Tuesday, September 17, 2013


News Links, September 7-10, 2013

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards ##
Brussels fears European 'industrial massacre' sparked by energy costs
Europe's industry is being ravaged by exorbitant energy costs and an over-valued euro, blighting efforts to reverse years of global manufacturing decline.
Russia may order price freeze as growth worries pile up
Russia may prevent regulated prices from rising next year for the first time since 1999 as President Vladimir Putin's government seeks to ease pressure on household budgets in an economy that is barely growing.
Pawnshops hit paydirt as Southeast Asians sweat before pay day
Faced with rising living costs and unable to wait until pay day, growing numbers of Southeast Asians are putting their gold jewelry and designer watches in hock, creating a boom in pawnshops across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Props under world growth falling away one by one
Slovenia to liquidate two small banks as bailout looms
Poland Confiscates Half Of Private Pension Funds To "Cut" Sovereign Debt Load
Chinese yuan now among most traded currencies
Wolf at the Door: These BRICs look unlikely to withstand much huffing and puffing.
Greek Economy To Shrink By 3.8% This Year -Finance Ministry Official
Bad debts at Italian banks rise further in July - Bank of Italy
Russia to Brazil Intervention Adds to U.S. Debt Woes Amid Losses
Negative profitability for Abu Dhabi hotels
Can China lead Greece out of darkness?
UAE has world's 'vainest' skyscrapers - study
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) said unusable space at the top of the UAE's 19 tallest buildings was an average 19 percent of their total height, a measure it called the "vanity height".
Cash-Starved Spanish Companies Run Out of Time
Borrowings binge puts Malaysia at risk to capital flight, Economist sees
New crisis threatens housing projects (KSA)
Obstacles to importing building material, especially from Turkey, is developing into a new crisis threatening real estate projects in the Kingdom. The threat emerged at a time when the Ministry of Housing plans to build around 40,000 homes and 500,000 low-cost homes to solve the country's pressing housing problem.
Foreign workers hold 86% of private sector jobs in Kingdom (KSA)
Why Indian exports need more than a cheap rupee
Gold Mining "Doesn't Work" Below $1000

## Airline Death Spiral ##
Think Planes Are Crowded? There's Room for Things to Get Worse
The trend over the past decade has been clear: Higher costs—driven by jet fuel prices—have prompted airlines to pack their planes. The annual average load factor for U.S. carriers rose from 71.9 percent in 2002 to 82.8 percent last year. And carriers aren't even making bigger profits from the crowded planes: The industrywide "break-even" point for U.S. flights has gone from 69.4 percent in 2000 to 80.9 percent last year.
Everyone Loves Virgin America, Except the Investors Who've Lost $675 Million
U.S. airlines achieve 2% net profit margin in first half of 2013

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Syria: western activists volunteer to become 'human shields'
Russia Sends Third Marine Ship To Syria
The Dick Cheney-Syria Oil Connection
White House: Attacking Syria a 'Message to Iran'
Oil and Gas Limits Underlie Syria's Conflict
World leaders need to understand and acknowledge the decisive nature of energy decline. The struggle, killing, and chaos in Syria are a preview of what will happen throughout the world as energy constraints tighten and unrest builds. Energy decline is one of the main ingredients in the recipe for collapse. -- RF
EU: Syria military action must wait till U.N. probe is finished
Pro-Israel U.S. lobbying group sets major push for Syria action
G20 summit ends poorly for Obama as France pulls back on Syrian time scale
Ban welcomes Russia, U.S. pitch on surrendering chemical weapons
Kerry Tells Lavrov Chemical Disarmament Demand Was "Rhetorical", Not Meant To Be Proposal
U.S. pulls staff from outposts in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq
Egypt moves to dissolve Brotherhood NGO: reports
Amid U.S. Concern, Pakistan 'Confident' Nukes Are Secure
Bomb explodes at Cairo police station, explosives found on rail track
Egypt army attacks Sinai militants
Is China Laying Down Stakes at Disputed Scarborough Shoal?
Manila has expressed concern over the discovery of 75 square concrete blocks found near the entrance of the Scarborough Shoal, which is within the Philippines exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea but China has claimed as sovereign territory.
S. Pacific 'Chinese ports' cause worry / Japan, U.S., Australia wary of 'footholds'
Japanese, U.S. and Australian defense authorities are increasingly wary over China's moves to develop port facilities in island countries in the Pacific Ocean amid concern that those facilities could become Chinese Navy footholds in the future.
U.S. Exempts 11 Countries From Iran Oil Sanctions
How Could A Drought Spark A Civil War?
Chesapeake terminates 13,000 acres of drilling leases in New York

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Brazil protests disrupt Independence Day celebrations
The Mexican street lives on
Protesters in Tunisia renew calls for government to step down
Hundreds of Minneapolis anti-war protesters condemn U.S. action in Syria

