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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/7/2019

This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 1279 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in the financial realm. Please join us and participate via our donation page, which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we’re doing this fundraiser and what we’ve accomplished in the last year, and our current goal, burnout prevention. China “China Narrows Scope for Trade Deal With U.S. Ahead of Talks” [Bloomberg]. “China’s leadership ‘are interpreting the impeachment discussion as a weakening of Trump’s position, or certainly a distraction,’ said Jude Blanchette, an expert on China’s elite politics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ‘Their calculation is that Trump needs a win’

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Lambert Strether writes 2:00PM Water Cooler 8/7/2020

Yves Smith writes Patrick Cockburn: War and Pandemic Journalism

Yves Smith writes Why Taiwan Is at the Heart of a Geopolitical Struggle to Produce Cutting-Edge Computer Chips

Lambert Strether writes 2:00PM Water Cooler 8/6/2020

This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 1279 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in the financial realm. Please join us and participate via our donation page, which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we’re doing this fundraiser and what we’ve accomplished in the last year, and our current goal, burnout prevention.


“China Narrows Scope for Trade Deal With U.S. Ahead of Talks” [Bloomberg]. “China’s leadership ‘are interpreting the impeachment discussion as a weakening of Trump’s position, or certainly a distraction,’ said Jude Blanchette, an expert on China’s elite politics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ‘Their calculation is that Trump needs a win’ and is willing to make compromises on substance as a result, he said.”


“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

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Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart. Here is (are) the latest Dem Primary Polling as of 10/7/2019, 1:00 PM EDT:

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/7/2019

Still waiting for the impact of Sanders heart attack. Biden up, taking votes from Warren, Sanders up. All together now: “It’s just one poll!” And here are the poll results:

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/7/2019

And a C+ poll with a small sample size, as well.

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

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Biden (D)(1): “Top Biden Donors Gather Amid Storm Clouds Over Campaign” [New York Times]. “Over cocktails on Friday evening and a Saturday spent in a drab [Philadelphia] hotel conference room, Mr. Biden’s top financiers and fund-raisers received strategy briefings and PowerPoint presentations, and plotted the path forward for the former vice president, who suddenly found himself in fourth place in the money chase… Multiple attendees said Ms. Warren was, by far, Mr. Biden’s most discussed opponent, with his strategists telling donors they expected her to come under new press scrutiny now that she has risen in the polls.” • Hmm.

Biden (D)(1): “Biden increases lead in South Carolina to 29 points” [The Hill]. From FOX. “The former vice president’s support among black voters appears to be largely responsible for the wide margin. He maintains a 4 point advantage on Warren among white voters but leads her by 41 points among blacks. He also leads among men and those over 45.”

O’Rourke (D)(1): Good for him:

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders’ Wealth Tax Is Wonkier Than Elizabeth Warren’s” [Slate]. “Warren has made taxing the fortunes of the rich a centerpiece of her presidential campaign. Onstage, she does her best to make the idea sound modest, quaint even, emphasizing that it’s just a “2 cent” tax on each dollar of wealth (until it hits 3 cents for billionaires, anyway)…. On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders introduced his own, much more aggressive version of a wealth tax. Though the senator’s plan would raise more money than Warren’s ($4.35 trillion over a decade versus $2.6 trillion), his rollout didn’t focus so much on paying for social programs. Instead, he borrowed a line from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the activist left, and front-loaded the class war. As he put it on Twitter: “Billionaires should not exist.” … Scoping out a bit further: Under the Warren plan [, according to Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman], the fortunes of the 15 richest Americans would be 54 percent smaller today. Under the Sanders plan, they would be about 80 percent smaller.”

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Sanders unveils plan to stop corporate donations to Dem convention” [Politico]. “The Vermont senator pledges to put a stop to all corporate PAC contributions to the convention if he wins the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. AT&T, Facebook, Independence Blue Cross and other companies each gave seven-figure donations to the event’s host committee in 2016…. Sanders’ policy comes days after he was released from the hospital following a heart attack.” • Plenty of heart attacks among the Democratic strategists, no doubt!

