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 markets resilient on improved risk appettite (CNBC) Asian markets moved into positive territory on Monday, taking a cue from the U.S. last week after markets climbed to new high on improved risk appetite as investors shook off geopolitical concerns over North Korea's weekend ballistic missile test. Economic data in the region has also been relatively buoyant, with Japan's economy expanding for the fourth straight quarter at an annualized rate of 1.0% in October to December period, supported by solid exports and capital expenditure. Also last Friday, China's trade figures for January had topped forecasts, with exports up 7.9% from a year earlier and imports up 16.7%. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 100.93 at 9:45 am HK/SIN. Brent crude futures slipped during Asian trade, down 0.26% at $56.55 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures fell 0.28% to $53.71. Spot gold shed 0.3%, to $1,229.77 per ounce at 0320 GMT, while U.S. gold futures fell 0.4%, to $1,231.
Congressman: Rarely used law could make Trump tax returns public (USA Today) A New Jersey congressman says a rarely invoked 1924 law could be used to examine President Donald Trump's tax returns for possible conflicts of interest and Constitutional violations. Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat who serves on the Ways and Means Committee, has asked the committee’s chairman, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, to order the Treasury Department to provide tax returns to the committee. Brady's office did not respond to a request for comment Friday. After privately examining returns - Pascrell is seeking 10 years' worth - the committee could decide to share them with the full House, which would in effect make them public. The 1924 law gives congressional committees that set tax policy the power to examine tax returns. It was used in 1974 when Congress looked at President Richard Nixon's returns, and in 2014 when the Ways and Means Committee released confidential tax information as part of its investigation into the Internal Revenue Service's handling of applications for nonprofit status. Trump said during the campaign he would not release his returns because he was being audited. After the inauguration, adviser Kellyanne Conway said he would not release them because the public did not care.
Their camp turning into a pit of mud, Dakota pipeline protesters packing up to leave (The Washington Post) The main camp here, once home to thousands of Native Americans and their allies who gathered to protest the completion of the Dakota Access crude-oil pipeline, is quickly turning into a gooey pit of mud. Unseasonably warm temperatures over the weekend melted giant mounds of snow, and many of the remaining 200 or so pipeline protesters - self-described “water protectors" - are gathering their possessions and making plans to get off the 80-acre property, which sits in a flood zone near the Missouri River. The rising waters, and a federal eviction notice for Feb. 22, have forced their hands. It remains to be seen if the protest can be restarted after the main camp is flooded out.
“The White House has provided enormous evidence with respect to voter fraud, with respect to people being registered in more than one state. Dead people voting, non-citizens being registered to vote. George, it is a fact and you will not deny it that are massive numbers of non-citizens in this country who are registered to vote."
Illegal Voting Gets Texas Woman 8 Years in Prison, and Certain Deportation (The New York Times) Despite repeated statements by Republican political leaders that American elections are rife with illegal voting, credible reports of fraud have been hard to find and convictions rarer still. That may help explain the unusually heavy penalty imposed on Rosa Maria Ortega, 37, a permanent resident and a mother of four who lives outside Dallas. On Thursday, a Fort Worth judge sentenced her to eight years in prison - and almost certainly deportation later - after she voted illegally in elections in 2012 and 2014. Ms. Ortega was a registered Republican and voted only for Republicans.
Stephen Miller says White House will fight for travel ban, advances false voter fraud claims (The Washington Post) The White House is pursuing several options to reinstate President Trump’s travel ban on all refugees and travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations, fighting back against what one top adviser on Sunday called “judicial usurpation of power". White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, the author of the controversial executive order, said the administration was weighing several legal options after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on Thursday against reinstating the travel ban, which had been blocked temporarily by a federal judge in Washington state. Miller said that:
... officials are considering appealing with the 9th Circuit and having an emergency hearing “en banc," or before a larger panel of judges on the court; seeking an emergency stay at the Supreme Court; taking the case to trial at the district level; or writing a new executive order for Trump to sign that would withstand legal scrutiny.
Perez stated, “We heard loudly and clearly yesterday from Bernie supporters that the process was rigged, and it was. And you’ve got to be honest about it. That’s why we need a chair who is transparent."
