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What We Read Today 10 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:

  • The Truth about Unemployment

  • What is Socialism?

  • Clinton Regrets Remarks about Trump Supporters

  • Trump Tries to Capitalize on Clinton's Remarks

  • Fed Intervention of Dakota Pipeline is Unprecedented

  • John Hinkley, the Man Who Shot Reagan, is Released

  • DNA Proves the Source of London's Great Plague of 1665

  • Peace Deal Reached in Syria, Fighting Continues

  • Iran Behavior In Persian Gulf is Getting Worse

  • Russian Economy Has Shrunk 40%

  • Russians Now Earn Less than Chinese and Romanians

  • Tanzania Earthquake

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Clinton regrets calling 'half' of Trump supporters 'deplorable' (Reuters)  Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Saturday said she regretted saying "half" of Republican rival Donald Trump's supporters belonged in a "basket of deplorables," but made no apologies for calling out "prejudice and paranoia" among Trump's campaign and supporters.

  • Trump Tries to Capitalize as Clinton Regrets `Deplorables' Comment (Bloomberg)  Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, lambasted Clinton in a midday speech at a gathering of conservative voters, and campaign officials instructed surrogates to highlight Clinton's remarks in their public appearances.  Pence said at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington: 

"Hillary Clinton's low opinion of the people who support this campaign should be denounced in the strongest possible terms.  They're hard working Americans. Farmers. Coal miners. Teachers. Veterans. Members of our law enforcement community.  Hillary, they are not a basket of anything. They are Americans and they deserve your respect,"

  • Fed's intervention on pipeline project unprecedented (Associated Press)  The federal government's temporary stoppage of an oil pipeline may change the way energy projects are reviewed.  Just minutes after a federal judge denied the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's attempt to halt the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline Friday, three federal agencies appealed to the pipeline company to "voluntarily pause" work on a segment in North Dakota.  The government says it now is reconsidering its decision on the pipeline and wants input from the tribe.  Troy Eid, a Colorado lawyer who specialized in Indian law, says the action was unprecedented and a "significant setback" for the pipeline's builders. He says historically, tribes have been only consulted on energy infrastructure projects, with the federal government making the actual decisions.

  • Ronald Reagan shooter released in Virginia (The Hill)  John Hinckley, the man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was released from a psychiatric facility on Saturday.  Hinckley has been showing no signs to be a danger to society, a court ruled in July, and will be living at his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va.  Hinckley, now 61, will be required to volunteer and work at least three days a week, see a therapist twice a month for a minimum of six months, and attend group therapy sessions once a week.


  • DNA from ancient skeletons reveals cause of London's Great Plague (CNN)  In 1665, the Great Plague of London killed more than 75,000 people in the space of a year, almost a quarter of the city's population back then. It caused 8,000 deaths per week during its peak in September 1665.  To date, scientists and archaeologists alike have been unable able to state assuredly that the disease behind the deaths was in fact the Bubonic Plague -- until now.  DNA sequenced from ancient skeletons dating back to the 17th century was found to match that of the bacteria responsible for the plague, known as Yersinia pestis. The bacteria typically live in fleas found on small animals and rodents, such as rats, which can jump onto humans and bite them to spread the bacteria. Infections typically cause flu-like symptoms, sudden fever and chills, body aches and vomiting, killing up to 60% of people if left untreated.

plague explainer cohen orig mg_00001604


  • U.S.-Russian Syria peace deal raises rebel doubts as fighting rages (Reuters)  The United States and Russia reached a breakthrough deal early on Saturday to try to restore peace in Syria, but air strikes hours later added to rebels' doubts that any ceasefire could hold.  The agreement, by the powers that back opposing sides in the five-year-old war, promises a nationwide truce from sundown on Monday, improved access for humanitarian aid and joint military targeting of hardline Islamist groups.

