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What We Read Today 20 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:

  • Comey Confirms F.B.I. Inquiry Into Trump Campaign Links to Russian Hackers

  • Comey Sees No Evidence of Wiretapping

  • Six big takeaways from Congress’s extraordinary hearing on Russia, President Trump and wiretapping

  • Donald Trump's Tweetfest Today

  • Trump sued over disclosure of personal debts

  • Partisan warfare greets Gorsuch in Senate

  • Wealthiest U.S. Households Save Big Under GOP Health Care Bill 

  • House of Commons Opens 'Super Inquiry' into London Toxic Air

  • Isolation at EU Summit Weakens Support for Poland's Ruling Party 

  • Israel reportedly launches strike on Syria as tensions rise

  • Tycoon Shuns Investment Banks in $23 Billion Vodafone India Deal 

  • 50% Chance Trump Will Start Trade War With China

  • The youngest billionaires in the world 2017

  • Here's how much you have to earn to be considered upper class

  • Empire Files: Abby Martin Exposes Steve Bannon

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


■ The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, publicly confirmed an investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and whether associates of the president were in contact with Moscow.

■ Mr. Comey also said the F.B.I. had “no information” to support President Trump’s allegation that Barack Obama wiretapped him.

■ The hearing’s featured witnesses: Mr. Comey and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency.


  1. There's no evidence of Trump's accusation that Obama tapped his phones

  2. The FBI is investigating connections between President Trump's campaign associates and the Russian government

  3. But the FBI is going to be VERY tight-lipped about the investigation

  4. Democrats seem pretty sure associates with Trump's campaign colluded with Russia

  5. Republicans, meanwhile, want to focus on intelligence leaks to the press

  6. Intelligence officials still don't think there's any evidence Russia's meddling directly influenced votes

  • Partisan warfare greets Gorsuch in Senate (Politico)  Senators launched into a battle royale over the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch at his hearing Monday, with Republicans and Democrats previewing their lines of attack in one of the most consequential battles of Donald Trump’s young presidency.

Democrats, still enraged by the GOP's obstruction of Merrick Garland last year, repeatedly invoked President Barack Obama's final nominee to the Supreme Court, while also issuing a litany of scathing critiques of Gorsuch's record.

Republicans immediately jumped to Gorsuch's defense while standing behind their unprecedented blockade of Garland, who was nominated to replace the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia almost exactly one year ago.

  • Trump sued over disclosure of personal debts (Politico)  A Washington lawyer is suing President Donald Trump for allegedly obscuring the extent of his personal debts on his federal financial disclosure form.  Attorney Jeffrey Lovitky filed the case in federal court in Washington this week, claiming that Trump's May 2016 disclosure intermingles his personal indebtedness and loans made to businesses or development projects Trump is affiliated with.

While Trump or his businesses are facing at least four lawsuits alleging unfair competition or violations of the Constitution's foreign emoluments clause, Lovitky's suit makes no claims of impropriety — it simply alleges that the public is being deprived of accurate information about Trump's debts.

All Trump's debts are covered on a single page of his 104-page disclosure. The listed loans exceed $300 million in total, according to the report. The total amount of the loans is known to be much larger based on other data, but the disclosure form does not require details above $50 million for each loan that exceeds that amount.

The Republican American Healthcare Act, which is supposed to replace the Affordable Healthcare Act, barely passed the House Budget Committee on Thursday. The vote was 19 to 17 in favor with three Republicans defecting. Had one more Republican voted against it, it would have died in committee. Part of the reason for the growing Republican opposition to the bill is that earlier this week the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that 26 million Americans would lose their insurance coverage under the Republican bill over the next 10 years.

Joining us now to take a closer look at the Republican health plan is Peter Arno. Peter is Senior Fellow and Director of Health Policy Research of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


  • ‘Super inquiry’ into toxic air scandal launched in unprecedented move (Evening Standard)  In an unprecedented move, four Commons committees are to grill ministers and air quality experts on the dangers from filthy air in London and other cities.  The hearings by the health committee, transport committee, environmental audit committee and environment, food and rural affairs committee will be held as the Government draws up its latest plans to deal with toxic air.


  • Isolation at EU Summit Weakens Support for Poland's Ruling Party (Bloomberg)   Poland’s ruling Law & Justice party lost popularity and the ratings for the main opposition group jumped after the government was isolated at this month’s European Union summit.  Law & Justice is backed by 29% of Poles, according to a March 16-17 survey by polling company IBRiS and published by Rzeczpospolita on Monday, a five percentage point decline from a month earlier. The Civic Platform’s support surged 10 points to 27%.

The slide comes after Poland was outvoted 27 to 1 to re-elect Donald Tusk for a second term as European Council president, highlighting the government’s difficulties in finding compromise and showing just how far it has left Europe’s mainstream. Law & Justice boss Jaroslaw Kaczynski considers Tusk, a former Polish prime minister from the Civic Platform, as his leading domestic political opponent and part of a Brussels elite that unfairly accuses his government of “persistent” lapses in upholding the rule of law.


  • Israel reportedly launches strike on Syria as tensions rise  (Los Angeles Times)   An Israeli aircraft reportedly launched a strike into Syria on Sunday that left one person dead, in what appeared to be the second cross-border attack in three days as tensions between the neighbors escalated over the weekend.  The Israeli attack was reported by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which said that the strike targeted a car traveling on a road between Damascus and Quneitra, a town in the Golan Heights near the border with Israel. An Israeli army spokesman declined to comment on the report.  The Lebanese news service Al Mayadeen said the attack killed Yasser Hussein Asayeed, whom it described as a member of a militia aligned with the Syrian government. It said he was based in Golan.


  • Tycoon Shuns Investment Banks in $23 Billion Vodafone India Deal (Bloomberg)  Indian billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla just pulled off the biggest deal of his career. There won’t be any investment banks sharing in the glory.  The tycoon’s mobile arm, Idea Cellular Ltd., said Monday it will merge with Vodafone Group Plc’s Indian operations to create the largest Indian wireless carrier with a $23 billion enterprise value. Birla, who will be chairman of the combined business, personally led talks with Vodafone Chief Executive Officer Vittorio Colao.


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

The research group found that "nationwide, the median income of U.S. households in 2014 stood at 8% less than in 1999, a reminder that the economy has yet to fully recover from the effects of the Great Recession of 2007-2009."

Despite this drop in income, members of the upper class are still doing well for themselves.

Pew defines upper class as adults whose annual household income is more than double the national median ($55,775 in 2016), after incomes have been adjusted for household size. Smaller households require less than larger households to support the same lifestyle, Pew notes.



Steve Bannon has been propelled over the last year from fringe media outlier to top propagandist of the U.S. Empire as Trump's Chief Strategist. 

From his Wall Street roots and apocalyptic film career to his cultivation of alt-right bigots at Breitbart News, Abby Martin exposes Bannon's true character in this explosive documentary.

Dissection of Bannon's ideology of "economic nationalism" and desire to "Make America Great Again" reveals the danger of his hand in Trump's agenda.


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