Tuesday, December 31, 2013


News Links, December 31, 2013

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards ##
China local government debt surges by 70%
China has local government debts of 17.7 trillion yuan ($2.9tn), up 70% from three years ago, according to an official report.
Tax revenues worldwide recover from recession
It would be nice if the article discussed the raising of tax rates. Here in Japan, income tax rates have been raised, and in April the consumption tax (sales tax) will be raised from 5% to 8%. So it's disingenuous to suggest that tax revenues are growing because of a "recovery" while picking people's pockets to cover up for mismanagement, waste, Ponzi-economy failure, and net energy decline. -- RF
Brazil Raises Tax For Debit Card Purchases Abroad By 1600 Percent
According to a statement by Brazil's finance ministry, the increase would raise an estimated $221.9 million a year in additional revenue for the government.
Low interest rates cannot continue for ever: German FinMin
Cheaper gold brings new customers to Dubai in droves
At 20 years, NAFTA boosted trade, did little for wage gap, environment in Mexico
While it changed the country in some fundamental ways, the treaty never met many of its sweeping promises to close Mexico's wage gap with the United States, boost job growth, fight poverty and protect the environment.

## Airline Death Spiral ##
Airline Fees Will Only Get Crazier in 2014
Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE: DAL): Can Airlines Continue Capacity Cuts To Improve Yields?

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
2 suicide bombings kill 31 people in southern Russia, raise concern on Sochi Olympics
Two suicide bombings in as many days have killed 31 people and raised concerns that Islamic militants have begun a terrorist campaign in Russia that could stretch into the Sochi Olympics in February.
Canada Lays Claim to Seabed Below North Pole
Cocaine Is Evil: The gruesomeness of the drug trade rivals any atrocities in history
Iraq Teeters on the Edge as Political Violence Spikes
This is What Really Happens in the Drone Program from an Insider
Death toll in Congo attacks rises to 100: government
A new dictator takes Iraq to the brink

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Is America About To Reach A Breaking Point? Anger Grows As Unemployment Benefits Get Cut
Shots fired at German ambassador's residence in Athens
Fighting erupts as Iraq police break up Sunni protest camp
Buenos Aires residents protest over 'heatwave power cuts'

## Energy/resources ##
Buenos Aires power supply disrupted in heatwave
Hunger and conflict in wake of oil drought
South Korea may need five more nuclear plants for 2025-2035
China may raise Iran oil imports with new contract: sources
China may buy more Iranian oil next year as a state trader is negotiating a new light crude contract that could raise imports from Tehran to levels not seen since tough Western sanctions were imposed in 2012, running the risk of upsetting Washington.
Gazprom Flag Planted Firmly in Arctic
South Korea to raise domestic gas prices by 5.8 pct
South Korea will raise domestic natural gas prices by an average 5.8 percent from Wednesday to reflect costlier imports and to meet rising demand following the shutdown of some nuclear reactors, Korea Gas Corp (KOGAS) said.

## Infrastructure scavenging ##
Cable theft causes train disruption

## Got food? ##
Special Report: Lost hooves, dead cattle before Merck halted Zilmax sales
Israel puts price control on food products to curb soaring prices
Food Price Pressure to Rise (US)
Was 2013 Really The Year Of The Paleo Diet?
Foodmaker says pesticide residue far more damaging than thought (Japan)

## Environment/health ##
Big Marijuana: Is It The Future?
Train collision in North Dakota sets oil rail cars ablaze
Amazon forest loss risks water security across South America
Radiation? Seals, Sea Lions, Polar Bears, Bald Eagles, Sea Stars, Turtles, King and Sockeye Salmon, Herring, Anchovies and Sardines In The Western Part of North America All Suffering Mysterious Diseases At the Same Time

## Intelligence/propaganda/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Greenwald: NSA Stories Also Reveal Perilous State of Mainstream Journalism
"It really is the central view of, certainly, American and British media stars," declared Greenwald, "that when, especially people with medals on their chests, who are called generals, but also high-ranking officials in the government, make claims, that those claims are presumptively treated as true without evidence, and that it's almost immoral to call them into question, or to question their veracity."
Cash machines robbed with infected USB sticks
New computer memory can hold data 20 years without power
OMsignal Delivers Wearable Technology That Captures Your Bio-Data
MI5 whistleblower launches defense fund for whistleblowers
How The NSA Hacks Your iPhone (Presenting DROPOUT JEEP)
French telecom operator Orange threatens to sue NSA over cable tapping

## Japan ##
Homeless Japanese Being 'Recruited' To Clean Up Fukushima Disaster
Investigation reveals systematic exploitation of homeless by big business and organized crime
Consensus Now Believes Abenomics "Recovery" Will Fail
Whereabouts of 4,200 kids unknown
Electricity futures trading to start
Sony plans more staff cuts in foundering electronics segment

## China ##
Chinese police kill eight in Xinjiang 'terrorist attack'
Foreign Warplanes Active in China's Defense Zone
China's Defense Ministry said this week it monitored nearly 800 foreign warplanes within the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone during its first month.
Multinationals laying off employees in China, elsewhere
International firms are now laying off or plan to let go of their workers globally amid a sluggish global economy, according to the Beijing-based Economic Observer.
China Pressures Officials to Stop Smoking
China's Local Debt Swells to 17.9 Trillion Yuan in Audit
The Taper And The China Credit Power Struggle Squeeze
Talk about financial engineering! But this hocus-pocus is what makes the world go around these days. -- RF
Opposition within Chinese gov't to Beijing's new air defense identification zone

## UK ##
English Heritage 'can't cope' with backlog of crumbling buildings
Homes still without power as UK prepares for month of storms

