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What We Read Today 15 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:

  • Republicans’ last-ditch effort to repeal methane rule will cost taxpayers $330 million per year

  • The Financial Crisis That Spawned Austerity, Corporatized the Democratic Party and Gave the World Donald Trump

  • New York City's near-default in 1975 altered the course of American politics, explains "Fear City" author Kim Phillips-Fein. 

  • Current Annual Inflation Commentary

  • Africa’s new slave trade: how migrants flee poverty to get sucked into a world of violent crime

  • Cruelty or keeping it in the family? What I learned from India's slaveholders

  • How to Boost Productivity and Make It Last

  • Eight Candidates Interviewed for FBI Director Amid Comey Uproar

  • White House refuses to say if Comey tapes exist

  • A New Harvard Study Just Shattered the Biggest Myth About Bernie Supporters

  • American Medical Association: Millions could lose coverage in GOP health plan

  • In travel ban case, U.S. judges focus on discrimination, Trump's powers

  • Trump Orders Preparation for Electric Grid Cyber Attacks

  • Millionaire Brexit donor targets 140 remain MPs in general election

  • Greece is Back in Recession (Again)

  • U.S. says Syrians built crematorium at prison to dispose of bodies

  • India skips China's Silk Road summit, warns of 'unsustainable' debt

  • China cannot finance the Belt and Road alone

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

U.S.

  • Eight Candidates Interviewed for FBI Director Amid Comey Uproar (Bloomberg)  The two top officials at the Justice Department have interviewed eight candidates to replace the fired James Comey amid demands from lawmakers of both parties for Donald Trump to turn over any recordings he may have made of his meetings with the former FBI director.  Washington continued to be roiled by Trump’s firing of Comey on May 9, citing frustrations with the FBI director’s conduct. Comey was in charge of the agency’s investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in that country’s attempts to interfere with the U.S. presidential election last year. A Trump tweet that Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations” has added to the turmoil.  See next article.

  • White House refuses to say if Comey tapes exist (The Hill)  The White House refused to say Monday whether recordings exist of conversations between President Trump and visitors to the White House, including fired FBI Director James Comey.  White House press secretary Sean Spicer also refused to say whether the president would comply with congressional requests to produce the recordings.  Facing repeated questions from multiple news outlets, Spicer went back to the same line: “The president has made it clear what his position is.”  Pressed specifically on whether Trump would deny a request to turn over any recordings, the spokesman replied,

“I was clear the president would have nothing further on that last week.”

  • American Medical Association: Millions could lose coverage in GOP health plan (The Hill)  The nation's largest doctors group warned Senate leaders Monday that millions of people could lose health coverage under the Republican ObamaCare repeal and replacement plan.  In a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the American Medical Association pushed back against any "significant changes" to ObamaCare or Medicaid programs.  The influential AMA told senators those changes

"potentially threaten the ability for millions of Americans to obtain and retain coverage. It is these citizens, constituents, and patients who should be at the center of this debate."

  • In travel ban case, U.S. judges focus on discrimination, Trump's powers (Reuters)  U.S. appeals court judges on Monday questioned the lawyer defending President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban about whether it discriminates against Muslims and pressed challengers to explain why the court should not defer to Trump's presidential powers to set the policy.

The three-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel was the second court in a week to review Trump's directive banning people entering the United States from six Muslim-majority countries.

Opponents - including the state of Hawaii and civil rights groups - say that both Trump's first ban and later revised ban discriminate against Muslims. The government argues that the text of the order does not mention any specific religion and is needed to protect the country against attacks.

  • Trump Orders Preparation for Electric Grid Cyber Attacks (The Washington Free Beacon)  President Trump ordered the federal government to prepare for a devastating cyber attack against America's electric grid amid growing fears foreign states are set to carry out attacks aimed at plunging the nation into darkness.  A presidential order signed Thursday directed key federal agencies to assess preparations for a prolonged power outage resulting from cyber attacks designed to disrupt the power grid.

