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What We Read Today 29 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.

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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:

  • The Big One is going to happen, no matter how much you want to deny it, California scientists say

  • Study links diesel pollution to heart damage

  • Helmet law change leads to increased head, facial injuries

  • According to science, this is the perfect and best road trip you can possibly take.

  • How Congress Could Cripple Robert Mueller

  • Trump campaign likely didn’t save documents: report

  • Suit against Hillary Clinton over Benghazi deaths and emails is dismissed

  • Rural America Is the New 'Inner City' -2-

  • Trump's obsession over Russia probe deepens

  • Alaska Volcano Erupts Again; Aviation Alert Raised to Red

  • The Question Isn’t Why Wage Growth Is So Low. It’s Why It’s So High.

  • LSE Raises Estimate for Loss of London Clearing to $100 Billion

  • BMW to Stop Production in China, South Africa on Shortage

  • Merkel spokesman: Germany will keep strengthening ties to US

  • Saudi Reserves Dip Below $500 Billion as BofA Sees Headwinds

  • Brazil’s Car Wash Scandal Reveals a Country Soaked in Corruption

  • And More

Special notice:  Due to staff vacations this week there may be spotty publications or What We Read Today, Early Bird Headlines, and Market Close articles.  At this point it there are no 'What We Read Today' posts scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  'Early Bird' may not catch any worms on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. 

Articles about events, conflicts, and disease around the world


  • How Congress Could Cripple Robert Mueller (Politico)  Convictions in the Iran-Contra affair of the 1980s were later overturned because appeals courts deeming the prosecutions tainted as a result of the testimony the men had given to Congress with grants of supposedly limited immunity.  The same thing could happen if there is wrongdoing uncovered in the Russian investigation and Congress is overly aggressive in its own investigations.

  • Trump campaign likely didn’t save documents: report (The Hill)  The Trump campaign likely did not preserve documents and communications key to the law enforcement investigation into possible collusion between President Trump's associates and the Kremlin, Politico reported Saturday.  Political campaigns, Politico noted, are typically not required to preserve emails on their private server for long windows of time, and most messages are deleted within 30 to 90 days, unless steps are taken to preserve them.  What's more, the Trump campaign did not do much to establish a plan to maintain those communications, according to a former campaign aide.

  • Suit against Hillary Clinton over Benghazi deaths and emails is dismissed (Politico)  A federal judge in Washington has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Hillary Clinton's lax security surrounding her emails led to the deaths of two of the Americans killed in the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.  In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson tossed out the wrongful death claims as well as allegations that Clinton essentially slandered the parents of the deceased by contradicting accounts the parents gave of events related to their children's deaths.

The suit was filed last August by Patricia Smith, the mother of State Department information officer Sean Smith, and Charles Woods, the father of CIA operative Tyrone Woods.

The parents sued weeks after Patricia Smith took to the stage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to deliver an emotional speech blasting the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and for failing to save the four Americans who died in the Benghazi attack while she was secretary of state: Smith, Woods, CIA operative Glen Doherty and U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

  • Rural America Is the New 'Inner City' -2- (Fox Business)  Problems with lack of economic opportunity and endemic drug addiction which were formerly considered an inner city problem now affect vast swaths of rural America.

  • Trump's obsession over Russia probe deepens (Politico)  President Donald Trump has been aggressively working the phones since returning this weekend from his foreign trip, talking to friends and outside lawyers as he obsesses over the deepening investigations into his aides and Russia.  Two White House officials said Trump and some aides including Steve Bannon are becoming increasingly convinced that they are victims of a conspiracy against Trump's presidency, as evidenced by the number of leaks flowing out of government — that the crusade by the so-called “deep state” is a legitimate threat, not just fodder for right wing defenders.  But the president's senior aides say he has yet to decide on a strategy for confronting the crises.

  • Alaska Volcano Erupts Again; Aviation Alert Raised to Red (Bloomberg)  An Alaska volcano that has been active for nearly six months has erupted again.  The Alaska Volcano Observatory says Bogoslof (BOH-gohs-lawf) Volcano in the Aleutian Islands erupted at 2:16 p.m. Sunday and sent a cloud of ash at least 35,000 feet (10,668 meters) high. The eruption lasted 55 minutes.  Ash can harm and stop jet engines. Ash from southwest Alaska volcanos is a threat airliners operating between North America and Asia when a cloud rises above 20,000 feet (6,096 meters).  After the eruption, the Aviation Color Code was raised to red, the highest level.

