Thursday, December 18, 2014


News Links, December 19, 2014

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards ##
$49bn wiped off value of Gulf stock markets
Russian Ruble Crisis Spreads Across US, Emerging Markets And BRIC Nations
Gold repatriation: The "Core Four" Nordic Bank Run!
IMF Now Ready To Slam The Door On The U.S. And The Dollar
China Prepares To Bailout Russia
Benefits of Cheaper Oil Not Trickling Down to Asia's Consumers
Swiss National Bank will cut interest rate to minus 0.25%
Ford shuts doors of Belgium's Genk plant
Constantly changing online prices stump shoppers
Many Western companies suspend sales in Russia
Russia Has Begun Selling Its Gold, According To SocGen
Crude And Credit Are Calling—–And Their Message Is Not Bullish
U.S. stocks within striking distance of records after monster rally

## Airline Death Spiral ##
Airline pilots face sunbed levels of UV radiation in cockpits
Spending 56 minutes behind the controls at 30,000 feet is the equivalent of 20 minutes on a sunbed, the University of California has found
Seat Kickers Passenger Complaint: Airline 'Seat Kickers' Are No. 1 Complaint Of Passengers
Airlines play the Grinch with new add-on fees
Baby triggers air rage on flight from Chongqing to HK
SAS to slash costs as profits nose dive
Air France warns again on profits, pledges cost cuts
Cash-strapped Indian airline SpiceJet grounded

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
A pessimist's guide to the world in 2015
Islamists rout Syrian government troops, reflecting the war's complexities
The Assad regime sustained a major setback in northern Syria this week with the loss of two major military bases, and the big winner in the battle was al Qaida's Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, which led the assault and captured what's thought to be an enormous arsenal.
The Syrian Army Is Shrinking, And Assad Is Running Out Of Soldiers
As easy targets thin, Syria air strikes by U.S. allies plunge
Report: US Ground Troops Clash With ISIS in Iraq's Anbar Province
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga Drive Islamic State From Mount Sinjar; Hundreds Of Trapped Yazidis Liberated
US-Russia Relations: Obama Signs Bill Giving Weapons To Ukraine, Allowing Economic Sanctions Against Russia
Barack Obama and Raúl Castro announce a new era in US-Cuba relations
There's no do-gooding going on here. The US has finally admitted that the economic blockade, assassination attempts, and whatnot lasting five decades have been unsuccessful is effecting a change in government and bringing Cuba into the US orbit. It's just a new tack. And if Cuba can be made into a US vassal state, it would presumably be another blow to Russia. -- RF
As Russia unveils nuclear subs with underwater drones and robots, the stealth race heats up: governments pour cash into secret armies
White House Brags Sanctions Put Russia On 'Brink of Collapse'
This sounds strangely complacent coming from a country whose own economy has already begun to collapse. -- RF
Russians rush to buy cars and computers as rouble tumbles
Japan eyes providing patrol boats to Indonesia to fight piracy
China's Pivot Toward Europe May Cut USA Out Of Deal
Sri Lanka shows security value of China's Maritime Silk Road
Under the concept of the "Maritime Silk Road," the PLA Navy is ready to project its power into the Indian Ocean through the establishment of naval base in Sri Lanka, David Brewster, a researcher from the Australia India Institute at the University of Melbourne wrote in his recent article for the Tokyo-based Diplomat.
FBI: 199 Americans Kidnapped in Mexico in 2014
U.S. slaps sanctions on Swiss, Dutch companies over Syria
MEPs back Palestinian statehood bid
Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnap 100 women, children in Nigeria
Iran to conduct 'massive' military exercise

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Italian Reaper Drones To Be Used for Crowd Monitoring
Police used pepper spray on mall crowd, witnesses say
Indigenous protesters clash with Brazil police inside National Congress
Police, anarchists clash in Barcelona

