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What We Read Today 11 August 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:

  • Science and Creationism

  • Are Regulations Killing the Economy?

  • Billionaires are Sitting on $1.7 Trillion in Cash

  • Half of U.S. Jobs Going to Robots within 20 Years

  • Vail Buys Whistler

  • Russian Hackers Sweeping a Much Wider Swath thatn Just DNC

  • Whitehouse Advisor Got Large Loans from Member of Law Firm Representing Corporations to the Government

  • Jewish-Arab Schools in Israel

  • U.S. Welcomes Turkish-Russian Cooperation Against Islamic State

  • Can Iran Reach Europe without Going Through Turkey?

  • Ukraine Charges Russia Has Massed 40,000 Troops on Border

  • Russia Charges Ukraine with Terrorism

  • Mongolia has Financial Crisis

  • India's Growth Opportunities

  • Canada Foils ISIS Plot

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • The Silver Lining of Vail’s Bid to Take Over Skiing (Outside)  Vail is going international.  When Vail Resorts (VR) announced Monday morning its plan to buy Whistler Blackcomb, the Canadian ski resort, you could almost hear the sound of ten million jaws dropping. It wasn’t Coke buying Pepsi, but to skiers and snowboarders and anyone who follows the balance of snowsports power, it was close.  For years, the only North American resort that has attracted more skier visits than Vail Mountain has been Whistler Blackcomb. Vail’s 5,289 skiable acres sounds like a lot. In fact, until last year’s merging of two other ski areas Vail Resorts recently bought, Park City and Canyons in Utah, it was by far the most in America. But Vail’s size is a mere 65 percent of Whistler Blackcomb’s 8,171 skiable acres, which is part of the reason why Whistler has been ranked No. 1 in North America by readers of SKI magazine the past two years. 


  • Russian Hackers of DNC Said to Nab Secrets From NATO, Soros (Bloomberg)  Weeks before the Democratic convention was upended by 20,000 leaked e-mails released through WikiLeaks, another little-known website began posting the secrets of a top NATO general, billionaire George Soros’ philanthropy and a Chicago-based Clinton campaign volunteer.  Security experts now say that site,, with its spiffy capitol-dome logo, shows the marks of the same Russian intelligence outfit that targeted the Democratic political organizations.  The e-mails and documents posted to the DCLeaks site in early June suggest that the hackers may have a broader agenda than influencing the U.S. presidential election, one that ranges from the Obama administration’s policy toward Russia to disclosures about the hidden levers of political power in Washington.

  • While in the White House, Economist Received Personal Loans From Top Washington Lawyer (Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica)  JE has contributed to GEI. In 2011, President Obama's chief economic advisor Gene Sperling borrowed between $100,000 and $250,000 at 5%, a rate that appears to be well below the interest banks charged at the time for comparable loans, from a close friend from law school: Howard Shapiro, a top partner at the Washington powerhouse law firm WilmerHale.  The firm frequently negotiates with the government on behalf of some of the nation’s leading corporations. Sperling listed his borrowing on his financial disclosure forms.  Sperling asked the White House Counsel’s office and the Office of Government Ethics for permission to borrow from Shapiro, whose firm frequently negotiates with the government on behalf of some of the nation’s leading corporations. Officials approved the transactions.  In each of the next two years, Sperling went to Shapiro again, taking out two more loans that brought his debt to a total of between $300,000 and $600,000. (The forms require disclosure of a range, not specific figures.) The loans are unsecured.  In each of the next two years, Sperling went to Shapiro again, taking out two more loans that brought his debt to a total of between $300,000 and $600,000. (The forms require disclosure of a range, not specific figures.) The loans are unsecured. Sperling consolidated earlier loans from Shapiro, one made in 2006 and the 2011 loan, into the later ones.  Today, Sperling is advising the Hillary Clinton campaign on economics.


  • How Carlos Santana is helping to promote coexistence in Israel (Al Monitor)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  Santana likes to tell his concert fans that the Milagro (Miracle) Foundation he founded with his family members chose to invest in children because they are the future of the world. Santana's foundation and The Hand in Hand Foundation share the same goals as Santana’s philanthropic foundation, especially now.  The groups are supporting the establishment of schools shared by Jewish and Arabic students in Isreael.  Each class in these schools has two head teachers — a Jew and an Arab. Together, they teach the curriculum in both languages and the schools operate according to a calendar that includes the Jewish, Muslim and Christian holidays.



  • Can Iran go around Turkey to reach Europe? (Al Monitor)  Iran's geostrategic location, along with its historic role as a conduit for the exchange of goods - especially its position on the ancient Silk Road - has made the country one of the most active transportation hubs in the world.  Through both its northern land borders and the Caspian Sea, Iran has access to Central Asia, the Caucasus and Russia. To its south, it is connected to international waters through the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Iran's unique access to landlocked countries and its exceptional location make it an ideal transit hub — both in terms of cost and time efficiency.  For years, Turkey has been the best conduit for the transportation of Iranian goods to reach Europe. Yet in terms of transit, things have turned ugly between the two countries in recent years.  Turkey is moving to establish viable trade transport routes that will avoid Turkey entirely.


