Tuesday, August 27, 2013


News Links, August 24-28, 2013

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards ##
Argentina loses appeal in $1.33 billion U.S. bondholder fight
India's petroleum consumption growth nosedives
India's economic downturn leaves middle classes fearing the worst
Price rises, the falling rupee and a huge balance of payments deficit have prompted predictions of a full-blown economic crisis
Rupee slump puts spotlight on India Inc's debt pile
India's corporate sector, which sits on a huge pile of foreign currency debt, is under threat as the rupee's downward spiral exacerbates the debt burden of companies already battling feeble growth and sluggish demand.
'Abysmal' Dutch economy threatens euro zone recovery
Dutch government agrees to another $8 billion in budget cuts
Despite "Austerity" Greek Debt Is Rising At Its Fastest Rate Since March 2010
Greece 'may need 10bn euros more' in aid - Stournaras
Brazil Plans $60 Billion Currency Intervention Scheme; Indonesia Abandons Intervention, Adopts Other Measures
Russia slashes economic growth forecasts, second time this year
Driving On Portugal's Ghost Roads: Traffic Crashes By 68% In First Quarter
Weather-related losses take their toll on insurance industry
Overcapacity, catastrophe losses threaten reinsurance sector
Nasdaq breakdown increases pressure to act to avoid future disruptions, manage crises
Larry Summers and the Secret "End-Game" Memo
Why seniors' debt levels are on the rise (Canada)
Evraz Highveld slumps on survival doubts
Evraz Highveld Steel & Vanadium, the South African unit of Russia's largest steelmaker, fell the most in eight weeks in Johannesburg trading after saying it may not be able to remain in business.
Abu Dhabi's new luxury mall opens
Billabong brand declared worthless as company posts huge loss
Currency Spikes at 4 P.M. in London Provide Rigging Clues
China Warns US About Cutting Tapering Too Soon, Proposes BRIC Foreign Currency Fund
The Global QE Exit Crisis
Turkish lira hits rock bottom as central bank sits back

## Airline Death Spiral ##
LATAM Airlines Hit by 'Perfect Storm' in Argentina
Latin America's largest passenger airline is struggling to weather what one analyst called a "perfect storm" of bad news.
Shipping luggage may be cheaper than airline baggage fees
Passengers could save ­hundreds of pounds by using private couriers to ship their luggage to their destination rather than paying baggage charges on budget airlines such as Ryanair, a consumer watchdog has claimed.
Airlines offer no-crying sections for extra fee
Air India, AI Express baggage cut takes off
China flight delays show military grip on airspace
Top U.S. Airports to Be Stranded In During a Flight Delay
British Airways owner hit by jet fuel climb
China Southern Airlines reports USD18m operating loss in 1H2013

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Noose Tightens Around Freedom in Egypt
Egypt Descends into Chaos in Wake of Coup against Morsi
3,600 Syrians showing 'neurotoxic symptoms'
UN Request for Chemical Weapon Inquiry in Syria Backed by Russia
US Complicity in 'Some of the Most Gruesome Chemical Weapons Attacks' Revealed
Pentagon Preps Cruise Missiles to Attack Syria
15 Signs That Obama Has Already Made The Decision To Go To War With Syria
Report: Israeli, US, Jordanian Commandos Operating in Syria
Royal Navy ready to launch first strike on Syria
Syria strike due in days, West tells opposition - sources
60% Of Americans Oppose US Involvement In Syria, Only 9% Support Military Action
U.S. Forces Poised to Act on Syria If Ordered, Hagel Says
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel indicated that U.S. military forces, including naval vessels, are positioned in the Mediterranean and ready to act if President Barack Obama calls on the Pentagon to strike Syria.
Putin Responds To Syria Escalation: May "Reinforce Naval Grouping In Mediterranean" Following US Buildup
Israelis line up for gas masks over Syria war fears
Suicide bombing at a crowded park in Baghdad, attacks across Iraq kill at least 36 people
Separate insurgent attacks in Iraq kill at least 46 people, wound dozens
Yemen Asks US to Supply It With Drones
Bombs Blast Across Lebanon on Friday
Iranian Navy Dispatches 27th Fleet to High Seas
The Iranian Navy dispatched its 27th flotilla of warships to the high seas to protect the country's cargo ships and oil tankers against pirates, Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said.
Deadly Israeli Raid in Palestinian Refugee Camp Puts Talks on Skids
US Military Conquest of Africa "All But Complete" (video)
Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria
Saudi Arabia has secretly offered Russia a sweeping deal to control the global oil market and safeguard Russia's gas contracts, if the Kremlin backs away from the Assad regime in Syria.
China sees no basis for talks with Japan over islands dispute
Japan Could Be 'Main Player' in Asia Conflict: Minister
Pentagon Poised for $13 Billion in Mideast Arms Sales

