of gravity. They looked with green-eyes at those studying chemistry, with its elements and atoms. And they longingly admired their biologist chums with their categorisations and evolutionary adaptation.
Now more than a century on, as we begin the third decade of the third millennium, economics no longer seems to take heed of science, let alone defer to scientific realities.
It is (invariably mainstream) economists with their contentions and blind spots that drive so much policy making, not scientists

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2:00PM Water Cooler 1/3/2020

14 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

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

* * *
2020

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart.
No change from yesterday, where we had our first polls of the New Year, and YouGov confirming a with a nice big Morning Consult sample as of 1/3/2020, 1:00 PM EST. The pattern of Biden first, Sanders strong second, then Warren and Buttigeig is stable. On to Iowa!

And the numbers:

Here is state polling for IA, NH, SC, NV and CA as of 1/3/2020, 1:00

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Links 1/3/2020

14 days ago

Teach Your Cat to Sit, Stay, and Fetch Cleveland Scene. From 2015, still germane. There are no military or drug-sniffing cats. That’s one reason I like them.
Goldman Sachs Misled Energy Regulators, Concealed Its Links to Corporation Seeking to Sell Electric Power Public Citizen
I Was Google’s Head of International Relations. Here’s Why I Left. Ross LaJeunesse, Medium
Interpol issues ‘red notice’ for Carlos Ghosn as Turkey detains 7 FT
Mallacoota Escapes Obliteration, but Australia’s Terrifying Bushfire Season Rolls On Weather Underground
Food and fuel are running out in parts of the country as raging bushfires push Australia toward a humanitarian crisis. Here’s what you need to know. Business Insider (KW).
The 5 most important races for the Arctic Politico
Bad Planet Counterpunch
Brexit

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2:00PM Water Cooler 1/2/2020

15 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers, I thought I’d relive my lost youth and read How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan. It’s informative, but oddly — considering the subject matter, psychedelics — doesn’t seem revelatory to me in the way that The Botany of Desire did. It could also use tighter editing. I think I’m going to move on to Hate, Inc. next. I’m a little hung up on Taleb.
* * *
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

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

* * *
2020

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/31/2019

17 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Happy New Year, everybody. Please remember not to let off any fireworks indoors. Be safe out there!
As a conversation starter:

As president, I’ll turn the East Room into an open office plan, where I’ll sit with our team.
I’ll use the Oval Office for some official functions – never for tweeting – but the rest of the time, I’ll be where a leader should be: with the team. https://t.co/zIU3ZL5uIv pic.twitter.com/jLwWKJCmxw
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) December 30, 2019

Quite right. Because who doesn’t love their open-plan office? Or their “team”? (No, this is not a parody account. The image does not come from the linked Politico article, so I can only think that the source is Bloomberg. UPDATE It’s Bloomberg’s Mayoral office in New York.)
Today is an

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Links 12/31/19

17 days ago

Dear readers, enjoy your New Year’s Eve! –lambert
Rare black rhino born at Michigan zoo on Christmas Eve CBS
US yield curve signals optimism for 2020 FT
Undaunted Grist
Even 50-year-old climate models correctly predicted global warming Science
It’s Not Just You—Wild Swings in Extreme Weather Are Rising Wired (Re Silc).
Good guides gone bad: How Google’s ‘Local Guides’ program fails businesses and consumers Search Engine Land
Uber, Postmates sue to challenge California’s new labor law AP
Brexit

Brexit: the end of the beginning EU Referendum
Strike action, from 5 to 31 December in Paris Paris Official website of the Convention and Visitors Bureau
French unions behind strikes get public funds AP
Board game exposing French wealth gap is an unexpected Christmas hit RFI (Furzy Mouse).

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2:00PM Water Cooler 12/30/2019

18 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Thank you for all the excellent suggestions for books to read yesterday (and consider collectively taking yourselves up on your suggestions, too). I finished Snowden’s autobiography and am now starting Richard Powers’s The Overstory! (Several readers commented that they don’t read books anymore. Why?)
For by the duration of the Naked Capitalism holiday season, I’m going to run Water Cooler as an open thread (if I can manage to get WP to accept my having checked the “Allow comments” box).
Here, however, as a conversation starter, is a remarkable statement by Pete Buttigieg, only 29 seconds long. It’s all the more remarkable, since Buttigieg majored in history at Harvard:

It’s just a great big bowl of nonsense, but he looks confident when saying that

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2:00PM Water Cooler 12/27/2019