## US ##
Feds announce drone testing sites in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Virginia
Despite more gadgets, electricity usage in US homes is falling to levels last seen in 2001
U.S. population growth slows to just 0.71%
Declining electricity usage and population growth have much to do with the high cost of energy. -- RF
Americans on Wrong Side of Pay Gap Run Out of Means to Cope
Joke Headline of the Day: "Pending Home Sales Rise"; Five Housing Headwinds
Overthrow the Speculators (Chris Hedges)
Money, as Karl Marx lamented, plays the largest part in determining the course of history. Once speculators are able to concentrate wealth into their hands they have, throughout history, emasculated government, turned the press into lap dogs and courtiers, corrupted the courts and hollowed out public institutions, including universities, to justify their looting and greed. Today's speculators have created grotesque financial mechanisms, from usurious interest rates on loans to legalized accounting fraud, to plunge the masses into crippling forms of debt peonage. They steal staggering sums of public funds, such as the $85 billion of mortgage-backed securities and bonds, many of them toxic, that they unload each month on the Federal Reserve in return for cash. And when the public attempts to finance public-works projects they extract billions of dollars through wildly inflated interest rates.
Municipal Bonds Wrap Up Tough Year
Municipal bonds are on track to post their worst annual performance in nearly two decades as 2013 ushered in more financial woes for U.S. cities.

And finally...
Robbers hand back out-of-date cellphone
A man robbed by two men in New York's Central Park said they returned his cellphone when the outdated gadget apparently failed to meet their standards.
Beggars can't be choosers, but robbers can. -- RF
The Most Ridiculous Things That Happened In Air Travel In 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013


News Links, December 29-30, 2013

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards ##
Southern Italy lost 600,000 jobs since start of recession
France's 75% tax rate gains approval by top court
As populations age and pension costs strain governments, a retirement crisis looms
The Mechanics of Precious Metals Price Manipulation
S&P 500 Hits Most Overbought Level Since May
Turkey corruption crisis pushes lira to record low
Mexico City residents jumping barriers after subway fare goes up
Monte Paschi faces nationalization threat after cash call delay

## Airline Death Spiral ##
Sky-high airport fees choking aviation: IATA chief
Some airline miles won't go as far in 2014, as cost of free tickets rise
Airline delays decline, but there's a catch to those numbers

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Yemeni tribesmen blow up pipeline in south: local official
Yemeni tribesmen blew up a pipeline in the eastern Hadramout province on Saturday, disrupting oil flow two days after they seized an Oil Ministry building in the province, a local government official said.
Why The Turkish Government May Be The Casualty Of A $119 Billion PetroDollar "Loophole"
At least 265 arrested in crackdown on Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood
Uzbekistan signs key CIS free-trade protocol
Feeling snubbed by US, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere, find unexpected alignment with France
Saudi Arabia to give Lebanon $3 billion to support the national army and buy French weapons
Battle lines are being redrawn in the Middle East. Will the Obama Administration be able to retake Iran in spite of resistance from Israeli-controlled members of Congress? -- RF
Japan to add defense attaches in India
Japan aims to strengthen its defense planning with India to address China's growing military power in the region.
16 die in suicide bombing at railway station in southern Russia, scores wounded
$0.60 for cake, $1.80 for soap, $3 for broom: Al-Qaida records all expenses, runs like company
AQ is obviously far better run than the Pentagon. -- RF
Gang gunfights loom over Rio de Janeiro's World Cup preparations
Security forces beef up presence in Rocinha, the city's largest shanty town, to try and quell worsening violence that is undermining pacification efforts ahead of the 2014 tournament
Russia, China to Ensure Security of Syrian Chemical Stockpile
The New New Great Game: Geography, Energy, The Dollar And Gold
White House doesn't dispute report finding no al Qaeda role in Benghazi attack
New US Rapid Reaction Forces at Work in Africa Crises

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Tens of thousands protest against Niger government
Thousands of Cambodians rally to demand PM steps down
Anti-government protesters clash with Turkish riot police
Fresh Ukraine protests draw thousands onto Kiev streets
Argentina heatwave sparks protests

## Energy/resources ##
Good read: 7 things everyone knows about energy that just ain't so (2013 Edition)
Libya pipeline threatened
Oil security guards in central Libya have threatened to block a gas pipeline to the capital Tripoli unless the government meets their salary demands.

## Got food? ##
Time Is Running Out To Save Florida's Oranges
U.S. Uses 40 Tons of Antibiotics a Day Just to Grow Food
Earning Potential of Market Gardening
Maruha Nichiro unit recalls 6.3 million packages of malathion-contaminated frozen food (Japan)

## Environment/health ##
Elderly Homes Weak Link in Battle Against Superbugs
Brain function 'boosted for days after reading a novel'
Frac sand company fined $80,000
A Texas-based company that processes sand for hydraulic fracturing has been ordered to pay an $80,000 fine for allegedly violating air pollution control laws in the US state of Wisconsin.

