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What We Read Today 18 April 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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Topic today include:

  • More on 'Climate Hustle'

  • Ways Climate Change Can Make You Sick

  • Amazon Challenges Netflix

  • The Humanoid Family Tree Keeps Getting More Complicated

  • The Second Robber Baron Era

  • The Doha Collapse

  • Obama's Immigration Policy in Trouble

  • More U.S. Troops for Iraq

  • Morgan Stanley the Latest Bank with Huge Cuts

  • Syria Peace Talks 'Near Collapse'

  • Ecuador Death Toll Rises to 350

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • The global oil deal that never came to be (Reuters)  It was supposed to be the easiest deal ever reached among key oil market players, a mere formality.  Eighteen countries were gathering in the Qatari capital of Doha to rubber-stamp the first joint agreement between major OPEC and non-OPEC nations in 15 years, tackling a huge global glut after flooding the market for two years.  The text was agreed and the timeframe was clear. Oil prices were rising. Traders were calling the event boring.  But the whole thing fell apart as two warring nations, Saudi Arabia and Iran, couldn't agree.

U.S.

  • Focus on Chief Justice as Supreme Court Hears Immigration Challenge (The New York Times)  The case argued today at the Supreme Court presents fundamental questions about executive power against the backdrop of a wrenching national debate over Mr. Obama’s plan to spare millions of immigrants from deportation. But Chief Justice Roberts’s record suggests that he may avoid taking a position on such a divisive and partisan issue, focusing instead on the more technical question of whether the states challenging the Obama administration’s immigration plan have suffered the sort of direct and concrete injury that gives them standing to sue.  Lower courts have sided with Texas in a suit that argued that Obama's plan went beyond what Congress had authorized.  If Roberts sides with the three conservatives on the SCOTUS the injunction against the president will stand (tie vote).  If he votes with the four liberals the president's plan can continue for at least the rest of his term.  See also Court appears divided, signaling trouble for Obama on immigration (The Hill) for analysis of today's oral arguments..

  • Carter says US to deploy more forces to back Iraq's anti-IS war (AFP, MSN News)  The United States will deploy additional forces to Iraq and make Apache attack helicopters available to support the country's troops, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said Monday in Baghdad.  The number of personnel involved is 200.

  • Bernie Sanders wins even if he loses (CNBC) This editorial says that whatever the outcome for the candidacy of Bernie Sanders he will have moved the Democratic Party and the country to the left.  Of course the more success he has the farther the move.  Econintersect:  We have suggested before that Bernie Sanders may also influence the Republican Party.  By moving the Democratic Party to the left a center-right vacuum will be created and some Republicans may return to that area after having been virtually absent for at least two decades.

  • Morgan Stanley Shrinks Its Workforce Most in Three Years: Chart (Bloomberg)  Morgan Stanley’s workforce is bearing the brunt of its cost-cutting efforts. The New York-based investment bank cut about 1,440 positions in the first quarter, the biggest reduction since the start of 2013, according to figures released Monday. And bearing the brunt of the brunt is the firm’s fixed-income division, which was targeted for cuts late last year amid a prolonged trading slump.

morgan.stanley.cuts.2016.apr

Syria

  • Syria peace talks near collapse as opposition declares pause (Reuters)   Syrian peace talks came close to collapse on Monday, with the mainstream opposition announcing a pause in talks at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, although it agreed to keep its negotiating team in the city.  The Western-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said in a letter to rebel fighters that government military advances meant a ceasefire was effectively over and it was calling a postponement in the talks.

Brazil

  • Brazil President Rousseff has 'clear conscience' over impeachment (BBC News)   Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff says she is "outraged" at attempts to impeach her and has a clear conscience.  Speaking after the lower house of Congress voted to begin impeachment proceedings against her, she said she had done nothing wrong.  She is accused of manipulating government accounts, which she denies.  Speaking calmly and in a measured way, she said she would fight "the injustice" she was facing and would not bow to pressure.

