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What We Read Today 19 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:

  • A New Paradigm for Assessing the Role of Humanity in the Climate System and in Climate Change

  • San Francisco's Race to Zero Waste

  • A Software Bug Could Invalidate 15 Years of Brain Research

  • How Russia Recruited Ernest Hemingway

  • Why Single-Payer Health Care Delivers Poor Quality at High Cost

  • Why Single Payer Delivers Better Quality at Much Lower Cost

  • Single payer healthcare is coming to America. It’s inevitable

  • Could Leftover Heat from Last El Nino Fuel a New One?

  • Trump says he will submit evidence of wiretapping to House committee 'very soon'

  • Lawmakers: No proof of Trump's wiretap claims

  • When Budget Hawks Become Big Spenders

  • Fear, Hope and Deportations - Taking Away the American Birthright

  • Kellyanne Conway Is the Real First Lady of Trump’s America

  • Kellyanne Conway’s spouse headed for senior Justice Department post

  • How Much Europe Can Europe Tolerate?

  • The Great Eurozone Bounceback

  • Germany rejects Trump's claim it owes NATO and U.S. 'vast sums' for defense

  • Iraqi minorities move forward with autonomy plan 

  • In Syria, Iran sees necessary war

  • Why India Should Scrap Parliamentary Democracy

  • Baylor women win by 89 in most-lopsided NCAA Tournament game

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Could Leftover Heat from Last El Nino Fuel a New One? (TerraDaily)  Some climate models are suggesting that El Nino may return later this year, but for now, the Pacific Ocean lingers in a neutral "La Nada" state, according to climatologist Bill Patzert of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. The latest map of sea level height data from the U.S./European Jason-3 satellite mission shows most of the ocean at neutral heights (green), except for a bulge of high sea level (red) centered along 20 degrees north latitude in the central and eastern Northern Hemisphere tropics, around Hawaii. This high sea level is caused by warm water.  To track this development read Sig Silber's comprehensive climate and weather report every week at GEI.


  • Trump says he will submit evidence of wiretapping to House committee 'very soon' (Fox News)  President Trump discussed his tweeted accusation that President Obama ordered "wires" at Trump Tower tapped during last year's presidential campaign in an exclusive interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight Wednesday.  Trump told host Tucker Carlson that the administration "will be submitting things" to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence "very soon".  The president added that he "will be, perhaps speaking about this next week" and predicted that "you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next 2 weeks".

  • Lawmakers: No proof of Trump's wiretap claims (USA Today)  A day before a high-stakes hearing, the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday there's no evidence to back President Trump's claims that Barack Obama wiretapped him, though the Republican chairman said investigators are  looking at other types of possible surveillance of Trump and his aides during last year's campaign. Rep. Devin Nunes, (R, CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, speaking on Fox News Sunday,  said:

"We have a lot of surveillance activities in this country."

  • Trump Budget Director Defends Blueprint That Won't Balance (NBC News)  President Trump's Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney on Sunday defended the administration's budget blueprint for not reducing the federal deficit — despite his past reputation as a deficit hawk member of Congress.  (Econintersect:  We suggest this is an indictment of the "balance the budget" and "reduce the debt" crowd.  Those positions are all too often blatant pandering to ignorance.)  Mulvaney told host Chuck Todd on Meet The Press:

"Keep in mind, the administration is different than members of the Hill, the members of the House and the Senate.  Every House member, which I used to be, has a constituency.  We have a group of people we represent. Senators represent the whole state. There's also a lot of special interests, a lot of lobbying involved. The president's not beholden to any of that. The president represents everybody."

  • Trump escapes the Beltway as challenges mount (Associated Press)   President Donald Trump is returning to the road, rallying supporters to recapture the enthusiasm of his campaign and reassuring them about his tumultuous early days in the White House.  It's a welcome distraction for a president whose first months in office have been dominated by self-inflicted controversy and roadblocks, courtesy of federal courts and a divided Congress.  In Trump's rally telling, things in Washington are going great. He's been cracking down on illegal immigration, is "way ahead of schedule" on his southern border wall and is on the verge of passing a new health care plan that "does so much for you".

  • Fear, hope and deportations (The Washington Post)  This is an article about the deep resentment of "Trump supporters" against the "anchor babies" that are living "off their (Trump supporters) sweat and taxes" while "stealing jobs"; and about the fear of bright, intelligent, American born children that fear their status could be changed and their birthright removed with deportation to lands they have never live in before.  Okay, so we extracted the emotion loaded phrases from this article, but that is true to the way it is written.  Read it to understand the curent state of America.

  • Kellyanne Conway Is the Real First Lady of Trump’s America (Daily Intelligencer)  Conway has the status (and the office) formerly held by Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to Barack Obama; Karl Rove, senior adviser to George W. Bush; and First Lady Hillary Clinton.  She also one of the few White House staffers to have full-time Secret Service protection.