## Intelligence/propaganda/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Report lifts lid on NSA hacker unit, says US spies intercept computer deliveries to plant bugs
A German magazine lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacking unit Sunday, reporting that American spies intercept computer deliveries, exploit hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijack Microsoft's internal reporting system to spy on their  targets.
NEMESIS Camouflage Conceals Body Heat From Thermal Sensors
New crime-fighting tool: Photos of victims' eyes?
Afghanistan could risk falling into chaos (video)
"Al-Qaida and other power-hungry groups," says the announcer, with the implication that the US is not a "power-hungry group." Is there any government or political/military organization that is not a "power-hungry group"? Name one. -- RF

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Greece waste: Mounds of filth on an island paradise
Hundreds of teens trash mall in wild flash mob (US)
Argentina: 'state of emergency' declared as power and water supplies fail during heatwave
This will all end in an economic collapse: Ron Paul (video)
Fears of social breakdown as gambling explodes in Italy

## Japan ##
Japan Consumer Prices Seen Rising Five Times as Fast as Wages
Abenomics: A smashing success! -- RF
Senkaku: Japan to take foreign reporters on 10-day isle dispute junket
Building of maglev line to start next fall
It may start, but it will never finish. -- RF
Flu season in full swing; western areas hardest hit
Panel wants sea lanes part of self-defense
Japan should be able to exercise the right to collective self-defense in the event that a "grave situation that concerns the security of Japan" emerges while Self-Defense Force ships, for example, are participating in joint patrols of key sea lanes for transporting crude oil and other essential items, according to an outline of a report to be compiled by a government panel.
Tepco Has a Plan for the Future but Won't Say What It Is

## China ##
China formalizes easing of one-child policy
More than 500 lawmakers in China resign over alleged fraud
Loan Sharks Smell Blood in China Waters

## UK ##
Rate rise may put 1.1m homeowners in 'peril'
Those spending more than half their income on mortgages and debt could almost double if the Bank of England raises rates, according to a think tank
Britain faces a month of floods with 'no end in sight'

## US ##
The most vulnerable retirees struggle to survive even with government help
LAPD deploys drug detection swab test at sobriety checkpoints
Out with the old: Americans have little good to say about 2013
In Rural America, School Sports Dying With The Population
Power outages leading to health threats (video)
600 People Involved in Movie Theater Brawl, 5 Arrested
Power outages nag Mich., Maine as new storm threatens
Cold homes heat power controversy in Michigan
McDonald's McResource Problem: Even Good Advice Can't Make Up for Low Wages
These 10 bubbles will pop in new 'Lost Decade'
Wall Street says the last "Lost Decade," which actually started in 2000, just ended. Sorry, but a new Lost Decade is already on the clock, and the clock is ticking. It'll run from 2014 through the 2024 presidential election and probably longer. Worse, it'll be marked by 10 hot bubbles that never exploded in the last Lost Decade. They're still growing. And guaranteed to explode in America's face.
Bubble! Stocks: Break out the champagne!
Detroit Has Large Number Of Homes Worth Less Than $10,000
Chris Christie Expects 'Significant Results' From Faltering Atlantic City Casinos

Friday, December 27, 2013


News Links, December 26-28, 2013

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards ##
After a year, Bundesbank repatriates only 37 of 700 tonnes of gold
The Gold Rush Spreads From China And India To Saudi Arabia
Gold becoming scarce in Mexico too
Hike in Indian gold tax to fight trade imbalance squeezes wedding budgets, spurs smuggling
Indian Bitcoin Exchanges Halted As Government Shifts Capital Control Attention Away From Gold
After bad year, insurers face potential ice-storm hit
IMF says Cyprus support for Troika austerity 'sputtering' as slump drags on
Soaring compliance costs clip wings of Mideast, African banks
Spain king: Millions need unemployment relief
The Probability Of A Stock Market Crash Is Soaring
U.S. 10-year yield hits 2-year high, seen higher in 2014
March of state companies resets global trading patterns
As U.S. and European banks drop out of commodity trading, Russian, Chinese and Gulf state firms are filling the gap in an attempt to exert greater control over the pricing of the raw materials on which their economies so heavily depend.
A Trip Through The Bitcoin Mines
Bloomberg TV Anchor's Bitcoin Stolen On Primetime TV
Survey: Most young adults worldwide don't have a bank account
Turkey's Erdoğan Will Probably Hang in There. The Economy May Not
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may soon be forced to call early elections, as Turkey's currency and stock market are tanking and foreign investors are unloading its sovereign debt in the wake of a widening corruption scandal.
Further gloom in store for lira as it hits record low
France Wants To Tax YouTube And Facebook Videos
Rail strike vexes South Korean government
A railroad workers' strike is giving the government of President Park Geun-hye headaches and starting to put the brakes on economic activity.

## Airline Death Spiral ##
The Rise of Checked Baggage Fees (video)
U.S. airlines want to stay cell phone free
The year in aviation: Major changes afoot
Unruly Passengers? It's the Seats, Stupid
Airline passengers are unruly because they're stressed, uncomfortable, irritated. Why? In large part, because the airlines are intent on cramming more bodies into fewer, smaller seats. As the claustrophobia quotient rises, so does the tension. And as the tension increases, so do the number of outbursts.
Southwest Airlines struggles with being on time
Budget airline extras can double flight prices
5 Major U.S. Airlines That Charge You Excessively

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
British to begin training Burmese military
British military officials will travel to Burma within days on a controversial mission to begin training the country's brutal military, as the UK joins an international scramble for influence in the nation.
Thai Premier Proposes Political Reform Council to Ease Unrest
Egypt's military-backed interim government declares the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group
Explosion hits bus in Egyptian capital, wounding 5
Ukraine expects remaining $12 billion of Russian bailout in early 2014
U.S. Marines deployed to Uganda for evacuation of Americans from South Sudan
Putin says new post-Soviet economic union with Belarus and Kazakhstan ready for 2015 launch
Turkey Increases Defense Spending in 2014 Budget
String of Palestinian attacks has Israel fretting over potential new violent uprising
Freedom of navigation pits Japan, U.S. against China
US sends Hellfire missiles to Iraq amid surge in violence
South Sudan rebels seize oil wells, mediators urge talks
South Sudan government agrees to truce with opposition
Oil-rich South Sudan teeters on the brink
South Sudan this week saw heavy fighting with as many as 500 killed or wounded, as army factions clashed in the capital following months of political tension in the oil-rich nation after the president dismissed his deputy.
Egypt arrests dozens under anti-terror law, one killed in Cairo
Militants seize Yemen oil ministry building
World powers, Iran to resume expert nuclear talks on Dec. 30
Forgotten by Most Americans, Iraq is Still a Source of Profits for U.S. Weapons Makers
Israel plans 1,400 more West Bank settlement homes, official says

