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What We Read Today 11 December 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 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published Monday through Friday in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).


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

To become a GEI Member simply subscribe to our FREE daily newsletter.

Topics today include:‚Äč

  • The USA Before 1803

  • Inequality and the Coming Storm

  • Huntington’s breakthrough may stop disease

  • Monsanto offers cash to U.S. farmers who use controversial chemical

  • Food for Thought: Bars vs. grocery stores

  • Wisconsin’s bar-to-grocery store ratio puts the rest of the country to shame

  • Global Transportation System

  • The US Is Exporting Obesity

  • Republicans fret over tax bill's unpopularity

  • Powell faces early test of policy view as tax cuts near approval

  • Senators clash over direction of Russia, Clinton probes

  • Republicans Plan to Cut Food Stamps as Homelessness Rises in the US

  • Business Cycle:  Where Are We?

  • Theresa May says Brexit deal 'good news' for all voters

  • You don’t have to get old in ex-USSR.

  • Runaway borrowers the new face of China’s personal credit boom

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Air networks of 18,756 flights are from ICAO statistics provided by Andy Tatem of Oxford University.

  • Global paved and unpaved roads come from ESRI's Digital Chart of the World.

  • Shipping lanes data were taken from NOAA's SEAS BBXX database, between 14.10.2004 and 15.10.2005.

  • Urban areas are from

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  • The US Is Exporting Obesity (Project Syndicate)  Left unchecked, rapidly rising obesity rates could slow or even reverse the dramatic gains in health and life expectancy that much of the world has enjoyed over the past few decades. And by forcing its food culture on countries like Mexico and Canada, the US is making the problem worse.

The causes of obesity are manifold and complex. Nevertheless, a growing body of evidence suggests that a culture emphasizing processed food and a generally sedentary lifestyle lies at the center of the problem. In emerging markets, rapid urbanization is another important factor, as well as a desire to emulate Western lifestyles.


  • Republicans fret over tax bill's unpopularity (The Hill)  Republican lawmakers are concerned about how their tax bill is being viewed by the public and say they need to do a better job of selling it to middle-class and low-income voters.  A CBS News poll conducted last week found that 53% of people nationwide disapprove of the GOP tax bill and only 35% approve.  While support for the bill was strong among self-identified Republicans, according to the poll, 52% of independents and a whopping 84% of Democrats disapprove of the legislation.

  • Powell faces early test of policy view as tax cuts near approval (Reuters)  Incoming Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, chosen by U.S. President Donald Trump to keep the recovery humming, appears set to let an expected trillion-dollar tax cut run its course through the economy as weak wage growth and inflation buttress his view that the economy remains underpowered.

  • Senators clash over direction of Russia, Clinton probes (The Hill)  Partisan tensions are mounting on the Senate Judiciary Committee, with both parties accusing the other of stonewalling.  The panel's investigation into the 2016 election appears to have hit the skids, with members increasingly fighting over the direction of the probe.  Republicans want to dig back into Obama-era scandals, including the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.  But Democrats say the committee should be focused on potential collusion between President Trump's campaign and Russia, as well as the circumstances of former FBI Director James Comey’s firing.

  • Republicans Plan to Cut Food Stamps as Homelessness Rises in the US (Naked Capitalism)  Even though poverty is a difficult, many-faceted problem, the US stands out in how openly it hates the poor, even as its economic system looks increasingly designed to produce more of them:

The Republican party, doing the bidding of members of the 0.1% and ideologues who treat poverty as the result of the lack of a work ethic, have made cutting the food stamp program a top priority.


  • Theresa May says Brexit deal 'good news' for all voters (BBC News)  An agreement to move on to the next phase of Brexit talks is "good news" for both Leave and Remain voters, Theresa May has told MPs.  She told Parliament it should reassure those who feared the UK would get "bogged down" in endless negotiations or "crash out" without a deal.  She said the UK did not want a trade arrangement based on any other country but "a deal that is right for the UK".  Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May had only just "scraped through".


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“These young men, the son or the brother in a family, are actually subprime borrowers with little in the way of savings and no assets.  They’ve recently been encouraged to access a dizzying array of online microcredit platforms to fund their own consumption and have cared little about the exorbitant interest rates.  Now they’ve run away from their creditors and left behind big troubles for their parents, who are not wealthy.”

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

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  • Inequality and the Coming Storm (Project Syndicate)  In recent decades, the wealth gap between a narrow upper class and the rest of the human population has become a gaping chasm, with far-reaching implications for most countries around the world. Rising inequality may be the greatest economic challenge of our time, but it’s not the first time human civilization has faced it.  How much more inequality can the world tolerate? Sooner or later, we will cross another historical threshold, on the far side of which await the Four Horsemen of Leveling, eager for another stampede, if we let them have it.

  • Huntington’s breakthrough may stop disease (BBC News)   The defect that causes the neurodegenerative disease Huntington's has been corrected in patients for the first time, the BBC has learned.  An experimental drug, injected into spinal fluid, safely lowered levels of toxic proteins in the brain.  The research team, at University College London, say there is now hope the deadly disease can be stopped.  Experts say it could be the biggest breakthrough in neurodegenerative diseases for 50 years.

  • Monsanto offers cash to U.S. farmers who use controversial chemical (Reuters)  Monsanto Co will give cash back to U.S. farmers who buy a weed killer that has been linked to widespread crop damage, offering an incentive to apply its product even as regulators in several U.S. states weigh restrictions on its use.

The incentive to use XtendiMax with VaporGrip, a herbicide based on a chemical known as dicamba, could refund farmers over half the sticker price of the product in 2018 if they spray it on soybeans Monsanto engineered to resist the weed killer, according to company data.

The United States faced an agricultural crisis this year caused by new formulations of dicamba-based herbicides, which farmers and weed experts say harmed crops because they evaporated and drifted away from where they were sprayed.

Click for large image.

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