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What We Read Today 05 July 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:

  • Juno in Jupiter Orbit

  • Olympics Disaster

  • Eating Less is Poor Weight Loss Regimen

  • Why Not to Invest in Gold

  • Obama's 'Clean Coal' Boondoggle

  • What Does Solar Electricity Cost?

  • Is Solar Cheaper than Natural Gas and Coal?

  • Why Rooftop Solar is Doomed

  • Solar Learning Curves

  • FBI Finds No Criminal Charges for Hillary

  • FBI Director Destroyed Hillary's Excuses

  • Trump PAC Ties Hillary to KKK

  • Dump Trump Likely Dead

  • Trump Partnered with Couple Charged with Fraud

  • British Politicians are Quiting Right and Left

  • British Entertainers, Sports People and Ordinary Citizens are Quitting Too

  • France Anti-Terrorism Security Found Wanting

  • Islamic Sex Slaves

  • The Amazon is Burning

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • 'Welcome to Jupiter!' NASA's Juno space probe arrives at giant planet (CNN)  NASA says it has received a signal from 540 million miles across the solar system, confirming its Juno spacecraft has successfully started orbiting Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.  First video is general information about Jupiter.  Second video is time lapse presentation of Jupiter's four moons in obit around the planet taken during Juno's approach several days ago - NASA says this is the first ever video view of a planet with full orbit display of moons

U.S.

  • How the FBI’s Clinton E-Mail Decision Just Changed the 2016 Race (Bloomberg)  Donald Trump lost one of his sharpest attacks against Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid after the FBI director said Tuesday the presumptive Democratic nominee shouldn’t face criminal charges over her e-mail practices while serving as secretary of state.  But Director James B. Comey also provided potentially damaging fodder for Trump to continue to vilify Clinton, whom Trump is seeking to brand as “crooked.” While Comey said “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges, he described her and her aides’ use of e-mail as “extremely careless”.

Hillary Clinton has had several explanations as to why and how she used a private email address and server when she was Secretary of State. But in his press conference on Tuesday, FBI director James Comey seemed to refute them all.

Over the course of about 14 minutes, FBI director James Comey verbally gutted Hillary Clinton’s favorite defenses of her private email server. It’s now clear that a host of arguments she’s made to defend herself are not based in fact. 

  • ‘KKKlinton’ Pro-Trump Super PAC Tries To Tie Hillary To The Klan (The Daily Beast)  A pro-Donald Trump super PAC—subtly titled Crippled America PAC—is trying its hardest to tie Hillary Clinton to the Ku Klux Klan.  The super PAC’s website, KKKlinton.com, features a photo of Clinton alongside late Sen.Robert Byrd, a member of the KKK in the ’40s who later repented.

  • Trump Institute Offered Get-Rich Schemes With Plagiarized Lessons (The New York Times)  If you want to forgive any Trump University questionable activities (see Trump University:  It's Worse than You Think - The New Yorker), this article wants you to move on to Trump Institute, a company he did not own but gave his name to and promoted.  The operation was owned and run by "Irene and Mike Milin, a couple who had been marketing get-rich-quick courses since the 1980s".  The Milins have left a trail "pockmarked with lawsuits and regulatory actions" in at least the "33 states" mentioned in this article.

  • Why Dump Trump effort faces likely defeat at GOP convention (Associated Press)  A diverse Republican band of Donald Trump haters, conservatives and other rebels have set their sights on derailing the billionaire's march to their party's presidential nomination.  They're seeking new supporters, spending money on TV ads, hiring staff and even setting up office space near the Cleveland arena where the party gathers later this month for its national convention.  Despite their ongoing effort, Trump is moving steadily toward nailing down the nomination. This article explains why it will be hard for the dissidents to prevail.

UK

  • Cameron, Johnson, Farage, Evans: Why do top Brits keep quitting? (CNN)  Britain has been hit by an epidemic of resignations, and it's not showing any signs of stopping.  Politics, sports, entertainment, they just keep walking out.  As are its citizens - see next article.

