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What We Read Today 02 May 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 False Facial Recognition Match Cost This Man Everything

  • Longest living human ever? Maybe, but he's dead at 146 

  • Which Graduate Degree Gets You Out of Debt the Fastest?

  • Trump Tries to Save Face After Taking a Thumping on His First Budget Showdown

  • A Woman Is On Trial For Laughing During A Congressional Hearing

  • McCain Calls Trump's Dictator Praise 'Very Disturbing'

  • Tom Brady finally talks about why he skipped the White House

  • Brexit: a solution in search of a problem

  • Le Pen says euro a deadweight, capital controls an option if she wins power

  • Germany Questions Swiss Ambassador Over Espionage Allegations

  • Trump, Putin signal new effort to cooperate on Syria

  • U.S., China talk firmer U.N. response to North Korea's missiles: diplomats

  • U.S. May Consider New Venezuela Sanctions as Crisis Deepens

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Trump Tries to Save Face After Taking a Thumping on His First Budget Showdown (Bloomberg)  President Donald Trump’s first budget showdown with Congress went so poorly he’s already talking about a government shutdown in September and an end to the Senate’s filibuster rule.  "Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!" the president tweeted on Tuesday as Republicans struggled to save face over a $1.1 trillion spending bill that denied Trump most of his wish list. The White House hastily put budget director Mick Mulvaney on a conference call to accuse Democrats of being "desperate to show that we aren’t reasonable."  House Speaker Paul Ryan, meanwhile, put out a press release touting the deal as a victory over Democrats -- but within an hour made a quick pivot, telling reporters that he shared Trump’s frustration over the measure.

  • A Woman Is On Trial For Laughing During A Congressional Hearing (The Huffington Post)  The U.S. Capitol Police officer who decided to arrest an activist because she briefly laughed during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing in January is a rookie cop who had never conducted an arrest before nor worked at a congressional hearing. Nevertheless, prosecutors persisted this week in pursuing charges against the 61-year-old woman the rookie had taken into custody.

 Fairooz was seated in the back of the room, and her laugh did not interrupt Shelby’s introductory speech. But, according to the government, the laugh amounted to willful “disorderly and disruptive conduct” intended to “impede, disrupt, and disturb the orderly conduct” of congressional proceedings. The government also charged her with a separate misdemeanor for allegedly parading, demonstrating or picketing within a Capitol, evidently for her actions after she was being escorted from the room. 

  • McCain Calls Trump's Dictator Praise 'Very Disturbing' (NBC News)   Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Tuesday that he's at a loss to explain why President Donald Trump praises some of the worst dictators around the world.  In an interview with MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Mccain said he found Trump's remarks "very disturbing" and cautioned that the president's comments will be troubling to U.S. allies.  McCain said, referring to the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un:

"I don't understand it.  "I don't think that the president appreciates the fact that when he says things like that it helps the credibility and the prestige of this really outrageous strongman.  You can't praise that kind of behavior and not raise concerns around the world."

  • Tom Brady finally talks about why he skipped the White House (Touchdown Wire)  When the New England Patriots visited the White House the other week as part of their Super Bowl LI victory celebration, one person who was noticeably absent was quarterback Tom Brady.  Brady, the hero and MVP of Super Bowl LI, is well-known for his close ties to Donald Trump, so the fact that he skipped out on the visit left many people to question the reason why.

Brady said it was family reasons, but many speculated that his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, had a hand in it. Gisele has been outspoken about Trump, and raised people's suspicions even more when she tweeted out about an anti-Trump rally the same day Brady missed the visit.

Donald Trump, for the record, seemed to take offense to the quarterback's absence, refusing to even mention Brady's name once during his speech.


  • Brexit: a solution in search of a problem (The Economist)  Until UK's ill-considered referendum European Union concerns were mostly off the radar for Brits:  In listing the most imprtant issue facing the country, the EU never gained more than 12% and was mostly less than 10%.  Econintersect:  The Brexit referendum might be likened to Pandora's box.


