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What We Read Today 06 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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Topic today include:

  • Can Government Policies Impact the Economy?

  • Is Political Corruption Natural?

  • Why is U.S. Voter Turnout So Low?

  • U.S. Election Looms Large in UN Climate Talks

  • FBI Says New Emails Do Not Change Previous Findings

  • Trump, Clinton Final Strategies

  • Florida (and Other States) See a Surge in Latino Early Voting

  • Electoral College is a Vestige of Slavery

  • Some Voters Have 2.5 Times as Much Power as Others

  • Final SNL Presidential Campaign Skit

  • Theresa May Backs Court Decision on Brexit

  • Russian Nationalists Behind Montenegro Assassination Plot

  • U.S.-Backed Alliance Launches Attack on IS Capital in Raqqa

  • Car Bomber Kills 9 in Tikrit, Iraq

  • Delhi Smog Shuts Schools

  • Where Can Lung Cancer Spread?

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • US election looms large over UN climate talks (Associated Press)   U.N. climate talks open Monday against the backdrop of a U.S. election that could have a major impact on America's role in the global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Given Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's diverging views on climate change and the landmark emissions pact adopted in Paris last year, some countries' delegates have been unusually blunt about their preferred outcome.  Brazilian Environment Minister Sarney Filho told reporters in a conference call Thursday he believes American society supports climate action regardless of who becomes the next president. "However, on a personal note, I hope Trump doesn't win," he added.  Clinton backs the climate policies of President Barack Obama's government, including continued engagement in the Paris Agreement. Trump, meanwhile, has expressed doubts about global warming on social media and said in a speech this year that he would "cancel" the climate deal if elected.


  • FBI Says Its Conclusions on Clinton’s E-Mails ‘Not Changed’ (Bloomberg)  FBI Director James Comey has sent a new letter to Congress.  He says that the FBI is sticking to its conclusion that Hillary Clinton’s handling of her e-mails as secretary of state wasn’t a crime.  Since informing Congress on Oct. 27 that the FBI was examining new e-mails potentially related to its investigation of Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server there has been much conjecture about what the FBI might uncover. Comey said in a letter released by Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, on Sunday:

“...the FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review” [the material]. ... “During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State.  Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”

  • Trump, Clinton take different strategies to shore up votes (Associated Press)  Donald Trump is promising to take his campaign into traditional Democratic territory as a sign that he's not giving up on appealing to people outside the Republican Party. Hillary Clinton is focusing her efforts in the campaign's final days on energizing voters who usually support the Democratic nominee, but may need an extra boost.

  • Florida sees surge in Latino voting (BBC News)   At least 200,000 more Hispanics had voted in Florida by early Friday morning than during the entire early voting period in the 2012 election, Democratic strategist Steve Schale told The New York Times.  Voters waited in long lines (some for more than two hours) to vote in Latino and other ethnically diverse neighborhoods of southern Florida, including Pembroke Pines, where Clinton campaigned on Saturday.  And it's not just Florida. Nevada has the fastest growing Latino population in the US west, and Clinton supporters there have also been lining up to cast early ballots.  In Clark County, home to about two-thirds of Nevada's active registered voters, Friday saw a single day record of 57,174 early ballots.  

  • Electoral College is ‘vestige’ of slavery, say some Constitutional scholars (PBS)   When the founders of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 considered whether America should let the people elect their president through a popular vote, James Madison said that “Negroes” in the South presented a “difficultyof a serious nature”.  During that same speech on Thursday, July 19, Madison instead proposed a prototype for the same Electoral College system the country uses today. Each state has a number of electoral votes roughly proportioned to population and the candidate who wins the majority of votes wins the election.  And while there are many grievances about the Electoral College, one that’s rarely addressed is one dug up by an academic of the Constitution: that it was created to protect slavery, planting the roots of a system that’s still oppressive today.  Madison, now known as the “Father of the Constitution,” was a slave-owner in Virginia, which at the time was the most populous of the 13 states if the count included slaves, who comprised about 40% of its population.  Madison knew that the North would outnumber the South, despite there being more than half a million slaves in the South who were their economic vitality, but could not vote. His proposition for the Electoral College included the “three-fifths compromise”, where black people could be counted as three-fifths of a person, instead of a whole. This clause garnered the state 12 out of 91 electoral votes, more than a quarter of what a president needed to win.  This "solution" greatly increased the value of an individual vote in a slave state  compared to other states.  Econintersect:  The modern day fallout of this electoral compromise is that states like Wyoming and Vermont have individual votes for president that count almost 2.5 times as much as a vote from California or Texas. 

  • Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump Cold Open - SNL (YouTube)  Something else is coming to an end - the inane portrayals of the two candidates by Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin.  Here is the final skit from last night:



  • Theresa May backs judges' independence after Brexit ruling (BBC News)  Theresa May has defended judges' "independence" after the High Court was attacked for its ruling on Brexit.  The court decided last week that Parliament should get a vote on when the process of leaving the EU starts.  The Daily Mail branded the judges "enemies of the people", while UKIP's Nigel Farage warned of street protests if the referendum result was ignored.  The government is appealing against the ruling and the PM said it would be setting out "strong legal arguments".  Judges ruled on Thursday Parliament should vote on when the government can trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, starting two years of formal negotiations with the EU.  The government argues ministers already have sufficient powers - under the Royal Prerogative - to do this without MPs and peers having a vote. It has promised to fight to get the ruling overturned next month in the Supreme Court. 


  • 'Russian nationalists' behind Montenegro PM assassination plot (BBC News)  Montenegro's chief special prosecutor has said "nationalists from Russia" were behind an attempt to assassinate the PM and carry out a coup.  Milivoje Katnic said the plot involved killing pro-Western PM Milo Djukanovic with a professional long-distance sharpshooter.  The plotters are accused of planning to break into parliament and bring a pro-Russian government to power.  There is no evidence the Russian state was involved.


  • U.S.-backed Syrian alliance declares attack on Islamic State in Raqqa (Reuters)   A U.S.-backed alliance of Syrian armed groups has launched an operation to retake the northern city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of Islamic State in Syria, the group said on Sunday.  The new offensive ratchets up pressure on Islamic State at a critical moment, with its fighters already battling an assault by Iraqi security forces on their remaining Iraqi stronghold in the northern city of Mosul.  A statement issued by the U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab armed groups, said the long-anticipated campaign, called Euphrates Anger, started late on Saturday.


  • The Latest: Car bomber kills 9 at Tikrit checkpoint (Associated Press)   A provincial spokesman says a suicide attack against a security checkpoint north of Baghdad has killed at least nine people.  The spokesman for Salahuddin province, Ali al-Hamdani, says the suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car during rush hour Sunday morning into the main checkpoint at the southern entrance of the provincial capital, Tikrit.  Al-Hamdani said five female students, a woman and three policemen were killed. He added that 25 other people were wounded.  No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Islamic State militants have claimed multiple similar attacks. The Sunni extremists frequently launch attacks targeting Iraq's security forces and civilians in public areas.  In April 2015, Iraqi security forces drove out IS militants from Tikrit, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad.


  • Delhi smog: Schools closed for three days as pollution worsens (BBC News)  Delhi's chief minister has shut all schools in the Indian capital for three days as its citizens struggle with choking smog.  After an emergency cabinet meeting, Arvind Kejriwal promised a raft of measures to combat the extreme air pollution.  All construction and demolition work has been banned for five days in the city.  Water will also be sprinkled on main roads to help suppress dust.   Mr Kejriwal advised Delhi-ites to stay indoors as much as possible and work from home if they can. 

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

To win the Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel calls for intellectual gifts possessed by the rare few, or so we imagine. But what about the prize awarded in 1986 to an economist who broke new ground by factoring the self-serving behavior of politicians into his economic analysis of events? Did it really take a genius to figure that one out?

On the surface you would think not, but the Nobel-winning theoretical framework constructed by James M. Buchanan is multifaceted and complex. To understand it, you have to understand phenomena like the relationship between a “constrained Pareto optimality” and the “marginal rate of substitution.” Things only gets denser from there.

  • Common Areas Where Lung Cancer Can Spread (health grades)  Lung cancer, like other types of cancer, can spread beyond the lung to other areas of the body. When cancer cells form tumors in other places, these are called “metastatic cancers” or “metastases”.  Lung cancer cells that leave the lungs to form tumors elsewhere tend to travel to specific sites, including:

  • Other lung

  • Brain

  • Bones

  • Liver

  • Adrenal glands

  • Why is voter turnout so low in the U.S.? (PBS)  Low voter turnout in the United States has confounded politicians, activists and academics seeking to reverse a trend that puts the country behind many of the world’s developed nations in participation at the polls.  In August, the Pew Research Center ranked the U.S. 31st out of 35 countries for voter turnout based on the voting age populace, among the mostly democratic nations that are a part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  The study showed 53 percent of eligible voters in the U.S. cast ballots in 2012, the last time a presidential election was held, with about 129 million people out of a potential 241 million citizens taking part in the election.

According to interviews with research institutions, advocacy groups and legislators involved in those efforts, restrictive voting laws in some states discourage the electorate from registering to vote. Additionally, they said gerrymandered districts cut across party lines reduce the number of competitive races and interest, and disgruntled citizens, fed up with the often contentious nature of politics, can choose not participate.


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