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posted on 24 March 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Dollar, Oil Up, Gold Down, Health Care Vote Today, Calif. Solar, Russia And Poison, Mumbai Bridge, Sanctions Cause Suffering In N. Korea, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 04 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.



  • Japanese and Australian shares advance nearly 1% (CNBC) Asian markets were mixed on Friday, shrugging off U.S. equities lower close as key health care vote in the U.S. was delayed and President Donald Trump called on legislators for an up-or-down decision on Friday. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, last traded up at 99.908 at 9:50 am HK/SIN, but down from levels above 100 seen earlier this week. During Asian trade, global benchmark Brent crude was up 0.26% to $50.69 a barrel and U.S. crude added 0.29% to $47.85. Spot gold was down 0.1% at $1,243.60 per ounce by 0058 GMT. On Thursday, it touched its strongest since Feb. 28 at $1,253.12. U.S. gold futures were down 0.3% at $1,243.80.



  • Trump voter who uses Meals on Wheels surprised by proposed cuts (CBS News) One element of President Trump’s budget proposal could reduce funding for Meals on Wheels, which delivers nearly a million meals a day to the sick and elderly. At lunchtime, Meals on Wheels volunteer Sandra Bush makes visits to 18 seniors in Macon, Georgia. One of them is Sandra Deshazer, who said her crippling arthritis makes it difficult to cook. She voted for Donald Trump and is surprised he wants to cut Federal support for Meals on Wheels. She said:

“Because he was told- I was under the influence that he was going to help us."

  • Trump Tells G.O.P. It’s Now or Never, Demanding House Vote on Health Bill (The New York Times) See also next article. President Trump issued an ultimatum on Thursday to recalcitrant Republicans to fall in line behind a broad health insurance overhaul or see their opportunity to repeal the Affordable Care Act vanish, demanding a Friday vote on a bill that appeared to lack a majority to pass.

The demand, issued by his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, in an evening meeting with House Republicans, came after a marathon day of negotiating at the White House and in the Capitol in which Mr. Trump - who has boasted of his deal-making prowess - fell short of selling members of his own party on the health plan.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan emerged from the session and announced curtly that Mr. Trump would get his wish for a vote on Friday. Mr. Ryan refused to answer reporters’ questions about whether he expected the measure to pass.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Thursday issued a report on the revised version of the health care bill showing that it would cost more than the original version but would not cover more people.

Recent changes to the bill, made through a series of amendments introduced on Monday, would cut its deficit savings in half. Instead of reducing the deficit by $337 billion, the new version of the bill would save only $150 billion over the decade.

  • Health care bill vote rescheduled for Friday by House GOP leaders (CBC News) The House Rules committee will meet Friday at 7 a.m. to discuss the health care bill. An amendment to the bill has been filed with the Rules Committee by House Speaker Paul Ryan ahead of the 10 a.m. vote. According to CBS News’ Catherine Reynolds, the four-page amendment includes:

  • Transferring control to states to define Essential Health Benefits, which will give states the ability starting in 2018 to define their EHBs with regard to individuals purchasing with a tax credit.

  • Dedicate an additional $15 billion to the Patient and State Stability Fund (PSSF) to provide resources for services covered in the EHBs including maternity, mental health, and substance abuse care.

  • Delay the repeal of the Medicare Tax Increase for six years, until January 1, 2023. These resources will pay for the increased funds to the PSSF mentioned above.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) recently took a shot at Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, a former Republican governor of Texas. Remarking on Perry’s view of Texas as an energy powerhouse, Brown said, “We’ve got more sun than you’ve got oil."

Recent data shows California coming through. Recently, the state briefly generated enough solar power to meet nearly half of the state’s electricity needs, according to data from the largest grid operator in the state, California ISO.

  • Want to see the future of energy? Head west. (Think Progress) The huge surge of solar power in California during the day creates a generation surge requirement when the sun goes down. See graphic below. This is discussed late in this article:

Every year, California generates more and more power from solar, exacerbating that midday dip in net power demand. This is problematic, because it’s expensive to ramp up power generation from coal- and gas-fired power plants at dusk. Fortunately, there are ways to flatten the duck curve: building out transmission lines to carry solar energy over state lines would broaden the demand; installing grid-enabled appliances that shift demand to the middle of the day; or deploying battery storage, like the Tesla Powerwall, that can store excess generation during the day and discharge it in the evening.

