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What We Read Today 12 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".).


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Topics today include:

  • We Could Have Been Canada

  • The 1757 Map of the America that Might Have Been

  • Why is Sessions doubling down on a failed drug war?

  • GOP's Amash: Sessions's call for tougher sentences ‘unjust’

  • Race, Gender & Paying for College: Who Bears the Burden of Student Debt?

  • James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes"

  • Source: Comey is 'not worried about any tapes'

  • White House refuses to say whether Trump taped Comey talks

  • Trump latest: Live updates on the Comey fallout 

  • Top Dems ask White House to turn over any Trump recordings

  • James Clapper Says There is No Collusion

  • James Clapper on collusion between Russia, Trump aides: There could be evidence

  • Congress Will Not Control Spending Until the Money Is Fixed

  • A Long-Term Look at Inflation

  • What, if anything, will come of meeting between Libyan rivals?

  • Iran's dark horse candidate for president 

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world



  • Source: Comey is 'not worried about any tapes' (CNN)  See also preceding artocle.  Former FBI Director James Comey is "not worried about any tapes" of conversations between him and President Donald Trump, a source familiar with the matter told CNN Friday, adding that "if there is a tape, there's nothing he is worried about" that could be on it.

  • White House refuses to say whether Trump taped Comey talks (The Hill)  The White House on Friday refused to say whether President Trump recorded his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey.  Spicer was pressed three times to reveal whether the president taped the conversation but repeated his answer.  The White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters:

“I’ve talked to the president. The president has nothing further to add on that." 

  • Trump latest: Live updates on the Comey fallout (CNN)  Andrew McCabe stepped in for fired FBI director Comey this week for a Senate hearing. In that hearing, McCabe contradicted the White House more than once when it came to Comey's firing and the Russia investigation.  Trump is currently looking over potential candidates for Comey's replacement. Asked today if McCabe had Trump's "confidence," Spicer said he did not know because he has not asked.

  • Top Dems ask White House to turn over any Trump recordings (The Hill)  Top House Democrats are asking the White House to turn over any recordings of President Trump's conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey.  Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Oversight Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wrote in a Friday letter to White House Counsel Donald McGahn:

"Under normal circumstances, we would not consider credible any claims that the White House may have taped conversations of meetings with the President.  However, because of the many false statements made by White House officials this week, we are compelled to ask whether any such recordings do in fact exist. If so, we request copies of all recordings in possession of the White House regarding this matter."

  • James Clapper on collusion between Russia, Trump aides: There could be evidence (CNN)   See preceding item.  Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told MSNBC'S Andrea Mitchell on Friday that there could be evidence of collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign -- a statement that comes on the heels of an apparent public threat Trump made this morning to fired FBI Director James Comey, tweeting that Comey had better hope their conversations have not been taped.  When asked whether the FBI's Russia investigation is fake news, or a "witch hunt," as Trump called it this morning in another tweet, Clapper told MSNBC on Friday: "I don't believe it is."  the former director of national intelligence said of collusion between Trump campaign aides and Russians, referring also to the US intelligence assessment that Russia tried to influence the presidential election in favor of Trump:

"There was no evidence that rose to that level, at that time, that found its way in to the intelligence community assessment, which we had pretty high confidence in.  That's not to say there wasn't evidence, but not that met that threshold."

Ever wonder why state and local government can’t run billions and trillions in deficits and the federal government can? True, lower levels of government typically have rules in place that prevent it, but there’s more going on. What restrains them are the same forces that restrain corporations, small businesses, and even you from running up an endless amount of debt.

It doesn’t matter how much you beg, if your creditor thinks you are a default risk, you are toast. Think about it from your own point of view. You have a house debt, a car debt, and your credit card debt is growing. Inspired by a scene in Real Housewives, you try to borrow another $16K on a big Bloomingdale’s trip. The card is declined. You hit the roof and call the bank.

  • A Long-Term Look at Inflation (Jill Mislinski,, Advisor Perspectives)  We know what happens when the Federal government is subjected to the same rules as state and local governments, businesses, and households (see preceding article) because that was the condition prior to the establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913:

  • From 1870-1912 there was monetary deflation.

  • More time was spent in recession than expansion.

  • There were three periods of depression comparable to or larger than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

  • There were approximately 25 years (~60% of the time) spent in major depressions. 


Libya has been without a central government since the bloody civil war that saw longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi toppled and killed in 2011 at the hands of rebel forces, which then mushroomed into hundreds of militias' dominating the country and preventing any government from adequately functioning ever since.

While it's unclear how much impact the May 2 meeting will eventually have, the fact that it took place at all is in itself a milestone in the Libyan crisis.


  • Iran's dark horse candidate for president (Al Monitor)  Ebrahim Raisi, a 56-year-old conservative cleric and former corruption prosecutor, is far behind the two leading candidates for president of Iran, according to polling.  He is attempting to project a nonpartisan image while adopting stronger positions against incumbent Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

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

And what if it was a mistake from the start? The Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, the creation of the United States of America—what if all this was a terrible idea, and what if the injustices and madness of American life since then have occurred not in spite of the virtues of the Founding Fathers but because of them? The Revolution, this argument might run, was a needless and brutal bit of slaveholders’ panic mixed with Enlightenment argle-bargle, producing a country that was always marked for violence and disruption and demagogy. Look north to Canada, or south to Australia, and you will see different possibilities of peaceful evolution away from Britain, toward sane and whole, more equitable and less sanguinary countries. No revolution, and slavery might have ended, as it did elsewhere in the British Empire, more peacefully and sooner. No “peculiar institution,” no hideous Civil War and appalling aftermath. Instead, an orderly development of the interior—less violent, and less inclined to celebrate the desperado over the peaceful peasant. We could have ended with a social-democratic commonwealth that stretched from north to south, a near-continent-wide Canada.

  • 1757: What Adirondack History Might Have Been (Adirondack Almanack)  In 1757, John Mitchell drew a map that proposed the establishment of four major English colonies, a large French colony on part of what is now Canada and Spanish colonies in Florida and what is now Mexico.  This is what might have been a template for national mapping of North America in an alternate universe that did not include a Revoluitonary War.

Click for large image.

We should focus on promoting smart policies that end this opioid crisis that’s ravaging our communities.

Attorney Jeff Sessions claimed to be committed to doing this, but he has now issued a memorandum instructing federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” for all cases, including less serious drug offenses, leaving little room for commonsense discretionto do the right thing.

We already know what happens when prosecutors focus on mandatory minimums and severe sentences: we end up in a nation with the highest incarceration rate and an ongoing drug crisis that belies the aggressiveness of the War on Drugs

  • Race, Gender & Paying for College: Who Bears the Burden of Student Debt? (Priceonomics)  Many of today’s students are financing their education with loans, and are graduating with more debt than ever. In fact, the student debt in the US is estimated at $1.4 trillion, more than what Americans owe on credit cards or cars. Saddled with loans, college graduates are having trouble saving for retirement, starting businesses, and even keeping up with daily expenses.  How much hindrance is student debt causing today’s graduates, and which groups are affected the most. And does student debt have a differential impact by gender or race?

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