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What We Read Today 21 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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The rest of this post is available only the GEI Members.  Membership is FREE -  click here

Topics today include:

  • Appeals Court Uphold's FCC Open Internet Rules

  • France Says 'Amazon Prime Now' is Unfair Competition for Local Merchants

  • The Elderly Work More, the Young Less

  • High Yield Bonds are Beating Stocks in 2016

  • Zika Vaccine in Early Stage Human Testing

  • Why America's Gun Problem is Not About Guns

  • Four Gun Control Bills Voted Down, Does a Fifth have a Chance?

  • Will Proposed Bipartisan Gun Bill Actually Do Anything Useful?

  • U.S. Motor Vehicle Death Rate Down Nearly 60% Since 1970

  • Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Has Found Zero Users

  • Trump and Clinton in the Religion Arena

  • EU Extends Russian Sanctions for 6 Months

  • Facts and Opinions about UK Migrations and Brexit

  • Israeli Troops 'Mistakenly' Shoot Palestinian Teen

  • Human Toll of the Syrian War

  • Peak Coal in China

  • Brazil's Biggest Bankruptcy Ever

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world



  • America's gun problem is so much bigger than mass shootings (The Guardian)  U.S. politicians often cite Australia as providing a model of impactful reform. This article explains why such blueprints likely won’t work to combat gun violence in the U.S.  One reason is the vastly greater scale of the problem in America.  Another is the dominant voice of gun activists who say "confiscation would prompt 'a civil war'".  Econintersect:  In other words, in America it's not the guns, stupid, it's the stupid people.

  • Senators roll out bipartisan gun proposal (The Hill)  After failing to pass four proposed bills (two from each party), Susan Collins (R, Maine) has led a bipartisan group that will present a bill to deny gun purchases to anyone on the U.S. "no-fly" list or the so-called "selectee" list, which requires additional screening at an airport.  Collins said the two lists affect approximately 109,000 people, most of whom are foreigners.   Econintersect:  This is a nearly useless piece of legislation, merely symbolic.  All U.S. shootings (we believe) have been commited by citizens or legal residents.

  • Economist: Fed needs to be more flexible (CNBC)  Prof. Miles Kimball, University of Michigan, thinks the Fed should be keeping more options open, including cutting rates.


  • Michigan's drug-testing welfare program has yielded zero positive results so far (The Guardian)  Not a single welfare recipient or applicant has tested positive for banned drugs in a Michigan pilot program, part of the growing practice of screening beneficiaries of government assistance for drug abuse.  The program, which ends on 30 September, may face renewed scrutiny in the wake of Wisconsin congresswoman Gwen Moore’s proposed legislation to force taxpayers with more than $150,000 of itemized deductions to submit to the IRS a clear drug test. Under the legislation, applicants who refuse the test would be required to take the significantly lower standard deduction when filing their taxes.  Moore’s office said drug-testing welfare recipients and applicants is “blatantly unacceptable” and pushes a stereotype that impoverished individuals are more susceptible to substance abuse than other, wealthier individuals who are beneficiaries of government programs.

  • Trump questions Clinton’s religion (The Hill)  Donald Trump questioned Hillary Clinton’s commitment to her Christian faith on Tuesday, saying that little is known about her spiritual life even though she’s been in the public eye for decades.  He spoke to "a group of top social conservative evangelical Christian leaders at a gathering in New York City".

  • Evangelical leader says Trump is ‘un-Christian,' endorses Clinton (The Hill)  A top Evangelical leader on Tuesday called Donald Trump “un-Christian” and endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. Deborah Fikes, executive advisor to the World Evangelical Alliance, a global ministry organization that works with churches in 129 countries around the world said she is “praying” for “Sister Hillary” to be elected.  Ms Fikes said:

 “Mr. Trump’s proposals are not just un-Christian — they’re un-American and at odds with the values our country holds dearest.”


  • EU to extend sanctions against Russia (The Guardian)  The European Union’s top diplomats have agreed to extend sanctions against Russia by six months to keep pressure on Moscow over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.  Ambassadors from the 28 member states agreed unanimously on Tuesday to prolong the sanctions until 31 January 2017. The EU wants more time to assess whether Russia is abiding by peace agreements signed at Minsk aimed at bringing peace to war-hit eastern Ukraine.


  • 5 facts about migration and the United Kingdom (Pew Research Center)  Mobility is a key word for the UK.  Immigration to Great Britain is 5th largest in the wold and emigration from Great Britain is the 10th largest in the world.  Pew's five facts:

  1. The UK has the fifth-largest immigrant population in the world, at 8.5 million.

  2. As of 2015, the UK’s immigrant population has one of the most diverse groups of origin countries in the world.

  3. About a third of the UK’s immigrants (2.9 million, or 34%) were born in other EU countries.

  4. In 2015, about 4.9 million people born in the UK lived in other countries, the 10th-largest emigrant population in the world.

