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What We Read Today 14 March 2016

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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Topics today include:

  • Russia Withdrawing Some Military from Syria

  • New ISIS Tactics

  • In Cancer Therapies Timing May Be Critical

  • Men Wage Growth Improving, Women Not So Much

  • Hot February, but Its Always Cold Somewhere

  • Inequality Didn't 'Just Happen'

  • Frustrated GOP Wants to Impeach Top Judges

  • Wall Street Has a New Love for Tesla

  • Have EU Promises Been Kept to Refugees?

  • 'Mummy Merkel' Loses Germany

  • Hundreds of Migrants Break Out of Greece and into Macedonia

  • Labor Unrest in China

  • Albert Einstein's Birthday

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • The planet had its biggest temperature spike in modern history in February (The Washington Post)  The global temperature in February took its greatest leap in 136 years of record-keeping, rising 1.35 degrees Celsius (2.43 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1951-1980 average. As a result of the gigantic temperature jump, it became the warmest February on record by a landslide.  See more later, below.

  • How the war against ISIS is changing (World Economic Forum)  A string of attacks and counter-attacks over the course of this year so far signal a major shift in the way Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is conducting its military operations, leaning back on insurgency tactics it used when US troops were still present in Iraq. The change comes amid widespread perception in Western capitals that the group is now on the back foot. But it also follows a variety of crises – financial and political – that may cause deeper Western involvement in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts.  Hit-and-run tactics are its way of diverting the attention of its enemies and causing steady damage in Iraq, Syria and beyond. Such raids are a huge challenge for the US-led coalition, as calls for urgent help come not from a front line but from random areas anywhere in Syria and Iraq.  All those factors mean the US will undoubtedly get sucked further into Iraq and the Syrian conflict to shore up its allies and contain the threat of ISIS.


  • Frustrated GOP lawmakers weigh move to impeach top judges (Associated Press)  Republican lawmakers in Kansas, weary of conflicts with a judiciary that has been pushing for more school spending, are beginning to act on a measure to expand the legal grounds for impeaching judges.  The move is part of an intensified effort in red states to reshape courts still dominated by moderate judges from earlier administrations.  A committee in the GOP-controlled Senate plans to vote Tuesday on a bill that would make "attempting to usurp the power" of the Legislature or the executive branch grounds for impeachment.  Econintersect:  Be careful here - the first step of a totalitarian takeover is usually to cripple the judicial.

  • Probability Of Fed Rate Hike Falls To 4% As 10 Year Treasury Yield Forecast Plunges (Confounded Interest)  The probability of a rate hike at the March 16th meeting of the FOMC is at a lowly 4% (green line) as the end of 2016 forecast for the 10 year Treasury plunged to 2.35%.  But the probability of reversing the December 2015 hike is now zero, as well (red line).


  • Wall Street Tours the Tesla Factory—and Loves What It Sees (Bloomberg)   Wall Street analysts have been touring Tesla’s massive factory in Fremont, Calif., and they're returning with the same conclusion: Elon Musk's electric-vehicle company is getting ready for something big. In a sign of this enthusiasm, Robert W. Baird & Co. upgraded its Tesla rating on Monday morning following a factory tour.  Tesla spent some $1.6 billion on major upgrades last year as it prepares to launch its first attempt at a mass-market car—the Model 3—on March 31. The transformation is striking, according to auto analysts at Stifel Financial Corp., Credit Suisse Group AG, and Baird. The firms are telling investors that Tesla is learning from the mistakes that delayed its previous launches and is on track to make the shift from producing tens of thousands of $80,000 cars to hundreds of thousands of $35,000 cars—assuming the Model 3 proves a success with drivers.

  • Wage Growth Tracker (Atlanta Fed)  Wage growth improving for men, women not so much.

Click for large image.


  • Migrant crisis: Have EU promises been kept? (BBC News)  The infrastructure for receiving refugees has been far from sufficient, starting with very poor (though improving recently) registration procedures and continuing with failure to properly shelter in place those whose migration is blocked.


  • 'Mummy Merkel' followed her heart on refugees - and lost Germany (The Telegraph)  Almost half of Germans don’t want Angela Merkel to serve a second term.   According to a survey for Bild newspaper, 48% of people said they did not want Mrs Merkel to continue in office after the next German election, due to be held in 2017. In comparison, 44% hoped she remained in power.  Just a few months ago, it seemed Angela Merkel could do no wrong. She was the cherished Chancellor – in the top job since 2005 and beloved back home in Germany, while seemingly bossing around the bulk of the European Union on an international stage.  But, suddenly, her shine is beginning to tarnish.  Only 40% think she handled the refugee crisis correctly.


