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What We Read Today 25 June 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:

  • 2017’s Most & Least Independent States

  • Millions Died Thanks to the Mother of Environmentalism

  • Fourth of July Credit Card Survey

  • Summary of the advisory opinion of the International Monsanto Tribunal

  • Jeff Sessions on Marijuana:  Drug is 'Only Slightly Less Awful' than Heroin

  • Jeff Sessions personally asked Congress to let him prosecute medical-marijuana providers

  • Jeff Sessions Misunderstands Drugs and Crime

  • Women on Birth Control could be Barred from Working if Lawmakers get Their Way

  • GOP's Obamacare repeal bills threaten huge disruptions across the healthcare system

  • The Senate GOP hid the meanest things very deeply in its Obamacare repeal bill. We found them

  • Unlike their Central and Eastern European neighbors, most Czechs don’t believe in God

  • Italy to start winding down Veneto banks Saturday after EU green-light

  • EU bank rules not worth paper.

  • Two Italian Banks Fail: Bail-In Rules Changed to Protect ECB and Political Class from Losses?

  • Day Two in the Search for Victims Buried in China Landslide

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Monsanto has engaged in practices which have negatively impacted the right to a healthy environment. 

  •  Monsanto has engaged in practices that have negatively impacted the right to food.

  • The Tribunal recalls that this company has manufactured and distributed many dangerous substances. First were PCBs, persistent organic pollutants exclusively commercialized by Monsanto between 1935 and 1979 despite the fact that the company knew about their deleterious health impacts. PCBs are now forbidden by the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. This carcinogenic product also causes problems with fertility and child development, and disrupts the immune system. 

  • Monsanto has manipulated science. This makes hollow the so-called scientific controversy about the risks glyphosate (Roundup) pose on health. 

  • The use of GMO seed raises multiple questions. ...  The Tribunal concludes that Monsanto has engaged in practices that negatively impacted the right to health. 

  • Monsanto's conduct is negatively affecting the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research. 

  • It seems that Monsanto knew how its products would be used and had information on the consequences for human health and the environment. The Tribunal is of the view that, would the crime of Ecocide be added in International law, the reported facts could fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

  • International law should now precisely and clearly assert the protection of the environment and the crime of ecocide. 

  • There is a need to assert the primacy of international human and environmental rights law [over corporate interests and rights].

  • There is a need to hold non-state actors responsible within international human rights law. 

  • Authoritative bodies to protect the effectiveness of international human rights and environmental law against the conduct of multinational corporations. 


The protections, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, prohibit the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent certain states "from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana."

In his letter, first obtained by Tom Angell of and verified independently by The Washington Post, Sessions argued that the amendment would "inhibit [the Justice Department's] authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act."

  • Jeff Sessions Misunderstands Drugs and Crime (Cato Institute)  Hat tip to John O'Donnell.  This Op Ed ponts out that more alcohol was sold before and after prohibition than during, but violent crome was elevated during prohibition.  See graphic following excerpt.

Sessions correctly understands a major source of crime in the drug distribution business: people with a complaint can’t go to court. But he jumps to the conclusion that “Drug trafficking is an inherently violent business.” This is a classic non sequitur. It’s hard to imagine that he actually doesn’t understand the problem. He is, after all, a law school graduate. How can he not understand the connection between drugs and crime? Prohibitionists talk of “drug-related crime” and suggest that drugs cause people to lose control and commit violence. Sessions gets closer to the truth in the opening of his op-ed. He goes wrong with the word “inherently.” Selling marijuana, cocaine, and heroin is not “inherently” more violent than selling alcohol, tobacco, or potatoes. 

President Trump and GOP leaders have touted their Obamacare repeal bills — one passed by the House last month and a Senate version unveiled last week — as a necessary fix to problems created by the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare

But in physicians’ offices and medical centers, in state capitols and corporate offices, there are growing fears that the unprecedented cuts proposed in the GOP legislation would create even larger problems in the U.S. healthcare system.

The Affordable Care Act repeal bill unveiled Thursday by Senate Republicans has aptly drawn universal scorn from healthcare experts, hospital and physician groups and advocates for patients and the needy. That’s because the bill is a poorly-disguised massive tax cut for the wealthy, paid for by cutting Medicaid — which serves the middle class and the poor — to the bone.