  5. Only 25% of the UK’s emigrant population lives in other EU countries, the lowest share among EU nations.

A vote to stay in the EU thus is a vote to abolish the United Kingdom as a sovereign state and merge it into the undemocratic United States of Europe which the European elites are building under US tutelage. That the European public – and, it seems, even European politicians – have little or no input in key European decisions can be seen from the increasingly aggressive NATO stance against Russia (Brussels-based NATO being the military arm of the EU, which is overtly under direct US control), and the one-sided sanctions against Russia that the US could simply order the Europeans to implement (causing significant losses in incomes and jobs in Europe, while boosting US business interests). Immigration policies are another case in point. If the US had in the past considered the largely homogeneous European populations a source of potential European resistance against its plans for Europe, then the policy to replace them with balkanized failed ‚melting pots‘ also makes sense.

Boris Johnson says we’ll get a good trade deal with the European Union because Germany wants to sell us BMWs.

What he doesn’t say is that our exports to the EU are 13% of our economy, while their exports to us are only 3% of their economy.

So, we’d be the big losers from a trade war.

We need them more than they need us.


  • Freed Ukrainian pilot calls for talks with separatist rebels (The Guardian)   Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian helicopter pilot who spent more than a year in a Russian jail, has issued a surprise call for direct dialogue with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”.  Savchenko was sentenced to 22 years in jail in March but released as part of a prisoner swap last month. She returned to Kiev a hero and has taken up the parliamentary seat she was given while jailed.  Savchenko, who served in a Ukrainian volunteer battalion prior to her arrest, was expected to take a hard line on the conflict in the east, but instead said direct dialogue was required, in addition to keeping up international diplomatic pressure on Russia.


  • Israeli troops 'mistakenly' kill Palestinian teenager (The Guardian)  Israeli troops have shot dead a 15-year-old Palestinian boy as he travelled home from a family outing, after opening fire in response to stone-throwing in which the boy had not been involved.  A preliminary investigation by the Israeli military found that the car the boy was traveling in had been “mistakenly hit” as the soldiers chased Palestinian stone throwers who had injured an Israeli bus passenger and two tourists in another vehicle. The shooting near the village of Beit Sira was angrily condemned by the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.



  • China: Is peak coal part of its problem? (Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World)  GT has contributed to GEI.  The world’s coal resources are clearly huge. How could China, or the world in total, reach peak coal in a timeframe that makes a difference?  If we look at China’s coal production and consumption in BP’s 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy (SRWE), we see that China's coal production and consumption are bothy rolling over.  See first graph below.  But Coal is still a large part of China's energy picture.  See second graph below.  This reflects, according to Tverberg, the slowing of the Chinese economy more than a conversion away from coal to other energy sources.




  • Oi Bankruptcy Sends Shockwaves Through Brazil’s Financial System (Bloomberg)   Wireless carrier Oi SA has made the largest bankruptcy filing in Brazil’s history.  The unrelenting two-year recession is wreaking havoc on Brazilian corporations, which have been beaten down by high interest rates, lower commodity prices and a weaker currency. Bankruptcy filings doubled in May to 184 after rising 55% last year.

  • Amazon jaguar shot dead at Olympic torch ceremony (Reuters)  A jaguar featured at an Olympic torch ceremony was shot dead by a soldier shortly after the event in the Brazilian Amazon city of Manaus as the animal escaped from its handlers, an army statement said.  The jaguar was killed Monday at a zoo attached to a military training center, when a soldier fired a single pistol shot after the animal, despite being tranquilized, approached the soldier.  The smiling yellow jaguar known as Ginga was the mascot of the Brazilian Olympic team.  The shooting caused uproar among animal rights groups, which questioned why the animal was involved in the Olympic event.

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

  • Net Neutrality Ruling Finally Rights A Terrible Wrong (Popular Resistance)  Hat tip to Joe Firestone.  This week the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rebuffed efforts by the telecom industry to block the FCC’s open-internet rules. According to the author, "this victory is a testament to the indefatigable work of millions of citizens determined to stand up to corporate lobbies".  For now (the Supreme Court may still hear an appeal), the court "turned down the ridiculous efforts of the big telecom companies to derail the Federal Communications Commission’s open-internet — or “net-neutrality” — rules".

  • S&P 500 is Hanging on a Ledge (Lee Adler, Twitter)  LA contributes to GEI.  For how things ended up see GEI Market Close to be posted between 4 and 4:30 pm here.  For Technical Outlook see Jim Welsh from last night


  • Amazon Prime Now suffers setback (Business Insider)  France has charged that Amazon's immediate delivery service "unfair competition" because it runs until 10 pm on Sunday when most other businesses are closed.  Econintersect:  This is like a government a century ago labeling cars unfair competition for horse-drawn carriages because they move too fast.


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