## Energy/resources ##
Is Cellulosic Ethanol All it's Cracked Up to Be?
The EPA has long promoted cellulosic ethanol as the future of biofuels, but technical challenges have kept production far below targets. A recent rule change allows RNG, renewable natural gas, to qualify as cellulosic biofuel even though RNG is not cellulosic, but this helps the EPA to appear to be meeting their goals.
That Was Quick: Energy Junk Bond Losses Hit $40 Billion, Spreads Widen To 1000 Bps
Bond investors, already stung by the biggest losses from U.S. energy company debt in six years, are facing more pain as the plunge in oil leads analysts to predict defaults may more than double.
2015 Outlook for Oilfield Services Inescapably Tied to Tumbling Crude Prices
The impact of falling prices has been working its way into the services companies' financial results since the summer, just as it has through the offshore drillers that have seen their share prices fall by 50% to 70%. The oil patch is a tough place to make a living these days, and most observers believe it is going to get tougher.
Why Talisman Energy Inc is the first — but not last — victim of the oil price slump (Canada)
Canadian Oil Producers Slash 2015 Capital Budgets
Canadian oil producers deepened 2015 spending cuts on Wednesday, as Husky Energy , MEG Energy and Penn West Petroleum joined those hacking back capital budgets in response to tumbling crude prices.
Brent steady above $61 as companies cut upstream investments
North Sea oil industry 'close to collapse'
Bankers See $1 Trillion of Zombie Investments Stranded in the Oil Fields
In a stunning analysis this week, Goldman Sachs found almost $1 trillion in investments in future oil projects at risk. They looked at 400 of the world's largest new oil and gas fields -- excluding U.S. shale -- and found projects representing $930 billion of future investment that are no longer profitable with Brent crude at $70. In the U.S., the shale-oil party isn't over yet, but zombies are beginning to crash it.
Shell sheds some Norwegian operations
Few Big US Land Drillers Set To Ride Out Oil Downturn As Winners
Large U.S. onshore drilling firms that operate new, faster rigs are best placed to weather the looming downturn brought by slumping crude prices and could gain market share from smaller drillers with considerable debt and outdated equipment. Drillers are trimming rental rates for rigs and idling older machines as their clients, oil producers, slash 2015 spending.
Comstock Suspends Drilling In Eagle Ford Due To Plunging Oil Prices
Generator woes raises blackout risk (South Africa)
How power outages will hit our pockets (South Africa)
South Africa is very likely to have electricity shortages for the next three to five years and possibly longer for big projects. The costs are enormous: in money, direct economic growth and perceptions too. Technology innovations will also be affected.
New York Diesel Supply Crunch Boosts Premium to Nine-Month High
A shortage of diesel around New York Harbor and speculation that colder weather will boost heating oil demand has driven the premium for spot deliveries of the fuel to the highest level since March.
More Aucklanders can't afford heating
Nearly 6 per cent of dwellings in Auckland never use heating, according to a new survey by Statistics New Zealand.
LNG Export Hopes Fading Fast For US
Don't Expect Low Oil Prices To Last For Long
Norwegian oil production down 5 percent
Chevron cancels Canadian Arctic drilling as oil prices slide
Chevron Shale Exit Shreds Ukraine's Hope of Energy Independence
Cold spell brings record snowfall and power cuts (SKorea)
Pipeline And Nuclear Shortages Send New England's Utility Bills Soaring
Consumers in New England got a shock in their utility bills this month. A 40% increase over the previous month. National Grid , the largest utility in Massachusetts, decided that electricity prices for this winter would rise to 24¢/kWh, a record high.
Sweden doubles waste fee for nuclear power plant operators
Sweden's government has decided to almost double a fee nuclear power plant operators pay to the nuclear waste fund, in order to help it cover the rising costs of decommissioning, the environment ministry said on Thursday.
Japan gov't seeks nuclear decommissioning costs be passed to all power users
Coal India workers threaten 5-day strike, stokes output worries
Blackout fears spark Philippine power-plant expansion
Ukraine power units idled as coal reserves shrink
Some 20 power units across Ukraine have been idled due to a lack of coal and the latest data shows coal reserves at plants have fallen by another four percent, state-run energy firm Ukrenergo said on Wednesday.

## Got food? ##
Russian Food Suppliers Have Begun Halting Shipments
"Farming with Native Beneficial Insects" Means Solving for Pattern
Food shortage puts world in danger, says Food and Agriculture Organisation
UN says Ebola-hit nations at risk of hunger
Back to the future: Scientists want 'rewilded' crops to boost agriculture
EU ministers set 2015 fishing quotas; campaigners say still too high

## Environment/health ##
Public Health's Response to Decline: Loyalty to the 1%
Where is All the 'Missing' Plastic? At the Bottom of the Ocean, Study Finds
Out of Control Fracking Well Forces Evacuations
Le Pen launches 'patriotic' environmental movement
Marine Le Pen's National Front has launched the "New Ecology" movement. The French nationalist party's take on environmental activism will include opposing international climate negotiations and promoting nuclear energy.
5 Million Kids Aren't in School Because of Ebola
Ebola centres overflow as Sierra Leone steps up fight
WHO: Ebola virus death toll rises to 6,915
Feathered Forecasters? Tiny Birds Knew Killer Tornadoes Were Coming
Driven by Climate Change, 'Nuisance' Flooding to Become Commonplace in US Coastal Areas
Report gives USA low grades on preparing for disease
Volume of world's oldest water estimated

