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posted on 09 April 2016

Early Headlines: Gov Corruption In Panama Papers, Black Carbon Kills Millions, Vanishing Louisiana, France To Outlaw Roundup, Irrigation Projects For India And More

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Early Bird Headlines 09 April 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.



Despite much of the media's focus on tax evasion as the primary theme of the Panama Papers story, which embarrassed governments are happy to adopt as the primary theme as well, the question is one of official corruption.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) itself, which first published the data, says it reveals the holdings of "drug dealers, Mafia members, corrupt politicians and tax evaders - and wrongdoing galore."

Yet the numbers they offer tell a different story. According to ICIJ, 214,000 entities are described in the Panama Papers. They include the off-shore assets of 140 politicians and other public figures (including 12 current or former heads of state or government), as well as 33 people and companies that were "blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they'd been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations like North Korea and Iran." Yet The Economist counts 33 Forbes list billionaires to the 140 politicians in the Panama Papers.

  • 4 Million People Die Each Year Inhaling Black Carbon (Eco Watch) One of global warming's biggest culprits is lurking in the most unlikely of places. Black carbon from household stoves is fueling climate change and degrading public health and the issue has spurred a wave of investment in novel alternatives to solid fuel cookstoves. Millions of women in developing countries cook on stoves heated by burning wood, charcoal, crops and dung. Soot from these stoves collects in homes and in the atmosphere as black carbon, a potent greenhouse gas second only to CO2 in its ability to trap heat. But unlike CO2, which is harmless if inhaled, black carbon contains carcinogens that can enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc on vital organs. Smoke from cookstoves claims roughly 4 million lives each year, more than malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined. Women and children stand at greatest risk.


  • 'There's no more land' (CNN) Excellent documentary about how a combination of river mismanagemnt and climate change are seeing vast areas of formerly dry land in coastal Louisiana become permanently converted to water. In the time that measurments have been made in Grand Isle, LA, from 1947 to 2014, water has risen at the rate of 1 meter per 100 years. Current projections estimate that the rate will increase over the coming decades.

  • Maryland Just Became the Most Bee-Friendly State in the U.S. (Eco Watch) This week Maryland led the country by being the first state in the country to pass a bill to eliminate consumer use of neonicotinoid pesticides - a leading driver of global bee declines. This is a major victory in the fight to protect bees and will hopefully compel other states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to follow.

  • Why a $15 minimum wage is "good" for rich people and bad for the less well off (AgainstCronyCapitalism) The argument is that low skilled labor will be displaced by either robots or people with higher skills and the elite will get better service.



  • Egyptian Islamic Jihad founder: annihilate terror groups or they annihilate you (Al Monitor) The Egyptian army's military campaigns continue to target the hideouts of terrorist groups in Sinai Peninsula that from time to time claim responsibility for the attacks carried out against the army and police. The latest such attack took place March 19, targeting a security checkpoint in the city of el-Arish, killing 18 members of the security forces. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Nabil Naeem, the founder of the Islamic Jihad organization in Egypt, said that terrorist groups can't be confronted unless their funders and supporters are exposed.


  • We will bring water to dry fields: PM Modi (The Hindu) Mr. Modi said a second agricultural revolution will take place in Bihar, U.P., West Bengal, Assam and the north-east. He said his government was working on a plan to irrigate parched farmlands. At a rally in Rangia he said:

"We are working on a big scheme to bring water to farmlands. We need to have a permanent solution to the drought."

The outsourcing companies involved in the Southern California Edison (SCE) scandal I wrote about last week - where U.S. workers were replaced with H-1B guestworkers - are Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services. These two India-based IT firms specialize in outsourcing and offshoring, are major publicly traded companies with a combined market value of about $115 billion, and are the top two H-1B employers in the United States. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, Infosys ranked first with 6,269 H-1B petitions approved by the government, and Tata ranked second with 6,193. As with the SCE scandal, these leading offshore outsourcing firms use the H-1B program to replace American workers and to facilitate the offshoring of American jobs. Because of this, it's likely that Americans lost more than 12,000 jobs to H-1B workers in just one year.


  • For Japan, Panama Papers are tool to skewer China (USA Today) Hat tip to Rob Carter. The names of major public figures in Japan have been conspicuously absent from documents - the Panama Papers - related to a growing international tax haven scandal, but that doesn't mean the issue is being ignored in the world's third-largest economy. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that more than 400 Japanese individual and companies are included in the leaked documents. So far, however, none have included major political leaders or prominent citizens, according to the newspaper. In the absence of high-profile Japanese names, newspapers have reported prominently on the leaked documents that implicate relatives of at least eight current or former leaders in China - Japan's major economic and political rival in Asia.

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