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What We Read Today 15 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:

  • Facebook Wants to Monopolize Web News

  • Wells Fargo Loan Volumes Up Strongly

  • Countrywide Executive Whistleblower Had Career Ended While the Criminals Went Free

  • Crude Oil Reservoirs Killed the Dinosaurs

  • Solar Farms Create Micro-Climates

  • Trump Selects Mike Pence

  • Long Classified Section of 9/11 Report Questions Saudi Arabia Connection

  • Oil Patch May Soon Have a Worker Shortage

  • BP Bill Up To $61.6 Billion

  • Is the Shale Revolution a "Bump" or a "Mountain"?

  • Woman Who Created America's 'Tiananmen Moment' Speaks Out

  • France Toll Now 84 Dead Plus 25 on Life Support

  • Big Profits in Mexico if Trump Builds Wall

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • Study: Crude Oil Reserves Contributed to Dinosaur Extinction (R&D)   A new theory has emerged potentially shedding light on why the dinosaurs became extinct yet crocodiles were able to survive this cataclysmic event.  The new study, proposed by Tohoku University Professor Kunio Kaiho and his research team, suggests the asteroid responsible for wiping out these creatures sent a massive amount of soot into the atmosphere after crashing into an oil reserve located in Chicxlub, an oil-rich region located in present-day Mexico.  Kaiho’s team made this observation by analyzing samples of sedimentary organic molecules collected in Haiti and Spain, according to Tohoku’s announcement.  The first location was in Haiti near the impact and the second was in Spain, which was far away from the initial blast zone. Both areas had a similar composition of combusted organic molecules displaying high energy signatures leading the scientists to believe this was a result of the soot from the original asteroid crash.

  • Solar Panel Study Reveals Impact on Earth (R&D)  Solar farms can create their own micro-climates.  Researchers have produced the first detailed study of the impact of solar parks on the environment, opening the door to smarter forms of farming and better land management.  Environmental Scientists at Lancaster University and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology monitored a large solar park, near Swindon, for a year.  They found that solar parks altered the local climate, measuring cooling of as much as 5 degrees Centigrade under the panels during the summer but the effects varied depending on the time of year and the time of day.  As climate controls biological processes, such as plant growth rates, this is really important information and can help understand how best to manage  solar parks so they have environmental benefits in addition to supplying low carbon energy.

U.S.

trump.vp.twitter

  • Long-classified section of U.S. 9/11 report made public (Reuters)  The U.S. Congress on Friday released a long-classified section of the official report on the Sept. 11, attacks which discussed potential links between some of the hijackers and Saudi Arabia but said the links were not independently verified.  The 28 pages of the report on the 2002 investigation focus on potential Saudi links to the 2001 aircraft attacks on the United States, in which nearly 3,000 people died.  They were issued by the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee after years of wrangling in Washington between Congress and different administrations, Republicans and Democrats, and urging by families of those killed.  The release of the previously classified pages is unlikely to end the controversy over the role of Saudi Arabia, an important U.S. partner in the Middle East. Many U.S. officials who opposed their release had worried they would damage diplomatic relations.  Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi citizens.

  • U.S. Energy Industry Could Soon Face Worker Shortage (Oil Pro)  Half of the 170,000 jobs lost in the oil patch since 2014 could be coming back over the next two years.  Goldman Sachs released a recent report that stated the industry would need to add approximately 80,000 to 100,000 jobs between now and the end of 2018 to meet the expected ramp-up in drilling activity, well completion and other logistical work.  Goldman’s estimate for additional workforce is based on a forecast for U.S. oil production to resume growing in the next year after the recent job to two-year lows. The expected growth would require approximately 700 oil rigs to be added with each one supporting an average of 120 to 150 employees.  Goldman sees a halt to the U.S. oil production slump which reached a year-over-year decline of more than 8% in April this year.

us.oil.production.2011.2016.april

  • BP Estimates Deepwater Horizon Liabilities (OilPro)   BP announced today that following significant progress in resolving outstanding claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill, it can now reliably estimate all of its remaining material liabilities in connection with the incident.  As a result, taking into account this estimate together with other positive tax adjustments, BP expects to take an after-tax non-operating charge of around $2.5 billion in its 2Q 2016 results.  This charge is expected to include a pre-tax non-operating charge associated with the oil spill of around $5.2 billion. This would bring the total cumulative pre-tax charge relating to the Deepwater Horizon incident to $61.6 billion or $44.0 billion after tax.

