Saturday, March 24, 2012


News Links, March 25, 2012

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards ##
Euro Leaders Need to Step Up Austerity, Finland's PM Says
Italy's Monti Worried About Contagion From Spain
Investors take fright, grab profit on Italian debt
Spain Starts to Feel the Heat
Canada Core Inflation Fastest in Three Years

## Airline Death Spiral ##
US Airways Said to Brief AMR Creditors on Takeover Plan
SriLankan Airlines Gears For A Crash Landing
Turbulence in Indian skies

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Syrian army pounds Homs; Annan in Moscow
Iranian weapons help Bashar Assad put down Syria protests, officials say
Let us take this moment to recall where American weapons are being used. -- RF
Officials: Investigators believe Bales split killing spree
This story gets more bizarre with each passing day. -- RF
End the Drug War (Foreign Policy)
Yuan May Be China's Main Trade Currency In 2 Years --ANZ's RMB Chief
Will China also be paying yuan for Saudi oil? -- RF
US, Europe, Israel Agree On Solid Intel: Iran Nuke Threat Far Off
This never was the real issue, anyway. -- RF
Saudi Arabia: House of Saud, Falling House of Cards

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Power riots erupt in several Punjab towns (Pakistan)
China struggles to contain wave of defiance in Tibet
200 thousand Palestinians demonstrate to protest fuel shortage
"More than 200 thousand Palestinians participated in the protests called for by Hamas in the "Friday to light up Gaza and expose the conspiracy". People demonstrated all over the Gaza Strip to protest the fuel crisis."
Dozens arrested in Vt. nuclear plant protest
"A 93-year-old anti-nuclear activist was among more than 130 protesters arrested at the corporate headquarters of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on the first day of the plant's operation after the expiration of its 40-year license."

## Energy/resources ##
The Saudi Bluff: A Sign Oil Prices Are Likely To Rise Dramatically And A Trade For When They Do
"Not only does Saudi Arabia not have the right kind of crude that most of the European countries who get the majority of their oil from this middle eastern country need, their reserves are totally unverified as well. Indeed, many experts in the West think Saudi Arabia has grossly exaggerated their oil reserves, and their capacity to bring them to market.
"Contrary to popular belief, Saudi Arabia is not the oil kingdom it used to be. With a rising budget that require a break-even price of oil in the Brent Market of around 100 dollars a barrel just to cover their country's social needs over the coming years, the Saudis also face a 20-25 dollar a barrel refining cost to turn their almost exclusively heavy crude to the kind of sweet crude that is most used by the countries they export too."
Oil Rises Almost $3 a Barrel on Iran Report
"Oil climbed after Reuters reported Iranian oil exports will drop by 300,000 barrels a day this month because of tighter sanctions."
Obama Blames Iran for High Gas Prices
The New York Times exaggerates the significance of shale oil (Kjell Aleklett)
Shell Chief: Energy Prices Too Cheap to Change Consumption
"We have hit the cheap oil peak. So the cheap oil is over. It's going to be more expensive and energy in general is going to be more expensive."
Israel transfers fuel to Gaza to alleviate severe power shortage
It's a drop in the bucket… and it's diesel, which is in short supply worldwide. Besides, Israel has its own energy problems and may not be able to keep the lights on this summer. -- RF
Brent heads towards $125 on stocks draw, soft dollar
Nigeria risks long term oil decline
Raw materials, fuel crises hit cement factories (Nepal)
Helium shortage could spell disaster
Power Situation Worsening (Philippines)
Blackout cripples Zamboanga City airport
"ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Hours after President Aquino assured the nation that measures were in place to ease Mindanao's power woes, a massive blackout triggered an electrical malfunction at the international airport here Friday night, forcing the cancellation of flights."
Longer power cuts looming (Lebanon)
"In a few months, Lebanon will be producing even less electricity than it is currently, and the cabinet remains divided over finding a solution to avoid the even steeper power cuts on the horizon...
"In the meantime, Bassil wants to rent ships with high-capacity generators on board to dock off the coast and hook into the power grid."
The proposed power ships would run on diesel fuel. -- RF

## Got food? ##
Higher fuel prices impact farmers (US)
Fractured and failing infrastructure (US)
This article concerns the deteriorating infrastructure for transporting crops to market. -- RF
'Food inflation can push 3 cr Indians into extreme poverty'
"A ten percent spike in food prices could push 30 millions more people into extreme poverty in India, a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said."

## Intelligence/security/internet/systemic breakdown ##
With SOPA shelved, anti-piracy advocates take new approaches

## Japan ##
Noda to put full weight behind campaign for Oi nuclear restart
"Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he would mobilize the "entire government" to persuade local leaders to accept the restart of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, after getting the all-clear on the restart from his nuclear safety officials."
No lessons learned here. -- RF
Shortage of soil plagues govts / Massive amount of soil needed for various reconstruction works
AIJ may have lit fuse on pension time bomb
"Chain reaction could engulf numerous companies"
Electric cars risk losing green sheen in Japan

## China ##
China Banks Said to Underestimate Local Government Risks
"Chinese banks misclassified about 20 percent of their outstanding loans to local governments, understating the risk that slowing revenue will cut borrowers' ability to repay, a person with knowledge of the matter said."

## UK ##
New graduates will have to work until 71 before qualifying for state pension

## US ##
Municipal Defaults — Already 21 in 2012 — Another Blow for Bond Insurers
"A growing number of U.S. cities are choosing to fund essential services like public safety and garbage collection over making payments on their outstanding debt, as rising costs and falling revenue deplete their budgets."
The bond insurance market was conceived under the assumption that municipal defaults will be few and far between. As defaults balloon, bond insurers will go belly-up with their customers. -- RF
In Central La., pump prices pose problems with public pursestrings
Energy cost is another factor hammering municipal finances. -- RF
Cash mobs: a new boost for local business?
This is all very touching, but people only have so much money to spend, and what they spend at the "targeted" business doesn't get spent elsewhere. With growth dead, it's a zero-sum game. -- RF
Two U.S. banks shuttered this week
Why We Just Surrendered to Iran
Boom times roll on for U.S. gun business
"Sturm Ruger & Co.'s announcement that it would stop taking orders until it clears an enormous backlog serves as the latest sign of the boom times for the U.S. firearms business."
Home slump isn't going away in California
Dick Cheney receives heart transplant

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