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Mapped: Every Protest on the Planet Since 1979
From Cairo to Wall Street to the West Bank, plotting a world of upheaval.
Thousands of Bahrainis march peacefully for democratic reforms
Colombia agricultural strike sparks fear of shortages
The workers want the government to agree to a wide-ranging set of demands including subsidies for their products, and cheaper fuel prices.
Colombia Nationwide Strike Against 'Free Trade,' Privatization, Poverty
Ignored by English-language media, rural uprisings spread across industries as hundreds of thousands protest US-backed govt
Indigenous protesters rally against Sweden iron mining plans
Buddhists burn Muslim homes and shops in Burma
South Africa hit by wave of strikes
South African construction and airport workers have gone on strike to demand higher wages, dealing another blow to the troubled economy.
South Africa strikes escalate with petrol stations dispute
Surging protests heighten stakes in Mexico battle over revisions

## Energy/resources ##
Has the Shale Bubble Already Burst?
Just like the famous Gold Rushes of the 19th century, US shale gas development is turning out to be a limited and regional market opportunity. Across the Atlantic, the high financial and human costs to fracking also mean that Europe should forget any fantasies about repeating the US shale boom.
Must read: Emergy as a Metric of Sustainability
It is imperative that our energy calculations include energy expenditures such as the "embodied energy" in existing infrastructure, otherwise our understanding of whether we are coming out ahead or not is dangerously skewed. In that light, endeavors like shale drilling look even worse. What's actually happening is that financial hocus-pocus is papering over energy losses with worthless fiat currencies. The shale and oil-sand energy bonanza is a mirage. This article is another reason why many wish TOD would stay active. -- RF
Global Oil Consumption: A Reality Check
Key Points:
• Global consumption of oil products – gasoline, jet fuel, etc – hit a record 88.9 million barrels per day last year.

• North American consumption has been on the decline since 2005. European consumption began to decline a year later, in 2006.
• Asia overtook North America as the region with the greatest thirst for oil in 2009. "If China's use of petroleum continues to grow as projected, it is expected to replace the United States as the world's largest net oil importer this fall," the EIA said.
Future Silver Supply in Question as Mexico Oil Production Declines
Gold and silver mines around the world are facing increasing costs. One of the biggest costs they face is the increasing price of energy. Steve St. Angelo shows how the dwindling supply of major oil deposits, especially in Mexico, are leading to similar supply issues in metals.
Libyan oil industry flounders amid chaos
Egypt's Decline Could be Trouble for Energy Investors
Mexico's Desperate Leap Forward to Jumpstart Oil Production
Petronas hurt by rising costs
Lower oil prices and higher operating costs eroded increased revenue for Petronas in the second quarter, resulting in a profits dip at the Malaysian state-owned energy company.
Nigeria mulls best response to oil thieves
Canadian LNG projects 'difficult to justify,' report says
Either they charge much higher prices for the gas, or the projects won't be economically viable. -- RF
Iran Oil Minister Vows to Revive Output as He Eyes Price War
Peak oil is dead: long live peak oil!
Who said that peak oil models were wrong?
The main difference between today and nine years ago is the appearance in the picture of the "non conventional" resources. With these new resources, we may be able to stretch the availability of liquid fuels for some more years, as long as we'll be able to pay their high costs. But we keep following the expected path and the news about the death of peak oil truly seem to be a bit exaggerated.
While tight oil, oil sands, and bitumen are hailed as the new energy bonanza that supposedly proves peak oil wrong, in reality this low-EROI junk oil is generating false hope at great cost to society. If governments were smart — which they aren't — they would quickly overhaul their policies so that societies would more gracefully decline to a lower energy level. Under current policies, the remaining wealth is concentrated into the hands of the New Aristocracy, while everyone else gets shifted into the serf class. Serfs use very little energy, in case you hadn't noticed. Therefore, transitioning to an overall lower energy level will be accomplished by maintaining the lifestyles of the aristocracy at the expense of the general population. Nothing graceful about that, huh? -- RF
The wind farms that generate enough power to make a few cups of tea
Some of Britain's biggest wind farms are at times producing only enough electricity to make a few cups of tea, according to official industry figures.
Battles Escalate Over Community Efforts to Ban Fracking
China's oil demand meets North Sea supply
Ethanol blend a problem for lawn mowers, etc.
Tech Talk - Where to Expect More Oil to Come This Year
Whatever the title of this piece from The Oil Drum suggests to you, reading it is a sobering experience. -- RF
Iraq's faltering oil resurgence raises price fears
When Iraq surpassed Iran last year as the second-largest Opec producer for the first time since the late 1980s, it was heralded as a sign of the recovery of Baghdad's energy industry a decade after the US-led invasion. But less than 12 months later, Iraq has gone from being a leading source of growth in global oil supplies to an uncertain one – a development that is putting pressure on prices and posing challenges for policy makers in Baghdad, Washington and Riyadh.
Low-Priced Oil Is Really a Mirage
Romania pulls plug on Nabucco pipeline
The World Faces a Helium Shortage
10% of Supply of Vanadium Might Vanish
The US Wastes Enough Energy Each Year to Power the UK for Seven Years
Fuel Smugglers Costing Europe More Than $4 Billion in Lost Taxes
These maps show how Asia is taking over the oil markets
Libya warns will destroy tankers illegally exporting oil
Libya warned on Monday it will attack and destroy any tanker illegally exporting oil after forces last week fired at a Liberian-flagged tanker close to the country's largest crude oil export terminal.
When energy dreams fall short
If the energy visions of past years had come true, throngs of Americans would be using switchgrass to fuel their cars and running their homes on electricity from nuclear fusion or carbon-capturing coal plants. But reality has worked out differently.
Crude Rises to 18-Month High on Syria Tension
National Helium Reserve Faces Shutdown

