Sunday, December 31, 2017


News Links, January 1, 2018

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
Debt to GDP: Only 4 Major Countries Worse Off Than the US
Of major nations, only Japan, Greece, Italy, and Portugal have debt-to-GDP ratios higher than the US.
El Petro: Venezuela To Launch Oil-Backed Petro Cryptocurrency Within Days
Turns out, Uber Shareholders Are Eager to Sell at 30% Discount
The Inescapable Reason Why the Financial System Will Fail
Central banks are now trapped. If they raise rates to provide low-risk, high-yield returns to institutional owners, they will stifle the "recovery" and the asset bubbles that are dependent on unlimited liquidity and super-low interest rates. But if they keep yields low, the only way institutional investors can earn the gains they need to survive is to pile into risk assets and hope the current bubbles will loft higher.
In a recent study, we found that use of this engineered sugarcane could yield more than 2,500 liters of bio-jet fuel per acre of land. In simple terms, this means that a Boeing 747 could fly for 10 hours on bio-jet fuel produced on just 54 acres of land.
Fifty-four acres of land just to fly a 747 for 10 hours! That may sound good to some people, but the land could be put to much better use, for example as desperately needed habitat for the wildlife species being exterminated to make room for more humans. -- RF

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Turkey makes deal to buy Russian-made S-400 air defense system
Dozens of 12th-graders to defy draft over 'oppression' of Palestinians (Israel)
In letter to PM, IDF chief, 63 teenagers urge all Israeli youth to refuse to serve in the military until occupation ends, due to 'racist government policy' in West Bank
Russia: US Training Former ISIS Fighters to Destabilize Syria
The real reason is perhaps that the US thinks Pakistan is getting too chummy with China. -- RF
Southeast Asian countries vie for port supremacy
China's 'Belt and Road' may tip balance from Singapore to newcomers

## Energy/resources ##
Russian tankers fueled North Korea via transfers at sea
Russian tankers have supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months by transferring cargoes at sea, according to two senior Western European security sources.
In the end, society needs energy to function and the idea that we can do more with less with the help of better technologies seems to be just an illusion. If we reduce energy consumption, we'll most likely enter a phase of economic decline.
For a sustainable future we need (1) a much smaller human population, (2) much lower energy consumption, and (3) abandonment of the dangerous and futile infinite-growth ideology. -- RF
America's Worst Graveyard Shift Is Grinding Up Workers
Cleanup at the slaughterhouse is as dangerous as it is repulsive, and the immigrants who do the work are under pressure to complete it faster than ever.
Business Is Booming for America's Survival Food King

## Solutions ##
Satoyama offers a chance to narrow economic gaps

## Environment/health ##
Trump revives a misleading claim that global warming isn't happening because it's cold outside
South Florida's Real Estate Reckoning Could Be Closer Than You Think
Hurricane Irma showed just how vulnerable South Florida—and some of the nation's most expensive real estate—is to climate change.

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Dirt Boxes: The Newest Government Tool for Warrantless Privacy Invasion
Why these cell phone tower-mimicking devices could become a civil liberties nightmare.
The emergence of this confidential document (found on Anthony Weiner's laptop and sent while his wife, Huma Abedin, was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff), is disturbing - as it potentially implicates the Obama administration in a conspiracy to silence Julian Assange while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State...

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Twitter account of imprisoned Palestinian teenage girl Ahed Tamimi deleted
The predictable results of those meetings are now clear and well-documented. Ever since, Facebook has been on a censorship rampage against Palestinian activists who protest the decadeslong, illegal Israeli occupation, all directed and determined by Israeli officials.
Spread of fake news prompts literacy efforts in schools (US)
The article is not specific, but one assumes that "media literacy" primarily means teaching students to accept government and mainstream media statements as gospel truth. -- RF

The most significant feature of these breakthroughs is that, unlike the basic scientific discoveries of yore, they are achieved thanks to colossal energy expenditures. Total the costs of raising, educating, and training the researchers and scientists (these costs alone are very high in modern societies), as well as the cost of the equipment and facilities, and it adds up to a staggering burden on society, regardless of what the benefits may be. For example, the Large Hadron Collider is the largest machine ever built, and one of the most expensive. Meanwhile, our energy situation is deteriorating rapidly, as the remaining stock of profitable fossil fuels must subsidize junk energy (such as shale oil) and also build and maintain the infrastructure for renewables. -- RF
Japan continues to gradually move into the Chinese economic zone. -- RF
Japan eyes electronic-warfare jet, could jam missile bases
Japan looks to deploy electronic-warfare aircraft that can neutralize enemy air defenses and command systems remotely, blurring the line between strict self-defense and offensive base-strike capability.
Plastic bags squeezed by electric car demand

