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What We Read Today 14 March 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:

  • GOP Does Damage Control Over Health Care Score

  • Trump Said to Drop Climate Change From Environmental Reviews

  • May wins right to launch EU divorce talks, question is when?

  • France's Fillon under formal investigation for fraud ahead of election

  • IS Mosul commander killed, government forces battle for bridge

  • North Korea Warns of "Merciless Strikes"

  • Trump's trade nominee unsure whether China is manipulating its currency

  • Will China Take Over the Trans Pacific Partnership?

  • Would the Fed Be Doing Trump a Big Favor Hiking Rates?

  • How A Smart Grid Relies On Customer Demand Response To Manage Wind And Solar 

  • Two Centuries of Immigration

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • GOP does damage control over healthcare score (The Hill)  Leading House Republicans are fighting to defend their ObamaCare replacement bill in the face of a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that found the measure would result in millions of people becoming uninsured.  Democrats are on the attack, hoping the findings — and the eye-popping estimate that 24 million additional people will be without coverage by 2026 — will stop ObamaCare repeal in its tracks.

  • Revamped ObamaCare threatens to throw out baby with the bathwater (The Hill)  An MD with experience in public health administration criticizes the AHCA in this Op Ed.

  • Trump Said to Drop Climate Change From Environmental Reviews (Bloomberg)  The fossil fuel lobby has taken over Washington.  President Donald Trump is set to sign a sweeping directive to dramatically shrink the role climate change plays in decisions across the government, ranging from appliance standards to pipeline approvals, according to a person familiar with the administration’s plan.  The president hopes to reverse the projections left as an Obama legacy (see graphic below).

The order, which could be signed this week, goes far beyond a targeted assault on Obama-era measures blocking coal leasing and throttling greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that has been discussed for weeks. Some of the changes could happen immediately; others could take years to implement.

It aims to reverse President Barack Obama’s broad approach for addressing climate change. One Obama-era policy instructed government agencies to factor climate change into formal environmental reviews, such as that for the Keystone XL pipeline. Trump’s order also will order a reconsideration of the government’s use of a metric known as the "social cost of carbon" that reflects the potential economic damage from climate change. It was used by the Obama administration to justify a suite of regulations.


  • May wins right to launch EU divorce talks, question is when? (Reuters)  British Prime Minister Theresa May has won the right to launch divorce proceedings with the European Union and begin two years of talks that will shape the future of Britain and Europe.  The plan for a new Scotish independence referendum next year is complicating the situation.. Scotland voted 62% to 38% against Brexit.



  • IS Mosul commander killed, government forces battle for bridge (Reuters)   Iraqi government forces killed the Islamic State commander of Mosul's Old City on Tuesday as the battle for the militants' last stronghold in Iraq focused on a bridge crossing the Tigris river.  As fighting intensified on Tuesday after the previous day's heavy rains, civilians streamed out of western neighborhoods recaptured by the government, cold and hungry but relieved to be free of the militants' grip.  IS snipers were slowing the advance of Interior Ministry Rapid Response units on the Iron Bridge linking western and eastern Mosul but the elite forces were still inching forward, officers said.  Government forces also pushed into areas of western Mosul, Islamic State's last redoubt in the city that has been the de facto capital of their self-declared caliphate.

North Korea

  • U.S. carrier joins S.Korea drills, North Korea warns of "merciless" strikes (Reuters)   As the USS Carl Vinson plowed through seas off South Korea on Tuesday, rival North Korea warned the United States of "merciless" attacks if the carrier infringes on its sovereignty or dignity during U.S.-South Korean drills.  F-18 fighter jets took off from the flight deck of the nuclear-powered carrier in a dramatic display of U.S. firepower amid rising tension with the North, which has alarmed its neighbors with two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches since last year.  North Korea said the arrival of the U.S. strike group in the seas off the east of the Korean peninsula was part of a "reckless scheme" to attack it.


  • After US drops TPP, China joins member states in trade talks (CNBC)  China and South Korea will be joining trade talks with member states of the now-scuttled Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this week, raising fears that Beijing may dominate the meeting as it looks to benefit from Washington's absence.  Neither South Korea nor China are TPP members, but they are expected to focus on broad Asia-Pacific trade integration at the two-day event in Chile beginning Tuesday.  Econintersect:  The U.S. pivot away from Asia, and maybe from the rest of the world.

  • Trump's trade nominee unsure whether China is manipulating its currency (The Hill)  The White House's nominee to head up U.S. trade policy questioned whether China is still manipulating its currency to gain an advantage in global markets.  Robert Lighthizer, President Trump's nominee to become the next U.S. trade representative, said on Tuesday that while China has in the past adjusted the value of its currency to gain a trade advantage, he is uncertain whether Beijing is still doing so now.

  • Kushners, Trump In-laws, Near $400 Million Deal with Chinese Firm (The New York Times)  A New York real estate company owned by the family of President Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law is negotiating to sell a $400 million stake in its Fifth Avenue flagship skyscraper to a Chinese insurance company with ties to leading families of the Communist Party.  The Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group, would pay to get a high-profile piece of Manhattan real estate, and would commit to spending billions more to completely transform the 60-year-old tower into a chic condominium and retail citadel.

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

  • The Fed Would Do a Big Favor for Trump by Raising Interest Rates (Market Watch)  Peter Morici says that the Federal Reserve would do President Donald Trump a favor by raising interest rates at its policy-making meeting this week — or at least signaling a clear intention to move in May.  He says that the Fed has "enabled Obama’s antigrowth policies".  (Econintersect:  Prof. Morici fails to explain what he means by "antigrowth policies"; he does talk about the rise in private sector debt - especially consumer debt - but he does not connect the dots ro our satisfaction.)  He says:

By raising interest rates modestly this week and adjusting those to more normal levels through the balance of this year and next, the Fed would end the monetary-policy promiscuity that permitted Obama to preside over such a mediocre economy and compel Trump to deliver on his promises.

A growing group of states including New York, California, Vermont, and Hawaii, have set goals to generate 50% renewable energy and beyond, while others plan to decarbonize rapidly by 2050.  Hitting these goals will require a massive build-out of wind and solar, which can only be economical if we offer a value proposition to flexibility that supports it.

Demand response, once thought of only as a reliability resource, will have to evolve into a robust tool for following economic wind and solar generation to benefit consumers, without undue administrative burden. Getting the price signals and utility regulation right will create new markets in the billions of dollars to help customers manage their demand, to the benefit of customers’ wallets, service quality, and the climate

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