  • Le Pen says euro a deadweight, capital controls an option if she wins power (Reuters)  Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen said capital controls were an option if she won Sunday's presidential election and there was a run on banks as she negotiated France's exit from the European Union, but stressed they were unlikely to be needed.  After days of mixed messages about ditching the euro, a move unpopular with a majority of voters, Le Pen made clear in an interview on Tuesday that she wanted to take France out of the single currency.   Le Pen said:

"The euro has protected no one, quite the contrary. The euro has been a deadweight for prices, a deadweight for jobs, a deadweight for the competitiveness of our businesses and it would be much simpler to kick-start the economy without this common currency."


  • Germany Questions Swiss Ambassador Over Espionage Allegations (Bloomberg)  Switzerland’s ambassador was hauled into Germany’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday and requested to explain allegations of espionage by a Swiss national.  German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel asked that Swiss ambassador Christine Schraner Burgener be invited in the last-minute for talks Tuesday afternoon, during which she was asked to explain the allegations “in the interest of German-Swiss friendship,” according to an email from the foreign ministry.

Germany’s federal prosecutor said in a website statement on April 28 that police arrested in Frankfurt a male suspected of spying for a “foreign power.” Fifty-four year-old “Daniel M.” is alleged to have spied on German government tax agents who were trying to buy compact discs containing information compiled by whistle-blowers listing German tax evaders with Swiss bank accounts, according to German media reports.

Daniel M. worked for the NDB Swiss secret service with the task of identifying the operatives, media reports said. The Federal Prosecutor said he is being held on charges of spying in Germany since 2012.


  • Trump, Putin signal new effort to cooperate on Syria (Associated Press)  President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled the prospect of increased cooperation in Syria Tuesday, in what the White House called a "very good" phone discussion that included a focus on setting up safe zones in the war-torn nation.  The White House said the leaders also agreed to try to set up their first in-person meeting in July, on the sidelines of an international summit in Germany.

Tuesday's call marked the first time Trump and Putin have spoken since the U.S. launched missiles against an air base in Syria, an attack that outraged Russia, one of the Syrian government's strongest backers. The U.S. military action sparked new tensions between Washington and Moscow, with top U.S. officials sharply condemning Putin's continued support for embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

North Korea


  • U.S. May Consider New Venezuela Sanctions as Crisis Deepens (Bloomberg)  The U.S. may consider new sanctions against Venezuela in response to President Nicolas Maduro’s announcement that he will seek to rewrite his country’s constitution.  Maduro on Monday called for a citizens assembly to draft a new constitution, in a move that was internationally condemned as an “illegal power grab” to circumvent the opposition-led National Assembly legislature.  Michael Fitzpatrick, U.S. deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said Tuesday on a reporter call:

[The Venezuelan government has] “decided once again to change the rules of the game in mid-play.  The actions that were taken yesterday may well give us new reasons for considering additional individualized sanctions under the Venezuela Democracy Act of 2014."

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

  • A False Facial Recognition Match Cost This Man Everything (Vocativ)  Read this astonishing story of a law enforcement system run amuck.  The central theme in the case reported in this article is the use of facial recognition software to falsely identify, arrest and charge an innocent man with felonies, not once but twice.

  • Longest living human ever? Maybe, but he's dead at 146 (USA Today)   A chain-smoking Indonesian man who says he was born in 1870 has finally reached the goal he announced to reporters worldwide last summer:  "All I want is to die."  Sodimejo, or Mbah Gotho (or Ghoto), had an Indonesian ID card that claimed his date of birth was Dec. 31, 1870. Indonesia didn't start recording such things until three decades later, but authorities assured the BBC that Sodimejo's papers were valid.  Sodimejo died in his village of Cemeng in Indonesia's Central Java region. The Daily Mail says his funeral was held Monday.

The current, verifiable world's oldest human is Violet Mosses Brown, comparably a baby at 117 years of age. If Sodimejo's documents could be verified, he easily outlived the "verified" oldest person ever, Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment. She was 122 years and 164 days old when she died 20 years ago.

If you’re one of the 29% who feels their choice of major in college didn’t prepare them to secure the job they wanted after graduation, you may be considering graduate school as a shot at a do-over. Those seeking higher income may indeed find themselves better equipped after earning a graduate degree. But this second chance can come at a steep cost.

But is it worth it? And moreover, does it matter financially if you attend a prestigious graduate school or not?


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