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What We Read Today 21 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".).

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Topics today include:

  • Most Americans Favor Stricter Environmental Laws and Regulations

  • Homeland Security Issues New Rules fro Immigration Crackdown

  • Trump's War on Leaks Might Bring More Chaos

  • Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Sanctuary Cities

  • U.S. Judge Dismisses Most of Euribor-rigging Lawsuit

  • French Elections Moving Toward Higher Vote for Populist Candidate Le Pen

  • Italy May Finally See Economic Recovery

  • Riots in Sweden's Capital Following an Arrest

  • Canada Will Continue to Accept Refugees Illegally Crossing from U.S.

  • Mexico and Canada Say NAFTA Renegotiation Should be Three-Way

  • Shell Moves to Support Toyota Hydrogen Effort

  • The Screwed Millenial Generation Turns Socialist

  • Moral Dilemmas of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

  • Robots Should Pay Taxes

  • Gold Isn't Behaving the Way Theory Says It Should

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

U.S.

Opinion differs across party lines. Nearly eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (78%) see stricter environmental laws as worth the cost, while a majority of Republicans and Republican leaners (58%) say stricter environmental regulations cost too many jobs and hurt the economy. 

  • DHS issues sweeping rules for immigration crackdown (The Hill)   The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday released details on how it will prosecute undocumented immigrants and criminal immigrants under President Trump.  The two memos from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly expand immigration raids and the definition of criminal aliens, while diminishing sanctuary areas and enlisting local law enforcement to execute federal immigration policy.  Under the rules, federal officers will no longer consider any category of "removable alien" as exempt from removal, except for those protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program started under President Obama.  In a call to explain the policy changes, officials from DHS insisted that they are not seeking to begin a program of mass deportations in the United States.

  • Trump's War on Leaks Might Bring More Chaos, Not Less (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg)  TC has contributed to GEI.  Leaks are part of how the government manages the press and maintains its own popularity. A leak can get a story onto the front page, or if the first leak did not create the right impression, the information flow can be massaged by yet another leak.  Leaks are also a way of threatening other governments, yet without the president putting all of his credibility on the line.  Of course, many leaks are unwelcome, such as when national security confidences are disclosed. Given that reality, why haven’t American governments worked harder to prosecute unwelcome leaks and leakers?  Well, if that policy were pursued successfully, the only leaks that would occur would be “approved” or government-intended leaks, and everyone would figure this out. The government could no longer use leaks as a way of providing information or making threats in a distanced manner with plausible deniability. 

  • Poll: Americans overwhelmingly oppose sanctuary cities (The Hill)  An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that cities that arrest illegal immigrants for crimes should be required to turn them over to federal authorities.   The poll shows that President Trump has broad public support in his effort to crack down on sanctuary cities.

  • U.S. judge dismisses most of Euribor-rigging lawsuit (Reuters)   A U.S. judge on Tuesday dismissed most of an investor lawsuit accusing major banks of conspiring to manipulate the benchmark European Interbank Offered Rate, or Euribor.  In a 100-page decision, U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan said most of the plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue antitrust claims, and that several claims must fail because of a lack of evidence or because they involved foreign conduct.  Castel said the investors may pursue one antitrust claim and two common law claims against Citigroup Inc (C.N) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N).

  • Sign of the Times (Twitter)

mcConnell.sign

France

  1. Le Pen stacks up well vs. Macron and Fillon on Jobs, pensions, security, terrorism, and immigration.

  2. The idea she cannot win or is highly unlikely to win is a serious mistake.

  3. Those on the Right may well vote for Macron in that pairing, but will those on the Left vote for Fillon?

  4. I suspect Le Pen would beat Fillon.

Click for larger image.
italy.gdp.growth.2005.2017.feb

Sweden

The neighborhood, Rinkeby, was the scene of riots in 2010 and 2013, too. And in most ways, what happened Monday night was reminiscent of those earlier bouts of anger. Swedish police apparently made an arrest about 8 p.m. near the Rinkeby station. For reasons not yet disclosed by the police, word of the arrest prompted youths to gather.

Over four hours, the crowd burned about half a dozen cars, vandalized several shopfronts and threw rocks at police. Police spokesman Lars Bystrom confirmed to Sweden's Dagens Nyheter newspaper that an officer fired shots at a rioter but missed. A photographer for the newspaper was attacked by more than a dozen men and his camera was stolen, but ultimately no one was hurt or even arrested.

