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What We Read Today 05 November 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:

  • America's Undocumented Immigrant Workforce has Stopped Growing

  • Agriculture and Construction are Most Dependent on Unauthorized Immigrants

  • Crude Oil from Human Excrement

  • What is Labor Market Monopsony?

  • The Disappearing Teamsters' Pension (No, Not the Mob, Wall Street)

  • U.S. Public has been Robbed of Issues Information by the Media

  • Congress Will Keep Either Trump or Clinton from Delivering on Promises

  • The U.S. had a Female President Once Before and it Didn't Turn Out Well

  • The FBI Really is Trumpland

  • Where Voting Democratic is a Mortal Sin

  • The Comprehensive Fact Check List from the AP

  • A Market Indicator Gives Trump 86% Probability of Being Elected

  • The Latest CNN Electoral Map (Clinton Doesn't Have the Needed 270)

  • Iraqi Forces Continue to Advance into Mosul

  • Moscow Warns of Danger from returning Syrian Jihadists

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • The first time America had a female president was a disaster (The New York Post)  On Oct. 2, 1919, at a time when he was embroiled in crucial negotiations to end World War I, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke.  At the urging of doctors and others, the illness was kept secret and Wilson's wife Edith essentially filled in.  Her ineptitude possibly led to the U.S. not joining the League of Nations, and, some have argued, that materially contributed to the conditions leading to World War II.

  • The anti-Clinton insurgency at the FBI, explained (Vox)  The FBI has what experts quoted in this article describe as a disproportionate number of Republicans and other conservatives. It’s also one where, if media reports are to be believed, some agents are openly and vocally supporting Trump’s candidacy.  In the words of one anonymous agent quoted by the Guardian, some FBI personnel see Clinton as “the anti-Christ”, and “the reason why they’re leaking is they’re pro-Trump”.  The FBI, the agent said, “is Trumpland”.

  • San Diego Catholic Diocese denounces parish that called voting Democrat 'mortal sin' (Reuters)  We thought of putting this in the "too ridiculous to post" basket, but, WTF, it is from Reuters.

  • AP FACT CHECK: Greatest hits of a fact-challenged campaign (Associated Press)  Econintersect:  Unfortunately, facts probably don't matter to more than half of those voting.

  • Market Indicator Gives Trump An 86% Chance Of Winning The Election (Zero Hedge)  Econintersect:  Let's see...  Many analysts say the market has declined because Trump's chances of winning the presidency have increased.  This article argues that Trump's chances of winning have improved because the market has declined.  Is the tail chasing its own dog or is the dog chasing its own tail?


  • Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State say nearing Mosul airport (Reuters)   Iraqi security forces drove Islamic State fighters from the center of a town just south of the militants' main stronghold of Mosul on Saturday and reached within a few km (miles) of an airport on the edge of the city, a senior commander said.  Lieutenant-General Raed Shakir Jawdat said security forces were in control of the center of Hammam al-Alil, about 15 km (10 miles) south of Mosul, although he did not say whether the militants had been pushed out completely.  The advance on the southern front comes days after Iraqi special forces fought their way into the eastern side of Mosul, taking control of six neighborhoods according to Iraqi officials and restoring a foothold in the city for the first time since the army retreated ignominiously two years ago.


  • Moscow warns of possible attacks by Russian jihadists on return home from Syria (Reuters)  Thousands of Russians have been fighting in Syria in anti-government ranks, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview published on Saturday, issuing a warning of possible attacks by them on their return home.  Last year, Moscow launched an air campaign to hit the targets of militants who have waged a war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. There are also numerous jihadists from Russia who filled the ranks of anti-government forces.

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

Labor market monopsony is the idea that when there isn’t enough competition among businesses, it is bad news for workers. When an industry includes only a few big companies, they don’t have to compete with one another as hard to attract employees — and so end up paying their workers less than they would if there were true competition. It’s the flip side of how monopoly power lets companies charge higher prices to consumers.