21 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, thank you for all the excellent suggestions for books to read yesterday (and consider collectively taking yourselves up on your suggestions, too). For the duration of the Naked Capitalism holiday season, I’m going to run Water Cooler as an open thread.
Here, however, is a conversation starter: We received a wonderful Christmas gift from the Department of Schadenfreude in the form of this story from the Washington Post: “Rachel Maddow rooted for the Steele dossier to be true. Then it fell apart“:
She was there for the bunkings, absent for the debunkings — a pattern of misleading and dishonest asymmetry.
I know this WaPo story was in Links, but since comments are off there during our comments holiday, perhaps it did not meet with the

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2:00PM Water Cooler 12/26/2019

22 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I hope you enjoyed Christmas, and are enjoying Boxing Day. For the duration of the Naked Capitalism holiday season, I’m going to run Water Cooler as an open thread.
For the past year or so, I’ve been extremely online, which is one reason the links here are so very eclectic (at least I like to think so). But what that means is that I haven’t had time to read any books, except the sort of Grade B fiction that I can devour at a sitting, and that infrequently. So I am going to go to the bookstore and buy some books — probably middlebrow stuff, nothing too challenging — and then read them, instead of gulping down enormous quantities of news-adjacent krill on the Twitter. If you have any suggestions, please put them in comments — but I’m not

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An Extremely Online Christmas Sampler

22 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, this will be an extremely lazy and silly post. As you know, I spend a lot of time on the Twitter collecting shiny objects, and here are some of the most Christmas-y of the last few days. Not all are ironic, I promise you! Here they are, in no particular order:
My favorite cartoonist ever, except possibly Charles Addams:

The magic of #christmas! 🎄 pic.twitter.com/WHrtCG4jiM
— Calvin and Hobbes (@Calvinn_Hobbes) December 25, 2019

When punchcards roamed the Earth:

My most memorable & exhausting Christmas Day was 51 years ago. Here is a photo of one page of the hard copy I kept of the final return to earth digitals for #Apollo8. It shows data for a TEI 10 maneuver (on right) and for a backup TEI 11 (on left) maneuver.

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Links 12/26/19

22 days ago

Bank robbery suspect threw stolen money and wished everyone a ‘Merry Christmas,’ witness said CNN. Hero.
In Asia Pacific the climate crisis is happening now, not in the future CNN
Cattle have stopped breeding, koalas die of thirst: A vet’s hellish diary of climate change Sidney Morning Herald
Notre Dame rector: Fragile cathedral might not be saved AP
Brexit

UK at ‘end of queue’ for data deal with Brussels FT
UK must pay for it! Varadkar REFUSES to help Boris with Brexit bridge in huge blow to PM Express
Latest Bid by France’s Macron to Quell Protests Over Neoliberal Pension Scheme Fails as Strikes Continue Common Dreams. Again, miserably inadequate mainstream coverage.
France strike leaves transport disrupted on Christmas Eve New Europe. The last paragraph should be the lead, on this and

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We Asked, You Answered: Here’s How The Climate Changed Your Lives In 2019

22 days ago

Lambert here: I always find “no more bug splat”-level anecdote more convincing, in the aggregate, than models. Here we have a lot of that.
By Annelise McGough, growth and engagement editor for Grist. Originally published at Grist.
A year has passed since the publication of “We broke down what climate change will do, region by region,” the best-performing Grist story of recent times. In the piece, the Grist team laid out what the 4th National Climate Assessment warned was coming for each region of the country. The main takeaway? No matter where you live, climate change will find you.
The Pacific Northwest is looking at a rainy future, while the Southwest will experience blistering temperatures and drought unlike anything seen before. As we said last year, your backyard might suffer

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Links 12/25/19

23 days ago

Readers, Merry Christmas! –lambert
Wildfires cause turmoil in CA property insurance market AP (KW).
Adam Neumann’s $1.6bn WeWork exit package could get sweeter FT
Column: How did God make it into millions of consumer contracts? Los Angeles Times
Xmas Watch

Seasons greetings from the organs of state security:

Santa, his reindeer and all of the presents have been cleared by CBP for entry into the United States! @NoradSanta pic.twitter.com/D28Xd8dAcg
— CBP (@CBP) December 25, 2019

How Jimmy Stewart’s war service affected ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Chicago Tribune
How stores choose which songs to play CNN
The Secrets of New York City Ballet’s Pointe Shoe Room Dance Spirit. For Nutcracker fans.
Brexit

Pound drops as post-election glow evaporates FT
Scuffles break out as protesters occupy

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2:00PM Water Cooler 12/24/2019

24 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers, if you celebrate Christmas, please have a lovely Christmas Eve. Otherwise, Io Saturnalia (or, I suppose, Festivus).
* * *
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

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

* * *
2020

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart.
Nationally, we have our first poll after the Xmas debate, and it’s Morning Consult with a nice big sample as of 12/24/2019, 11:00 AM EST. The pattern of Biden first, Sanders strong second, then Warren and Buttigeig is

Read More »