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posted on 15 April 2017

Early Headlines: Step Back Or War, Did Christ Really Live?, Sanctuary Cities Sue, US Inflation Or Disinflation?, Credit Cards Threatened In India, Mother Of All Bombs, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 15 April 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.


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  • What is the historical evidence that Jesus Christ lived and died? (The Guardian) The historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is both long-established and widespread. Within a few decades of his supposed lifetime, he is mentioned by Jewish and Roman historians, as well as by dozens of Christian writings. Compare that with, for example, King Arthur, who supposedly lived around AD500. The major historical source for events of that time does not even mention Arthur, and he is first referred to 300 or 400 years after he is supposed to have lived. The evidence for Jesus is not limited to later folklore, as are accounts of Arthur. See also Did the Romans Create both Christianity and Islam?


  • 'Sanctuary cities' are now meeting the Trump administration face to face in court (Business Insider) A federal judge heard arguments in San Francisco on Friday in the first legal challenges to President Donald Trump's executive order cracking down on so-called "sanctuary" cities. Lawyers representing San Francisco and Santa Clara County had urged US District Judge William Orrick to grant a preliminary injunction blocking the order, arguing that it violates jurisdictions' 10th Amendment rights and could deprive them of billions of dollars in federal funding.

But a lawyer representing the Trump administration argued on Friday that the scope of the order was "narrow," would apply "only to a limited range of grants," and would affect possibly none of San Francisco's funding and less than $1 million for Santa Clara County, the Associated Press reported.

The argument prompted Orrick to question what the point was of Trump's executive order if the funding at stake was so minimal. The Trump administration's lawyer Chad Readler replied that the order was essentially a "bully pulpit" meant to emphasize an issue Trump cares deeply about.

  • DeVos Pick to Head Civil Rights Office Once Said She Faced Discrimination for Being White (ProPublica) Candice Jackson’s intellectual journey raises questions about how actively she will investigate allegations of unfair treatment of minorities and women. The new acting head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights once complained that she experienced discrimination because she is white. As an undergraduate studying calculus at Stanford University in the mid-1990s, Candice Jackson “gravitated" toward a section of the class that provided students with extra help on challenging problems, she wrote in a student publication. Then she learned that the section was reserved for minority students. She wrote in the Stanford Review:

“I am especially disappointed that the University encourages these and other discriminatory programs. We need to allow each person to define his or her own achievements instead of assuming competence or incompetence based on race."


  • Russia Says Evidence Growing Syria Chemical Attack Was Staged (Bloomberg) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a chemical-weapons attack in Syria that provoked U.S. missile strikes on the Middle Eastern country may have been orchestrated. “There’s growing evidence that this was staged," Lavrov said at a Moscow news conference with his Iranian and Syrian counterparts on Friday. Publications including in the U.S. and the U.K. have highlighted “many inconsistencies" in the version of events in Syria’s Idlib province that was used to justify the American airstrikes, he said. Russia, Iran and Syria want an independent investigation and those opposed to the call “don’t have a clear conscience," Lavrov said. Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Wednesday that demanded the Syrian government cooperate with an inquiry into the suspected sarin-gas attack that killed dozens of people.


  • Visa, MasterCard lobby government to ensure they don’t lose out to homegrown apps like UPI, BHIM (The Economic Times) Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni. Visa and MasterCard are said to be lobbying the government to make sure that they don’t lose out amid India’s digital payments push, which is being forged through homegrown applications such as the Unified Payment Interface (UPI), Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) and now Aadhaar Pay, also known as the BHIM-Aadhaar interface. The card companies are highlighting avenues such as QR codes and contactless payments as part of a bouquet of options to stay relevant in a cashless economy apart from the traditional avenues such as debit and credit cards. The government wants to reduce the use of cash to help track all transactions, ensure taxes are paid and root out black money.

  • India Inflation Rises Less Than Expected as Food Prices Ease (Bloomberg) India’s inflation rose less than expected in March, taking pressure off the central bank for more action after it unexpectedly tightened monetary policy last week.

  • Consumer prices rose 3.81% in March from a year earlier, the Statistics Ministry said in a statement from New Delhi on Wednesday

  • That’s slower than the 3.94% median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 38 economists and compares with a February reading of 3.65%

  • Industrial production fell 1.2% in February after rising 2.7% in January; economists had predicted a 1.3% gain


  • 'It felt like the heavens were falling': Afghans reel from Moab impact (The Guardian) The US dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat on eastern Afghanistan on Thursday in another dramatic show of military force by the Trump administration. The GBU-43/B, colloquially known as the “mother of all bombs" or Moab, targeted tunnels and bunkers in Achin district in Nangarhar province, built by fighters loyal to Islamic State who also kept prisoners there. A GPS-guided demolition bomb with an explosive yield equivalent to 11 tonnes of TNT, it explodes above ground with a radius of more than a mile.


  • Japan's Bid to Stop 'Death by Overwork' Seen Falling Short (Bloomberg) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to change the way Japan works, including cutting the notoriously long hours that can lead to illness and death. His biggest effort so far is getting a poor grade. A plan completed by the government last month, and expected to become law, doesn’t go far enough in establishing limits to protect workers from karoshi, or death by overwork, according to labor advocates and economists. The persistence of stress from employment is shown in the first graphic below. The second graphic suggests that oeverworking employees is not helping Japan to get more done, as well.

North Korea

  • Step back or it’s war (The Times) US military forces were massing around North Korea last night as China warned that war could break out “at any minute" and satellite imagery suggested that Pyongyang was preparing to test a nuclear weapon. President Trump was said to be assessing “a full range of options" as US warships with Tomahawk cruise missiles were reported to be 300 miles from North Korea’s main nuclear testing site. Choe Ryong-Hae, a senior military official, told the crowd at the ceremony amid loud cheers:

“We are prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war. We are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any attacks."


  • Canada announces legislation to legalize marijuana (USA Today) Canada plans to go to pot! The Canadian government announced Thursday new legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use, a move that could lure American visitors but create legal headaches when they return home. Possession of small amounts of pot will be legal throughout the country on July 1, 2018, if the legislation passes. The federal government set the minimum age at 18, but will allow each province to determine if it should be higher. The provinces also will decide how the drug will be sold and distributed. Those under 18 found with small amounts of marijuana would not face criminal charges. Canada legalized marijuana for some medicinal uses in 2001.

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