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What We Read Today 07 April 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:

  • Gundlach Says Bond Rally to Continue With 10-Year Yield Falling

  • America’s Retailers Are Closing Stores Faster Than Ever

  • Gorsuch Confirmed to Supreme Court

  • That terrible jobs report was actually great for women

  • How ICE Agents Go From Friend to Foe

  • U.S. Corporate Tax Reform

  • The EU27 and the Brexit negotiations

  • Syrian jets take off from air base US missiles struck, according to Syrian observers

  • Russia is already subtly signaling how it will react to the airstrike in Syria 

  • Russian warship steams toward US destroyers that launched Syria strikes

  • Russia’s own domestic terrorism threat is serious, sophisticated and complex

  • How to understand the language of political populism

  • Indian Shares Pare Weekly Gain

  • Trump's Message to North Korea

  • Trump-Xi Meeting is Just the Beginning

  • Trump Trade Threats Force Export-Dependent Vietnam to Pivot

  • Atmosphere found around Earth-like planet GJ 1132b

  • Researchers may have cracked the case of how Ötzi the Iceman died 

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


Populist rhetoric transforms the facts of social issues into divisive metaphors and symbols. When the US banned visitors from certain Muslim majority countries from entering its borders, Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders responded by saying “Islam and freedom are not compatible”.

Wilders used the word Islam symbolically to stand in for something that is the opposite of freedom: oppression or occupation. Marine Le Pen has come out and said as much by comparing Muslim’s praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation of Paris. For many, Wilder’s use of the word “freedom” and Le Pen’s use of the word “occupation” fly in the face of the meaning of those words in a Western democracy.


  • Gorsuch confirmed to Supreme Court (Fox News)  The Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Friday, filling the critical ninth seat that has been vacant for over a year and capping a tumultuous debate that saw Republicans overhaul the way the chamber operates in order to overcome what they described as an unprecedented Democratic filibuster.  The 54-45 vote, in which three Democrats crossed party lines to support the appeals court justice, is expected to restore a 5-4 conservative tilt on the bench. Once sworn in, Gorsuch will join the court and begin to hear cases, in the seat once held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016.

  • That terrible jobs report was actually great for women (CNBC)  See also Steven Hansen report: March 2017 BLS Jobs Situation Terrible.  It's time for men to concentrate on trying to find a good provider to marry:

  • The BLS says 90,000 fewer married males had jobs in March, while the total of married women with jobs soared by 352,000.

  • The pivotal 25-to-64 age group category — once considered the "breadwinner" group — saw a decline of 47,000 for men and is down three months in a row.

  • ICE Agents Go From Friend to Foe (Bloomberg)  Over the past decade, Rudy Bustamante spent a lot of time driving around Phoenix, meeting immigrants anywhere they felt comfortable—schools, churches, coffee shops. As a community relations officer for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he’s had the difficult task of trying to build trust between immigrants and the federal agency in charge of deporting those who are here illegally.  Part of Bustamante’s job has been to persuade immigrants to help ICE find serious criminals while assuring them that they and their families won’t face deportation for traffic violations or other minor offenses.

Bustamante’s job is about to change. On Jan. 25, President Trump signed an executive order calling for the creation of a department within ICE, the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, or Voice, office. The almost two dozen ICE community relations officers across the U.S. will now be responsible for highlighting crimes committed by members of the community they’ve spent years trying to strengthen.

  • U.S. Corporate Tax Reform (Walter Kurtz, Sober LookThe Daily Shot)  What are the components of the corporate tax reform most likely to be implemented? Here is the Credit Suisse investor survey.


Click for large image.


  • Syrian jets take off from air base US missiles struck, according to Syrian observers (Reuters)  Syrian warplanes took off from an air base which was hit by U.S. cruise missiles on Friday, and carried out air strikes on rebel-held areas in the eastern Homs countryside, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.  The U.S. Navy had fired dozens of missiles at the air base near Homs city in response to a chemical attack this week which Washington and its allies blamed on the Damascus government.  The British-based Observatory, a group monitoring the Syrian war using sources on the ground, said eight people had been killed in the U.S. attack.  The extent of the damage to the Shayrat air base was not entirely clear, but the Syrian warplanes had "done the impossible" in order to continue using it for sorties, the Observatory told Reuters.


The Russian foreign ministry called the strike an "egregious and obvious violation of international law," while Moscow suspended an agreement aimed to prevent U.S. fighter jets from coming into conflict with Russian planes. Russia signaled that the attack could worsen relations between Washington and Moscow.

Still, actions from both Russia and the United States suggest the two countries don't want tension between them to increase any further, said Olga Oliker, senior advisor and director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan research organization.

  • Russian warship steams toward US destroyers that launched Syria strikes (Fox News)   A Russian warship has entered the eastern Mediterranean Sea Friday and is heading toward the two U.S. Navy destroyers that launched missile strikes into Syria, Fox News has learned.  The Russian frigate, Admiral Grigorovich RFS-494, crossed through the Bosphorus Strait “a few hours ago” from the Black Sea, according to a U.S. defense official.  The Russian warship is now steaming in the direction of the U.S. warships.

