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What We Read Today 19 January 2017

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:

  • The Earth and the Moon as Seen by Telescope from Mars

  • Before-Tax Income Inequality in the U.S.

  • Middle Classes are in Crisis: Christine Lagarde

  • Wealth Disparity is Reaching Ridiculous Extremes

  • What to Expect from Trump's First 100 Days

  • Number 1 Trump Foreign Policy Challenge is the Islamic State

  • Islamic State Map Now Looks Like a Congressional Gerrymander

  • Trump's Treasury Secretary Nominee Forgot to List $100 million in Assets

  • Obama Extended U.S. Special Force Ops to 138 Countries with 70% of World's Population

  • Obama Dropped an Average of 72 Bombs a Day in 2016

  • Obama Issues a Final 330 Commutations

  • What Should Conservatives Thank Obama For?

  • Trump is Keeping 50 Obama Administration Officials

  • Just How Did Democratic Senators Vote on Prescription Drug Prices?

  • JP Morgan May Move More Out of London the Expected with Brexit

  • Deutsche Bank Does Not Plan a Bailout or Capital Hike

  • Turkey's Parliament Set to Grant Erdogan More Power

  • U.S. Planes Bomb ISIS Area in Libya - Staging Area to Attack Europe

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world




  • What to expect from the economy in Trump's first 100 days (Peter Morici, Fox News)  For President-elect Trump, boosting economic growth and creating more good-paying jobs recovery will not prove easy. George W. Bush campaigned on -- and delivered -- lower taxes and more limited government, but his economic expansion was no more robust than Barack Obama’s and ended with the 2007/08 financial crisis.  Here is the list of five things to expect:

  1. Repealing ObamaCare

  2. Tax Reform

  3. Infrastructure Spending

  4. Deregulation

  5. Trade

Click for large image.

  • The Issue Is Not Trump, It's Us (telesur)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  Under Obama, the U.S. extended secret "special forces" operations to 138 countries, or 70 percent of the world's population.  An excerpt from this article:

According to a Council on Foreign Relations survey, in 2016 alone Obama dropped 26,171 bombs. That is 72 bombs every day. He bombed the poorest people on earth, in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan.

Every Tuesday — reported the New York Times — he personally selected those who would be murdered by mostly hellfire missiles fired from drones. Weddings, funerals, shepherds were attacked, along with those attempting to collect the body parts festooning the "terrorist target." A leading Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, estimated, approvingly, that Obama's drones killed 4,700 people. "Sometimes you hit innocent people and I hate that," he said, "but we've taken out some very senior members of Al Qaeda."

Like the fascism of the 1930s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome, thanks to an omnipresent media whose description now fits that of the Nuremberg prosecutor: "Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically ... In the propaganda system ... it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons."

  • Obama issues final round of sentence commutations (The Hill)  President Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of 330 inmates on his final full day in office, the White House announced.  Obama has set a record with his aggressive use of clemency power. The 1,715 commutations granted during his eight years in office are more than any president in the nation’s history.  A majority of the commutations were for prisoners convicted of non-violent drug offenses who were sentenced under federal mandatory minimum guidelines that have since been rolled back by Congress. 

  • The one thing conservatives should thank Obama for (CNBC)  A conservative has one good thing to say about the outgoing president:

Who's missing from all the written, video, and even musical tributes wishing President Barack Obama a tearful and grateful farewell?

This is not a trick question. The answer is: Just about every prominent Republican and conservative in America. They're not playing the Obama appreciation game. And it's more than understandable why, considering his liberal policies.

But allow this conservative to send one gracious message to the outgoing president for doing one thing the Right should be truly grateful for. And it's also something President-elect Donald Trump should note and emulate. We should all be grateful that Barack Obama was a good cheerleader for the American economy.

Now before you shrug your shoulders and say that it's not big deal for any sitting president to talk up the economy, just consider the following two names: Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Those two Senators not only represent the real future and political strength of the Democratic Party, but they got there by attacking American corporations and entire industries one after the other. And far from paying a price for doing so, they've reaped political rewards not many could have predicted.

  • Trump keeping 50 Obama administration officials (The Hill)  President-elect Donald Trump has asked roughly 50 senior Obama administration officials to remain in their roles in order to "ensure the continuity of government", spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday.  The decision comes as Trump is reportedly struggling to fill important posts in his new administration.  Among the Obama holdovers are key national security officials, including Brett McGurk, special envoy to the global coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  The move is somewhat surprising, given Trump’s repeated criticism of Obama’s effort to combat the terrorist group. He called the president "the founder of ISIS" during a campaign event last April. 

  • A Senate vote on prescription drug price legislation calls loyalties into question (  Hat tip to Elliott Morss.  See also next article.  Last week, the Senate voted down an amendment to allow importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.  Most Republicans voted no; most Democrats voted yes.