## China ##
Xi gains control of China's paramilitary police
Further consolidation of power seen as hedge against a coup
Fight extremism or face UK tax penalty, social media companies told
Internet giants could be penalised through taxes if they fail to cooperate with government efforts to fight terrorism and online extremism, the minister of state for security has said.
Nurses and GPs are to be sent to answer 999 calls ahead of ambulance crews in the latest evidence of the winter crisis engulfing the NHS.
Millennials to receive 'inheritance boom' - but it won't be enough to overcome housing crisis
UK frackers are running out of time
Consumers splurged this Christmas. GDP will rise. Hooray. But how long will it take for consumers to pay off their debt?
Ron Paul: 'We Are On The Verge Of Something Like What Happened In '89 When The Soviet System Just Collapsed'
Ron Paul does not believe the U.S. will break into separate countries, like the Soviet Union did, but expects changes in the U.S. monetary policy, as well as the crumbling of the country's "overseas empire."
Report: Only One US State Pension has Funded Level Above 50%
A recent report from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), said that, based on its calculations, every US state's pension system has a funded level below 50%, except for that of Wisconsin, which has a funded level of 61.5%.

And finally...

Thursday, December 28, 2017


News Links, December 29, 2017

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
Tax-free no more: Saudi Arabia, UAE to roll out VAT in 2018
World's Wealthiest Became $1 Trillion Richer in 2017
The richest people on earth became $1 trillion richer in 2017, more than four times last year's gain, as stock markets shrugged off economic, social and political divisions to reach record highs.
Struggling shipbuilders drag down South Korea's Kospi

I'm in Awe of How Far the Scams & Stupidities around "Blockchain Stocks" are Going
UBI Blockchain Internet, a Hong Kong outfit whose shares trade in the US [UBIA], filed with the SEC to sell an additional 72.3 million shares owned by its executives. In other words, it isn't selling the shares to raise money for corporate purposes, but to allow its executives, including CEO Tony Liu, to bail out.

Japan aiming to counter expected pilot shortages around 2030

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Russia establishing permanent presence at two Syrian bases
Reverberations from Trump's Jerusalem Move
One ironic benefit from Donald Trump's presidency is that the world is showing more independence against U.S. edicts, such as the recent rebuff of Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
'Elite Warriors': A refreshingly Eastern perspective on special forces
A new book authored by experts from the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, or CAST, titled "Elite Warriors: Special Operations Forces From Around the World," explores one of these key changing aspects of modern war: the proliferation of special operations forces by major and minor powers across the globe.
It looks like the India-China rivalry is spreading to another front
Nepal has long been a buffer state between India and China, but with a new communist government at the helm, the Himalayan nation may now lean more toward Beijing.

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Venezuelans protest over pork shortage, Maduro blames Portugal

## Energy/resources ##
It's an obvious truth to those who, like the writer, understand that money is just tokenized energy. And further, this illustrates what I've been saying all along: The shale-drilling industry isn't a matter of "new technology unlocking new energy sources" (for the record, hydrofracturing isn't a new technology, and shale resources aren't newly discovered). Drillers are going after this now because the situation is desperate.  Recall that conventional oil discoveries are the lowest in 70 years. -- RF
If people are outraged over this, imagine what happens when the grid goes down. -- RF

## Got food? ##
Inspector general report: FDA food recalls dangerously slow, procedures deeply flawed
The federal recall process for about 80% of the nation's food is so slow it can take up to 10 months to get unsafe products off all store shelves — even when people are getting sick, says a report released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services'  inspector general office. 

## Environment/health ##
Human influence has reduced chances of record-breaking cold in China
Caribbean Coral Reefs Damaged By Hurricanes 'Natural Experiment' Of Recovering From Disaster
While the greatest threat to coral reefs worldwide is from warming waters and ocean acidification, the marine communities are also vulnerable to other disasters that are generally thought to wreak havoc on land only, such as hurricanes.