  • Migrant crisis: Hundreds cross from Greece into Macedonia (BBC News)   Hundreds of migrants have crossed from Greece into Macedonia after finding a way through the border fence.  Macedonian police are detaining them, saying they will be returned to Greece.  Earlier, some 1,000 migrants, including children, left their sprawling camp in the Greek village of Idomeni and crossed a river near the border.  Some 14,000 people, many from Syria or Iraq, have been stranded at the camp, where conditions have deteriorated following days of rain.  Macedonia last week said it would no longer let any migrants in, blocking the so-called Balkan route north


  • The Latest: Putin orders military pullout from Syria (Associated Press)   Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the start of the pullout of the Russian military from Syria starting Tuesday.  Putin said the move should help serve as a stimulus for Syria's political talks. The president said he coordinated the move with Syrian President Bashar Assad.  Putin said that the Russian airbase in Hemeimeem in Syria's coastal province of Latakia and a naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartous will continue to operate.  Russia says it has voiced concern about cease-fire violations by U.S.-backed rebels in Syria.


  • Turkish warplanes strike Iraq after Ankara bombing blamed on Kurdish militants (Reuters)   Turkish warplanes struck against Kurdish militant camps in northern Iraq on Monday, a day after 37 people were killed in an Ankara car bombing that security officials said involved two fighters - one female - from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).  Sunday's attack, tearing through a crowded transport hub a few hundred meters from the Justice and Interior Ministries, was the second such strike at the administrative heart of the Turkish capital in under a month.  No one has claimed responsibility for the latest attack. However, security officials told Reuters a female member of the outlawed PKK, which has fought a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey's southeast, was one of the suspected perpetrators. A police source said her severed hand had been found 300 meters from the blast site.


Public Predictions for the Future of Workforce Automation (Pew Research Center)  A majority of Americans (nearly 2/3) predict that within 50 years, robots and computers will do much of the work currently done by humans – but few workers (18%) expect their own jobs or professions to experience substantial impacts.  This sounds like the Dept. of Wishful Thinking.  It also is like the logic which keeps getting congress people reelected when congress is overwhelminglly disapproved.

Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea

Indeed, some of the most important innovations in business in the last three decades have centered not on making the economy more efficient but on how better to ensure monopoly power or how better to circumvent government regulations intended to align social returns and private rewards.

Rent-seeking behavior is not just endemic in the resource rich countries of the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. It has also become endemic in modern economies, including our own. In those economies, it takes many forms, some of which are closely akin to those in the oil-rich countries: getting state assets (such as oil or minerals) at below fair-market prices.

Not all rent seeking uses government to extract money from ordinary citizens. The private sector can excel on its own, extracting rents from the public, for instance, through monopolistic practices and exploiting those who are less informed and educated, exemplified by the banks’ predatory lending. CEOs can use their control of the corporation to garner for themselves a larger fraction of the firms’ revenues.

A closer look at the successes of those at the top of the wealth distribution shows that more than a small part of their genius resides in devising better ways of exploiting market power and other market imperfections—and, in many cases, finding better ways of ensuring that politics works for them rather than for society more generally.

  • There’s a new theory about why some cancer therapies fail. It’s about timing. (The Washington Post)   One of the most disheartening things about cancer care today is the amount of guesswork that goes into drug treatments. It isn't uncommon for patients to go through two, three or more therapies before finding success or running out of time.  Scientists now know that genetics explain why some drugs may work work miraculously in one person but not at all in another. Mike Hemann and Doug Lauffenburger of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have just come up with evidence that timing may be just as critical.  The researchers reported in the journal Cell that their work shows that tumors evolve though various stages and that some are more vulnerable to drugs than others. This suggests, Hemann said in an interview, that there may be a "windows" of opportunity for drugs that had previously been written off as failures.

  • Accelerating Global Warming? NASA Shows February of 2015 was Second Hottest on Record (  Last year at this time people in the eastern U.S. and Canada were saying:  what global warming?  See next article.


  • Albert Einstein's Birthday  We have been reminded by Sanjeev Kulkarni that Albert Einstein was born 127 years ago today.  One of the quotes on the Google page for Einstein that is very appropriate for us:  "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."  Below are some more forwarded by Sanjeev:


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