Tuesday, December 12, 2017


News Links, December 13, 2017

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
Warning From The World's Biggest Shipping Line On Outlook for World Trade
Sweden: More Signs The World's Biggest Housing Bubble Is Cracking
Poland Risks Being the EU's Rogue State
Samsung Heavy Industries names Joonou Nam new CEO — days after it forecast a fourth straight year of losses
Half a salary, half a job, half a life (Greece)
Two in three Greeks fail to pay their bills on time, mainly because they don't have the money.
Three Bubbles/Strikes and You're Out
Those betting on a fourth bubble of even greater extremes will find their time at bat has come to an end.

## War on cash/cashless society ##
Fiat currencies (in their physical manifestation) do have one thing over cryptocurrencies: You can hold them in your hand. When the lights go out, so does bitcoin. -- RF

## Airline death spiral ##
Concerns Raised About Passenger Safety Over Foreign Airplane Repair Work
The labor union representing American Airlines mechanics and ground crews has hired a firm run by the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security to investigate if foreign repair work on planes is putting passengers at risk.
Aggressive Champagne-Loving Passenger Forces Emergency Plane Landing
Airline made passenger put out cigarette. She threatened to kill everyone on the plane.
Spirit boots breast-feeding woman from plane

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Study: Global weapons sales rise for first time since 2010
Moscow-based think tank director: Russia's unexpected military victory in Syria
The success and affordability of the Russian military intervention in Syria contrast sharply with the U.S. record in many parts of the globe.
Sales of arms and military services by the world's largest arms-producing and military services companies—the SIPRI Top 100—totalled $374.8 billion in 2016, according to new international arms industry data released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
North Korea's Understandable Fears
By escalating threatening rhetoric — and staging provocative military maneuvers — President Trump may believe he can intimidate North Korea into capitulation but history would tell you something else.
Trump, N. Korea & the Phony 'Terror List'
Seeing what happened to the leaders of Iraq and Libya, North Korea's Kim Jong Un won't surrender his nuclear bombs – and getting put on the U.S. "terrorism list" won't change that.

## Migrants/refugees ##
Amnesty accuses EU of complicity in Libya migrant abuse
German Foreign Ministry rejects additional winter aid for refugees on Greek islands

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Thousands of Indonesians rally at US Embassy over Jerusalem

## Energy/resources ##
While those new methods unlocked a torrent of new supply and turned the U.S. into the world's largest producer, the increased difficulty of sucking fluid from so far underground is overwhelming pump systems that have changed little in decades. The mismatch is causing more well failures, rising costs at a time of low prices, and a scramble by companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. for alternative ways of maintaining flows.
Sunshine State lags on solar power, doubles down on natural gas
As a reflection of declining marginal return on investment in technology, Big Science now requires investments so huge that the participation of many countries is required for even a single project. Colossal budgets are also needed to build, staff, and operate mammoth research facilities, giant miles-long atom smashers, and what have you. And how about new fancy-pants weaponry for the world's military forces? Of course it costs more to develop and maintain than the old stuff. -- RF
'Death spiral': half of Europe's coal plants are losing money
More than half of the European Union's 619 coal-fired power stations are losing money, according to a new report. As a result, the industry's slow plans for shutdowns will lead to €22bn in losses by 2030 if the EU fulfils its pledge to tackle climate change, the report warns.
Virtual Energy (SolarCoin)
Alert readers will recall this article from July. Too many humans. -- RF
Right Whales On The Brink Of Extinction After Number Plunges To 450

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society
'No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth.'
Ex-Spy Chief Admits Role In 'Deep State' Intelligence War On Trump
An ex-spy chief who spoke out publicly against Trump while inspiring other career intelligence figures to follow suit has admitted his leading role in the intelligence community waging political war against the president, describing his actions as something he didn't "fully think through".
Japan, US and Europe push back on China's data controls
Tightening grip on industrial information seen as danger to supply chains
Yes, the FBI is America's secret police

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Russia-gate's Litany of Corrections
As much as the U.S. mainstream media insists that the Russia-gate scandal is growing, what is undeniably growing is the list of major corrections that news outlets have been forced to issue.

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
U.N. official: Alabama's poverty, sewage crisis 'very uncommon in First World'
A United Nations official investigating poverty in the United States visited Alabama last week and said the poverty and sewage system there is some of the worst he has seen in the developed world.

