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What We Read Today 23 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:

  • The First Solar System Discovered Besides Ours With Multiple Earth-sized Planets

  • Should Pluto be Classified as a Planet Again?

  • What's Wrong with Tax and Spend?

  • Conservatives Want Congress to Get Moving

  • A Majority of Americans Find Trump Embarrassing:  Poll

  • Review of the U.S. Oil and Gas Boom

  • Mapping How the U.S. Generates Electricity

  • Trump Envoy Seeks to Lower U.S. Tensions With Mexico

  • A U.S.–Mexico Trade War Could Threaten Natural Gas Exports

  • U.S. Natural Gas Exports to Mexico Continue to Grow

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Conservatives to Congress: Get moving (The Hill)  Conservatives gathering this week just outside of Washington have a message for Congress: Move faster.  Frustrated by the glacial pace on Capitol Hill, conservative leaders, governors and grassroots activists on Thursday scolded lawmakers for dragging their feet on ObamaCare repeal and replacement.

  • Poll: Majority finds Trump 'embarrassing' (The Hill)  President Trump has a 41% job approval rating, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll released Thursday that finds 58% embarrassed by the new administration.  Forty-nine percent of Americans in the new survey disapprove of the job the president is doing.  Results are sharply divided among partisan lines. Among Republicans, 85 percent approve of the job Trump is doing as president, but only 11 percent of Democrats feel the same way.  Only 38% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Trump, while 54% view the president unfavorably.  Only 33% say the president's actions so far make them proud.  Econintersect:  This poll agrees with several others released with the last week but dous not agree with two we have reported on which showed approval ratings around 50%.

Click for larger image.

Click for larger image.

Click for larger image.

  • Mapping how the United States generates its electricity (The Washington Post)  Coal and natural gas are the most common sources for electricity in the country, but coal represents a declining share. The new Clean Power Plan seeks to accelerate that trend by requiring power plants to cut carbon pollution levels and rewarding states and companies that embrace clean sources of energy.  This, of course, may be changed by President Trump.  The map below is from 2015.

Click for larger image.


  • Trump envoys seek to lower tensions with Mexico (The Hill)   Even as Tillerson and Kelly were dispatched to smooth over tensions with Mexico, Trump once again publicly criticized the country over trade and trumpeted his deportation plan as a “military operation.”  President Trump's push to ramp up U.S. immigration enforcement and increase deportations is further souring U.S. ties with Mexico, where the administration's orders could destabilize the country's economy and political system.  Guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) this week recommends sending anyone detained for entering the U.S. illegally to Mexico regardless of whether they are from that country.  The guidelines could also lead to millions of deportations, something that could cut into the $24 billion in remittances that workers in the United States send to Mexico each year.  Mexican officials are also concerned with the Trump administration’s effort to review all U.S. aid to their country, fearing the money could be used to pay for a proposed border wall or used as leverage in negotiations. 

  • A U.S.–Mexico Trade War Could Threaten Natural Gas Exports (Scientific American)  Mexico is hungry for natural gas and within pipeline distance of the U.S., but talk of tariffs and a border wall could undermine booming gas exports.  See next article.

  • U.S. natural gas exports to Mexico continue to grow (U.S. Energy Information Agency)  Natural gas exports from the U.S. to Mexico are large and could grow significantly larger:

U.S. pipeline exports of natural gas continued to grow in 2016, and they have doubled since 2009. Almost all of this growth is attributable to increasing exports to Mexico, which have accounted for more than half of all U.S. natural gas exports since April 2015. In August, the United States exported 4.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas to Mexico via pipelines. U.S. daily pipeline exports to Mexico through August 2016 are at a yearly average of 3.6 Bcf/d, 25% above the year-ago level and 85% above the five-year (2011–15) average level.

In 2015, Mexico’s energy ministry (SENER) announced a five-year plan to significantly expand the country’s natural gas pipeline network to accommodate higher levels of natural gas imports from the United States. These imports would help meet increasing power demand, offset declining domestic natural gas production, reduce reliance on LNG imports, and create new markets for natural gas in currently supply-constrained regions. The plan proposed 12 pipeline additions, increasing the existing network capacity and adding more than 3,200 miles of new pipeline through Mexico. 


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

  • A Tasty Trove of Exoplanets at TRAPPIST-1 (Scientific American)  There's big news this week from 40 light years away, a star system called TRAPPIST-1. There's something happening there that no one has ever seen before - a solar system outside out own with seven earth-sized planets orbiting one single star.  Three of these planets are in what's called the "habitable zone", like Venus, Earth, and Mars are in the habitable zone in our solar system.  Of course only one of those planets here is habitable, ours. The three planets in the TRAPPIST-1 habitable zone around that star which is much smaller star than the Sun. It's called a little tiny "red dwarf".  Unlike our planets, the TRAPPIST-1 planets may be tidally locked the their sun, as the moon is tidally locked to the earth.  This means that only one face is exposed to the central feature all the time.  See also next article.

  • Could Pluto Regain Its Planethood? (Scientific American)  Advocates of Pluto's planethood are about to fire another salvo in the decade-long debate about the famous object's status.  Scientists on NASA's New Horizons mission, which performed the first-ever flyby of Pluto in July 2015, will officially propose a new definition of "planet" next month, at the 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.  The new definition would replace, or supersede, the one devised by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2006. A planet, the IAU determined, is a body that orbits the sun without being the moon of another object; is large enough that its own gravity has rounded it into a sphere (but not so large that it undergoes fusion reactions, like a star); and has "cleared its neighborhood" of most other bodies.

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