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What We Read Today 08 June 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:

  • Ecological Risks Unknown for Genetic Mutations Using CRISPR

  • Causes of Death by Age

  • Keynes Foreseeing Future Lessons from WW II in 1939

  • How Employment Report Crushed the Dollar

  • When Hobbits Walked the Earth

  • If You Omit the Middle East, Peace Prospects are Looking Up

  • Has America Run Out of Qualified Workers?

  • The Core Reason for the Public Pensions Problem

  • European Floods Continue Even as Some Subside

  • ISIS Under Attack

  • Russia Wants to Compete with Boeing and Airbus

  • Maria Sharapova Banned for Taking Heart Disease Drug

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Middle East Violence Mars Improving World Peace Outlook (Bloomberg)  The economic cost of violence in 2015 was $13.6 trillion, or 13.3 percent of world gross domestic product, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index. That’s 11 times the size of global foreign investment.  “If you take the Middle East out of the equation, the world has become more peaceful,” Steve Killelea, the institute’s founder, said in an interview. “Whether it’s terrorism, war casualties or refugees, the nexus is in the Middle East.”  Iceland was again the safest country in the world, followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal. Syria was the least peaceful, followed by South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. The five countries whose scores worsened the most last year were Yemen, Ukraine, Turkey, Libya and Bahrain. The five that improved the most were Panama, Thailand, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Mauritania.  Among large countries, the U.S. was the 103rd-most peaceful out of 163.


  • Trump Says 'No Reason' to Raise $1 Billion for Campaign (Bloomberg)  Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump distanced himself from his own fundraising estimate of $1 billion, refusing to commit to collecting even half that amount, and saying his campaign didn't need much money to win the White House.  Trump said he'll probably choose one of four or five politicians as his running mate, and that his short list includes some vanquished rivals who have dropped out of the 2016 presidential race.


  • Europe floods: Storms and heavy rain batter continent (BBC News)  Heavy weather is continuing to batter parts of Europe as floodwaters recede in France and Germany.  In Belgium, a torrent of muddy water washed through streets and damaged cars in the town of Genappe, south of Brussels.  Lightning strikes caused damage in several countries and a tornado was seen over the German city of Hamburg.  At least 18 people died in Europe last week as heavy rain caused flooding across the continent.


  • Body on the Moor (BBC News)  A mystery surrounds the 6-month-old case of the discovery of a man inappropriately dressed for the weather found sitting dead in the middle of a remote moor.  The man asked for directions "to the top of the mountain" mid-afternoon on the last day he was seen alive.


  • Three killed in Palestinian shooting attack in Tel Aviv: Israeli police (Reuters)  Two Palestinian gunmen killed three people and wounded seven on Wednesday in an attack at a popular shopping and dining area near Israel's Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.  Both of the gunmen who opened fire outside the open-air Sarona shopping complex were apprehended, and one of them was wounded. Hospital officials said four of the seven people wounded were in critical condition.


  • Advances on IS strongholds underlines US, Russia convergence (Associated Press)  A two-pronged advance to capture key urban strongholds of the Islamic State group and its self-styled capital of Raqqa has underlined a quiet convergence of strategy between the U.S. and Russia to defeat the extremists, with Syria's Kurds emerging as the common link.  The dual advance toward Raqqa by the Syrian army from the southwest and the predominantly Kurdish Syria Democratic Forces from the north and west puts further pressure on the militants as they fend off simultaneous attacks on bastions such as Fallujah, and potentially Mosul, in neighboring Iraq.  The Kurdish involvement is proving vital to the interests of Washington and Moscow.


  • Iraqi troops in southern Fallujah for first time in 2 years (Associated Press)  Although other security forces from the federal and provincial police, government-sanctioned Shiite militias and the Iraqi military have surrounded the city, only the elite counterterrorism troops are fighting inside Fallujah at this stage of the operation. And they are doing so under the close cover of U.S.-led coalition airpower.


  • Russia unveils new passenger plane it says will rival Boeing, Airbus (Reuters)  Russia on Wednesday presented a new medium-range passenger plane which state media said was superior to its Western-made counterparts in many respects and would be snapped up by both Russian and foreign carriers.

  • Maria Sharapova banned for two years for failed drugs test but will appeal (BBC Sport)  Maria Sharapova has been banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation for using a prohibited drug.  The Russian was provisionally banned in March after testing positive for meldonium at January's Australian Open.  The heart disease drug, which 29-year-old Sharapova says she has been taking since 2006 for health issues, became a banned substance on 1 January 2016.  The five-time Grand Slam winner said she "cannot accept" the "unfairly harsh" ban - and will appeal.

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

  • Fast-Spreading Genetic Mutations Pose an Ecological Risk (Scientific American)  Gene drives have been studied for more than half a century, and have long been postulated as a way to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria. But the field was hampered by technical challenges until the recent advent of sophisticated—and easy-to-use—tools for engineering genomes. In the past two years, researchers have used a popular gene-editing technique called CRISPR–Cas9 to develop gene drives that spread a given gene through a population almost exponentially faster than normal in yeast, fruit flies and two species of mosquitoes.  In a report released on June 8, a committee convened by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. argued that such ‘gene drives’ pose complex ecological risks that are not yet fully understood. 

  • Ben Stein Slams Trump, Sanders And Clinton On Their Economics (Tim Worstall, Forbes)  The economic programs of the candidates is in need of cogent critical review.  Econintersect:  This article gets 2 out of 3:  "critical" and "review".

  • Causes of death by age. (Twitter)


  • Keynes in 1939: The Coming War Will Solve our Unemployment Problem (  This video was posted on the site as a point to ridicule.  Two years later to the day (following Keynes' remarks), in a lecture delivered shortly after his arrival in the U.S., Ludwig von Mises described how the great experiment really looked like.  The contrast is specious, of course, because Keynes was not praising war but the expenditure of resources on great projects, such as was undertaken during the Eisenhower administration with the U.S. interstate highway system.  The quote for Mises: 

We are witnesses to the most frightful and phenomenal occurrence in human history: the decay of Western civilization. London, one of the centers of this civilization... is almost completely destroyed. The buildings of the Parliament of Westminster are in ruins; the House of Commons holds its assemblies in the catacombs. [...] The theater of war is spreading, and the day seems not distant when peace will have lost its last refuge. It is a moral and material collapse without precedent.


  • Holy Frodo! Hobbits really did walk the Earth, scientists say (USA Today)  According to many scientists, a species of miniature beings distantly related to Homo sapiens once lived on the Indonesian island of Flores until about 50,000 to 100,000 years ago.  Now, in a find that has intrigued and surprised scholars, an international team has unearthed fossils of the hobbits’ ancestors. The fossils suggest hobbits descended from much bigger forebears who “experienced extreme dwarfism on the island of Flores”.  Many anthropologists are skeptical of this interpretation and further excavations are ongoing in hopes of finding fossils older than the 700,000 year-old-specimens that led to the proposal that the "hobbits" might have evolved from larger humanoids.


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