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
The Anatomy Of Hillary Clinton's $84 Million Money-Laundering Scheme
Most-admired woman! -- RF
Supply chain cyberattacks on the increase

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Propaganda Aiming to Prove Iran Supplied Missiles Backfires (Scott Ritter)

## China ##
Panda diplomacy grows with China's ambitions
Public needs to look beyond the furry animal's cuteness and see what's really at play, experts say
Government admits 'losing' thousands of papers from National Archives
Documents on the Falklands, Northern Ireland's Troubles, and the infamous Zinoviev letter among those 'misplaced', leaving historians suspicious
John McDonnell warns over 'alarming increase' in UK household debt

## US ##
Americans View Government as Nation's Top Problem in 2017 (Gallup)
Americans named dissatisfaction with government as the most important problem facing the nation in 2017, the third time in the past four years that government has been at the top of the list.
Brutal US cold snap highlights higher energy costs
Plunging temperatures across half the country on Thursday underscored a stark reality for low-income Americans who rely on heating aid: Their dollars aren't going to go as far this winter because of rising energy costs.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


News Links, December 27, 2017

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
Nothing in this category today because everything is looking up! -- RF

## Cut, baby, cut! ##
Store closures rocked retail in 2017. Now 2018 is set to bring another round of them
## Airline death spiral ##
Tunisia's transport ministry bans Emirates Airlines flights
Passenger claims United booted her from first-class seat — then gave it to Texas congresswoman
Flights, fights and Trump turbulence... 10 dramatic air mishaps that happened in China in 2017
From the elderly woman caught throwing coins into a jet engine to the angry man in a Make America Great Again hat escorted from a plane to chants of 'lock him up', here are some of this year's airport nightmares
'Hazardous weather conditions can cost the aviation industry billions of losses each year'
Unruly traveler forces jet to make unscheduled Alabama stop
Russia's Military Is Leaner, But Meaner
Vladimir Putin's military may be less well funded than Donald Trump's, but it's better suited to modern conflicts.
Guatemala says it is moving embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
China, Pakistan consider extending economic cooperation to Afghanistan
The three countries announced they plan to discuss ways to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan. CPEC includes highways, railways, pipelines and optical cables being built as part of Pakistan's Belt and Road Initiative.

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Palestinian Santas Clash With Israeli Forces On Christmas In Bethlehem

## Energy/resources ##
US regulator proposes scaling back offshore drilling safety rules: Report
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has proposed rolling back safety measures put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Russia remains China's largest crude oil supplier for ninth month

## Got food? ##
Food shortage, sanctions behind North Korean rescues in Japan: Analysts

## Solutions ##
Christmas 2017: Why I'm Hopeful

## Environment/health ##
$180bn investment in plastic factories feeds global packaging binge
Colossal funding in manufacturing plants by fossil fuel companies will increase plastic production by 40%, risking permanent pollution of the earth
Lingering drought threatens Holy Land's waters
As Israel heads into its fifth consecutive year of drought, the Sea of Galilee stands at a century low, much of the Jordan River is a fetid trickle and the Dead Sea is rapidly shrinking.

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Xi's iron grip on China's internet extends to social media

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Where to Find Supplies Post-Collapse

## Japan ##
Crumbling infrastructure: 30% of inspected sewers found to be damaged
The ministry says Japan's sewage systems have about 470,000 kilometers of pipes. It says 3,300 cave-ins due to such aging infrastructure were reported in fiscal 2015.
Japan's challenge how to cut huge debts
With Japan's debt to exceed 1,100 trillion yen, or about 9.7 trillion dollars by the end of fiscal 2018, finance officials are finding it difficult to curb spending. More than one-third of the country's budget relies on debt.
China Central Bank Official Says Bankruptcy May Benefit the Country
A Chinese central bank official said China should allow local governments to go bankrupt to help rein in regional authorities' excessive borrowing.
Of particular note here is the non-partisan nature of growing wealth disparity. It's just more evidence that the two arms of the War Party are in accord on the most significant features of the economy, society, and politics. Do you still doubt that the US has a China-style one-party system? -- RF
New York's vanishing shops and storefronts: 'It's not Amazon, it's rent'
Vacant storefronts are becoming more noticeable in the capital of consumption, as small retailers are being pushed out by wealthy investors

Sunday, December 24, 2017


News Links, December 25, 2017

In 9 U.S. Cities, Airport Security Is Now Scanning Your Face
"DHS should not be scanning the faces of Americans as they depart on international flights—but DHS is doing it anyway," warns a new report that finds facial recognition practices may be violating the law.

