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What We Read Today 17 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:

  • New Global Human Cell Atlas Could Revolutionize Medical Research

  • Wars are Big Business, Manufactured by the Elites

  • 37 Countries with U.S. Travel Restrictions

  • New Increase in Women and Children Entering U.S. from Central America without Documentation

  • Clinton Goes after Some Red States

  • Republicans May Blockade Supreme Court if Clinton is Elected

  • Wikileaks Access to Internet Severed by a "State Party"

  • New Wikileaks Releases Indicate Campaign Finance Law Problems for Clinton

  • Untaxed Profits Offshore for U.S. Corps

  • RT BVank Acess Cutoff

  • Mosul Invasion Underway 

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • 36 Countries the US Government Doesn’t Want You to Go To (24/7 Wall St., MSN Lifestyle)  When it comes to international travel, some countries are best left out of American vacation plans. Sectarian violence in the Middle East, narcotics trafficking in South America, and frequent terror attacks in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, have made traveling to certain countries especially risky for American citizens.  The U.S. Department of State issues travel warnings and travel alerts for dozens of countries across five continents. According to the State Department’s Travel Warning List, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 37 countries (the headline has the wrong number) too dangerous for American travelers.  The State Department issues travel warnings in order to alert Americans of potential dangers and urge them to consider not traveling to certain countries at all. 


  • Number of women, children from Central America illegally crossing into U.S. climbs in 2016 (The Washington Post)   More women and children from Central America illegally crossed into the United States in 2016 compared with two years ago, when President Obama ordered an emergency government response to address the escalating border crisis.  A total of 137,366 unaccompanied minors and families with children were apprehended by Border Patrol agents along the border with Mexico in fiscal 2016, which ended Sept. 30, an increase of several hundred from 2014, according to statistics released Monday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  The surge comes after a significant drop in 2015 and has reignited questions about the efficacy of the administration's immigration policies. The vast majority of those who have entered the United States illegally are from three Central American nations: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

  • Clinton goes after Trump's turf in a few solidly red states (CNBC)  Hillary Clinton 's campaign thinks it has a chance in Arizona, a state that only two Democratic presidential candidates have won since 1948.  Clinton's camp announced Monday that first lady Michelle Obama — possibly its most effective surrogate on the campaign trail — will campaign in the state this week. Her visit will follow trips by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a popular figure among the far left and young Democrats, and Clinton's daughter Chelsea to Arizona.  Campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters Monday that Clinton's campaign will spend an additional $2 million in Arizona, according to NBC News. But it does not just sense vulnerability for Republicans in Arizona — Mook said it will also funnel an additional $1 million into the solid red states of Missouri and Indiana, both of which have a Senate seat up for grabs in a tight race.  Meanwhile, a challenge from independent conservative Evan McMullin in Utah has Republican presidential candidate Trump at risk of losing that solidly red state as well.

  • Progressives ponder the unthinkable — a postelection Supreme Court blockade (The Washington Post)   Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is heavily favored to win reelection in 22 days, campaigned for Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) with a pledge to oppose any new nominee to the Supreme Court if Donald Trump lost the presidency.  Econintersect:  This is like the kid who says 'if you don't let me be the pitcher I'll take my baseball and go home and there won't be any game'.

  • As WikiLeaks Access to Internet is Severed, New Clinton Email Bombshell Emerges (Pam and Russ Mertens, Wall Street on Parade)  The Mertens have contributed to GEI.  A state party has intentionally cut off access to the Internet for Julian Assange, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks. This happened after the ninth consecutive day of releases of emails from the hacked account of John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign committee. It also comes on the heels of a potentially serious campaign finance problem for the Hillary for America committee, the primary fundraising vehicle for Clinton, according to an email released by WikiLeaks just yesterday. This would be the second time in less than six months that the Clinton campaign’s finances have come under scrutiny.  In April and May of this year, Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign charged the Clinton campaign with serious violations of campaign finance law, including “looting funds meant for the state parties to skirt fundraising limits on her presidential campaign,” and exploiting “the rules in ways that let her high-dollar donors like Alice Walton of Wal-Mart fame and the actor George Clooney and his super-rich Hollywood friends skirt legal limits on campaign contributions.”  The prior allegations play into the hands of the Trump camp which has consistently portrayed Hillary Clinton as someone who doesn’t care about fellow Americans but only herself and getting rich. The release of an email yesterday by WikiLeaks, together with others over the prior eight days, are making those charges harder to refute.


