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posted on 07 January 2017

Early Headlines: Solar Systems Efficiency, Trump And Surveillance State, Official Report 'Asserts' Russia Hacked, US Whites Die Sooner, Russia Withdrawing Some Forces, Mexican Populism And More

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Early Bird Headlines 07 January 2017

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.

early-bird-301-180

Global

"This improved accuracy will enable utilities to deploy solar energy more reliably and inexpensively, reducing the need to purchase energy on the spot market."

U.S.

  • Endangered Species Under GOP? Climate Change Information on the Web (ProPublica) A recent reworking of language concerning climate change on a Wisconsin government website could be replicated under a Trump administration. Until December, the page, dating from the Democratic administration of former Gov. James Doyle, had this headline - “Climate Change and Wisconsin’s Great Lakes" - and a clear description of the state of the science, including this line reflecting the latest federal and international research assessments: “Earth’s climate is changing. Human activities that increase heat-trapping (“green house") gases are the main cause." The page described a variety of possible impacts on the lakes and concluded, “The good news is that we can all work to slow climate change and lessen its effects." Nine hyperlinks led readers to other resources. While the web address still includes /greatlakes/climatechange, the page, managed under agency appointees of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, now has this headline: “The Great Lakes and a changing world." It now says this:

As it has done throughout the centuries, the earth is going through a change. The reasons for this change at this particular time in the earth’s long history are being debated and researched by academic entities outside the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The effects of such a change are also being debated but whatever the causes and effects, the DNR’s responsibility is to manage our state’s natural resources through whatever event presents itself.

rand.paul.tweet.ACA.replace

Americans have been warned for decades about the potential consequences of the U.S. surveillance state - the largest, most powerful, and most intrusive in the world - falling into a would-be tyrant’s hands. With Donald Trump’s inauguration looming, I have to wonder: Was anyone paying attention?

  • Putin Ordered ‘Influence Campaign’ Aimed at U.S. Election, Report Says (The New York Times) American intelligence officials have concluded that the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, personally “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election", and turned from seeking to “denigrate" Hillary Clinton to developing “a clear preference for President-elect Trump". The conclusions were part of a declassified intelligence report, ordered by President Obama, that was released on Friday. Its main determinations were described to Mr. Trump by the nation’s top intelligence officials earlier in the day, and he responded by acknowledging, for the first time, that Russia had sought to hack into the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems. But he insisted that the effort had no effect on the election, and he said nothing about the conclusion that Mr. Putin, at some point last year, decided to aid his candidacy. Read the report here. Econintersect: The report is filled with assertions, but we did not find any proof. Remember WMD is Iraq?

  • DHS designates election systems as 'critical infrastructure' (The Hill) The Obama administration on Friday afternoon announced that it has designated the country’s election infrastructure as ‘critical,’ a move that brings added federal protections to voting systems. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a statement:

“Given the vital role elections play in this country, it is clear that certain systems and assets of election infrastructure meet the definition of critical infrastructure, in fact and in law."

Click for larger image.

UK

  • 'Humanitarian crisis' in NHS hospitals, warns Red Cross (BBC News) There is a "humanitarian crisis" in NHS hospitals in England, the British Red Cross has said. The charity said volunteers and staff had been helping patients get home from hospital and called for more government money to stabilise the situation. It comes as a third of hospital trusts in England warned they needed action to cope with patient numbers last month. NHS England said plans were in place to deal with winter pressure and beds were not as full as this time last year.

Syria

  • Syria conflict: Russia 'withdrawing aircraft carrier group' (BBC News) Russia is starting to withdraw forces from Syria and its aircraft carrier group will be the first to leave, the Russian armed forces chief says. The announcement comes days after Russia and Turkey negotiated a ceasefire in Syria which is largely holding, according to the UN. Russia has carried out air strikes on anti-government rebels since 2015. Moscow's involvement is credited with turning the war in favour of its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

  • Syrian rebels deny report of ceasefire near Damascus (Reuters) A senior Syrian rebel official denied a report on Friday that a ceasefire had been reached between rebels and government forces in the Wadi Barada area near Damascus, where bombardments have knocked out the capital's main water source. The government and allied fighters from the Lebanese group Hezbollah launched an attack two weeks ago to take back Wadi Barada where a spring provides supplies to four million people in the capital. A military news outlet run by Hezbollah reported that a ceasefire had been reached for "a number of hours" in the area. But Munir Sayal, head of the political wing of the Ahrar al-Sham rebel group, told Reuters the report was "a lie".

Mexico

  • NAFTA and Trump: Precursors to a Mexican Populist Wave? (Peterson Institute for International Economics) President-elect Donald Trump's crusade against the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, is producing a backlash in Mexico, lifting prospects for the opposition in the 2018 presidential elections. Andrés Manuel López Obrador (or AMLO, as he's popularly known), a leftist firebrand who formed his own party, MORENA, in 2010, now appears to have a decent shot at the presidency next year. Rising nationalism and disenchantment with NAFTA may also be helping AMLO, although he has not openly come out against NAFTA. Nevertheless, in view of Trump's stance on trade agreements and rising discontent in Mexico, prospects for NAFTA being renegotiated are doubtful at best.

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