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
TV licence inspectors three times more likely to be attacked by a householder than an animal (UK)
Officials enforcing the £145.50 TV licence were physically assaulted by a member of the public 271 times and savaged by animals 89 times between 2008 and October 2013, BBC discloses
Rocks, tear gas fly as Thai protests heat up
'Never Bend': Thousands Protest New Air Base After Okinawa Switch
The signs people are holding are more accurately translated "Never give in" or "Never knuckle under." -- RF
Death threat, fistfights as power outages linger (US)
Three dead, 265 arrested, as Muslim Brotherhood protesters clash with police
Turkey: Anti-government protesters clash with police

## Energy/resources ##
Record-level metals storage in 'shadow warehouses'
The world's metal is slipping into the shadows. Banks, hedge funds, commodity merchants and others are stashing tens of millions of tons of aluminum, copper, nickel and zinc in a hidden system of warehouses that span the globe.
Pentagon Says Rare Earth Elements Less at Risk
Struggle for resources at root of Central Africa religious violence
Peak demand: the sound of a single hand clapping
On-The-Job Deaths Spiking As Oil Drilling Quickly Expands (US)
Colombia Plans Raid to Seize FARC Rebels' Tungsten Mine
No power till 2014: Homes could be without electricity until after new year, utilities warn (Toronto)
Canada Has a Bad Case of Oil Sands Fever
Cost of nuclear power proving high, DAE in a fix (India)

## Got food? ##
Home (and hungry) for the holidays: Families struggle to feed kids during school break (US)
McDonald's Takes Down Employee Help Site After Controversy
McDonald's Blames Outside Groups for Controversy
Food prices; a bricks and mortar problem for Indian economy
Local Meat Production Won't Solve Global Food Woes

## Lifestyle Solutions ##
How to Stop Emotional Eating and Spending

## Environment/health ##
Judge says Macondo claimants do not need proof
UK supermajor BP has failed to persuade a federal judge to require businesses seeking to recover money over the 2010 Macondo oil spill in the US Gulf of Mexico to provide proof that their economic losses were caused by the disaster, according to a report.

## Intelligence/propaganda/security/internet/cyberwar ##
China-made software collects text data without users' knowledge (Japan)
The government's National Information Security Center has warned about 140 organizations, including government ministries and agencies as well as universities and research institutes, not to use a Japanese-language input method editor developed by Baidu Inc., China's biggest search engine company, after it was found that text data typed into computers is sent to the company's server without the users' knowledge, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
Baidu denies its Japanese input system abuses users information
Russian probe finds that Arafat's death was natural; not caused by radiation
This is the most ironic thing the U.K.'s new porn filters have blocked
Federal judge finds NSA phone surveillance is legal; ACLU 'very disappointed,' promises appeal
UN States Unanimously Agree: Even the Walls Have Ears
The War on Terror's Jedi Mind Trick
Grad student proves NSA can link metadata to your identity with 'marginal effort'
How Your Data Are Being Deeply Mined
Very instructive... and disturbing. -- RF

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Wall Street Adviser: Get Guns and Ammo for the Collapse
Over 80% of public worried about Japan going under: survey
Detroit's abandoned buildings draw tourists instead of developers
1997 Asian Crisis Redux - Thailand Is Imploding

## Japan ##
Japanese Prime Minister Visits Contentious War Shrine
Tons of contaminated water likely leaked from barriers at Fukushima plant
An estimated 225 tons of radioactive rainwater likely leaked from cracks in the barriers surrounding storage tanks at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, seeping into the surrounding soil, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Dec. 24.
16 Japanese reactors up for restart safety checks
Junk energy: Methane hydrate gets budgetary OK
Okinawa OKs relocation of U.S. air base from Futenma to Nago
Japan ranks high in child poverty rate among 31 nations surveyed
PM Abe's surprise Yasukuni Shrine visit draws strong reactions
Okinawa governor gives go-ahead for new US base, but opponents gear up to fight the decision
Excellent: The Japanese Feel The Heat From The Big Lie Of Abenomics
Japan's Nishimura Calls for Quick Corporate Tax Cut to Under 30%

## China ##
China debt grows to $4.6 trillion
Rising Home Prices Reflected in Chinese Character of the Year
'10-year battle' to solve city's air pollution (Shanghai)

## UK ##
Ministers scrap £20m scheme to keep elderly warm
Prof John Ashton, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said: "It is shameful to be scrapping this scheme when we know this country has such a huge problem with winter deaths."
Toshiba nears majority stake in UK nuclear project- CEO
Blackouts continue amid fresh storms

