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 TPP nations seek to salvage trade accord after U.S. exit (Reuters) Australia and New Zealand said on Tuesday they hope to salvage the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by encouraging China and other Asian nations to join the trade pact after U.S. President Donald Trump kept his promise to pull out of the accord. The TPP, which the United States had signed but not ratified, was a pillar of former U.S. President Barack Obama's pivot to Asia. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has touted it as an engine of economic reform, as well as a counter-weight to a rising China, which is not a TPP member. Fulfilling a campaign pledge, Trump signed an executive order in the Oval Office on Monday pulling the United States out of the 2015 TPP agreement and distancing the United States from its Asian allies.
Robots Are Taking Over Oil Rigs (Bloomberg) The Iron Roughneck, made by National Oilwell Varco Inc., automates the repetitive and dangerous task of connecting hundreds of segments of drill pipe as they’re shoved through miles of ocean water and oil-bearing rock. The machine has also cut to two from three the need for roustabouts.
Trump told leaders 'illegals' cost him popular vote (The Hill) President Trump's first White House meeting with congressional leaders was, by all accounts, a cordial affair. But Trump apparently couldn't resist taking a jab across the aisle, telling the gathering of bipartisan leaders that he'd lost the popular vote only because of rampant voter fraud by "illegals," according to a pair of sources familiar with the conversation. A Democratic aide said:
"He said 3-5 million 'illegals' voted so that's why he lost popular vote."
Trump freezes hiring of many federal workers (The Washington Post) President Trump instituted an immediate hiring freeze Monday, signing apresidential memorandumthat would affect a large swath of the executive branch but leave wide latitude for exemptions for those working in the military, national security and public safety. The move - coming on the new president’s first full working day in the White House - represents the opening salvo in what could be the most concerted effort to overhaul the federal workforce in 35 years.
FBI found no wrongdoing in Flynn’s calls with Russia: report (The Hill) An FBI review of communications between Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. and President Trump’s national security advisor did not produce any incriminating evidence, The Washington Post reported Monday night. The revelation comes one day after The Wall Street Journal reported that Flynn’s communications with Russian officials had been investigated by U.S. counterintelligence agents. The FBI review focused on calls Flynn made to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 29, the same day the Obama administration imposed fresh sanctions on Russia over what U.S. intelligence says was its hacking of the presidential election. According to The Post, the calls in question were obtained by the FBI as part of routine surveillance of Russian officials in the U.S., and the review was conducted in late December. Flynn is not the target of an investigation, The Post reported.
"We're now going to be competing against other countries who are going to reduce over 18,000 tariffs. Those tariffs will now stay in place for the U.S.. This is going to be devastating for American farmers and ranchers and businesses."
South Dakota GOP Rushes To Repeal Ethics Reforms Passed By Voters (The Huffington Post) Republican lawmakers in South Dakota are ready to declare a legislative emergency so that they quickly and completely wipe out an ethics and campaign finance reform law adopted by popular vote in November. The measure, known as IM-22, passed with 52 percent of the vote. It is supposed to create an independent commission to oversee investigations into ethical misconduct by elected officials, impose tougher limits on campaign contributions and lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers, place restrictions on lawmakers becoming lobbyists, increase disclosure by independent political groups, and set up a system to publicly finance elections. Republican lawmakers from Gov. Dennis Daugaard to state Senate Majority Leader Blake Curd came out against the initiative before the election. The opposition was heavily funded by the South Dakota chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the largest advocacy arm of the conservative political machine run by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. After its passage, Daugaard called the law a “mess" and claimed that voters were “hoodwinked" by out-of-state actors. He vowed to repeal it if it wasn’t struck down in the courts. Curd called the passage of the law “a constitutional crisis in our state" because, he said, it makes:
“de-facto criminals out of every elected office holder [and gives those officials] only two choices: resign the office and abandon the voters or remain and commit a crime."
Trump files paperwork to transfer businesses (The Hill) President Trump has begun to file the necessary paperwork to remove himself as the top executive of his businesses, NPR reported Monday evening. Documents posted online Monday show a change in management of Trump’s companies, but not a change in ownership. Earlier in the day, at the White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump had “resigned from the company, as he said he would before he took office."
Major Fake News Operation Tracked Back to Republican Operative (The Intercept) Cam Harris, a recent college graduate hoping to build a career as a political consultant, received an unwelcome email from a New York Times reporter this month. As the reporter, Scott Shane, recounted on the front page of Thursday’s Times, he had discovered that Harris was the publisher of a fake news site dedicated to smearing Hillary Clinton. So Harris did what came naturally. He started to spin. First, he admitted that he had written the hoax news articles casting Clinton as a criminal on his site, ChristianTimesNewspaper.com. Eight of his stories attracted enough attention on social networks to merit debunking by Snopes, the fact-checking site, and one of them, published a month before the election, attracted six million readers with the headline, “BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse." Harris said he had no politicalmotive, the fake news was simply a way to make money. The Intercept has now found out that Harris was living with his employer at the time, Republican member of the Maryland state legislature, David Vogt III. Harris was legislative aid and campaign manager for Vogt. Excerpt:
Vogt fired Harris Wednesday afternoon, after the Times story went online, and said he had no idea what his young aide and tenant had been up to at that kitchen table. “I was shocked to hear that he could do such a thing," the legislator told The Washington Post.
Harris backed that account in a text message to the Frederick News-Post. “Delegate Vogt was not involved in any way," he wrote.
Theresa May plans China visit to bolster trade (Financial Times) Theresa May intends to visit China “relatively soon" to shore up Britain’s trading arrangements with the world’s second-largest economy, said UK and Chinese officials. Mrs May’s visit to Beijing will represent the second leg of an attempt to strengthen Britain’s global trading links; later this week she will hold talks with Donald Trump, the US president, in Washington. Mr Trump’s election is expected to lead to a chilling of US-China trade relations, giving Mrs May an opportunity to proclaim her commitment to free trade and revive a relationship with Beijing which has cooled in recent months.
Groupama Sees ‘Zero’ Chance of Le Pen Win, Buys French Stocks (Bloomberg) International investors are overestimating Marine Le Pen’s chances of winning the French presidential election even though she is leading polls, according to Philippe Setbon, chief executive officer of Groupama Asset Management. The investment arm of Groupama, the world’s second-largest mutual insurer, is buying French stocks, betting the populist National Front leader will lose and the market will surge, Setbon said in an interview.
Why Japan's First Jet Is Delayed Again (Bloomberg) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. announced a fifth delay in handing over Japan’s first locally made passenger jet to airlines and about a 30% jump in development costs, raising concerns about winning new orders for the single-aisle plane.
China Readies for World’s Biggest Human Migration: QuickTake Q&A (Bloomberg) It brings much of China’s economy to a halt and strains transport systems, not to mention waistlines. Chinese New Year is an annual ritual of family reunification and overindulgence. The scale of the migration is astounding: While some 49 million Americans undertake a significant journey for Thanksgiving, Chinese citizens will rack up 3 billion trips during this year’s travel-fest. Best book those seats early. China’s railways expect to host 356 million passengers during the 40-day official travel season.
In a much anticipated speech, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto warned that "Mexico is obliged to take steps to defend itself given the new vision in U.S.," reaffirming Mexico "as a nation open to the world on trade." The peso is leaking lower as he speaks, erasing post-inauguration gains.
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