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.
Brent oil pushes above $50 for first time in nearly seven months (Reuters) Brent oil futures climbed above $50 a barrel on Thursday for the first time in nearly seven months, boosted after U.S. government figures showed a sharper-than-expected drawdown in crude stocks last week. Buoyant stock markets also supported prices, with the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI, the S&P 500 .SPX and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC all climbing overnight. Brent LCOc1 had climbed 31 cents to $50.05 a barrel by 0225 GMT, its highest since Nov. 4. It ended the previous session up $1.13, or 2.3%. U.S. crude futures CLc1 rose 23 cents to their strongest since Oct. 12 at $49.79 a barrel, after settling the last session 94 cents higher.
States ratchet up transgender battle with lawsuit against U.S. (Reuters) Officials from 11 U.S. states sued the Obama administration on Wednesday to overturn a directive telling schools to let transgender students use bathrooms matching their gender identity, decrying the policy as "a massive social experiment". Ramping up the simmering battles over contentious cultural issues in America, the states, led by Texas and most with Republican governors, accused the federal government of rewriting laws by administrative fiat. Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told reporters in Austin:
"We are willing to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to."
State Dept. inspector general report sharply criticizes Clinton's email practices (The Washington Post) The State Department's independent watchdog has issued a highly critical analysis of Hillary Clinton's email practices while running the department, concluding that Clinton failed to seek legal approval for her use of a private server and that agency staff members would not have given their blessing if it had been sought because of "security risks". The report by the inspector general's office concludes that Clinton, the Democratic front-runner for president, handled email in a way that was "not an appropriate method" for preserving public records and that her practices failed to comply with department policy.
Young people now more likely to live with parents than partners (The Washington Post) The Pew Research Center has reported that for the first time in U.S. history, more people between the age of 18 and 34 are living with their parents than are living with a spouse or romantic partner. living alone or with roommates, or living as single parents. The living arrangements for the young adult cohort in 2014: 32.1% living with parent, 31.6% married or cohabiting in a romantic relationship, 14% living alone, single parent or other head of household arrangement and 22% other than the above. The category "living alone, single parent or other head of household arrangement" at 14% is 3-4 times larger than in all U.S. history prior to the 1960s.
TSA chief Neffenger takes another crack at explaining long airport security lines (The Washington Post) Long lines at the nation's airports may continue through the summer, the result of record travel, understaffed checkpoints and changes made to reduce the risk of terrorist attacks, the head of the Transportation Security Administration told Congress on Wednesday. TSA Administrator Peter V. Neffenger said that even with additional staffing help on the way, Americans could expect scant relief from long waits to clear security checkpoints. A total of 97 million more passengers expected to pass through TSA screening this year than did three years ago
Fact Check: would the UK have a veto on Turkey joining the EU?(The Conversation) Accession of a candidate state must be approved unanimously by the Council of the EU, which is made up of representatives from each member state, and ratified by all national parliaments. This gives each member state a veto over the process. So even if Turkey were to fulfill all of the eligibility criteria (it's not even close), and even if all other member states favored accession (they don't), the UK would still be able to veto.
Europe's Pointless 'Breakthrough' on Greece (Editorial Board, Bloomberg) The leader of Europe's finance ministers called Wednesday's agreement on Greek debt a "major breakthrough". In a way, it was. The latest twist in this perpetual negotiation has raised the art of dithering to impressive new heights. Econintersect: In a dystopian and totally illogical process, the EU and ECB keep increasing Greece's unrepayable debt while reducing ever further the ability of the country to repay debt.
Saudi Arabia Has a Plan B to Try to Stop Iran's Economic Rise (Bloomberg) Saudi Arabia couldn't stop the Iran nuclear deal from being signed. Plan B is to limit Iran's ability to reap its benefits. The kingdom is mobilizing its Gulf allies to make sure that, more than four months after the lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Iran's opening-up to the global economy doesn't go smoothly. Last month the Saudis scuttled a bid to stabilize crude prices because it would have allowed their bitter foe to grab a larger share of oil markets. And in Dubai, once their main gateway to the world, Iranian businessmen privately complain of increasing restrictions. It's a rearguard action by the Saudis as the U.S. reassesses its role in the Middle East and investors are drawn to the allure of Iran as the world's last untapped major frontier market. Still, there are other drags on doing business with Iran that play into the Saudi effort: European banks are still reluctant to do business in the Islamic Republic for fear of possible U.S. sanctions.
Obama, Abe heed politics of contrition on Hiroshima visit (Associated Press) Laying bare the complex politics of reconciliation and contrition, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday rejected the idea of visiting Pearl Harbor to reciprocate for President Barack Obama's historic trip to Hiroshima later this week. Obama, for his part, said he would use his time in Hiroshima to honor all those killed in World War II and to push for a world without nuclear weapons. The White House made clear well in advance of Obama's arrival in Japan that the president would not apologize for the U.S. bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, that killed 140,000 people in Hiroshima and launched the nuclear age.
How an industry helps Chinese students cheat their way into and through U.S. colleges (Reuters) A vibrant East Asian industry is corrupting the U.S. higher education system by gaming entrance exams, concocting college applications and completing college coursework on behalf of students. These nimble operators not only help students cheat their way into universities. They also help them cheat their way through. The companies are prospering by exploiting two intersecting interests: the growing demand by Chinese nationals to study overseas, and the desire by U.S. colleges to profit from foreign students willing to pay full tuition. As Reuters reported in March, some companies are leveraging weaknesses in the SAT, a standardized college entrance exam, to help clients gain an unfair advantage on the test by feeding them questions in advance. In addition, Reuters has identified companies in China that help students contrive their entire college application - embellishing or ghostwriting application essays, doctoring letters of recommendation from high school teachers, and even advising kids to obtain fake high school transcripts. Other providers continue the illicit assistance after admission.
One Year After Bubble Burst, China's Stock Market Has Gone Quiet (Bloomberg) It's been almost 12 months since China's equity market embarked on a precipitous decline that would erase $5 trillion of value, and the nation's stocks have rarely been this subdued. For the past two weeks, the Shanghai Composite Index hasn't strayed more than 51 points from the 2,800 level. Volatility on the gauge is the lowest since December 2014, while turnover has crumbled to levels more than 80% below last year's peak. Margin debt, which fueled 2015's bull market, has dropped by more than 1.4 trillion yuan ($213 billion) on China's equity exchanges as investor interest dwindled.
Vietnam's VietJet to buy 100 Boeing planes for $11.3 billion (Reuters) Hat tip to Rob Carter. Vietnam's VietJet on Monday agreed a firm order of 100 Boeing 737 MAX 200 jets worth $11.3 billion at list prices, making it one of Southeast Asia's fastest-growing low-cost carriers. The deal, signed during U.S. president Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam, represents a coup for Boeing, as VietJet has only operated its European rival Airbus' A320 airplanes since it began operations in December 2011. The airline also signed a $3.04-billion deal for engines made by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies, for the 63 Airbus planes of the 99 it ordered and 7 hired since 2013.
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