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.
Assange: Clinton win would have been 'consolidation of power' (The Hill) WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he deserves no blame for Hillary Clinton's election loss. In an interview with Italian newspaper la Repubblica, Assange denied that he was seeking to damage Clinton's campaign by publishing hacked emails that reflected poorly on her. In the interview, he said he had “mixed" feelings about the presidential election, but said a Clinton win would have been a “consolidation of power in the existing ruling class of the United States."
Trump to dissolve foundation amid conflict of interest questions, setting up fight with NY regulator (CNBC) President-elect Donald Trump announced on Saturday that he would dissolve the charity bearing his name, which has been embroiled in an ongoing controversy over potential conflicts of interest as he prepares to enter the Oval Office. In a statement, Trump said that the Donald J. Trump Foundation has done "enormous good works over the years in contributing millions of dollars to countless worthy groups, including supporting veterans, law enforcement officers and children." The foundation has been part of a wide ranging discussion about Trump's business and personal entanglements, which some experts have cited as being fraught with potential conflicts with his new role as commander in chief. In New York, the Trump Foundation has been under scrutiny, and was ordered in October by NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to stop raising funds. Indeed, Schneiderman's office released a terse statement on Saturday that cast doubt on Trump's ability to close the charity down, and raised the specter of a legal battle between the two camps.
Bad News for America’s Workers (Joseph Stiglitz, Project Syndicate) JS has contributed to GEI. Nobel Laureate Stiglitz says that protectionist trade policies will not increase U.S. employment and will raise costs to consumers in the U.S.
Pensioners to be charged £26 'falling fee' to be helped back to their feet by local council (Mirror) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. Pensioners who need help being helped back to their feet after a fall at home will be charged £26 ($27) by their local council. Tendring District Council said it would introduce the fee as part of its Careline service for elderly people who require home care. An elderly rights campaign group has described the charge as "shocking" and equivalent to a 'falling fine'. The £25.92 annual charge means a carer will come to pick an elderly resident up after a fall.
These Afghans fled to Germany for a safer, better life. Now they’ve been sent back. (The Washington Post) Across Western Europe, as many as 80,000 Afghans eventually may be repatriated after their asylum applications are rejected, under the agreement signed by Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and E.U. officials in October. Some of these have not committed any crimes in Europe and many others had come to Europe to rejoin families that still remian in Europe. But all arrived illegally and sought asylum after arrival, so they were the easiest for authorities to remove in response to increasing backlash against refugees and migrants. To Afghan officials, these men will become a burden that the poor, insurgent-plagued country cannot afford. Hundreds of thousands of longtime war refugees are pouring back from next-door Pakistan; large numbers of rural families have been displaced by the Taliban and are living in camps. According to Rohullah Hashimi, an official at the Afghan ministry responsible for refugees:
“This is a real crisis for us. We pleaded with the Europeans to only send those who wanted to come voluntarily, but there was a lot of pressure for us to take back more. Many Afghans sold everything before they left their country, and they have returned penniless. With no prospects they may try to reach Europe again or even join the insurgents."
Cyber attacks are just one element in a broader hybrid war that Russia is waging against the West. Russia has also assisted far-right nationalist organizations and populist movements across Europe, such as by extending loans to Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France, and furnishing UK Independence Party politicians with prime-time media slots on the Russian state-funded television network Russia Today.
US President Barack Obama has finally vowed to respond to Putin’s assault on American democracy, but he should have done more - and acted much sooner. Europeans would be foolish to expect assistance from the incoming Trump administration. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen Bannon - a former executive chairman of the American “alt-right" disinformation website Breitbart News - has openly offered to help Le Pen win the French presidential election next spring.
Official Russian sources admit that they spent €1.2 billion ($1.25 billion) on foreign media campaigns just this year. In the EU, thousands of fake-news websites have appeared, many of them with unclear ownership: the number of disinformation websites in Hungary doubled in 2014; and in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, some 42 new websites are now polluting the EU’s information ecosystem. And, less surreptitiously, the Kremlin has spent hundreds of millions of dollars funding propaganda outfits - such as the Sputnik “news" agency - even as the Russian economy implodes.
Trump’s nation-building pledges to be tested in Afghanistan (The Hill) President-elect Donald Trump’s pledges to end the nation-building missions of the military will be tested in Afghanistan, where President Obama repeatedly came up against the reality of a country unready for U.S. forces to leave. Trump will inherit a military drawing down in Afghanistan to 8,400 troops, well above the 1,000 Obama originally wanted to leave at just the U.S. embassy in Kabul. Obama formally ended the combat mission in 2014, but U.S. troops remain on a dual mission. One is to conduct counterterrorism strikes against groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The other is to train, advise and assist Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban, a mission critics have called nation-building. Facing a resilient Taliban and recommendations from his military advisors not to withdraw, Obama was twice forced to increase the number of troops he planned to leave in country after this year, first to 5,500 then to 8,400. Trump could likely face the same issue.
Fake news story leads Pakistani official to threaten nuclear action (The Hill) Pakistan's Minister of Defense apparently made a nuclear threat against Israel after reading a fake news story, The New York Times (hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni) reported Saturday. The false story, circulated by AWDNews.com, reported that former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said he would nuke Pakistan if it sent ground troops to Syria to battle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The fake news story was riddled with spelling errors and typos and named the former Defense minister instead of the sitting minister. After the fake news report, Pakistan's Defense Minister Khawaja Asif tweeted:
"Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh.Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too AH."
A Testing Ground for Energy Storage in the Shadow of Mt. Fuji (Bloomberg) Perhaps no country has more to gain than Japan by reducing dependence on fossil fuels. A patch of land in the shadow of Mount Fuji is becoming a testing ground for energy storage, with some of Japan’s leading companies trying to develop technologies such as spinning flywheels and fuel cells. The government of Yamanashi, a prefecture 102 kilometers (63 miles) west of Tokyo, is hoping that by attracting companies such as Panasonic Corp. and Toray Industries Inc. it can become a kind of Silicon Valley for energy storage development. Energy storage comes in different types to adjust the flow of clean energy in varying duration. Aside from pumped hydro -- the most prevalent storage technology for grid connected projects -- batteries, flywheels, and hydrogen are increasingly becoming important.
China files protest over US defense bill’s Taiwan language (The Hill) China on Sunday lodged a protest to the U.S. over a defense policy bill that calls for military exchanges with Taiwan. President Obama this week signed a bill that “expresses the sense of Congress that [the Department of Defense] should conduct a program of senior military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan." China's Foreign Ministry lodged “stern representations," according to Reuters:
"We urge the U.S. side to abide by its promises made to China on the Taiwan issue, stop U.S.-Taiwan military contacts and arms sales to Taiwan, to avoid damaging Sino-U.S. ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait."
Mexico fireworks death toll now 36 (CNN) Deadly blasts on Tuesday in the San Pablito market sent huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky and shook the ground in neighboring towns. The market is in Tultepec, a city about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Mexico City that bills itself as the country's fireworks capital. An explosion at the same fireworks market in 2005 injured a large number of people and caused extensive damage and a fire in 2006 caused widespread damage. Below is an areal view of the site of the explosions.
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