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:
Trump Calls Hacking Probe a 'Witch Hunt', then Intelligence Briefing 'Useful'
Trump and Breitbart News Stumble Over Murder Facts
UK Intelligence Gave U.S. Key Russian Tipoff
Breitbart Creates Giant Fake News Story from Germany
Norway Getting Rid of FM Radio
Arabic About to Replace Finnish as Second 'Native' Language of Sweden
Top Republican Says Iran Deal Should be Saved
Canada Posts First Trade Surplus in More than Two Years
FBI, Mexican Authorities Seek Shooter of U.S. Consular Official in Guadalajara
U.S. Has By Far the Longest Nonfarms Job Growth Streak Ever
Writer Claims because there are Frauds in Renewable Energy that Renewable Energy is a Fraud
The Long, Sordid History of High Fees and Low Returns
If Climate Change is a Hoax will we have Created a Better World for Nothing?
Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world
Trump calls hacking probe 'witch hunt,' then calls intelligence briefing ‘constructive’ (Chicago Tribune) U.S. intelligence officials have raised increasing alarm this week over Russia's meddling in the presidential election, Donald Trump has sought to recast the investigation as a matter of old-fashioned politics rather than national security. The president-elect has reacted to mounting pressure to take stronger steps against Russia not only by trying to discredit the intelligence community but also by suggesting that the intense Washington focus on the issue is being driven by political rivals still stung by his electoral victory. Trump's skepticism was softened but not removed after Friday's security briefing,
What Trump got wrong on Twitter this week (The Washington Post) Econintersect: Before looking at anything in this article, we would suggest an almost equally interesting article would be "What the Washington Post Got Wrong in their Newspaper thie Week". One of the tweets highlighted by The WaPo had to do with the murder rate in Chicago. There is more on misrepresentation of murder and violent crime rates by another source in the articles which follow this one.
Obama Denies the Murder Wave on His Watch (Breitbart News) President Barack Obama used the Harvard Law Review to broadcast his claim that “there is no growing crime wave”, despite the crime wave that has killed 1,500 Americans in 2015 and 2016. (Econintersect: See next article compare the "1,500" to the total annual murder rate, The New York Times says it is a "surge" of 8.4% over 2014, raising murder rates to the 2008 level but well below the rates from 1967-2007.) His claim that crime has remained “near historic lows” (Econintersect: true), and his denial of the national murder spike, came in his op-ed published by the Harvard Law Review:
“There is no growing crime wave.”
“Crime remains near historic lows.”
“I have also used my clemency power to a degree unmatched in modern history to address unfairness in the federal system … I will be the first President in decades to leave office with a federal prison population lower than when I took office.”
Dueling Claims on Crime Trend (FactCheck.org) President Barack Obama said there have been “huge drops in the murder rates” in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said “violent crime has increased in cities across America”. Which is it? We’ll score this one for Obama. The long-term trend is a decline, not only in the murder rates per population, but the total number of murders in the cities Obama mentioned, and nationwide. The same goes for violent crime. Trump was referring to a recent year-over-year increase in murders in some cities. Econintersect: These are facts not mentioned in the preceding Breitbart News article.
Violent Crime (FBI) This report makes it clear that there is no growing violent crime rate even in the short term (5 years).
In 2015, an estimated 1,197,704 violent crimes occurred nationwide, an increase of 3.9 percent from the 2014 estimate. (See Tables 1 and 1A.)
When considering 5- and 10-year trends, the 2015 estimated violent crime total was 0.7 percent below the 2011 level and 16.5 percent below the 2006 level. (See Tables 1 and 1A.)
There were an estimated 372.6 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015, a rate that rose 3.1 percent when compared with the 2014 estimated violent crime rate. (See Tables 1 and 1A.)
