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What We Read Today 09 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:

  • Swaddling Babies and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

  • 972 More Hedge Funds Closed Than Opened in 2015

  • Dealing With a Range Bound Stock Market

  • Cam Amazon be the First Trillion Dollar Company?

  • Science May Not Be Bunk But Bunk Gets into Some Science

  • Lyme Disease is Spreading Globally

  • Panama Papers Data Base Goes Online

  • Paul Ryan, Donald Trump and Sarah Palin

  • North Carolina Sues Federal Government Over LGBT Bathroom Rights

  • Department of Justice Counter Sues North Carolina

  • Will Italy Be the New Migrant Route to Europe?

  • Brazil's Impeachment of Rousseff Annulled

  • Mexico Okays Extradition of 'El Chapo'

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world



  • Paul Ryan will skip chairing convention if Donald Trump asks (CNN)   House Speaker Paul Ryan would back out of chairing the Republican National Convention in July, if Donald Trump asks him to, his office confirmed Monday.  Ryan first made the comments to a home-town paper, telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "He's the nominee. I'll do whatever he wants with respect to the convention."  See also Paul Ryan: 'I'm just not ready' to back Donald Trump and  Sarah Palin will work to defeat Ryan in primary for Trump stance.

  • Trump retreats on comments on raising taxes on the wealthy (Reuters)  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday backtracked on his remarks about raising taxes on wealthy Americans, saying the rich might simply get a smaller tax cut than he originally proposed.  Trump walked away from his comment on Sunday that taxes on the wealthy would "go up" once his broad tax policy proposals, which include tax cuts for rich Americans, were negotiated with Congress. That appeared to be a break with traditional Republican support for lower taxes in all income brackets.  Econintersect:  How do you spell "chameleon"?

  •  North Carolina governor files lawsuit over LGBT rights law (Associated Press)  See also next article. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's administration sued the federal government Monday in a fight for a state law that requires transgender people to use the public restroom matching the sex on their birth certificate.  The lawsuit seeks to keep in place the law, which the U.S. Justice Department said last week violated the civil rights of transgender people against sex discrimination on the job and in education.  U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was scheduled to describe the launch of "law enforcement action" against North Carolina later Monday.  See NC college system's federal funds in crosshairs of LGBT law.   McCrory said at a news conference that he hopes other states will join North Carolina in court as it fights the Justice Department's position that the Civil Rights Act requires that transgender people be allowed to access facilities matching their gender identities.  McCrory said:

"I do not agree with their interpretation of federal law. That is why this morning I have asked a federal court to clarify what the law actually is."

  • DOJ files lawsuit against North Carolina over bathroom law (The Hill)  The Department of Justice on Monday filed a federal lawsuit against North Carolina over the state's controversial bathroom law, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced.  The lawsuit says that state entities violate provisions in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX the Education Acts Amendment of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.  Earlier Monday, the North Carolina filed a suit against the federal government over the law, which requires that transgender people use the bathroom corresponding to their biological sex.  See preceding article.  Lynch said when announcing the lawsuit:

"This action is about a great deal more than bathrooms.  "This is about the dignity and respect that we accord our federal citizens."


  • Survivors recall sea tragedy as worries shift to Mediterranean migrant route (The Washington Post)  Before their families drowned, before the smugglers abandoned them in the choppy waters of the Mediterranean, before they drifted for three days with meager supplies of food and water, the migrants had gathered last week in the Libyan port city of Tobruk.  All had fled repressive regimes or war-scarred nations in Africa. All had paid $1,800 for a chance at a new life in Europe — via a perilous journey on rickety boats that would end in what could be one of the deadliest maritime disasters of the past year. Only 41 would survive.  See also article under Italy below.



  • Italy may be the next big migrant route (The Washington Post)   Greece, the main migrant route into Europe is shutting down amid stricter border controls in the Balkans and a deal with Turkey to stop new arrivals from the Middle East, Africa and beyond. Yet as one door closes, concern is mounting in a host of countries that the poor and desperate may find another way in.  Claiming that as many as 1 million more migrants are massing in Libya with the aim of crossing into Europe through Italy, the Austrians, for instance, are laying the groundwork for an emergency fence between the jagged Alpine peaks at its Italian border. To stop the feared hordes, the Swiss are threatening to call out the army (yes, Switzerland has an army). The Germans and the French, meanwhile, are joining an effort to extend “crisis” checks already in place at various European Union borders despite early signs that the region’s migrant flows may be coming under control.  Italian Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, responds to Austria's recent push for stronger border controls between the two countries:


  • Russian WW2 Victory Day parade showcases new weapons (BBC News)   Russian armed forces have paraded in central Moscow to mark the 71st anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two.  Some of Russia's latest military hardware was on show, including the RS-24 Yars long-range nuclear missile.  Fighters, heavy bombers and helicopters flew over Red Square, including types combat-tested in Syria, where Russian aircraft are helping government forces.  The march past included Russia's new National Guard.  The National Guard will be armed with modernised AK-74M assault rifles and will be tasked with fighting terrorism and organised crime. Those operations are currently the domain of interior ministry Omon and Sobr special forces.  The parade involved 10,000 military staff, 135 armoured vehicles and 71 aircraft.


