Tuesday, December 17, 2013


News Links, December 17-18, 2013

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards ##
Spain's Regions Can't Endure More Budget Cuts, Andalusia Says
The Threat of a Puerto Rican Default Looms Large
Laughable Eurozone Banking "Non-Union"; Expect Disorderly Breakup
'Doom loop' tying European banks and governments reinforced
Lack Of Cash Flows Ends Greek Export "Miracle"
GM to cut South Korean jobs as Chevy pullout looms in Europe

## Airline Death Spiral ##
Australian regional airline Brindabella collapses
Overcapacity Could Dash Air Cargo's Hopes for Recovery in 2014
Virgin Atlantic to charge seat reservation fees
Bag and change fees help boost airline profits in 3rd quarter
PIA losses touch Rs36 billion
Regional airlines face challenging time (Australia)
Crowded skies: The numbers behind the jump in air travel

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Japan-China-U.S. Relations Reach New Lows While Arms Budgets Grow
Russia has stationed Iskander missiles in western region: reports
Russian bailout wins Ukraine economic respite but deepens political rift
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich has secured a $15 billion bailout from Russia, offering respite for an economy heading ever closer to default but also drawing accusations he has sold his country out to its former Soviet master.
Saudi prince blasts U.S. secret diplomacy with Iran
Israeli army shoots 2 Lebanese soldiers in reprisal
Scores killed in Iraq bloodshed ahead of Shi'ite holy day
U.S. considers request to train Libyan forces

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Sixteen dead in clash in China's Xinjiang
Amazon workers strike in Germany over pay
'Early Christmas' for Frackers: Site Blocked With Massive Wind Turbine Blade
Hawaii Protest Declares Anti-GMO 'Tsunami' is Here
'Face of Resistance in Northwest' Blockades Tar Sands 'Megaload'
College students injured in clashes with police in Egypt

## Energy/resources ##
Scottish Power becomes third firm to scrap UK offshore wind farm
North America to Drown in Oil as Mexico Ends Monopoly 
Here's the kind of article to read with care. The article starts out by saying that we already have a "flood of North American crude oil," which makes one wonder why it isn't selling for $10/bbl. Of course oil supplies are tight internationally, but the other major factor is that the flood is low-EROI oil. Which leads to the question of how much high-EROI oil Mexico can offer. A revealing paragraph reads, "The first assets that will attract foreign investment will be mature oilfields drilled decades ago and reservoirs that need injections of steam or carbon-dioxide to coax more crude out of the ground, Medina said. Deep-water prospects, shale and other technically-challenging endeavors will follow later, he said." So they are going to start by dumping money into secondary and tertiary recovery efforts! If you were expecting a bonanza of high-EROI oil, this news is a real letdown. Apparently Mexico has no new Cantarells to develop. Anyway, after squeezing more out of the mature fields, they'll move on to deepwater, shale, and other "technically-challenging endeavors." In case you were wondering, "technically-challenging" means "expensive and low-EROI," just like the junk oil being produced in the US and Canada now. Apparently we can no longer count on Mexico for very much cheap conventional oil, which is a huge problem because the supply of such oil is quickly declining. -- RF
Waterless, laborless solar panel cleaning becoming a reality (KSA)
Coal mines could be 'mothballed': study (Australia)
BP to Develop $16 Billion Tight Gas Project in Oman
There are hopes that continuing prices rises for oil and gas will make tight oil and tight gas profitable. That would seem to be a distinct possibility. At the same time, however, there are also deflationary pressures that would hold prices down and keep fracking projects and other costly hydrocarbon development out of the profitability zone. -- RF
The Cost of Production and Energy Return of Oil Sands
The energy return is absolutely pitiful. The author — who is admittedly very knowledgable about energy — appears to argue that it's OK if the economics work out. In other words, if the company is making money, the resource is viable. I disagree on that point. Even if oil sands companies are making a profit, the shockingly low 3:1 EROI is far too low to sustain industrial society, and has to be subsidized somehow, somewhere. That "subsidy" is the ongoing collapse of society, which is visible as crumbling infrastructure, exploding poverty, homelessness, joblessness, decaying cities, soaring government debt, dysfunction, and the other manifestations of collapse. My view is therefore that from the perspective of an energy-intensive civilization like ours, this is not a viable resource. -- RF

## Got food? ##
Argentina to Tighten Food Price Controls as Inflation Quickens
In Florida, A Turf War Blooms Over Front-Yard Vegetable Gardening
Scientists 'incredibly concerned' for fate of banana as plagues and fungus infections spread across world's supplies
As consumers look closer at food labels, companies quietly remove strange-sounding ingredients
As Americans pay closer attention to what they eat, food and beverage companies are learning that unfamiliar ingredients can invite criticism from online petitions and bloggers. The risk of damaging publicity has proven serious enough that some manufacturers have reformulated top-selling products to remove mysterious, unpronounceable components that could draw suspicion.

## Lifestyle Solutions ##
The Gift of Death
Pathological consumption has become so normalised that we scarcely notice it.