Chinese local governments accused of faking economic data
Chinese local governments have been accused of faking economic data following the latest round of nationwide audits that found evidence revenues had been inflated and the extent of their debts had been downplayed.
Deindustrialisation and misguided economic policies have reduced the former workshop of the world to a level where Britain can neither pay its way, nor afford the defence and public services an advanced society needs.
As net energy continues to decline, a wave of deindustrialization will engulf the planet. -- RF
Housing, education and health care costs are out of control, wages are stagnant, and the Fed has suppressed interest rates
How Fed Rate Hikes Impact US Debt Slaves
Outstanding "revolving credit" owed by consumers – such as bank-issued and private-label credit cards – jumped 6.1% year-over-year to $977 billion in the third quarter, according to the Fed's Board of Governors. When the holiday shopping season is over, it will exceed $1 trillion. At the same time, the Fed has set out to make this type of debt a lot more expensive.
Those who thought the tax plan would lead to announcements of more hiring and investment have already been proven wrong.
National Democrats Resist Reforms
Still refusing to face why Donald Trump and the Republicans won in 2016, the national Democratic Party rebuffs proposals from progressives to make the party more democratic and less corporate-dominated.
Waste of money. It's far cheaper and more sensible to send robots. -- RF
Similar rule-busting construction has happened in scores of communities across the United States, where local, state and federal officials have failed to enforce regulations intended to restrict building in areas at high risk of flooding.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


News Links, December 11, 2017

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
De-Dollarization Continues: China, Iran To Eliminate Greenback From Bilateral Trade
The fantasy that robots will do all the work of stripmining the Earth to provide for our endless overconsumption, and generate vast profits doing so, is just another manifestation of an intrinsically destructive and unsustainable Mode of Production.
Enron Déjà Vu? Citi, BofA, HSBC, Goldman, BNP on the Hook as Steinhoff Spirals Down
$21 billion of debt. Off-balance-sheet entities. Moody's wakes up, downgrades it four notches, with more to come.

## Cut, baby, cut! ##
Teva Considers 10,000 Job Cuts

## War on cash/cashless society ##
If the law is passed, anyone acting suspiciously carrying any amount of cash, whether in notes, precious stones, precious metals or prepaid credit cards, could face having their "money" impounded.
Proposed U.S. Legislation May Criminalize Those Who Conceal Bitcoin
From taxis to temples, Alipay's fast-expanding cashless world
Ant Financial's empire raises concerns of customer data use by Beijing

## Airline death spiral ##
United Continental announces $3 billion buyback

The Russians are not necessarily against the US presence and can adapt to this after defining the demarcation lines to avoid any clash, but Iran has a clear position and has decided not to abandon the Syrian President alone to face the US forces, if these stay behind.
Arab states urge US to abandon Jerusalem move
When Washington Cheered the Jihadists
Official Washington helped unleash hell on Syria and across the Mideast behind the naïve belief that jihadist proxies could be used to transform the region for the better.
Missing the Significance of Israel-gate
President Trump's decision to begin moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem — and disclosure that first-son-in-law Jared Kushner failed to disclose his role in a foundation funding Israeli settlements and lobbied against a United Nations' resolution critical of those settlements during the transition — are reminders that the foreign government with truly broad influence over U.S. politics is Israel.
North Korea fights cash drain that threatens regime
Kim's hasty declaration of nuclear success may signal economic stress
Trump fiddles with phone as US burns out in Asia, and China gives a lesson in leadership
President's Twitter rants and lack of a coherent strategy have seen confidence in US leadership plummet, and Beijing has not been slow to fill the void
The $10 Trillion Investment Plan to Integrate the Eurasian Supercontinent
Of course, this project will never be completed as now conceived. -- RF

## Migrants/refugees ##
Homeless Swedes Out in the Cold

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Two dead in 'Day of Rage' over Jerusalem, Palestinian president defiant
Thousands of Israelis have poured into the streets of Tel Aviv for an anti-corruption rally calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign.
Bioenergy crop area surges to new high (UK)
The area used for bioenergy crops surged to an all-time high in 2016, with a 41% increase in land use on the previous year.
Some people will applaud at this news, but energy crops — and indeed all other forms of renewable energy including photovoltaic and wind — require far larger land area than fossil fuels to yield the same amount of energy. Vaclav Smil, in his book Power Density, calculates this land area to be two to three orders of magnitude larger than that of fossil fuels. In the effort to prop up industrial society with renewables, vast tracts of land need to be occupied by energy crops and energy installations. This phenomenon is known as "energy sprawl."

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Resistance is futile: The Surgeon Who Wants to Connect You to the Internet with a Brain Implant
Eric Leuthardt believes that in the near future we will allow doctors to insert electrodes into our brains so we can communicate directly with computers and each other.
Defector says thousands of Islamic State fighters left Raqqa in secret deal
A high-level defector from Kurdish-led forces that captured the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State has recanted his account of the city's fall, saying thousands of IS fighters - many more than first reported - left under a secret, U.S.-approved deal.

