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What We Read Today 18 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:

  • Paranoia in U.S. Politics - Written in 1964

  • The New Red Scare

  • Superbug Sepsis is an Unreported Epidemic

  • Tens of Thousands Die, Many Billions are Spent, and it is a Secret

  • The Story of Jared Kushner's Glorious Adventure into Harvard

  • Warren Mosler on GEI's Stephen Bannon Documentary of the Week

  • $3 Trillion Corporate Profit Overseas - Less Than $1 Trillion Can be Repatriated

  • Trump Makes Cabinet Picks, Considers More

  • Congress Will Wait for Trump Budget, Temporary Funding 'Til 2017

  • Yellen to Trump:  Hands Off Dodd-Frank

  • Dem Senators are Watching the Outlet to the Swamp

  • Trump University Fraud Case Near Settlement

  • Ten Things to Know About Trump's Tax Plan

  • Democrats at New Low in State Legislatures

  • Obama Asks European Leaders to Give Trump a Chance

  • VW Cuts 30,000 Jobs, Mostly in Germany

  • Battle For Aleppo Escalates

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Trump picks conservative loyalists for attorney general, CIA (Reuters)   U.S. President-elect Donald Trump picked three conservative loyalists with hard-line views on immigration and counter-terrorism to lead his national security and law enforcement teams, including U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Representative Mike Pompeo as CIA director.  Retired Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, who has been a stalwart in supporting Trump's promises to take a tougher approach to militant Islamist groups, was picked as his national security adviser.  Econintersect:  The swamp is being repopulated with new alligators, no draining in sight.

  • Trump’s transition takes surprise twist (The Hill)  The appointment of strong supporters notwithstanding (see preceding article), Donald Trump is also interviewing some of his harshest critics for high cabinet positions.  Included are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is reportedly under consideration to be attorney general, as well as former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as potential nominees for Secretary of State.

  • Trump Scores His First Win in Congress (The Atlantic, MSN News)  Republican leaders announced Thursday they would punt major spending decisions into 2017 in accordance with the incoming administration’s wishes. That means Congress plans to pass only a stopgap bill that will fund the federal government through March rather than an omnibus appropriations bill that would set spending priorities for the first eight months of Trump’s term.

  • Yellen Sends a Message to Trump: Hands Off Dodd-Frank (The Fiscal Times)  Throughout the presidential election, now-President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to undo the financial service industry reforms contained in the Dodd-Frank Act. The Trump transition team’s website makes it clear that the issue hasn’t been forgotten, saying that Trump will work to “dismantle the Dodd-Frank Act and replace it with new policies”.  In an appearance on Capitol Hill Thursday, Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen delivered her verdict on the suggestion: bad idea.

  • Dem senators charge: Trump not draining the swamp (The Hill)  Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) took to the Senate floor Thursday to charge that President-elect Donald Trump is already walking back his pledge to "drain the swamp".  Warren said that roughly a week after the presidential election, Trump is "inviting the biggest, ugliest swamp monsters in the front door".  NBC News reported Wednesday that Pence has ordered that all lobbyists be removed from the transition team, but Warren is skeptical:

"Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it. ... Trump promised to drain the swamp, and after one week we've seen what Donald Trump's promise means. Nothing."

Under the emerging deal being negotiated by Trump's lawyers, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the law firm that brought a class action lawsuit regarding Trump University in California, the president-elect will agree to pay between $20 million and $25 million to settle the matter, a source with knowledge of the situation said.

Trump will not admit to any wrongdoing in the final agreement, which could be announced as soon as Friday, the source said.

  • Dems hit new low in state legislatures (The Hill)  The Democratic Party will hit a new nadir in state legislative seats after suffering more losses in November’s elections, highlighting the devastation up and down the party across the nation.  Republicans will control 4,170 state legislative seats after last week’s elections, while Democrats will control 3,129 seats in the nation’s 98 partisan legislative chambers. Republicans picked up a net gain of 46 seats in Tuesday’s elections, while Democrats lost 46 seats, according to the latest vote counts from The Associated Press.  Independents and members of minor parties hold 71 seats, including the entire Nebraska Senate, which is nonpartisan. Nearly two weeks after Election Day, about a dozen seats remain too close to call.


  • Obama urges European leaders to work with Trump (Associated Press)  President Barack Obama used a meeting with key European leaders Friday to urge them to work with the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump and to discuss steps necessary to resolve the conflicts in Syria and eastern Ukraine, the White House said.  Obama's meeting with the leaders of Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain was likely his last in such a setting before he leaves office. The session expands on lengthy talks he held Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


  • Volkswagen cuts 30K jobs after emissions cheating scandal (The Hill)  Volkswagen is eliminating 30,000 jobs in the wake of the company’s emissions cheating scandal.  The move is expected to affect around 5% of its global workforce, though the cuts are supposed to largely fall on the workforce in Germany. The positions will be eliminated through early retirement and attrition.  VW added that it is also creating 9,000 new technology-related jobs, for which current employees could be considered.  See also Volkswagen to shed 30,000 jobs, cutting costs after scandal (Associated Press).


  • Battle for Aleppo escalates, U.N. sees 'bleak moment' (Reuters)  Syrian rebels fought fiercely with pro-government forces as they tried to advance into opposition-held areas of eastern Aleppo on Friday and warplanes kept up their bombardment of the area in a renewed bid by Damascus to retake the entire city.  The U.N. humanitarian adviser said on Friday the besieged population of eastern Aleppo faced a "very bleak moment" with no food or medical supplies, winter approaching, and an increasingly fierce attack by Syrian and allied forces.  Violence also escalated in and around Damascus, where government forces fiercely bombarded the city's rebel-held eastern outskirts and rebels fired rockets into the government-controlled city center, witnesses said.

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

American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.

  • The New Red Scare (Andrew Cockburn, Harper's)  This could be considered a 2016 sequel to the preceding article.  Cockburn starts with a quote from Ivan Selin, who used to tell his team during the 1960s:

Welcome to the world of strategic analysis, where we program weapons that don’t work to meet threats that don’t exist.”

  • One life, two donated organs and $5.7 million in bills – a tale of superbugs’ deadly costs (Reuters)  Recovering from transplant surgery, Dan Greulich fell prey to a drug-resistant infection. What happened over the next five months shows the terrible human and financial price of an epidemic raging through the U.S. healthcare system.  There is a health crisis killing tens of thousands and costing many billions which doesn't show up on death certificates and is not found in medical records or statistics.  Superbug sepsis is a hidden epidemic that continues to worsen year by year. 

  • The Story Behind Jared Kushner’s Curious Acceptance into Harvard (ProPublica)  Donald Trump's son-in-law (Ivanka's husband) was one of the case studies in a 2006 book on how the wealthy buy admission for their unqualified children at the nation's most elite universities.  Here are two excerpts from this article:

Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, said in an email Thursday that “the allegation” that Charles Kushner’s gift to Harvard was related to Jared’s admission “is and always has been false.” His parents, Charles and Seryl Kushner, “are enormously generous and have donated over 100 million dollars to universities, hospitals and other charitable causes. Jared Kushner was an excellent student in high school and graduated from Harvard with honors.” (About 90 percent of Jared’s 2003 class at Harvard also graduated with honors.)

“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,” a former official at The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. “His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.”


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