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posted on 04 September 2016

Early Headlines: Planet X, US Big City Exodus?, Media Bad For Democracy, Teachers Underpaid 17 Pct, German Banks On The Edge, Trump Could Destroy Mexican Economy And More

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Early Bird Headlines 04 September 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.



  • Quest for Planet Nine turns up 'extreme objects' on edge of solar system (CNN) Researchers believe that there might be a planet 200 times farther from the sun than we are (and five times more distant than Pluto) with an extremely stretched and oblong orbit on the edge of our solar system. It is so massive that it could be as much as 15 times the size of Earth. It's known as Planet Nine or Planet X.


  • Obama's use of clemency power sparks criticism (The Hill) Obama is on track to commute the most sentences by a president since 1929. But unlike his actions on immigration and healthcare, it's not whether he has the authority to reduce prison stays that's drawing criticism - it's the type of inmates he's helping. Only non-violent, low-level offenders, who have served at least 10 years of their federal sentence and demonstrated good behavior qualify for Obama's clemency initiative. Inmates cannot have a significant criminal history or a history of violence prior to or during their imprisonment. Some are saying the stated requirements are not being met.

  • Conditions Are Ripe for a Big-City Exodus (Bloomberg) A Trulia article this week showed that home values in the most expensive U.S. metro areas have diverged sharply from those in the rest of the country over the past 30 years. Not only have incomes grown the fastest in West Coast cities such as San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle, but natural and political constraints have made it difficult to increase housing supply, leading to even faster home price growth. At the other end of the spectrum, in the South and the Midwest, lower income growth combined with fewer constraints on increasing the housing supply has led to more muted home price gains. Considering the disparities, people should start to move.

  • Trump Time Capsule #92: 'How the Media Undermine American Democracy' (The Atlantic) Habits of mind within the media have been making citizens and voters even more fatalistic and jaded about public affairs over recent decades than they would otherwise be -even more willing to assume that all public figures were fools and crooks, even less willing to be involved in public affairs, and unfortunately for the media even less interested in following news at all. These mental habits of the media included an over-emphasis on strife and conflict, a fascination with the mechanics or "game" of politics rather than the real-world consequences, and a self-protective instinct to conceal limited knowledge of a particular subject (a new budget proposal, an international spat) by talking about the politics of these questions, and by presenting disagreements in a he-said/she-said, "plenty of blame on all sides" fashion now known as "false equivalence".

  • Life in the Native American oil protest camps (BBC News) An Indian reservation in North Dakota is the site of the largest gathering of Native Americans in more than 100 years. Indigenous people from across the US are living in camps on the Standing Rock reservation as they protest the construction of a new oil pipeline. BBC has collected a series of pictures from the gathering.

  • Teachers Face a 17 Percent Pay Cut When They Join the Noble Profession (Bloomberg) Improving the country's education system could be a long haul, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute. The problem? It's hard to recruit the best college grads to the sector when teachers get paid less than other college graduates with similar occupations, the study says. Here's what public school teachers earn weekly on average. Only the states in green pay their teachers more than $1,000 a week.


  • Rumors of a Deutsche Bank-Commerzbank Merger (Geopolitical Futures) There are growing indications that Deutsche Bank's crisis is escalating, while the country's second largest bank, Commerzbank, is struggling and Germany's banking sector as a whole is facing increasingly grim prospects. Reports emerged earlier this week in German media that Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank had held talks about a potential merger. On Aug. 31, Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan quickly dismissed the idea that his bank is seeking a merger. While we do not know the content of the exploratory talks between Germany's two largest banks, the fact that meetings were held at all about a potential merger signals that Germany's banking troubles are accelerating. Econintersect: Will 2016 be for German banking what 2008 was for the U.S.?


  • Bangladesh hangs Islamist tycoon Mir Quasem Ali (BBC News) A leader and financial backer of the biggest Islamist party in Bangladesh has been executed for war crimes committed in 1971, officials say. Media tycoon Mir Quasem Ali, 63, of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was sentenced to death two years ago. He had been convicted of offenses including murder and torture committed during the war with Pakistan. The tycoon was hanged at a high-security prison outside Dhaka on Saturday evening. He was arrested in 2010 and convicted in 2014. He declined to seek a presidential pardon, which would have required an admission of guilt.


  • Hong Kong election highlights rising anti-China mood (Associated Press) Hong Kongers headed to the polls Sunday for the specially administered Chinese city's most crucial election since the handover from Britain in 1997. The vote for Legislative Council lawmakers is the first major election since 2014 pro-democracy street protests rocked the Asian financial hub, and the outcome could pave the way for a fresh round of political confrontations over Beijing's control of the city. At stake is the power to keep the city's widely unpopular Beijing-backed leader, Leung Chun-ying, and his government in check. "Pan-democrat" lawmakers currently control 27 of 70 seats, compared with 43 held by lawmakers friendly to Beijing. The democrats are fighting to keep control of at least a third of the seats, which gives them veto power to block government attempts to enact unpopular legislation.


It came as a surprise when Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto invited Donald Trump this week to meet with him in Mexico City. But perhaps no one was more surprised than the Mexican people, many of whom were insulted that their president would welcome a man who has repeatedly disparaged Mexicans on the campaign trail.

During Peña Nieto's speech on Wednesday afternoon, as he stood at a podium next to Trump, it became increasingly clear why he wanted to meet with the GOP nominee, despite the backlash he must have known would follow. Peña Nieto is terrified of a Trump presidency. The source of his fear isn't the promised border wall (let alone having to pick up the tab for it) nor the consistent slandering of Mexicans' character. Instead, he's terrified that Trump will destroy Mexico's economy. And there are two ways he easily could.

The first way, which is the most obvious one, is if Trump ended the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA. Trump has blamed trade deals with foreign countries for job losses and low wages in the United States, and has vowed to end or renegotiate them if elected president. NAFTA, which opened trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico in 1994, was the catalyst for future U.S. trade agreements around the world. Though economists have mixed views on the effects of NAFTA, it did provide American manufacturers with a cheap source of labor in the form of Mexico, while also creating a huge market for U.S. exports. Mexico bought about 16 percent of American exports last year, and Mexico is now the country's third-largest trading partner.


  • Canadians now spend more on taxes than on food, clothing and shelter combined, study finds (Financial Post) The Fraser Institute calculates that the average Canadian family paid $34,154 in taxes of all sort last year, including "hidden" business taxes that are passed along in the price of goods and services purchased. The study's authors conclude that visible and hidden taxes would have been equal to 42.4% of the cash income for an average Canadian family in 2015, estimated at $80,593. By comparison, the study estimates the average Canadian family spent $30,293 on housing, food and clothing last year - about 37.6% of the family's total cash income.

  • Alberta: Tens of thousands of energy professionals are out of work and out of hope (Financial Post) Geologist Ryan Lemiski, engineer Stephen Scott and geophysicists Brian Sondergaard and Marian Hanna did all the right things to achieve successful careers in the oilpatch. They studied hard and earned science degrees. They created huge value for their employers and volunteered in their spare time. They protected the environment through actions, not just words. Now they are unemployed, members of a community of as many as 60,000 energy professionals laid off in Alberta since the beginning of the oil price downturn.

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