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posted on 13 February 2018

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mostly Up, Dollar Down, Oil Up, Gold Steady, Trump's Cuts, Abuses Under Obama, UK Trade Balance Sinks, Middle East Turmoil, China's Ecological Push, Chile's National Parks, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 13 February 2018

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, published Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 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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  • The bulls are finding comfort in sound fundamentals and sticking to a familiar script: As long as there are gradual rate hikes, the "Goldilocks" growth story stays intact and earnings remain robust.
  • But with the U.S. economy already doing well, some have raised concerns that there could be a risk of over-heating with the amount of fiscal stimulus that is coming up.
  1. The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education, which donates agricultural commodities and financial assistance to carry out school feeding programs in foreign countries.
  2. The Rural Business and Cooperative Service, which provides loans, grants and payments intended to increase opportunities in rural communities.
  3. The Economic Development Administration, which provides federal grants to communities in support of locally-developed economic plans.
  4. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which subsidizes advisory and consulting services for small and medium-size manufacturers.
  5. 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which helps communities establish or expand centers to provide before- and after-school programs and summer school programs.
  6. Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, an Education Department program that provides grants to support college preparation for low-income students.
  7. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which researches ways to enhance the effectiveness of health services.
  8. The Advanced Research Projects Agency, which provides support for Energy Department projects.
  9. The National Wildlife Refuge Fund, which compensates communities for lost tax revenue when the federal government acquires their land.
  10. The Global Climate Change Initiative, a proposal that reflects Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
  11. The NASA Office of Education, which provides grants to colleges and universities, museums and science centers. The funding would be redirected within NASA.
  12. The Chemical Safety Board, which is tasked with investigating accidents at chemical facilities.
  13. The Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds service opportunities, promotes volunteering and helps nonprofit organizations find volunteers.
  14. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds public television and radio stations including Public Broadcasting Service and NPR.
  15. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, which funds museums and libraries nationwide with grants.
  16. The Legal Services Corporation, a nonprofit that provides civil legal assistance for low-income individuals.
  17. The National Endowment for the Arts, which funds American artists and projects with grants.
  18. The National Endowment for the Humanities, which provides grants to American humanities scholars.
  19. The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, which funds community development projects nationwide.
  20. The Denali Commission, the Delta Regional Authority and the Northern Border Regional Commission, which fund infrastructure and economic projects in specified areas.
  21. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency, which provides U.S. goods and services for foreign projects.
  22. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a think tank focused on international affairs and foreign policy.
  • Trump budget seeks savings through ObamaCare repeal (The Hill) The president wants to save the federal government money by not providig healthcare. The White House budget for fiscal 2019 seeks major savings by repealing ObamaCare and endorsed a Senate GOP bill as the best way to do so. The legislation from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) would replace ObamaCare with a series of block grants to states. The White House said in its budget request:

“The Budget supports a two-part approach to repealing and replacing Obamacare, starting with enactment of legislation modeled closely after the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (GCHJ) bill as soon as possible."

  • The Trump administration is considering selling the airports under its infrastructure plan.
  • The airports are federally owned, a rarity in the U.S.
  • The idea comes as passenger traffic is breaking records worldwide.
  • Federal abuses on Obama's watch represent a growing blight on his legacy (The Hill) In all of the discussions about the political weaponization of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI, alleged corruption at the highest echelons of those agencies and serial abuse of the secret FISA process surrounding the 2016 election, one name has been conspicuously absent: President Barack Obama:

High-ranking officials and other major players in those agencies - which Obama oversaw - are increasingly embroiled in the growing scandal: James Comey, Loretta Lynch, Andrew McCabe, Andrew Weissmann, Sally Yates, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr.

  • While Evertybody Slept, Congress Did Something Extraordinary for Vulnerable Children (The Intercept) Tucked quietly into the most recent congressional measure to keep the government open was the most sweeping and ambitious piece of child welfare legislation passed in at least a decade. It’s an attempt to reshape the entrenched foster care system as a raging opioid epidemic swells the population of children in need.