## Energy/resources ##
The Entire Chinese Coal Industry is Bust
Platts reports data this week showing that the current Chinese price for thermal coal (as reflected in the FOB Qinhuangdao 5500 NAR marker) is below the cost of production for more than 90% of domestic miners. That's a huge revelation for the global thermal coal market. No one in China is making money at current prices.
So just raise the price of coal. What's that? You say the Chinese people will revolt? That's a problem. -- RF
The exploding supply of NGLs: can this stuff be called oil?
It's a good question to ask. We have lots of "liquids," but hardly anyone is asking about the "take-home" energy left after deducting energy expenditures and accounting for the increasing proportion of junk oil. Costs are of course highly indicative of net energy decline. As in the unprofitability of Chinese coal, above, or the threatened profitability of oil in Malaysia, or the unprofitability of US shale gas, or the rising extraction cost of Powder River coal, costs are skyrocketing. Peak oil debunkers see only the quantity of "liquids" but are blind to quality, cost, sustainability, and of course net energy. And that error is their downfall. -- RF
S.Korea nuclear issues, tower protests raise blackout risks
South Korea faces possible power blackouts this winter and next summer, as cable safety issues and protests that are holding up completion of an ultra-high-voltage power line threaten to keep more nuclear reactors offline.
Turkey's Declining Coal Industry
Iran's Zanganeh mulls oil contract options
Chinese Energy Companies Continue Canadian Acquisitions
The Real Population Problem
Iraq shortlists global contractors to build $18 billion crude oil export pipeline
Gen X Oil Workers in Danger of 'Burning Out'
Our energy future: "They'll think of something"
Can We Live on Sustainable Energy Alone?
€300m required to reach wind energy goal (Ireland)
A freshwater shortage is expected in the US by 2030
The Global Helium Crisis Is About To Get A Lot Worse
India's Largest Crime Organization Steals Coal from the Rich to Give to the Poor
A real energy eye-opener. -- RF
The Death of the Independent Oil Company is on the Horizon
New Australian Prime Minister is sceptical that peak oil has value for policy making
Millions of tons of waste coffee grounds could be source of biofuels
It's likely that more energy would be expended in gathering up used coffee grounds than the grounds would yield. -- RF
Strategic oil release talk mounts on Syria view

## Got food? ##
The Energy Return of Food
Over the last century, as the US food system mechanized and as Americans came to prefer more processed foods, the energy return of the US food system fell to the point where, as I articulate in my essay The Energy Cost of Food, it now takes 15-20 Calories of energy inputs to deliver one Calorie of food in the US once waste and spoilage are accounted for. That's an investment of 15-20 Calories into the system to get 1 Calorie of food, a steeply negative return on investment.
S. Korea expands ban on fish imports from Japan
Food Insecurity, Hunger Plague US at Record Levels
US Farmers Continue David Vs. Goliath Battle Against Monsanto
McDonald's tries family-size meal deal
Green acres: The soaring value of Canada's farmland
List of 100 Heirloom Seed Suppliers (US)
Low-Cost, Multipurpose, DIY Greenhouses
EU report: Brussels biofuels policy hikes food prices by up to 50%
If biofuels received no EU policy support, the price of food stuffs such as vegetable oil would be 50% lower in Europe by 2020 than at present – and 15% lower elsewhere in the world – according to new research by the EU's Joint Research Centre (JRC).
USDA pilot program fails to stop contaminated meat
A meat inspection program that the Agriculture Department plans to roll out in pork plants nationwide has repeatedly failed to stop the production of contaminated meat at American and foreign plants that have already adopted the approach, documents and interviews show.
Store-Bought Baby Food Offers Little Benefit to Milk Diet
Commercial baby foods offer little nutritional benefit over breast milk and infants would get more from homemade purees than from a jar when transitioning to a solid food diet, a study found.

## Lifestyle Solutions ##
Living without a fridge

## Environment/health ##
Study: Expect more record heat days in U.S. with global warming
Lung diseases cause one in 10 deaths across Europe
Two Saudi women die from MERS virus
Rooftop solar panels become new enemy of U.S. firefighters
More Evidence Environment Is Impacting Autism
Not just bats and frogs: snake fungal disease hits U.S.
Mexico, beset by obesity and diabetes, to consider a tax on soft drinks
World population to peak by 2055: report
It will peak before then. -- RF
More Fracking Headaches As Earthquake Evidence Grows

## Intelligence/propaganda/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Google encrypts data amid backlash against NSA spying
Google is racing to encrypt the torrents of information that flow among its data centers around the world in a bid to thwart snooping by the NSA and the intelligence agencies of foreign governments, company officials said Friday.
NSA Broke Into Foreign Airlines And Reservation Systems: Report
Uncle Sam Spied On Brazilian Oil Firm
The U.S. National Security Agency allegedly spied on Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras PBR +0.76%, according to Globo, Brazil's biggest television network.
As Tech Companies Create Alibis, Experts Warn NSA Has Compromised Entirety of Internet
'Der Spiegel': NSA can access most smartphone data
How To Send Messages That Even The NSA Cannot Read: Steganography
Quantum Cryptography – Possible Hope for Stopping NSA Snooping
Serious breach limit set for online rumors (China)
Saudi Arabia bans 'terrorist' propaganda on Internet
Internet companies in new effort to disclose more on NSA requests

