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What We Read Today 23 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:

  • Megaregions Of The United States

  • The Surprising Connection Between Cortisol and AUM

  • Will Silver Short Sellers Get Body Slammed?

  • Is Productivity Growth Becoming Irrelevant?

  • If All the World's Popilation Lived in Urban Metros ...

  • The Tiny Satellites Ushering in the New Space Revolution

  • Modern luddites can't stop progress - renewable energy is here to stay

  • Schumer Predicts Trump Firing Mueller Would Be GOP Tipping Point

  • Trump administration scraps Obamacare signup assistance in 18 cities

  • Trump open to signing Russia sanctions bill

  • Trump Barrels Down a Road of No Return

  • Big Tobacco and right-wing US billionaires funding anti-regulation hardliners in the EU

  • Ethnic Europe

  • Britain Wants To Keep Free Movement For UK Nationals Living In The EU But Not For EU Citizens In The UK

  • Japan Captures More Photographs of Likely Melted Fukushima Fuel

  • China’s Hukou System

  • Capital accumulation, private property, and inequality in China, 1978-2015

  • There’s a Marijuana Frenzy That Could End Very Badly in Canada

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • The Tiny Satellites Ushering in the New Space Revolution (Bloomberg)  Planet Labs and other companies are sending hundreds of low-cost satellites into orbit. We’re only beginning to understand how that will change life on Earth.  In Fevruary the company sent up 88 small satelites in a launch from the Indian space center on Sriharikota, an island off India’s southeast coast.

For the past few years, Planet has been sending batches of its Doves into orbit, each carrying a high-powered telescope and camera programmed to photograph a different swath of Earth. The 88 launched from Sriharikota would join 61 others to become the largest fleet ever put in orbit. Images beamed back by the 61 have been used far and wide: Hedge funds scour Walmart parking lots to measure traffic flows during back-to-school seasons. Farmers assess crop health and estimate optimal harvest times. Activists track Amazonian deforestation and Syrian refugee camps. Spies monitor military buildups and trafficking operations. With all 149 satellites in place, Planet will be able to photograph every inch of Earth’s surface every day—something even the U.S. government can’t do.

U.S.

  • Senate Democrat leader also warns against Trump pardoning self

  • President’s lawyer says pardons aren’t being discussed

  • The Trump administration has ended Affordable Care Act contracts that brought assistance to 18 cities.

  • People will have 45 days to shop for 2018 coverage, half the time of previous years.

  • President Trump has said in multiple interviews that he would like to "let Obamacare fail."

  • Trump open to signing Russia sanctions bill (Reuters)  The White House said that President Donald Trump would consider signing legislation toughening sanctions on Russia after Senate and House leaders reached agreement on a bill for stronger action against Moscow.

  • Trump Barrels Down a Road of No Return (Bloomberg)   This Op Ed says that there seems no way the president's course of action can end well:

Trump, family members, campaign operatives and business associates should release anything pertinent to the investigation, any meeting with Russians or Americans with Russia ties and "every Trump business relationship with Russians going back years." This information includes his tax returns.  

It's sound advice. There's no way Trump will take it. He has stuff he wants to hide. More likely, he'll try to fire the special counsel investigating him and pardon his family and himself. 

EU

They claim to represent consumers, but a closer look shows no links to those they allege to speak for. At the same time, they seem to be exclusively funded by corporations like Japan Tobacco International and right-wing billionaires such as controversial US plutocrats the Koch Brothers. Both groups add their voices to a network of corporate-funded organisations aggressively pushing for de-regulation in the EU.

This does make it look like the Consumer Choice Center and Forest EU represent their funders’ rather than consumer interests.

  • Ethnic Europe (Maps on the Web)  This hypothetical map of Europe shows the geo-ethnic divisions where regional independence movements have been proposed to split European countries into smaller sovereign states.

Click for larger image.

UK

  • Britain Wants To Keep Free Movement For UK Nationals Living In The EU But Not For EU Citizens In The UK (Buzzfeed)  European Union officials have accused the UK of wanting freedom of movement to continue for British citizens after Brexit while refusing to guarantee equivalent rights to the 3 million EU nationals living in the UK.  After this week's second round of Brexit negotiations ended on Thursday, UK sources close to the talks briefed that there were "significant gaps" in the EU's offer on citizens' rights, because Britons currently residing in an EU member state could lose their right to move to another member state after Brexit. This would mean, for example, that a Briton currently living in Spain could not move to France.

