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What We Read Today 28 October 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


  • Horn of Africa Drying in Sync With Climate (Earth InstituteColumbia University)  A new study finds that the Horn of Africa has become progressively drier over the past century and that it is drying at a rate that is both unusual in the context of the past 2,000 years and in step with human-influenced warming. The study also projects that the drying will continue as the region gets warmer. If the researchers are right, the trend could exacerbate tensions in one of the most unstable regions in the world.

  • Tuberculosis now rivals AIDS as leading cause of death: WHO (Reuters)  An ancient killer is back from the dead.  A total of 1.1 million people died of TB in 2014. During the same period, HIV/AIDS killed 1.2 million people globally, including 400,000 who were infected with both HIV and TB.  Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO TB program:

"The good news is that TB intervention has saved some 43 million lives since 2000.  But given that most cases of TB can be successfully treated, the death rate remained unacceptably high." 

  • NASA Probe to Dive through Saturn Moon's Icy Plume (Scientific American)  Scientists are about to get their best look ever at the ocean that sloshes beneath the surface of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus.  Today [Wednesday (Oct. 28)] NASA's Cassini spacecraft will zoom just 30 miles (50 kilometers) above Enceladus, flying through and sampling the plume of material that erupts from the satellite's south polar region.  This plume is thought to originate from Enceladus' underground liquid-water ocean, so Cassini's onboard sample analysis should shed light on the moon's potential to host life, mission team members said.

Sniffing Enceladus' Spray - Spacecraft To Fly 30 Miles From Saturn Moon | Video


  • The Presidential Candidates on Climate Change (Earth Institute, Columbia University)  A new University of Texas poll found that 76 percent of Americans (an increase of 8 percent from one year ago) now believe climate change is occurring, including 59 percent of Republicans. Will the growing numbers of believers affect the election?  This article includes position statement summaries for 19 presidential candidates.

  • Walgreens says will buy smaller drugstore rival Rite-Aid (Reuters)  Drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (WBA.O) said on Tuesday it would acquire smaller peer Rite Aid Corp (RAD.N) for $9.4 billion to widen its footprint in the United States and negotiate for lower drug costs.  The $9-a-share cash deal, worth $17.2 billion including acquired debt, will increase the footprint of Walgreens, already the largest U.S. drugstore chain in store count, by half. It will also improve its ability to negotiate for low drug prices and fend off rivals from Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) to online pharmacies.  The deal will also make it better able to take on CVS Health Corp (CVS.N), the nation's largest drug chain in terms of sales.  CVS, whose shares rose 1.8% on Tuesday (yesterday), in August closed its $10.1 billion acquisition of pharmacy services provider Omnicare, which will expand its presence in the senior care market. 

  • Storm to Bring Damaging Winds, Rain From Plains to Carolinas (CNBC)  A sprawling storm stretching 1,200 miles from Minnesota to the Carolinas was set to bring damaging winds and soaking rains to more than a dozen states on Wednesday.  The vicious cocktail of two systems — one that brought flooding to the South last week and another that came down from Canada — joined forces Tuesday and were set to increase in power in size Wednesday.  Winds of up to 60 mph were expected in areas of the Midwest, Plains and Northeast.  Heaviest rain areas are expected to get up to 3 inches so widespread flooding is not likely, but coastal areas along the east coast will see tidal flooding.  Wrapping in behind the storm will be areas of subfreezing weather across the northern states.  Welcome to winter.  Yesterday we saw pictures of a snowcapped Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.


  • UNHCR head: It's time for Europe to get its act together (Al Monitor)  Outgoing UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres made an impassioned plea Oct. 27 for a political resolution to the Syrian civil war that includes key stakeholders Russia and Iran, and he expressed fears about the imminent disappearance of most Christians from the Middle East.  He noted that the EU countries have a total population of 550 million and that those seeking refuge there this year number about 700,000. Guterres said:

“We are talking of a problem that could be managed … but what happened was total chaos.  [Europe]has to [get] its act together."