  • The Shale Revolution - An Illusion For Some, Opportunity for Others (OilPro)  There is doubt about just how significant the "shale revolution" will be.  Sceptics say that it will represent not much more than a minor bulge in the hydrocarbon (oil and gas) fuel cycle that the world has experienced since the mid 1800´s, and which could maybe last somewhat beyond the end of the 21st Century.  The impact on a falling crude production curve will be short-lived, according to the sceptics.  And the extension of the "natural gas age" into the 21st century will come from unconventional gas resources such as gas hydrates, rather than shale gas, as hydrates come closer to being a commercial reality.  See Frozen Heat: A Global Outlook on Methane Hydrate (U.S. Department of Energy).  While there is little argument that the "fossil fuel age" will come to an end, there is much debate about just how that will happen and how soon.  But new technology will have an important impact on just how this palys out - see next article.

shale.revolution

  • New Oilfield Technologies You Should Keep An Eye On (Drilling Info)  This article discusses the emerging technologies that could continue to bring shale oil production costs down a learning curve that has seen costs from from the $60 - $80 per barrel a few years ago to $30 - $50 a barrel today.  How this plays out will have a big impact on the sustainability questions raised in the preceding article.

  • Woman in iconic Baton Rouge protest photo speaks out (CBS News, YouTube)  Iesha Evans, who's photo last weekend as she was rushed by officers in riot gear in Baton Rouge, La. In the now-iconic photo (some have called it America's Tiananmen moment), Evans stands calmly during a peaceful protest against police brutality. Evans spoke with "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King.

France

  • With 84 dead, France investigates whether truck attacker acted alone (Reuters)   French authorities were trying to determine on Friday whether a Tunisian who killed at least 84 people by plowing a truck into Bastille Day crowds had acted alone or with accomplices, but said the attack bore the hallmarks of Islamist militants.  Thursday night's attack in the Riviera city of Nice plunged France into new grief and fear just eight months after gunmen killed 130 people in Paris. Those attacks, and one in Brussels four months ago, have shocked Western Europe, already anxious over security challenges from mass immigration, open borders and pockets of Islamist radicalism.  At least 25 of the survivors are on life support.

  • French Killer Not on Terror List, Used Islamic State Tactics (Bloomberg)  The man who killed 84 people and injured 202 during a Bastille Day celebration in Nice Thursday was known to law enforcement for petty theft and domestic violence but wasn’t on any list of people known to be radicalized, France’s chief anti-terror prosecutor said.  Mohamed Lahouaej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian living in France, had rented the 19-ton refrigerated truck that he used to drive along the city’s beach promenade, plowing into celebratory crowds for 2.3 kilometers (1.4 miles), Paris anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters.  The driver used a 7.65mm automatic pistol to fire on police before they shot him. 

Mexico

  • If Trump Builds a Wall, a Mexican Cement Maker Would Profit Most (Bloomberg)   One of the biggest beneficiaries of Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the Mexican border might be a company from south of the Rio Grande: Cemex SAB.  The largest cement maker in the Americas would be “best positioned” to profit from such a large construction project, according to a report by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Other likely beneficiaries include another Mexican company Cemex owns a stake in, Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua SAB, as well as Martin Marietta Materials Inc., Vulcan Materials Co. and CalPortland Co.

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

  • Facebook: Consolidation Continues With Instant Articles (Seeking Alpha)  Instant Articles is essentially the media arm of FB's app consolidation plan and allows for users to interface with linked articles directly on FB. In April, FB made its Instant Articles feature available to all publishers. Today, the company announced that Instant Articles would be integrated into Messenger so that Instant Articles could be shared in links sent within FB conversations.  Instant Articles will change the way media is consumed and likely transition a majority of content from a publisher website directly to FB.  Econintersect:  This is another way that traffic will be removed from smaller websites and concentrated on Facebook.  Facebook has already cut YouTube out of the loop for videos displayed on Facebook.  And this limits how other websites can interface with such content.  Whereas videos from YouTube can be embedded on another website so that the appearance is one of a "native" video on the user site, clicking play actually activates a display directly on YouTube and is recorded as a page view by YouTube.  When a YouTube video is adapted to Facebook it appears that YouTube itself disappears from the user contact record and "clicks" accrue only to Facebook.  If our understanding is correct, then the Instant Articles feature will similarly remove the source site from the "click" record and none of the reads on Facebook will be accredited to the source.  This removes all reason for existence for the participating website with respect to anything posted on Instant Articles.  It appears that Facebook has a goal of consolidation of smaller website publishing activity onto Facebook itself.  This removes revenue opportunity for all such participants, unless Facebook starts paying providers of Instant Articles.

  • America's biggest bank just proved the economy has plenty of fuel (Business Insider)  Wells Fargo, the largest US bank by market capitalization, released second-quarter earnings Friday, and while the company reported profits right in line with expectations, underneath the hood was some great news for the economy.  In nearly every category, Wells added to its loan portfolio, indicating a strong desire for credit from both businesses and households.  Click graphic for larger image at Business Insider.

michael.winston.gretchen.morgenstern


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