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What We Read Today 25 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".).


Every day most of this column ("What We Read Today") is available only to GEI members.

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Topics today include:

  • The Story of Bottled Water

  • The Problem of Child Brides

  • Indiana's New Defective Fetus Protection Law

  • Five Years of the Syrian Civil War in 60 Seconds

  • Economics in a Time of Political Instability

  • Does Free Trade Have Losers?

  • The Oceans of Outer Space

  • Disenfranchisement in America

  • Destroy Public Universities to Control Higher Education Costs?

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Exploring the Oceans of the Outer Solar System (The Atlantic)  In the past few years, planetary scientists have learned that some of the moons around the solar system’s biggest planets are full of water. Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, is thought to have an ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust. A few million miles away, Saturn’s satellite Enceladus has a water ocean, too. Its sister moon, Titan, has lakes and oceans made of liquid methane. All these moons also have energy sources and hydrocarbons, long thought to be the ingredients for life. If a spacecraft could somehow sample the water, it might be able to look for signs of something living in it.  Econintersect:  For more see here.

  • How a forgotten sandlot of a country became a hub of international power games. (Bloomberg)  Since 911 interest from both the East and the West has transformed this country with a critical location at the mouth of the Red Sea.

Click for large image.


  • US teen survived attacks in both Boston and Belgium (Associated Press)  The global extent of terrorism has no more demonstrable element than that presented by Mason Wells, his face covered in bandages, in a hospital in the Belgian city of Ghent on Friday. Three years ago, the 19-year-old from Sandy, Utah, was just a block away from the pressure-cooker bomb that exploded while he was watching his mother run the Boston Marathon. 

  • Indiana governor signs fetal defects abortion ban into law (Associated Press, MSN News)  Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law Thursday making Indiana the second state to ban abortions because of fetal genetic abnormalities. Pence signed the measure just hours ahead of his deadline to take action on the proposal approved by the Republican-dominated Legislature two weeks ago, the governor's office said. It is due to take effect in July, but Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky said it will ask a court to block the measure before that can happen.  The new law would lump all fetal genetic abnormalities from severe deformations to Downes Syndrome under the same restrictions.

  • Arizona’s Primary Voting Fiasco Foretells Further Disenfranchisement in General Election (Common Dreams, Mint Press News)   Following widespread disenfranchisement during Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Arizona, civil rights activists are warning that such debacles could be a harbinger of things to come during the general election in November.  “As we’ve seen in the Arizona and North Carolina primaries, the Shelby decision has ushered in a renaissance of voter disenfranchisement and Congress must step in to stop it before the general election,” stated Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of national and international rights-defending organizations.  Because of the Supreme Court’s gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in its Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder decision in 2013, voters in North Carolina and Arizona, which both have a long history of voter suppression, are witnessing firsthand what elections in those states are like without the Act’s protections.  Econintersect:  It's no longer about winning the campaign - it's about controlling who votes.  See here.

  • Starving the Beast: The Battle to Disrupt and Reform America’s Public Universities, Written and Directed by Steve Mims (Huffington Post)  The cost of higher education has grown much faster than the economy.  One remedy proposed is to destroy the public university system so that "free markets"  can produce greater efficiency.  Econintersect:  Does that mean private college costs would be become the norm for all students?  Huh?  Here is part of the HuffPo article by Joseph A. Palermo, Professor of History, California State University, Sacramento.:

new documentary took the SXSW festival by storm in Austin, Texas titled:Starving the Beast: The Battle to Disrupt and Reform America’s Public Universities. No film better exposes the coordinated assault on public higher education that is going on right now across the country.

The film covers events as they recently played out at Louisiana State University, the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin, and North Carolina State University. Each case illustrates how wealthy right-wing ideologues use the same arguments and techniques to attempt to force severe changes upon the mission of public universities.

Starving the Beast shows the power of a skillfully produced movie to demarcate the parameters of a vital public battle. It combines a clear presentation of the facts with an implicit call for citizens to fight back against what could be the destruction of these irreplaceable public institutions.




  • Senior Islamic State commander said to be killed in U.S. operation (The Washington Post)   A top commander for the Islamic State was killed by U.S. forces this week, the Pentagon said Friday, as the U.S.-led coalition ratcheted up pressure on the terrorist group in an effort to blunt its ability to strike targets abroad.  U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said the commander, known as Haji Imam, was one of several terrorist leaders killed during the same week in which the jihadists unleashed a lethal attack on the Belgian capital.  Terrorism experts have long regarded Imam, an Iraqi native, as a kind of elder statesman for the terrorist group because of his long association with the Islamic State and its predecessor organizations. The Mosul native, reportedly about 57 years old, was one of the few surviving links to the era when al-Qaeda in Iraq, under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, soared to prominence at the forefront of the anti-U.S. insurgency in Iraq.

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

  • Economics In A Time Of Political Instability (Financial Advisor)  David Brady and Nobel Laureate Michel Spence discuss how to improve economic performance at a time when political instability is impeding effective policymaking. Over the last 35 years, Western democracies have seen a rapid rise in political instability, characterized by frequent shifts in governing parties and their programs and philosophies, driven at least partly by economic transformation and hardship.

  • Donald J. Boudreaux's Economics in Many Lessons: Does free trade have losers? (TribLive)  Prof. Boudreau argues that today's enthusiasm for protectionism is unintentionally fueled by many friends of free trade who feel obliged to concede that “free trade has losers”.  He disagrees.  In fact, he says, free trade has no losers — at least not over the long run.  Econintersect:  Unfortunately for the professor's argument to succeed it requires a narrow analysis based on the principles of Ricardian equivalence which we maintain is a grossly oversimplified assumption. 

  • The Story of Bottled Water (, YouTube)  This video was released in 2010.

  • She’s 11. He’s 35. When They Get Married, Watch What Her Family Does. (Omeleto)  Weddings are supposed to be joyous and festive occasions, but this one is anything but a fairytale.  About 15 million girls will be married as children this year – their right to a childhood ripped away. This video produced with Bridal Musings, one of the world's most influential wedding blogs, aims to put a spotlight on this grim reality.  Video from UNICEF (United Nations Children's Emergency Fund).

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