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.
Light-bulb moment (The Economist) The old fashioned incandescent lightbulb was approaching legal end of life after many countries banned continued use for energy conservation reasons. This week, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, led by Marin Soljacic, demonstrated a modified incandescent bulb that maintains the technology's advantages while vastly improving its energy credentials, giving it the potential to trounce CFLs and LEDs. The key is use of bulb surface coatings which reflect back the heat (infrared radiation) thereby heating the filament and reducing electricity consumption. For research details, see Tailoring high temperature radiation and the resurrection of the incandescent source (Nature Nanotechnology Letters).
The U.S. is not in a recession (James D. Hamilton, Econbrowser) JDH has contributed to GEI. The Bureau of Economic Analysis announced today that U.S. real GDP grew at a 0.7% annual rate in the fourth quarter. That's a bad quarter to be sure, and real GDP is up only 1.8% from a year ago. That's a weak year judged by the U.S. postwar average of 3.1%, but is not far from the 2.1% annual growth we've been averaging since 2009:Q3.
APNewsBreak: US declares 22 Clinton emails 'top secret' (Associated Press) The Obama administration confirmed for the first time Friday that Hillary Clinton's home server contained closely guarded government secrets, censoring 22 emails that contained material requiring one of the highest levels of classification. State Department officials also said the agency's Diplomatic Security and Intelligence and Research bureaus are investigating if any of the information was classified at the time of transmission, going to the heart of Clinton's defense of her email practices.
A Symbolic Vote in Britain Recognizes a Palestinian State (The New York Times) Date of this article is 13 October 2014. Britain's Parliament overwhelmingly passed a nonbinding resolution Monday night to give diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state. The vote was a symbolic but potent indication of how public opinion has shifted since the breakdown of American-sponsored peace negotiations and the conflict in Gaza in the summer of 2014. The outcome of the 274-to-12 parliamentary vote was not binding on the British government and there still has been no formal recognition more than 14 months later. See articles under France and Palestine, below.
France to recognise Palestinian state unless deadlock with Israel broken (Reuters) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. France will recognize a Palestinian state if a final push that Paris plans to lead for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians fails, its foreign minister said on Friday. U.S.-led efforts to broker peace for a two-state solution collapsed in April 2014 and since then there have been no serious efforts to resume talks. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has repeatedly warned that letting the status quo continue risks killing off a two-state solution and playing into the hands of Islamic State militants. See articles under Palestine, below.
Is Angela Merkel Losing Her Clout? (Bloomberg) After the arrival of 1.1 million refugees in Germany last year, with thousands more showing up every day, Merkel's leadership is being tested as never before. Convinced that closing borders would bring down Europe's system of passport-free travel, which Merkel has called the centerpiece of the region's single market, she has sought to cajole neighbors into taking in more refugees and to persuade Turkey to keep migrants from crossing into the European Union. After simmering throughout the summer and fall, the controversy boiled over in the first week of 2016. Shortly after revelers ushered in the New Year with Champagne and fireworks, scores of women across Germany reported sexual assaults during the festivities. In Cologne, groups of men gathered at the foot of the city's Gothic cathedral and surrounded women, groping and pickpocketing them. Police said more than 1,000 men, mostly from North Africa and the Middle East, many of them asylum seekers, were at the scene. But the violence is flowing both ways - see next article.
Report: Five times more attacks on refugee homes in Germany in 2015 (De Welle) German press and local governments have reported that violent acts targeting asylum-seeker housing increased by five times last year. The news came on the heels of a grenade attack in the south of the country. Over 1,000 refugee housing sites were violently attacked in 2015.
Palestinians win de facto U.N. recognition of sovereign state (Reuters) Date of this article is 30 November 2012. The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the world body to issue its long overdue "birth certificate". There were 138 votes in favor, nine against and 41 abstentions. Three countries did not take part in the vote, held on the 65th anniversary of the adoption of U.N. resolution 181 that partitioned Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. Thousands of flag-waving Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip set off fireworks and danced in the streets to celebrate the vote. The assembly approved the upgrade despite threats by the United States and Israel to punish the Palestinians by withholding funds for the West Bank government. U.N. envoys said Israel might not retaliate harshly against the Palestinians over the vote as long as they do not seek to join the International Criminal Court. If the Palestinians were to join the ICC, they could file complaints with the court accusing Israel of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious crimes. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the vote "unfortunate and counterproductive".
Obama forced again to rethink troop numbers in Afghanistan (Associated Press) Fifteen years into the war that few Americans talk about any more, conditions in Afghanistan are getting worse, preventing the clean ending that President Barack Obama hoped to impose before leaving office. Violence is on the rise, the Taliban are staging new offensives, the Islamic State group is angling for a foothold and peace prospects are dim. Afghanistan remains a danger zone. It's hobbled by a weak economy that's sapping public confidence in the new government. Afghan police and soldiers are struggling to hold together the country 13 months after the U.S.-led military coalition culled its numbers by 90% percent. The bottom line: For a second time, Obama is rethinking his plan to drop U.S. troop levels from 9,800 to 5,500 before he leaves office in January 2017.
Afghanistan is a conglomerate of people of various ethnicity, tribal and religious affiliations. There is, besides maybe in sports, no real Afghan nationality on which one could build an overarching structure to rule.
Toyota may halt Japan car output in February due to steel shortage (Reuters) Toyota Motor Corp said on Saturday it may halt production at its domestic plants early next month due to a steel shortage, following an explosion at a steel plant operated by one of its affiliates. The blast an Aichi Steel plant has curbed production of steel parts, which may impact output at the world's best-selling automaker which produces around 40 percent of its global output in Japan.
U.S. Navy sends ship near disputed island in South China Sea (CNN) The U.S. Navy sent a ship neara contested island in the South China Sea on Saturday to challenge "excessive maritime claims that restrict the rights and freedoms of the United States and others", a U.S. Defense Department spokesman told CNN.
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