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What We Read Today 14 July 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:

  • How Fake News Goes Viral—Here’s the Math

  • US business inventories rebound as sales fall

  • Treasuries Rally

  • 3D-printed artificial heart beats just like the real thing

  • Juno Delivers Stunning New Views of Great Red Spot

  • Big Oil Just Woke Up to Threat of Rising Electric Car Demand

  • Kushner's lawyer dropping out of representing him: report

  • Who is Rinat Akhmetshin, the Russian-American lobbyist at the Donald Trump Jr. meeting?

  • Kasich Puts Portman On The Spot By Torching Obamacare Repeal Bill

  • House passes $696.5B defense policy bill

  • After lofty views, economists see second-quarter growth bumping along at same slow trend

  • Another fleeing corporate giant: Connecticut is facing a business migration crisis

  • Jamie Dimon blows up at DC's dysfunction, says he's tired of 'listening to the stupid s---'

  • Revealed: NHS cuts could target heart attack patients in Surrey and Sussex

  • One year after the failed coup in Turkey, the crackdown continues

  • Trump, Saudi King discuss Qatar dispute: White House

  • Putin Preferred Clinton? Let's Test Trump's Theory

  • Russia, mulling expulsions, says too many U.S. spies work in Moscow

  • Head of Islamic State in Afghanistan killed: Pentagon

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • Big Oil Just Woke Up to Threat of Rising Electric Car Demand (Bloomberg)  The world’s biggest oil producers are starting to take electric vehicles seriously as a long-term threat.  OPEC quintupled its forecast for sales of plug-in EVs, and oil producers from Exxon Mobil Corp. to BP Plc also revised up their outlooks in the past year, according to a study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance released on Friday. The London-based researcher expects those cars to reduce oil demand 8 million barrels by 2040, more than the current combined production of Iran and Iraq. 

U.S.

The National Law Journal reported on Friday that Jamie Gorelick, the high-powered D.C. attorney that has represented Kushner since the transition period, is stepping back from the case in favor of another member of the White House legal team.

Gorelick, a well-known Democratic donor, was considered to be a top pick to be Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's attorney general in the White House and served as deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton.

Gorelick is stepping back from the Russia probe as she is “wrapping up” her services for Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law.

She was originally hired by Kushner to represent him on issues related to ethics and security clearance. Kushner will now be represented on all Russia matters by Abbe Lowell, a well-known Washington criminal defense attorney.

  • A Russian-American lobbyist was part of a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. last year that was set up with an offer of dirt on Hillary Clinton.

  • Rinat Akhmetshin is a former Soviet intelligence officer, according to NBC News, but he denies current links to Russian intelligence.

  • He has been accused of lobbying on behalf of Russia against a measure aimed to punish Russian human rights abusers.

  • Kasich Puts Portman On The Spot By Torching Obamacare Repeal Bill (Talking Points Memo)  Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) released a statement Friday torching the revised Senate bill that would largely repeal the Affordable Care Act and made deep cuts to Medicaid, calling the legislation “unacceptable” and calling on senators to start over with a truly bipartisan process.  Kasich’s strong opposition makes life even harder for Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who says he is currently undecided on the bill as a vote approaches. Portman previously said he has “real concerns” about the bill’s cuts to Medicaid, which would hit Ohio and other Medicaid expansion states particularly hard. The revised version of the bill keeps those cuts in place.

  • House passes $696.5B defense policy bill (The Hill)  The House on Friday overwhelmingly passed a wide-ranging, $696.5 billion defense policy bill that goes far above President Trump’s budget request.  

Lawmakers voted 344-81 on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which broadly lays out policy and spending rules for the Pentagon and the military branches. 

The bill would authorize $621.5 billion for the Pentagon's base budget and Energy Department nuclear programs and $75 billion for war funding, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. In addition, the bill takes $10 billion in OCO dollars to pay for base budget needs.

  • Second-quarter GDP growth was tracking at 2.5 percent Friday, according to the CNBC/Moody's Analytics rapid update.

  • The cut was the latest to a number that had been as high as 3.8 percent early in the quarter.

  • Economists cut the tracking number after weaker retail sales.

  • Connecticut's personal income taxes are among the highest in the nation.

  • The heavy tax burden has caused corporate giants such as Aetna and GE to flee, resulting in a decline in tax revenues. Tax revenues in 2017–18 is projected to fall $2.2 billion.

  • Connecticut's 4,000 manufacturers, which accounts for 160,000 jobs and 10.5 percent of its total output of $27.22 billion, are the one bright spot in its economy.

  • Legislators are offering huge incentives, including financial aid and workforce training, to motivate manufacturers like Sikorsky Aircraft and Pratt & Whitney to stay in the Nutmeg State.

  • Jamie Dimon blows up at DC's dysfunction, says he's tired of 'listening to the stupid s---' (CNBC)  JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon expressed frustration at the U.S. federal government during the company's earnings conference call Friday.  "It's almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid s--- we have to deal with in this country," Dimon said in response to an analyst question.  PMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon expressed frustration at the U.S. federal government during the company's earnings conference call Friday.  The executive of the U.S. banking giant cited travels to countries such as France, Argentina, Israel and Ireland. The U.S. has become "one of the most bureaucratic, confusing, litigious societies on the planet" and "it's hurting the average American that we don't have these right policies," he said.

