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What We Read Today 07 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:

  • Software Finds New Chemical Combinations for Drugs

  • Why is Universal Basic Income Such a Hot Topic?

  • Does the Commons Have a Right to Share Capital Income?

  • Whites Outside of Major Metros Have a Rising Death Rate

  • Why Do White Women Have a skyrocketing Suicide Rate?

  • Two Headed Sharks

  • Does OPEC Cheat? - A Debate

  • Political Nastiness is Just Beginning

  • Voting Rights are Under Attack

  • One State is Still Growing Natural Gas Production

  • Everybody Attacks the FBI

  • Israel Rejects Paris Peace Conference

  • U.S. Bolsters Syrian Fighters' Advance on IS Capital in Raqqa

  • Mass Decapitation Site Found Near Mosul

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Bizarre Two-Headed Sharks Showing Up in Many Parts of the World (EcoWorld)   A slew of rare two-headed sharks have been found from California to the Caribbean and from Mexico to the Mediterranean, leading scientists to ponder why.  A two-headed embryo of an Atlantic sawtail cat shark was found recently in the Mediterranean Sea. It was the first oviparous, or egg-laying, shark ever documented with two heads. Each head contained a mouth, two eyes and a brain, and were joined behind the gills, according to a paper published Oct. 9 in the Journal of Fish Biology. The species is considered near threatened.  Numerous cases have also been observed in blue sharks and bull sharks.

  • Does OPEC cheat? Two oil market watchers disagree sharply (CNBC)  Two of the most respected commodities experts on Wall Street duked it out recently over oil's next stop, and whether OPEC would be a catalyst for driving prices higher or lower.  In one corner, "Commodities King" Dennis Gartman maintained that OPEC cheats and that the word of the cartel should not be trusted.  In the other corner, Helima Croft of RBC Capital Markets reiterated that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will strike a deal, which will ultimately drive the price of crude higher. 


  • Why the nastiness won’t end on Election Day  (The Hill)  The 2016 presidential election has been one of the ugliest races in the nation's political history, and its after-effects could be even worse.  No matter who wins on Tuesday, half the country will be angry.  If Donald Trump wins, Democrats will blame FBI Director Jim Comey.  If Hillary Clinton wins, Trump and his supporters will likely blame the GOP establishment for not uniting behind him.  And that's just the beginning.  If Clinton wins, Republicans in Congress are already talking about years of investigations and even the possibility of impeachment.  Eyeing likely midterm gains, the GOP will have little incentive to cooperate on possible bipartisan compromises with a Democratic president.  See also Regardless of who wins Tuesday, the political storm is just getting started (CNBC)

  • Confusion, obstacles raise voting concerns in some states (Associated Press)  More than a dozen states have enacted tougher requirements for registering and voting since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key provision of the Voting Rights Act three years ago.  That has led to confusion and claims that certain groups, mostly minorities who tend to vote with Democrats, are being disenfranchised.  This article details problems by state.  See also next article.

  • This is the first election without the full Voting Rights Act — and it's already a disaster (This Week)   In 2013, when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote his opinion gutting the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, a key part of his argument was that it wasn't necessary anymore. "The country has changed," he said.  Roberts' removal of the anti-racism shackles has created a roaring outbreak of racism. In states across the country, Republicans are attempting to disenfranchise as many Democratic-leaning constituencies as possible — especially black Americans. This will be the first presidential election without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, and the GOP has demonstrated beyond a shadow of the doubt that the act is barely less necessary now than it was in 1965, when it was aimed at ending decades of Democratic party abuses.  Econintersect:  Roberts was right in one regard.  The party affecting voting rights abuses has changed.

  • One U.S. State Where Natural Gas Output Is Still Going Strong (Bloomberg)  As U.S. natural gas production slows amid cost-cutting, one U.S. state is bucking the trend.  Gas output from Ohio, home to the Utica shale formation, jumped 13% percent in August even as supplies dropped across the bulk of the U.S., including the neighboring Marcellus play in Pennsylvania. Chesapeake Energy Corp., Rice Energy Inc. and Gulfport Energy Corp. drilled most of the new wells in the state, data from Bloomberg Intelligence show.