  • In stunning twist, Brazil's lower house acting speaker annuls Rousseff impeachment (Reuters)   The acting speaker of Brazil's lower house of Congress annulled the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff in a stunning decision on Monday, calling for a new vote on the matter in the chamber.  In a move just days before the Senate was expected to vote to put Rousseff on trial, Waldir Maranhao said there were procedural flaws in a lower chamber vote on April 17 that approved the impeachment charges against the leftist president.  His decision, seen by markets as decreasing the chances of a more business-friendly government taking power, sent Brazilian financial markets reeling.  Maranhao had broken with his center-right Progressive Party and voted against Rousseff's impeachment in last month's lower house vote. He took over as acting speaker just last week when his predecessor Eduardo Cunha - who launched the impeachment process - was removed by the Supreme Court on corruption charges.


  • Judge OKs U.S. extradition of Mexican drug boss 'El Chapo' Guzman (Reuters)  A Mexican judge has ruled that drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman can be extradited to face charges in the United States, the country's federal court authority said on Monday, days after he was moved to a prison on the U.S. border.  Early on Saturday, Guzman was moved to a high security prison in the northern city of Ciudad Juarez on the U.S. border, and a senior Mexican security official said the kingpin's extradition was in motion and would happen by mid-year.

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

  • Swaddling babies is tied to heightened risk of sudden infant death syndrome (The Washington Post)  Swaddling a baby — the age-old technique of snugly wrapping an infant in a cloth or light blanket, with only the head exposed — is believed to create a calmer child who cries less and sleeps better.  Researchers analyzed data from four studies that involved 2,519 infants, including 760 whose deaths were attributed to SIDS. Overall, 323 infants had been swaddled, including 133 who died of SIDS.  Swaddled babies placed on their side or stomach were twice as likely to have died from SIDS as were babies in those sleep positions who had not been swaddled. Risk was greater among babies 6 months or older, who the researchers noted had a “greater likelihood of rolling to a prone [stomach] position.” Risk of a SIDS death was somewhat less for all babies sleeping on their backs, but it was still greater among swaddled babies, compared with those who were not swaddled.  Caveat by researchers:  Infants in the study may have had other risk factors not included in the studies’ data.  For full details see Swaddling and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A Meta-analysis (Pediatrics).

  • 2015 Was the First Time Since the Recession That More Hedge Funds Closed Than Opened (Fortune)   2015 was a train wreck for many hedge fund managers.  It was a punishing year for hedge funds, with brutal losses and several high-profile closures, including that of $1.5 billion SAB Capital Management and $1.5 billion Nevsky management, unhinging the industry.  A total of 979 hedge funds shut their doors in 2015, driven by global market volatility, low oil prices, and the rising price of the dollar.  Industry-wide losses tallied 1.39%, according to Hedge Fund Research.  So far in 2016, hedge funds are averaging -2.63%, below the current ytd return on the S&P 500 (-0.82%).

  • Does it really matter to investors whether it’s a breakout or a fake out? (Rob Isbitts, Market Watch)  RI contributes to GEI.  Isbitts thinks the likelihood of a third such event to complete a 21st Century "bear market trilogy" is high. He says he doesn't know when and for how long it will last, but the threat is there. He also doesn't think it has to matter too much to you as an investor.  Isbitts says if you are investing in a market of stocks (rather than "the stock market") wise investment choices provide returns better and market indexes, especially when the indexes decline.  He views the fact that the S&P 500 has been range bound between 1800 and 2100 for more than two years an indication of higher risk for a significant decline.


  • Krispy Kreme agrees to be acquired — and to join a growing breakfast empire (The Washington Post)  Krispy Kreme Doughnuts said Monday that it has agreed to be acquired by a private investment company in a deal valued at about $1.35 billion, a move that would bring the sweet-treat chain into a growing breakfast empire.  The buyer, JAB Beech, is a subsidiary of a company called JAB that recently acquired Keurig Green Mountain for about $14 billion. JAB also owns controlling stakes in chains Peets Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee, as well as Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, the company behind Einstein Bros. Bagels.

  • Cisco, Apple Fail to Reach $1 Trillion. Is Amazon Next? Chart (Bloomberg)  Apple Inc.’s value climbed no higher than $775 billion after investor Carl Icahn first cited a $1 trillion-plus valuation in October 2014; he sold his stake last month. In 2000, Cisco Systems Inc.’s value peaked at $552 billion less than seven weeks after Paul Weinstein, then an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston, wrote in a report that $1 trillion wasn’t “an unreal expectation”.  Now Social Capital Managing Partner Chamath Palihapitiya’s has projected that Inc. will have a $3 trillion market value in 10 years.  Will this be another flame-out?

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