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.
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Topics today include:
We Are More Productive Than We Think
Could the Dakota Access Pipeline Be Moved?
Utilities and Solar Companies in Big Lobbying Battle over Rooftop Solar
U.S. court deals Trump a setback in fight over poll monitors
This is Unusual: Stocks are Dropping Before an Election
Top Trump Supporter Blasts the FBI
Donald Trump Has Destroyed Court Ordered Documents for 40 Years
Legal Activist Requests FBI Investigation of Its Actions
All Politicians Lie - Some Data
Brexit Needs Parliament Approval
India Is on the Verge of Becoming a Hindu Theocracy
Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world
U.S. court deals Trump a setback in fight over poll monitors (Reuters) In a blow to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, a U.S. judge on Thursday upheld a Pennsylvania state law that could make it difficult for his supporters to monitor Election Day activity in Democratic-leaning areas. Trump has repeatedly said Tuesday's presidential election may be rigged, and has urged supporters to keep an eye out for signs of voting fraud in Philadelphia and other heavily Democratic areas. Democrats worry that could encourage Trump supporters to harass Hispanics, African-Americans and other minority voters in a state that could determine whether Trump or his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, wins the presidency.
Stocks Almost Always Rise Before an Election. Not This Year (Bloomberg) The 2016 election has confounded pundits, upended precedent and now it’s spurring unusual patterns in the U.S. equity market. To wit: stocks almost always rise in the days before the country picks a president. This year, they’re falling. The S&P 500 Index has advanced in the five days before the vote in 20 of the past 22 cycles, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Bespoke Investment Group LLC. While the gauge has climbed an average 1.9% in the run-up to elections going back to 1928, it’s down 1.8% since Monday, with two market days left until polls open Nov. 8. The index fell 0.4% Thursday, to 2,088.66 at 4 p.m. in New York., slumping to the lowest since July 5 as losses accelerated in the late afternoon. For latest closing news see 03Nov2016 Market Close: SP 500 Down For 8th Day, All Major Indices Lower; Oil And Dollar Stabilize; Gold Holds Above $1300.
Top Fox News Host EXPLODES At FBI On Live TV – Defends Hillary In AMAZING Takedown (Truth Examiner) We must be living in some alternative universe, because even Fox News is coming to Hillary Clinton’s defense over the FBI’s letter reopening Clinton’s email investigation. Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News host and HUGE supporter of Donald Trump, defended Clinton on her show Saturday night over the timing of FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that his agency is looking into new emails related to the probe of Clinton’s private email server. She derided Comey and the FBI for making the announcement so close to Election Day, comparing the timing of Comey’s announcement to that of an investigation centering around her when she was running for New York attorney general in 2006.
Donald Trump Has Destroyed Documents and Emails in Defiance of Court Orders for 40 Years (Alternet) Donald Trump's secret weapons are a paper shredder and a delete button. The white nationalist rhetoric and "lock her up" chants might be getting all the attention, and Trump himself has lost his mind with glee over FBI director James Comey's announcement of potential new Hillary Clinton emails, but the candidate and his companies have been conveniently destroying thousands of emails and paper documents that were requested by prosecutors going back decades, a new investigation from Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald reveals. The pattern of behavior predates email, starting at least in 1973, when both Donald Trump, his father Fred Trump and their companies were sued by the federal government over charges that they systematically refused to rent apartments to black tenants. Trump began by stalling and missing deadlines to turn over important and likely incriminating documents for months. For more see Donald Trump's Companies Destroyed Emails in Defiance of Court Orders (Kurt Eichnwald, Newsweek).
Meet the Activist Who Smelled Something Fishy With the FBI's Anti-Clinton Records Dump, and Got Internal Watchdogs Investigating (Alternet) the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday suddenly reactivated a long-dead Twitter account whose purpose is to announce the release of FBI documents obtained by members of the public under the Freedom of Information Act. Amid a flurry of ho-hum releases—for instance, the document containing Bureau’s own official ethics guidelines—two stood out: a nothing-burger on Fred Trump, the father of the Republican presidential nominee, and heavily redacted documents from a 15-year-old closed investigation into President Bill Clinton’s pardon of financier Marc Rich, and the William J. Clinton Foundation—just as Hillary Clinton, the former first lady, entered the final round of her bout against Trump. Jonathan Hutson, a Maryland-based communications consultant, smelled something fishy. Hutson has a law degree from NYU. Here is an excerpt from the letter from Hutson to the FBI reqquesting a formal investigation:
[A]t 4:00 a.m. Eastern on October 30, 2016, within two weeks of a presidential election, this FBI Twitter account began tweeting documents relating to Fred Trump, the father of Donald Trump, in which Fred is falsely characterized as a "philanthropist" although the FBI records and public records do not support this unfounded but flattering characterization. On the other hand, the FBI did not release any records on the federal lawsuit against Fred Trump for housing discrimination against people of color in New York. This is the same Fred Trump who had reportedly been arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally.