## Infrastructure scavenging ##
Deadly Mexico train derailment blamed on stolen nails
Infrastructure scavenging is turning into one of the biggest factors behind infrastructure decay, second only after the economic inability to maintain it. -- RF
Metal thieves targeting vehicle batteries
Metal thieves put lives at risk to steal copper from substation
Namibia: Villagers Destroying Electricity Pylons to Make Donkey Carts
Here's an especially important story because it shows what we're going to see much more of in the coming years. Unlike most metal thefts, in which thieves sell metal for cash, in this case the people were taking materials that they need to make something for themselves. They considered donkey carts and other items fashioned from the metal to be more valuable to themselves than electricity pylons. This is the same as when, for example, Chinese peasants steal stones from the Great Wall to use in their houses. To the peasants, the Great Wall is just a useless thing from the past, and therefore it makes more sense for them to use its stones for their own immediate needs. Asset stripping such as that already seen at abandoned manufacturing facilities in Detroit will become a more widespread activity as factories and other facilities are abandoned, and nearby people find themselves in need of the materials. -- RF

## Got food? ##
Saudi food consumption to grow 4.2% till 2015
Hedge Funds Are Dumping Monsanto
Soybean, Corn, And Wheat Prices Are Surging
Turning Off The Spigot In Western Kansas Farmland
U.S. Farm Income for 2013 Seen at Record $120.6 Billion
Food prices heading higher
Dry weather in the Midwest, and frost in Brazil, is pushing up agricultural commodities in a way not seen since 2012.

## Lifestyle Solutions ##
What's the Point of Owning All This Stuff?
What Would it be Like to Live Without Your Mobile Phone?

## Environment/health ##
Texas Earthquakes Tied to Extraction in Fracking
These aerial images of industrial beef farming operations look less like shots of land and more like a post-apocalyptic nightmare.
'Inhospitable Oceans' Acidifying at Rate Unseen in 250 Million Years (or Ever)
Scientists working to find what's killing dolphins
Higher CO2 Harms All Marine Life From Corals and Clams to Fish
Plague of wild pigs has U.S. authorities squealing
California Battling Wildfire the Size of Chicago
Dengue Fever Pops Up In Florida
Boy dies of plague in Kyrgyzstan
Mercury levels in Pacific Ocean fish on the rise due to India, China coal plants
Haboob blows into Phoenix, bringing high wind, low visibility
Impact of Indonesian slash-and-burn fires seen in satellite photo

