Monday, March 05, 2012


News Links, March 6, 2012

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards ##
Eurozone Services and Composite PMI Back in Contraction; Italy, Spain, France at New Lows
Across Canada, cash-strapped governments target education
"Canadian education is lurching into an era of austerity, as British Columbia's teachers walk off the job and Ontario feuds with its educators over a new hard-line stand on compensation."
Spain's safety net frays as care workers go unpaid
Australia Services Index Plunges to Significant Contraction; Bleakest of Views From Retail Shops; Retail and Housing Bloodbath Coming Up (Mish)
Service sector in Europe looks grim
Japan Is Now Another Spinning Plate in the Global Economy Circus (Chris Martenson)
"For those who are in a hurry today, the bottom line is that Japan is in serious trouble right now and is a top candidate to be the next black swan. Here are the elements of difficulty that concern me the most, each one serving to reduce Japan's economic and financial stability:
• The total shutdown of all 54 nuclear plants, leading to an energy insufficiency
• Japan's trade deficit in negative territory for the first time in decades, driven largely by energy imports
• A budget deficit that is now 56% larger than revenues (!!)
• Total debt standing at a whopping 235% of GDP
• A recession shrinking Japan's economy at an annual rate of 2.3%
• Renewed efforts underway to debase the yen"
Is A Russia Credit Downgrade Coming?
Vietnam Plans to Legalize Sports Gambling
Greek Shadow Economy (BBC radio)
India industry needs large infusion of funds, cut CRR by 100 bps
Cigarettes: The Most Stable International Currency
Nothing new here, but smokes will likely have an increasingly important place in the rapidly expanding System-D economy. -- RF

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Saudi flexes Gulf grip with Bahrain 'union' plans
"DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — During a sermon last week at Bahrain's Grand Mosque, the pro-government prayer leader offered sweeping praise for one of the Arab Spring's counter-revolutions: Gulf rulers bonding together against dissent with powerful Saudi Arabia as their main guardian.
"The widening Saudi security stamp on the region is already taking shape in Bahrain, where more than a year of Shiite-led unrest shows no sign of easing and the Saudi influence over the embattled Sunni monarchy is on public display."
Syrians have right to defend themselves, says Saudi Arabia
Report: 13 French officers captured in Syria
McCain calls for US-led airstrikes on Assad forces
Suicide attack on Afghan NATO base where Korans were burned
"A suicide bomber killed at least two civilians on Monday after detonating explosives at the gates of the NATO base where copies of the Koran were burned, Afghan officials said."
Widespread fraud alleged over Putin's presidential election win
Obama, Netanyahu give no sign of narrowing gap on Iran
"President Barack Obama appealed to Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to give sanctions time to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, but the Israeli prime minister offered no sign of backing away from possible military action, saying his country must be the 'master of its fate.'"
Israel's economy is already starting to crash. Let's hope that has a dissuasive effect. -- RF
In Israeli military, a growing orthodoxy
Gunmen kill 18 Iraqi troops in checkpoint attacks
"Gunmen killed up to 18 members of Iraq's security forces in an attack on checkpoints in the town of Haditha in western Iraq Monday, Iraqi officials said."

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
JI stages nationwide protests against POL, gas price hikes (Pakistan)
"The Jamaat-e-Islami on Sunday held nationwide protests and demonstrations against the rise in POL, gas and electricity prices."
Over 100 vehicles join protests against high fuel prices in Bulgaria's Blagoevgrad
Russia election: Police arrest 550 at city protests
Occupy activists fear that America's pro-Israeli lobbyists want a war
Hundreds of students, Occupiers protest NY budget
Govt braces for fuel backlash (Indonesia)
"The government has stepped up security and intelligence surveillance following rumors that massive rallies staged to protest fuel price hikes could be used as a pretext for a coup led by a former general."

