The Most Interesting Stories of 2016

January 1st, 2017

Happy new year! Here is a brief collection of the favorite stories I read during 2016. I’ve tried to keep this tradition going since starting this blog and feel free to look back on the past collections from 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008. Thanks for reading and happy 2017!

5) The Wall Street Journal: The Biggest Money Mistakes We Make—Decade by Decade

Every new stage of life brings new financial strategies we need to follow. And at every stage we find new ways not to follow those strategies, costing ourselves money and jeopardizing our security.

What’s more, economic and demographic changes ensure that those mistakes aren’t static, so that the mistakes of the current generations aren’t the same missteps that their predecessors struggled to avoid.

4) The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists: Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption

World leaders who have embraced anti-corruption platforms feature in the leaked documents. The files reveal offshore companies linked to the family of China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, who has vowed to fight “armies of corruption,” as well as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has positioned himself as a reformer in a country shaken by corruption scandals. The files also contain new details of offshore dealings by the late father of British Prime Minister David Cameron, a leader in the push for tax-haven reform.

The leaked data covers nearly 40 years, from 1977 through the end of 2015. It allows a never-before-seen view inside the offshore world — providing a day-to-day, decade-by-decade look at how dark money flows through the global financial system, breeding crime and stripping national treasuries of tax revenues.

3) Bloomberg: World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That’s Cheaper Than Wind

This year has seen a remarkable run for solar power. Auctions, where private companies compete for massive contracts to provide electricity, established record after record for cheap solar power. It started with a contract in January to produce electricity for $64 per megawatt-hour in India; then a deal in August pegging $29.10 per megawatt hour in Chile. That’s record-cheap electricity—roughly half the price of competing coal power.

The overall shift to clean energy can be more expensive in wealthier nations, where electricity demand is flat or falling and new solar must compete with existing billion-dollar coal and gas plants. But in countries that are adding new electricity capacity as quickly as possible, “renewable energy will beat any other technology in most of the world without subsidies,” said Liebreich.

2) The New Yorker: World War Three, By Mistake

Close encounters between the military aircraft of the United States and Russia have become routine, creating the potential for an unintended conflict. Many of the nuclear-weapon systems on both sides are aging and obsolete. The personnel who operate those systems often suffer from poor morale and poor training. None of their senior officers has firsthand experience making decisions during an actual nuclear crisis. And today’s command-and-control systems must contend with threats that barely existed during the Cold War: malware, spyware, worms, bugs, viruses, corrupted firmware, logic bombs, Trojan horses, and all the other modern tools of cyber warfare.

1) The New York Times: Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone

To stay awake, the president does not turn to caffeine. He rarely drinks coffee or tea, and more often has a bottle of water next to him than a soda. His friends say his only snack at night is seven lightly salted almonds.

“Michelle and I would always joke: Not six. Not eight,” Mr. Kass said. “Always seven almonds.”

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