## US ##
When Soaring Margin Debt, Sign of Investor Confidence, Turns Into A Nightmare On Steroids 
The big deleveraging since the financial crisis? An urban legend. In the corporate and financial world, money is free and debt is king. Households might have deleveraged a notch, but everything else has gone on a borrowing binge. That's what the Fed wanted: borrow and inch out further on that thinning limb of risk.
222,000 Californians facing loss of jobless benefits
1.3 million Americans losing jobless benefits as emergency program expires after 5 1/2 years.
More than 1 million Americans are bracing for a harrowing, post-Christmas jolt as extended federal unemployment benefits come to a sudden halt this weekend, with potentially significant implications for the recovering U.S. economy. A tense political battle likely looms when Congress reconvenes in the new, midterm election year.
This Is What It's Like To Work Full Time And Still Be Poor
Southwest Got 10,000 Applications For 750 Flight Attendant Jobs In Just 2 Hours
Federal conference spending is leaving Las Vegas
Santa Claus rally sends markets to record highs
The Stock Market Has Officially Entered Crazytown Territory
Local courts reviving 'debtors' prison' for overdue fines, fees
Citizens take law into own hands after cash-strapped Ore. county guts sheriff's office
53% Increase in Books Banned by U.S. Schools
Natural Gas Prices Rise to Highest Levels in Over Two Years
Atlanta Battles Public Urination With Pee Detectors in Subways
No Austerity for Military Budget in 2014
Poll: Majority of Americans say economy is in bad shape, won't improve
Electric cars to remain niche: US Energy Information Administration
Crude oil overtakes $100 per barrel
Number of States With Gas Price Below $3 Drops to Three
Video surveillance of downtown Houston to expand
Fed Balance Sheet Clearly Over $4 Trillion

And finally...
10 truly bizarre Victorian deaths
Man spots Virgin Mary on tie-dye shirt
Woman arrested for flinging peanut butter at brother
Merry Christmas From the TSA (hilarious video)
Chairman Mao's old home to reopen inside luxury mall
The Shanghai home where Mao Tse-tung first read Marx has become the centerpiece of a luxury shopping centre that calls itself a cradle of "cosmopolitan chic"
Oh, brother! Super-yacht not big enough? 'Seasteads' offer libertarians the vision of floating cities for the future

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


News Links, December 24-25, 2013

Posting will be sporadic over the holiday season.

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards ##
Russia Crisis Haunts Deutsche Bank's Smith Seeing China Bust
China's cash crunch threatens Shadow Banking shock
The credit squeeze in China is no longer a local issue and any misjudgment by the central bank will have global ramifications
Singapore Slowdown May Hurt Banks in 2014 (video)
Pump! Margin Debt: yet another new all-time high.
In yet another sign the stock market is wildly over-priced, NYSE margin debt (borrowing money "on margin" to make leveraged bets) reached a new all-time high in November.
How Bitcoin fits into the "End of America" Hypothesis 
Drop in gold price fuels buying frenzy in Saudi Arabia
I wouldn't buy gold with my worst enemy's cash: Strategist
Lately we've been treated to a slew of articles on how the "gold bubble" has popped, and we shouldn't touch gold with a 10-foot pole. This just underlines the desperation of governments, banks, stock markets, and other parties who want us to help keep the stock market bubble inflated by putting our faith in fiat currencies and our money into stocks and other paper wealth. Of course everyone will make their own decisions. If you can make money on the stock market and manage to pull out before it crashes, more power to you. -- RF
J.S. Kim: Of course the big banks predict that gold will crash
The Times of India: "Almost Every Passenger on a Flight from Dubai to Calicut Was Found Carrying 1kg of Gold"
Saudi unveils record $228 bn budget for 2014
Junk Loans Top '08 Record as Safeguards Stripped: Credit Markets
The amount of loans to the riskiest U.S. companies ballooned to a record this year, propelled by unprecedented demand for floating-rate debt that offers protection from rising interest rates.
Public outcry as banks run out of cash (Zimbabwe)

## Airline Death Spiral ##
One More Thing To Hate The Airlines For: Slimmer Seats
Airlines squeezing in even more seating
I assume this will lead to even more air rage. -- RF
Air rage: Airline group pushing for updated laws for flightsThe International Air Transport Association said fewer than 500 incidents of unruly behavior were reported in 2007, while more than 6,000 were reported in 2011.
More air rage: Flight attendant repeatedly screams 'F*** YOU at passenger
Still more air rage: Indonesian official blocks runway in air rage outburst
Cuts in air service stifling midsized cities
As the U.S. airline industry continues to shrink, dozens of small and midsized cities are scrambling to try to maintain their economic lifelines.
Norwegian Air Dreamliner grounded in U.S. due to technical problems
Airlines Say 'Happy New Year' With New Fees
The Worst Airline Fees

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
US Army's New Laser Weapon Can Shoot Down Mortars and Drones
Turkey's Halkbank says Iran business complies with law
Assad's secret oil lifeline: Iraqi crude from Egypt
The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has received substantial imports of Iraqi crude oil from an Egyptian port in the last nine months, shipping and payments documents show, part of an under-the-radar trade that has kept his military running despite Western sanctions.
Chadian peacekeepers fire on protesters in Central African Republic
Russia Sends Over 75 Armored Trucks To Syria
Japan to supply ammo to South Korean troops in South Sudan
Libya oil minister demands oil ports be reopened by force
China commits $6.5 billion for Pakistani nuclear project
China has committed $6.5 billion to finance the construction of a major nuclear power project in Pakistan's port city of Karachi as it seeks to strengthen ties with its strategic partner, Pakistani officials said.
U.N. Sends Another 5,500 Peacekeepers to South Sudan

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Rail Strike Intensifies (SKorea)
Protesters surround Diet building to oppose restart of nuke reactors (Japan)
'Merry Frackmess!': Elves Erect Gas Drilling Rig on Governor's Front Lawn (US)

