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What We Read Today 26 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:

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • GOP leader: Senate could pass scaled-down ObamaCare repeal (The Hill)  Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) indicated Wednesday that is it likely the Senate will try to pass a scaled-down ObamaCare repeal bill as a way to move to negotiations with the House.  The No. 2 Senate Republican told reporters Wednesday that a scaled-down, "skinny" bill "seems to have a lot of benefits, getting us to conference".

  • EPA's Scott Pruitt touring states to push reversal of Obama water rule (Washington Examiner)  Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt visited South Carolina Monday as part of a multistate tour to promote his effort to redo the Obama administration's contentious Waters of the U.S. rule.  The rule expanded the EPA's jurisdiction over waterways to include ditches and watering holes, making a wider range of stakeholders, from farmers to natural gas drillers, subject to the agency's authority. Pruitt initiated the WOTUS review earlier this month. Halting the regulation was part of an executive order that President Trump signed soon after taking office in January.  Pruitt said:

"The Trump administration and EPA are committed to empowering agriculture and business leaders who have been burdened with overreaching regulations that do little to promote environmental stewardship.  By beginning the process to redefine WOTUS, we are providing regulatory certainty for South Carolinians while working together with the state to keep our waters clean."


  • Psychiatry group tells members they can ignore ‘Goldwater rule’ and comment on Trump’s mental health (Stat)   Hat tip to The Surly Zone.  A leading psychiatry group has told its members they should not feel bound by a longstanding rule against commenting publicly on the mental state of public figures — even the president.  The statement, an email this month from the executive committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association to its 3,500 members, represents the first significant crack in the profession’s decades-old united front aimed at preventing experts from discussing the psychiatric aspects of politicians’ behavior. It will likely make many of its members feel more comfortable speaking openly about President Trump’s mental health.   Psychoanalytic association past president Dr. Prudence Gourguechon, a psychiatrist in Chicago, said:

The impetus for the email was “belief in the value of psychoanalytic knowledge in explaining human behavior.  We don’t want to prohibit our members from using their knowledge responsibly.”

  • Trump targets Murkowski after healthcare votes (The Hill)  President Trump early Wednesday targeted Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) after her votes a day earlier on healthcare.  Murkowski on Tuesday joined senate Democrats in voting against a procedural measure to begin debate on healthcare legislation.

She and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted against the measure, which passed by a razor-thin margin and marked a step forward in the Republicans' efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Murkowski also voted against a key proposal repealing and replacing ObamaCare later in the day.

Senators voted 43-57 on a procedural hurdle for the measure that included the GOP repeal-and-replace bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, as well as proposals from GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rob Portman (Ohio). 



  • Europe Warns Against Tightened U.S. Sanctions on Russia (The Atlantic)  The European Union is pushing back against the House-approved measure to strengthen sanctions against Russia, arguing “America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last”.  The U.S. House of Representatives approved the measure 419-3 on Tuesday, paving the way for the Senate to approve a similar proposal, which it is expected to do, setting up a showdown with the White House. The measure is especially controversial because not only does it tighten sanctions against Russia for its election interference and invasion of Crimea, but it mandates that the president consult with it before waiving the punitive measures; at present the president can waive sanctions determined to be detrimental to U.S. interests.  Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, said in a statement:

“The U.S. bill could have unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU’s energy security interests.  This is why the Commission concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days.”


  • U.K. Seeking to Fill Climate Leadership Void Left by Trump (Bloomberg)  See also next article. Britain should seek to fill the leadership void created by Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the landmark Paris Agreement, Climate Change Minister Claire Perry said Monday.  While Prime Minister Theresa May has been criticized by some environmental groups for failing to speak out over the U.S. president’s June 1 decision to step back from the 2015 Paris deal, Perry said U.K. ministers “haven’t missed an opportunity” to express their disappointment over the news.

Perry said that as well as head of state discussions, she has also been having talks with “other players” in the U.S. who are seeking to ensure the U.S. delivers on its carbon reduction commitments. Last week the mayor of Houston visited the U.K. and discussed climate opportunities, she said.

  • U.K. Joins France, Says Goodbye to Fossil-Fuel Cars by 2040 (Bloomberg)  The U.K. became the latest European country to mark the end of the line for diesel and gasoline fueled cars as automakers such as Volvo race to build electric vehicles or face the consequences of getting left behind.  In London, the government said it will ban sales of the vehicles by 2040, two weeks after France announced a similar plan to reduce air pollution and become a carbon-neutral nation. For some in the auto industry, the plans are too much too soon while environmental campaigners say exactly the opposite.  See also The Electric Car Revolution Is Accelerating.


The U.S.-Russia agreement on a ceasefire in southwestern Syria, hailed by President Trump as one of the seminal achievements of his bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hamburg, will serve as an early test of Russia’s willingness to work with the Trump administration in Syria. Unfortunately, the agreement leaves open many questions about implementation, and, judging by past practice, is likely to be abused by Russia to help the Assad regime consolidate power. Like the agreement on a collaborative cybersecurity unit, it is just one more indication of how Putin ate Trump’s lunch (or was it dinner?) at the G20 summit.


  • The Meaning of India's 'Beef Lynchings' (The Atlantic)  Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni. The rise in anti-Muslim violence under Modi suggests that the demons of the country’s past are very much alive.  Lynching is an old crime in India, often committed against those of so-called lower castes and marginalized tribes, in order to reinforce brutal social hierarchies. But dozens of news reports over the last two years indicate a dramatic rise in a specific kind of mob murder: the so-called “beef lynchings” of Muslims.


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

  • The Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger Show (Vitaliy Katsenelson, Institutional Investor)  VK has contributed to GEI.  VK essentially says that to disregard everything Warren Buffett says because he has a cult following is a mistake.  Here he reviews what he took away from this year's Omaha show.

  • It’s High Time for Ticks, Which Are Spreading Diseases Farther (The New York Times)  More ticks, more varieties of ticks and ever widening ranges are resulting in humans with an increasing amount of tick-born disease:

Originally from the Southeast, the lone star tick, for example, is heading north; it can now be found in 1,300 counties in 39 states. The blacklegged tick, also called the deer tick, is expanding its territory, too. In a recent study, Dr. Eisen reported a nearly 45 percent increase since 1998 in the number of counties with blacklegged ticks.

The government issued the company, which mines all of its gold in the African country, with a $40 billion tax bill and another $150 billion in interest and penalties, Acacia said in a statement Monday. The charge covers alleged under-declared export revenues from the Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi mines over periods between 2000 and 2017.

Acacia reiterated that it has fully declared all revenues. The stock sank as much as 17 percent on Tuesday to the lowest since December 2013. In just three days, the company has lost 42 percent of its value.

“We found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand…whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”

According to provisional 2016 population data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, the number of births fell 1 percent from a year earlier, bringing the general fertility rate to 62.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. The trend is being driven by a decline in birthrates for teens and 20-somethings. The birthrate for women in their 30s and 40s increased — but not enough to make up for the lower numbers in their younger peers.


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