We still need to make significant investments in energy storage technologies that will allow us to bank solar energy when it’s being made so that it can be used whenever we need it, even at night," Ronen said.

The state is aiming to generate 50 percent of its power from renewables by 2030. As part of that effort, legislators are looking for ways to better integrate solar energy into the power grid  -  to drive down costs, improve performance and flatten ducks, wherever they may quack. So, in September, California passed four bills to expand the use of energy storage.


  • Auf wiedersehen, Putin: Berlin’s new Russian émigrés (Financial Times) There is a growing community of Russian artists, poets, writers and intellectuals who have turned Berlin into one of the most vibrant outposts of Slavic culture, a kind of Moscow-on-Spree that is light years away from the repressive world of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.


  • Poisoned Again? What 60 Minutes Learned about Russia's "Love of Poison" (CBS News) When correspondent Lesley Stahl first interviewed Vladimir Kara-Murza last year, he said he was recuperating from a mysterious medical incident that put him at death’s door. 60 Minutes hadn’t yet aired Stahl’s interview with Kara-Murza when the news came: It happened again. Producer Shachar Bar-On was scrolling through his Twitter feed when he saw the headlines: Kara-Murza poisoned a second time. Kara-Murza is a former Washington-based reporter for a Russian TV station who incessantly speaks out against the Russian government on the international stage. He says:

“There seems to be a very high mortality rate among people who oppose Mr. Putin or people who engage in independent journalism in Russia. Why should that be, I wonder?"


The 22-kilometer Mumbai Trans Harbor Link has attracted bids from China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Co. Ltd., Japan’s IHI Infrastructure System Co. Ltd., and Korea’s Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co. and SK Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd. among others, according to U.P.S. Madan, the chief of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority. The global construction majors have bid in partnership with Indian companies including Larsen & Toubro Ltd. and the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, he said.

  • Indian Students Think Twice About Attending U.S. Universities (Bloomberg) For decades, the U.S. has lured thousands of foreign students who’ve earned graduate degrees in engineering or mathematics and been quickly hired by the likes of Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Now the Trump administration is trying to slash immigrant visas, while Republican and Democrat lawmakers are introducing bills to curb the number of work visas. Recent violent attacks against Indians - several fatal - have raised the specter of physical danger among Indians who have fantasies of a life in the U.S.


  • Indonesian farmers cement feet to protest factory (Associated Press) Farmers and activists opposed to a cement factory in Indonesia's Central Java province have encased their feet in concrete during a dayslong protest in Jakarta, the capital. Farmers in the village of Kendeng have battled against plans for the factory for years, saying it could taint their water.

North Korea

  • UN report: Sanctions disrupt humanitarian aid to North Korea (Associated Press) International sanctions on North Korea are taking a serious toll on humanitarian aid activities, according to a United Nations-led report. The report issued this week by the U.N.'s senior resident official in Pyongyang said sanctions are inadvertently hindering legitimate operations on the ground and have indirectly contributed to a "radical decline" in donations it said are badly needed by millions of North Korean women and children.

It said "chronic food insecurity, early childhood malnutrition and nutrition insecurity" continue to be widespread in the North, which it noted ranked 98th out of 118 countries in the 2016 Global Hunger Index.

More than 10 million people - or about 41 percent of the North Korean population - are undernourished, it said.


  • Huishan Dairy, Targeted by Muddy Waters, Sinks 85% in Hong Kong (Bloomberg) Shares of China Huishan Dairy Holdings Co. sank by a record 85 percent in Hong Kong before the company halted trading. The sudden crash wiped out about $4.1 billion in market value in the stock, which was the worst performer on the MSCI China Index. A record 779 million shares in the company changed hands, the most on Hong Kong’s exchange.

The mysterious tumble will increase concerns about the risks that can befall investors in Hong Kong, after the 47 percent plunge by Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd. in 2015. The move is also a vindication for Carson Block, whose Muddy Waters Capital LLC said in December it was shorting the stock in the conviction the company was “worth close to zero." Huishan said at the time allegations in the report were groundless and contain misrepresentations.

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