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What We Read Today 20 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:

  • American Nations

  • Here's the True Definition of a Recession — It's Not About GDP

  • Ranking the Most Popular Websites by Demographic

  • “Computer” in various European languages

  • Trump’s Renegotiation Could Take the “Free” Out of NAFTA’s Trade

  • Trump Jr., Manafort slated to testify before Senate panel

  • Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business Transactions

  • Here’s the Chain Reaction Trump Could Set Off by Trying to Fire Mueller

  • O.J. Simpson Granted Parole from Prison

  • Open Burns, Ill Winds

  • Trump Can't Vote Down Obamacare, so He's Strangling It Instead

  • Youth Unemployment in Europe

  • Russia’s Strategy: Built on Illusion

  • Russia Thinks Fidget Spinners Are American Propaganda Tools

  • The U.S. Can Now Ship Rice to China for the First Time

  • China Banned Winnie The Pooh for Looking Like President Xi

  • Ans More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Trump’s Renegotiation Could Take the “Free” Out of NAFTA’s Trade (Peterson Institute for International Economics)  The Trump administration’s newly announced  objectives for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are ambiguous in some respects. But one element is clear and worrisome: The administration wants to make it easier for the United States to restrict imports from Canada and Mexico. Ironically, the new document and the administration’s actions over its first six months in office make it more likely that Canada and Mexico will fight tooth and nail to resist the US negotiating objective.

Click for larger image.


  • Trump Jr., Manafort slated to testify before Senate panel (The Hill)   Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort are slated to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a public hearing next Wednesday, the committee announced.  The hearing, which had previously been postponed, is purportedly to conduct oversight of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and "attempts to influence U.S. elections".

President Trump's eldest son, who is not part of the administration, has been under fierce scrutiny for attending a June 2016 meeting with a woman presented as a Russian government lawyer offering damaging information on Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton. 

The meeting has become a flashpoint in the roiling controversy over the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

  • Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business Transactions (Bloomberg)  The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe.  FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.

  • Here’s the Chain Reaction Trump Could Set Off by Trying to Fire Mueller (Bloomberg)  President Donald Trump’s interview with the The New York Times on Wednesday has stirred speculation he may consider firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller for investigating Trump’s business dealings as part of the Russia probe.

But Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, according to the law that authorizes Mueller’s probe. If he tried, he could set off a chain-reaction that would throw the Justice Department into upheaval.

Only the person acting as attorney general, currently Rod Rosenstein on matters related to the probe, can fire Mueller, and he’s said he won’t do it without “good cause.” So Trump would first have to purge the upper ranks of the Justice Department until he finds someone willing to follow his orders and dismiss the special counsel.

  • O.J. Simpson Granted Parole from Prison (Daily Beast)  The Nevada Board of Parole granted O.J. Simpson parole at a hearing on Thursday, where Simpson spoke publicly. Simpson has served nine years of a 9-to-33-year sentence for robbery and kidnapping in a sports memorabilia dealer’s Las Vegas hotel room in 2007. He said he takes responsibility for his actions that day. 

  • Open Burns, Ill Winds (ProPublica)  The Pentagon’s handling of munitions and their waste has poisoned millions of acres, and left Americans to guess at the threat to their health.  The map below show every active burn site located by ProPublica.  The article has a lengthy discussion about Radford, VA.  Click here for full infographic.




  • Russia’s Strategy: Built on Illusion (Geopolitical Futures)  Hat tip to Sig Silber.  According to George Friedman Russia is suffering from two weaknesses it is trying to conceal:  geographic weaknes and exonomic constraints.  He writes:

It’s nearly impossible to both flaunt power and preserve it at the same time.

This is the core strategic problem of Russia. On the one hand, it is still trying to find its way more than 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, an event President Vladimir Putin has referred to as “the greatest political catastrophe” of the 20th century. In the lives of nations, a quarter of a century is not very long, and the reverberations of the catastrophe are still being felt. On the other hand, Russia lives in a complex and dangerous region, and appearing weak can be the biggest threat to its well-being. Therefore, like a wealthy person coming into hard times, Russia must simultaneously try to appear more powerful than it is and meticulously manage what power it has.

  • Russia Thinks Fidget Spinners Are American Propaganda Tools (Vocativ)  Fidget spinners are more than just the latest trend in toys, they're also part of a diabolical anti-Russian plot, says Russian television.  According to a recent report on Rossiya 24, fidget spinners are being used to control the masses. One example of how these evil trinkets spin their yarns is through Russia's opposition parties, who allegedly tried to lure young supporters and raise money by pedaling fidget spinners.  Backlash may seem inevitable whenever a toy becomes a mega trend, but Beanie Babies never got their paws dirty in this kind of political corruption.


  • The U.S. Can Now Ship Rice to China for the First Time (Bloomberg)  The U.S. can now ship rice to China for the first time ever, signaling a win for President Donald Trump in his efforts to reshape the trade relationship just after talks between the nations broke down Wednesday.  Officials from the nations finalized a protocol to allow for the first-ever American shipments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday in a statement. China is the world’s biggest rice consumer, importer and producer.

Internet users in China have reported problems posting references to the tubby, little cubby all stuffed with fluff. Censors allegedly began to block references to the beloved A.A. Milne’s children’s books after some commenters used images of Winnie the Pooh to suggest that resembles President Xi Jinping.

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

  • American Nations (Joel Gehringer Dot Com)  We often look at other countries and break them down by their demographic, societal and cultural elements – India, China, the UK, Iraq, etc. But we rarely do so for the US, even though it spans across an entire continent and has over 320 million people.

I think that’s because of the “melting pot” mythology. It’s true this is a nation of immigrants and most of the European settlers from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries were able to fully assimilate. But they all became “American” in different ways and different places. The cultures, traditions and belief systems they brought with them never fully went away.

Enter American Nations, an argument by author and historian Colin Woodard. There have been other re-examinations of American history, and they differ on how to organize the cultures that came here from Europe and now make up the United States. But they all agree that it’s not one culture, one purpose, one big happy family. And they don’t teach you that in elementary school.

Click for large image.

Recessions, which are set in motion by a tight monetary stance of the central bank, are about the liquidations of activities that sprang up on the back of the previous loose monetary policies. Rather than paying attention to the so-called strength of real GDP to ascertain where the economy is heading, it will be more helpful to pay attention to the rate of growth of the money supply.

By following the rate of growth of the money supply, one can ascertain the pace of damage to the real economy that central bank policies inflict. Thus the increase in the growth momentum of money should mean that the pace of wealth destruction is intensifying. Conversely, a fall in the growth momentum of money should mean that the pace of wealth destruction is weakening.

  • Ranking the Most Popular Websites by Demographic (Priceonomics)  Thsi study looked at data from Priceonomics customer Quantcast, a company that measures and quantifies web audiences. Quantcast uses a combination of direct measurement and inferential statistical models to determine the gender, age, income, and education makeup of a website’s traffic. This data set determined which websites drew the most male, female, millennial, senior, parent, wealthy and educated audiences.  In addition to the three tables below, there are also tabulations for Most Educated Audience, Wealthiest, Parents, and Seniors.




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