The source said: “The Commission and the Member States now need to go away and discuss how they can bring their offer up to the level of the UK’s.”

The UK offer, which was submitted after the EU's, would give "settled status" to EU nationals who have been in the UK for five years. But in most cases that status would lapse for anyone who left the UK for more than two years.

Japan

  • Japan Captures More Photographs of Likely Melted Fukushima Fuel (Bloomberg)  A trove of new images captured in the past few days show what is likely to be melted nuclear fuel from inside one of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima reactors, a potential milestone in the cleanup of one of the worst atomic disasters in history.  Branch-like material, top left in picture below, likely to be nuclear fuel debris is shown in this photo taken July 21, 2017, at the No. 3 reactor of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.

China

  • China’s Hukou System (The Diplomat)  This article includes an interview with Professor Fei-Ling Wang, the author of Organizing Through Division and Exclusion: China’s Hukou System (Stanford University Press, 2005)a critical investigation of this extremely important but seldom explicated system.

The hukou system is a governmental household registration system. In Taiwan, this system operates mostly as census tool, providing demographic information about residents in each region. In China however, the hukou system is used to actively limit where a person is allowed to live, especially if one is born into a rural hukou – attempting to change to a more attractive residence or to an urban hukou can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. In this way the hukou system institutionalizes inequality and consolidates the government’s administrative control over China’s population.

  • Capital accumulation, private property, and inequality in China, 1978-2015 (Voxeu.org)  Between 1978 and 2015, China moved being from a poor, underdeveloped country to the world’s leading emerging economy. But relatively little is known about how the distribution of income and wealth within the country changed over this period. This column presents the first systematic estimates of the level and structure of China’s national wealth since the beginning of the market reform process. The national wealth-income ratio increased from 350% in 1978 to 700% in 2015, driven mainly by the increase of private wealth.  In the process income inequality in China has risen dramtically and now nearly equals the U.S.

Canada

  • There’s a Marijuana Frenzy That Could End Very Badly in Canada (Bloomberg)   A year before recreational cannabis is expected to become legal in Canada, there’s an explosion in companies cultivating the stuff. At least 10 marijuana outfits have new listings this year on the TSX Venture Exchange and Canada Securities Exchange. Some 51 enterprises have gotten the green light to grow pot, and 815 applicants are in the queue. All told, it could be enough to raise the country’s raw-weed output more than tenfold.  This is where skeptics see froth.  Neil Boyd, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver said:

“If you ask people today why they don’t use, it’s a small percentage who say ‘because it’s illegal.  In many respects there might be an overestimation of demand.”

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

Click for large image.

  • The Surprising Connection Between Cortisol and AUM (Advisor Perspectives)  Here is a presentation of the role of your brain chenistry and the probability that you will be "sold" something.  Cortisol is a primary stress hormone in humans. Elevated cortisol levels have a number of adverse health consequences, including lowering your immune system, increasing your blood pressure and making you more susceptible to heart disease.  If you love someone – or want to convert them from a prospect to a client – the last thing you want is to increase their cortisol level.  A number of studies (summarized here) have identified what causes elevated cortisol levels. They are:

  • Being exposed to novel or unpredictable situations.

  • Putting someone in a position where she has little control.

  • Creating a situation threatening to the ego.

  • The daily silver chart shows silver stuck in symmetrical downtrend lines.

  • Silver needs to overcome downtrend and horizontal resistance to end the bearish move that began in mid-2016.

  • Possible short-covering above $17 in silver (about $16.10 in SLV) might do the trick. This could take a few weeks to accomplish.

" ... measured GDP and gains in human welfare eventually may become entirely divorced. Imagine in 2100 a world in which solar-powered robots, manufactured by robots and controlled by artificial intelligence systems, deliver most of the goods and services that support human welfare. All that activity would account for a trivial proportion of measured GDP, simply because it would be so cheap.

Conversely, almost all measured GDP would reflect zero-sum and/or impossible-to-automate activities – housing rents, sports prizes, artistic performance fees, brand royalties, and administrative, legal, and political system costs. Measured productivity growth would be close to nil, but also irrelevant to improvement in human welfare."


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