  • Untaxed profits booked offshore by S&P 500 corporations (Economic Policy Institute)  Corporations had $2.4 trillion in profits booked offshore in 2015 (CTJ 2016a). This is equal to 13.4% of U.S. GDP. This has risen from $2.1 trillion as of 2014 (Credit Suisse 2015). Corporations have not paid any U.S. taxes on these profits because our tax system lets them defer paying taxes until that income is brought back to the U.S. parent corporation (i.e., repatriated).  The amount of untaxed offshore profits stood at $434 billion in 2005. This means it has increased nearly five-fold over 10 years—four-fold as a share of GDP. Congress established a one-time repatriation tax holiday in 2004 with a tax rate of just 5.25%, which took effect in 2005. Corporations were barred from using the funds for stock buybacks, but it is estimated that up to 92 cents of every dollar repatriated went to shareholders, primarily through stock repurchases (Dharmapala et al. 2009, 26). Since then, offshore profits have increased dramatically in anticipation of another tax holiday.



  • RT: NatWest to close Russian channel's UK bank accounts (BBC News)  NatWest bank is to close the accounts of Russia's state-run broadcaster, RT.  The bank said the decision was "not taken lightly" and that the accounts were "still operative" at present.  An MP from Russia's ruling party has said its parliament will demand an explanation from the UK.  RT says the entire Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group, of which NatWest is part, is refusing to provide its services.  Editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan tweeted:

"They've closed our accounts in Britain. All our accounts. 'The decision is not subject to review.' Praise be to freedom of speech!"


  • Iraq launches Mosul offensive, but bombs slow progress (Associated Press)   Iraqi and Kurdish forces launched a long-awaited offensive Monday to drive the Islamic State group out of the country's second largest city, Mosul, but the operation could take weeks, if not months, and many fear a humanitarian crisis.  (But see also next article.)  Columns of armored vehicles trundled down desert roads toward the city as U.S.-led airstrikes and heavy artillery echoed across the Ninevah plains.  Kurdish forces captured a number of small, largely unpopulated villages to the east. But their progress was slowed by roadside bombs left behind by the militants, and IS unleashed a series of suicide car and truck bomb attacks, one of which struck a Kurdish tank. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties from that incident or fighting elsewhere.

  • Iraqi troops 'ahead of schedule' in Mosul battle against IS (BBC News)  Iraqi forces are "ahead of schedule" following the first day of the battle to retake Mosul, the Pentagon has said.  But Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook warned the fight "could take some time" as it remained to be seen whether so-called Islamic State (IS) would "stand and fight".  The coalition of forces launched their push towards the city in the early hours of Monday.  IS seized Mosul, then Iraq's second-largest city, in June 2014.  The extremists' leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi then chose Mosul as the place to announce the forming of a caliphate, so retaking the city would be "symbolic", according to Mr Cook.

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

An international team of researchers launched a new program on October 14 that could have a profound impact on expediting future medical discoveries.

This initiative, known as the Human Cell Atlas, will unite laboratories from all over the world in an effort to form a comprehensive database describing every cell found in the human body, reported Reuters.

Previous research projects focusing on cellular knowledge were limited because scientists could only look at cellular composition under a microscope or perform genetic analysis of hundreds of thousands of clumped cells to find their average properties.

The human body contains about 200 distinct cell types, writes The Guardian. It could be a much higher number since parts of the body like the eye’s retina and immune system could have even twice that number.

New technological advances called single-cell genomics will help the researchers participating in this venture bypass this issue. They will be able to conduct detailed genetic analyses going cell by cell and organ to organ.

Some potential outcomes of this endeavor could include a full list of immune cells that could help drug developers create new autoimmune treatments, according to The Guardian.

  • Forwarded by e-mail (Roger Erickson)



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