## Intelligence/propaganda/security/internet/cyberwar ##
United States of Newspeak – Obama Calls Executive Orders "Presidential Memoranda" to Avoid Scrutiny and Issues Most in History
Secret WTO Trade Deal Threatens Internet Freedom, New Leak Reveals
TISA Leak: EU Data Protection and Net Neutrality Threatened
Reflecting 'Global Surge in Authoritarianism,' 2014 Marks a Brutal Year for Journalists
US officials: North Korea ordered the Sony hack
The Evidence That North Korea Hacked Sony Is Flimsy (Wired)
Sony cancels the Dec. 25 release of 'The Interview'
Sony's Costs From 'The Interview' Likely Near $200 Million
'Team America' screening canceled at Texas theater
Sony Hack A 'Serious National Security Matter': White House
U.S. Considering 'Proportional Response' to Sony Hack, White House Says
Buffett's Smart-Grid Idea Takes Over Your Washing Machine
Napoleon vs. Cheney: "Interrogation That Actually Works"; Icing on the "Hate-Cake"
Snowden spying leaks prompt millions to protect data
Jeans made that will prevent 'digital pickpocketing'
Syrian Electronic Army Hacks International Business Times Website
When will Facebook have more dead than living users?
Hollywood's Secret War On Net Neutrality Is A Key Part Of Its Plan Stop You From Accessing Websites It Doesn't Like

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
When civilisation collapses, will you be ready? (The Economist)
Here's What's Wrong with Corporate America--and the U.S. Economy
Will we ever tire of navigating the multiple layers of intermediaries between the customer and the provider, while corporate profits soar to unprecedented heights?
On the layers parasitic intermediaries, recall this item from November 7. -- RF
Just In Case You Think Bubble Finance Is Working: 25 Charts That Say, No Way!
Mazda recalls 2,800 cars in Mexico to check Takata air bags
Mercedes recalls 4,871 cars, SUVs in U.S. for possible oil leak
Jaguar recalls 1,571 sedans in U.S. for possible braking issue
Oil: Déjà Vu All Over Again

## Japan ##
Abe's Post-Election Agenda: Defense And Security Issues To Dominate
A good read. -- RF
Abe-Kuroda Pleas to Japan Inc. Unheeded as Companies Hoard Cash
Two days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe secured a pledge from Japan Inc. to do their best to boost wages to revive the world's third-biggest economy, data showed companies hoarding record amounts of cash.
Chinese Criminals Blamed for Record Japan Bank Cybertheft
Japan to revise scheme to deal with rush of solar power
Japan's trade ministry said on Thursday it plans to change a feed-in-tariff scheme by making it possible for utilities to limit renewable power output more flexibly while trying to lower guaranteed payments to providers of such power.
Japan auto lobby sounds alarm over weak domestic sales
Japan Targets Wealthy With Exit Tax
Japan's trade balance in red for 29th month
Personal assets in Japan at record high
Many of these paper assets could become worthless at the drop of a hat. -- RF
JR Tokai starts construction of maglev train stations
Waste of money. -- RF
Tokyo Gas takes wraps off its first hydrogen filling station
Waste of money. -- RF
Smaller ¥3.4 trillion stimulus package eyed to prop up economy
More struggling to get handle on student loans
An increasing number of students are struggling to pay education loans and more than 6,000 lawsuits were filed over the fallout in the 2013 academic year alone.
Six tons of tainted water leak at Fukushima No. 1 during Korean safety tour
Japan suggests nuclear decommissioning costs be passed to all power customers
The government says reactor decommissioning costs ought to be passed on to all customers even after the electricity market is opened to newcomers in 2016.
Note the article on Sweden above in the energy section. Nuclear plant operators and governments are beginning to see that decommissioning will cost far more than they thought. But no matter how much money they set aside, there will never be enough. Watch for unmitigated disaster as the world's nuclear power system falls apart. -- RF
Draft hints at replacing decommissioned nuclear reactors with new ones
Ain't gonna happen. -- RF

## China ##
China is Planning to Purge Foreign Technology and Replace With Homegrown Suppliers
China is aiming to purge most foreign technology from banks, the military, state-owned enterprises and key government agencies by 2020, stepping up efforts to shift to Chinese suppliers, according to people familiar with the effort.
As China's Economy Slows, So Too Does Growth in Workers' Wages
Inside Beijing's airpocalypse – a city made 'almost uninhabitable' by pollution
China to require every kid to play soccer
Chinese corporate failures pegged to rise

## UK ##
Missing - the 50,000 jobless teens who have dropped off the radar
Councils 'pushed to breaking point' by new cuts

## US ##
Officials finish sweep of federal labs, find handful of misplaced microbes
NASA says it would take 11 trillion gallons of water to end California's drought
Who Really Runs the United States? Jamie Dimon
David Stockman: Energy Crunch Will Morph Into a Replay of the Housing Crash
Cuomo Administration To Ban Hydraulic Fracking In New York State
10 U.S. Cities Most At Risk From Power Outages
Cheap Oil Jamming Rails Means Higher U.S. Power Bills
U.S. electricity costs are poised to reach the highest level since 1999 because railroads are too clogged to deliver enough coal to power plants.
Helicopters flying over Dallas part of Special Operations training
Smash and grab burglars strike two Boulder trailheads on Wednesday
Smash and grab: Caught On Camera: Burglars Ransack Belmont Computer Store

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