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What We Read Today 16 September 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:

  • Awakenings for Those Living in Bubbles

  • Card Sharks: ATM skimming grows more sophisticated

  • Social Media's Fake Accounts Problem

  • Reports of Civilian Casualties in the War Against ISIS Are Vastly Inflated

  • States to Trump: Leave Retirement Rule Intact or We’ll Act

  • New Record for U.S. Loans

  • Which States are the Happiest?

  • The staggering numbers behind the world's closest trade relationship

  • European Glyphosate Safety Report Copy-Pasted Monsanto Study

  • London Tube bombing: Police make 'significant arrest' of 18-year-old

  • On the Edge of Afghanistan

  • Aung San Suu Kyi, The Ignoble Laureate

  • Seismologists Stumped by Mystery Shock after North Korea Nuclear Test

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world



  • States to Trump: Leave Retirement Rule Intact or We’ll Act (The Wall Street Journal)  President Trump's consideration of weakening or abandoning federal fiduciary responsibility rules is getting active responses from some states.  The controversy over a rule restricting conflicted retirement advice is shifting to states, which are moving to bolster investor protections out of concern the Trump administration will weaken the federal provision.  In recent months both Nevada and Connecticut governors signed bills expanding or amplifying fiduciary responsibility for brokers.  Similar legislation is in process in New York, New Jersey and other states.

  • New Record for U.S. Loans (The Daily Shot)  U.S. loan issuance is expected to hit a new record this year.

  • Which States are the Happiest? (Travel and Leisure)  According to a study released this week, the happiest state in America is Minnesota.  The study, by WalletHub, examined all 50 states across 28 different categories to determine where people are most likely to report higher levels of happiness and satisfaction.  Although Minnesota did not place highest for any single category, it was consistently among the top. There were three primary areas of analysis, including well-being (both emotional and physical), work environment, and community and environment. The top states ranked highly in lowest rates of adult depression, fewest work hours, and safety.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, West Virginia was named the least happy state in the country. The next least-happiest states were Oklahoma and Louisiana.  The top ten:

  1. Minnesota

  2. Utah

  3. Hawaii

  4. California

  5. Nebraska

  6. New Jersey

  7. South Dakota

  8. Iowa

  9. Wisconsin

  10. New Hampshire

  • The staggering numbers behind the world's closest trade relationship (World Economic Forum)  There are many examples of strong and mutually-beneficial trade relationships all throughout history, but one doesn’t have to look far back to find what could be considered the closest bilateral relationship ever known: the one between the United States and Canada.  These two countries are each other’s best customers, and they share the world’s longest international border (5,525 miles long). They are both Western democracies with shared cultural heritage and similar standards of living – and each day, the two countries exchange a whopping US$1.7 billion in goods and services.  First table below is what Canada buys from the U.S.  Second chart is what the U.S. buys from Canada.

Click for large image.


  • European Glyphosate Safety Report Copy-Pasted Monsanto Study (EcoWatch)  Two years ago, the debate over glyphosate's link to cancer took a surprising turn when the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) infamously rejected the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer's March 2015 classification of the weedkiller as a possible carcinogen.  However, new reporting from The Guardian reveals that the European agency's recommendation that the chemical is safe for public use was based on an EU report that directly lifted large sections of text from a study conducted by Monsanto, the manufacturer of glyphosate-based Roundup.


  • UK police arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with the bombing of the London Tube on Friday

  • At least 29 people were injured in the blast, which did not cause any fatalities

  • Videos and images have poured in through a police website, and police have spoken to 45 witnesses as part of their investigation


  • On the Edge of Afghanistan (Foreign Policy)  A decimated economy, a resurgent Taliban, and growing tensions with Iran are driving disenchanted Afghans to seek opportunities abroad. And for many it’s their only option.  In the picture below, Afghans walk through a sandstorm, away from the border crossing with Iran, after being deported on July 13, 2016. Figures on the number of Afghans traveling illegally to Iran, where work is easier to find and they are better paid, are nonexistent, but approximately 1,000 Afghans are currently being deported from Iran, daily.


  • Aung San Suu Kyi, The Ignoble Laureate (The New Yorker)  Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize winner,  now the de-facto leader of her country, has remained silent about a crisis described this week by the U.N.’s human-rights chief as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

North Korea

  • Seismologists Stumped by Mystery Shock after North Korea Nuclear Test (Scientific American)  A second jolt felt minutes after this month's detonation continues to confound researchers.  Eight-and-a-half minutes after North Korea set off a nuclear bomb on September 3, a second burst of energy shook the mountain where the test had just occurred. More than a week later, researchers are still puzzling over what caused that extra release of seismic energy—and what it says about North Korea’s nuclear-testing site, or the risks of a larger radiation leak. Monitoring stations in South Korea have already picked up minute levels of radiation from the test.

A number of theories have emerged to explain the second event, ranging from a tunnel collapse or a landslide to a splintering of the rock inside Mount Mantap, the testing site. But seismologists can’t agree and say that they may not get enough evidence to pin down the cause.

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

Awakenings (The truth about money)  This is an interesting essay about living in bubbles.  The author also seems to live in one or more bubbles but that doesn't detract from the essay.

Card Sharks: ATM skimming grows more sophisticated (CNBC)  Would you know if a criminal stole your card information when you swiped at the ATM, or even a gas pump?  ATM skimming, or using a device to steal debit information, is on the rise and getting more sophisticated. Authorities discovered three ATM skimmers in gas stations in Ohio and one in a bank in Florida in the past month.

  • Card skimming is getting more common and sophisticated, costing more than $2 billion a year in fraudulent charges.

  • Areas of the Internet known as the "dark web" offer technology and instructions on how to use the machines.

Social Media's Fake Accounts Problem (Seeking Alpha)  Not only are individuals creating multiple accounts, there’s also evidence that companies, organization, and countries are already using Facebook and Twitter for nefarious purposes by creating fake accounts and pages as well as purchasing ads to spread certain political messages. For example, a Russian company was recently found to have purchased $100,000 worth of ads as well as created 470 fake accounts or pages to spread certain political views. How widespread are these practices and as they are uncovered and shut down what effect will that have on reported growth rates?

  • As advertising moves online issues with Twitter and Facebook are coming to the forefront.

  • There is evidence Twitter may be vastly understating its fake account levels.

  • Facebook seems to have issues reliably calculating various metrics for advertisers.

  • Above average market multiples make both stocks susceptible to advertising growth rate slowing.

  • Twitter active account numbers have stopped growing.

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