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Elizabeth Warren’s New Labor Plan Is Good. Bernie Sanders’ Is Better” [Vice]. “Certainly, there is much for workers to celebrate in both Warren’s platform and what it says about the state of the American labor movement…. But declaring Warren’s labor plan “the most ambitious” of the 2020 campaign is a step too far. For all her talk of ‘big, structural change,’ Warren’s platform focuses on workers’ legal rights as individuals, rather than their rights as a collective. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ own labor plan, which issues a more fundamental challenge to the very essence of the American workplace by tackling at-will employment. The overwhelming majority of American workers are employed ‘at will,’ which means that they can be fired for basically any reason, regardless of performance on the job…. Sanders’s Workplace Democracy Plan, which he released in August , calls for the passage of ‘just cause’ legislation, which would prohibit employers from firing workers for anything other than their performance on the job. Warren’s plan leaves this fundamental imbalance untouched.” • That’s not a trivial difference.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(4): “Why Bernie Has To Win” [Nathan Robinson, Current Affairs]. “What is happening right now is that an old man is carrying the most colossal imaginable weight on his shoulders. It is the weight of all of those people you see in that ad, people drowning beneath medical bills and student debt and terrified of climate change and taking care of dying relatives and juggling miserable jobs they work from can’t-see in the morning to can’t-see at night, the people who come up to him and beg him to please please just help them, make it okay, fix this. And you can watch him in that video promising them that he will do everything he can to fix it. And the news that he had a fucking heart attack means we’re learning just what he’ll do to carry out that promise, and when those people hug him and beg him, he knows that it doesn’t matter whether he’d rather be sitting by Lake Champlain with his grandkids instead of crisscrossing Iowa all winter listening to desperate strangers tell him about the worst things that have ever happened to them. He’s got to do it, because there is so much riding on it, and history has put him in a unique position, and if that happens to you then, sorry, you have to do what you’re put on earth to do, and if it kills you, tough luck.”

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “Trump Wins Delay After Judge Refuses to Block N.Y. Tax Subpoena” [Bloomberg]. • If all this runs true to form, what we will find out is that Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA LLP, are very good. A sales boon to them, a nothingburger for the rest of us.

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Trump’s enemies add up in the wrong state” [Politico]. “He publicly doubted Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico and spread conspiracy theories about it. He reportedly called Haiti a ‘shithole.’ He balked at the idea of allowing Bahamians displaced by Hurricane Dorian into the U.S., explaining that it risked bringing in “some very bad people. Since taking office as president, Donald Trump has alienated what looks like a mini-United Nations of voters with deep connections to other countries, tens of thousands of whom live in the state that’s essential to his re-election — Florida.” • Maybe. Not clear they’re more alienated than they were in 2016, and Trump will also have picked up some Latinx votes with his Venezuela policy, sadly.

Warren (D)(1): “How Elizabeth Warren could sweep the 2020 primaries” [The Week]. “What if one candidate wins both Iowa and New Hampshire, and then the rest of the field rapidly melts away? With Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) surging in both national and early state polling, analysts are probably underestimating the likelihood that she essentially runs the table in next year’s Democratic primaries and caucuses — like John Kerry did 15 years ago — despite the presence of multiple viable alternatives. No two campaigns are exactly alike, and Warren is already doing much better than Kerry was at this point in 2003. But the two contests share some similarities: a sitting Republican president despised by Democratic activists challenged by a group of Democrats featuring at least half a dozen candidates who you could picture in the Oval Office.” • Extended comparison between 2004 and 2020, with Howard Dean in the Sanders role, and Warren in the Kerry role. Let us remember that Kerry won the primary… and then went on the lose the general. To George W. Bush, dry drunk, fool, and architect of the Iraq War. Be careful what you wish for.

Warren (D)(2): “No, No, No. Elizabeth Warren Is Not a Socialist” [Bloomberg]. “Wall Street often lumps Warren together with Senator Bernie Sanders as a “socialist.” She is nothing of the sort. As she consistently says, “I believe in markets.” She just wants them to work better. Her stance towards Wall Street reminds me of Franklin Roosevelt’s, who came into office in 1933, with banks failing and the country struggling through the Depression. By the time he died in 1945, bank customers had federal deposit insurance, commercial banks and investment banks had been separated, and the Securities and Exchange Commission had been created to regulate the markets. These three measures did a great deal to restore Americans’ faith in the nation’s financial system. But of course Wall Street hated Roosevelt too.” • Fair enough!