  • At Least 45 Killed in Syria After US-Russia Agreement (Bloomberg)  A day of intense airstrikes Saturday on and around the northern city of Aleppo killed at least 45 people, according to opposition activists.  The Aleppo Media Center, an activist collective, said 45 people were killed Saturday, just hours after the new U.S.-Russian agreement was reached to try and end the violence in Syria. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 30 people were killed in Aleppo province and another 39 were killed by airstrikes in neighboring Idlib province.  Contrasting casualty figures are common in the aftermath of large attacks in Syria.


  • US military: Iranian behavior getting worse in Persian Gulf (The Hill)  Iran has stepped up its harassment of U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf, angering the U.S. military and members of Congress.  Since the international nuclear deal with Iran was implemented in early January, the number of incidents involving U.S. and Iranian ships in the Gulf has approximately doubled.  The Navy has counted at least 31 interactions with Iranian naval forces deemed “unsafe”, “unprofessional”, or both, according to a defense official.  That's about as many such interactions that occurred all of last year.  And those are also only counting interactions that have met the criteria of “unsafe” or “unprofessional”.  Overall, there were more than 300 interactions between U.S. and Iranian forces last year.  That figure includes incidents in which Iranian vessels waited for and followed U.S. ships transiting in the Persian Gulf, or sailed by with their weapons uncovered, in addition to other incidents of muscle flexing considered routine. 


  • Putin is not 'strong' when it comes to Russia's economy (CNBC)  Donald Trump thinks that Vladimir Putin is a "strong" leader, but that strength hasn't done much good for Russia's economy.  While the United States and Europe continue to eke out a steady economic recovery, very little is going right for Russia. Gross domestic product in Russia cratered from $2.23 trillion in 2013 to $1.33 trillion last year — a staggering 40% drop, according to figures from the World Bank.  Russian economic output is expected to contract by another 1.8% in 2016, while the poverty rate is seen rising from 13.4% to 14.2% over that period, the World Bank says.  One analyst says: 

 "Over the past year, the average Russian's monthly wage fell 9.5%, slipping below $450 dollars — less than in China, Serbia and Romania.,"


  • Tanzania earthquake kills 11 and injures 192 (BBC News)  A magnitude 5.7 earthquake has killed at least 11 people and injured 192 in northern Tanzania, the authorities say.  The quake struck close to the border with Uganda and Rwanda near Lake Victoria.  Images posted on social media showed significant damage to buildings in Bukoba, a city of more than 70,000 people where most casualties were reported.  Tremors were felt as far away as western Kenya.


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

  • Trump and the Truth:  The Unemployment Rate Hoax (The New Yorker)  This is a good historical review and an explanation of various means made recently to describe U.S. employment and unemployment that use methods other than those used by the U.S. Department of labor BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).  None of the system are "lying", not the official stats or the other calculations  They are all accurate measurements (as accurate as survey measurements can be) of what is happening within the U.S. labor market and differ by how the data is organized.  You can understand only what the results mean if you understand the details of the calculations.  The most valuable methods are the ones that have been repeatedly used over long periods of time so that comparisons of how employment changes over time can be made.  There are no correct and incorrect estimates of unemployment and unemployment; there are only various results obtained by different organizations and treatment of the data.  There is no hoax.  For a recent discussion of the U.S. Department of Labor process, see How Much Do You Know About The Monthly Employment Report? by regular GEI contributor Jeff Miller.

  • Socialists Are Scarcity Deniers (  Hat tip to John O'Donnell.  The author defines socialism as “free access to all goods and services”, which he ascribes to literature from the  Socialist Party of Britain.  The essay is an attack on the poor logic of that definition.  Econinersect:  We would suggest that the definition of socialism given is obviously not only flawed per se but is the wrong definition entirely.  We would suggest that definition is more correctly given as "a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole".  There is nothing in this generally accepted definition that denies scarcity or or suggests that "everything should be free".  The author has established a straw man and easily demolishes the decrepit fellow.  A better discussion would be what part of our experience is best owned and regulated by the community and what areas should be totally free market.  Until about 10 years ago I would have argued most of our experience should be in the realm of the free market - with the possible exception of regulating clean air and water, military (and police and fire services), public highways and education.  I now have some doubts about how effective the distribution is by free markets for the distribution of health care and the creation of money, for just two examples.

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