UK intelligence gave US key tipoff about Russian hacking, report says (The Guardian) British intelligence reportedly provided a vital tipoff to the US in 2015 about the extent of Russian hacking on the presidential election. The report on the UK’s involvement came after US intelligence agencies published an unclassified version of their finding that Vladimir Putin ordered a multi-pronged operation to interfere in the election in favour of Donald Trump. The New York Times, citing “two people familiar with the conclusions” of the report, said British intelligence was “among the first” to raise the alarm in autumn 2015 that Moscow had hacked the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee. The UK’s role suggests that the compromise of email exchanges among senior Democrats was spotted when voice intercepts, computer traffic or agents picked up content of the emails flowing towards Moscow. Over the course the campaign, British officials were as alarmed as their US counterparts over the extent of contacts between Trump advisers and Moscow and by Trump’s consistently pro-Russian stance on a range of foreign policy issues.
German police quash Breitbart story of mob setting fire to Dortmund church (The Guardian) German media and politicians have warned against an election-year spike in fake news after the rightwing website Breitbart claimed a mob chanting “Allahu Akbar” had set fire to a church in the city of Dortmund on New Year’s Eve. After the report by the US site was widely shared on social media, the city’s police clarified that no “extraordinary or spectacular” incidents had marred the festivities. The local newspaper, Ruhr Nachrichten, said elements of its online reporting on New Year’s Eve had been distorted by Breitbart to produce “fake news, hate and propaganda”. Econintersect: The "yellow journalism" online tabloid might be accused of trying to influence the German election this year when Angela Merkel is running for a fourth term as Germany's chancellor. Breitbart News was formerly headed by top Whitehouse advisor Stephen Bannon.
Norway will become the first country in the world to switch off FM radio (The Washington Post) Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) transmissions that generally offer better sound quality will replace all FM radio stations in Norway, completion date not set - but the first station is converting next week. Besides higher audio quality, the digital system costs are only about 12% of FM.
Finnish was the second language of Sweden for centuries. Now Arabic is overtaking it. (The Washington Post) Officially, Sweden doesn't keep a record of the languages its inhabitants speak. That fact was infuriating to Mikael Parkvall, a linguist at Stockholm University, so he decided to find out for himself. What is the most popular non-Swedish language in Sweden? After poring over various statistics and studies, Parkvall came to a conclusion: Arabic was very likely to now be the second most popular language in the Scandinavian country. Parkvall's study focused on native languages rather than second languages, which he says are a better judge of what languages are actually spoken in a country (while English is widely spoken in Sweden, relatively few are native speakers).
Top Senate Republican says Iran deal should be strictly enforced, not torn up (The Guardian) The Republican chair of the Senate foreign relations committee said on Friday that the incoming Trump administration should not and would not “tear up” the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement, but rather focus on enforcing the deal more strictly. In tweets and other comments throughout his campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly attacked the deal by which Iran accepted curbs on its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief from the international community, and which represents the cornerstone of Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy. Trump calls it "the worst deal ever". Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee told journalists on Friday morning:
“In spite of the all the flaws in the agreement, nothing bad is going to happen relative to nuclear development in Iran in the next few years. It’s just not.”
Canada posts first trade surplus in more than 2 years (Yahoo News) Canada on Friday posted its first trade surplus in more than two years, driven by record exports to countries other than the United States. The small trade surplus for November amounted to Can$526 million ($397 million), the first since September 2014, following a Can$1 billion deficit in October, Statistics Canada said. The news came as a surprise after analysts had widely agreed on expectations of a Can$1.6 billion deficit.
Exports rose 4.3 percent to Can$45.6 billion on higher sales of metals and minerals. Imports rose 0.7 percent to Can$45.1 billion mainly thanks to increased purchases of energy, the agency said.
Canada exported $Can33.7 billion worth of goods to the United States, a rise of 2.5 percent that brought the country's trade surplus with its main trading partner to $Can4.2 billion.
However, exports to other countries jumped 9.5 percent to a record Can$12 billion, "the largest monthly percentage increase since May 2008," Statistics Canada said.
Sales to China rose by more than 11 percent to Can$2 billion in November, mainly driven by coal exports.
FBI seeks suspect after US consular official shot in Mexico (The Guardian) A US consular official was shot in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Friday night, prompting the FBI to offer a $20,000 reward for information that leads to identifying the suspect. On Saturday morning, Mexico’s federal attorney general’s office said in a statement that it was working with the US embassy “to find the those responsible for this unfortunate event”. It added that state and federal authorities had been assigned to protect the victim, who is in a stable condition.
Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics, and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea
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