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What We Read Today 03 September 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:

  • Hermine Strengthens to Threaten Coast fro Virginia to New Jersey

  • Islam Will Not Have a Reformation Like 16th Century Christianity

  • Anthropocene Debate

  • Taxes for Revenue are Obsolete is a 70-Year Old Idea

  • Human-Ape Experiments

  • Five Big Questions about Trump's Immigration Plan

  • Trump Advances Civil Rights Agenda

  • Clinton's 'Run Out the Clock' Strategy is Failing - Trump is Scoring

  • Oklahoma Has a Strong Earthquake

  • 67 Years of Coastal Flooding Data

  • Ireland Joins Apple's Tax Fight

  • Turkish Tanks Roll Into Syria

  • Obama to Visit Laos

  • Obama and Li Visit Informally, Fight Officially

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Hermine threatens dangerous surge from Va. to N.J. (USA Today)  Slow-moving Tropical Storm Hermine returned to near hurricane strength Saturday off the Atlantic coast bringing threats of deadly storm surge flooding during the Labor Day weekend from North Carolina to Connecticut.  ​The National Hurricane Center said in its afternoon advisory that Hermine had slowed to 10 mph as it headed north but had increased its sustained winds to 70 mph, just shy of hurricane strength winds of 74 mph.  See three related articles later, below.

  • Who would Trump deport?

  • Will there be a a litmus test for legal immigrants?

  • Where would the money come from?

  • Would he push to end birthright citizenship?

  • How would he follow through on building a wall? 

  • Trump calls for new civil rights agenda in visit to black church (Reuters)  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stepped up his bid to win over minority voters by addressing a largely black church in Detroit on Saturday and calling for a new civil rights agenda to support African-Americans.  As scores of protesters outside chanted "No justice, no peace," Trump said he wanted to make Detroit - a predominantly African-American city which recently emerged from bankruptcy - the economic envy of the world by bringing back companies from abroad.

  • Clinton’s ‘run-out-the-clock’ strategy under fire (The Hill)  Hillary Clinton is facing questions about her campaign strategy as Donald Trump laps her on the trail and tightening polls show an increasingly competitive presidential race.  The Democratic nominee nearly vanished from the campaign trail in August to attend high-end private fundraisers and to prepare for the first presidential debate on Sept. 26. 

  • Oklahoma rocked by one of its strongest earthquakes (Reuters)   One of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in Oklahoma rattled the area northwest of Pawnee on Saturday, fueling growing concern about seismic activity linked to energy production, a federal agency said.  The magnitude 5.6 quake, which was felt from South Dakota to Texas, prompted the closure of some 35 wastewater disposal wells in the area, officials said.  It shallow quake struck 9 miles (14 km) northwest of Pawnee in north-central Oklahoma at 7:02 a.m. CDT (1302 GMT). Its 5.6 magnitude matched a 2011 earthquake for the biggest on record in the state, the U.S. Geological Survey said.  There were no immediate reports of injuries in Pawnee, where about 25 percent of the residents are Native Americans. Damage in the town appeared to be minor, and the Pawnee Nation declared a state of emergency for its area.

  • Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun (The New York Times)  For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline.  Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun. The sea has crept up to the point that a high tide and a brisk wind are all it takes to send water pouring into streets and homes.  Sea levels may rapidly return to levels before the last ice age, accelerated by anthropocene global warming.  (See article later, below.)  Also see next article.

  • A Sharp Increase In ‘Sunny Day’ Flooding (The New York Times)  Mean sea levels have risen 5 - 10 inches since 1950 along much of the U.S. Atlantic coast.


  • Ireland to join Apple in fight against EU tax ruling (CNBC)  Ireland's cabinet agreed on Friday to join Apple in appealing against a multi-billion-euro back tax demand that the European Commission has imposed on the iPhone maker, despite misgivings among independents who back the fragile coalition.  The Commission's ruling this week that the U.S. tech giant must pay up to €13 billions ($14.5 billion) to Dublin has angered Washington, which accuses the EU of trying to grab tax revenue that should go to the U.S. government.  With transatlantic tensions rising, the White House said President Barack Obama would raise the issue of tax avoidance by some multinational corporations at a summit of the G-20 leading economies in China this weekend.


  • Turkish tanks roll into Syria, opening new line of attack (Reuters)   Turkey and its rebel allies opened a new line of attack in northern Syria on Saturday, as Turkish tanks rolled across the border and Syrian fighters swept in from the west to take villages held by Islamic State.  The incursion was launched by Turkey from Kilis province - an area frequently targeted by Islamic State rockets - and coincided with a separate push by the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, who seized several villages further to the east.  By supporting the rebels, mainly Arabs and Turkmen fighting under the loose banner of the Free Syrian Army, Turkey is hoping to drive out Islamic State militants and check the advance of U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters.