"Since the Great Recession, which is now 8 years old, we've been growing at 1.5 to 2 percent in spite of stupidity and political gridlock, because the American business sector is powerful and strong.  What I'm saying is it would be much stronger growth had we made intelligent decisions and were there not gridlock."  

UK

  • Revealed: NHS cuts could target heart attack patients in Surrey and Sussex (The Guardian)  Patients at risk of a heart attack could be denied vital tests and potentially life-saving operations under NHS plans to make £55 million ($72 million) of budget cuts in Surrey and Sussex, The Guardian can reveal.  NHS organisations in Surrey and Sussex are considering restricting the number of patients who have an angiogram or an angioplasty – the insertion of stents to tackle blocked arteries – despite the evidence that both procedures reduce the risk of patients dying.  The disclosure came as senior Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the Commons health select committee, urged ministers to scrap the “capped expenditure process” – the secretive cost-cutting regime which the NHS is imposing on 14 areas of England in an attempt to save £500 million ($655 million) – because it involves “draconian” cuts to services that will hit patient care.

Turkey

Over the year since the traumatic coup attempt on 15 July, 50,000 people have been remanded in custody and 170,000 suspects investigatedfor links to the shadowy group believed to have masterminded the coup. It is a nation more divided than ever, its newspapers silenced, its opposition intimidated, and Erdoğan’s power now rivals that of the republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Qatar

  • Trump, Saudi King discuss Qatar dispute: White House (Reuters)  U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Saudi King Salman on Friday to discuss efforts to resolve the month-long dispute between Qatar and four Gulf Arab states, the White House said.  The phone call followed a visit to the region by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states cut ties with Qatar over allegations it funds extremist groups and is allying with their arch-foe Iran. Qatar denies this.

Russia

  • Putin Preferred Clinton? Let's Test Trump's Theory (Bloomberg)  In two recent interviews, President Donald Trump made the argument that Russian President Vladimir Putin would have preferred Hillary Clinton in the White House. Even if that's correct, it's not for the reasons Trump mentioned.  Under Clinton, Trump said, the U.S. military would be "decimated" and oil prices would be higher.  This article argues that just the opposite would have happened under Clinton.

  • Russia, mulling expulsions, says too many U.S. spies work in Moscow (Reuters)  Russia said on Friday that too many American spies operated in Moscow under diplomatic cover and said it might expel some of them to retaliate against the United States over Washington's expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats last year.

Afghanistan

  • Head of Islamic State in Afghanistan killed: Pentagon (Reuters)  The head of Islamic State in Afghanistan, Abu Sayed, was killed in a strike on the group's headquarters in Kunar province earlier this week, the Pentagon said on Friday.  Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement that other members of the Islamic State group were also killed in the strike on Tuesday.  U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reportersL

"The significance is you kill a leader of one of these groups and it sets them back ... it is obviously a victory on our side in terms of setting them back, it is the right direction."

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

  • How Fake News Goes Viral—Here’s the Math (Scientific American)  Models similar to those used to track disease show what happens when too much information hits social media networks.  The term "going viral" is very a propos, because "news" spreads like a virus.  A bare-bones model of how news spreads on social media, published in June in Nature Human Behavior, indicates that just about anything can go viral. Even in a perfect world, where everyone wants to share real news and is capable of evaluating the veracity of every claim, some fake news would still reach thousands (or even millions) of people, simply because of information overload. It is often impossible to see everything that comes into one’s news feed, let alone confirm it.  Computer scientist Filippo Menczer of Indiana University Bloomington (I.U.), one of the model’s co-authors, explains:

“If you live in a world where you are bombarded with junk—even if you’re good at discriminating—you’re only seeing a portion of what’s out there, so you still may share misinformation.  The competition is so harsh that the good stuff cannot bubble to the top.” 

  • US business inventories rebound as sales fall (CNBC)  Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product. At May's sales pace, it would take 1.38 months for businesses to clear shelves, up from 1.37 months in April.

  • U.S. business inventories rebounded in May.

  • Sales fell by the widest margin in 10 months.

Click for large image.
treasuries.2017.jul.14

  • 3D-printed artificial heart beats just like the real thing (New Atlas)  The devices currently used to pump blood around the body in lieu of a healthy heart have their drawbacks. Whether huge washing machine-sized devices that keep patients anchored to a hospital bed or mechanical implants that cause other complications, there is plenty of room for improvement. With this in mind, scientists have now developed a soft silicone heart that beats much like the real thing, and could provide a safer and more comfortable way to keep the blood pumping.  It is around the same size as a human heart, weighs 390 g (0.85 lb) and was created using 3D printing and a lost-wax casting technique. Just like the real thing, it has a right and left ventricle, which is separated by a chamber that serves as the organ's muscle. As the chamber is inflated and deflated by pressurized air, it pumps the fluid from the chambers.

  • Juno Delivers Stunning New Views of Great Red Spot (Scientific American)  Scientists and the public are dazzled by images from the spacecraft’s close encounter with Jupiter’s largest—and the solar system’s most famous—storm.  The storm large enough to swallow Earth whole has raged for centuries in the gas-giant planet’s atmosphere.


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