The comment was quickly retracted by Perez on Twitter after Clinton partisans and the Democratic establishment likely reprimanded him for the admission.
Perez tweeted, “I have been asked by friends about a quote and want to be clear about what I said and that I misspoke." Perez added in another tweet, “Hillarybecame our nominee fair and square, and she won more votes in the primary - and general - than her opponents," once again pledging his allegiance to the Democratic establishment and Hillary Clinton.
Evidence that the Democratic primaries were rigged is too overwhelming for Democratic leaders to continue to ignore. However, they continue to believe that progressives, who were further disenfranchised by the unfairness of the primary, will simply fall in line behind establishment Democrats.
Trump friend says Priebus is ‘in way over his head’ (The Washington Post) One of President Trump’s longtime friends made a striking move on Sunday: After talking privately with the president over drinks late Friday, Christopher Ruddy publicly argued that Trump should replace his White House chief of staff.
Swiss Voters Reject Plan to End Tax Breaks for Foreign Companies (The New York Times) Voters rejected plans to overhaul Switzerland’s corporate tax system, according to provisional results on Sunday. The vote sends the government back to the drawing board as it tries to abolish ultralow tax rates for thousands of multinational companies without leading to their mass exodus. Many Swiss citizens believe that the country needs changes to avoid being blacklisted by other countries for its low taxes. But new proposals to help companies offset the loss of their special-status breaks have created deep divisions. The results on Sunday showed that just over 59% of voters (who have the last word under the Swiss system of direct democracy) opposed the plans, which the country’s political and business elite embraced under international pressure.
Is Trump leading the US on a warpath with Iran? (Al Jazeera) The war of words between the US and Iran has intensified in the first three weeks of Trump's presidency, with new Defense Secretary James Mattis calling Iran "the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world", after Tehran confirmed it tested mid-range ballistic missiles. Trump himself weighed in on the controversy, posting on social media that Iran "is playing with fire", as he ordered new sanctions on 13 Iranian individuals and 12 companies. When asked if a military action is possible, he replied, "Nothing is off the table". In response, Tehran fired more test missiles, with one commander of the Revolutionary Guard warning that "if the enemy falls out of line, our missiles will pour down on them". Iran also warned of "dark days to come" in the case of a military attack.
The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins (Observer) Some of the U.S. spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets from the Russians. In addition, there are pervasive concerns that the president simply isn’t paying attention to intelligence.
What is the reach of N Korea's missiles? (Al Jazeera) Over the last few years, North Korea has tested several ballistic missiles with a varying degree of success. The leader of the country, Kim Jong-un, has promised to continue the tests, drawing condemnation by South Korea, Japan and the United States. North Korea is barred under UN resolutions from any use of ballistic missile technology but six sets of UN sanctions since Pyongyang's first nuclear test in 2006 have failed to halt its drive for what it insists are defensive weapons. The US fears North Korea may one day use its missiles to deliver a nuclear payload to its west coast. Analysts are divided over how close Pyongyang is to realising its full nuclear ambitions, especially as it has never successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Queensland Galaxy: One Nation surges to 23%(The Conversation) A Queensland Galaxy poll has One Nation surging to 23%, up 7 points since early November. One Nation’s gains have come at the expense of both major parties, with the Liberal National Party (LNP) now 33% (down 4), Labor at 31% (down 4), and the Greens steady with 8%.
Update Monday morning 13 February: A Queensland ReachTEL poll has the LNP leading by 53-47, with One Nation on 21.3% of the primary vote. We do not have full primary votes, so it is not clear if this poll included undecided voters; if it did, One Nation’s support with undecided excluded is higher.
He has little choice. Nearly two-thirds of all Canadian trade is with the U.S., the highest ratio of Group of 20 nations and quadruple all but Mexico. Almost all of Canada’s oil goes to the U.S. and most of the country’s manufacturing is geared toward meeting U.S. demand. Americans hold C$2.3 trillion ($1.8 trillion) in Canadian assets, almost exactly the same amount held by Canadians in the U.S.
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