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What We Read Today 15 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:

  • Why the old instruments for reducing the inequality no longer work

  • Who Do Sanctuary Cities Protect?

  • Full Employment:  Are We There Yet?

  • The Federal Government Role in the Business Cycle has been Completely Different

  • US travel ban explained: how this order is different and the new legal challenges

  • Intel chairman: 'We don't have any evidence' that Trump was wiretapped

  • The tax Trump paid in 2005 is the tax Trump wants to abolish 

  • Mystery Surrounds the Leak of Trump's Tax Return

  • U.S. Off-Shore Wind Energy has Started

  • Pipeline for Future U.S. Off-Shore Wind Power

  • President Trump Meets With Victims of Obamacare

  • Donald Tusk accuses UK of making threats over "no deal" Brexit

  • Poll:  Scots Don't Want to Leave UK

  • Battlegrounds in Today's Netherlands' Election

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


It narrows the countries down to six – Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Somalia and Libya. It explicitly exempts people with valid visas and green cards from the order, and says that Syrian refugees will not be treated differently than other refugees. Unlike the original, the order also makes clear that US agencies will review case-by-case exceptions.

The new order removes a provision that gave priority to religious minorities in their home countries

Democrats have long clamored for the release of the tax returns, suspecting they could provide evidence that Trump has business ties to Russia or other conflicts of interest abroad. 

  • Wind Power Takes to the Seas (Fortune)  The first U.S. offshore wind project is up and running. In December Deepwater Wind fired up the first U.S. off-shore wind turbine farm off Block Island, Rhode Island, under construction in photo below.  And bolow that, a map shows the pipeline for future off-shore wind power.

  • President Trump Meets With Victims of Obamacare (  The White House is appealing for testimony from victims of Obamacare - graphic shown below.  On 13 March this post reported that President Trump held a listening session to "hear directly from Americans who have experienced significant hardship as a result of Obamacare's poor coverage and rising prices".  This post presents two cases and does not specify how many shared "testimony" with the president.  The post includes this appeal:  Share your Obamacare disaster story.


"The claims increasingly taking the form of threats that no agreement will be good for the UK and bad for the EU needs to be addressed.  A no-deal scenario would be bad for everyone, but above all for the UK because it would leave a number of issues unresolved. We will not be intimidated by threats and I can assure you they simply will not work."



  • Where Are the Battlegrounds in the Dutch Election? (Bloomberg)  The election today in the Netherlands is the latest test of the strength of conservative nationalistic populism in Europe with all eyes on Geert Wilder's, the candidate of the Freedon Party.  In the last election (2012) the Socialist Party and the Liberal Party dominated (see map).  How the map changes as the votes are counted overnight will be closely watched.

Click for larger image.


  • How one man’s pause became a haunting symbol of Aleppo’s destruction (The Washington Post)  It was a picture perfectly framed by a war: a 70-year-old man in socks and sandals, smoking a pipe beside an old record player, in the gray-dusted ruins of his bedroom in Aleppo.  The man on the bed is Mohammed Mohiedin Anis — better known as “Abu Omar” in the city where he made a fine life for himself before photographer Joseph Eid found him living in destitution last week.  Eid told WaPo:

“He was a wealthy man.  He speaks five languages. He studied medicine, went to Italy and had a lipstick enterprise.”


  • US charges two Russian spies and two hackers in Yahoo data breach (The Guardian)  The US has announced charges against two Russian intelligence officers and two hackers over a massive Yahoo  (NASDAQ:YHOO) data breach that affected at least 1 billion user accounts.  The indictment, unveiled by the justice department on Wednesday, said that the hack targeted the email accounts of Russian journalists and opposition politicians; former government officials in neighboring countries; and several US government figures, including “cyber security, diplomatic, military and White House personnel”.

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

  • Why the old instruments for reducing the inequality no longer work (Branko Milanovic, Makronom)  After the Second World War it was possible to reduce the inequality in the rich countries thanks to strong trade unions, a massive expansion of education and high tax and transfers. In the meantime, however, we have reached a point at which we are no longer able to get on with the classical instruments, but need a new goal. (Translated from the original German, below.)

Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg war es dank starker Gewerkschaften, einer massiven Bildungsexpansion und hohen Steuer- und Transferleistungen gelungen, die Ungleichheit in den reichen Ländern zu reduzieren. Inzwischen sind wir aber an einem Punkt angekommen, an dem wir mit den klassischen Instrumenten nicht mehr weiterkommen, sondern ein neues Ziel brauchen.

  • Who Do Sanctuary Cities Protect? (Boston Review)  President Trump tells a story of recalcitrant local authorities, violent immigrants, and sanctuary cities as breeding grounds for crime. Apparently many Americans embrace that story. In recent polls, a majority oppose sanctuary cities (an estimated four hundred jurisdictions) and want local law enforcement to cooperate with federal authorities. Why then, under the threat of Trump’s order, did many sanctuary cities double down on their commitments to immigrants?

Opponents of sanctuary cities see them as a blight on public safety, but security concerns are one of the reasons that hundreds of jurisdictions think sanctuary cities are a good idea. It all depends on your views of the threat of criminality among immigrants and what policies best serve public safety. Fortunately the record on those issues is well-documented.

Trump’s assertion that sanctuary cities breed crime is, like many of his other canards about immigrants, unfounded. An October 2016 study by researchers from University of California, Riverside and Highline College found “no statistically discernible difference in violent crime rate, rape, or property crime across the cities.” They concluded that “sanctuary policies have no effect on crime rates, despite narratives to the contrary.” The report echoes the findings of other studies that do not bear out increased crime in sanctuary cities. And the societal benefits are not limited to lower crime: economies are stronger in sanctuary counties.

  • Full Emploment:  Are We there Yet? (Levy Instittute)  Some argue it is time to sluw the economy down because the labor market is tight (approaching full employment).  This paper argues that is not the case:

We will argue that the slow “recovery” of labor markets, and especially of the labor force participation rate is due to a combination of insufficient job creation as well as stagnant wages. The problem is not really displacement by robots; nor is it a utility-maximizing choice made by prime-age men to leave the labor force on a quest for more desirable pursuits; nor is the answer more welfare in the form of a basic income guarantee. While we do need more aggregate demand, we will argue that this needs to take the form of targeted job creation as well as growth of wages at the bottom of the wage ladder. 



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