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What We Read Today 03 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:

  • European media writing pro-US stories under CIA pressure - German journo

  • Reporter Udo Ulfkotte, Who Exposed Governments Creating Fake News War Propaganda, Found Dead

  • Tesla Finishes First Solar Roofs—Including Elon's House

  • Rabbit ears are back! Antenna sales back on the rise as millennials are shocked to discover broadcast TV is FREE

  • A Dinosaur So Well Preserved It Looks Like a Statue

  • West Virginia's Democratic governor will flip to Republican Party

  • Trump Has Quietly Accomplished More than You Might Know

  • Senate Confirms Surgeon General, Other HHS Picks

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller Reportedly Assembles Grand Jury, Ramping Up Russia Probe

  • Blackwater founder wants to boost the Afghan air war with his private air force

  • Pulitzer-Prize Winning Reporter: FBI Report Shows It Was Seth Rich – Not Russians – Who Gave DNC Emails to Wikileaks 

  • NSA Officials and Computer Expert: Forensic Evidence Proves DNC Emails Were LEAKED, Not Hacked

  • Russia Hacking Allegations Driven By a Serial Liar

  • Leaked Transcripts Show How Foreign Leaders Manipulate Trump

  • ‘This deal will make me look terrible’: Full transcripts of Trump’s calls with Mexico and Australia

  • 5 Egregious Moments From Trump’s Leaked Phone Calls With World Leaders

  • Trump critics say latest leaks go too far

  • Italy's Youth Unemployment Problem

  • Operations in Iraq more extensive than officials let on

  • The Russians Are Glad Trump Detests the New Sanctions

  • Brazil’s Temer Escapes Corruption Trial to Focus on Economy

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


Justice, a coal magnate and the wealthiest man in West Virginia, first won office last year. Before announcing his candidacy, he was wooed by both Democrats and Republicans. Ultimately, he opted to run as a Democrat.

Justice’s party switch is a slap in the face to the Democratic Governors Association, which spent more than $1 million to try to get Justice elected in 2016. The Republican Governors Association spent $3.7 million backing his GOP rival.

  • Trump Has Quietly Accomplished More than You Might Know (The Atlantic)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  The chaos, legislative fumbling, and legal jeopardy should not obscure the ways that the administration is remaking federal policy in consequential ways.  With the Trump administration’s chaos sucking up all the attention, it’s been able to move forward on a range of its priorities, which tend to be more focused on regulatory matters anyway. It is remaking the justice system, rewriting environmental rules, overhauling public-lands administration, and greenlighting major infrastructure projects. It is appointing figures who will guarantee the triumph of its ideological vision for decades to come, especially on the environment and criminal justice.

  • Senate Confirms Surgeon General, Other HHS Picks (Medscape)  The US Senate has approved Jerome Adams, MD, to be the next surgeon general.  The senators also approved Elinore McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, as the assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, a new position that has been called the mental health "czar"; Lance Robertson as assistant secretary for aging; Brett Giroir, MD, as assistant secretary for health; and  Robert Kadlec, MD, as assistant secretary for preparedness and response.

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller Reportedly Assembles Grand Jury, Ramping Up Russia Probe (The Huffington Post)  Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury as part of his investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in last year’s election, sources tell The Wall Street Journal.  The report follows Mueller stepping up the probe by hiring several high-powered lawyers. Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Greg Andres, a former Justice Department attorney who specialized in corruption and bribery cases, joined the investigation.

Sources tell Reuters that “grand jury subpoenas have been issued related to [a] June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Russian lawyers and others.” Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, met with a Russian lawyer last summer after being promised information that was part of a Russian government effort to benefit Trump and would “incriminate” Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton.

Mueller’s probe is one of several government investigations into possible collusion. In addition, it is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice.

  • Blackwater founder wants to boost the Afghan air war with his private air force (Military Times)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  Erik Prince, the former CEO of the private military company known as Blackwater, wants to step up the Afghan air war with a private air force capable of intelligence collection and close-air support, according to a recent proposal submitted to the Afghan government.

According to a senior Afghan military official, Prince has submitted a business proposal offering a “turn-key composite air wing” to help the fledgling Afghan air force in its fight against the Taliban and other militant groups.  

The development comes as the White House is considering a plan to draw down the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and replace the ensuing power vacuum with contractors.

Pentagon officials are skeptical of that plan. Moreover, a senior Afghan defense official told Military Times that U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has refused to meet with Prince regarding the contractor plan.