Warren (D)(3): From an associate professor at Stony Brook, hence notionally in the 10%. Thread:

Warren (D)(4): “The white supremacy of Elizabeth Warren” [Twila Barnes, Indian Country]. From March, still germane: “During the summer of 2012, in the company of fellow Cherokee women united by a desire to educate and invest tribal perspectives into the contemporary discourse, I traveled to Massachusetts to seek an audience with Warren’s team. The campaign agreed to the meeting via the Boston press only to renege upon our arrival and falsely malign us as the pawns of “right-wing extremists.” It stonewalled Indian Country Today, the largest Indigenous news platform in the country.[15] It ignored Cherokee protestors at the state nominating event.[16] It rebuffed overtures from Indigenous delegates at the Democratic National Convention.[17]. In summary: when confronted with Indigenous perspectives that posed an obstacle to her personal advancement, Warren’s carefully calculated response was to pretend that we didn’t exist.” • See above. All Warren had to do was ask the Cherokees instead of doing the genetic test. Then she would have found out that Cherokee citizenship is not by blood. But perhaps she knew she wouldn’t like the answer?

UPDATE Warren (D)(5): “Elizabeth Warren comes under fire for claiming she lost her teaching job because she was ‘visibly pregnant’ – after 2008 video resurfaces in which she says she vacated the position because she didn’t have the proper credentials” [Daily Mail (UserFriendly). “The Democratic hopeful, 70, told a town hall audience in Nevada on Wednesday that she lost her job teaching special needs students in the early 1970s because she was ‘visibly pregnant’. ‘By the end of the first year, I was visibly pregnant, and the principal did what principals did in those days – wish me luck and hire someone else for the job,’ she told the crowd in Carson City. However, a YouTube clip posted in January 2008 shows Warren giving a different explanation as to why she left that school. In the video, she tells interviewer Harry Kreisler that her undergraduate degree was in speech pathology and audiology, and, as such, she didn’t have the necessary educational requirements to continue on at the school.” • I don’t know how much difference this will make in the primary; on this side of the water, the story hasn’t broken out of the right wing fever swamp. But the general could be very different. Among other things, 2016 was a referendum on the fitness of the credentialed 10% to rule the country (on behalf of the oligarchs). The verdict went against them. Since then, the sense that the 10%, as a class — the “front row,” as Arnade calls it — is often crooked can only have been reinforced by the summer’s drumbeat of college admission scandals. I shudder to think what the very well-funded Republican attack machine will do with all this.

UPDATE Yang (D)(1): “Andrew Yang faces his critics in the Asian American community” [Los Angeles Times]. “Seeing Yang up on the Democratic primary debate stage should have been a thrilling milestone for me as a fellow Taiwanese American. But when I heard him use model-minority stereotypes to describe himself, it was hard to feel proud. A Taiwanese American man had made it to the platform of the Democratic primary debates without formal support from the party. He had out-polled, out-raised and outperformed many professional politicians, some of whom had openly laughed at him. He had started a national conversation about a universal basic income, commanding rallies of thousands all around the country with his charisma. And yet he still felt that the most practical use of his identity on a national stage was as a joke. He was a powerful man on a powerful stage, powerless to be himself.”


“Trump Is Still Riding Herd Over the GOP” [Jeet Heer, The New Republic]. “You would need a seismograph of extreme sensitivity to register any sign of a Republican rebellion against Trump. Aside from Romney, who has had harsh words but still doesn’t say he will vote to remove Trump, there have simply been no GOP dissents of note. The Never Trump faction of the GOP has been a shrinking sect since 2016. Many erstwhile Trump opponents within the GOP abjectly surrendered after he won the presidency and scored important right-wing victories on tax cuts and court appointments.”

“When Trump Gets His Alligator” [Ross Douthat, New York Times]. “But Alligator mississippiensis is also a useful condensed symbol of how the Trump administration has survived Trump’s own deeply unpresidential conduct: Because most of the time, when the president asks for an alligator, the people around him figure out a way to make sure the sharp-toothed reptile doesn’t actually show up…. If the president thinks that voter fraud cost him the popular vote, you create a voter fraud commission that will subsequently dissolve. If the president wants a “Muslim ban” you settle on a dumb but modest travel ban that leaves most of the world’s Muslim countries untouched. If the president wants a bargain with North Korea no matter the strategic cost, let him have a handshake in the DMZ. If the president wants to leave NAFTA, you come up with a way to keep the deal but tweak it and rename it…. Indeed, the ultimate fizzle of the Mueller report was possible because that report ended up documenting a president whose staff let him rant about obstructing justice, but then — in Mueller’s own words — mostly “declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” With the Ukraine scandal, though, this protection has broken down again. (Not least because in Rudy Giuliani, Trump found an adviser even more enthusiastic about alligators than his boss.)”

