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posted on 22 November 2015

Early Headlines: Misleading Min Wage Data, Christian Terrorism, Hollowing Out America, Crimea Power Blown Up, Turkish Air Bomb Threat And More

Written by Econintersect

Early Bird Headlines 22 November 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.


Note: From now to 03 December there may be occasions where Early Bird may appear at irregular times and may have some shorter than usual content because 1/2 of our limited staff is on vacation.


  • Terrorism and the Other Religions (Informed Comment) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. Juan Cole argues that political violence by people of Christian heritage in the twentieth century polished off tens of millions of people in the two world wars and colonial repression. He says this massive carnage did not occur because European Christians are worse than or different from other human beings, but because they were the first to industrialize war and pursue a national model. Sometimes it is argued that they did not act in the name of religion but of nationalism. But, really, how naive. Religion and nationalism are closely intertwined. The British monarch is the head of the Church of England, and that still meant something in the first half of the twentieth century, at least. The Swedish church is a national church. Spain? Was it really unconnected to Catholicism? Did the Church and Francisco Franco's feelings toward it play no role in the Civil War? And what's sauce for the goose: much Muslim violence is driven by forms of modern nationalism, too. So here are Cole's numbers in a graph:


  • What ISIS Really Wants (The Atlantic) The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here's what that means for its strategy - and for how to stop it. Econintersect: So is it really just an "end-of-days" cult?


  • Early season snowstorm coats Midwestern U.S., affects travel (Reuters) It is a full month before winter officially arrives but a heavy fall snowstorm hit the Midwestern United States on Saturday, blanketing states from South Dakota to Wisconsin with as much as 16 inches (40 cm) of snow, slowing air travel and delaying some events for U.S. presidential candidates.

  • Are Higher Minimum Wages Eliminating Restaurant Jobs? (The Atlantic) One early report suggests hiring has slowed in the cities that changed their policies this year, but it's probably too early to tell, economists say. But one report says there is an effect - see next article.

  • 2015 Local Minimum Wage Increases and Restaurant Employment Trends (American Action Forum) The data presented (see graph) shows what appears to be a correlation between slower job growth for restaurant workers in areas that increased minimum wages in 2015. But see next article,


  • Lying About Geography and Minimum Wage (Invictus, The Big Picture) This acerbic article castigates the research in the preceding article. The author says that using employment data for a much larger area and population "metro" when only the city has raised minimum wage is less than useless. His "diplomatic" critique:

Critics of the higher minimum - of any minimum at all, actually - have been twisting and torturing data in a pathetic attempt to prove the higher wage is having a deleterious effect. I've been addressing those idiotic arguments for over six months now, and it appears there's no end in sight.

  • As stock buybacks reach historic levels, signs that corporate America is undermining itself (Reuters) Combined stock repurchases by U.S. public companies have reached record levels, a Reuters analysis finds, but as the recent history of such iconic businesses as Hewlett-Packard and IBM suggests, showering cash on shareholders may exact a long-term toll. And when more money is returned to shareholders via dividends and buybacks than companies earn we have reached the end game for extraction: Eating the children does not produce a future generation. The same rentier oligarchy which has hollowed out the U.S. middle class is now hollowing out the corporations.



  • Brussels deserted as threat level goes to maximum, with attack 'imminent' (Al Jazeera) The streets in Brussels were deserted Saturday evening after authorities raised the city's threat level to four - the maximum, indicating that the risk of an attack is "serious and imminent," according to the country's security committee. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said "relative precise information" led investigators to conclude there is a risk that several individuals are planning Paris-style attacks in the capital, "maybe even on several places at the same time."


  • Turkish Airlines flight diverts to Canada after bomb threat (Associated Press) A bomb threat forced a Turkish Airlines flight from New York City to Istanbul to divert and land in Canada Halifax Stanfield International Airport said on its Twitter feed early Sunday that Flight 2 with 256 people on board had landed safely and that police were at the scene.


  • Crimea without power after pylons 'blown up' (BBC News) Crimea has been plunged into darkness after pylons carrying power lines which supply electricity from Ukraine were reportedly blown up on Saturday night. All four power lines were cut, reports said, leaving the region's two million inhabitants without electricity. Images circulated on social media appeared to show Ukrainian flags attached to the damaged pylons.


  • Why China Will Not Dominate the 21st Century (CFA Institute) The author discusses why China will not be the dominant global power in the 21st century that Great Britain and the U.S. were for much of the last two centuries. Two prominent citations go to author and historian Jonathan Fenby (latest book, Will China Dominate the 21st Century?) and economist Michael Pettis (a GEI contributor). The thrust of the argument presented is that China's notable strengths will be hampered by its restive minorities, environmental challenges, enormous imbalances and inequities and a severe aging demographic overhang. The author suggests that China's dominance will be less like that seen from UK and U.S. and more like "Germany in the 1930s; the Soviet Union in the early 1960s; Brazil in the 1960s and 1970s; and Japan in the 1980s".

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