The measure overcame the opposition of group homes, which pocket thousands of dollars per month for each child warehoused in their custody. The Family First Prevention Services Act upends the funding structure for the child welfare system by allowing states to use federal matching funds for programs addressing mental health, substance abuse, family counseling, and parent skills training - to keep at-risk children from entering the foster care system in the first place. It’s meant to help families stay together.



If the Israeli F-16 fighter jet had been struck by the Syrian missile just a few kilometers north of where it was actually hit Feb. 10, it is quite possible that Israel, Iran, Syria and Lebanon would be at war today. In fact, the plane was hit over Israeli territory (the air force does not have to fly over targets in Syria in order to bomb them), and its pilots parachuted out safely - one of them seriously wounded - in Israeli territory, preventing a serious escalation of events. There is nothing in Israel that hits a raw nerve more than when its soldiers are taken prisoner. The last time that happened along the northern front, the Second Lebanon War broke out in 2006. On Feb. 10, we were very close to the third.



  • Despite defeat of IS, Syria war risks major power conflict (Al-Monitor) Although the Islamic State (IS) is near defeat, Syria now risks a confrontation among the major regional and world powers. This turn of events can only be characterized as a failure of imagination and leadership, requiring an urgent rethink of the endgame in Syria. Washington and Moscow can either ramp up for a new and uncertain round of violence or begin a UN Security Council-mandated regional peace process to facilitate long overdue post-conflict stability and reconstruction in Syria and Lebanon, in concert with addressing the Israeli-Palestinian question. A turnaround in Syria requires a change of mindset.


Some people involved with the channel believe that the CIA has grown so heavily politicized under Pompeo that officials there have become fearful of taking possession of any materials that might be considered damaging to Trump.

  • Russia's retaliation for downed jet has just begun (Al-Monitor) Russia responded quickly and fiercely to the Feb. 3 downing of an Su-25 jet over Syria's Idlib province and the subsequent shooting death of its pilot. Shortly after the incident, the Russian Defense Ministry ordered precision missile strikes on the area and claimed to have killed at least 30 militants. Russia is particularly concerned because the plane was apparently shot down by a portable anti-aircraft missile system, which would have been provided by some outside source. There were some discrepancies over who controlled the area where the plane was downed and who did the shooting.

The pilot, Russian air force Maj. Roman Filippov, managed to eject, but as he was descending, militants fired at him. Russian media reported the airman was still alive when he landed in the al-Nusra-controlled area and, probably mindful of his possible fate if captured, returned fire until he died. Several Russian outlets reported the pilot blew himself up with a grenade at the last minute and took out militants as they closed in on him.


  • What Does China’s 'Ecological Civilization' Mean for Humanity’s Future? (EcoWatch) Imagine a newly elected president of the United States calling in his inaugural speech for an "ecological civilization" that ensures "harmony between human and nature." Now imagine he goes on to declare that "we, as human beings, must respect nature, follow its ways, and protect it" and that his administration will "encourage simple, moderate, green, and low-carbon ways of life, and oppose extravagance and excessive consumption." Dream on, you might say. Even in the more progressive Western European nations, it's hard to find a political leader who would make such a stand.

And yet, the leader of the world's second largest economy, Xi Jinping of China, made these statements and more in his address to the National Congress of the Communist Party in Beijing last October. He went on to specify in more detail his plans to "step up efforts to establish a legal and policy framework ... that facilitates green, low-carbon, and circular development," to "promote afforestation," "strengthen wetland conservation and restoration" and "take tough steps to stop and punish all activities that damage the environment." Closing his theme with a flourish, he proclaimed that "what we are doing today" is "to build an ecological civilization that will benefit generations to come." Transcending parochial boundaries, he declared that his Party's abiding mission was to "make new and greater contributions to mankind … for both the well-being of the Chinese people and human progress."


  • A Wilderness Like No Other: Chile’s New Patagonia National Park (EcoWatch) In late January, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet signed into creation two massive new National Parks in the country's rugged south: Pumal'n and Patagonia National Parks. Together, the new parks will preserve nearly 10 million acres of wildlands, an area three times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks combined. The creation of Patagonia National Park is one of the biggest conservation success stories in history - and it's as controversial as it is ambitious. Some people have resisted the conversion of rangeland to wilderness preservation, while others have embraced this evolution.

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