## Energy/resources ##
India bans cotton exports
Dry water taps, blackouts force patients out of Kayunga Hospital (Uganda)
Businesses alarmed by 'daily brownouts' (Philippines)
Power shortage troubles B'desh garment manufacturers
"The shortage of power is forcing readymade garment (RMG) manufacturers in Bangladesh to depend on captive power, which is increasing their cost of production."
No Nabucco without Iran, analyst says
"There's not enough natural gas to make the Nabucco pipeline feasible for European consumers without Iranian resources, a Turkish energy analyst said."
Truly, the world can't do without Iran's gas and oil. -- RF
Islamabad steps closer to Iranian pipeline
"Islamabad offered a German engineering company a deal to start work on the Pakistan section of a natural gas pipeline from Iran, an official said."
$137B needed for Europe grid uprades
"Europe will need $137 billion for its electricity transmission systems to accommodate the pace of renewable energy production, grid operators say."
Ethanol Climbs to Three-Month High on Higher Manufacturing Costs
Plateau Oil meets 125m Chinese cars (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard)
"Oil spikes usually metastasize once energy costs reach 9pc of global GDP. The longer they stay there, the greater the damage."
Saudis 'don't see oil demand destruction'
Saudi Electricity plans big fuel oil power plant
"Saudi Electricity (SEC) is looking for companies to build and operate a 1,700-megawatt (MW) independent power plant (IPP) running on fuel oil, the state-controlled utility said on Monday."
Gas prices could flirt with record highs: Analysts (Canada)
"Petroleum analysts are predicting per-litre costs for fuel could crest over $1.30 this summer in Calgary, challenging record prices seen in 2008.
"'All the dominoes are in line,' said Roger McKnight with Ontario-based En-Pro International. 'I am anticipating the highest gasoline prices in history by the end of April.'"

## Got food? ##
Farmer faces planting season with seeds of distrust
"Money doesn't vaporize. If my account is empty, somebody else's is full."

## Environment/health ##
Are Frogs Rapidly Facing Extinction?
Persistent Droughts Plaguing Much of the World
Safety concerns rise as 'fracking' grows in Kansas

## Intelligence/security/internet/systemic breakdown ##
Stuxnet: Computer worm opens new era of warfare
U.S. court approves warrantless searches of cell phones

## Japan ##
Shareholders to sue Tepco executives for $67 billion
"Shareholders of Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc, operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in northeast Japan, are suing the utility's executives for a record 5.5 trillion yen ($67.4 billion) in compensation, lawyers said."
Investors — including banks — were stupid enough to invest in something so risky, so they should take the losses and shut up. But instead, the government is using public money to keep TEPCO on life support. Where have I seen this sort of thing before? -- RF
Government to pay debris disposal costs
But of course! -- RF
From shovels to water -- radiation cleanup is trial and error
"Workers in rubber boots chip at the frozen ground, scraping until they've removed the top 5 centimeters of radioactive soil from the yard of a single home. Total amount of waste gathered: roughly 60 tons.
"One down, tens of thousands to go. And since wind and rain spread radiation easily, even this yard may need to be dug up again."
Over 600 former Social Insurance Agency employees were given jobs at pension funds
"Over 600 employees of the former Social Insurance Agency were working at some 500 pension funds around the country in fiscal 2005, it has been learned from documents obtained by the Mainichi.
"Around 70 percent of the posts were for director positions responsible for the use of the funds. AIJ Investment Advisors Co., which has come under fire for allegedly squandering pension funds it was entrusted with, is thought to have used the network of former agency employees in its business operations."
Medical personnel quitting Fukushima due to lingering fears of radiation exposure
Japan near deal with U.S. on Iran oil-minister
"Japan and the United States are close to an agreement on cuts in Japanese imports of Iranian oil that will allow Tokyo to avoid U.S. sanctions, and may conclude a deal this month, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba told Reuters on March 5.
"But Genba said the two sides might not make public the size of the cuts because of the possible impact on markets."
Impact on markets, yes. Japan has to get oil from other suppliers, which reduces the shares of other countries. Ultimately, somebody comes up short and has to go to Iran. Real smart sanctions. -- RF

## China ##
Is China just another debt addict? China's $22 trillion time-bomb (Automatic Earth)
China domestic security spending rises to $111 billion
"China will increase spending on police, militia and other domestic security arms by 11.5 percent to $111 billion this year, figures released on Monday showed, ahead of a leadership succession that has kindled fear of instability."
China's real defense budget almost double official figure, military sources say (Asahi Shimbun)
China cuts growth target to 8-year low, to boost consumption
Is China's Role as Global Growth Engine Finally Over?

## UK ##
City jobs picture remains bleak
Britain, Japan mull joint arms venture

## US ##
Fed Up with the Fed (Ron Paul)
Drones in Texas and Tanks in Tampa: Inside the Out-Of-Control Weaponized Homeland Security State
Drivers should be able to call 'gas police' on gas stations, Sen. Eric Adams says
Bank of America In Trouble?
USA #1? 40 Embarrassing Things That America Is The Best In The World At
Enbridge shuts oil pipelines in Illinois
Chicago gasoline rallies on pipeline outage
Gasoline Prices Rise for 24th Day
Jefferson County Approved for Largest Muni Bankruptcy
The largest so far. Stay tuned for more exciting action! -- RF
3 Charts On The US Consumption Crash Dead-Ahead
Student-loan delinquencies may be higher than previously thought
Holder: Assassinating Americans 'Legal and Constitutional'

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