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posted on 14 December 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil Down, Wells Fargo Fails Living Will, Rick Perry For Energy Secy, Scientists Scramble For US Climate Data, EU Steel Tariffs And More

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Early Bird Headlines 14 December 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 shares trade mixed as investors await Fed decision and 'dot-plot' (CNBC) Asian shares flip-flopped on Wednesday with markets cautious ahead of what is expected to be the Federal Reserve's first rate hike in a year, with comments on the outlook key. Oil prices fell more than 1% in Asian trade, after American Petroleum Institute data showed surprise increases in U.S. crude inventories. U.S. crude stumbled 1.34% to $52.27 a barrel as global benchmark Brent was off 1.22% to $55.04.



  • Wells Fargo fails 'living will' test and faces restrictions, US regulators rule (CNBC) Wells Fargo would damage financial markets if it were pushed to bankruptcy, U.S. regulators said on Tuesday as they imposed restrictions on the bank's business after a second review under post-recession industry rules. The nation's largest banks must offer regulators 'living wills' that outline how they would be unwound in an orderly way. Wells Fargo was one of five banks to fail an initial assessment in April. On Tuesday, regulators determined that Wells Fargo's living wills fell short and that the San Francisco-based bank would be sanctioned, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said in a statement. Specifically, the bank may not establish international bank entities or acquire non-bank subsidiaries, the FDIC said. Wells Fargo may submit an amended living will by March 31 and regulators may lift restrictions then.

  • Trump taps former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to head Energy Department he once vowed to abolish (The Washington Post) President-elect Donald Trump has picked Rick Perry to head the Energy Department, said two people familiar with the decision, seeking to put the former Texas governor in control of an agency whose name he forgot during a presidential debate even as he vowed to abolish it. Perry, who ran for president in the past two election cycles, is likely to shift the department away from renewable energy and toward fossil fuels, whose production he championed while serving as governor for 14 years.

  • Exclusive: Top U.S. spy agency has not embraced CIA assessment on Russia hacking - sources (Reuters) The overseers of the U.S. intelligence community have not embraced a CIA assessment that Russian cyber attacks were aimed at helping Republican President-elect Donald Trump win the 2016 election, three American officials said on Monday. While the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) does not dispute the CIA's analysis of Russian hacking operations, it has not endorsed their assessment because of a lack of conclusive evidence that Moscow intended to boost Trump over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, said the officials, who declined to be named. The position of the ODNI, which oversees the 17 agency-strong U.S. intelligence community, could give Trump fresh ammunition to dispute the CIA assessment, which he rejected as "ridiculous" in weekend remarks, and press his assertion that no evidence implicates Russia in the cyber attac. Trump's rejection of the CIA's judgment marks the latest in a string of disputes over Russia's international conduct that have erupted between the president-elect and the intelligence community he will soon command. An ODNI spokesman declined to comment on the issue. One of the three U.S. officials said:

"ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can't prove intent. Of course they can't, absent agents in on the decision-making in Moscow."

As for the Post’s story itself, it was fake news story about fake news, citing fake allegations by fake sources. Hence it will probably win the Pulitzer Prize.

Editor’s Note: The Washington Post on Nov. 24 published a story on the work of four sets of researchers who have examined what they say are Russian propaganda efforts to undermine American democracy and interests. One of them was PropOrNot, a group that insists on public anonymity, which issued a report identifying more than 200 websites that, in its view, wittingly or unwittingly published or echoed Russian propaganda. A number of those sites have objected to being included on PropOrNot’s list, and some of the sites, as well as others not on the list, have publicly challenged the group’s methodology and conclusions. The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet, nor did the article purport to do so. Since publication of The Post’s story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list.


  • EU tightens fishing rules in its eastern waters (Associated Press) European Union nations have reached a deal to tighten fishing rules in its eastern waters and edge closer toward a fully sustainable industry by 2020 but environmentalists said quotas still allowed for too much overfishing.


  • Britain beaten on China steel tariffs (The Times) Britain’s attempt to resist tougher sanctions against cheap Chinese imports was finally overcome yesterday after the European Council agreed to boost its trade defenses. The council hailed a “breakthrough" agreement that would allow the EU to introduce higher, US-style tariffs to protect against dumping, the sale of exports below the cost of production. It comes as China pushes for market economy status under World Trade Organisation rules. The agreement was applauded as a step in the right direction by the British steel industry.

Britain has been at the vanguard of a group of countries that had blocked the adoption of a more aggressive stance. It was backed by Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden.

The government’s opposition to the move puts it at loggerheads with the steel industry which, until weaker sterling and a rally in steel prices, had been shedding jobs at an alarming rate in the first half of the year.


  • ICYMI: In Russia, 'fake news' is the norm (Reuters) For many in the West, watching Russian TV is like staring into a broken mirror. At first glance, networks such as RT seem like any other channel, but viewers who watch long enough are treated to a bevy of bizarre pundits and conspiratorial spin. That’s by design - and it seems as if that Eastern style has come West. Russian TV producer Peter Pomerantsev’s book Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible explores Putin’s postmodern dictatorship and how the Kremlin uses television to control the country. Listen to a Pomerantsev interview by War College:



  • Pellets fired to quell protests blind hundreds of Kashmiris (Associated Press) Indian authorities call the shotgun shells filled with hundreds of small metal pellets a "non-lethal" weapon for crowd control, but that does not make them harmless. They've inflicted a permanent toll on hundreds of Kashmiris hit by them. Their faces are scarred. Their eyes are damaged or simply gone, replaced with prosthetics. And their psychological wounds run deeper still. The pellets have been in use here since 2010. Soldiers are trained to fire the shotguns below protesters' waists, causing immense pain but - in theory - no permanent injuries. But a police official acknowledged that the rules are "more or less not followed because of the intensity of stone-throwing protests". The officer spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.


  • Trump's tough talk on Taiwan threatens China more deeply than you think (CNBC) Donald Trump's push to reset America's relationship with China has led him to question a fundamental principle that allows him to hold talks with Beijing in the first place. Trump recently suggested he could scrap America's longstanding "one China" principle, a core tenet of Chinese belief that holds that Taiwan is part of the mainland. The principle goes far beyond politics or economics in China, into the very heart of how both Beijing and regular Chinese citizens define their nation. Trump told "Fox News Sunday" that he did not know "why we have to bound by a 'one China' policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade." His comments prompted a strong rebuke from Beijing, as a foreign ministry spokesman said the government had "serious concern" about Trump's remarks.


  • Brazil Senate passes spending cap in win for Temer (Reuters) Brazilian senators on Tuesday passed a 20-year public spending ceiling proposed by President Michel Temer to control a ballooning budget deficit, a crucial step in an austerity drive to rescue Brazil's stalled economy. Approval of the centerpiece of his fiscal plan handed a welcome victory to Temer's scandal-plagued government, which is threatened by corruption accusations and citizens' deep frustration with economic malaise. The Senate approved the cap by a 53-16 margin, though leftist opponents sought to delay the vote as long as possible. Temer said the move to limit spending by constitutional amendment was unprecedented and will be followed by an equally unpopular reform of Brazil's generous pension system. Econintersect: We find the statement " control a ballooning budget deficit, a crucial step in an austerity drive to rescue Brazil's stalled economy." to be oxymoronic. Brazil's economy is more than stalled - it is in a depression. Austerity in a depression is suicide.

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