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What We Read Today 01 August 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:

  • No Bubble in Stocks But Look Out When Bonds Pop, Greenspan Says

  • The Risks and Opportunities for Advisors in Cannabis

  • Dinosaur-era plant found alive in North America for first time

  • The World's Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge Is Open In The Swiss Alps

  • Geologists offer new clues to cause of world's greatest extinction

  • 16,700-Year-Old Tools Found in Texas Change Known History of North America

  • Evidence for Pre-Clovis Inhabitants of Americas Emerges from Sea Floor

  • English Translation of Udo Ulfkotte’s “Bought Journalists” Suppressed?

  • The truth about the lies of journalists

  • Controversial publicist Udo Ulfkotte is dead

  • Trump Linked To Fox News’ Bogus Seth Rich Story, Lawsuit Alleges

  • Advocates push senators to pass GI Bill expansion before summer recess

  • America’s uncompetitive markets harm its economy

  • Here Are the Places in the U.K. That Will Be Hit Hardest by Brexit 

  • Iran's economy a 'masterpiece of structural ambiguity'

  • Without reforms, Iranian banking crisis looms

  • Pence pledges support for Georgia, condemns Russian moves

  • Trump considers withdrawal from Afghanistan

  • The world's third-largest economy may be derailed by a rising political crisis

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • English Translation of Udo Ulfkotte’s “Bought Journalists” Suppressed? (Global Research)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  See also next two articles.  The English translation of German journalist Udo Ulfkotte’s best-selling book, Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists) appears to have been suppressed throughout North America and Europe.  On May 15, 2017 Next Revelation Press, an imprint of US-Canadian-based publisher Tayen Lane, released the English version of Bought Journalists, under the title, Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News.

Tayen Lane has since removed any reference to the title from its website. Correspondingly Amazon.com indicates the title is “currently unavailable,” with opportunities to purchase from independent sellers offering used copies for no less than $1309.09. The book’s subject matter and unexplained disappearance from the marketplace suggest how powerful forces are seeking to prevent its circulation.

  • The truth about the lies of journalists (KrautReporter)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.   The former FAZ editor Udo Ulfkotte claims that press freedom in Germany is only an illusion. His "revelation book" about alleged media manipulations is selling well, but is itself full of exaggerations, distortions and untruths.  This is a fact check.

  • Controversial publicist Udo Ulfkotte is dead (Spiegel Online)    Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  The former "FAZ" journalist and controversial book author Udo Ulfkotte is dead. He succumbed to a heart attack on Friday.  Ulfkotte was 56 years old.

U.S.

Rod Wheeler, an ex-police detective, private investigator and paid Fox News commentator, made the allegations in a suit filed against the network, parent company 21st Century Fox, Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman and Trump supporter Ed Butowsky.

In the lawsuit, first reported by NPR, Wheeler alleged that Zimmerman fabricated quotes as she and Butowsky worked to advance “a political agenda for the Trump administration.”

Wheeler, who said he was approached by Butowsky in February and later retained by the Rich family to investigate the murder, alleged that he never told Zimmerman he found evidence of an email exchange between Rich and WikiLeaks or that powerful entities were impeding the police investigation into the young staffer’s death in July 2016. 

UK

The researchers estimated that output in U.K. cities -- using a measure called gross value added -- will decline 2.3 percent on average, assuming a hard Brexit in which Britain trades with the European Union under World Trade Organization rules and tariffs. The drop under a soft Brexit, with a negotiated zero-tariff free-trade area but an increase in border controls and customs checks, was projected to be 1.2 percent lower.

Iran

  • Iran's economy a 'masterpiece of structural ambiguity' (Al Monitor)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  The economy dominated Iran’s recent presidential election. Hassan Rouhani, the incumbent, argued that integration into the global economy is the only path to prosperity and job creation, while his rivals accused his administration of having ignored the poor. Rouhani's opponents also promised to create millions of jobs, double the size of the economy and triple monthly cash payments to low-income families. In the end, most Iranian voters preferred Rouhani's path. Whether President Rouhani can deliver on his promises remains unclear, as does whether the head of government is powerful enough to realize any pledge to fundamentally revive the economy.

The distinct division between the public and private sectors of national economies as generally understood by economists does not apply in Iran. Iranian university professor Amrollah Ghadiri wrote in a May 1 editorial for the leading daily Donya-e Eqtesad, “It is time for us to separate the government as the executive branch from the state and organizations affiliated with the state in studying the economy.” In short, study of the impact of government policy must take into account the so-called quasi-state sector in Iran.

The quasi-state sector consists of businesses registered as private entities under Iran’s Commerce Code but in reality are either wholly or partially owned by actors like the military, foundations (bonyads) and pension funds. This sector has continuously expanded since the early 2000s, entering such areas of telecommunications and banking.

  • Without reforms, Iranian banking crisis looms (Al Monitor)  In Iran, concerns are growing that banks may be facing the same fate as credit and financial institutions (CFIs), many of which are believed to be on the verge of collapse. CFIs, many of them unlicensed, have caused major disruption in the Iranian financial system in the past decade. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) is under rising pressure from the parliament to immediately regulate these nonbank credit institutions, as an increasing number of depositors protest delays in the settlement of dues by a number of troubled CFIs. The situation has become so dire that the Supreme National Security Council has been dragged in. Now, there are fears that banks could be next. To avoid this scenario, pundits are suggesting that the CBI be granted more autonomy by the parliament so that it will take more serious disciplinary measures against all financial institutions when necessary.

