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posted on 06 September 2015

Early Headlines: American West Aflame, Chicago Ablaze With Gunfire, Refugee Wave Keeps Building, Afghanistan Refugees Returning Home And More

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Early Bird Headlines 06 September 2015

Econintersect: Here are some of the headlines we found to help you start your day. For more headlines see our afternoon feature for GEI members, What We Read Today, which has many more headlines and a number of article discussions to keep you abreast of what we have found interesting.



  • Welcome to Quantitative Tightening as $12 Trillion Reserves Fall (Bloomberg) The great global monetary tightening of 2015 is under way, but it's not being led by the Federal Reserve. Even as U.S. policy makers ponder whether to raise interest rates this month, one recent source of central bank liquidity in financial markets is drying up and the loss of it partly explains August's trading volatility. After years of rising, foreign currency reserves have fallen by nearly 5% over the past 12 months to a level of $11.43 trillion after peaking at $12 trillion. Driving the decline is a combination of forces including the economic slowdown and recent devaluation in China, the Fed's pending rate hike, the collapse of oil and decisions in Switzerland and Japan to cease intervening in currencies.


  • There Aren't Enough Firefighters to Stop America's West From Burning (Bloomberg) An unprecedented 32,000 men and women are fighting blazes in what could be the most destructive fire season in history. This is a big deal - 140 million Americans live in fire-prone regions, and $237 billion in property sits in those high-risk areas. In 1995, the Forest Service spent 16%t of its budget fighting fires. Today, it's 52% and rising. The agency's $5 billion budget hasn't grown, just the portion of it spent on fire management, which includes timber operations to thin forests. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, has said to Forest Service personnel:

"You're no longer the Forest Service. You're a fire department."

  • Violence touching unlikely communities in Chicago (Chicago Tribune) As summer draws to an unofficial close on Labor Day, the rise in violence plaguing Chicago this year has even spread to unlikely communities such as Albany Park, a laid-back, diverse working-class neighborhood made up of handsome brick bungalows and two-flats. In Chicago shootings are up more than 17% from 2014 and homicides up almost 23%.

Click for infographic at Chicago Tribune.


  • The Most Beautiful Place in Each State (Thrillist, MSN Travel) Slide show for armchair travelers on a Labor Day weekend. Pictured below are the Maroon Bells in central Colrado near Aspen, the highest reaching above 14,000 feet.



  • Can a Young American Entrepreneur Succeed Where Europe Has Failed? (Oustide Magazine) As each week brings fresh reports of African and Middle Eastern migrants and refugees dying on the Mediterranean in overcrowded boats, a self-made Louisiana millionaire and his Italian wife have taken to the sea to save them. In 2013, Christopher Catrambone poured $8 million of his personal fortune into creating the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), the Malta-based NGO that deploys the 31-foot rescue vessel MV Phoenix, . He spent two months last year aboard the ship. During that time, the Phoenix participated in nine rescue operations and came to the aid of 3,000 migrants, carrying them to Italian ports or transferring them onto naval vessels. This spring, in its first 60 days of a six-month season, the Phoenix helped rescue 5,597 more people, and by August, the number had climbed to 8,696. This year the operation is directed onboard by his wife Elga Catrambone.


  • Finnish PM offers his home to asylum seekers (Al Jazeera) Al Jazeera talked to Finns on the PM's recent move and what role the Nordic country should play in EU's refugee crisis. The prime minister also called on other citizens, churches and voluntary organizations in the country of five million inhabitants to open their facilities to asylum seekers. Recently, thousands of people from Iceland, another Nordic country, offered their homes to refugees through a Facebook page after the government announced it would accept only 50 refugees. In Finland, though not all citizens are likely to follow the PM's lead. The other major party in the coalition government with his is strongly anti-immigration.


  • Coming home to war: Afghan refugees return reluctantly from Pakistan (Reuters) The rate of returnees to Afghanistan from Pakistan has more than quadrupled this year, with 137,000 refugees going back to Afghanistan since January. The number could spike further if the countries fail to agree by Dec. 31 to extend identity cards for two years and allow some 1.5 million registered refugees to stay in Pakistan. Many have been there for 20-30 years. The return is coming at a time with resurgent Taliban militancy, which Afghanistan claims originates from enclaves in Pakistan.


  • Thailand constitution: Military's council rejects draft (BBC News) A council appointed by Thailand's military rulers has rejected a controversial new constitution drafted after last year's coup. A new committee must now be appointed to write another draft, further setting back elections. The draft has been widely criticized, in particular a clause which enables a 23-member panel to take over government during a "national crisis".


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