## Intelligence/propaganda/security/internet/cyberwar ##
How the West Bugs Middle East Revealed, But Who Leaked It?
Curious 'exclusive reporting' by the Independent raises more questions about government behavior over spying and journalism
Amazon Web Services experienced minor outage on Sunday
Amazon Web Services experienced a brief outage on Sunday afternoon. It only last about 60 minutes, but appears to have taken down popular sites such as Instagram, Flipboard and Vine for short periods.
Google patents 'pay-per-gaze' eye-tracking that could measure emotional response to real-world ads
The Real, Terrifying Reason Why British Authorities Detained David Miranda
Edward Snowden NSA files: secret surveillance and our revelations so far (Guardian)
Hacks continue as FBI claims to have dismantled Anonymous
The FBI is claiming to have dismantled the hacker organization Anonymous. But shortly after an official's statements were published in the press, Anons dumped large amounts of data that appears to have been stolen from FBI servers.
Who Isn't the NSA Bugging? New Revelations of Spying on UN
Japan to increase defense analysis capability in African countries
Internet Architects Plan Counter-Attack On NSA Snooping
Council of Europe asks UK to explain intimidation against the Guardian
Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has asked UK Home Secretary Theresa May to explain the pressure that Downing Street had put on the Guardian newspaper over the Snowden case, warning of the potentially "chilling effect" on media freedom.
Cybersecurity And Privacy Specialists In Short Supply
United Nations says it will contact United States over spying report
Obama's DOJ Relentless in Efforts to Force NYT Journalist to Reveal Confidential Source
China hit by 'biggest ever' cyber-attack
Facebook: U.S. Wanted Data On 20,000 Of Its Users This Year
'Malicious Attack' Knocks Out NYTimes.com For Second Time In Two Weeks
Syrian Electronic Army Says It Hacked Twitter
Codename 'Apalachee': How America Spies on Europe and the UN
U.S. scientist operates colleague's brain from across campus
Edward Snowden's digital maneuvers still stumping U.S. government

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Massive NASDAQ Trading Halt is Just the Latest in a Series of Mysterious Outages
Systemic Bloat: Nasdaq crash triggers fear of data meltdown
Digital infrastructure exceeding limits of human control, industry experts warn
This is just one of the components of industrial/technological civilization. Here too we are reaching the limits of complexity, and the system shows signs of buckling. -- RF
Typing error sends Tel Aviv Stock Exchange plummeting
Instagram, other sites go down
Rage: Average worker 'suffers desk rage twice a day'
Another sign of the debilitating and destructive malaise building in modern industrial/technological societies. There's road rage, air rage, desk rage, and who knows what other kinds. Rage is everywhere, and it's going to boil over as it becomes a seething cauldron of civil unrest that will tear societies apart. Have a nice day! -- RF
The Doomsday Machine
Up Against Hard Limits: Food and Finance
We are reaching hard limits in food production and financial engineering.
Silicon Valley can't save America's dying economy

## Japan ##
Russia Offers to Help Clean Up Fukushima as Tepco Calls for Help
Faulty tanks leave radiated water with nowhere to go
Tepco Faces 132 Olympic Pools Worth of Radioactive Water
Contaminated waste piling up
More cleanups planned in Fukushima where radiation levels have rebounded
Formin Kishida makes fact-finding visit to Chernobyl
Japan may dip into budget reserves to fight Fukushima toxic water
And it's just the beginning. Watch as Fukushima absorbs ever-growing piles of money, and then as the decommissioning and cleanup efforts for NPPs around the world demand more money and time than ever imagined. Remember, decommissioning Chernobyl may take 100 years, while Britain's Trawsfynydd plant, a small NPP which had no major accidents, is projected to take 90 years for decommissioning. As industrial society founders and money runs out, even the staunchest nuclear power advocates and apologists will find themselves admitting that nuclear is one of humanity's biggest mistakes. Clean energy, my ass. -- RF
"Limited Freedom of Speech" For Japanese Bureaucrats To Cover Up The "Dire Fiscal Condition"
Japan's debt-funding costs to hit $257 billion next year: document
Japan firms still not convinced to hire more, brace for sales tax increase
Japan to introduce internet 'fasting camps' for addicted kids
Japan's Iran crude imports stabilizing for now, gloomy weather ahead
5,680 hospitalized for heatstroke last week
Localized heavy rain increases by 50%
Japan budget requests likely to top ¥100 trillion for second year in fiscal 2014

