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What We Read Today 09 October 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:

  • Faith: Few strong links to national identity

  • There’s new evidence that life on Earth began with meteorites crashing into warm little ponds

  • Bringing the building blocks of life down to Earth, from space

  • Thaler, Famed for ‘Nudge’ Theory, Wins Nobel Economics Prize

  • Read These Five Papers to Understand Thaler's Nobel-Winning Work

  • Ireland Tops U.S. as the Country Best Able to Feed Its People

  • Déjà Voodoo

  • Is Trump still the same guy who won in November?

  • Trump Hands Democrats an Opportunity on Immigration

  • EPA to repeal landmark Obama climate rule

  • Ken Starr forecasts indictments in Russia probe

  • Americans Face a Rising Risk of Dying Alone

  • This Company Loves Brexit. Its Polish Workers Don’t Mind

  • Erdogan's Escalating Feud With U.S. Hammers Turkish Markets

  • China Takes Stake in Russia's Rosneft

  • Wasserman Schultz IT Aide Allegedly Bragged He Paid Pakistani Police For Protection

  • A report coauthored by a People's Bank of China researcher says China's economy is about to hit a wall

  • China's economic stability comes with hidden costs

  • Chinese Police Order Xinjiang's Muslims to Hand in All Copies of The Quran

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Déjà Voodoo (Joseph Stiglitz, Project Syndicate)  The Columbia U. Nobel Laureate sees a rebirth of Reaganism, on steroids:

A Trump administration staffed by plutocrats – most of whom gained their wealth from rent-seeking activities, rather than from productive entrepreneurship – could be expected to reward themselves. But the Republicans’ proposed tax reform is a bigger gift to corporations and the ultra-rich than most had anticipated.

  • Is Trump still the same guy who won in November? (The Washington Examiner)  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich likes to say that there are two Donald Trumps. "I've said this publicly, there's a big Trump and a little Trump," Gingrich said on ABC's "This Week" before last year's election. "The big Trump is a historic figure. The big Trump beat 16 other people for the nomination."

Almost a year after Trump also beat his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton to become president of the United States, some of his most ardent supporters worry that there are indeed two Trumps: the one they fell in love with during the 2016 campaign and the one sitting in the Oval Office.

  • Trump Hands Democrats an Opportunity on Immigration (Bloomberg)  President Donald Trump’s renewed demands for a border wall and dramatic changes to immigration laws in exchange for deportation protections for young undocumented immigrants may help Democrats by keeping the issue alive in the 2018 election year.  Polls show voters side with Democrats on shielding the immigrants, known as Dreamers. By adopting a hard line, Trump is setting the stage for a prolonged fight in Congress that could help Democrats gain seats in the House and Senate.

  • EPA to repeal landmark Obama climate rule (The Hill)   The Trump administration on Tuesday will formally propose repealing Barack Obama’s landmark climate change rule for power plants, a key part of the U.S. commitment to reduce emissions under the Paris accord.  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt told a Kentucky audience on Monday that he will sign paperwork on Tuesday to repeal the rule, which he argued exceeded the previous administration’s authority and treated coal communities unfairly.  Pruitt said Monday at an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to raucous applause:

“The Clean Power Plan, it wasn’t about regulating to make things regular.  It was truly about regulating to pick winners and losers.”

  • Ken Starr forecasts indictments in Russia probe  (The Washington Examiner)  Ken Starr, the independent counsel during the Monica Lewinsky and Whitewater scandals under former President Bill Clinton, predicted Saturday that special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 elections would end in indictments.  He suggested they might be directed at Paul Manafort, former campaign director for the Trump campaign, and retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser.

  • Americans Face a Rising Risk of Dying Alone (Bloomberg)  More older people are living on their own, and fewer have close relatives to help them out as they age.  And loneliness kills. Life without friends and family is not just dreary but difficult, especially as we get older.  Strong social relationships boost a person’s chances of staying alive by 50%, according to a comprehensive 2010 review of 148 studies that followed 309,000 people for an average of 7.5 years. That’s about the same improvement to mortality as the one that comes from quitting smoking.



