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.
Surprise: Trump’s Advisor on Wall Street Regulations is a Longtime Swamp-Dweller (Jessie Eisinger, ProPublica) JE has contributed to GEI. Trump’s transition advisor for financial regulations works for a firm that is emblematic of the Washington revolving door. Paul Atkins, has been depicted as an ideological advocate of small government. But the ways that the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans are likely to approach financial deregulation could serve Atkins’ wallet as well as his political agenda. Like Trump himself, Atkins himself faces potential conflicts between his business dealings and his public role.
Governors planning 'very, very active' role in ObamaCare rewrite (The Hill) State leaders are positioning themselves to have a key voice in a potential rewrite of ObamaCare next year. With the election of Donald Trump, Republican leaders in Congress have promised a dramatic overhaul of President Obama’s signature policy. The National Governors Association (NGA), a proudly bipartisan group representing every state, is now eyeing a more public - and more aggressive - role alongside GOP leaders as they attempt to gut the massive federal program.
FHFA Ups Conforming Loan Limit to $424,100 (Mortgage Daily News) After leaving them in a holding pattern for 10 long years the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has raised conforming loan limits for mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Separate loan limit announcements are expected shortly from FHA and the Veterans Administration. The current loan limit, $417,000, has been in place since 2006. So the increase is $7,100 or only 1.7%, hardly enough to break the bank, or at least Econintersect hopes so.
“The Democratic Coalition Against Trump filed an Election Fraud complaint with the Wisconsin Elections Commission on Saturday afternoon regarding four separate precincts located within Outagamie County, WI. According to local reports, there were four precincts in Hortonville, Cicero, Bear Creek, and Grand Chute, where it was reported that more people had voted in the presidential race, than had voted overall. The discrepancy, which was attributed by local officials to human error, added over 1,000 votes to Donald Trump which were then taken away when the official election results were posted. The Democratic Coalition Against Trump filed the Election Fraud complaint to urge the Wisconsin Elections Commission to look into these precincts to investigate this vote padding as intentional fraud, as opposed to a clerical error."
The article by reporter Craig Timberg - headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say" - cites a report by a new, anonymous website calling itself “PropOrNot," which claims that millions of Americans have been deceived this year in a massive Russian “misinformation campaign."
The group’s list of Russian disinformation outlets includes WikiLeaks and the Drudge Report, as well as Clinton-critical left-wing websites such as Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig and Naked Capitalism, as well as libertarian venues such as Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute.
This Post report was one of the most widely circulated political news articles on social media over the last 48 hours, with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of U.S. journalists and pundits with large platforms hailing it as an earth-shattering exposé. It was the most-read piece on the entire Post website after it was published on Friday.
Some Fake News Publishers Just Happen to Be Donald Trump’s Cronies (The Intercept) The fake news epidemic spread by Facebook and other social media during the 2016 presidential election has been largely portrayed as a lucky break for Donald Trump. By that reckoning, entrepreneurial Macedonian teenagers, opportunists in Tbilisi and California millennials have exploited social media algorithms in order to make money - only incidentally leading to the viral proliferation of mostly anti-Clinton and anti-Obama hoaxes and conspiracy theories that thrilled many Trump supporters. The Washington Post published a shoddy report on Thursday (see preceding article) alleging that Russian state-sponsored propagandists were seeking to promote Trump through fabricated stories for their own reasons, independent of the candidate himself. More from this article:
But a closer look reveals that some of the biggest fake news providers were run by experienced political operators well within the orbit of Donald Trump’s political advisers and consultants.
Laura Ingraham, a close Trump ally currently under consideration to be Trump’s White House press secretary, owns an online publisher called Ingraham Media Group that runs a number of sites, including LifeZette, a news site that frequently posts articles of dubious veracity. One video produced by LifeZette this summer, ominously titled “Clinton Body Count," promoted a conspiracy theory that the Clinton family had some role in the plane crash death of John F. Kennedy, Jr., as well as the deaths of various friends and Democrats.
How Journalists Need to Begin Imagining the Unimaginable (ProPublica) Journalists couldn't imagine Trump getting the nomination. Then they couldn't imagine him getting elected. This column now argues that journalists have to again use their imagination because Trump is likely not a Putin puppet. And it is not likely that Russia 'hacked' our election.
"We really have to figure out how to tell the truth and not just report the facts. Which is a pretty good sentence but not a great prescription.
Understand that normal is going to drift and shift and all sorts of things are about to happen and part of our job is to notice and document how it's happening. We may not be able to influence the course of events, but our job is to at least be able to tell the story."
Syria attack causes 'chemical gas' symptoms in rebels: Turkish media (Reuters) A rocket attack by Islamic State militants in northern Syria caused symptoms of "chemical gas" in 22 Syrian rebels, state media cited the Turkish armed forces as saying on Sunday. The attack targeted Turkey-backed rebels who have been besieging the Islamic State-controlled town of al-Bab for days. Al-Bab is a major target in the "Euphrates Shield" operation to push the jihadists away from the Syrian side of the Turkish border. The Turkish military said the rocket attack was in Syria's Haliliye area, according to state-run Anadolu agency. It did not specify when the attack occurred.
Hundreds of thousands gather in South Korea for fifth week of protests against Park (Reuters) Hundreds of thousands rallied in central Seoul on Saturday for a fifth week of protests against President Park Geun-hye, in the largest ongoing series of demonstrations in the country since the 1987 movement to democratize South Korea. Park's presidency has been rocked by allegations that a close friend used her ties to the leader to meddle in state affairs and wield improper influence. Prosecutors investigating the case have indicted her friend, Choi Soon-sil, and are seeking to question the president about her role in the scandal. Organizers said 800,000 people had gathered early on Saturday evening and expected a total of 1.5 million people to join by the end of the night.
Trump’s Tough Talk on Castro and Cuba Shows Big Shift From Obama (Bloomberg) Donald Trump started to put his stamp on a more muscular foreign policy Saturday with a toughly-worded statement following the death of Cuba’s Fidel Castro. The president-elect eschewed the diplomat-speak of President Barack Obama, who offered his condolences to the Castro family in an anodyne statement. Instead, Trump tore into the newly-deceased dictator in perhaps the clearest example since this month’s election of the two men’s sharply different world views.
Fidel’s legacy will long remain divisive. Cuba today is a dilapidated country, but its social and economic indicators are the envy of many of its neighbors. The highly restrictive Marxist regime that Fidel put in place all those years ago has loosened up in some ways - there is a great deal of religious freedom in Cuba today, and Cubans, including outspoken political dissidents, come and go freely from the island - but the country remains a one-party state. The police use a heavy hand on those who seek to organize public protests. The press, too, such as it exists, remains largely in the hands of party commissars, imparting ideological treatises, rather than actual news.
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