“This is beyond the pale and will have a chilling effect going forward on the ability of the commander in chief to have candid discussions with his counterparts.”  


Click for large image.


  • Operations in Iraq more extensive than officials let on (Military Times)  Officially there were "typically" about 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq last year.  Records reported here indicate there were actually 100,000 personnel "in and out of Iraq" last year.  Watch video below:


  • The Russians Are Glad Trump Detests the New Sanctions (The Atlantic)  When President Donald Trump finally signed the new congressionally mandated Russia sanctions into law on Wednesday, Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, announced that the Kremlin wouldn’t implement any new retaliatory measures to mark the signing.  Why retaliate against the new American sanctions when the American president has done it for you?

Russia has seized on Trump’s criticism. And it’s not just Russian state television, which is gleefully reporting that Trump “has noted that the law is unconstitutional” and that Europe is against these sanctions. (Peeling Europe away from the United States has long been a goal of Putin’s.)

Russian officials are also citing Trump’s disapproval. Valery Vasiliev, the deputy head of the economic policy committee in the upper house of Russian parliament, noted that “Trump isn’t pleased” with the sanctions. “Even the president of the U.S. said that the law is not a good one,” said Igor Sechin, a close Putin ally and Russia’s oil czar. “He objected but he signed it. What else is there to say? Of course it’s not a good law, they all get it.”

The most remarkable commentary came from prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, who was once the president before he was unceremoniously moved aside by Putin in 2012. The sanctions law, he wrote on Facebook, “ends hopes for improving our relations with the new US administration. … The Trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way.”


  • Brazil’s Temer Escapes Corruption Trial to Focus on Economy (Bloomberg)  Brazil President Michel Temer has survived a massive corruption scandal with a victory in the lower house that allows him to cling to power and focus back on the economy.  Temer allies on Wednesday defeated the motion that would have put him on trial and forced him to step aside, with 263 against 227 votes. The result paves the way for Temer to ride out his term next year and at least temporarily pivot his attention toward economic reforms needed to fix Brazil’s battered public finances.

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

  • European media writing pro-US stories under CIA pressure - German journo (YouTube)  Hat tips to Roger Erickson and Veronica Shelford.  German journalist and editor Udo Ulfkotte says he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, adding that noncompliance ran the risk of being fired. Ulfkotte made the revelations during interviews with RT and Russia Insider.  See also next article.

As Ulfkotte became increasingly upset at news reports sourced from false government information, he began publishing a magazine called Whistleblower, which reports on topics not covered by the German media. He also wrote multiple books on the subject during the 2000s.

Ulfkotte is best known to international viewers from select appearances on Russia Today, specifically an October 2014 interview about his book Bought Journalists, in which he discussed the epidemic of propaganda in mainstream media news reports and the increased anti-Russia sentiment being generated. He also discussed the heavy influence on international news from American, Israeli and other Western intelligence agencies.

  • Tesla Finishes First Solar Roofs—Including Elon's House (Bloomberg)  Tesla opened up its online store in May and began taking $1,000 deposits for smooth black and textured-glass roof tiles that are virtually indistinguishable from high-end roofing. From most viewing angles, the slick modern shingles look like standard materials, but they allow light to pass through onto a solar cell embedded beneath a tempered surface.  Tesla has completed its first solar roof installations, the company reported Wednesday as part of a second-quarter earnings report. The first solar roof customers are Tesla employees.  The costs are coming in lower than traditional roofs with solar panels installed on top.

  • Dan Sisco discovered the limits of online streaming when he invited his friends over to watch the Super Bowl in 2014 and missed out on the advertisements

  • He invested in a $20 antenna in time for the 2015 Super Bowl, saying: ' I was just kind of surprised that this is technology that exists. It's been awesome'

  • A shocking 29 percent of Americans are unaware that local TV stations are free, according to the National Association of Broadcasters

  • A federal legislation in 2009 forcing broadcasters to switch from analog signals to high-definition digital transmissions has confused people of all ages 

  • While old TVs were unable to receive the new digital signals, it didn't mean they were gone completely, like many assumed

In March 2011, a construction worker named Shawn Funk visited an impressive dinosaur collection at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta. As he walked through halls full of ancient bones, he had no idea that a week later, he’d add to their ranks by finding one of the most spectacular dinosaur fossils of all time. It’s an animal so well preserved that its skeleton can’t be seen for the skin and soft tissues that still cover it.


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