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What We Read Today 25 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:

  • Changing Massachusetts time zone could improve health, boost retail sales, save energy, commission finds

  • The Big Bang Wasn't The Beginning, After All

  • The great nutrient collapse

  • Industrial Revolution Inventions Timeline 1712-1942

  • Emerging Markits are Looking Up

  • Why McCain screwed the GOP on Obamacare repeal — again

  • Senior Senate Republican Calls ACA Repeal Vote ‘Impossible’

  • Republicans offer 'frenzy of special deals' in effort to repeal Obamacare

  • What Republicans just changed in their health care bill

  • Trump’s ‘America First’ Vow Turned Upside Down in Lumber Market

  • Congressional aides risk conflicts with stock trades

  • IHS Markit Flash U.S. PMI™

  • Merkel faces tough coalition talks as nationalists enter German parliament

  • Japan's PM Shinzō Abe calls snap election

  • North Korea's foreign minister: Trump has declared war on our country

  • North Korea Claims Right to Down U.S. Jets Outside Airspace

  • Savvy and sophisticated: Meet China’s evolving car buyers

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world



“Here’s the thing. John has always believed that the Senate ought to operate by regular order, through committees on a bipartisan basis. And he’s always done that.  He’s a man you can take at his word in his career. And people should have.”

  • Senior Senate Republican Calls ACA Repeal Vote ‘Impossible’ (Bloomberg)  A key Senate Republican voiced doubt that the latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare would succeed, as health-industry groups reiterated their opposition and a hearing on the bill was briefly halted by throngs of protesters.  “It’s nearly impossible. I’m not saying anything is impossible, because we could always maybe work it out in the end, but so far I haven’t seen any” indication that suggests that will happen, said Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

  • S&P says proposal would hurt the economy and the health sector

  • Insurers decry ‘chaos’ under GOP plan, calling it unworkable

  • Republicans offer 'frenzy of special deals' in effort to repeal Obamacare (The Guardian)  Senate Republicans are offering new deals to key lawmakers in the hope of forcing through a repeal of the Affordable Care Act that would slash the government’s spending on healthcare for poor and disabled Americans.  For details see What Republicans just changed in their health care bill (PBS).

  • Trump’s ‘America First’ Vow Turned Upside Down in Lumber Market (Bloomberg)  Donald Trump’s policy on trade since becoming U.S. president has been all about putting “America First”.  But in one corner of the commodity world, his actions are having the opposite effect.  In a move intended to protect the domestic lumber industry, the U.S. this year slapped duties of as much as 31% on imports of timber from Canada, which supplies more than a quarter of what American builders use each year. Prices surged, increasing costs for American buyers -- and boosting profit for Canadian producers.  Econintersect:  A lesson the Trump administration still has to learn:  Foreign companies do not pay tariffs - American consumers do.

  • Congressional aides risk conflicts with stock trades (Politico)  Senior staffers buy and sell shares in companies that benefit from legislation in their committees.  Congress has persistently refused to crack down on stock trading by staffers, even in firms overseen by their committees.  Most congressional aides aren’t required to report their trades. Only those in positions earning more than $124,406 per year must reveal their investments. Of the 12,500 staffers working for lawmakers, committees and leadership offices, only about 1,700 (13.6%) make that much, according to data compiled by Legistorm and the Brookings Institution.

  • IHS Markit Flash U.S. PMI™ (IHS Markit)  Hurricanes impacted the U.S. economy but si far the damage has been quite marginal.

  •  Flash U.S. Composite Output Index at 54.6 (55.3 in August). 2-month low.

  • Flash U.S. Services Business Activity Index at 55.1 (56.0 in August). 2-month low.

  • Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI at 53.0 (52.8 in August). 2-month high.

  • Flash U.S. Manufacturing Output Index at 52.4 (52.4 in August). Unchanged. 



The German chancellor’s centre-right Christian Democrat-led alliance took 33% of the vote in Sunday’s election – its worst result since 1949 but enough to remain the largest force in parliament.

The centre-left Social Democrats – Merkel’s government partners since 2013 in a “grand coalition” – also suffered their worst post-war result, taking 21%. Alternative für Deutschland secured 13%, marking the first time in almost six decades that an openly nationalist party will enter the Bundestag.


  • Japan's PM Shinzō Abe calls snap election (The Guardian)  Abe aims to take advantage of opposition disarray and says vote would be an appraisal of both (1) an appraisal of his social security spending plans and (2) his handling of North Korea crisis.

North Korea

“The UN Charter acknowledges member states’ right of self-defense.  As the United States has declared a war, even though its strategic bombers don’t cross our border, we will come to own all rights to respond for self-defense including shooting down its planes at any time.”


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

  • Changing Massachusetts time zone could improve health, boost retail sales, save energy, commission finds (Mass Live)  The Special Commission on the Commonwealth's Time Zone concluded that ending the practice of changing the clocks twice a year could increase retail sales, increase productivity and improve public health. It could also save energy.  The commission was established by legislation that was the brainchild of Tom Emswiler, a health advocate living in Quincy who convinced lawmakers to study whether Massachusetts should continue its current practice of changing the clocks twice a year or switch to Atlantic Standard Time, which would keep Massachusetts year-round on the same time it uses in the spring, summer and fall.  Econintersect:  If the switch is in fact beneficial for Massachusetts, it is likely to also be for the rest of New England.  In additon, it would probably be disruptive to have any of the states of the region to be on a different time, although Vermont and Connecticut might find it beneficial to  remain on the same time as New York.

  • The Big Bang Wasn't The Beginning, After All (Forbes)  Econintersect:  This is the most undersatdable explanation of why th 'Big Bang' may never have occurred.  Time may be endless after all:

Instead of an arbitrarily hot, dense state, the Universe could have begun from a state where there was no matter, no radiation, no antimatter, no neutrinos, and no particles at all. All the energy present in the Universe would rather be bound up in the fabric of space itself: a form of vacuum energy, which causes the Universe to expand at an exponential rate. In this cosmic state, quantum fluctuations would still exist, and so as space expanded, these fluctuations would get stretched across the Universe, creating regions with slightly-more or slightly-less than average energy densities. And finally, when this phase of the Universe — this period of inflation — came to an end, that energy would get converted into matter-and-radiation, creating the hot, dense state synonymous with the Big Bang.

Click for large image.

  • The great nutrient collapse (Politico)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  As CO2 increases in the air, plants grow faster.  You might think that would increase the food resources for the planet, but that is not the case.  As the plants grow faster they are creating more sugars.  This dilutes the other nutrients that humans have depended on for all of history.  In other words, rising CO2 is turning formerly nutritious foods into junk foods.

  • Industrial Revolution Inventions Timeline 1712-1942 (YouTube)  Here is a short history of the industrial revolution as it might be presented to elementary school children.

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