UK

  • Millionaire Brexit donor targets 140 remain MPs in general election (The Guardian)  Financier Jeremy Hosking takes aim at Labour heartlands and says he wants no backsliding on Europe.  Hosking, who gave more than £1.5 million ($2.1 million) to Vote Leave during the referendum campaign, said he wanted to help give Theresa May “an army” of pro-Brexit MPs that was “fully equipped and as big as possible”.  Tory candidates in 138 constituencies where a majority of voters backed Brexit but which are represented by an opposition remain MP will be eligible to apply for funding. Hosking is offering up to £5,000 per candidate, leaving him with a potential bill of about £700,000 for the project.

Greece

Click for larger image.
greece.recession.again

Syria

  • U.S. says Syrians built crematorium at prison to dispose of bodies (Reuters)  The United States has evidence Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has built a crematorium at a large military prison outside the capital Damascus, a State Department official said on Monday.  Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, said U.S. officials believe the crematorium could be used to dispose of bodies at a prison where they believe Assad's government authorized the mass hangings of thousands of inmates during Syria's six-year-old civil war.

India

  • India skips China's Silk Road summit, warns of 'unsustainable' debt (Reuters)  India has not sent an official delegation to attend the "Belt and Road Forum" in Beijing and instead criticized China's global initiative, warning of an "unsustainable debt burden" for countries involved.  Chinese President Xi Jinping is hosting dozens of world leaders and senior officials on Sunday for the country's biggest diplomatic showcase of the year, touting his vision of a new "Silk Road" that opens trade routes across the globe.  Government officials from New Delhi did not travel, Indian officials said, although scholars from Indian think-tanks have flown to Beijing to attend some of the meetings at the forum.

  • Cruelty or keeping it in the family? What I learned from India's slaveholders (The Guardian)  The 21st century still sees the world involved in large amoints of slavery.  This article addresses slavery in the form of bonded labor in India.

China

  • China cannot finance the Belt and Road alone (Breugel)  Hat tip to Lambert Strether, Naked Capitalism.)  The One Belt One Road initiative holds great promise for the global economy, but will need a huge amount of finance. Initial presumptions that China would be able to provide all the finance are now unrealistic. Other partners should consider providing finance for some aspects, especially Europe - which has a lot to gain from the project.

belt.road.infrastructure.cost  

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

  • Republicans’ last-ditch effort to repeal methane rule will cost taxpayers $330 million per year (Think Progress)   Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced on Monday that he would vote to overturn a rule implemented by Obama that is estimated to prevent the waste of 65 billion cubic feet of natural gas a year and save taxpayers $330 million annually. His decision was based on promises made by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke that the Trump administration cannot legally keep.  A group of law professors from across the country have argued that a repeal of BLM’s rule using the CRA would “greatly impair” Interior’s ability to ever regulate the waste of natural gas in the future. In a letter to Senate leadership, the 42 professors argue that “using the blunt instrument of the CRA to overturn the existing rule might make a nice headline, but it could also forever insulate the industry from meaningful, effective regulation on this important subject and tie up the Interior Department in years of litigation.”

Senate Republicans have struggled to get the votes to repeal the BLM methane rule, especially after Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) publicly opposed the rule. Senators have had a tough time convincing their constituents to get behind the repeal of what many see as a commonsense waste prevention rule. For example, in Portman’s home state of Ohio the conservative Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions found that 80 percent of voters support regulations on methane waste.

Annual inflation for the 12 months ending in April 2017 was 2.20% down from 2.38% in March, 2.74% in February and 2.50% in January but above the 2.07% in December 2016. The annual cyclical low was 0.84% in July 2016. The longer term cyclical low of -0.20% was in April of 2015.

For a while now we have been saying not to be fooled by the rising inflation rates it was quite possible that it was just a cyclical move to the top of the channel. And now it looks like the peak was exactly at the top of the channel and we have now had two down months in a row with the possibility that when we see May's numbers next month annual inflation will be below 2%.


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