## China ##
Huge debts send China's steel industry to verge of bankruptcy
Eighty six of China's major medium-and-large steel enterprises incurred more than 3 trillion yuan (US$486.4 billion) in total liabilities as of June, or a debt ratio of 69.74%, signaling that the industry is on the verge of bankruptcy, reports Beijing's Economic Observer, citing figures from the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA).
24-hr fast food stores become shelters for the homeless in Beijing
City drivers may be charged 'congestion fares' to ease traffic
SHANGHAI plans to charge drivers fares when roads are most congested and look into further vehicle restrictions based on  traffic and environmental conditions, according to a traffic white paper issued by the city today.
Tackling local government debt is China's biggest challenge: survey
China tightens the screw on the internet
Fire and Water: China's Looming Coal Problem
According to a new WRI analysis, more than half of China's proposed coal-fired power plants are slated to be built in areas of high or extremely high water stress. If these plants are built, they could further strain already-scarce resources, threatening water security for China's farms, other industries, and communities.
Overcapacity a serious problem in Coal Industry

## UK ##
HS2 is a 'grand folly' and should be scrapped, business leaders warn
Everyone to pay more to insure flood risk homes
Post Office staff in fresh strikes
Police under fire over arbitrary terror arrests at UK borders
'We're going to work until we're unable to'

## US ##
As Long As You Don't Eat, Price Inflation Is Under Control
Treasury predicts US will hit debt limit in mid-October
First Signs of Hyperinflation Have Arrived: US National Debt Can Travel From the Earth to the Sun and Back a Stunning 83 Times!
The real national debt, despite having been falsely frozen at the falsely advertised figure of $16.699 trillion for more than 90 consecutive days for no other reason than it has reached the designated limit, clocks in at a whopping $220 trillion if you include all unfunded, off-balance liabilities such as Medicare and Social Security.
U.S. Growth Rate Worse Since Recovery
That's because there has actually been no "recovery." We're watching a steady decline with ups and downs and bubbles. And it's going to get worse. -- RF
Durable Goods Orders Plunge 7.3%, Nondefense New Orders for Capital Goods Plunge 15.4%; Plunge to Accelerate?
New Jersey nuclear plant shut down after leak
Resort And Hotel Fees Soar To New Heights
In bustling Houston, it's a case of 'Build, baby, build!'
Wildfire enters Yosemite, threatens San Francisco water, power
Dishwashers Beat Clothes as U.S. Moms Use Hand-Me-Downs
Outlook for Jobs and Confidence in Economy Sink
Study raises question of who will care for aging baby boomers
Orders for long-lasting US factory goods fall sharply as businesses cut back on spending
Jackson Hole Presenter Warns: "Bottom Could Fall Out Of The Economy As It Did In The Great Depression"
Reinventing Feudalism in America: How can existing home sales go up when mortgage applications are falling?
The epic crisis in retirement savings: Vast majority of Americans unprepared for retirement. Median retirement savings for those 25 to 34? Zero dollars.
Prepare for War: Pentagon Crafts "Limited Strike Plans" for Syria
Bubbles Bloom Anew in Desert as Buyers Wager on Las Vegas
Welcome to the Housing Recovery: Rents are Rising, Incomes are Falling
Pentagon Weighs Firing Thousands Under 2014 Spending Cuts
People in their 60s carrying more debt, usually a mortgage
Neofeudalism marches on: Wealth distribution in US rivals a modern day Gilded Age: In 2013 wealth inequality at record levels. 72 percent of wealth in US held by 5 percent of the population.
Survey of business economists calls deficits in 2020s and 2030s the biggest US fiscal problem
S.C. capital's plan for the homeless? Ban them
Regulators, Bitcoin group discuss digital currency
The worm is turning for investment real estate: American Homes 4 Rent posted a net loss of $14 million. Wells Fargo announces layoffs for 2,300 due to drop in refinancing activity.
Nuke Plant to Shut Doors: Environmental Victory But Vital Work Still Ahead
Once it ceases functioning, the plant will be in a state of "safe store" and remain shuttered as its radioactive components cool for up to 60 years.
Money for proper decommissioning will run out before those 60 years have elapsed. This will be just one of hundreds of nuclear disaster sites ringing the globe. -- RF
McMansions are back -- and bigger than ever

And finally…
Police seize painting of Vladimir Putin in a negligee
Japan wife kills cheating husband with coffee cup

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