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posted on 03 February 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Tumble, Oil Lower, Europe Looks Lower, Zika Worst Since AIDS, US Rails To Miss Safety Deadline, Huge China Ponzi, Cameron EU Deal Criticized And More

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Early Bird Headlines 03 February 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.



  • Asian stocks tumble, safe assets shine as oil retreats (Reuters) Asian shares tumbled on Wednesday as oil prices dropped for a third day, prompting investors to seek shelter in safe-haven assets and lifting bonds and gold to multi-month highs. The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 2.1%, led by a 2.7% fall in Hong Kong shares .HSI. Japan's Nikkei .N225 lost 3.2%, wiping out almost all of its gains made after the Bank of Japan on Friday had announced it would introduce negative interest rates. European markets appear ready to open lower.

  • Scientific ignorance about Zika parallels Aids crisis in 1980s, say Brazilian experts (The Guardian) The spread of Zika virus across Latin America, with its apparent tragic consequences for the babies of infected pregnant women, has parallels with the emergence of Aids more than 30 years ago, according to a senior epidemiologist on the frontline in Brazil. Wilson Savino, director of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro, said the current state of scientific ignorance around the virus and its effects resembles that over HIV - the human immunodeficiency virus which gives rise to Aids - in the early 1980s. See also first article under U.S.


  • Health officials report first US Zika virus transmission (Al Jazeera) The first known case of Zika virus transmission in the United States was reported in Texas on Tuesday by local health officials, who said it likely was contracted through sex and not a mosquito bite, a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency. The virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in the Americas, and WHO officials on Tuesday expressed concern that it could hit Africa and Asia as well. Zika had been thought to be spread by the bite of mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, so sexual contact as a mode of transmission would be a potentially alarming development.

  • Big freight railroads to miss safety technology deadline (Associated Press) Three of the biggest freight railroads operating in the U.S. have told the government they won't meet a 2018 deadline to start using safety technology intended to prevent accidents like the deadly derailment of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia last May. Canadian National Railway, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern say they won't be ready until 2020, according to a list provided to The Associated Press by the Federal Railroad Administration. Four commuter railroads - SunRail in Florida, Metra in Illinois, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Trinity Railway Express in Texas - also say they'll miss the deadline. (Other lines have said they will meet the deadline.) The technology, called positive train control or PTC, relies on GPS, wireless radio and computers to monitor train positions and automatically slow or stop trains that are in danger of colliding, derailing due to excessive speed or about to enter track where crews are working or that is otherwise off limits.

  • Why Marco Rubio now has the best chance of winning the GOP nomination (The Washington Post) Bookmakers say so. On Monday, bookies gave Rubio a 1-in-3 chance of winning the nomination. Since the results from Iowa came in, Rubio's chances are now better than even, according to data aggregated by Oddschecker. To be sure, Rubio has a long way to go. Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) won more delegates than he did in Iowa. Rubio was trailing those two by a wide margin in the most recent national polls.

  • Bernie Sanders not conceding Iowa (USA Today) Bernie Sanders, hours after Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses, said he wasn't ready to concede the race. The Vermont independent told reporters on Tuesday that his Iowa team is looking into the veracity of the results that gave Clinton the narrowest win in the party's history in the state. "I don't want to misspeak here," he told reporters after a rally in Keene, N.H. "But it may be the case that some delegates were selected based on a flip of a coin. Not the best way to do democracy." (See next article.) Concern about voter fraud was raised late Monday night when C-SPAN posted a video that showed a Polk County caucus chair and a Clinton precinct captain did not conduct an actual count of the caucusgoers. Results were also slow to come in with about 5% of the precincts (roughly 90 sites) going unreported at the time Clinton and Sanders addressed their Iowa supporters. See also Sanders campaign reviewing Iowa caucus totals, says actual result may never be known (Washington Post).

  • Here's just how unlikely Hillary Clinton's 6-for-6 coin-toss victories were (The Washington Post) The Iowa Democratic Party has an unusual system in the event that a caucus vote ends in a tie: They flip a coin. Given how close the Democratic race in Iowa was this time around, and given how well Hillary Clinton did at those moments that a tie needed to be broken, you probably already know this. But it was reported early that there were at least six caucus locations on Monday in which unallocated delegates were assigned by a coin toss. It was originally reported that Clinton won all six. That may have been true at one point in time, but there were a great number of coin tosses Monday night and later data indicates that Sanders and Clinton each won about 50%.



  • Palestinian families homeless as Israeli military demolishes West Bank houses (The Guardian) Israeli military bulldozers have demolished 23 houses in two impoverished southern West Bank villages, including structures that were home to more than 100 people. The demolitions, one of the most significant in recent memory, occurred in a controversial Israeli-designated military area known as Firing Zone 918, which comprises approximately 115 square miles (300 sq km) and was declared restricted by the Israelis in the 1970s. The action came despite a long-running and internationally high-profile campaign to protect the eight villages in the zone, including a petition signed by some of the world's most famous authors. Human rights groups have repeatedly challenged Israel's claim to the land, arguing it is illegal to establish a military zone in occupied territory.


  • Britain says Russia trying to carve out mini-state for Assad in Syria (Reuters) Britain said on Tuesday Russia could be trying to carve out an Alawite mini-state in Syria for its ally President Bashar al-Assad by bombing his opponents instead of fighting Islamic State militants. Russia and Britain have been trading barbs after British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told Reuters he believed President Vladimir Putin was worsening the Syrian civil war by bombing opponents of Islamic State.


  • Investors scared of China stock markets were lured by Ezubo Ponzi scheme (CNBC) Agigantic Ponzi scheme has been busted in China. Chinese authorities have arrested 21 suspects linked to Ezubo and its parent company, Yucheng International Holdings Group, on charges of illegally collecting funds, having allegedly conned more than 50 billion RMB ($7.6 billion) from investors, according to the state news agency Xinhua.


  • Australia's offshore asylum policy ruled legal by High Court (BBC News) Australia's High Court has ruled that the government's policy of detaining asylum seekers offshore is legal. The court rejected a challenge brought by lawyers for one detainee who argued the policy was unconstitutional. The ruling means more than 250 people, including 37 babies, are likely to be deported to a detention camp on the Pacific island nation of Nauru. Anyone who tries to reach Australia by boat to claim asylum is taken to Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The policy has been fiercely criticised by rights groups and the UN, while Australian senators have said Nauru is not safe for children. Rights groups have reported harsh conditions, violence and abuses at the camps.


  • Neymar investigated in Brazil over fraud allegations (BBC News) Prosecutors in Brazil are recommending that football star Neymar be charged over four counts of fraud in relation to a tax case prior to his transfer to Barcelona in 2013. It is alleged that companies were set up as fronts in order for the striker to pay a lower rate of tax. Officials in Brazil say the allegations against the Barcelona striker cover a seven-year period from 2006. The allegations are separate from a case heard in Spain on Tuesday. Neymar appeared in court in Madrid in connection with fraud allegations surrounding his transfer. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

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