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What We Read Today 26 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:

  • Left Gains Majority in Spain's Parliamentary Election

  • The Next "Citizen's United" is Coming

  • U.S. Demographic Forecast is Improving

  • Payday Lender "Felt Like a Gangster"

  • World Markets Worsen

  • Fastest Growing U.S. Cities

  • Toxic Air Pollution from Oil and Gas Industry

  • World's First 24/7 Solar Electricity Plant

  • More Inside Stories on Brexit

  • Norway Bans Deforestation

  • Iran's Oil Boom Has Fizzled Out

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Juno probe closes in on Jupiter after five-year journey from Earth (The Guardian)  Scientists are preparing for a bumpy ride as they send a spacecraft perilously close to Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system.  The Juno probe is due to reach the gas giant on 4 July after a five-year, 1.4bn-mile journey from Earth.  It will enter a long polar orbit flying to within 2,900 miles (4,600km) of the planet’s swirling cloud tops. No previous spacecraft has orbited so close to Jupiter, although two others have been sent plunging to their destruction through its atmosphere.  To complete its risky mission Juno will have to survive a circuit-frying radiation storm generated by Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field.


  • The Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities: The Latest Numbers (Forbes)  Americans have strongly returned to their decades long pattern of greater suburbanization and migration to lower-density, lower-cost metropolitan areas, largely in the South, Intermountain West and, most of all, in Texas.  Number 15 on the latest list is San Antonio, Texas, while Houston is at the top of the list.  Click on title for slide show of all 15. 

  • Interactive Map Shows Where Toxic Air Pollution From Oil and Gas Industry Is Threatening 12.4 Million Americans (EcoWatch)   Two leading national environmental groups—Clean Air Task Force (CATF) and Earthworks—unveiled a suite of tools Wednesday designed to inform and mobilize Americans about the health risks from toxic air pollution from the oil and gas industry.  For the first time, Americans across the country—from Washington County, Pennsylvania, to Weld County, Colorado to Kern County, California—can access striking new community-level data on major health risks posed by oil and gas operations across the country.  The oil and gas industry is the country’s largest and fastest-growing source of methane emissions. And its facilities emit numerous other hazardous and toxic air pollutants along with methane—including benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and ethylbenzene. That toxic pollution presents significant cancer and respiratory health risks, underscoring the need for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up existing sources of toxic air pollution without delay, according to this article.

  • World’s First 24/7 Solar Power Plant Powers 75,000 Homes (EcoWatch)  SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes Project in Tonopah, Nevada is quietly providing clean, green solar energy to 75,000 homes in the Silver State even when the sun isn’t shining.  More than 10,000 movable mirrors, or heliostats, reflect solar energy to a central, 640-foot tower that heats up salt to 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit.  The molten salt provides a thermal reservoir. When electricity is needed on the grid, the molten salt gets dispatched through a heat exchanger to create super-heated steam to power a traditional steam turbine.  The whole project cost slightly under $1 billion and SolarReserve holds a 25-year contract to supply power to NV Energy for $135 per megawatt hour ($0.135 per kilowatt hour).  Econintersect:  When average transmission and distribution costs are added, the cost per kwh delivered to a customer would be $0.146, on average.  This is higher than the average for residential and commercial users ($0.12 - $0.14 in California, $0.12 - $0.135 in Nevada and $0.10 - $0.12.3 in Arizona).  Of course, the existing charges to customers do not include any assessment for fossil fuel environmental damage which is avoided with the CSP process.  Not that there is no environmental concern with CSP - birds flying into the energy beams between the mirrors anf the salt tower are immediatly fried and vaporized.


  • Second EU referendum petition investigated for fraud (BBC News)  The House of Commons petitions committee is investigating allegations of fraud in connection with a petition calling for a second EU referendum.  Its inquiry is focused on the possibility that some names could be fraudulent - 77,000 signatures have already been removed.  More than 3.2 million signatures are on the petition so far, but PM David Cameron has said there will be no second vote. 

  • Meet 10 Britons who voted to leave the EU (The Guardian)  Hat tip to Edward Harrison.  These 10 "Leave" voters had a variety of reasons, from wanting to hurt the government and banks, to betrayal of the working class and conviction that the EU is a doomed organization..