  • Long-Term International Migration Flows to and from the UK (The Migration Observatory, University of Oxford)  While there is a net migration inflow to the UK each year, for citizens there has been a net outflow every year since 1991.   In 2015, about 39,000 more British citizens moved abroad than came back home to live in the UK.  The reasons for total immigration are varied and changing over time:

uk.migration.reasons.1991.2015

  • Conservative Party starts choosing leader as pound sinks (Associated Press)  The race to succeed Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron intensified Tuesday as Britain grappled with growing signs of economic strain resulting from the country's vote to leave the European Union.  With the British currency plunging to its lowest point in three decades, Home Secretary Theresa May scored a substantial victory in the first round of voting to determine who will follow Cameron as party leader and prime minister.  She garnered just over half the votes cast, with 165 Conservative Party members of Parliament backing her. Her strong showing does not guarantee she will eventually reside at 10 Downing Street, however, as lawmakers will vote until they narrow the field to two candidates and then put the matter to a vote before the entire party membership.

France

  • Paris attacks inquiry finds multiple failings by French intelligence agencies (The Guardian)  A French parliamentary investigation into last year’s terrorist attacks on Paris has identified multiple failings by France’s intelligence agencies.  The parliamentary commission was set up to assess the failure to prevent a series of attacks that killed a total of 147 people in 2015 – from January’s gun attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices and a kosher grocery store to the coordinated gun and bomb attacks on 13 November outside the national sports stadium, at bars and restaurants and at a rock gig at the Bataclan concert hall.  The commission highlighted a “global failure” of French intelligence and recommended a total overhaul of the intelligence services and the creation of a single, US-style national counter-terrorism agency.

Iraq

  • Islamic State tightens grip on captives held as sex slaves (Associated Press)  While the Islamic State group is losing territory in its self-styled caliphate, it is tightening its grip on the estimated 3,000 women and girls held as sex slaves. In a fusion of ancient barbaric practices and modern technology, IS sells the women like chattel on smart phone apps and shares databases that contain their photographs and the names of their "owners" to prevent their escape through IS checkpoints. The fighters are assassinating smugglers who rescue the captives, just as funds to buy the women out of slavery are drying up.  Most of the girls and women are ethnic Yazidis from northern Iraq.

Brazil

  • The Amazon is at extreme risk of wildfires (CNBC)  Broad patches of the Amazon rainforest basin are at extremely high risk for wildfires this year, according to a new report from NASA and the University of California, Irvine.  Initial conditions going into the area's dry season so far suggest this could be the toughest year for wildfires since 2002, according to a fire forecast released last week. This is worse than exceptionally dry years in 2005, 2007 and 2010, according to Yang Chen, a project scientist at the University of California, Irvine, who worked on the research.  Among the areas most at risk are deforested areas, including farms and human settlements.  The southern Amazon region (mostly in central Brazil and extending into Peru and Bolivia) has suffered an unusually large deficit of rainfall over the last three years, worsened by a strong El Nino from 2015 to 2016. 

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

  • Armour: Olympics have lost their way (USA Today, MSN News)  Far from elevating the world through sport, the upcoming Games have instead illustrated everything that’s gone wrong with the Olympic movement. Russia’s track and field team is banned and other athletes in the delegation could soon follow as punishment for a widespread, state-sponsored doping program – the complete antithesis of the idea of fair play.  Rather than fostering peace and harmony, the gathering of hundreds of thousands of fans from all corners of the world might further the spread of Zika, a virus linked to birth defects in babies.  As for the host city itself, instead of being transformative, the Games will leave a trail of broken promises stretching from one end of Rio to the other. The foul water that might never be cleaned. The infrastructure that wasn’t built. The debt that now burdens an economy that can least afford it.  Years after the flame is extinguished, Rio will still be reeling.  The squalor and sleaze that have engulfed the Rio Games cannot be what Pierre de Coubertin had in mind.

  • A nutrition expert reveals why eating less doesn't lead to weight loss (Tech Insider)  Everyone wants to look great. If you want to shed a few pounds just cut back your food intake, right? Wrong. Minor calorie reductions are better than larger.  More important are proper nutritional balance, level of exercise and proper sleep.