“Texas Rep. Will Hurd, Republican and former CIA officer, at center of impeachment fight” [Los Angeles Times]. “Ever since his time as an undercover officer in the CIA, where he learned how to maintain control at high speeds, Hurd said, he prefers being in the driver’s seat.” • That’s what you want in your Praetorian Guard!

The obvious solution is regime change:

Ukraine, Ikraine, Wekraine:


“Hillary Clinton is the one that got away. But isn’t going away.” [WaPo]. “it’s hard to think of another human whom we so love to hate and so hate to love, and can’t get rid of, and then fiercely miss as soon as we do…. Every time Hillary Clinton makes another public appearance, she is giving us a gift. The gift is not her mediocre book. The gift is not magnetic wit. The gift is all her complications. The gift is being able to tell her to go away while simultaneously wishing she would never leave.”

“Who should run against Trump? How about Hillary Clinton?” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “Clinton beat Trump by nearly 3 million votes nationally in 2016, but of course lost the Electoral College. That’s not bad for one of the worst-run campaigns ever. You’ve got to think she and the party learned something.” • No, you don’t. “She sure seems loose. Clinton has been making the media rounds to promote the book she wrote with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, ‘The Book of Gutsy Women.’ She’s come off as funny, smart and natural.” • It’s not an accident that Clinton’s favorables are highest when she’s not running for anything.


“Pew: Phone polling in crisis again” [Politico (RU)]. From February, still germane: “The Pew Research Center reported Wednesday that the response rate for its phone polls last year fell to just 6 percent — meaning pollsters could only complete interviews with 6 percent of the households in their samples…. Most of the major media polls — the ABC News/Washington Post, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, Fox News, CNN, CBS News — are conducted using a traditional phone methodology, as are some of the academic polls regularly cited in the media, including from Quinnipiac University and Marist College. Phone numbers are generated and dialed to obtain a random sample of Americans, or voters. Pew’s report makes clear that the low response rates don’t automatically mean all phone polling is invalid. Indeed, studies show pollsters have mostly been able to counter some of these forces by making complex adjustments to ensure they have a representative sample. But all of that work is getting more difficult, potentially cost-prohibitive and could become increasingly prone to errors, the report says.” • RU remarks: “FWIW, polls are skewed against Bernie Sanders because his young supporters don’t have land lines. With a 6% response rate (link), the fundraising totals could be more representative of support.” “Skewed” if the “complex adjustments” are off. But that’s before we get to the fact that the pollsters are now players, because their results determined who gets in the debates. Of course, polling has always had “house bias.” That’s different from a newly introduced incentive to manipulate individual surveys.

Our Famously Free Press

State Media (1):

State Media (2):

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

Shipping: “Truckers are pulling back at a time of the year when they should be growing. Trucking companies reduced payrolls for the third straight month in September…. cutting 4,200 jobs collectively as hiring in the broader U.S. market slows. Truckers have now cut employment by 9,600 jobs since mid-summer, a sign of a broad retrenchment in the sector from last year’s booming market along with apparent pessimism over peak-season demand” [Wall Street Journal]. “That’s a contrast with logistics operations focused on e-commerce fulfillment. Warehousing and storage businesses added 3,400 workers last month while parcel carriers boosted employment by 3,600 jobs. The difference is that many truckers are more exposed to a faltering American industrial economy even as online retail sales have been growing.”

Shipping: “Railroad Loads Continue to Decline, a Casualty of Manufacturing Slowdown” [Industry Week]. “This year’s railroad slump is getting worse as a slowdown in manufacturing threatens broader weakness in the U.S. economy. There’s no bottom in sight as the decline in carloads for large U.S. railroads widened to 5.5% in the third quarter, the biggest drop in three years, according to weekly reports from the Association of American Railroads. Shipments are down for autos, coal, grain, chemicals and consumer goods, with crude oil the only bright spot. The rail downturn underscores the damage from the U.S.-China trade war, which is making shippers more cautious and crimping freight — validating earlier warnings from railroad executives. Companies that stocked up on inventory last year amid President Donald Trump’s tariff threats are now working it off. Adding to the cargo drop, a brief rise in coal exports has fizzled and bad weather has delayed crop harvests and dragged down grain carloads.”