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Lebanon's Economy Faces Collapse
U.S. economy showing signs of imminent financial collapse
Detroit, Germany: Study Warns of Ongoing Depopulation Trend
Rents in many large German cities are too high, but in some towns vacancies are rampant. A new study warns that if these developments continue, many cities could end up looking like Detroit.
Small California City Welcomes Doomsday Bunkers
I personally don't think this "bunker mentality" will do the world any good. To build a new society we need to be in the world, engaging and interacting with it. But pick your own poison. -- RF

## Japan ##
U.S. oil sanctions waiver extended
Japanese Self-Defense Force jets scramble Chinese bombers
Vacant houses pose a problem
Likely methane hydrate reserves mapped
Study: Massive quake could cripple nation's super high-rises
Current account surplus eroded by import costs
Leaked toxic water found at another site at Fukushima plant: TEPCO
Japan scrambles jets in response to drone
Abe's claims to have Fukushima under control criticized
Japan's Frantic Redo Of An Artificial Boom Followed By A Bust

## China ##
China buys into giant Kazakh oilfield for $5 billion
Chinese Zombies Emerging After Years of Solar Subsidies
Only five solar-power vendors remain in a space built for 170 at a sprawling complex of offices stacked three stories high outside Xinyu city in China's southeast. Locked doors and empty offices are what's left of the government's audacious plan to dominate the global solar industry. What happened in Xinyu is being replicated across China, which used subsidies and $47.5 billion of credit to wrest supremacy from Germany, Japan and the U.S., saddling an industry with losses for at least two years.
China locks foreign investors out of another bad-debt cleanup
Video: Illustrating China's Shadow Banking Problem

## UK ##
HS2 costs spiralling and benefits dwindling MPs warn
HS2 has been dealt a devastating blow by Westminster's financial watchdog, which warned the Government has yet to present a "convincing case" for the £50 billion scheme in which costs have spiralled and benefits dwindled.
Sale of road atlases soars as satnav drivers seek extra help
No attack on Syria, no matter what, say voters
A&E departments understaffed by nearly 10%, finds BBC survey
We have to innovate to keep North Sea oil and gas ahead of the game, or face up to decline
London sees shale as part of broad energy mix
'Baseless economics': Lord Stern on David Cameron's claims that a UK fracking boom can bring down price of gas

## US ##
Job growth disappoints, offers cautionary note for Fed
Quality Of August Jobs Added: Absolutely Abysmal
The five worst things about this crummy jobs report
Labor participation lowest since 1978
Unemployment falls for the wrong reason as many Americans give up on weak job market
The drop in the unemployment rate in August to a 4 1/2-year low was hardly cause for celebration. The rate fell because more people stopped looking for work.
Just How Distorted is the U.S. Unemployment Rate Number?
If Employment Is So Great, Why Are Withholding Taxes Declining?
The Fed Has Wasted Trillions and the US Remains in Depression
Nuclear renaissance: 12 nuclear plants on the chopping block
Squirrels and electricity: A shocking problem
How to Print Dollars in Your Own Backyard and Keep Them Away from Wal-Mart
Suburban schools make sure kids have food on weekends
These programs are a response to the historical shift – a lingering consequence of the housing bubble – as America's poverty moves from urban centers to its suburbs.
Households On Foodstamps Rise To New Record High: More Americans Live In Poverty Than The Population Of Spain
IBM will shift Medicare-eligible retirees from company health plan to private exchange
IBM plans to move many retired workers off its health plan and give them money to buy coverage on a health-insurance exchange. The move is part of a corporate trend away from providing traditional retiree health benefits as costs rise.
Time Warner To Remove U.S. Retirees From Company Health Plan
The day of reckoning for student debt has arrived and the bubble begins to deflate
Remote U.S. Border Patrol bases plug gaps on Mexico frontier
Hate your commute now? Just wait 5 years
Expect 50% more traffic on some routes in coming years
US Economic Activity Poised to Soar?
Gold Confiscation
Jobs skills gap: The basics become a problem
U.S. Gasoline Consumption Continues Falling
Drone hunters: Why are Americans lining up to shoot down drones? (+video)
Unemployment and Jobs Not Good Enough to Bring End to Quantitative Easing
Can the Weight of 90 Million Not in the Workforce Collapse the Economy? Yes, We Can
Economists see 3 percent U.S. growth most of 2014
Bank of America Said to Cut 2,100 Jobs in Mortgage Slump
Despite scarce aid for infrastructure, Biden says East Cost ports must expand
World's largest Ferris wheel nears completion in Las Vegas; single ride will take half hour
Derivatives watchdog hones in on speed traders
Chemicals allegedly used in Syria are the type stored by the U.S. in Kentucky
Taxpayers Turn U.S. Farmers Into Fat Cats With Subsidies
GE, IBM Ending Retiree Health Plans in Historic Shift

And finally...
England's Black Pudding Throwing Championship draws 2,000
Final Tally: Americans Were 12 Times More Interested in Miley Cyrus Than Syria

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