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posted on 25 August 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil Slips, Habitable Planet For Nearest Star, Ugly McMansions, Latest From 538, Italy Toll Rises, Iran Challanges US Ships, Canada Far Off-Shore Oil Costs Rise And More

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Early Bird Headlines 25 August 2016

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.



  • Asia markets mixed; dollar edges higher as oil retreats (CNBC) Asian stocks were mixed Thursday morning as traders stayed on the sidelines ahead of a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that analysts said could provide clues about the central bank's next move. During Asian hours on Thursday, U.S. crude futures were lower by 0.13% to $46.71 a barrel, after falling 2.8% overnight, while global benchmark Brent was down 0.16% at $48.97, after dropping 1.8% on Wednesday.


  • Scientists Find Earth-Like Planet at Star Next Door (Bloomberg) After scanning the vast reaches of the cosmos for Earth-like planets where life might exist, astronomers have found one right next door. A planet that is rocky like Earth and only slightly bigger has been discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri , the nearest star to our solar system, scientists reported Wednesday. It is probably in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold Goldilocks Zone where liquid water - a key to life - is possible, if the planet has an atmosphere. And it is a mere 4.22 light-years from Earth, or nearly 25 trillion miles. It is easily the closest potentially habitable planet ever detected outside our solar system - and one that could be reachable by tiny, unmanned space probes before the end of the century, in time for some people alive today to witness it.

  • Saudi Permian: A Race To The Bottom For Tight Oil (Oil Pro) We are in the middle of a truly silly price rally. Other rallies of 2015 and 2016 took place despite substantial production surpluses and too much inventory. Then, there was some hope that higher prices might result if over-production could be brought under control. Now, the world's production and consumption are near balance but oil prices remain mired in the $40 to $50 per barrel range. This current rally will end badly because there is something more fundamental keeping prices low. Despite repeated assurances from IEA and EIA that demand growth is strong, it is not strong enough to draw down outsized global inventories.


  • Assange says WikiLeaks to release 'significant' Clinton campaign data (Reuters) WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange said on Wednesday his organization planned to release "significant" information linked to the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton before the Nov. 8 election. Asked if the data could be a game-changer in the election, the Australian told Fox News in an interview conducted by satellite:

"I think it's significant. You know, it depends on how it catches fire in the public and in the media."

  • Chicago's detective force dwindles as murder rate soars (Reuters) Police have had no success finding who shot Tyjuan Lewis, a 43-year-old father of 15, near his home in the quiet Roseland neighborhood of single-family houses. The death of Lewis, who delivered the U.S. mail for 20 years, is one of hundreds of slayings in 2015 that have gone unsolved as the number of homicides soared in Chicago, piling pressure on a shrinking detective force. In a city with as many as 90 shootings a week, homicides this year are on track to hit their highest level since 1997.

  • McMansions Define Ugly In A New Way: They're A Bad Investment (Private Wealth) Real estate agents don't usually tag their listings #McMansion, so to compile the data, Trulia created a proxy, measuring the price appreciation of homes built from 2001 and 2007 that have 3,000 to 5,000 square feet. While there's no single size designation, and plenty of McMansions were built outside that time window, those specifications capture homes built at the height of the trend. The additional cash that buyers should be willing to part with to get a McMansion fell in 85 of the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. For example, four years ago a typical McMansion in Fort Lauderdale was valued at $477,000, a 274% premium over all other homes in the area. This year, those McMansions are worth about $611,000, or 190% more than the rest the homes on the market. Econintersect: So if you own a McMansion, hope you can live in it for a long time and enjoy the space. Trading down might not be a financially rewarding event. You might end up in a 2,000 foot home that costs almost as much as the 4,000 footer you sold.

  • Who will win the presidency? (FiveThirtyEight) The polls-only forecast continues to indicate a high probability of a Clinton victory in November, but Donald Trump continues to show a slow gain.



  • Italy earthquake death toll rises to 247: regional officials (Reuters) The latest count of people killed in the earthquake that devastated parts of central Italy on Wednesday rose to 247 early Thursday morning, regional and national officials said. The Civil Protection department in Rome said a tally by local officials showed that 190 people were killed Rieti province and 57 in the province of Ascoli Piceno.


  • U.S. and Europe Say Assad May Have Kept Some Chemical Weapons (Foreign Policy) Damascus promised to destroy its entire arsenal, but the world's chemical weapons watchdog suggests Assad may have squirreled some away. The discoveries of precursors for chemical warfare agents like soman and VX at several undeclared facilities, including two on the outskirts of Damascus, underscored what a 75-page report by the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) describes as a troubling pattern of incomplete and inaccurate Syrian disclosures over the past three years about the scope of the country's chemical weapons program.


  • Iran vessels make 'high speed intercept' of U.S. ship: U.S. official (Reuters) Four of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessels "harassed" a U.S. warship on Tuesday near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. defense official said, amid Washington's concerns about Iran's posture in the Gulf and in the Syrian civil war. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that two of the Iranian vessels came within 300 yards of the USS Nitze in an incident that was "unsafe and unprofessional".


  • Gun, bomb attack on American University in Kabul kills 12: police (Reuters) Twelve people, including seven students, were killed in an attack on the American University in Kabul that sent hundreds of students fleeing in panic, police said early on Thursday, before the assault ended when two gunmen were shot dead. The attack began at around 6:30 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) on Wednesday with a large explosion that officials said was a car bomb followed by gunfire, as suspected militants battled into the complex where foreign staff and pupils were working. Elite Afghan forces surrounded the walled compound and eventually worked their way inside, according to a senior interior ministry official. Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said seven students, three policemen and two security guards were killed during the attack, the second incident involving the university this month.


  • Pellets leave 3,000 injured in Kashmir (The Hindu) Over the last 45 days, violence in Kashmir has killed 68 people, 50 in south Kashmir. Around 51% of the 5,800 civilians injured in Kashmir in the ongoing violence were hit by pellets and most of them were in constituencies represented by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in south Kashmir. Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts saw relatively fewer injuries. Official data relating to 45 days of street violence in Kashmir, procured by The Hindu from 10 districts, showed that around 3,000 civilians were injured by pellets and 122 by bullets. About 55%t - around 3,219 - of the injured persons were in south Kashmir's four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian. Kashmir (also called Jammu Kashmir) is an Indian state with portions occupied by Pakistan and China and also with a significant independence movement.


  • Canada may ask oil firms to pay extra for far-offshore drilling: memo (Reuters) Canada may ask oil companies to contribute to the hundreds of millions of dollars or more the country has to pay to an international body if they drill far offshore, according to an internal government memo. If that happens, it could make the operations more expensive and strain talks that companies will have with provincial governments, which already require them to pay royalties. A United Nations convention, which Canada ratified in 2003, says signatories need to pay the International Seabed Authority (ISA) if companies drill on the "extended continental shelf," the seabed part of a country's landmass, but more than 200 nautical miles (230 miles) offshore.

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