Ecuador

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

9 Ways Global Warming Is Making Us Sick (Alternet)  The Obama administration has released a major new report, titled The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States,  on how manmade global warming is making Americans sicker—and it's only going to get worse.  Developed over three years and involving approximately 100 climate and public health experts, the 332-page report was based on more than 1,800 published scientific studies and new federal research, and was reviewed by the National Academies of Sciences.  Thanks to climate change, we'll be seeing more asthma, allergies, Lyme disease and foodborne illnesses.  See also final article discussed later, below.

Amazon Fires Major Shot at Netflix With Monthly Video Subscription Option (The Street)  Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) just-announced move into the monthly subscription business opens up new doors to a fresh set of potential customers, but it may not result in as many new subscribers as some think.  But other analysts think it is an excellent long-term strategy to monetize the company's vast content library.  The Seattle-based company said Sunday it would begin offering consumers the ability to access its services on a month-by-month basis. Its new Prime Video, a standalone subscription for its television and movie collection, is priced at $8.99 per month, one dollar less than Netflix's most popular streaming option for new customers.  In addition, Amazon will also be selling its bundle of Amazon Prime services, including free shipping, a music library and video content, for $10.99 a month (it was previously only available through a $99 annual upfront subscription).  See also next article.

Netflix Plunges on Forecast for Weakening Subscriber Growth (Bloomberg)  Netflix Inc., the world’s largest paid online TV network, plunged after rattling investors with forecasts for weakening subscriber growth in the second quarter, especially in newer markets outside the U.S.  Netflix expects to add 2 million new international customers, according to a statement Monday on its website. That’s fewer than the 3.45 million average of five analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Domestic customers may increase by 500,000 in the second quarter, Netflix said, compared with the 505,000 average of estimates.

netflix.disappoints.2016.apr

Phylogenetic analysis of the calvaria of Homo floresiensis (Science Direct)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  The complexity of the human physical anthropolical family tree keeps growing.  This paper examines the fossil remains of Homo floresiensis which species lived as recently as 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, making them contemporaries of the more familiar denisovans and neanderthals, although apparently much more localized and isolated in an island portion of Indonesia (Flores Island).  This research paper characterizes the available fossils and places the probable family tree locale of the species far from Homo sapiens, and closer to the Homo erectus archaic species.  The research was complicated by the absence of any cranial fossils for homo erectus which could serve to confirm or reject this probable placement.  The image below (click to enlarge) shows where (red) the Homo floresiensis species is currently indicated.  (Note: The closest relatives to modern humans, neanderthals and denisovans are loacted in the first five species to the left of modern human.)

homo.family.tree.600px

Paul Krugman: We're Living in a Second Robber Baron Era (Alternet)  Paul Krugman says the Verizon strike of last week points out a much deeper problem than what goes on with one telecommunications company.  Prof. Krugman says we are living in a time of corporate monopolies that rivals those of the robber baron age, and they are harming workers, consumers and the economy itself.  Read his column Robber Baron Recessions (The New York Times).

Exclusive: Climate Hustle’s Marc Morano Turns Down $20k Global Warming Bets From Bill Nye The Science Guy (Desmog)  One of America’s most outspoken deniers of the link between fossil fuel burning and global warming has refused $20,000 in bets that the planet will keep getting hotter.  Offering the two bets to Marc Morano, of the conservative think tank the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), is popular television science presenter Bill Nye, “the science guy”.  Nye said he was willing to bet Morano that 2016 would be one of the ten hottest years on record. He also offered a bet the current decade would be the hottest on record.  Morano turned down both bets, telling DeSmog it was “silly” to take a bet when it was “obvious” the official records would show more global warming.  The bets were offered and refused during an interview which Morano had hoped to use in promoting his new film, Climate Hustle, which portrays global warming as a hoax perpetrated by forces seeking to control government and economies.  The full interview has not been released.  Morano plans to show excerpts.  See also Marc Morano's Climate Hustle Film Set For Paris Premiere With Same Old Denial Myths.


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