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What We Read Today 20 June 2015

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

This feature is published every day late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published every day in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).


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Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world



  • Revolving Door Concerns Surround Potential SEC Nominee Keir Gumbs (International Business Times)  Government watchdogs are expressing growing concerns that Keir Gumbs, who left a previous SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) stint for corporate law, would further the so-called revolving door trend among federal regulators if he assumed an open SEC commision seat.  In recent years, the SEC has become ground zero in the revolving door debate. Staffers leaving the agency often find themselves working for the same companies they had just overseen, while new hires are drawn from the corporate pool.
  • Racist manifesto linked to Charleston shooting suspect (Reuters)  Dylann Roof, the suspect in Wednesday's church massacre in Charleston, appears to have written a racist manifesto and posed in photographs with a handgun and standing in front of a Confederate military museum and plantation slave houses.
  • Remnants Of Tropical Storm Bill Cause Floods In Dayton, Ohio, Midwest (International Business Times)  The storm named Bill, now classified a tropical depression, has picked up a bit of strength since its Tuesday landfall in Texas, according to the Weather Channel. Bill's remnants are expected to drop heavy rain in the mid-Atlantic and east coast Sunday, with flood watches announced in cities from New York City to Washington. In all, eleven states were hit with flood advisories over the weekend.


  • Is Britain sleepwalking towards life as a lopsided state? (The Conversation)  The recent general election offered the electorate a big fiscal choice over the speed and extent to which the deficit, and public spending, should be cut. The electorate plumped for the bigger, swifter cuts on offer. But we weren’t offered much choice on the shape of the cuts. There was, for example, complete unanimity on the need to protect spending on health and pensions at the expense of most other spending. And we certainly weren’t faced with the big, longer term, choices that we will have to make in response to growing pressures created by an ageing population.


Diogenes, like Varoufakis and his party, was a “controversial” figure. He used to criticise the social values and institutions of what he believed to be either a corrupt or a confused (economic) society. When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked him if there was any favour he might do for him, Diogenes famously and fearlessly replied: “Yes, stand out of my sunlight.”

This reflects a major problem with current Greek policymakers. They haven’t quite understood that denial of economic reality brings Greek default a step closer, in which case, there will be very little (if any) sunlight left for them to enjoy.



  • China’s Trans-Amazonian railway might be the lesser of two evils (The Conversation)  China recently announced plans to build a 5,300 km railway linking the Atlantic with the Pacific, cutting through the heart of the Amazon jungle in Brazil and Peru. Environmental groups are concerned that the railway will threaten sensitive ecosystems, wildlife and indigenous peoples.  But a railroad would be far less damaging and easier to control future impacts than would a highway.

How Liberals And Conservatives Think Differently (National Journal)  Scientists now have the tools to measure brain activity and they are finding that there is a reason liberals and conservatives don't 'play well together':  Their brains are mismatched.  Conservatives are belief oriented and think in terms of principles; Liberals are adaptive, self analyzing and flexible, continually making adaptive responses.  Each type of thinker can be infuriated by the other - the intellectual languages are different.  These conclusions are not subjective but come from analyzing how different areas of the brain are involved in each type of thinking.  What is not clear is whether the thinking pattern drives the brain patterns or whether incipient brain patterns have driven the thinking from an early age.  Click image below for a 3:41 video which describes the research:


The Great Australian Household Debt Trap: LF Economics lobs first submission into HoR housing bubble inquiry (Jonathan Chancellor, Property Observer)  The report being reviewed (report by LF Economics duo Lindsay David and Philip Soos) is not throwing softballs.  Here is one excerpt:

The Australian public would be far better served if an alternate inquiry were to be held that investigated ways to democratise the clearly malfunctioning political system which regressively only assists Australia’s army of private monopolists, usurers, speculators, rent seekers, free riders, financial robber barons, control frauds, inheritors and indolent rich.


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • The Roots of Social Security (Frances Perkins, Social Security Website)  Hat tips to Dan Lynch and Roger Erickson.  This is the text (and audio clip access) for a talk delivered by Frances Perkins at the Social Security Administration Headquarters 23 October 1962.  Perkins was the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, the longest serving in that position, and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet.  See also next article.
  • Luther Gulick Memorandum re: Famous FDR Quote (Research Notes & Special Studies by the Historian's Office, Social Security Website)  Hat tips to Dan Lynch and Roger Erickson.  The background is given for a famous FDR quote.  The not starts with this:

Franklin Roosevelt made a famous remark about the Social Security payroll tax, to the effect that he designed Social Security to use a payroll tax so "no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program." The quote is well-known and much-used, but its origins have been somewhat unclear.

  • Galactico Christiano Ronaldo has the earliest stars in the universe named after him (The Conversation)  Astronomers have spotted for the first time some od the earliest stars in the universe.  They are much different than out own which is dominated by nuclear fusion to produce helium from hydrogen and other "modern" stars which produce a variety of heavier elements like metals.  The early stars appear to have been producing elements essential for biological life as we know it, including nitrogen, oxygen and carbon.
  • ‘Kennewick Man’ was Native American, study suggests (The Conversation)  When a nearly complete 9,000-year old human skeleton washed out of a Columbia River cutbank at Kennewick in Washington State in 1996, archaeologists hailed it as the most important find of the century because anthropologists believed the characteristics were closer to European than to the Asian ancestors of native Americans.  DNA has now clearly identified the ancestors as Asian anhd similar to the other natives of the northern Pacific coast.  This renews the requests of current day natives for return of the remains.

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