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What We Read Today 14 February 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:

  • How Much Will You Need to Retire Comfortably?

  • Economists Survey Shows Little Enthusiasm for Universal Basic Income

  • The Oceans Are Churning Towards A Warm, Fishless Future 

  • Flynn Told to Resign After Losing Trump's Confidence

  • GOP Introduces Bill to Abolish Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

  • Trump Repeals Obama Energy Anti-Corruption Regulation

  • Ethics Office Wants Kelly Ann Conway Disciplined

  • Chaffetz Probes Trump's Security at Mar-a-Lago

  • In 2017, Is the Democratic Party Doomed?

  • In 2009, Some Said the Republican Party was Doomed

  • Like Under Boko Haram

  • Trump Expects Russia to Return Crimea to Ukraine

  • More Unsafe Russian Jet Encounters

  • Russians Dismayed by Flynn Resignation

  • North Korea May Be Testing Trump with Missile

  • Sanctioned for Drugs, Venezuela Vice President Slams U.S. 'Aggression'

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • The Oceans Are Churning Towards A Warm, Fishless Future (vocativ)   Seafood is a critical protein source for more than 2.5 billion people worldwide, but decades of overfishing have decimated fish populations, while warming waters have pushed species into new territory and affected their reproductive cycles. Already, according to World Wildlife Fund’s 2015 stock assessment, populations of fish that frequent dinner plates—including tuna, mackerel, and bonitos—have fallen 74 percent since 1970.  Malin L. Pinsky, a marine ecologist at Rutgers University, believes runaway climate change could, one day, be the final nail in the coffin for global fish markets.  Click image below to retweet.



  • Flynn told to leave after losing Trump trust, spokesman says (PBS NewsHour)  President Donald Trump ousted his national security adviser because he lost trust in him, not for any legal concern, Trump’s spokesman said Tuesday.  White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the “erosion of that trust” over the circumstances surrounding retired Gen. Michael Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. created “a critical mass and an unsustainable situation”.   Flynn’s ouster appeared to be driven more by the idea that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials than by the content of his discussions with Russia’s ambassador. Still, the matter deepened questions about Trump’s friendly posture toward Russia.  See also vocativ article under Russia, later below.

  • GOP bill would eliminate Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (The Hill)  Two Republican lawmakers introduced Tuesday a bill to eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the controversial watchdog agency long targeted by the GOP.  The bill from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) would repeal Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act, which established the CFPB.  Republicans have long sought to eliminate or drastically reform the CFPB, but Cruz and Ratcliffe’s approach goes further than current GOP proposals to reshape the bureau.  Cruz said in a statement his bill:

 “... gives Congress the opportunity to free consumers and small businesses from the CFPB’s regulatory blockades and financial activism, which stunt economic growth.”

  • Trump Repeal of Obama Energy Regulation Signals More to Come (Bloomberg)  President Donald Trump has overturned an Obama-era anti-corruption rule that would have forced oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments, becoming the first president in 16 years to take advantage of a law that allows him to rescind a predecessor’s regulations.  Trump on Tuesday signed a congressional resolution to repeal a Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure rule that was called for in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. It’s likely just the start: Congress is considering a number of other measures, including ones to overturn Obama administration rules protecting streams from mountaintop mining and prevent people with serious mental-health problems from buying guns.  Econintersect:  It looks like "Drain the swamp" was referring to 'game wardens', not the 'poachers'.

  • Ethics office calls on White House to discipline Conway (The Hill)  The director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) says White House counselor Kellyanne Conway misused her official position by hawking Ivanka Trump’s product line on TV and is recommending that the White House discipline her for it.  See video below.  OGE director Walter Schaub wrote in a Tuesday letter to White House legal counselor Stefan Passantino:

“Under the present circumstances, there is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct Act and that disciplinary action is warranted.” 

  • Chaffetz probes Trump's security protocols at Mar-a-Lago (Politico)  House oversight committee chairman Jason Chaffetz is pressing White House officials for details on why President Donald Trump conducted some of his response to a North Korean missile test in a public dining room at his Mar-a-Lago club.  In a letter to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, Chaffetz requested answers about security protocols at Mar-a-Lago; the details of potentially sensitive documents that Trump and his aides perused in the presence of diners and waitstaff; and whether any sensitive material was discussed in public. The Utah Republican is also seeking information about whether guests are vetted to "ensure that they are not foreign agents or spies on behalf of a foreign government".