## Energy/resources ##
Indonesia's Pertamina To Produce 17% Less LNG In 2014
Indonesian state-owned energy firm Pertamina will produce 17 percent less liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2014, a company official said, reflecting an overall decline in gas production at the world's fifth-largest exporter of the fuel.
Bahrain will lift diesel prices to cut subsidy burden
UBS Analysis: Efficiency and Solar Create 'Difficult Road' for Global Utility Sector in 2014
Asia Fuel Oil-Jan arb flows may fall 13 pct on higher freight rates
Fuel oil shipments into Asia are expected to slip to a two-month low in January as higher freight costs make it difficult for traders to break even, hampering the flow of the fuel from the West, a survey of shipping and trade sources shows.
Egypt says to complete $1.5 bln payment to oil firms this week
Egypt will complete payment this week of $1.5 billion of the $6.3 billion it says it owes oil firms, a state executive said on Monday, in line with a plan aimed at restoring confidence in an economy hit by nearly three years of political turmoil.
French strike keeps a third of oil refining sector shut
Upstream Development Hit by Tensions in East, South China Seas
Hopes of developing the potentially rich oil and gas resources in the East and South China Seas receded further after China recently made unilateral high-profile moves to boost its claim over the disputed region. The heightened tensions ensure that these hydrocarbon assets will remain untapped for now, and as they have been over the last few decades, while interested developers of these upstream assets wait for the geopolitical frictions to blow over.
Statoil, Total Withdraw from Turkey Pipeline Plans
Smart Grid Technology, Now Spreading Across U.S., Will Raise Energy Prices to Reduce Demand

## Got food? ##
Chicken Sales Plummet in China, Hong Kong After Bird Flu Returns
Longer lines at New York food banks (video)
Spending cuts to government food stamp programs have taken a toll on food pantries in New York City as more and more people are relying on them to feed their families.
McDonald's website advises against eating a lot of fast-food
Mormon-centric Utah is epicenter for food storage (video)

## Environment/health ##
'Catastrophic ice storm' slams into Toronto, strands travellers across the province
Australia's Year in Review: Hottest, Hottest, Hottest...
Study: Some plants won't cope with human-induced climate change
A quarter of healthcare workers' hands contaminated with infectious diarrhea germs

## Intelligence/propaganda/security/internet/cyberwar ##
How the NSA Paid Security Firm $10 Million to Promote Flawed Encryption
Japan seeking US assistance in counterattacking cyber criminals
Cryptolocker ransomware has 'infected about 250,000 PCs'
9 Huge Government Conspiracies That Actually Happened
Conspiracy Theories that Turned Out to be True (infographic)
Exclusive: Target hackers stole encrypted bank PINs - source
Obama can't point to a single time the NSA call records program prevented a terrorist attack

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
The next Detroit? Atlantic City and Las Vegas facing catastrophic collapse
Thousands Fall From Middle Class After RV Industry Collapse
Officials in Oregon have kept records on what happened to thousands of people who lost their jobs when RV manufacturing in that state imploded during the recession. A major swath of people have dropped from middle-wage earners to low-wage earners, which is a trend we're seeing across the U.S. Another group of people did even worse.
"Zimbabwe Likely To Collapse in 2014"

## Japan ##
No Money, No Problem, Bank of Japandemonium Takes Care Of It
Japan to auction Y155.1 tril in JGBs
Japan's Cabinet OKs record 95.88 tril. yen FY 2014 budget
Pump! Nikkei tops 16,000 for 1st time in 6 years
TEPCO finds 3 more water leaks at Fukushima plant tank barriers
Ex-Fukushima worker warns of more leaks from hastily constructed tanks
Thyroid Cancers Surge Among Fukushima Youths
Nuclear power plants in Japan threatened by volcanic eruptions: volcanologists
Nuclear power backers picking up steam on reactor restarts
Alcoholism on the rise in tsunami-hit Miyagi Prefecture
Japan Labor Shortage Could Clip PM Abe's 'Second Arrow'
Japan Steps Up Defense Spending As China Tensions Simmer
Row brewing over plan to cut civil servants' pay

## China ##
China Interest Rate Crisis Continues: 7-Day Interest Rate Doubles to 10% in One Week; China Bans Words "Cash Crunch"
China central bank calibrates squeeze to send message, avoid panic
China to impose tiered power pricing for aluminium smelters
China says carrier tests in South China Sea going well
China Confronts Workforce Drop With Retirement-Age Delay

## UK ##
Rail fares for commuters to rise sharply in January
An energy price freeze would damage Britain, the former head of BP has said
Lord Browne, the chairman of Cuadrilla, the shale gas firm, says that energy companies need to make profits so they can re-invest in infrastructure
Edward Snowden to broadcast Channel 4's alternative Christmas Day message

## US ##
U.S. Store Traffic Sinks 21% as Last-Ditch Deals Flop
Retail Sales Outlook Not So Festive
PBS Drops a Bombshell on the Federal Reserve's 100th Birthday Party
PBS promised a "debate" this past Friday night on the "benefits and dangers" of the Federal Reserve as the Fed marks its 100 years of existence tomorrow. Instead of a debate, two famous stock market historians made the same stunning announcement – that the Fed has decided its job is to push up the stock market.
On The 100th Anniversary Of The Federal Reserve Here Are 100 Reasons To Shut It Down Forever
Wall Street Is My Landlord; Blackstone's Home Rental Bonds Yet Another Sign of Renewed Credit Bubble
Chinese Investments In US Commercial Property Soar By 500%
US predicts vast majority of cars to still use gasoline by 2040
On This Day In History, Gas Prices Have Never Been Higher
Price of stamps to go up 3 cents
Puerto Rico Pension Fix Shows U.S. Retirement Curbs Spreading
Only 150 of 3500 U.S. Colleges Are Worth the Investment: Former Secretary of Education
Are utility stocks in a 'death spiral'?
States About To Lose The Most Unemployment Insurance
CBO: Obama Nuke Plan to Cost $355 Billion

And finally...
440-lb virgin sends partner to ER after his first time
US leads world in smartphone porn viewing