Yet some of the measure’s most egregious, harshest provisions are well-disguised. They’re hidden deep in its underbrush or in the maze of legislative verbiage. We’ve ferreted out some of them and present them here in all their malevolent glory. In this effort we’ve built on ace detective work by Adrianna McIntyre, Nicholas Bagley of the University of Michigan, David Anderson of Duke University and, Andy Slavitt, the former head of Medicare and Medicaid in the Obama administration, and others.



  • Italy to start winding down Veneto banks Saturday after EU green-light (Reuters)  The European Commission on Friday gave preliminary approval for an Italian plan to wind down two ailing Veneto-based regional lenders with state money in a move that may allow Rome to solve its latest banking crisis on its own terms.  Italy plans to start liquidation proceedings for Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca on Saturday, a source close to the matter said, issuing an emergency decree that will effectively remove one its biggest banking headaches by splitting the two lenders' assets into "good" and "bad" banks.  The country's top retail bank Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI) is set to buy the good assets for one euro, leaving the state to foot the bulk of the bill for losses stemming from the banks' bad loans, legal risks and restructuring costs.  Econintersect:  This action is financially unsound because Italy does not have it's own currency and therefore has no means for the government to 'make good' on the insolvency.  See also next two articles.

  • EU bank rules not worth paper. (Twitter)

Click for larger image.


  • Day Two in the Search for Victims Buried in China Landslide (NBC News)  Rescuers dig through piles of rock and mud that crashed down over a southwestern Chinese village on Saturday as 93 people remain missing.  So far, 10 bodies have been recovered.  The avalanche of rock and dirt crushed 62 homes, according to authorities.

Click for large image.

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

  • 2017’s Most & Least Independent States (WalletHub)   What does it mean for whole populations to be “independent” in the modern sense of the word?  In this report, WalletHub’s data team addressed that question by comparing the 50 states based on five sources of dependency: consumer finances, the government, the job market, international trade and personal vices. They broke down these categories into 32 key indicators of independence in order to determine which states are most self-sustaining. Read the complete article for findings, methodology and expert advice on overcoming our reliance on others.  Below are the 5 most dependent states, followed by the 10 most independent states:

46.  West Virginia

47.  Mississippi

48.  Alaska

49.  Kentucky

50.  Louisiana


  • Millions Died Thanks to the Mother of Environmentalism (Foundation for Economic Education)  Hat tip to John O'Donnell.  This essay asserts that tens of millions have died from Malaria who would not have succumbed to that disease had DDT remained in use.  The 'Mother of Environmentalism', whose book 'Silent Spring' was instrumental in getting the insecticide outlawed, is Rachael Carson.  The author states:

While it was reasonable to have banned DDT for agricultural use, it was unreasonable to have eliminated it from public health use.

Environmentalists have argued that when it came to DDT, it was pick your poison. If DDT was banned, more people would die from malaria. But if DDT wasn’t banned, people would suffer and die from a variety of other diseases, not the least of which was cancer. However, studies in Europe, Canada, and the United States have since shown that DDT didn’t cause the human diseases Carson had claimed.

Indeed, the only type of cancer that had increased in the United States during the DDT era was lung cancer, which was caused by cigarette smoking. DDT was arguably one of the safer insect repellents ever invented – far safer than many of the pesticides that have taken its place

In 2006, the World Health Organization reinstated DDT as part of its effort to eradicate malaria. But not before millions of people had died needlessly from the disease.

  • Fourth of July Credit Card Survey (WalletHub)  The credit card is an American invention. But while we use credit to pay for plenty of Independence Day purchases, plastic isn’t so patriotic in the minds of many. Some believe credit card debt doesn’t fit with core U.S. ideals, such as freedom and independence. Others say Uncle Sam tracks our credit card spending, restricting civil liberties. It’s not all gloom, doom and conspiracy theories, though. These days, we tend to trust credit card companies more than cornerstone institutions such as the federal government and media. And most people think access to credit should be a fundamental right.

  • 39% of 4th of July shoppers will not earn rewards on their purchases.

  • Almost half (47%) of Americans trust their credit card company more than President Trump, Congress and the media.

  • 45% of Americans are prouder of their credit score than their country. The national average credit score is 669.

  • More people would rather declare independence from social media (15%) than bad credit (11%).

  • 47% of Americans think the government tracks our credit card spending.


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