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What We Read Today 14 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".).

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Topics today include:

  • March's Shocking U.S. Consumer Prices

  • Trump Admin:  No Trading Partners are Currently Currency Manipulators.

  • Trump Appoints Religious Liberty Defender Roger Severino to Head HHS Office for Civil Rights

  • British spies were first to spot Trump team's links with Russia

  • Former Trump adviser Carter Page held 'strong pro-Kremlin views', says ex-boss

  • White House announces it will keep its visitor logs secret

  • North Korea says it will 'ruthlessly ravage' the United States if it comes under attack 

  • North Korea state media warns of nuclear strike if provoked as US warships approach

  • And More

Note:  This post is abbreviated today because most of what the Editor read today was written on U.S. Interstate Highway signs while peering through a car windshield and holding a steering wheel.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration declined to name any major trading partners as currency manipulators in a highly anticipated report on Friday, confirming a decision to back away from his key campaign promise to slap such a label on China.

The semi-annual U.S. Treasury currency report, however, did keep China on a currency "monitoring list" despite Beijing's progress in reducing its global current account surplus, citing its unusually large trade surplus with the United States.

The Treasury report also kept five other trading partners on the monitoring list: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany and Switzerland.

U.S.

  • Trump Appoints Religious Liberty Defender Roger Severino to Head HHS Office for Civil Rights (Breitbart News)  President Donald Trump has appointed freedom of conscience and religious liberty defender Roger Severino to head the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Severino, the former director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, has been especially known for his criticism of Obamacare’s “nondiscrimination” regulations on the basis of “gender identity.” The guidelines propose to penalize healthcare professionals who are morally and professionally opposed to sex change surgeries and treatments.  Severino and Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, observed in a report in 2016 that Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provides guidelines that

“... force many physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers to participate in sex-reassignment surgeries and treatments, even if it violates their religious beliefs or their best medical judgment.”

  • British spies were first to spot Trump team's links with Russia (The Guardian)  Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.  GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.  Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.  It is understood that GCHQ was not carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team, but picked up the alleged conversations by chance, according to The Guardian.

  • Former Trump adviser Carter Page held 'strong pro-Kremlin views', says ex-boss (The Guardian)  A former adviser to Donald Trump who is at the centre of an FBI investigation was exhibiting “strongly pro-Kremlin” ideology almost two decades ago, his former employer has told The Guardian.  Carter Page, who was reportedly being monitored by the FBI last summer because of suspicions about his ties to Russia, was hired in 1998 by the Eurasia Group, a major US consulting firm that advises banks and multinational corporations, but left the firm shortly thereafter.

The account of Page’s abrupt departure from the Eurasia Group suggests that concerns about Page and questions about his links to Russia were known in some professional circles for nearly two decades and long before Page joined Trump’s successful presidential campaign.

Now Page – who has denied all wrongdoing – is at the centre of overlapping FBIand congressional investigations into possible cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

  • White House announces it will keep its visitor logs secret (Business Insider)   President Donald Trump's White House will not release visitor logs detailing who enters the White House complex, administration officials told Time Friday.  The decision, a split from the preceding administration of President Barack Obama, came after months of speculation about what Trump's administration would do with the records.  White House communications director Michael Dubke told Time the reversal from the Obama administration's policy was in the name of "the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually."  The logs, which are maintained by the Secret Service, will be under wraps for at least five years after Trump leaves office.

North Korea

"Our toughest counteraction against the U.S. and its vassal forces will be taken in such a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive." 

China

  • China says North Korea tension has to be stopped from reaching 'irreversible' stage (Reuters,CNBC)  China said on Friday tension over North Korea had to be stopped from reaching an "irreversible and unmanageable stage" as a U.S. aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region amid fears the North may conduct a sixth nuclear weapons test.  Concerns have grown since the U.S. Navy fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield last week in response to a deadly gas attack, raising questions about U.S. President Donald Trump's plans for North Korea, which has conducted missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. and unilateral sanctions.  The United States has warned that a policy of "strategic patience" is over. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence travels to South Korea on Sunday on a long-planned 10-day trip to Asia.

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

  • We just got 'a shocker' about US consumer prices (Business Insider)  U.S. consumer prices in March fell for the first time since February 2016, led by a decline in gas prices.  The consumer price index fell 0.3%, according to the Labor Department. Economists had forecast that the index was unchanged.  But excluding the volatile costs of food and energy, so-called core CPI fell 0.1%, the first decline since January 2010.  Econintersect:  The Fed has a mission to fight inflation.  Congratulations!  They won!  #sarcasm

Click for large image,


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