Georgia

Afghanistan

  • Trump considers withdrawal from Afghanistan (Military Times)   The Pentagon is finding proposed troop increases for Afghanistan to be a much harder sell than expected for President Donald Trump.  Instead of an additional 4,000 forces to add to America’s longest war, the Pentagon is having to prove to the White House why U.S. forces should remain there at all, U.S. and defense officials told Military Times.

But The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the White House is now instead considering the option of withdrawing U.S. forces completely and potentially supplanting that presence with private contractors.

Officials confirmed the Journal’s story and said the consideration of a withdrawal is part of the reason why the administration’s plan for Afghanistan, known as the South Asia plan, has been delayed.

Japan

  • Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is facing a severe political scandal and it's not clear if he can survive the rest of his term, raising questions over the future of Abenomics

  • Abe is now expected to prioritize his image instead of long-awaited structural reforms

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

  • Dinosaur-era plant found alive in North America for first time (Phys.org)  Richard McCourt, associate curator of Botany at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and professor in the University's College of Arts and Sciences, and colleagues have discovered Lychnothamnus barbatus, a large green alga in14 lakes across Wisconsin—as well as two in Minnesota—between 2012 and 2016.  Tthe only previous record of Lychnothamnus barbatus on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean were Argentinian Cretaceous-era fossils (the same period from which Tyrannosaurus rex fossils are discovered).  The plants have been found in Europe and Australasia (the area of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea).

  • The World's Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge Is Open In The Swiss Alps (Vocativ)  The 1,600-foot-long (nearly 1/4 mile) bridge is nestled in the heart of the Alps, connecting a hiking trail between the towns of Grachen and Zermatt. Known as "Europaweg," the well-known path for hikers is famous for its panoramic views of the Matterhorn, Weisshorn and Bernese Alps. Now that the suspension bridge reached 300 feet from the ground at its highest point, the views are about to get even more breathtaking.

  • The Risks and Opportunities for Advisors in Cannabis (Wealth Management)  As more states legalize marijuana, investment assets are pouring into a diverse range of businesses. And where assets go, financial advisors will follow.  But marijuana remains an illegal substance according to federal law, making it tricky for advisors looking to help cannabis entrepreneurs, or clients looking for investment opportunities.  Marie Thomasson, a fee-only financial planner in Los Angeles, who also serves as a consultant to people working in the legal cannabis industry, says:

In the next few years, regardless of who is in the administration or what Jeff Sessions thinks about cannabis, it’s moving forward. The tax revenue is just such a juicy proposition that I don’t know how city and state governments, once they start getting this revenue through the door, are going to be able to turn it down. I see it as a matter of time, and not that much time.

It’s an emerging asset class. When you talk about alpha, it’s there. The profit opportunity isn’t now, it’s in two or three years.

  • Geologists offer new clues to cause of world's greatest extinction (Phys.org)  Long before the great extinction which ended tha age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, an even greater mass extinction occurred 252 million years ago, known as "the End-Permian Mass Extinction".  Data collected from a 500,000 sq. mile igneous area in Russia called the Siberian Traps indicates that extreme heat, involved in the formation of the sills from extruded magma, dispelled massive amounts of greenhouse gases from hydrocarbons trapped within the earth (coals, oils, hydrocarbon gases, etc.) during a relatively short time period (geologically speaking) of several thousand years.  Econintersect:  This article does not use the terminology but we would suggest this might be called the mother of all climate change episodes".

  • 16,700-Year-Old Tools Found in Texas Change Known History of North America (Ancient Origins)  Archaeologists in Texas have found a set of 16,700-year-old tools which are among the oldest discovered in the West. Until now, it was believed that the culture that represented the continent’s first inhabitants was the Clovis culture. However, the discovery of the ancient tools now challenges that theory, providing evidence that human occupation precedes the arrival of the Clovis people by thousands of years.  According to the Western Digs , archeologists discovered the tools about half an hour north of Austin in Texas, at the site called Gault. They were located a meter deep in water-logged silty clay. The site contained more than 90 stone tools and some human remains including fragments of teeth which were age-dated by radio-carbon testing.  The pre-Clovis artifacts include more than 90 stone tools, such as bifaces and blades, and more than 160,000 flakes left over from the point-making process.  See also next article.

  • Evidence for Pre-Clovis Inhabitants of Americas Emerges from Sea Floor (Ancient Origins)  A fisherman inadvertently dragged up  a 22,000-year-old mastodon skull and a flaked blade made of a volcanic rock called rhyolite. A report in Live Science says that the combination of the finds may suggest that people lived in North America, and possibly butchered the mastodon, thousands of years before people from the Clovis culture, who are widely thought to be the first settlers of North America and the ancestors of all living Native Americans.  The earliest artifacts recovered from the Clovis people are less than 15,000 years old.


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