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Mexico enacts military policing law over rights objections
President Enrique Pena Nieto enacted a controversial bill Thursday giving the military a legal framework to operate as police on Mexican soil over widespread objections from human rights groups.

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Democracy 'lost': Rights groups warn of more violence in Honduras as US recognizes president
Thousands protest against Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem
Gift-wrapped package of horse manure addressed to U.S. treasury secretary

## Energy/resources ##
Oil Discoveries At Lowest Point Since The 1940s
The oil industry discovered the least amount of oil in 2017 in almost eight decades, breaking the previous record low set in 2016.
Troubled $25 Billion Nuclear Project Gets OK to Continue
Georgia's utility regulators are allowing construction to continue on two new nuclear reactors, despite massive cost overruns for the multibillion-dollar project.
The Loopholes Drug Companies Use to Keep Prices High
Drugmakers are using a variety of strategies to extend the exclusivity period of their wares, keeping less expensive alternatives away from patients.
US nuclear tests killed far more civilians than we knew
When the US entered the nuclear age, it did so recklessly. New research suggests that the hidden cost of developing nuclear weapons were far larger than previous estimates, with radioactive fallout responsible for  340,000 to 690,000 American deaths from 1951 to 1973.
Louisiana, Sinking Fast, Prepares to Empty Out Its Coastal Plain
Louisiana is finalizing a plan to move thousands of people from areas threatened by the rising Gulf of Mexico, effectively declaring uninhabitable a coastal area larger than Delaware.
Too many humans. -- RF

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Got a toy that can spy? Here's how to know and what to do
Intel Vets Tell Trump Iran Is Not Top Terror Sponsor
A group of U.S. intelligence veterans urges President Trump to stop his administration's false claims about Iran being the leading state sponsor of terrorism when U.S. allies, such as Saudi Arabia. are clearly much guiltier.
Apparently the US ambassador to the UN believes in the existence of a mythical country called "Binomo," or was flummoxed and was just BS-ing her way through the conversation. You can't make this stuff up. Well, maybe you can... -- RF

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Facebook Ditches Its "Fake News Flag" After People Shared Flagged Articles Even More
How Facebook's Secret Unit Created India's Troll Armies For Digital Propaganda To Influence Elections
Just days after GreatGameIndia exposed how American and Japanese companies could be hacking Indian elections, a recent Bloomberg report has revealed how a secret unit of Facebook has helped create troll armies for governments around the world including India for digital propaganda to influence elections.
The Strangelovian Russia-gate Myth
The Strangelovian palaver of Russia-gate is embraced by many liberals as some totem to ward off the vile Donald Trump, but this dishonest process only furthers the cause of American Empire and risks global destruction.

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Online, but can't ditch paper? You may be future-proofing yourself
You're on the web, you're in the cloud. But don't neglect good old-fashioned paper. That's the advice from internet pioneer Vint Cerf, who is afraid that all our digital memories could be lost as technology moves on.
Or when technology disappears. Keep in mind that "progress" isn't linear and irreversible. -- RF
Puerto Rican Island 'Still In Crisis Mode' 3 Months After Maria
On an island eight miles off Puerto Rico's coast, homes sit destroyed on hillsides and many of its nearly 9,000 residents still wait for federal aid. Vieques' hospital is operating out of tents in a parking lot. And the island is facing the prospect of six more months without electricity from Puerto Rico's main grid.

## Japan ##
Tokyo cuts estimated tab for 2020 Olympics to $12 billion
The latest price tag for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been trimmed slightly, but is still nearly twice the initial estimate even after a major cost-cutting effort.
Olympics to deploy facial recognition technology to screen staff, athletes and reporters
Mitsubishi solidarity survived war but succumbs to changing times
'Zaibatsu' descendants grapple with pressures hitting much of Japan Inc.

Housing, education, and health care have seen extraordinary inflation while wages are stagnant.
US life expectancy is dropping for the first time since the AIDS epidemic

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