  • Three migrants drown, Greek coastguard rescues 242 others as boat sinks (Reuters)  At least three migrants, 2 small boys and a man, drowned and the Greek coastguard rescued 242 others when their wooden boat sank north of the island of Lesbos on Wednesday, authorities said.  Lesbos, which lies less than 10 kilometers from the Turkish coast in the north Aegean Sea, has been a primary gateway for thousands of migrants entering the European Union's outermost border this year.  More than 500,000 refugees and migrants have entered Greece through Lesbos and other outlying islands this year.  This is more than 2/3 of all refugees who have entered Europe.


  • Turkish economic confidence rises 13 pct from record lows (Hurriyet News)  Turkey’s economic confidence index rose 13 percent in October to 81.48, recovering from a record low a month earlier, ahead of the Nov. 1 elections, data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK) showed on Oct. 27.  The index indicates an optimistic outlook about the general economy when it is above 100 and indicates a pessimistic outlook when it is below 100.  With the reading still deeply pessimistic there still may be consequences for the ruling party in Sunday's elections.


  • Iranian officials justify soldier deaths in Syria (Al Monitor)  When Russian airstrikes began Sept. 30 against Syrian armed opposition fighters, they were reportedly accompanied by Syrian troops and Iranian advisers on the ground. However, after more than a dozen Iranian soldiers died in less than a month, including the highest-ranking Iranian general to be killed in the 4½-year-old civil war, Iranian authorities and media have been put in the position of explaining the death toll.


  • Cheap Goods from China Have High Carbon Cost (Scientific American)  Because China relies on coal for much of its power, goods produced there can have a dirtier carbon footprint than those produced elsewhere.  China emits over a quarter of the world's carbon--some 10 billion tons. That's twice what we pump out here in the U.S. But before the finger-wagging begins, consider that a quarter of China's CO2 emissions come from making exports--in other words, stuff for countries like us.

  • As Obama weighed patrol to counter China, Pentagon urged faster action (Reuters)  The U.S. naval challenge to China's territorial assertiveness in the South China Sea this week came after months of frustration within the Pentagon at what some defense officials saw as unnecessary delays by the White House and State Department in approving the mission.


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Where Does Your Time Go? (Scientific American)  Researchers at the University of Oxford, UK have been studying biggest collection of time-use diaries in the world, gathered from nearly 30 countries, spanning more than 50 years and covering some 850,000 person-days in total.  They offer the most detailed portrait ever created of when people work, sleep, play and socialize—and of how those patterns have changed over time.  The areas studied include how lifestyle habits are related to chronic diseases.

  • If you want your child to bring home better grades, stop yelling and try this (The Conversation)  A study has found that children whose parents said they would respond to disappointiung grades by lecturing, punishing or restricting their child’s social activities actually had lower levels of literacy and maths achievement by the end of high school.  For more details see Bad report card: Are parents too tough? (University of Michigan News) and The association of punitive parenting practices and adolescent achievement (Journal of Family Psychology)  Many of the realtionships between factors showed negilible correlations.  The graphic below shows those relationships tested which had standardized paths significant at least at p <.05 are shown.


  • Budget deal would nix popular Social Security claiming strategies (Investment News)  A budget agreement reached by congressional leaders and the White House would kill popular Social Security claiming strategies shortly after the measure becomes law, cutting off payments in midstream for beneficiaries. (1) The legislation, which sets federal spending limits and raises the debt ceiling, contains several entitlement reforms. One of them would end the ability of a Social Security claimant to file for his or her benefits and then suspend receiving them while she collects benefits for a spouse. Such an approach can generate a more generous payout.  (2) The bill also would restrict claims for spousal benefits.  (3) The legislation also would place a surcharge on high-income recipients of Medicare, which will be costly for wealthy beneficiaries.  The changes would affect people who turn 62 in 2016 or later.  The measure “closes several loopholes in Social Security's rules about deemed filing, dual entitlement and benefit suspension in order to prevent individuals from obtaining larger benefits than Congress intended,” states a summary of the bill.  While it is obvious that the changes close loopholes exploited by the wealthy, there will be negative effects for retirees with modest assets as well.  According to William Meyer, chief executive of Social Security Solutions: 

“This change is going to promote people to take their benefits earlier.  The middle class are the ones who are going to get hurt.”


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