On the same date, again at the unusual hour of 4:00 a.m., this FBI Twitter account tweeted documents which portrayed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in a negative light.
Then again, less than one week prior to the presidential election, at noon Eastern on November 1, 2016, in violation of Department of Justice guidance and policy against making public statements that might unfairly influence the electorate within 60 days of an election, and in possible violation of the Hatch Act, @FBIRecordsVault tweeted records of decade-old, debunked William J. Clinton Foundation scandals and records of President Clinton's 2001 pardon of Mark Rich where no wrongdoing had been found in an investigation that has been closed.
The William Clinton Foundation records linked from the tweet do not indicate that there had been no indictment and no finding of any wrongdoing in this closed case. This incomplete nature of the records posted without proper context convey a false and unfair impression that there is some reason for a cloud of suspicion to linger over this matter which has been resolved for more than a decade.
UK court says Brexit needs parliament's approval, complicates government plans (Reuters) A British court ruled on Thursday that the government needs parliamentary approval to start the process of leaving the European Union, potentially delaying Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plans. The government said it would appeal against the High Court ruling and Britain's Supreme Court is expected to consider the case early next month. A spokeswoman for May said the prime minister still planned to launch talks on the terms of Brexit by the end of March and added: "We have no intention of letting this derail our timetable."
India Is on the Verge of Becoming a Hindu Theocracy (Alternet) The recent military strikes by India into Pakistan to avenge Muslim militant attacks in Kashmir, have raised concern that the Indian military is being politicized and considered a Hindu orgaanization. From this article:
At the heart of these recent developments lies a critical issue: the dangerous politicization of the Indian military. India was founded on sound republican principles, with a constitution that squarely makes its people sovereign, and it has always prided itself on an apolitical military. This is critical to both democratic functioning and accountability. But the current government is different from earlier democratically-elected governments, and this became clear when India’s defense minister, Manohar Parrikar, publicly credited his parent organization, the suremacist RSS, for giving him and the prime minister Modi the gumption to order the military strikes.
Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea
We're More Productive Than We Think (Barry Ritholtz, Bloomberg) Ritholtz says there are dramatic productivity enhancements in communications, documentation and the sharing economy that are simply not measured by the traditional means. He writes:
Earlier this year I suggested that there was a problem with the tools we use to measure economic productivity:
The way we capture formal productivity data hasn't kept up with modern ways of doing business. As a result, I believe economists underestimate productivity increases.
I have since refined that conclusion: Productivity models don't properly capture gains created by the application of new technology. Furthermore, without a revamp of Bureau of Labor Statistics’ productivity models, this distortion is going to become greater because of the latest iterations of mobile-technology apps. This is important because productivity is a crucial driver of economic growth, which by conventional measures hasn't been very impressive since the financial crisis.
If Dakota Access pipeline were to move, where? (Associated Press) President Barack Obama has raised the possibility of a reroute of the four-state Dakota Access oil pipeline in southern North Dakota to allay the concerns of American Indians and others who have demonstrated against the project for months. The president says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is examining alternatives but the agency has not disclosed them and a spokeswoman declined comment. Econintersect: The details covered in this article do not make a change of route seem likely.
Pinnacle West Capital Corp., which owns the state’s largest utility, last week said it has formed a third-party group to support candidates for an elected state board that regulates their industry. The move promises to inject $1 million into a race in which SolarCity Corp., a rooftop solar provider, is already planning to spend $2 million though a nonprofit it supports, according to officials from the two groups.
It’s the latest twist in a three-year political battle that’s been punctuated by charges of undue influence, an ongoing probe by the U.S. Attorney’s office and $300,000 in threatened state fines. At stake: A board ruling on a request to raise fees and drastically cut how much homeowners are paid for the solar energy they generate. It’s a decision, foes say, with the potential to hamstring a growing renewables industry.
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