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What We Read Today 19 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".).


Every day most of this column ("What We Read Today") is available only to GEI members.

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Topics today include:

  • Alzheimer's may be detected early, via eye exam

  • Who is out of the labor force?

  • Unwed Mothers in the U.S.

  • This is how a universal basic income can end financial exclusion

  • The Terrifying End of the Universe

  • When renegotiating NAFTA, Trump should re-evaluate his premises on international trade

  • The Memo: GOP fears damage done by Trump

  • Steve Bannon to target Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner as he pledges to 'go nuclear' on 'West Wing Democrats'

  • Stop talking Britain down, Remainers: We hold the aces, and the EU is desperate for a deal

  • Erdogan urges Turks in Germany to reject Merkel, saying her party is 'the enemy'

  • Activists protest in Germany against neo-Nazi vigil for Hitler ally

  • German critic of Turkey's Erdogan arrested in Spain

  • Doklam effect? How India plans to make going tough for Chinese firms

  • Not a Drop to Drink

  • Doklam standoff: China’s bullying tactics belie super power image

  • American Analyst Describes Why China is Worried About Rising India

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


 Here’s a fact: All advanced economies lost jobs in their manufacturing sector, regardless of whether they were running a trade surplus or a deficit. The U.S. is not the exception, but the rule. While the U.S. lost 5 million jobs in manufacturing since NAFTA was signed, it increased its manufacturing output by $800 billion. Thus, this additional data point that Trump has ignored all along hints at a very, if not the most, important point: The vast majority of American jobs that vanished in manufacturing were lost to higher productivity. On average, American workers are able to produce 50 percent more today than they did in the early 1990s. Thus, most of these jobs weren’t lost to Mexico or any other country. They were lost to increases in productivity.

  • The Memo: GOP fears damage done by Trump (The Hill)  As a week dominated by President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., draws to a close, many Republicans are worried that serious damage has been done to their party.  Specifically, they argue that Trump may have set back by years efforts to make the GOP more appealing to an increasingly diverse American electorate.

  • Steve Bannon to target Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner as he pledges to 'go nuclear' on 'West Wing Democrats' (The Telegraph)  Steve Bannon, the ousted White House chief strategist, is reportedly considering starting a television network which would allow him to "go nuclear" as he settles vendettas with moderate advisers in the White House and pressures President Donald Trump to pursue a populist agenda of economic nationalism.  Allies of Mr Bannon compared him to a "tiger freed from his cage",  suggesting things would get "ugly" as he targets the Republican establishment and what he calls "West Wing Democrats".


The plain fact is Britain is under no legal obligation at all to pay anything to the EU and, if we do come to a financial arrangement, it should be a straightforward business transaction.

The whole idea that Brexit involves a "divorce" is a highly dodgy metaphor. We're not married to our neighbours.


  • Erdogan urges Turks in Germany to reject Merkel, saying her party is 'the enemy' (The Telegraph)  urkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats were enemies of Turkey and called on Turks in Germany to vote against major parties in next month's elections.  Germany has voiced concern that Mr Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to quash dissent. Mr Erdogan, an authoritarian leader whose roots are in political Islam, has accused Germany of anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim sentiment.  There are about 3 million Turks with German citizenship.

  • Activists protest in Germany against neo-Nazi vigil for Hitler ally (Reuters)  Anti-fascist activists gathered in the Berlin suburb of Spandau on Saturday to protest against a vigil by about 250 neo-Nazis commemorating the 30th anniversary of the death of Nazi convict Rudolf Hess.  The neo-Nazis planned a march from the suburb's station to the former Spandau Prison where Hess, an early ally of Germany's wartime dictator Adolf Hitler, served out the life sentence he was handed down at the post-war Nuremberg war crimes trials.  Reuters does not say how many anti-Nazis demonstrated.