  • 5 Reasons Not to Invest in Gold (U.S. News & World Report)  Here is the list.  Go to the article for rationale.

  1. Poor long-term returns.

  2. Poor long-term returns.

  3. How do you value gold?

  4. Gold doesn't throw off cash.

  5. Inefficiency.

  • Piles of Dirty Secrets Behind a Model ‘Clean Coal’ Project (The New York Times)  See also following articles.  A Mississippi project, a centerpiece of President Obama’s climate plan, has been plagued by problems that managers tried to conceal, and by cost overruns and questions of who will pay.  A plant that was supposed to develop means of producing electricty by burning coal in a way that produced far less carbon and its owner, Southern Company, are the focus of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, and ratepayers, alleging fraud, are suing the company. Members of Congress have described the project as more boondoggle than boon. The mismanagement is particularly egregious, they say, given the urgent need to rein in the largest source of dangerous emissions around the world: coal plants.  Some details:

... documents and recordings, provided to The Times by a whistle-blower, an engineer named Brett Wingo, and interviews with more than 30 current or former regulators, contractors, consultants or engineers who worked on the project, show that the plant’s owners drastically understated the project’s cost and timetable, and repeatedly tried to conceal problems as they emerged.

The system of checks and balances that are supposed to keep such projects on track was outweighed by a shared and powerful incentive: The company and regulators were eager to qualify for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal subsidies for the plant, which was also aggressively promoted by Haley Barbour, who was Southern’s chief lobbyist before becoming the governor of Mississippi. Once in office, Mr. Barbour signed a law in 2008 that allowed much of the cost of building any new power plants to be passed on to ratepayers before they are built.

  • What Does Solar Electricity Cost? (Solar Cell Central)  The following table shows the Levelized Cost Of Energy (LCOE) for various sources of electricity. The LCOE is a "fair" method of comparing the cost of different complex energy technologies. It is the total life cycle cost of electricity for a given technology divided by the total life cycle electricity produced, expressed as cents per kilo-watt hour. (LCOE calculations are explained in more detail in the Utility Section in the article.) The table, derived from LCOE costs developed by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) in June, 2015, "estimates" the raw LCOE over a 30 year period for different energy sources that are brought online in the year 2020. No subsidies are included in the calculations.

lcoe.costs.eia.2015.june

  • Big solar is leaving rooftop systems in the dust (Reuters) Solar power is on pace for the first time this year to contribute more new electricity to the grid than will any other form of energy - a feat driven more by economics than green mandates. The cost of electricity from large-scale solar installations now is comparable to and sometimes cheaper than natural gas-fired power, even without incentives aimed at promoting environmentally friendly power, according to industry players and outside cost studies. Utility scale solar is much cheaper than distributed rooftop installations and the gap is expected to widen.

  • India says the cost of solar power is now cheaper than coal (Science Alert)  India's energy minister, Piyush Goyal, now says that solar power is a more cost-effective option than the old fossil-fuel staple, coal.  The article indicates that Goyal may be overstating the case, and that solar has achieved price parity with coal.  But, if the price keeps falling "at a similar rate", it will soon drop significantly below coal, with some saying that by 2020, solar could be as much as 10 percent cheaper than coal power.

  • Solar Learning Curves (Solar Cell Central)  Although further cost reductions are likely, linear extrapolation of past data is not likely to occur.

... cadmium telluride thin film panels are inherently cheaper to make than crystalline panels. These classical learning curves plot "module cost" on the Y axis vs. "cumulative quantity" produced on the X axis. Both axes are logarithmic scales. The chart illustrates that the two technologies are on distinctly different curves, not dependent on time but on volume. Although crystalline silicone is inherently more expensive, its production volume is much, much larger than cadmium telluride. At the end of 2014 crystalline silicone was at $.75 per watt while cadmium telluride was at $.70. Just looking at the curves, one would expect crystalline silicone to equal cadmium telluride in the near future.


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