  • Kellyanne Conway’s spouse headed for senior Justice Department post (The Washington Post)  The husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway is poised to be nominated to lead the Justice Department’s civil division, a powerful post overseeing the federal government’s lawsuits on a wide variety of issues, including defending President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.  White House officials plan in coming days to announce the nomination of George Conway, a New York lawyer, according to people familiar with the matter.  Conway has worked for decades at the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen& Katz, specializing in securities litigation, and other corporate legal issues. His name had repeatedly surfaced as being under consideration for a number of jobs at the Justice Department, including Solicitor General, which oversees the government’s cases before the Supreme Court. His expected nomination to lead the civil division was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

  • Baylor women win by 89 in most-lopsided NCAA Tournament game (Associated Press)  Beatrice Mompremier had 22 points with 11 rebounds, Kalani Brown scored 21 points and freshman post Lauren Cox had 17 as the Lady Bears defeated Texas Southern 119-30 on Saturday night in the most lopsided women's NCAA Tournament game ever. Baylor's 119 points were the most ever in regulation of a tournament game.  This wasn't even Baylor's biggest victory of the season. The Lady Bears beat Winthrop 140-32 on Dec. 15.


Europe could have allowed a common social model to develop alongside economic integration. This would have required integrating not only markets but also social policies, labor-market institutions, and fiscal arrangements. The diversity of social models across Europe, and the difficulty of reaching agreement on common rules, would have acted as a natural brake on the pace and scope of integration.

Far from being a disadvantage, this would have provided a useful corrective regarding the most desirable speed and extent of integration. The result might have been a smaller EU, more deeply integrated across the board, or an EU with as many members as today, but much less ambitious in its economic scope.

Today it may be too late to attempt EU fiscal and political integration. Less than one in five Europeans favor shifting power away from the member nation-states.

  • The Great Eurozone Bounceback (Project Syndicate)  The eurozone could surprise everyone with a dramatic recovery this year, says Gavekal Dragonomics’ Anatole Kaletsky, so long as populists stay out of power.


  • Germany rejects Trump's claim it owes NATO and U.S. 'vast sums' for defense (Reuters)   German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's claim that Germany owes NATO and the United States "vast sums" of money for defense.  "There is no debt account at NATO," von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance's target for members to spend 2% of their economic output on defense by 2024 solely to NATO.  She said everyone wanted the burden to be shared fairly and for that to happen it was necessary to have a "modern security concept" that included a modern NATO but also a European defense union and investment in the United Nations.  Von der Leyen said:

"Defense spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism." 


  • Iraqi minorities move forward with autonomy plan (Al Monitor)  On March 5, three bodies representing Iraqi minorities issued a joint statement calling for a semi-autonomous region in the country’s north. The idea was proposed by the Yazidi Independent Supreme Council, the Turkmen Rescue Foundation and Al-Rafidain Organization, representing Iraq’s Assyrian Christians. The canton would comprise three contiguous regions: Sinjar, Tal Afar and the Ninevah plain.


  • In Syria, Iran sees necessary war (Al Monitor)  Six years into the crisis in Syria, Iran sees the outcome of the conflict as shaping the new Middle East. It was Iran’s first overt foreign intervention in decades, one that some Iranian ideologues have called a war for existence. Iranian officials say it spared the Islamic Republic from having to fight a similar war within its own borders. Yet it has been costly, draining and merciless in terms of material losses, and even worse when it comes to Iran’s image in the Muslim world. It has limited Iran’s options and has caused alliances — notwithstanding the common ground Iran shares with its partners — to seem very shaky and fragile.


  • Why India Should Scrap Parliamentary Democracy (Project Syndicate)  India’s parliamentary system, inherited from the British, is rife with ineffiencies. By the logic of Westminster, you elect a legislature to form the executive, and when the executive does not command a secure majority in the legislative assembly, the government falls, triggering fresh elections. The result is a vote in some or other of India’s 29 state assemblies every six months or so, each one acting as a sort of referendum on the government in New Delhi. In short, India’s freewheeling multi-party democracy has become one of perennial plebiscite.  The author suggests that India would function more efficiently as a republic, with a president:

It would enable leaders to focus on representing the people, instead of on staying in power. With a more expansive and predictable election cycle, India’s leaders would be able to move beyond the unpleasant business of political contention, and settle down to governance. In that shift in focus lies a presidential system’s ultimate vindication.

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


  • San Francisco’s Race to Zero Waste Has One Last Major Hurdle (Medium)  In 2003, the San Francisco Commission on the Environment set the goal of zero waste by 2020. It was an ambitious goal, but many wondered if it would be achievable.  It appears the answer is yes. San Francisco reached a 75% diversion rate in 2010 and seems to be on the path to achieve its zero waste goal. Today, San Francisco claims an 80% diversion rate, an impressive figure, and superior to comparable cities worldwide.  The city has implemented mandatory recycling and composting.  And they have done it at lower cost than other systems.


  • Single payer healthcare is coming to America. It’s inevitable (Ed Dolan, Fabius Maximus)  This article shows that we already have more than half of all health care expenditures funded by the government through the total of direct payments - see first graph below - and indirect payments (mostly tax credits) - see second graph below.  The result is much less efficient than if all payments were direct.  Dolan explains why the insurance model for funding comprehensive healthcare is unsustainable once the law requires guaranteed issue.  And the American public now demands guaranteed issue (ie, no discrimination against pre-existing conditions).  Econintersect:  Dolan doesn't discuss it, but universal healthcare can use supplemental insurance for those who desire more coverages than provided by the universal plan.  Such is done today with Medicare Supplement policies. 

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