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What We Read Today 26 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:

  • America Needs More Immigrants

  • Muslims Committing U.S. Terrorist Attacks

  • Is Trump Lashing out at the Right Enemies?

  • U.S.-Led Coalition Investigating Deadly Mosul Airstrike

  • U.S.-Led Coalition Faces Grisly Urban Battlefield In Mosul

  • Thousands of Russians protested endemic corruption

  • Renewables to be over 60% of India's generation capacity

  • Elon Musk said he could fix Australian state energy crisis in 100 days

  • The Information Age is "Weaponized"

  • 10 Strategies to Go Viral on Any Platform

  • In Search Of Humanity’s Oldest Words

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Julian Simon Would Tell Us: America Needs More Immigrants (  Hat tip to John O'Donnell. The late economist Julian Simon taught us that people are the "ultimate resource".  In the short-term, population growth causes problems. It increases traffic, crowds our schools, and stretches family and government budgets. But over time, population growth pushes us to innovate and find solutions that leave us better off. Population growth drives economic expansion. It makes us richer. And it improves our health and environment. 

Simon died in 1998, but he left behind decades of controversial and path-breaking work—and an unusually good track record.

In 1980, Simon famously offered a wager to back up his work showing that natural resources generally become less scarce and less expensive. Doomsayer Paul Ehrlich accepted the challenge, chose five metals, and bet that between 1980 and 1990, their prices would rise because they would become scarcer. Simon bet that the prices of the metals would fall. In 1990, Simon won the bet. Prices of all five metals fell.

  • Do Muslims Commit Most U.S. Terrorist Attacks? (  "It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported. In many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it," asserted President Donald Trump a month ago. He was referring to a purported media reticence to report on terror attacks in Europe. "They have their reasons, and you understand that," he added. The implication, I think, is that the politically correct press is concealing terrorists' backgrounds.  To bolster the president's claims, the White House then released a list of 78 terror attacks from around the globe that Trump's minions think were underreported. All of the attackers on the list were Muslim—and all of the attacks had been reported by multiple news outlets.

  • Trump is finally lashing out at the right enemies (ThinkProgress)  A strange thing happened over the weekend, as President Trump contemplated his party’s inability to bring an Obamacare replacement bill to the House floor after seven years of promising to replace this law.  Initially, Trump stuck to a partisan script, blaming Democrats for unanimously opposing a health bill that was projected to take health coverage away from 24 million people. By Sunday morning, however, Trump had a different take:




  • Hundreds Arrested As Russians Protest Corruption (Vocativ)  Thousands of Russians protested endemic corruption in the Russian government on Sunday, defying thinly-veiled threats issued by the Kremlin that it would “bear no responsibility for any possible negative consequences” for demonstrators.  The Russian news agency Tass reported that more than 500 people were arrested in Moscow alone, making Sunday the most massive detention of protesters during the presidency of Vladimir Putin. The protests in more than 80 cities come a year before a presidential election in which Putin is expected to run for a fourth term in office.  Among those arrested was Russian opposition leader and protest organizer Alexey Navalny, who has vowed to oppose Putin in the 2018 presidential elections, despite having been barred from doing so by the government.



... the South Australian government announced it would fund a grid-connected battery project to provide the state with 100 megawatts of storage as part a wide-ranging energy plan. The government will also create a $150 million fund to support renewable energy projects.

At a press conference, the state's premier, Jay Weatherill, said that while a range of providers have spoken to the government about battery projects, Musk would be "directly invited" to participate in the tender process.

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

I ask this question because it seems too many activists working to create positive change are oblivious to just how compromised our communication systems have become. They seem to think that if they just get their ideas to “go viral” they will find the memes that spread and come to dominate the discourse. The great lie of this approach is that no singular discourse exists!

Each community is now capable of building consensus with itself, where the like-minded talk to others like themselves while forgetting just how big, diverse, and fragmented the world truly is. We saw this last year in the “Democratic Party Bubble” of support for Hillary Clinton that was utterly clueless about the churning seas of hatred and fear that coalesced into a Trump tsunami when election time arrived.

Even more insidiously, there are groups like the Kremlin in Russia and rogue networks of alternative media outlets engaging in information wars to keep us confused and fighting shadow enemies across these siloed communities. 

  • 10 Strategies to Go Viral on Any Platform (The Mission)  This post describes the strategies and techniques used as"weapons" of the information age (preceding article).  This may be an uncomfortable truth for you to swallow:

The attention you get online (or lack thereof) is not necessarily a result of how good you are but how many eyeballs find your work.

  • In Search Of Humanity’s Oldest Words (Vocativ)  Some of the oldest writing on the planet is currently hanging out in Chicago. Known as the Instructions of Shuruppak, this clay tablet was the work of a scribe in the ancient Middle East some 4,500 years ago. Now in the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute Museum, this collection of proverbs represents some of the oldest direct proof of a language spoken thousands of years ago.  Yet even at the dawn of the written word, people looked to a still more ancient past. Shuruppak’s instructions begin by recalling “those far remote days” and “those far remote years” as the source of the wisdom it imparts. That’s appropriate: Spoken language is hundreds of thousands of years old, so written language only came along extremely late in the evolution of humanity.  The vast history of human language —a fundamental part of what makes us human — remains an utter mystery. Unlike other ancient human innovations such as stone tools, fire, or cave art, language leaves no trace as a physical artifact.

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