  • FBI under fire from all sides (The Hill)  FBI Director James Comey is facing a backlash in both parties for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, casting a cloud over his future.  His decision on Sunday to once again not recommend charges related to Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of State puts him in the unenviable position of having little to show for an enormously controversial decision. Comey on Oct. 28 made the stunning announcement that the FBI was reviewing new emails tied to the investigation into Clinton's use of a private server, enraging Democrats who accused him of meddling in the presidential election. Then on Sunday afternoon, just two days before voters headed to the polls, Comey quickly ended the review without pressing charges, infuriating the GOP.


  • Israel says 'no' to Middle East peace conference in Paris (Reuters)  Israel on Monday formally rejected France's invitation to take part in a Middle East peace conference in Paris later this year, saying it was a distraction from the goal of direct negotiations with the Palestinians.  At a meeting in Jerusalem with Israel's acting national security adviser and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's diplomatic adviser, French envoy Pierre Vimont was informed that Israel wanted nothing to do with the effort to revive talks that last broke down in 2014.


  • U.S.-led strikes bolster Syrian fighters' advance toward Raqqa (Reuters)  The U.S.-led coalition has carried out a series of air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria to aid a new offensive by armed groups toward the city of Raqqa, the militant group's de facto capital in Syria, the Pentagon said on Monday.  Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the targets of the air strikes included Islamic State fighting positions and vehicles, including some that could be used to deliver explosives.


  • Dozens of decapitated bodies found at school near Mosul  Russia (The Washington Post)  Iraqi military and police forces said Monday that they have uncovered a mass grave in a small town south of the Islamic State-held city of Mosul. Initial reports say 100 bodies were found, many of them decapitated.  Col. Abdel Rahman Khazali, a spokesman for the Iraqi federal police, said the bodies were discovered Monday at an agricultural college outside the town of Hamam al-Alil, which was recaptured by Iraqi forces over the last three days.

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

  • Software Dreams Up New Molecules in Quest for Wonder Drugs (MIT Technology Review)  Hat tips to Sanjeev Kulkarni and Roger Erickson.  What do you get if you cross aspirin with ibuprofen? Harvard chemistry professor Alán Aspuru-Guzik isn’t sure, but he’s trained software that could give him an answer by suggesting a molecular structure that combines properties of both drugs.  The AI program could help the search for new drug compounds. Pharmaceutical research tends to rely on software that exhaustively crawls through giant pools of candidate molecules using rules written by chemists, and simulations that try to identify or predict useful structures. The former relies on humans thinking of everything, while the latter is limited by the accuracy of simulations and the computing power required.  Aspuru-Guzik’s system can dream up structures more independently of humans and without lengthy simulations. It leverages its own experience, built up by training machine-learning algorithms with data on hundreds of thousands of drug-like molecules.

  • The Universal Right to Capital Income (Yanis Varoufakis, Project Syndicate)  YV has contributed to GEI.  The idea that you work hard and pay your income taxes, while I live off your enforced kindness, doing nothing by choice, is untenable. If a universal basic income is to be legitimate, it cannot be financed by taxing Jill to pay Jack. That is why it should be funded not from taxation, but from returns on capital.  A common myth, promoted by the rich, is that wealth is produced individually before it is collectivized by the state, through taxation. In fact, wealth was always produced collectively and privatized by those with the power to do it: the propertied class.  YV proposes that all corporations should have a portion of stock issued to the commons and all individuals in the commons would receive a share  of the income and gains from the stock.

  • A river of lost souls runs through western Colorado (The Washington Post)  See also next article.

Two-and-a-half times as many people die by suicide as homicide in this country; among whites in 2014, it was nearly nine times as many, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although more men than women take their own lives, the rate of suicide has nearly doubled among middle-aged white women since 1999 — rising from 7 per 100,000 to 12.6 in 2014 — helping to explain a startling increase in their early mortality.

The numbers are even worse for middle-aged white women with a high school diploma or less. For them, the suicide rate has more than doubled over the past 15 years, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal health data. Most of the victims lived in small towns and rural areas, particularly in the Southeast and in mountain states, where social isolation can be acute.

Colorado has the fourth-highest suicide rate in the nation for white women ages 45 to 54. Among Colorado counties with a population of at least 30,000, La Plata (Durango is county seat) has the highest.

Click for larger image.

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