Imagine for a moment that Tuesday evening Americans gather ’round their Twitter feeds and television sets and begin to see that the polls were wrong. Not wrong by much, necessarily, but off by about 5 points in each state, meaning that Donald Trump will be elected president and that Republicans will maintain — or even slightly expand — their majorities in Congress. Now imagine that none of the darkest fears of Trump’s critics come to pass.

He doesn’t staff his administration with inept sycophants or sell America out to the Russians or unleash an unprecedented wave of race riots and pogroms or abuse power to persecute his enemies or steal taxpayer money or undermine democratic institutions and the rule of law.

Imagine, in other words, that Trump does what he says he wants to do on taxes, the environment, immigration, and health care. It’s true that he is not a passionate policy wonk; nor does he seem like someone who is deeply invested, on a personal level, in the non-immigration aspects of his policy agenda. But the agenda is there, and on all these non-immigration issues his views are basically in line with the vision put forth by Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will do the boring work of drafting the bills for Trump to sign.

The result would be a sweeping transformation of American life. Millions would be forcibly removed from their homes and communities as new resources and a new mission invigorate the pace of deportations. Taxes would drop sharply for the richest Americans while rising for many middle-class families. Millions of low-income Americans would lose their health insurance, while America’s banks would enjoy the repeal of regulations enacted in the wake of the financial crisis. Environmental Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gas emissions would end, likely collapsing global efforts to restrain emissions, greatly increasing the pace of warming.

Millions of Americans would love some or all of these changes, and millions of others would hate them. But most of all, the vast majority of Americans would simply be confused. Someone who’d been following the election moderately closely — scanning headlines, watching cable news, and tuning in to debates — would simply have no idea that this sweeping shift in American public policy is in the offing if Trump wins. Nor would they have any real sense of what the more modest shift in public policy that would emerge from a Clinton win would look like. Beneath the din of email coverage and the mountains of clichés about populism, the mass-market media has simply failed to convey what’s actually at stake in the election.

  • America's undocumented immigrant workforce has stopped growing (CNN)  According to a report released Thursday from Pew Research Center, an estimated 8 million undocumented immigrants were either working or looking for work in the U.S. in 2014, from the 8.1 million that were in the U.S. workforce in 2009.  Overall, this group made up about 5% of the U.S. workforce in 2014, Pew reported.  The flagging growth in the number of undocumented workers is a sharp contrast to the decade prior to the recession. Between 1995 and 2005, the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. workforce more than doubled from 3.6 million to 7.3 million, Pew reported. The video below discusses the dire straights American farmers would be in should migrant labor from Latin America be reduced.  See also next article.

  • How human waste could be the future of oil (The New York Post)  Turning sewage sludge into fuel has long been a science fiction fantasy of a waste-free world. But researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed technology to turn our 34 billion gallons of sewage a day into biocrude oil. The technology, called hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), uses pressure and heat to mimic how the Earth creates crude oil, a process that takes millions of years. But HTL takes mere minutes.  Genifuel Corporation, a Utah-based company that makes renewable fuel equipment, has licensed the technology and is currently working with Metro Vancouver to build a demo plant.  They hope the approximately $9 million plant could start construction as early as 2018.  If the demo is successful, the technology has the potential to pump out 30 million barrels of oil a year.  Econintersect:  Nowhere in this article does it mention key economic factors such as:  (1) How much does it cost to produce a gallon of biocrude?; and (2) How much energy does it take to produce a gallon of biocrude vs. how much energy is obtained when it is burned?; and  (3) How much more carbon is released to the atmosphere from burning biocrude than from current sewage sludge disposal processes?  Understanding basic thermodynamics causes us to wonder if using biocrude as a fuel source will make sense.  On the otherhand, there might be an economic and environmental case for use biocrude as source stock for petrochemicals used for producing polymers and other materials. 

Biocrude oil produced from wastewater treatment plant sludge.Photo: Courtesy of WE&RF

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