One who bucked his party, though, was New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D), the on-the-rise progressive who’s been mentioned as a possible contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. As a result, multiple outlets have commented on the contributions that Booker, who represents the state that is the traditional manufacturing hub for drugmakers, and other no-voting Democrats have received from pharmaceutical companies. But because there were also 12 Republicans who went against party lines by voting yes, we looked at the numbers to see how special interest spending may have influenced the vote.

  • Viral image about Democratic senators and 'big pharma' is misleading (Politifact)  Hat tip to Elliott Morss. See also the preceding article. A viral post circulating recently in some of the more liberal corners of social media accuses 13 Democratic senators of allegedly voting against lower drug prices because they were recipients of big money from drugmakers.  The image (below) gives no indication that the senators also voted for a separate amendment that explicitly sought to lower drug prices.  This other amendment effectively prevented the Senate from considering legislation that did not "as promised by (President-elect Donald Trump), lower drug prices, as certified by the Congressional Budget Office."  This second amendment also failed 47-51, more closely along party lines.

Click for larger image.


  • JP Morgan to move more jobs than expected post-Brexit (The Trade)  JP Morgan will likely relocate more employees than initially thought following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, according to its chief executive officer.  Speaking to Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, Jamie Dimon explained: “It looks like there will be more job movement than we'd hoped for.”  When asked about where the jobs would be moved to and how many employees he expects will be relocated, Dimon said the UK’s decisions throughout the negotiation process would determine this.  He said:

“We don’t know yet, it depends on the law and equivalency. The EU could put in very stringent rules which require some of those jobs to move into the EU… It depends on what they come up with.”


  • Deutsche Bank CEO says 'never say never' on capital hike (CNBC)  Deutsche Bank Chief Executive John Cryan has declined to rule out the possibility of a capital hike in the coming years, with a range of regulatory uncertainties still weighing on the German bank.  In an exclusive interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and his first ever since becoming chief executive of Deutsche Bank, Cryan told CNBC that the bank has always said its preference was not to raise fresh capital when there were other options available, but detailed a range of issues still to be resolved.


  • Turkey's parliament set to approve sweeping new powers for president (The Guardian)  A sweeping bill that will alter the Turkish constitution and grant broad powers to the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is on track to pass in parliament, paving the way for a historic spring referendum that could transform the country’s politics and strengthen the ruling party.  The parliament passed amendments to seven articles in the constitution in a second round of voting in the early hours of Thursday, and is expected to continue voting on the remaining articles on Friday.  Opposition parties say the reforms will usher in an era of authoritarian rule and cement the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party’s hold on power. Under the new constitution, Erdoğan will be able to stand in two more election cycles, potentially governing as a powerful executive until 2029.


  • US planes strike Isis fighters in Libya 'planning attacks in Europe' (The Guardian)   US warplanes have conducted massive airstrikes near the Libyan city of Sirte against Islamic State members believed to be planning attacks in Europe, in an attack which killed 80 people.  A month after the US military declared a successful conclusion to a months-long air campaign against the militant group, B-2 bombers made a 9,400km (5,800-mile) journey on Wednesday night from a Missouri airbase to target what Pentagon officials described as two Isis training camps 45km (28 miles) south-west of Sirte.  Initial US estimates were that approximately 80 people were killed, who the Pentagon described as Isis fighters.

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

  • Your Home Planet, as Seen From Mars (NASA)  The image below combines two separate exposures taken on Nov. 20, 2016, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The images were taken to calibrate HiRISE data, since the reflectance of the moon's Earth-facing side is well known. For presentation, the exposures were processed separately to optimize detail visible on both Earth and the moon. The moon is much darker than Earth and would barely be visible if shown at the same brightness scale as Earth.  From the NASA article:

The combined view retains the correct positions and sizes of the two bodies relative to each other. The distance between Earth and the moon is about 30 times the diameter of Earth. Earth and the moon appear closer than they actually are in this image because the observation was planned for a time at which the moon was almost directly behind Earth, from Mars' point of view, to see the Earth-facing side of the moon. 

In the image, the reddish feature near the middle of the face of Earth is Australia. When the component images were taken, Mars was about 127 million miles (205 million kilometers) from Earth.

Click for large image at

  • Income Inequality (  Income includes the revenue streams from wages, salaries, interest on a savings account, dividends from shares of stock, rent, and profits from selling something for more than you paid for it. Income inequality refers to the extent to which income is distributed in an uneven manner among a population. In the United States, income inequality, or the gap between the rich and everyone else, has been growing markedly, by every major statistical measure, for some 30 years.  Since the early 1980s the nature of income distribution in the American economy has drastically changed:

The Congressional Budget Office defines before-tax income as “market income plus government transfers,” or, quite simply, how much income a person makes counting government social assistance. Analysts have a number of ways to define income. But they all tell the same story: The top 1 percent of U.S. earners take home a disproportionate amount of income compared to even the nation’s highest fifth of earners.


Source: Congressional Budget OfficeThe Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, Table 3, November 2014

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