  • The dirty secret smart Democrats know (but won't admit) about Trump (Fox News)  President Trump's shocking victory in November and the tumultuous beginning of his presidency have shattered many assumptions about American politics.  For many liberals and progressives, the weeks since Donald Trump’s inauguration have been filled with soul-searching and even confusion about their place in American politics.  This article believes the Democratic party is doomed.  See also next article.  Two excerpts:

The groups driving the Democratic Party to the left believe their only path to victory is mobilization. These forces are pushing the party away from the American public, which fundamentally is center-right, and channeling the concerns and priorities of the core Democratic coastal base. Indeed, fully one third of sitting Democratic congressional leaders hail from New York, California, and Massachusetts.

Recent public polling clearly confirms that Democratic dogmas and liberal litmus tests are far to the left of the national electorate, which remains center-right on issues ranging from immigration to tax policy to abortion.

Despite what the Democratic base wants, if these Trump-state Democrats fail to find opportunities to cooperate with Trump, or at least position themselves as centrists congruent with their constituents’ beliefs, they will lose to a more canny Republican candidate in the general election and increase the likelihood that Trump gains a filibuster-proof Senate.

While the Democratic Party's progressive and moderate wings clash with one another over their party’s future, Republicans are dismantling the blue wall and solidifying America’s status as a center-right nation.

These days, Republicans have the desperate aura of an endangered species. They lost Congress, then the White House; more recently, they lost a slam-dunk House election in a conservative New York district, then Senator Arlen Specter. Polls suggest that only one-fourth of the electorate considers itself Republican, that independents are trending Democratic and that as few as five states have solid Republican pluralities. And the electorate is getting less white, less rural, less Christian — in short, less demographically Republican.


  • A rare glimpse into the brutality of life under Boko Haram (PBS NewsHour)  Last year, the news service Voice of America received a stunning trove of videos from Nigeria: 18 hours of footage recorded by the country's militant group Boko Haram in 2014. NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with Ibrahim Alfa Ahmed of VOA about how the organization verified the videos, their brutal content and what we can learn from the rare glimpse into the operations of a terror organization.



  • Russian jets in 'unsafe' encounters with destroyer: U.S. official (Reuters)  Multiple Russian military aircraft came close to a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Black Sea on Feb. 10, incidents considered "unsafe and unprofessional", a U.S. official said on Tuesday.  There were three separate incidents involving Russian aircraft and the USS Porter, Captain Danny Hernandez, a spokesman for U.S. European Command, said. One involved two Russian Su-24 jets, another a separate Su-24, and the third involved a larger IL-38.  Hernandez said:

"USS Porter queried all aircraft and received no response." 

  • Russians See Flynn Resignation As ‘Black Day For Kremlin Diplomacy’ (vocativ)  Russian officials and average Russians online have expressed bitter disappointment that retired Gen. Michael Flynn resigned from his post after admitting he gave “incomplete information” about his conversation with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. about American sanctions against Russia.  Ilya Yashin, a leader of Russia’s political opposition, posted on Vkontakte, Russia’s version of Facebook, that Flynn was “Putin’s most loyal figure in Trump’s administration” and that “the Kremlin had high hopes for him”.  He called Flynn’s resignation a “black day for Russian Kremlin diplomacy and for Putin”.  Click on image below to retweet:

North Korea

  • With missile test, North Korea may be testing Trump (PBS NewsHour)  North Korea appeared to fire a ballistic missile on Sunday as a challenge to President Donald Trump. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was with Trump at his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago when they received the news, called the move “intolerable.” For more on the implications, Jon Wolfsthal, a fellow at Harvard University and former special assistant to President Barack Obama for nonproliferation issues, joins Hari Sreenivasan from Washington, D.C.:


  • Sanctioned for drugs, Venezuela vice president slams U.S. 'aggression' (Reuters)   Venezuela's powerful vice president on Tuesday called his blacklisting by the United States on drug charges an "imperialist aggression" in the first bilateral flare-up between the two countries under new U.S. President Donald Trump.  The U.S. Department of Treasury on Monday labeled El Aissami a drug "kingpin", accusing him of facilitating shipments by air and sea, and having links to drug gangs in Mexico and Colombia. El Aissami joined a sanctions list that already includes a half-dozen other Venezuelan officials or former officials.

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

  • How Much Will You Need to Retire Comfortably? (Russ Allen, Online Trading Academy)  RA contributes to GEI.  There are several variables to be taken into account doing retirement planning. An easy way to explain this is by reference to a retirement calculator. These are offered by many vendors of financial products, but one that is unbiased can be found here:  Retirement Planner.  Click on image to access interactive planning panel.

  • Universal Basic Income (IGM Forum, Chicago Booth School of Business)  Economists are not very enthusiastic about Universal Basic Income (UBI), to say the least.  Here is the statement used in the survey:

Granting every American citizen over 21-years old a universal basic income of $13,000 a year — financed by eliminating all transfer programs (including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, housing subsidies, household welfare payments, and farm and corporate subsidies) — would be a better policy than the status quo.


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