  • Racist Incidents Have U.K. Worried What Referendum Wrought (Bloomberg)  A spate of racist incidents in the U.K. in the wake of Thursday’s vote to leave the European Union have Britons concerned the result is emboldening extremist elements in society.

"If the Scottish Parliament was judging this on the basis of what's right for Scotland then the option of saying look we're not to vote for something that's against Scotland's interest, of course that's got to be on the table."



  • Spain’s Left-Wing Groups Probably Won Majority: Exit Poll (Bloomberg)  Spain’s two main leftist parties, the anti-establishment group Podemos and the 137-year-old Socialists, probably won a majority of seats in parliament in Sunday’s election, an exit poll showed.  Podemos won 91 to 95 seats compared with 71 at the last vote in December while the Socialists slipped to 81 to 85 seats from 90, according to the poll by Sigma Dos published by the state broadcaster. While 176 lawmakers combined would, in theory, give the two groups a majority in the 350-seat chamber, Podemos’s surge may complicate negotiations because many Socialist activists may recoil at the thought of helping their rivals take power.


  • Dead Sea drying: A new low-point for Earth (BBC News)  The Dead Sea, the salty lake located at the lowest point on Earth, is gradually shrinking under the heat of the Middle Eastern sun. For those who live on its shores it's a slow-motion crisis - but finding extra water to sustain the sea will be a huge challenge.


  • Iran's Oil Boom Fizzles Out (Bloomberg)  A slowdown in demand from the EU has caused Iran's surging oil production to pull back slightly so far in June.


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

  • EMT fatally falls off cliff while taking a photo (New York Post)  Lt. JoAnn Restko, who worked out of FDNY EMS Station 7 in Chelsea, lost her footing on a cliffside near Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains over the weekend while taking a photo (reportedly a selfie) about a week ago.  See also Our cellphones are killing us.

  • Beamreach Says Its Lightweight Solar System Slashes Commercial Solar Install Time by up to 80 Percent (Renewable Energy World)   One of the problems with traditional commercial rooftop solar is that it’s mighty heavy. Since commercial roofs tend to be very flat and commercial systems very large, the roofs often cannot withstand the weight of traditional ballasted systems that use heavy concrete blocks to help hold down the panels. The only other option for commercial roofs are solar systems that are mechanically attached to the roof, meaning that installers need to drill holes into the roof, potentially compromising its integrity.  Beamreach, formerly Solexel, thinks it has a better mousetrap. The company is unveiling its new name and “Sprint” rooftop system this week at Intersolar Europe. Sprint integrates racking into the panel. To install panels on a roof, installers need only flip down an already-integrated adhesive-covered “foot” and step on it to adhere the system to the roof.

  • The next ‘Citizens United’ is coming (The Center for Public Integrity)  This suit argues that if independent outside groups such as super PACs are permitted to raise and spend unlimited amounts of such money, there’s no reason why state political parties, acting independently of federal candidates, should be treated differently. Political parties are “disadvantaged” compared to super PACs, according to James Bopp in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity.  Bopp is the lead attorney in this case, as he was for the infamous 'Citizens United' which removed limits that had been imposed on money in federal elections.  Bopp say, of the state level party organizations:

 “They want to compete, and they want to do this activity without the severe restrictions that they suffer under.”

  • Largest 5-year Population Cohorts are now "20 to 24" and "25 to 29" (Calculated Risk)  There will be plenty of "gray hairs" walking around in 2020 and 2030, but the key for the economy is the population is the prime working age will be increasing.  This is very positive for housing and the economy.  Demographics are becoming more favorable!  Only once (in 2020) does a cohort over 60 show in the top 11. This is in sharp contrast to other major economies (Europe, Japan, China). 


Click for larger image.

  • World Markets Weekend Update: A Worsening Situation Following the Brexit Vote (Advisor Perspectives  Doug Short is a regualr contributor to GEI.  Equity markets around the globe plunged on Friday in response the Brexit vote outcome. Actually, prior to the Friday selloff, the week was looking rather positive for our eight-member watch list. Ironically, on a week-over-week basis, the UK's FTSE was the best performer, despite its -3.15% Friday loss. For the second consecutive week, Japan's Nikkei has the painful distinction of being the biggest loser, down 4.15%, which, sadly, is an improvement over its 6.03% rout the previous week.

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