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What We Read Today 11 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".).


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

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The rest of this post is available only the GEI Members.  Membership is FREE -  click here

Topics today include:

  • Does Glyphosate Cause Cancer?

  • Teen Discovers Mayan City

  • Are Electric Cars Actually Clean?

  • Can Cities Be Sustainable?

  • Near Record Honey Bee Loses

  • Earth's magnetic Field is Changing

  • U.S. Courts of Appeals Do Not Agree on Corporate vs. Human Rights

  • Latest Poll:  Trump and Clinton Nearly Even

  • Where Are Renewables Dominating Power Gneration?

  • France Considers Banning U.S. LNG

  • Deadliest Day in Baghdad This Year

  • India and U.S. Cooperation in Indian Ocean Seems to be Struggling

  • 49,000 Year Old Stone Axe Fragment Found in Australia

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • How Earth's magnetic field is changing (gizmag)  The earth's magnetic field is thought to be the result of the vast quantities of molten iron moving around some 3,000 km (1,860 miles) beneath the surface. Changes, it's thought, are caused by alterations in how the liquid is flowing.  Well, that molten metal must be sloshing around a lot because the shape and strength at various points on the planet surface keep changing in very significant ways over just a few years of time.  The earth's magnetic field is crucial in protecting the planet from dangerous ionizing radiation constantly emitted by the sun.  Article has an excellent graphic slide show. Click on image to watch.



  • The art of the military deal (Brookings)  This column maintains that, on balance, Trump’s explanation of the economics of America’s security alliances misses several core realities. The benefits of certain alliances can be debated—but they hardly constitute the wholesale drain on American coffers that he has made them out to be.

  • A Nasty Split in U.S. Courts Over Human Rights (Bloomberg)  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (New York and Connecticut) split 4-3 -- nastily -- in its refusal to get into conformity with the other circuits. The majority said it wasn't worth bothering after the Supreme Court sharply reduced liability under international law in 2013. The dissenters thought the appeals court should fix what it saw as a mistake made in 2011 when it first held that corporations can't be held responsible for human rights violations in other countries.  So the Second Circuit backs corporations over humans while all other circuits give humans consideration.

  • Paul Krugman takes a step to clearer vision & reform of America (Fabius Maximus)  FM has contributed to GEI.  FM expresses surprise that Prof. Krugman has criticized some actions by the political left (with regard to misrepresentations of climate change effects).  FM starts:

Paul Krugman made a remarkable admission for a political columnist in America, one that points the way to a path for the reform of America. He took a step towards seeing that there is no “reality-based party” in America.

  • Exclusive: Trump surges in support, almost even with Clinton in national U.S. poll (Reuters)  Donald Trump's support has surged and he is now running nearly even with Democrat Hillary Clinton among likely U.S. voters, a dramatic turnaround since he became the Republican party's presumptive presidential nominee, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.  The results could signal a close fight between the two likely White House rivals as Americans make up their minds ahead of the Nov. 8 election to succeed Democratic President Barack Obama. As recently as last week, Clinton led Trump by around 13 points in the poll.

  • Justice’s reputation hangs in balance of Clinton probe (The Hill)  No matter what decision federal prosecutors and FBI investigators make in the Hillary Clinton email probe, there is sure to be a public backlash from the left or the right.




  • This Country Generated So Much Renewable Energy It Paid People to Use It (Eco Watch)  On May 8—a particularly sunny and windy day—Germany’s renewable energy mix of solarwind, hydropower and biomass generated so much power that it met 88% of the country’s total electricity demand, or 55 GW out of 63 GW being consumed.  This means, as Quartz reported, “power prices actually went negative for several hours, meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity.”  (See first graphic below.)  High use of renewables has had no apparent impact on economic growth in Germany (second graphic below).


germany.renewables.econ.growtSaudi Arabia

  • Saudi king’s Cabinet reshuffle may 'rattle many royal spines' (Al Monitor)  It is common for Saudi kings to regularly hire and fire senior bureaucrats. However, the latest Cabinet reshuffle reflects something profound and ambitious that has dominated Saudi Arabia since King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud ascended the throne in January 2015: the rise of his son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to the highest echelons of politics and economics in the realm.  The king's May 7 orders for a major shakeup embody his son's Saudi Vision 2030, orchestrated by a global consulting firm to "end Saudi addiction to oil." At no other time in the short history of the deputy crown prince position (the post was invented by the previous ruler, now-deceased King Abdullah) has a prince been entrusted with so many powers and initiatives so quickly. The young deputy crown prince has enjoyed his new powers and has definitely overtaken his cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed now controls defense and meddles in both oil and social engineering.

