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What We Read Today 10 October 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:

  • Nobel Prize in Economics

  • The Moral Panic about Trump's Remarks Reveals Much about Us

  • Electronic Voting Fraud

  • Hacking Democracy

  • Oil Hits New High

  • Russia Will Join OPEC Output Caps

  • Clinton Won Debate and Trump Got a New Life

  • Buffett Releases Tax Returns to Counter Trump Statements

  • The Island Where People Forget to Die

  • Kurds are Expanding their Territory

  • Chinese Yuan Hits 6-Year Low

  • Rio de Janeiro Crime Wave

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Oil hits one-year high as Russia ready to join output caps (Reuters)  Oil prices jumped as much as 3% on Monday, with Brent hitting a one-year high, after Russia said it was ready to join OPEC in curbing crude output and Algeria called for similar commitments from other non-OPEC producers.   Sentiment was also boosted by a rally in Wall Street shares .SPX and news that work was underway for the launch of the first sovereign bond issue of No. 1 crude exporter Saudi Arabia before the eventual listing of the kingdom's state-oil company Aramco.[FRX/]  Brent crude LCOc1 hit its highest level since Oct. 9, 2015, reaching $53.73 a barrel, before paring gains to settle $1.21, or 2.3% higher at $53.14 a barrel.  U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 rose to its highest since June 9 at $51.60, before easing to end the session at $51.35, up $1.54, or 3.1%.


  • Trump family pushing RNC chair to be more supportive (CNN)  Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is pushing Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to be more loyal and supportive of the Republican nominee, according to a source familiar with the conversations.  The move reflects a sense within Trump's family that Priebus is being too negative and the fallout from Trump's tape may not be as bad as it seems.

  • CNN poll: 57 percent of viewers say Clinton won the debate (Politico)  A majority of debate viewers polled by CNN — 57% — said Hillary Clinton won the second presidential debate on Sunday night in St. Louis.  Thirty-four percent of debate watchers surveyed in the instant poll said Donald Trump won, though 63%  overall thought that the Republican nominee surpassed their expectations for him. Twenty-one percent expected him to do worse, according to the network.  The 57% saying Clinton won was virtually the same percentage (58%) who said they supported Clinton.

  • Fox Poll:  Debate Near Tie (Fox2Now)  An informal online poll by Fox News, with more than 300,000 responses, indicated 53% thought Hillary Clinton won and 47% thought Donald Trump came out on top.

  • Buffett Just Released His Own Tax Data to Hammer Trump (Bloomberg)  In a debate Sunday, Trump acknowledged using a nine-figure loss in 1995 to reduce tax obligations and sought to liken the move to strategies used by some of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s wealthy supporters, including Buffett. On Monday, the billionaire Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman released information from his personal taxes and challenged the Republican presidential candidate to do the same.  Berkshire chairman says he never used tax carry forward and said Trump would have no legal problem sharing return. 


  • The island where people forget to die (CNN)  Life expectancy in America is about 79.  On the Greek island of Ikaria, it is 92.  Longevity is only about 25% genetic so most of the difference must bge environmental and lifestyle. 


  • Special Report: In fight against Islamic State, Kurds expand their territory (Reuters)  In total, Kurds have increased the size of the region they control in Iraq by around 40% since 2014.  This is how the map is being redrawn across Iraq and Syria: Groups fighting Islamic State are using the battle to settle older disputes and expand their territory.  Kurds say they are simply redressing historic wrongs perpetrated by successive Iraqi leaders, particularly the former dictator Saddam Hussein. His policy of "Arabisation" in the north razed Kurdish villages and displaced hundreds of thousands.  But others, including many in the Iraqi government led by Haider al-Abadi, say the Kurds are creating new grievances and setting up future conflicts. The growing sway of Iraq's Kurds is also worrying neighboring states, which fear their own Kurdish minorities could follow their ethnic brethren in Iraq.


  • China's yuan sinks to six-year low, then erases losses (Reuters)   China's yuan fell to its lowest level in six years early Monday, breaching a key psychological threshold, before erasing the losses on the first day of trading after a week-long holiday.  Traders said the weakening of the yuan CNY=CFXS reflected strength in the dollar last week, and they did not see any signs of intervention by state banks to support the yuan after it fell.  In mid-July, when the yuan last breached the 6.7 mark, state banks intervened heavily.  See also Yuan Weakens Most Since June as Trading Resumes After Holidays (Bloomberg):


  • Shooting deaths, school closures worsen recent Rio crime wave (Reuters)  Police killed at least two suspected drug traffickers on Monday during a day-long shootout in the hills overlooking one of Rio de Janeiro's wealthiest districts, the latest in a wave of violent clashes that elsewhere in the city caused 8,000 children to miss school.  The shootout, in the Pavão-Pavãozinho slum in the hills above the beachside neighborhoods of Ipanema and Copacabana, prolongs what many Rio residents fear is a sharp decline in security just two months after the city hosted the Olympics and as public security budgets have been slashed because of Brazil's worst recession in nearly a century.  After several weeks of growing confrontations between police and suspected criminals, the slum erupted early on Monday in shooting that continued into late afternoon. Various calibers of gunfire rang out repeatedly, as police vehicles blocked nearby roads and police helicopters circled overhead.  A police spokesman said that two suspected criminals had been killed and that the commander of a police squad for the neighborhood had been injured.

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

  • Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom Win Nobel in Economics for Work on Contracts (The New York Times)  Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom were awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science on Monday for their work on improving the design of contracts, the deals that bind together employers and their workers, or companies and their customers.  Dr. Holmstrom, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has had a particular influence on executive pay practices. Dr. Hart, a professor at Harvard, has contributed to the debate about the outsourcing of public services like prisons and garbage collection.  The prize committee in recent years has shied away from grand economic theories, instead rewarding economists who develop careful insights about smaller questions. Macroeconomics, the field devoted to those broader questions, has fallen into something of an existential crisis in recent years. There is, for now, greater certainty about the value of work on a smaller scale.

  • The moral panic over Trump’s lewd remarks reveals much about us. (Fabius Maximus)  FM has contributed to GEI.  This is too complex and nuanced to be able to represent with a short summary or excerpt.  We'll just say that neither Clinton or Trump would be pleased to read this.

  • Fraction Magic - Part 1:  Votes are Being Counted as Fractions Instead of Whole Numbers  (  Econintersect:  We have not found anything so far that has found an audit that shows something like the defective election vote counts described in this article.  There have been over the years questions about the reliability of electronic devices used for voting.  The company Diebold has been the focus of some of these questions.  See Hacking Democracy (Wikepedia) and this article from Wired.  This article discusses a system used in parts or all of 29 states and Canada (see map below) called GEMS (Global Election Management System) which is a software product used by Diebold and several other electronic voting machine manufacturers.  Also below are 3 videos which review some of the research and documentary work on this subject.  The author of this article is Bev Harris, who was featured in the 2006 HBO Documentary, Hacking Democracy.  (We have only found it available for a rental fee at, trailer below).

Hacking Democracy - The Hack (8 minutes, trailer, 2006)

"Man-in-the-Middle" Remote Attack on Diebold Touch-screen Voting Machine by Argonne National Lab (14 minutes, 2011)

The Last HOPE: Hacking Democracy - An In Depth Analysis of the ES&S Voting Systems (1 hour, 2008)

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