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.
First of all, Merry Christmas to all those who are celebrating today.
Paris climate goals mean emissions need to drop below zero (Associated Press) If governments are serious about the global warming targets they adopted in Paris, scientists say they have two options: eliminating fossil fuels immediately or finding ways to undo their damage to the climate system in the future. The first is politically impossible - the world is still hooked on using oil, coal and natural gas - which leaves the option of a major cleanup of the atmosphere later this century. Yet the landmark Paris Agreement, adopted by 195 countries on Dec. 12, makes no reference to that, which has left some observers wondering whether politicians understand the implications of the goals they signed up for.
The Christians of the Middle East (Al Jazeera) A collection of stories about the various life styles of the religion now in a minority in the region of its founding.
Oil Bankruptcies Reach Highest Quarterly Level Since Recession (Bloomberg) Bankruptcies among oil and gas companies have reached quarterly levels last seen in the Great Recession, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. At least nine U.S. oil and gas companies that accounted for more than $2 billion in debt have filed for bankruptcy in the fourth quarter. The oil crash has hurt employment as well: Since peaking in October 2014, U.S. oil and gas employment has fallen by 70,000 jobs.
Lunch lady who says free meal led to firing offered job back (Associated Press, MSN News) A southeastern Idaho cafeteria worker said she was fired for giving a student a free meal costing $1.70, but the school district offered her the job back after a national outcry. Dalene Bowden received a termination letter from the Pocatello School District last week after she gave a tray of food to a 12-year-old student who said she didn't have money for the meal. The letter cited theft as the reason for her dismissal. Bowden says a supervisor placed her on leave after witnessing what she had done. The district said in a statement Wednesday night that it doesn't fire workers for single events but offered Bowden her job back in the spirit of the holidays. It's not clear if she will return.
Here Are the States That Will Possibly Legalize Marijuana in 2016 (News.Mic) It was a big year for marijuana, which gained more and more momentum in its movement toward full legalization. Midway through the year, 23 states and Washington D.C. had marijuana legalized in some form. States like Hawaii, Delaware, Michigan and Vermont legalized weed for medicinal purposes. But it's fully legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. With the presidential election nearing, 2016 will most likely be another significant time for marijuana. The states most likely to join in legalizing recreational marijuana, according to Leafly: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont. See also Alaska Likely to Be the First State With Open Marijuana Cafes.
Victorian Diseases Like Scurvy and Scarlet Fever Are on the Rise in the UK (News.Mic) For scurvy in the U.K., the rate is now 113 per 100,000 people, up 38% from last year, the U.K. Health and Social Care Information Centre found. Scarlet fever in the U.K. is also at an all-time high, with 2014 having the most cases since the 1960s. Malnutrition, in particular, has increased by 51% over the past five years, the U.K. Health and Social Care Information Centre found.
Finland's Santa-Industrial Complex (Foreign Policy) With just five hours of daylight in the south and perpetual night in the north, December may be the darkest month in Finland, but it's when the country gets its chance to shine. As most Finns will proudly report, the Finnish word for December, Joulukuu, literally translates to "Christmas month," and every year, from the Baltic Sea to the Arctic Circle, Finns erect massive trees at their holiday markets, bake gingerbread cookies en masse, brew mulled wine by the liter - and then sit back and wait for the hordes to arrive. Come December, visitors from all across the world - Australia, Britain, Spain, Russia, China, Japan - flock by the thousands to Finland: the official home of Santa Claus (according to the Finnish government, anyway).
Indian and Russian leaders praise partnership (BBC News) Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have proclaimed the partnership between their two countries as they signed defense, energy and other deals. President Putin announced that Russia would build a series of nuclear plants in India over the next two decades. He said work on the first two reactors was now in preparation. About $7 billion (£4.7 billion) worth of deals have been signed during Mr Modi's Russia trip, many of them defense related. However, there has been no progress on an expected purchase by India of Russian S-400 missiles, Moscow's most sophisticated aircraft defense system.
India has to brace for more volatility, currency war (Business Standard) The financial stability report, released on Wednesday, warned of a "currency war" amid competing central bank policies, and harped on the need for India to carry out crucial reforms amid the uncertainties. Benign oil prices are not an occasion for complacency for a country like India that runs twin deficits and the government should take the opportunity to improve its finances and push for investment spending that would encourage private sector to come forward with their own investment plans, the report said.
China's controversial new anti-terror law to pass on Sunday (Reuters) China is set to pass its controversial new anti-terrorism law on Sunday, the largely rubber-stamp parliament said on Friday, despite U.S. criticism about its cyber provisions and concerns over human rights. The draft law, which could require technology firms to install "back doors" in products or hand over sensitive information such as encryption keys to the government, has also been criticized by some Western business groups. U.S. President Barack Obama has said that he had raised concern about the law directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
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