  • German critic of Turkey's Erdogan arrested in Spain (Reuters)   German-Turkish author Dogan Akhanli was arrested in Spain on Saturday after Turkey issued an Interpol warrant for the writer, a critic of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Der Spiegel magazine reported.  Ties between Ankara and Berlin have been increasingly strained in the aftermath of last year's failed coup in Turkey as Turkish authorities have sacked or suspended 150,000 people and detained more than 50,000, including other German nationals.  Akhanli's lawyer Ilias Uyar told Der Spiegel:

"[The arrest of the German national was part of a] targeted hunt against critics of the Turkish government living abroad in Europe." 


  • Doklam effect? How India plans to make going tough for Chinese firms (The Economic Times)  Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni.  Thousands of kilometres away from Doklam (in the 'tricorner boundary region' of China, India and Bhutan) where Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a tense standoff, the Centre is quietly working on a plan that could hit the 'dragon' where it hurts the most. India is redrafting, and in some cases tightening, rules for business in sensitive sectors such as power, telecom and electrical equipment supplies, making it difficult for Chinese firms to enter and compete for contracts in the same.   See also Doklam article under China.

  • Not a Drop to Drink (University of Cambridge Research)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  A major research collaboration is looking at how small towns in the hills of India and Nepal are coping with increasing demand for water: who wins and who loses when resources get scarce?  Unwise development and climate change are combining to reduce India's water resources.  Indoa is a wet country but much of the rainfall arrives during the 2-3 months of monsoon so management of that bounty is critical.  In the longer run, diminished run-off from shrinking Himalayan glaciers will reduce water availablity in northern India and Nepal.  (Of course all of the major rivers of southeast Asia start with melting glaciers in the Himalayas so water resources for that region are also at peril, but that is another story.)  Rural India has particular challenges with water resources, which are discussed in detail.  Pictured below is a rural reservoir in Nainital, northern India.


  • Doklam standoff: China’s bullying tactics belie super power image (The Economic Times)  The Dokalam standoff has reiterated the fact that China lacks the sense and poise of a ‘great power’ even though it wants to project itself as a rising power that wants to replace the US as a superpower.  The country through various ways — a recent video in the staterun Xinhua news agency, articles in the state-run Global Times and through statements of Deputy Director General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs Wang Wenli and spokespersons of foreign and defence ministries — has given the impression that it is nothing but a small-time bully against India.  A recent video released by Xinhua on India’s role in Dokalam is similar to classroom videos in the West, and reflects the desperation that has probably set in the Chinese establishment following India’s firm stand on issue. The video is not only in poor taste but can actually be counter-productive and inspire anti-China sentiments. 

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

  • Alzheimer's may be detected early, via eye exam (New Atlas)  Presently, for a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, doctors have to perform a PET scan of patients' brains. Not only is it expensive, but it also requires the patient to be injected with radioactive tracers. Soon, however, a simple eye scan may be all that's required – and it could catch the disease sooner than ever before.

Considered to be one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's, plaques made up of a protein known as beta-amyloid form in victims' brains, where they damage and destroy brain cells. These plaques are what the PET scans are looking for.

However, building on a previous study, a team from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has discovered that these same protein deposits also occur on the retina (in the back of the eye) – the amount of plaque found there correlates with the amount of plaque in specific areas of the brain. That said, the eye scans should be able to detect the condition years before patients experience any actual symptoms.


Ultimately, there’s a symbiotic relationship between electronic universal basic income payments and broader financial inclusion. Electronic UBI payments can bring unbanked adults into the formal financial sector; greater financial inclusion can lay the groundwork for the introduction of more efficient government payments.

Click for large image.

  • The Terrifying End of the Universe (Twitter)  Actually, this piece from Business Insider describes two possible ends to the universe.  One is a whimper (the universe expands into almost infinitely separated black holes which then evaporate); the other is a bang (where the number of black holes increases to a point where extreme gravity rips every atom in the universe to sub-nuclear shreds).

Click to watch video at Twitter.

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