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What We Read Today 19 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:

  • Technically Speaking: The Danger Of Performance Chasing

  • The Trumps Say They’re Opening Hotels in Dallas, Nashville and Elsewhere. We Couldn’t Find Evidence of Them.

  • This Surprising New Model of The Universe Doesn't Need Dark Energy at All

  • 20 New Science Papers Find Climate Is Driven By Solar Changes

  • Category 5 Hurricane Maria closes in on Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico

  • Maria Hits Dominica and Continues - 19Sep2017

  • Groundhog Day for Obamacare Repeal

  • The Graham-Cassidy Obamacare Repeal Bill Still Covers Fewer People

  • Three Democratic congressmen arrested at Trump tower Daca protests

  • Trump Jr. asks Secret Service to scale back his protection

  • Committee to Investigate Russia: War

  • US, South Korea, China and Russia Practice for War off Coast of North Korea

  • Trump at UN: US may 'have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea'

  • For first time in 300 years, no one is living on Barbuda

  • Brazilian judge approves 'gay conversion therapy', sparking national outrage

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • Category 5 Hurricane Maria closes in on Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico (CNN)   See also - Sig Silber is tracking Maria with frequent updates - the latest:  Maria Hits Dominica and Continues - 19Sep2017.  Hurricane Maria's destructive tear across the Caribbean is well underway, with the Category 5 storm obliterating parts of Dominica, killing at least one person in Guadeloupe and threatening "catastrophic" damage to Puerto Rico within 24 hours.  Maria strengthened once again Tuesday afternoon and is now hurling 165 mph (265 kph) winds as it moves in on St. Croix.  Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Tuesday:

"No generation has seen a hurricane like this since San Felipe II in 1928.  This is an unprecedented atmospheric system."

Click for large image.

U.S.

  • Groundhog Day for Obamacare Repeal (The Atlantic)  The GOP is still missing the crucial 50th Senate vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. But a looming deadline is providing new momentum, and the legislation has advanced from no-shot to long-shot.  See also next article.

  • The Graham-Cassidy Obamacare Repeal Bill Still Covers Fewer People (The Atlantic)  The new Affordable Care Act replacement currently making rounds in the Senate looks different than previous efforts, but the fundamentals are still the same: fewer funds, fewer rules, and fewer people covered.

  • Three Democratic congressmen arrested at Trump tower Daca protests (The Guardian)  Three Democratic members of Congress were arrested outside Trump Tower on Tuesday, at a protest against the president’s cancellation of protections for so-called Dreamers, undocumented migrants brought to the US as children.  

Representatives Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois and Adriano Espaillat of New York were among a small group of demonstrators who sat down in the street on Fifth Avenue and refused to move.

The Democratic speaker of New York’s city council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, was also handcuffed and led away. An aide to Gutiérrez said there were 10 arrests in total.

  • Trump Jr. asks Secret Service to scale back his protection (CNN)  Donald Trump Jr. is seeking to scale back his Secret Service protection, four sources familiar with Trump Jr.'s Secret Service protection confirmed Monday.  The President's eldest son previously requested to travel without protection during a family trip to Nassau, Bahamas, in late June, a move reluctantly accepted by the Secret Service. Trump Jr. and his family traveled aboard a yacht for several days without his full detail, CNN has learned. A law enforcement source stressed the request to pull back on protection did not come from the agency.

The Secret Service strongly pushed back on Trump Jr.'s request to waive protection for the Bahamas trip, according to two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, but it was "demanded" by Trump Jr. himself. Now, the President's eldest son has asked that his full-time protection end, as well. The Secret Service would not confirm the request.

Russia

Russian exercises have a habit of becoming real. The Kavkaz (“Caucasus”) maneuvers in 2008 were basically a dry run for the invasion of Georgia. The last version of Zapad in 2013 preceded Russian action against Ukraine. The most notorious exercise of all was in 1981, when massive maneuvers were used to intimidate Communist Poland into suppressing the Solidarity movement. The fear this time is that Russian troops might manufacture an excuse to stay behind. In which case, the same scenario of nationalist extremists could be used as an excuse to “save” Belarus President Lukashenko or even depose him. The official figure of only 12,700 soldiers involved would not be enough to occupy Belarus, but other estimates are 10 times as high.

North Korea

“The U.S. military staged bombing drills with South Korea over the Korean peninsula and Russia and China began naval exercises ahead of a U.N. General Assembly meeting on Tuesday where North Korea’s nuclear threat is likely to loom large.  The flurry of military drills came after Pyongyang fired another mid-range ballistic missile over Japan on Friday and the reclusive North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3 in defiance of United Nations sanctions and other international pressure.”

  • President gives debut speech to general assembly and threatens Pyongyang

  • On Kim: ‘Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for him and his regime’

Barbuda

  • For first time in 300 years, no one is living on Barbuda (CNN)  When Hurricane Irma ravaged the island of Barbuda in the Caribbean, the ferocious storm "extinguished" the isle's way of life and left the beautiful spot "uninhabitable".  And, now, for the first time in a few centuries, no one lives there.  Ronald Sanders, the Antigua and Barbuda ambassador to the United States, told Public Radio International:

"The damage is complete.  It's a humanitarian disaster.  For the first time in 300 years, there's not a single living person on the island of Barbuda -- a civilization that has existed in that island for close to, over 300 years has now been extinguished."

Brazil

Coming a week after a bank cancelled an exhibition of gay art after protests from rightwing and evangelical Christian groups, the ruling has raised fears that progressive policies could be overturned.

Brazil has a growing population of evangelical Christians who have protested vociferously at plotlines in television soap operas featuring gay or transgender characters, and increasingly ally themselves with burgeoning rightwing groups.

Mexico

  • Huge quake rocks Mexico (BBC News)  In total 49 people are reported dead - 42 in Morelos state, five in Mexico State and two in Pueblo state.  President Enrique Peña Nieto has confirmed that 27 buildings have collapsed in Mexico City but there is no official word yet on any casualties in the city itself.  The shallow, magnitude seven quake had its epicentre in the state of Puebla, south-east of the capital.  See also Central Mexico earthquake kills dozens, topples buildings (CNN):

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

One of the hallmarks of a late-stage bull market cycle is the acceleration in price as investors capitulate by “jumping in” as prices accelerate. While the long-term moving averages currently suggest the bull cycle is intact, we will watch for the crossover to give us an indication of when to leave.”

What we found are false starts, fizzled-out partnerships and, often, no signs of deals at all.

  • This Surprising New Model of The Universe Doesn't Need Dark Energy at All (Science Alert)   One assumption could make the whole need for dark energy redundant, and has to do with a century old piece of mathematics called the Friedman equation.  This equation feeds into something called the Friedmann-Lemaitre-Robertson-Walker (FLRW) model of space, which describes the expansion or contraction of space with respect to general relativity.  But instead we could use a model called timescape cosmology.  In this context, time and distance are calibrated in relation to the curvature of distinct locations between galaxies and voids. The implications are that it makes no sense to talk about a distinct age of the Universe as a whole.  Econintersect:  This new model does away with the Big Bang Theory and dark energy is no longer needed to explain why we observe an expanding universe.  The expansion becomes simply a matter of perspective and not an absolute.


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