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What We Read Today 02 May 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:

  • Capitalism vs. Philosophers

  • Has Obama Been Economically Successful?

  • Bitcoin Inventor Unmasked

  • Bitcoin Denizens are Skeptical

  • The Earth-Like Planets Discovered

  • U.S. Manufacturing Stabilizing

  • The Latest on Donald Trump and Ted Cruz

  • Puerto Rico Defaults, Says More are Coming

  • Puerto Ricans Fleeing Island for Mainland

  • Chernobyl Destroyed the Myth of Soviet Science

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Unmasking Bitcoin Creator Raises Mystery of Million Coins (Bloomberg)  Craig Steven Wright, an Australian entrepreneur, identified himself Monday as the bitcoin inventor almost five months after he was outed in media reports as the man behind the virtual currency.  In a blog post and interviews with three media organizations, Wright said that he developed the original bitcoin software under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, a claim that’s been disputed by others. Wright provided technical evidence, including the original encryption keys, that have been confirmed by prominent members of the bitcoin community, the BBC reported.  See also next article.

  • Bitcoin industry 'sceptical' of Satoshi identity claim (BBC News)   Members of the Bitcoin community remain sceptical about Craig Wright's claim to be the mysterious creator of the digital currency.  At the Consensus 2016 conference in New York, attendees told the BBC they wanted to see more proof before they would be ready to believe the claims.  Mr Wright spoke to the BBC claiming he created the crypto-currency.  Gavin Andresen, chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, has confirmed the claim.  Mr Andresen said he traveled to London to meet Mr Wright who showed him proof that he and Satoshi Nakamoto - the pseudonym adopted by Bitcoin's creator - were one and the same. 

  • Three Earth-like planets discovered orbiting dwarf star (CNN)  For the first time, researchers have discovered three potentially habitable, Earth-like worlds orbiting an ultracool dwarf star 40 light-years away in another star system, according to a study published in the journal Nature.  The ultracool dwarf star, known as TRAPPIST-1, isn't the kind of star scientists expected to be a hub for planets. It's at the end of the range for what classifies as a star: half the temperature and a tenth the mass of the sun. TRAPPIST-1 is red, barely larger than Jupiter and too dim to be seen with the naked eye or even amateur telescopes from Earth. 


Officials say two things are not likely to change. First, Trump would continue to be an outspoken candidate prepared to say unpopular or imprudent things. “What has been a certainty in this race is that Mr. Trump is going to be Mr. Trump,” said campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. “That is to say, his appeal has been as a person who tells it like it is.”

Second, officials say, Trump’s lack of predictability — what critics regard as his lack of discipline — would prove to be an asset against Clinton, whom they regard as a far more conventional candidate. “Mr. Trump is a candidate who has the ability to change the narrative at any moment,” Lewandowski said. “Any other candidate would run a traditional campaign against Hillary Clinton.”

  • Donald Trump far behind in preparing for general election (Associated Press)  The Republican presidential nomination may be in his sights, yet Donald Trump has so far ignored vital preparations needed for a quick and effective transition to the general election.  The New York businessman has collected little information about tens of millions of voters he needs to turn out in the fall. He's sent few people to battleground states compared with likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, accumulated little if any research on her, and taken no steps to build a network capable of raising the roughly $1 billion needed to run a modern-day general election campaign.

  • Cruz campaign in overdrive in desperate bid to wrestle Indiana from Trump (The Washington Post)  Inside Ted Cruz’s second-floor campaign office here on a recent afternoon, there were telltale signs of an operation in overdrive: dozens of volunteers calling voters and re­fueling with Mountain Dew, coffee and snacks; staffers busily working on laptops; and an ambitious message on a whiteboard: “Our Goal Today = 20,000 Calls.”  But, according to this report, there were also indications of trouble. Volunteers said they were hearing misgivings from voters — many rooted in insults that front-runner Donald Trump had hurled at Cruz.

  • Puerto Ricans leaving island for U.S. in record numbers (CNN)   Puerto Ricans are leaving the island for the mainland United States at a historic rate.  The commonwealth's Institute of Statistics revealed Sunday the results of its analysis on 2014 migration, which found that Puerto Rico lost almost 2% of its population that year.  About 84,000 people moved from Puerto Rico to the United States in 2014, according to the report, while only 20,000 moved back to the island, resulting in a net migration of 1.8%.  On average, 230 people left per day -- enough to fill two daily flights out of the island.  The result is the highest net migration recorded in the past decade, the Institute said.

  • Puerto Rico Warns More Defaults are Coming (Bloomberg)


  • Q&A: When is a Boot on the Ground not a Boot on the Ground? (Associated Press)   No one disputes that U.S. military forces are fighting in combat in Iraq and Syria -- except maybe President Barack Obama and some members of his administration.  The semantic arguments over whether there are American "boots on the ground" muddy the view of a situation in which several thousand armed U.S. military personnel are in Iraq and Syria. Obama has said more than a dozen times that there would be no combat troops in Iraq and Syria as the number of service members in those countries grows; last week, Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged the military personnel there were in combat and "we should say that clearly".  So, when is a military boot on the ground? And what does it all mean?


  • Chernobyl Destroyed the Myth of Soviet Science (Foundation for Economic Education)  The design problems with Soviet nuclear reactors are now well known, but back in the 1980s, the Soviets still insisted that socialist nuclear technology was second to none. Similarly under-appreciated was the abysmal work ethic in the socialist bloc and the utter disregard for basic health, safety and environmental considerations that characterized most state-owned enterprises. What was never in doubt, however, was the power of socialist propaganda.  And so, when a comedy of errors – conflicting orders, a lack of coordination and communication, bad timing, etc. – resulted in the tragic explosion at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the Soviets denied that anything was wrong.  But that event marked one of the final nails in the Soviet coffin built out of incompetence.


  • Pakistan raps Trump over vow to free doctor who helped track bin Laden (Reuters)  Pakistan angrily criticized Donald Trump, frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, for saying he would force the country to free a jailed Pakistani doctor believed to have helped the CIA hunt down al Qaada leader Osama bin Laden.  Trump, a 69-year-old billionaire real estate developer, told Fox News on Friday that, if elected, he would get Pakistan to free Shakil Afridi "in two minutes", saying that Islamabad receives a lot of development aid from the United States.  Pakistani Interior Minister Cheudhry Nisar said in a statement on Monday:

"Contrary to Mr. Trump's misconception, Pakistan is not a colony of the United States of America."

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

  • Capitalism versus the Philosophers (Foundation for Economic Education)  This is a good interview with philosophy scholar Stephen Hicks on the development of postmodernism in response to the failure of socialism and communism.

  • National Review Economics Writer Unfamiliar With Economics (New York Magazine)  See also next article.  President Obama has said the U.S. has survived the Great Financial crisis "better than any large economy on Earth in modern history" based on analysis published by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.  This author mocks the mocking commentary by National Review’s Kevin Williamson, whom he quotes:

President Obama insists — straight-facedly — that in the context of a wrenching fiscal crisis, the United States under his leadership performed better than any major economy in modern history. That isn’t even close to being true, of course. Obama’s presidency will coincide with a remarkably weak recovery, with GDP essentially treading water. His presidency will be the first in modern times to fail to coincide with at least one year of 3 percent economic growth.

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