  • Saudi IS members killing their own relatives (Al Monitor)  The Islamic State's (IS) influence has penetrated Saudi Arabia so successfully via social media that some Saudi youth are being persuaded to kill soldiers and police, even when they are family members.


  • IS conflict: Dozens killed in Baghdad car bombings (BBC News)   It has been the deadliest day in Baghdad this year.   At least 93 people have been killed in three car bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.  The deadliest struck a market in the mainly Shia Muslim area of Sadr City during the morning rush hour, killing 64 people and wounding 87 others.  In the afternoon, two suicide bombers targeted police checkpoints in the northern district of Kadhimiya and in Jamia, in the west, leaving 29 dead.  So-called Islamic State (IS) has said it was behind all three attacks.



  • World's oldest axe fragment found in Australia (gizmag)   A thumbnail-sized fragment of a ground-edge stone axe found in Australia predates previous discoveries by more than 10,000 years. The axe fragment, which was discovered in a remote area of Western Australia, is estimated to be between 45,000 and 49,000 years old. Archeologists from the University of Sydney believe it was invented soon after humans arrived in Australia around 50,000 years ago in response to new environmental contexts.  The researchers note a similar sudden appearance of ground-edge tools in Asia when people first colonized the Japanese archipelago about 38,000 years ago. They believe this is evidence of a pattern of innovation tied to the colonizing process. "Dispersing humans were often innovating as they entered new territories, rather than maintaining technologies that had been employed previously," they write in a journal paper.  Curiously, the technology does not appear to have spread across Australia with the early settlers. Current evidence suggests that ground-edge axes were only used in the tropical northern regions. The oldest axes found in southern parts of mainland Australia date back no further than a few thousand years. 

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

  • Does Glyphosate Cause Cancer? (Eco Watch)   The EPA says it has more work to do. In the meantime, the Environmental Working Group took a closer look at the science underpinning the World Health Organization’s decision last year to classify glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen.”  Here’s what we found: A growing body of research is finding a link between glyphosate exposure and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, especially with some specific subtypes of the cancer.

  • Teen Makes Stellar Discovery of Previously Unknown Maya City (Ancient Origins)  William Gadoury, a 15 year-old Canadian from Quebec, has revolutionized the academic world by using ingenious reasoning to discover a previously unknown Maya city. Based on his own theory - that the Maya chose the location of their cities following constellations, he realized that there must be another undiscovered city in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Satellite images of the area have confirmed his hypothesis.  This article has inspired commentaries by Chuck Spinney and Roger Erickson.  See here.

  • Electric Cars Are Not Necessarily Clean (Scientific American)  This article says that electric cars are great for eliminating oil from transportation, because very little U.S. electricity is generated by burning petroleum. But electric cars may or may not help the country combat climate change—and it all depends on where the electricity comes from.  The data presented uses current electricity generation plants and concludes plug-in vehicles have pollution problems in some U.S. states because of the presence of coal-fired power plants (see graphic below).  The authors conclude this is a problem unless utilities get off coal.  Econintersect:  There seems to be no doubt that is happening.  In some places it it already has (see article today under "Germany".)


  • Can Cities Be Sustainable? (Scientific American)   In a rapidly urbanizing world, cities have become a hot spot for climate action. As urban communities expand, urban planners must increasingly play the role of climate change problem solvers, experts said yesterday.  Currently, more than 3.5 billion people live in cities, according to the World Bank. That number is expected to reach 5 billion by 2030, with two-thirds of the global population living in cities.  The adverse health and environmental effects of urban sprawl will become even more pressing as urban populations grow and their greenhouse gas emissions increase, researchers say. In response, cities need to become more vigilant.

  • USDA: Beekeepers Lost 44% of Honey Bee Colonies Last Year (Eco Watch)  On Tuesday the Bee Informed Partnership, in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), released its annual report on honey bee losses in the U.S. Beekeepers reported losing 44% of their total number of colonies managed over the last year—close to the highest annual loss in the past six years. These losses are considered too high to be sustainable for U.S. agriculture and the beekeeping industry.  Enviromentalists are blaming the use of neonicotinoid pesticides for the increased losses of bee colonies.


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