## Environment/health ##
ADHD diagnoses soared amid 20-year drug marketing campaign
Wind and Winged Wildlife: Increased Federal Oversight of Wind Energy
EU says pesticides may harm human brains
Two neonicotinoid chemicals may affect the developing nervous system in humans, according to the EU.
Study: Chemicals Linked to Cancer, Birth Defects in Water Near Fracking Hotspots
Earth had its warmest November on record
BP files fraud suit to cut oil spill seafood fund payout

## Intelligence/propaganda/security/internet/cyberwar ##
NSA can listen in on encrypted phone calls - but they're not the only ones
Some Foreign Nations Have The Cyberwar Capability To Destroy Our Financial System, NSA Admits
11 Governments Are Meeting in Peru to Figure Out How They Can Control the Internet
Judge: NSA bulk collection of phone records violates Constitution ban on unreasonable searches
Edward Snowden will not be considered for amnesty, says White House
Facebook saves everything you type - even if you don't publish it
Industry Optimism, Spending Rise on Cybersecurity Preparation
Oil and gas companies have increased spending and are more confident of their cybersecurity measures, but the number and impact of  cyberattacks continues to grow as industry's measures fail to keep pace with increasingly sophisticated attacks, according to PwC's 16th annual report "The Global State of information Security 2014".
Snowden: NSA spying 'collapsing' under scrutiny; says he would help Brazil probe US espionage
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wrote in a lengthy "open letter to the people of Brazil" that he's been inspired by the global debate ignited by his release of thousands of NSA documents and that the agency's culture of indiscriminate global espionage "is collapsing."
Brazil says not considering Snowden asylum
An NSA Coworker Remembers The Real Edward Snowden: 'A Genius Among Geniuses'
How DC police use citizens as spies
US-Israeli Security Company Selling Mobile Phone Surveillance Products To Agencies Around The World
Yahoo's Mayer Said to Warn of Internet Balkanization Over Spying
Energy Industry Lags Behind Financial Services in Cybersecurity Preparedness

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Camden, New Jersey: One Of Hundreds Of U.S. Cities That Are Turning Into Rotting, Decaying Hellholes

## Japan ##
Highest Ever Radiation Detected in Fukushima Plant Well
Some 63,000 becquerels of radioactive materials that emit beta rays, such as strontium-90, per liter have been found in groundwater in an observation well at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the highest level at the well, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday.
Japan's 2014 Budget To Approach Record 100 Trillion Yen
Japan to increase military spending as row with China continues
Japan to buy stealth fighters, drones and submarines
Kerry says U.S. backs Japan's military buildup
Fukushima nuclear evacuation-related deaths surpass prefecture's quake, tsunami toll
Lack of student loans forcing more to give up college for work

## China ##
Gold ETF Holdings Gobbled Up By China- Where Is The Gold To Feed Golden Dragon In 2014?
China factories stuck in cruise control
China's Sprawling Cities Bet Their Future on Getting Even Bigger
Modern cities must maintain a high energy throughput to function. It isn't hard to imagine the fate of China's big cities — and their inhabitants — if we look at what is already happening in some cities of the developed countries. -- RF
China may close more steel mills in 2014 to tackle pollution -industry
Steel producers in top market China may face more shutdowns next year as the government steps up its fight against air pollution, although recent closures in the Hebei province have been restricted to the key producing region for now, sources said.
China Everbright Admits to Interbank-Loan Default
Shanghai Glut Rises With Tallest Tower: Real Estate

## UK ##
Ineos boss says Hinkley nuclear power too expensive
Power from the new Hinkley C nuclear generator will be too expensive, the boss of one of the UK's biggest energy consumers has warned.
Mars and Snickers shrink but prices stay the same
People born in 1960s and 1970s 'poorer' than previous generation
Poorer than your parents - post-war pensions boom 'is coming to an end'
London Bankers Expect 44% Bonus Increase, Survey Finds
Half of the UK 'suitable for fracking', report says

## US ##
Taper or no taper, the Fed will never end QE: Marc Faber
Fear and Trembling In Muni Land
Municipal bond investors, a conservative bunch who want to avoid rollercoaster rides and cliffhangers, are getting frazzled. And they're bailing out of muni bond funds at record rate, while they still can without losing their shirts.
Corn Plummeting Spurs Talk of '80s U.S. Farmland Bust: Mortgages
Why The US Capex Drought Will Continue: Archer Daniels' CEO Explains
Budget deal boosts fed workers' pension costs, as some call their plans fat targets
Forty-two college presidents make more than $1 million a year
College Student Debt Soars; College Presidents' Pay Skyrockets
Despite budget deal, don't discount Washington crisis in '14
83 Numbers From 2013 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe
Rent Hikes Hurt: Why Millions Can't Afford Housing (video)
Obama Allows Great Lakes Water To Be Sold To China As Half The U.S. Faces Extreme Water Crisis
Police Now Taking Blood and Saliva from Drivers Across the Nation
Robots are taking over corporate America
The 49 states of rising child poverty
Toys R Us becomes latest to run Christmas marathon — open 87 hours straight!

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