  • The Question Isn’t Why Wage Growth Is So Low. It’s Why It’s So High. (The New York Times)  One of the economy’s biggest mysteries is this: The labor market is the strongest it has been in a decade, yet wages are rising barely faster than inflation.  For some reason, the booming job market and ultralow unemployment rate, which fell to 4.4% in April, haven’t led employers to raise pay in a meaningful way. That flies in the face of a basic assumption of how the economy works: A tight labor market is expected to lead to pay increases that in turn fuel broader inflation.  But the mystery of the missing pay raises may have a surprisingly simple solution, and one that sheds light on the larger economic challenges of our age.  Wage growth is actually higher than the historical norm when compared to productivity growth and infation:



  • LSE Raises Estimate for Loss of London Clearing to $100 Billion (Bloomberg)   Banks and investors will end up $100 billion worse off if the European Union forcibly repatriates the clearing of euro-denominated derivatives after Brexit, according to London Stock Exchange Group Plc’s Chief Executive Officer Xavier Rolet.  Writing in the London-based Times on Monday, Rolet said the EU “should not meddle with a safe, transparent system” that underpins global markets.


  • BMW to Stop Production in China, South Africa on Shortage (Blommberg)  BMW AG is set to extend production halts in Germany to China and South Africa on Monday as the luxury-car maker grapples with a shortage of steering parts.Production at the factories in Shenyang and Rosslyn is likely to stop for a day, while its plant in Leipzig, Germany, is expected to be partially shuttered, spokesman Michael Rebstock said. The Leipzig site has been closed since Friday, and another facility in Munich was affected last week as an unidentified Italian car-parts supplier has been unable to make the required deliveries, magazine Focus reported earlier Sunday.

  • Merkel spokesman: Germany will keep strengthening ties to US (The Hill)   Angela Merkel’s spokesman says the German chancellor remains focused on strengthening ties with Washington, following her remarks that Germany can't "completely depend" on the U.S.  Steffen Seibert told The Associated Press Monday:

“[They] are a strong pillar of our foreign and security policy, and Germany will continue working to strengthen these relations.  Precisely because they are so important, it’s right to name differences honestly."

Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Reserves Dip Below $500 Billion as BofA Sees Headwinds (Bloomberg)  Saudi Arabia’s net foreign assets dropped below $500 billion in April for the first time since 2011 even after the kingdom raised $9 billion from its first international sale of Islamic bonds.  The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, as the central bank is known, said on Sunday its net foreign assets fell by $8.5 billion from the previous month to about $493 billion, the lowest level since 2011. That brings the decline this year to $36 billion.


The multibillion-dollar tsunami of sleaze barreling through Latin America’s largest country and economy is deeper and broader than any Trump-Russia allegations pouring out of Washington. And it could force the resignation of Brazilian President Michel Temer, who’s been fingered repeatedly in recent weeks for allegedly orchestrating and receiving millions of dollars in bribes.

The 76-year-old conservative denies the accusations—his lawyer, laughably, says Temer is too old to have to answer them—but he’s not the only Brazilian president under the interrogation lamp. His predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached and removed from office last year, and her predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, are also alleged to have received tens of millions of dollars in graft.

They, too, deny it—but it hardly stops with them. Eight of Temer’s cabinet ministers are under investigation. So are powerful senators such as Aécio Neves, who narrowly lost the 2014 presidential election. The head of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo da Cunha—who was shameless enough to hide some of the $40 million in bribes he pocketed in a religious shell company called—was convicted in March and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He has appealed the verdict.

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

  • The Big One is going to happen, no matter how much you want to deny it, California scientists say (Los Angeles Times)  The San Andreas fault has not had a major "slippage" since 1906 when a giant horizontal shift up to 20 feet along almost 300 miles of the junction between the  Pacific Plate and the North American Plate created a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in the San Fransico bay region of California killing over 3,000 people and destroying most of the city of San Fransisco.  But it has been even longer since a simialr quake has relieved the pent-up stress in Southern California with a 7.9 quake in 1857.  This article discussed what has been done to prepeare for the 'big one' and also how many Californians are simple living in denial thet it is coming.  Image below is from Google Earth:

"There is strong evidence that particulate matter [PM] emitted mainly from diesel road vehicles is associated with increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, and death.  This appears to be driven by an inflammatory response -- inhalation of fine particulate matter [PM2.5] causes localized inflammation of the lungs followed by a more systemic inflammation affecting the whole body."

  • Helmet law change leads to increased head, facial injuries (UPI)  In 2012, the state of Michigan repealed its universal motorcycle helmet law to allow riders to ride without helmets if they are over age 21, among other requirements.  A study from Michigan State University shows head and facial injuries have doubled since the state repealed and relaxed its motorcycle helmet law.

  • According to science, this is the perfect and best road trip you can possibly take. (Omelet)  Randy Olson, a doctoral candidate at Michigan State University, has planned the “perfect road trip”.  With the aid of a sophisticated algorithm, Olson’s road trip lets anyone, anywhere hit all the landmarks in each of the 48 continental states in the shortest possible route.  Just pick the point closest to home, and then drive around the country until you get back to the starting point.

Click for large image.

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