  • Erdogan's Escalating Feud With U.S. Hammers Turkish Markets (Bloomberg)  Markets in Istanbul tumbled after the U.S. and Turkey stopped issuing visas for each other’s citizens in a spat related to last year’s failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, deepening divisions between NATO members already at odds over the war in Syria.  The lira dropped 3.2% to 3.7334 against the dollar as of 5:23 p.m. in Istanbul, after plunging as much as 6.6%. The benchmark Borsa Istanbul 100 Index of stocks declined 3%.  The lira dropped to an all-time low against a basket of currencies.

The Trump administration halted visa services for Turks on Sunday, citing the Oct. 4 arrest of a Turkish citizen employed at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul for alleged involvement in the July 2016 putsch attempt. Erdogan’s government responded in kind within hours, repeating verbatim much of the U.S. statement.


  • China Takes Stake in Russia's Rosneft (Radio Free Asia)  Russia has opened its doors wider to Chinese investment with the sale of a share in state oil company Rosneft, but financial pressures and sanctions may have given it little choice.  In a surprising development on Sept. 8, privately held CEFC China Energy Company Ltd. confirmed an agreement to buy a 14.16% stake in the giant Russian petroleum producer for U.S. $9.1 billion (60 billion yuan).

Under the agreement, the Shanghai-based conglomerate will get most of the 19.5-percent interest in Rosneft that was sold last December to Glencore PLC commodity group and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) for U.S. $11 billion (72.5 billion yuan) in a partial privatization to raise cash for the Russian government.


  • Wasserman Schultz IT Aide Allegedly Bragged He Paid Pakistani Police For Protection (The Daily Caller)  A now-indicted IT aide to various House Democrats was sending money and gifts to government officials in Pakistan and received protection from the Pakistani police, multiple relatives claim.  A Democratic aide also said Imran Awan personally bragged to him that he could have people tortured in Pakistan. Awan’s lawyer acknowledged that he was sending money to a member of the Faisalabad police department, but said there was a good explanation.

The relatives said Awan and his brothers were also sending IT equipment, such as iPhones, to the country during the same period in which fraudulent purchase orders for that equipment were allegedly placed in the House, and in which congressional equipment apparently went missing.


"China continues to enjoy strong growth—projected at 6.7% for 2017. And the country has potential to sustain strong growth over the medium term,"  the Fund said its latest assessment of China’s economy, dated Aug. 15. "But to do so safely requires speeding up reforms to make growth less reliant on debt and investment."

  • Chinese Police Order Xinjiang's Muslims to Hand in All Copies of The Quran (Radio Free Asia)  Hat tips to Roger Erickson and Serban Enache.  Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang have ordered ethnic minority Muslim families to hand in religious items including prayer mats and copies of the Quran to the authorities, RFA has learned.Officials across Xinjiang have been warning neighborhoods and mosques that ethnic minority Uyghur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz Muslims must hand in the items or face harsh punishment if they are found later, sources in the region said.  A Kazakh source in Altay prefecture, near the border with Kazakhstan told RFA on Wednesday:

"Officials at village, township and county level are confiscating all Qurans and the special mats used for namaaz[prayer].  Pretty much every household has a Quran, and prayer mats." 

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

  • Faith: Few strong links to national identity (Pew Research Center)  In all countries except Japan, the survey asked respondents whether being Christian or Catholic (reflecting religious traditions in the countries polled) was important to national identity. Across the 13 countries where the question was asked, a median of just 15% say it is very important to be Christian in order to be a true national. Only in Greece do more than half (54%) hold this view, while in Sweden fewer than one-in-ten (7%) make a strong connection between nationality and Christianity.

  • Ireland Tops U.S. as the Country Best Able to Feed Its People (Bloomberg)  The U.S. for the first time dropped from the top spot in a global ranking of how well countries can feed their own people, as concerns about agricultural research spending and government policy trends may make the world’s top food exporter a less-certain place to get a meal.  Ireland is the world’s most “food-secure” nation, improving its food affordability, availability, quality and safety while the U.S. has stagnated, according to a copy of the sixth annual Global Food Security Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit scheduled for release Tuesday.

Worldwide, food security fell for the first time in five years, largely because of increases in the number of refugees, weather disasters and a decline in global political stability. The examination, commissioned by Dupont Co., this year added metrics based on climate and natural-resource risks. Adjusting for those factors, the U.S. fell to fourth place, with Austria and France moving ahead.

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