  • Russia’s domestic terrorism threat is serious, sophisticated and complex (The Conversation)  The Islamic State is far from the only terrorist group that attracts Russian-speaking recruits. North Caucasians and Central Asian radicals have joined a range of al-Qaeda-affiliated and independent radical Islamist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq, many of whom are hostile to Russia.  Furthermore, although it has been under heavy pressure from the Russian state in recent years, the North Caucasus continues to deal with low-level insurgent violence. The most senior surviving insurgent leader, Chechnya’s Aslan Byutukayev, is a former head of the reconstituted Riyadus Salikhin group that, as part of the Caucasus Emirate, was responsible for multiple suicide attacks, including that on Domodedovo airport.  There is also far-right nationalism: groups in St Petersburg are known to have close links with their Ukrainian counterparts, and have used explosives in previous attacks.


  • Indian Shares Pare Weekly Gain as Syria Strike Rattles Investors (Bloomberg)  Indian stocks dropped a second day to trim a weekly advance, after the U.S. launched missile strikes against Syria, accusing Bashar al-Assad’s regime of using gas to kill civilians.  The benchmark Sensex and the NSE Nifty 50 Index both fell 0.7% at the close in Mumbai. The India NSE Volatility Index, a benchmark gauge of options prices on the Nifty gauge, rebounded 3.6% from an all-time low.


North Korea

"When I make a threat, I am serious about it."



  • Trump Trade Threats Force Export-Dependent Vietnam to Pivot (Bloomberg)  President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from a Pacific Rim trade deal was viewed as a glancing blow by Vietnam’s Phu Tai Corp., which makes furniture for Wal-Mart outlets. The knockout punch may come if he follows through on threats of protectionism.  From a possible border tax to higher tariffs, America’s push to reset trade relations is putting Vietnam’s small economy at risk. Phu Tai, based in a central province, relies on the U.S. for 40 percent of sales, and some business may evaporate if its dining-room sets and outdoor chairs become too expensive.

Vietnam sells a fifth of its exports to the U.S., making it one of the few Asian nations counting America as a bigger market for their goods than China. Yet Vietnam’s $32 billion trade surplus with the U.S. puts it in the crosshairs of the White House after Trump ordered a study to identify any “trade abuse” fueling American deficits.

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

  • Gundlach Says Bond Rally to Continue With 10-Year Yield Falling (Bloomberg)  Bond investment guru Jeff Gundlach ($8.1 billion DoubleLine Core Fixed Income Fund) sees inproved prospects for bonds in the short term.  He said in a webcast on Tuesday:

    “I expect a rally on the 10-year and the 30-year, to below 2-1/4 at a minimum on the 10-year, maybe a little bit lower than 2 and then it moves back up.  I don’t think we’re going to see 3 on the 10-year this year.” 

    This aligns with what GEI contributors have been writing.  Most recently see Bonds Are Headed Higher (Jim Welsh) and from January see Bonds Should Rally In 2017 (Van R. Hoisington and Lacy H. Hunt)

  • Researchers may have cracked the case of how Ötzi the Iceman died (PRI)  There’s a lot of mystery surrounding Ötzi the Iceman, Europe's oldest natural mummy. The best guess is that 5,300 years ago, Ötzi was crossing an alpine ridge in the Italian Alps, where he was murdered and his body preserved in the ice.  His frozen corpse was discovered accidentally by hikers back in 1991, along with his clothing and equipment, on the Schnalstal/Val Senales Valley glacier. The 5,300-year-old mummy was so well-preserved that scientists have been able to piece together — gradually — a compelling picture of how he lived, and his equally fascinating death.  This article weaves a detailed tale consistent with the forensic evidence.

  • Atmosphere found around Earth-like planet GJ 1132b (BBC News)  Scientists say they have detected an atmosphere around an Earth-like planet for the first time.  They have studied a world known as GJ 1132b, which is 1.4-times the size of our planet and lies 39 light years away.  Their observations suggest that the "super-Earth" is cloaked in a thick layer of gasses that are either water or methane or a mixture of both.  The study is published in the Astronomical Journal.  Discovering an atmosphere, and characterising it, is an important step forward in the hunt for life beyond our Solar System.  But it is highly unlikely that this world is habitable: it has a surface temperature of 370C.  Graphic below is an artist's impression of scientific description:

At the bottom, the seemingly ubiquitous Payless Inc. shoe chain filed for bankruptcy and announced plans to shutter hundreds of locations. Ralph Lauren Corp., meanwhile, said it will close its flagship Fifth Avenue Polo store -- a symbol of old-fashioned luxury that no longer resonates with today’s shoppers.

And the teen-apparel retailer Rue21 Inc. could be the next casualty. The chain, which has about 1,000 stores, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as this month, according to people familiar with the situation. Just a few years ago, it was sold to private equity firm Apax Partners for about a billion dollars.


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