Sunday, December 22, 2013


News Links, December 21-23, 2013

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards ##
Warning: European Guidelines for Looting Your Bank Accounts Are Now Official
Standard & Poor's downgrades European Union's credit rating, stripping it of AAA
"The Chinese Don't Want Dollars Anymore, They Want Gold" - London's Gold Vaults Are Empty: This Is Why
China credit crisis fears as central bank injects funds
China's central bank has rushed to pump money into the stalling banking system but markets across Asia still fell sharply amid fears that the world's second-largest economy faces a credit crisis.
McDonald's Japan Falls on Store Closures, Outlook: Tokyo Mover
The Japan business of the world's largest fast-food chain plans to shut 74 outlets in the country, where it had 3,170 stores at the end of October, as customer numbers were below expectations, it said yesterday.
Canadian consumer debt expected to rise 4% to record $28,853 next year, TransUnion says
Unfit for Next Crisis; Laughable Banking Union Revisited
Once Again, Irish Youth Are Leaving For A Better Life Overseas
Italian families spend 5, 000 euros less than six years ago
Rich using mega warehouses to avoid taxes
Note: Alert readers will recall this article from last month. More perks for the New Aristocracy. -- RF
Ford, GM pull out of Australia. The end of an auto industry?
General Motors and Ford have announced plans to stop manufacturing in Australia. Toyota may follow. 
Credit Suisse Fraud Exceeded $1 Billion: N.J.'s Hoffman
Portugal top court blocks austerity pensions cuts
Nevertheless, pensions are finished. It's just a matter of time. -- RF
India planning gold confiscation and gold market interventions?
Chinese gold demand now may exceed world mine production
Lucky country dodged $2 a litre bullet – for now (Australia)

## Airline Death Spiral ##
Frequent Flier Programs Undergoing Changes
U.S. Airlines Made $4.7 Billion on Baggage and Change Fees in First 9 Months of 2013
Budget passage clears way for hike in air security fee
More Americans depend on commercial flight, but fewer happy with it
Air rage attacks are a growing problem in China
Haneda departure, transit fees to rise
Passengers departing on international flights from or transiting via Tokyo's Haneda airport will see increased facility usage charges added to their ticket prices from April 1.

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
White House says it would veto Iran sanctions bill
Iran Says European Banks May Handle Some Oil Payments
Rouhani Takes On Revolutionary Guards in Iran Power Test
Syrian minister: Saudi Arabia is our top enemy
Freed Gitmo Detainee: 'We Were Subjected to Meticulous, Daily Torture'
President Obama Orders US Troops to South Sudan
China denounces Japanese military strategy
The slavery episodes continue: Qatari workers facing a "severe food shortage"
US Military Aircraft Comes Under Fire in South Sudan
A U.S. military aircraft came under fire Saturday during a reported evacuation mission in South Sudan, leaving four U.S. service members wounded, one critically.
Bomb attack kills officers in Iraq's Anbar province
Icons of Egyptian Revolution Jailed By Military Junta
Japanese SDF fighter jets scrambled after Russian patrol planes fly near Hokkaido
Chinese ships log 73rd Senkaku pass
Japan's MSDF, Indian navy hold 1st joint exercise in Indian Ocean

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Protesters gather across Thai capital, demand PM resigns
Amazon workers in Germany to continue strikes in 2014
Protesters vandalize Google bus, block Apple shuttle, slash tires, smash window
As tech-driven housing costs and evictions soar, anti-gentrification protesters in San Francisco and Oakland on Friday again blocked private shuttle buses filled with tech workers commuting to Silicon Valley.
'Throwing Fuel on a Fire': Mass Protests Promised After Tar Sands Pipeline Moves Forward
Air Jordan 11 release causes brawls across the US

## Energy/resources ##
Argentina in nationalisation threat after blackouts
Blackouts looms large ahead of Christmas and New Year in Bangalore
Spain reviews power auctions after threat of price rise
Data Privacy Laws Could Make Managing Oil, Gas Data Flows Difficult
Data privacy regulations proposed in reaction to information leaks by Edward Snowden and the threat of spying by the United States could make the operations of global oil and gas companies more cumbersome, a law expert told Rigzone in a recent interview.
The Shale Energy Revolution in North America is Changing the World
Here's a paean to shale drilling and fracking. The part that most deserves attention is where the author discusses EROEI. He admits it's lower than conventional wells, but says, "So what?" It's just a matter of paying more money for the energy, he claims. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. In actuality, low-EROEI hydrocarbons require a "subsidy" to make them viable. As I've pointed out repeatedly, people can no longer pay the full price, so the development of junk energy is being subsidized by debt accumulation, unemployment/cheap wages, crumbling infrastructure, government dysfunction, and an an increasingly impoverished populace. -- RF
Algae converted to crude oil in less than an hour
They key part is, "The goo contains about 10 percent to 20 percent algae by weight. The rest is water. This mixture is piped into a high-tech pressure cooker where temperatures hover around 660 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures of 3,000 pounds per square inch to keep the mixture in a liquid phase." The reason we have benefited from such a high energy return on oil until recent years is that nature did the pressure cooking for us, eliminating the need to create these high temperatures and pressures ourselves. The article gives no clue about the energy return, but despite the process improvements cited, it can't be very high once you deduct the high energy input. Just as with shale hydrocarbons, oil sands, and other low-EROI junk energy, the required subsidies will just accelerate the decline of industrial society. Have a nice day! -- RF
Must read: If Mexico is the next Brazil in oil production, brace for disappointment
This nicely supplements my comments on this article last week (December 17-18 links) on the pipe dreams already taking over the minds of investors and the public with regard to the obviously unrealistic expectations for a Mexican oil renaissance. Amigos, the oil news just gets worse and worse, but to spin that into modern cornucopian fairy tales, the media keep cranking up the hype. -- RF
Norway's Giant Johan Sverdrup Oilfield Delayed a Year
Romania slashes renewable energy subsidies
Romania will cut its support scheme for new wind, solar and small hydro renewable energy projects from January, a government decree said today (17 December), to avoid overcompensating producers and curb price increases for industry and homes.
Monkeys damage solar panels
Monkeys are damaging solar panels at energy and sustainable development projects in Saudi Arabia, an official from King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) said here recently.
OPEC Cut Not Needed in 2014, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq Say
Harsh criticism for India's nuclear safety regime
Energy crisis in Egypt heats up coal controversy

