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posted on 29 June 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks And Oil Up, Dollar And Gold Weak, Plastic Binge, Greenland Ice Melt, GOP's Unhealthy Plan, US Banks 'Healthy', Brexit Hole In EU Budget, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 29 June 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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Global

asia.pac.2017.jun.29

  • A million bottles a minute: world's plastic binge 'as dangerous as climate change' (The Guardian) Annual consumption of plastic bottles is set to top half a trillion by 2021, far outstripping recycling efforts and jeopardising oceans, coastlines and other environments. This year a million plastic bottles are being bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change.

  • Sunnier Skies Driving Greenland Surface Melt (Climate Central) In the past two decades, the Greenland ice sheet has become the biggest single contributor to rising sea levels, mostly from melt across its vast surface. That surface melt is, in turn, driven mostly by an uptick in clear, sunny summer skies, not just rising air temperatures, a new study finds.

What’s causing the decline in cloud cover isn’t yet clear, but the work shows that understanding what’s behind the trend and developing ways to better represent clouds in global climate models will be crucial to predicting how much Greenland will melt in the future.

The nearly two-mile-thick Greenland ice sheet covers an area about three times the size of Texas and holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by 23 feet if it were all to melt. While that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, even smaller-scale melt can raise sea levels to the point that large swaths of coastal land will be claimed by the oceans by the end of the century, including many major cities, such as Miami and Shanghai.

Global sea level has already risen by about a foot since 1900.

U.S.

  • GOP infighting erupts over healthcare bill (The Hill) Senate Republicans are struggling mightily to find a path forward for their ObamaCare repeal bill, with infighting between moderates and conservatives threatening to create an impasse heading into the July Fourth recess.

GOP leaders say they want to have an agreement on changes to the legislation by Friday, but senators said they made virtually no progress at a lunch meeting on Wednesday. In fact, the two sides appeared to grow further apart.

Conservatives represented by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) squared off against moderates led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) over lunch, according to lawmakers who attended.

Once again the Republicans have found themselves in the peculiar position of possessing total control of the elected branches of the federal government, yet unable to act on one of their longstanding dreams: not just slowly destroying Medicaid, a federal program that guarantees healthcare to millions of poorer people, but also forcing people to rely upon the free market for their healthcare.

  • For first time since financial crisis, Fed clears all big banks' capital return plans (CNBC) For the first time in seven years, the Federal Reserve did not object to any of the capital plans of 34 banks it reviewed in the second part of the annual stress tests implemented in the wake of the financial crisis. Only Capital One Financial needed to submit a new capital plan by Dec. 28 in order to address "weaknesses in its capital planning process".

  • ‘America first’ is becoming America alone (The Washington Post) Last year, Donald Trump made a highly specific pledge to his supporters: “The world is going to respect us again. Believe me." It was just the sort of promise Trump has a habit of making. After all, as he sees it, he’s a tough, successful, straight-talking businessman - the kind of guy that other people instinctively fear and admire. Except that, well, it hasn’t really turned out that way so far. On Monday, the Pew Research Center released its new survey of international opinion, and the results showed dramatically that the president hasn’t delivered.

  • There Is No Excuse For Janet Yellen's Complacency (Steve Keen, Forbes) SK has contributed to GEI. Janet Yellen has been reported by Reuters as saying in London yesterday that “she does not believe that there will be a run on the banking system at least as long as she lives". The only word Prof. Keen says is appropriate for this is "delusional". He suggests that Yellen's misplaced confidence is sufficient reason to remove her from he position as Fed Chair.

EU

  • Unease in Brussels over Trump's Poland visit (Reuters) A trip to Poland by U.S. President Donald Trump next week may feel like a diplomatic coup for the right-wing government, but western European nations are uneasy it will encourage Warsaw's defiance towards Brussels. Trump visits Poland for one day - en route to a G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany - to take part in a gathering of leaders from central Europe, Baltic states and the Balkans, an event convened by Poland to bolster regional trade and infrastructure.

  • Brexit could blow €20bn hole in EU budget, warns European commissioner (The Guardian) Britain’s withdrawal from the EU could leave the remaining 27 countries with a €20bn a year hole in their budget, requiring additional EU taxes to fill the gap, the European commission has said. Günther Oettinger, the European commissioner for the budget, said the loss to the bloc had to be acknowledged, and big decisions made about the scale of the its ambitions after March 2019. Oettinger said the need to finance new initiatives in areas such as defence and security meant “the total gap could therefore be up to twice as much".

UK

  • Carney Changes Tone Ahead of Bank's Key Meeting (Bloomberg) Just one week after he said it’s not yet time to increase interest rates, Governor Mark Carney on Wednesday shifted his emphasis, saying that policy makers may need to begin raising them and will debate it in the coming months.

Russia

  • These NASA Images Show Siberia Burning Up (Climate Central) Siberian wildfire season is off and running with multiple blazes searing the boreal forest and tundra. It’s the latest example of the vast shifts happening to the forests that cover Siberia and the rest of the northern tier of the world as climate change alters the landscape. Those forests are burning at a rate unheard of in at least 10,000 years due largely to rising temperatures. They contain vast reserves of carbon stored in trees and soil and when they burn, they send that carbon into the atmosphere. That creates a dangerous cycle of more severe wildfires and ever rising temperatures.

Japan

  • Japan PM ally denies receiving secret donations from school at center of scandal (Reuters) An ally of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied on Thursday receiving secret political donations from an educational institution at the core of a scandal over suspected favoritism that has sliced Abe's support ratings ahead of a key local poll. Former education minister Hakubun Shimomura, who heads the Tokyo chapter of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), made the comments at a hastily called news conference just days before Sunday's election for the Tokyo Metropolitan assembly.

Australia

  • Cardinal George Pell charged with multiple sexual offences (The Guardian) Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic and the third-ranking official in the Vatican, has been charged with multiple sexual offences by police. The charges were served on Pell’s legal representatives in Melbourne on Thursday and they have been lodged also at Melbourne magistrates court. He will appear at the court on 18 July.

Brazil

  • Brazil president in trouble as top senator quits and says government 'discredited' (The Guardian) Another thread of support has been cut away from Brazil’s scandal-plagued president Michel Temer after the ruling party’s senate leader resigned and declared the government to be “discredited". Renan Calheiros quit his post just hours after the supreme court sent a request to the legislature for the president to be put on trial for allegedly accepting millions of dollars in bribes from the meat-packing company JBS. Departing Senate leader has been a rival of Michel Temer’s and apparently wants to distance himself from the deeply unpopular president ahead of re-election bid.

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