Retail: “A relief valve for fast-changing retail supply chains may be tightening up. Outlet centers are starting to feel the pain of the mounting storeowner bankruptcies as the impact of online shopping spreads to discount business. ….[T]he shift is hitting a wing of the retail world that provided a release point for excess inventory and seemed immune to the pressures weighing on the rest of the consumer world” [Wall Street Journal]. “Mall owner Simon Property Group Inc. is working with flash-sale website operator Rue Gilt Groupe to launch a curated site featuring merchandise from outlet stores. That’s the latest sign of growing concern that such operations may no longer offer brands and mall owners refuge from the broader changes in retail sales. The pain isn’t being spread equally: Experts say outlet centers with higher-end retailers continue to draw shoppers by the busload while others struggle.”

Tech: “Senators Frustrated by Amazon’s “Evasive” Response to Questions on Driver Safety” [Pro Publica]. “Amazon has refused a request from three U.S. senators to disclose the names of the companies that deliver millions of packages to homes across the country, providing what one lawmaker called ‘evasive’ responses to questions about the e-commerce giant’s network of delivery contractors. Last month, Senators Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown demanded information from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos after the company’s delivery network was the subject of investigations by BuzzFeed News and ProPublica. Those reports found that Amazon uses contractors to carry out an increasingly large share of its deliveries and that the system has led to worker abuses and jeopardized public safety. When problems arise, Amazon denies responsibility, saying it can’t be held to account for the actions of independent contractors, though the company keeps a tight grip on how the drivers do their jobs. At least 10 people have died in crashes involving Amazon delivery providers, ProPublica found.” • What?!?!?! When Amazon’s house organ declares that “democracy dies in darkness”? Really?

Tech: “Google suspended facial recognition research for the Pixel 4 smartphone after reportedly targeting homeless black people” [Business Insider]. “Multiple sources at Google contractor Randstad told the New York Daily News last week that in order to get more pictures of people with darker skin tones, they had been told to rush subjects in Atlanta through consent forms and obfuscate exactly what the photos were being used for…. They rewarded people with $5 gift card for taking part in the “voluntary survey,” and were told to target black homeless people and students, who they were told would be more likely to respond to the offer of a gift card. One source also said they were told to target homeless people because they were less likely to talk to the press.” • So the homeless faces represent… all of us. Or at least all of them.

Tech: “Most Deepfakes Are Used for Creating Non-Consensual Porn, Not Fake News” [Vice]. “‘[A] key trend we identified is the prominence of non-consensual deepfake pornography, which accounted for 96% of the total deepfake videos online,’ the study, titled The State of Deepfakes and authored by cybersecurity company Deeptrace , reads.”

Manufacturing: “Boeing Faces Deeper Antitrust Probe of Embraer Deal in Europe” [Industry Week]. “Regulators said they didn’t see any potential rivals from China, Japan or Russia that would be able to replicate Embraer’s competition with Airbus and Boeing within the next five or 10 years. They also flagged concerns that the American aircraft maker and Embraer compete head-to-head for 100-150 seat aircraft, with the Brazilian company a “small but important competitive force” for bigger 100-225 seat aircraft…. Boeing has had a long relationship with Embraer and the two companies don’t compete directly for most of their business, with Embraer focusing on regional jets and Boeing on larger aircraft. The exceptions are two product overlaps. Embraer’s largest model, the E2-E195, seats between 132 and 146, according to its website. That makes it a competitor to Boeing’s 737 Max 7, which holds between 138 and 172 passengers.” • Oh.

Mr. Market: “Investors Are Caught in a Global Tug of War” [Bloomberg]. “The first part of the week was dominated by investor concern that international weakness in manufacturing had spread to the U.S. and, more importantly, to the services sector, which dominates the domestic economy. The result was a harrowing two-day drop in stocks that erased the gains of the previous five months. The second part was much different. Hopes for support from Washington, fueled by constructive comments from the White House about the coming trade negotiations with China, were accompanied by the release on Friday of the September jobs report, which kept the door open for another Federal Reserve rate cut this month. Stocks rebounded.”