  • Ukraine says Russia has 40,000 troops amassed in Crimea with 'very bad intentions' (Reuters, Business Insider)  A build-up of Russian military on Ukraine's border with the Crimean region, which has been annexed by Moscow, could reflect "very bad intentions", Ukraine's U.N. envoy warned on Thursday after the U.N. Security Council discussed the growing tensions.  Ukrainian U.N. Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko, who requested the closed-door meeting of the 15-member council, said Russia had amassed more than 40,000 troops in Crimea, seized by Moscow in 2014, and on the Ukrainian border.


  • Russia Accuses Ukraine Of 'Terrorist' Attack In Crimea (NPR)  President Vladimir Putin says he'll beef up Russia's military force in Crimea, after Russia's security service claimed that it thwarted a would-be terrorist incursion from Ukraine over the weekend.  The Federal Security Service, the FSB, said that teams of commandos from Ukraine's defense forces made two attempts to enter the Black Sea peninsula, with the intention of sabotaging vital infrastructure. The FSB said Ukrainian forces attempted to cover the infiltration by directing heavy fire at the Russian side, killing two Russian servicemen.  Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dismissed the Russian claims, calling them "fantasy" and a "provocation." Poroshenko issued a statement saying that Ukraine would never use terrorism to regain its occupied territory.


  • Mongolia Calls for Economic ‘Crisis’ Plan; Bonds Tumble (Bloomberg)  Mongolia is planning to set up a task force to deal with an “economic crisis’’ that’s led to slowing growth, a declining currency and a soaring budget deficit, the nation’s finance minister said. Government bonds due in 2022 tumbled the most on record and the currency weakened.


  • India’s ascent: Five opportunities for growth and transformation (McKinsey)  The country could create sustainable economic conditions in five ways, such as promoting acceptable living standards, improving the urban infrastructure, and unlocking the potential of women.  The prospects for India stand out among emerging economies.



  • Man in Ontario raid made 'martyrdom video,' planned attack: Canadian police (Reuters)  The man killed during a Canadian police raid at his home in Ontario on Wednesday was a supporter of Islamic State who was in the final stages of attacking a major urban center with a homemade bomb, police said on Thursday.  Police raided the home of Aaron Driver in the small town of Strathroy after receiving credible information, including a "martyrdom video", from U.S. authorities that he planned what could have been a "dreadful" attack, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said.

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

  • When Science Stands Up To Creationism (NPR)  Interesting article about pushback received by a scientist who argued that religion is not science and it is wrong to confuse children by teaching creationism as science.  The authors says:

    Children need to be taught the facts from geology, biology, anthropology and other sciences, how those facts were determined, and how those facts will be refined with new knowledge over time. ...creationist supporters push religion as science; they claim that evolutionary "theory" means the science is wishy-washy on facts, which is a major misunderstanding of what theory means in science; they push false information as fact. None of that is okay.

    Econintersect: We would summarize the situation as: Scientists summarize what they don't know with questions; Theologians summarize what they don't know with beliefs.

  • Are Regulations Killing Our Economy? (Richard Bowen)  If you want to be amused, this article links to a debate sponsored by McCuistion Television between Bill Black, George A. Selgin (Cato Instutute and emeritus economics professor Univ. of Georgia) and  formr banking regulator and now investment banker C.K. Lee.  There are clear differences between those who claim the Great Financial Crisis was caused by too much government regulation, or improper regulation, or insufficient regulation.  There is also a recorded statement by Jeb Hensarling (R- TX)Chair of the House Financial Services Committee (who Econintersect would suggest is angling for Cato Institute position when he retires from government).  The moderator has a closing statement that includes opining that regulations are ineffective, that if you believe more of them will help prevent another financial crisis then he has a bridge in Brooklyn he wants to sell you.  As we said, watch this program if you want to be amused.  (Richard Bowen is widely known as the Citigroup whistleblower. As Business Chief Underwriter for Citigroup during the housing bubble financial crisis meltdown, he repeatedly warned Citi executive management and the board about fraudulent behavior within the organization. The company certified poor mortgages as quality mortgages and sold them to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other investors.  He is a co-founding member of Bank Whistleblowers' United.

  • Billionaires are holding $1.7 trillion in cash (CNBC)  The world's billionaires are holding more than $1.7 trillion in cash — the highest amount since one firm began recording the measure in 2010.  Because of what they perceive to be growing risks in the economy and world, the world's 2,473 billionaires are keeping 22.2 percent of their total net worth in cash, according to the Wealth-X  Billionaire Census.  Econintersect:  Why is this a problem?  It is $1.7 trillion of debt that cannot be repaid.  See Helicopter Money 101.

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