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 dayin the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).
Fed Ethics Site Goes Down, Flooded By Kellyanne Conway Complaints (vocativ) The U.S. Office of Government Ethics website was knocked offline for hours on Thursday — apparently by hordes of visitors eager to report the latest scandal from President Donald Trump’s administration. On Wednesday, in an interview with Fox News, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway urged Americans to buy products stamped with the name of Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, admitting her own remarks were “a free commercial.” The day before, President Trump had tweeted angrily about department store Nordstrom because it dropped Ivanka’s fashion line, citing poor sales. Federal law states “An employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated.” This is why former White House ethics lawyers balked at Conway’s words, House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) called them “unacceptable,” and nonprofit watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has already filed a complaint with OGE. For several hours on Thursday, OGE was completely inaccessible, leaving people on social media to speculate why. Late in the afternoon, the office explained:
Trump seeks to break DC bubble (The Hill) President Trump is trying to fight the confines of the presidential bubble. Less than a month after taking office, Trump, a man who loathes boredom and has a penchant for doing things his way, is trying his best to keep things the way they were before he won the presidency. He tweets what’s on his mind. He has refused to give up his unsecured Android phone. And he flies to the warmth of his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, on the weekends — just like old times. Presidents and first families often bristle as they feel the White House walls closing in on them under a constant media spotlight and vast security detail. Trump, arguably even more than his predecessors, has had difficulty giving up his past life.
Neo-Confederates Arm To Fight The South’s ‘Leftist Menace’ (vocatic) An anti-government group of secessionists are forming a "Southern Defense Force" to protect southerners from "left-wing activists". This group of neo-Confederates stated goal is to achieve “a free and independent Southern republic”; they are militarizing in anticipation of a “leftist menace” that the group claims has been growing in response to the presidency of Donald Trump. The name of the group is The League of the South and has been around since the early 1990s. It has been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the New Black Panther Party. The organization made headlines in 2015 when the mass-murder of nine black people by white supremacist Dylann Roof at a church in South Carolina ignited a debate over whether state governments should fly the Confederate battle flag at government buildings. The League of the South, obviously, wanted the flag — which they view as a symbol of southern heritage, but others see as a remnant of the south’s racist history — to stay.
Refugees Are Crossing The U.S. Border Into Canada (vocativ) It turns out the United States isn’t the only country north of Mexico with a flow of undocumented immigrants at its porous borders. Twenty-two refugees over the weekend crossed the U.S.-Canada border at the tiny town of Emerson-Franklin, where there is a population of 700 people. The town struggled to collect the resources to accommodate the incoming migrants, prompting civic leaders to hold a meeting to address how to best handle the influx of migrants from the U.S. In the months following the U.S. election, there’s been a spike in the number of refugees crossing the border, particularly from Ghana and Somalia, one of the seven countries in Trump’s “Muslim ban.” They risk their lives under freezing temperatures to cross the border into Canada and they often arrive frostbitten and hungry.
One of the reasons asylum seekers are avoiding coming into Canda from an official entry is the because of the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which states that refugees seeking protection must make a claim in the first country they arrive. This means that if they already applied as a refugee in the U.S. when they arrive at the border of Canada, they will be turned away, unless they qualify for the exceptions. This explains why refugees are reluctant to show up at Canada’s main points of entry, and instead opting to cross over illegally. There has been pressure on the Canadian government to repeal this agreement after Trump got elected, but they have so far refused.
Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics, and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea
These Researchers Are Counting Crowds For All U.S. Protests (Vocatic) If there’s one thing we’ve learned following the Presidential Inauguration and the much-larger Women’s March movement the following day it’s that crowd size and scope matter. Now, the two researchers responsible for coming up with the most comprehensive database of crowd sizes for both the Saturday march in D.C. and all the sister marches held throughout the world have started a project aimed at ensuring every U.S. political demonstration — no matter how small — gets its due. As noted by Vocativ in an earlier article documenting the crowdsourced efforts to count every last marcher that first began on Twitter, the average march size on January 21 was 6,000 people. About two-thirds of them were comprised of 1,000 participants or less, and many of them were far smaller, often sparse enough to go largely uncovered by local media. This, Chenoweth says, is where the power in this project can be truly observed. For more information see Crowd Counting Consortium.
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