Honey for the Bears: “Recession Signals Accumulate As Trade War Continues” [Forbes]. “Over the last two months, negative signals have been accumulating. Both the UK and German economies registered negative GDP growth, we were recently witness to a yield-curve inversion (suggesting that market participants are anticipating a downturn), final revisions to Real Gross Private Domestic Investment–a key determinant of GDP–confirmed that it has fallen, traders continue to worry about fallout from the trade war, last month’s employment figures were disappointing, and ‘the ISM’s U.S. manufacturing index showed its first contraction in over three years. It came down to 49.1%; anything below 50% suggests contraction.’ This week’s announcements have offered more reasons to be pessimistic.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 32, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 7 at 12:20pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged. “Several nations are suffering from drought conditions” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. I wonder when, in 2020, the index will start flirting with 190 again. So far, the latest impeachment push hasn’t changed the Index.

The Biosphere

“Cows are killing the Amazon. Pledges from Walmart and Nike didn’t help save it” [Los Angeles Times]. “JBS and other big meatpackers are required to monitor only their direct suppliers — and not the ranches and fattening farms that frequently supply those suppliers. Experts said it has become common practice for dirty ranches to “launder” their cattle through ranches that have been deemed clean.”

“Don’t Take Movements at Face Value: Reading Cory Morningstar’s Research into Environmental Activist Greta Thunberg” [Medium]. “During a discussion with a guy who was involved in the financial end of foundation work on climate change and ecosystems, he termed the natural processes occurring in ecosystems as ‘ecosystem services‘ that need to be quantified monetarily. ‘That’s weird’, I thought, so I probed and he enthusiastically explained how financializing the functioning of ecosystems would help the foundation he worked for create ‘deals’ to structure the ways in which they would agree to use their resources to help preserve or restore ecosystems in various parts of the world. His explanation made a certain amount of sense at the time, but the framing of natural processes to fit within a neoliberal concept of markets and payments troubled me.” • As it would any non-sociopath.

Class Warfare

“GE Freezes Pension Benefits to Cut Deficit by $8 Billion” [Industry Week]. “General Electric Co. took a bold step to cut the debt hampering its turnaround, freezing pension benefits for more than 20,000 U.S. employees…. The company, which closed its pension plan to new entrants in 2012, will offer a lump-sum payment to eligible former employees who haven’t started receiving their monthly pension payments.” • See on pension freezes here.

“Union Says Talks With GM Have ‘Taken a Turn for the Worse'” [Bloomberg]. “Progress toward a deal broke down over investment in U.S. plants. GM has offered to build its electric trucks in a plant that straddles the line between Detroit and the town of Hamtramck, which is scheduled to be idle in January when the sedans it builds go away. But there is no promise for GM’s idled compact car plant in Lordstown, Ohio. The UAW wants GM to allocate new work for those factories, even if it means moving the assembly of the Chevrolet Equinox and Blazer and GMC Terrain sport utility vehicles from a plant in Mexico, one of the people said. The pressure for a deal has been increasing, on both sides, and the issues are complex. They include corruption investigations of union leaders; the shift from traditional engines to electric powertrains; and the possibility that the economy could flip into recession with damage of a longer strike at a company like GM. The fight won’t be over once an agreement is reached, since the deal must be ratified by all members. After four years of record profits for the company, workers want a share of the spoils, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of the labor and economics group and the Center for Automotive Research. ‘They will have to sell it,’ she said.”

News of the Wired

For all you business travellers out there:

The Xmas season is coming up:

I saw — was chivvied into seeing, really, but rightly — June’s Netflix documentary “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story,” directed by Scorsese. It’s very good. This song seems a propos:

See “Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue: A user’s guide” [Los Angeles Times]; the rhythm section of Rob Stoner (bass) and Howie Wyeth (drums) was very well-regarded. As we can hear!

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (TH):

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/7/2019

TH: “I find that trying to maintain any amount of detail in a white-petaled flower can lead to an otherwise dismally dark scene. So here, there is vein detail in the lowest petals, but it’s lost in those receiving the lion’s share of skylight that form this disinterested bee’s pedestal.” Hmm.

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