  • Obama Makes the First U.S. Presidential Visit to Laos: Part 1 (Council on Foreign Relations)   Next week, President Obama will arrive in Laos for the first visit of a U.S. president to the country. He comes to Laos for the U.S.-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, for the East Asia Summit, and also for bilateral meetings with several of Laos’s leaders. The tiny communist country, the current chair of ASEAN, selected new leaders—in its typically opaque way—earlier this year. According to some reports, Laos’s new leaders are eager to move the country away from its growing dependence on China for trade and aid, and are seeking to shift Laos back toward its historically closer relations with Hanoi, which was the patron of Laos’s communist party during the Indochina wars.  The new leadership also may want to cultivate closer links to the United States as a balance to China. Other countries in the region—most notably, Myanmar—have had similar strategic viewpoints; their leaders have welcomed U.S., Japanese, and European investment, aid, and diplomacy in part out of fear of becoming too dependent on Beijing.


  • Moonlight Stroll Can’t Mask Lingering Tensions Between Obama, Xi (Bloomberg)  After a dinner that wound late into Saturday night, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping left their delegations behind and went for a moonlight walk around the shores of West Lake, the World Heritage Site in Hangzhou dotted by temples, pagodas and beautifully kept gardens.  Although they had earlier in the day publicly displayed agreement about fighting climate change, many differences still remain. 

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

  • Islam Will Not Have Its Own ‘Reformation’ (Foreign Policy)  This article says that Islam remains stuck in the Middle Ages. And even those who find this particular formulation too crude will still be struck trying to explain why it seems that so many western countries have figured out how to separate church and state, while Muslim countries from Saudi Arabia to Egypt to Turkey continue to struggle.  Some suggest that Islam needs its own Martin Luther to usher in a reformation of a religion seemingly welded to totalitarian governments.  However, this author suggests that whatever and whenever changes do occur they will unlikely result from the emergence of a Muslim version of Martin Luther.  Each religion will find its own paths to the future.  For related articles see America: Stop Islam Bashing!, Religions, and God and America.

  • What is the Anthropocene and Are We in It? (  Have humans permanently changed the planet?  Efforts to label the human epoch have ignited a scientific debate between geologists and environmentalists.

According to the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), the professional organization in charge of defining Earth’s time scale, we are officially in the Holocene (“entirely recent”) epoch, which began 11,700 years ago after the last major ice age.

But that label is outdated, some experts say. They argue for “Anthropocene”—from anthropo, for “man,” and cene, for “new”—because human-kind has caused mass extinctions of plant and animal species, polluted the oceans and altered the atmosphere, among other lasting impacts.

  • Taxes for Revenue are Obsolete (Beardsley Ruml, American Affairs)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  Beardsley Ruml, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board (1941-46) and Fed Director (1937-47),  published a now forgotten (by many) paper cited here.  Ruml asserted that the real purposes of taxes were: to "stabilize the purchasing power of the dollar", to "express public policy in the distribution of wealth and of income", "in subsidizing or in penalizing various industries and economic groups" and to "isolate and assess directly the costs of certain national benefits, such as highways and social security". This is seen as a forerunner of functional financechartalism (although the start of chartalism is often attributed to the work of German economist Georg Friedrich Knapp over 100 years ago) and today's economic monetary theory known as MMT (modern monetary theory) .

  • This Guy Simultaneously Raised a Chimp and a Baby in Exactly the Same Way To See What Would Happen  (  Starting on June 26, 1931, comparative  psychologist Winthrop Niles Kellogg and his wife raised the infant chimp, Gua, alongside their own baby boy, Donald. As later described in The Psychological Record, the idea was to see how environment influenced development. Could a chimp grow up to behave like a human? Or even think it was a human?  When treated as a human the baby chimp acted like one, until her physiology and development held her back.  The experiment ended after 9 months:

    It could be that the Kelloggs were simply exhausted from nine months of non-stop parenting and scientific work. Or perhaps it was the fact that Gua was becoming stronger and less manageable, and that Mrs. and Dr. Kellogg feared that she might harm her human brother. Finally, one other possibility comes to mind, the authors point out: while Gua showed no signs of learning human languages, her brother Donald had began imitating Gua's chimp noises. "In short, the language retardation in Donald may have brought an end to the study,"

    Econintersect:The lesson may be that is easy to environmentally limit behavioral development in more advanced brains, but harder to expand development in less advanced brains.  See also next article. 


  • Joseph Stalin's Humanzee Experiments (YouTube)  The humanzee (also known as the Chuman or Manpanzee) is a hypothetical chimpanzee/human hybrid. Chimpanzees and humans are closely related (sharing 95% of their DNA sequence and 99% of coding DNA sequences), leading to contested speculation that a hybrid is possible.  Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov was the first person to attempt to create a human--ape hybrid. As early as 1910 he gave a presentation to the World Congress of Zoologists in Graz, Austria, in which he described the possibility of creating such a hybrid by artificial insemination.  In 1924, while working at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, Ivanov obtained permission from the Institute's directors to use its experimental primate station in Kindia, French Guinea, for such an experiment.


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