Canada

  • Canada PM: will not halt illegal border crossing despite opposition (Reuters)   Canada will continue to accept asylum seekers crossing illegally from the United States but will ensure security measures are taken to keep Canadians safe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.  The number of would-be refugees crossing into Canada at isolated and unguarded border crossings has increased in recent weeks amid fears U.S. President Donald Trump will crack down on illegal immigrants, and photos of smiling Canadian police greeting the migrants have gone viral.  Opposition Conservatives want Trudeau's center-left Liberal government to stem the flow of asylum seekers from the United States because of security fears and a lack of resources to deal with them.

Mexico

  • Mexico and Canada Say Nafta Should Be Re-Negotiated Trilaterally (Bloomberg)   The foreign ministers of Mexico and Canada presented a unified front ahead of potential trade talks with Donald Trump’s administration, stressing the North American Free Trade Agreement has benefited all three countries.  Mexico’s Luis Videgaray and Canada’s Chrystia Freeland said NAFTA should be re-negotiated with all three nations seated at the table, rather than in bilateral discussions.

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

  • Shell Takes One Small Step to Fuel Toyota's Giant Hydrogen Leap (Bloomberg)  Royal Dutch Shell Plc will build seven fueling stations for hydrogen cars in California through a partnership with Toyota Motor Corp., laying down their latest bet on the demise of the internal-combustion engine.  The stations will nudge the state closer to its goal of having 100 retail sites by 2024 where hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles can fill up. The California Energy Commission is considering $16.4 million in grants toward the stations, with Shell and Toyota contributing $11.4 million.

  • The Screwed Generation Turns Socialist (The Daily Beast)  The Depression and WWII shaped the greatest generation, and postwar prosperity shaped the Baby Boomers. Millennials, battered by capitalism, move ever leftward.  Over time, the millennials—arguably the most progressive generation since the ’30s—could drive our politics not only leftward, but towards an increasingly socialist reality, overturning many of the very things that long have defined American life. This could presage a war of generations over everything from social mores to economics and could well define our politics for the next decade. 

  • The moral dilemmas of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (World Economic Forum)  Should your driverless car value your life over a pedestrian's? Should your Fitbit activity be used against you in a court case? Should we allow drones to become the new paparazzi? Can one patent a human gene?

Scientists are already struggling with such dilemmas. As we enter the new machine age, we need a new set of codified morals to become the global norm. We should put as much emphasis on ethics as we put on fashionable terms like disruption.

This is starting to happen. Last year, America's Carnegie Mellon University announced a new centre studying the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence; under President Obama, the White House published a paper on the same topic; and tech giants including Facebook and Google have announced a partnership to draw up an ethical framework for AI. Both the risks and the opportunities are vast: Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and other experts signed an open letter calling for efforts to ensure AI is beneficial to society:

"The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable. Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls."

  • The robot that takes your job should pay taxes, says Bill Gates (Quartz)   Robots are taking human jobs. But Bill Gates believes that governments should tax companies’ use of them, as a way to at least temporarily slow the spread of automation and to fund other types of employment.  It’s a striking position from the world’s richest man and a self-described techno-optimist who co-founded Microsoft, one of the leading players in artificial-intelligence technology.

In a recent interview with Quartz, Gates said that a robot tax could finance jobs taking care of elderly people or working with kids in schools, for which needs are unmet and to which humans are particularly well suited. He argues that governments must oversee such programs rather than relying on businesses, in order to redirect the jobs to help people with lower incomes. The idea is not totally theoretical: EU lawmakers considered a proposal to tax robot owners to pay for training for workers who lose their jobs, though on Feb. 16 the legislators ultimately rejected it.

  • Gold Isn’t Behaving in Practice The Way It Should in Theory (Bloomberg)  What works for gold in practice rarely works in theory.  The last three U.S. interest-rate increases that should, all other things being equal, be bad for the metal have seen prices jump in the months that followed.  Gold is up about 7% since the Federal Reserve raised rates on Dec. 14. It jumped 13% in the two months following the last increase in December 2015 and 6% the previous time way back in June 2006.


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