## Infrastructure scavenging ##
Thieves steal scrap metal, copper pipes from IOW churches

## Got food? ##
The case for owning farmland in one simple statistic

## Lifestyle Solutions ##
What's the big deal about tiny houses?
House Mouse Control
I have found that the "patrolling house cat" is fantastic. No need for traps at my house. -- RF

## Environment/health ##
Navy sailors have radiation sickness after Japan rescue
Texas reports high level of influenza with six dead
Saudi announces new MERS death
The Saudi health ministry announced Saturday a new MERS death, raising to 56 the number of people killed by the coronavirus in the country with the most fatalities.
More cities ban polystyrene foam, citing environment (US)
In Iceland, where folklore is more than just stories, concern for elves holds up road project
Fountain of youth or at least delayed aging may be possible

## Intelligence/propaganda/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Japan seeks cyberwarfare capability
U.S. Air Force plans to add 1,000 new cybersecurity personnel
Google reveals sharp rise in requests for removal of political content
The sound of secrets: New hacking technique infiltrates by hearing — or touch
Stolen Target Credit Cards Are Selling For $20 - $100 Each
NSA dragnet included allies, aid groups and business elite
Forecast: 2014 will be year of encryption
California to introduce first 'smartphone killswitch' bill
NSA Paid Encryption Company $10 Million to Create Backdoors for Them
NSA program stopped no terror attacks, says White House panel member

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Bankruptcy Casts Shadow Over Detroit's Plan To Fix Streetlights
Helicopter gunships used in Mexico resort battle

## Japan ##
Japanese government to bear more Fukushima cleanup costs for Tepco
Japan will chip in more taxpayer money and other financial support to help Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co clean up the world's worst nuclear disaster in a quarter century, officials said on Friday, the latest government lifeline for the embattled utility.
New leak of radioactive water reported at Japan's Fukishima
Japan to extend Fukushima radiation cleanup work by up to 3 yrs
Tepco to create firm for decommissioning
Japan Inc. Hoards Record Cash as Abe Targets Wage Gains
Japan forecasts GDP growth of 1.4 percent for fiscal 2014
Japan Unveils Record 2014 Budget Draft as Debt Burden Mounts
Rotting corpse found at US base in Japan
Japan to launch energy-saving initiative covering 10,000 homes
Why not decades ago? Such efforts everywhere just show how desperate the situation has become. -- RF
Regional economic funding to fall 40%
Fiscal 2014 budget includes ¥610 million cut for municipalities
Surprise, surprise! Carrying Hokkaido snow to Tokyo for cooling fails
Trucks and trains used to transport snow from Hokkaido to Tokyo to determine the feasibility of using snow for air cooling emitted three times more carbon dioxide than the emission reductions achieved in the experiment, it has been found.

## China ##
Pollution from China grounds flights in Tibet
Cleaning China's air to cost US$290bn over four years
China money rates climb further despite central bank efforts
China Austerity Campaign Extends Beyond the Grave
China aims for target of 6 million public homes in 2014

## UK ##
Ofgem's plan to keep the lights on: Factories to be paid to cut back electricity use
Lights will be dimmed but not go out, says electricity chief
A National Grid manager dismissed warnings about blackouts this winter saying a dramatic surge in demand for power would only result in the lights being dimmed
10 per cent fall in new developments in towns and cities raising fears about countryside
Apollo Theatre collapse fire crews set to be axed

## US ##
Obama administration says U.S. debt ceiling could be hit in February
FAA to select 6 cities for drone testing
All-Cash Home Sales Hit Record 42% of Sales
5 Reasons why the real estate re-boom is about to slow way down
Report Suggests NSA Engaged In Financial Manipulation, Changing Money In Bank Accounts
Number of cargo theft incidents falls while load value jumps, FreightWatch reports
U.S. nuclear weapon plans to cost $355 billion over a decade: CBO report
The Obama administration's plans for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including modernization of bombs, delivery systems and laboratories, will cost the country about $355 billion over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said on Friday.
Snyder Issues Executive Order on UP Propane Shortage
North Jersey Residents Infuriated By Repeated Power Outages
Why 40% of consumers will spend less this Christmas despite better job security
Budget crunched: Cutting smaller sports a growing trend at cash-strapped universities
Online shopping is popular, but remaining challenges keep it from reaching its full potential
More Americans are deciding to shop online this holiday season instead of heading to crowded stores. But that alone won't save what is turning out to be a ho-hum Christmas for department stores and clothing chains.
For Those Who Care About America's Future, A Stocking-Stuffer Of A Book: 'The Crash of 2016'
The Taper Is On – 8 Ways That This Is Going To Affect You And Your Family
Woman sues over vaginal, anal exams in El Paso drug search
Why Is Blackstone Gobbling Up Properties? (video)

And finally...
"Whatever" most annoying word for fifth year in a row
North Korea sends fax to South, threatens 'merciless' attack 'without notice'

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