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posted on 29 December 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil Steady, 18 Health Care Cuts, More On Israel, More Russian Hacks, Saudi-Iran War, China-Japan Tensions, China's Half Trillion Rail Projects And More

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Early Bird Headlines 29 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.



  • Asian shares mixed; Nikkei drops 1.3% (CNBC) Asia markets struggled on Thursday and closed mixed, with the Japanese benchmark down more than 1% after Toshiba tumbled on credit downgrades. U.S. crude futures were last trading down 0.41% at $53.84 a barrel, while Brent futures inched up 0.02% at $56.23. Oil prices had gained on Wednesday in the U.S. for the fourth straight session, but turned negative in post-settlement trade after American Petroleum Institute data showed a surprise build in U.S. stockpiles.



  • 18 federal health budget cut options (LifeHealthPro) The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently came out with what amounts to a new game for people who want to revamp the federal government: a list of 87 ideas for narrowing the federal budget deficit, along with estimates of how much each option might help. CBO analysts give dozens of ideas for raising revenue, and dozens of ideas for cutting spending. This article lists the 18 cuts related to health care.

  • Obama creates national monuments in Utah, Nevada (The Hill) President Obama protected two massive areas in the American West on Wednesday, including a swath of southern Utah that has been at the center of a contentious battle over land protections for years. The areas newly protected from development and various activities are the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada. Both areas are owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management. The actions further cement the aggressive conservation legacy of Obama, who has protected more land and water than any other president under the Antiquities Act. But the designations are among the most controversial under Obama, with strong opposition among local and state leaders. Read the thank-you letter from Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye: How President Obama Has Protected Our Sacred Land for Future Generations.

  • Trump Market Joy Ride Could Get Bumpy In 2017 (Financial Advisor) This author summarizes some cautionary views about market expectations for 2017.

  • The Last Act of Obama’s Israel Drama May Be His Best (Foreign Policy) (Econintersect: This article is on the wrong side of what appears in the American press on this topic if the malority of articles define the right side.) See aslo next article. Here is an excerpt:

The Israeli government’s settlement policy puts it on the wrong side of history, justice, demography, the law, its own interests - and therefore the interests of its friends and allies. For each of these reasons, Israel should neither be surprised nor outraged at the recent U.N. Security Council resolution condemning those settlements. Nor should they be offended by the U.S. government’s policy with respect to that vote, a policy that was well-articulated and defended by Secretary of State John Kerry in an address Wednesday.

The Obama administration’s abstention, which enabled that resolution to pass, should for the same reasons not be seen as a betrayal. Indeed, as a friend of Israel, the United States should have gone further and actively supported Resolution 2334, which passed with 14 votes in favor and just Washington abstaining. The settlements are hurting Israel, and true friends have the courage to tell each other what they need to hear, even when they don’t want to hear it.


  • Is Russia Responsible for a Cyber Attack Against the OSCE? (Foreign Policy) The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a rights watchdog that for more than two years has monitored the ground war between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists, acknowledged Wednesday it had been hacked. The likely culprit, according to Le Monde: Russia. The OSCE confirmed to Reuters that it became aware of the attack in November. It rectified the situation through “entirely new security systems and passwords." It confirmed the hack after the Le Monde report, in which an unnamed source suggested that Russian group APT 28 was responsible. APT 28 is better known in the United States as Fancy Bear, which investigators believe was also behind the hacks against Democratic Party leadership during this year’s American presidential election. Fancy Bear is believed to be directed by Russian military intelligence, or GRU. U.S.


Saudi Arabia

  • What Would a Saudi-Iran War Look Like? Don’t look now, but it is already here (Foreign Policy) Saudi Arabia and Iran are killing each other’s proxies, and indirectly are killing each other’s advisors and troops, in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia’s Shiite Eastern Province. The future is likely to look similar. The existing pattern will intensify, eventually spill over in a short, sharp direct clash, and then sink back down again to the level of proxy wars in other people’s territories.


  • US to announce new sanctions against Russia in response to election hacking (CNBC) The White House is preparing to announce retaliatory measures against Russia for its role in directing cyber attacks in the United States, two senior officials confirmed to NBC News on Wednesday. In October, the United States formally blamed Russia for political hacking attacks, saying they were intended to interfere with American elections. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax that the accusations are "nonsense". The new actions, which would be an update of a 2015 executive order, could be announced as early Thursday or Friday, the officials said. They would also likely include economic sanctions coordinated by the Treasury department. The unannounced measures will be covert and include cyber options, NBC News reported.


  • India’s RBI Approved Cash Ban Just Hours Before Modi’s Speech (Bloomberg) The board of India’s central bank approved the move to ban high-denomination notes less than three hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision in a televised address to the nation. Information on how many members favored or opposed the move isn’t “on record," the Reserve Bank of India said in response to queries from Bloomberg News under the Right to Information Act. Power Minister Piyush Goyal had told lawmakers on Nov. 16 that it was the authority’s 10-member board that came up with the idea.


  • China-Japan Tensions Simmer Weeks Before Trump’s Inauguration (Bloomberg) Tensions in North Asia are again heating up with less than a month to go before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office. A day after joining Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a bridge-building trip to Pearl Harbor, Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Thursday visited a Tokyo shrine seen by China and South Korea in particular as a symbol of her nation’s wartime atrocities. Separately, Japan drew a rebuke from China on Wednesday after adding the name Taiwan to its de facto embassy in Taipei.


  • What China Didn’t Learn From the Collapse of the Soviet Union (Foreign Policy) Xi Jinping sees the Soviet Union as a cautionary tale. But Beijing is learning all the wrong lessons. What is being ignored is that the underlying cause of collapse was failure to recognize the needs and potential of the people.

  • China Turns to $503 Billion Rail Expansion to Boost Growth (Bloomberg) China plans to spend 3.5 trillion yuan ($503 billion) to expand its railway system by 2020 as it turns to investments in infrastructure to bolster growth and improve connectivity across the country. The high-speed rail network will span more than 30,000 kilometers (18,650 miles) under the proposal, according to details released at a State Council Information Office briefing in Beijing Thursday. The distance, about 6.5 times the length of a road trip between New York and Los Angeles, will cover 80 percent of major cities in China.

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