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
CNN Botches "Bombshell" Report "Proving" Collusion Between Trump Jr And Wikileaks
The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened
Friday was one of the most embarrassing days for the U.S. media in quite a long time. The humiliation orgy was kicked off by CNN, with MSNBC and CBS close behind, with countless pundits, commentators and operatives joining the party throughout the day. By the end of the day, it was clear that several of the nation's largest and most influential news outlets had spread an explosive but completely false news story to millions of people, while refusing to provide any explanation of how it happened.

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Analyst: With ballooning costs for a smaller Navy, can it really afford 355 ships?
Maintaining old equipment still in use after 16 years of war is becoming more and more expensive, and the kicker is that the equipment that's coming online is even more expensive to maintain and operate than the old equipment it's replacing.

A major component of Japanese racism — not mentioned in this article — is an idea dating from the late 1800s which still holds sway today, called datsu-a nuu-ou, and meaning "Dump Asia, Join Europe." This was seen by some Japanese leaders of the day to be an essential condition for modernization. Although the rush toward modernization is a thing of the past, the desire to be a part of the Western camp is still very much alive, causing many Japanese to look down on their Asian brethren. Although North Americans and Europeans are sometimes subject to discrimination, they are generally far more welcome than Asians. Over the years I have seen and heard the phrase "Japan and Asia" countless times. This also shows that the Japanese place themselves outside of Asia. Nevertheless, this will perforce change as the US presence in Asia weakens, while the dominance of China grows. -- RF
Future of electric cars is at the bottom of a Chinese salt lake
Production of valuable lithium ramping up in mountains 3,000 meters above sea level
Is the future bright for Britain's nuclear energy industry?
The bright new dawn for Britain's nuclear industry took only days to cloud over with familiar concerns over cost.
Why America's drinking water crisis goes beyond Flint (BBC video)
While Flint made headlines two years ago when 12 people died due to high lead levels in the city's water, more than 1,000 water systems across the US have drinking water that fails safety standards for lead.
Peak Fantasy Time (David Stockman on jobs)

Thursday, December 07, 2017


News Links, December 8, 2017

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
A Radical Critique of Universal Basic Income
UBI is the last gasp of a broken, dying system, a "solution" that institutionalizes all the injustices of serfdom under the guise of aiding those left behind by automation.

## War on cash/cashless society ##
Trump's Latest Pick for the Fed Is No Fan of Paper Money
Marvin Goodfriend says it would be easier to impose negative interest rates if people couldn't hoard cash.
Bitcoin Exchanges Are Buckling While the Price Surges Past $16,000
Steam stops accepting payments in bitcoins

## Airline death spiral ##
Airline crews are being forced to restrain more unruly, drunk passengers
Turf War Takes Off at Beijing's New Airport

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Indonesia calls Russian bombers visit part of navigation exercise
The Russian Air Force has for the first time sent strategic bombers to visit an airport in eastern Indonesia on Tuesday, as the Russian military increases its presence in Southeast Asia following years of relative inactivity.
Asia is increasingly becoming the province of the Russians and the Chinese. On the other hand, the US will find it gradually more difficult to maintain a far-flung, global military presence, and it will eventually have to pull out of Asia. -- RF
Pentagon: US Troops to Remain in Syria
Deployment Will Continue 'As Long as Necessary'
Japan's summit with China, South Korea unlikely this year
Beijing's anger at Seoul's missile installation is biggest hurdle
Trump's Scheme to Carve Up Palestine
President Trump's big idea for Israeli-Palestinian peace was the "outside-in" plan in which Israel's new Saudi allies would squeeze the Palestinians until they accepted a bogus "state."

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Protestors Shut Down A Minnesota Wells Fargo Over Oil Investments

## Energy/resources ##
The 'Mega' Oil Field That Will Never Boom
2017 will most likely witness a continuation in the decline of conventional oil discoveries. This year has seen no major onshore discovery.
For years, shale companies burned through cash to grow production, a strategy that promised future returns even at the cost of a sharp increase in debt. The problem was that, by and large, the vast majority of shale companies have come up short, failing to turn a profit even as production soared. They added barrels to the market at an amazing clip, but shareholders have been left disappointed.
For renewables, Westwood said the growth for offshore wind should offer "a significant opportunity" for the helicopter fleet. By its estimate, growth in offshore wind translates to $119 million for helicopter spending through 2022.
Offshore wind power advocates need to think seriously about how to do this without that ICE-powered helicopter fleet, and without fossil fuels. Electric helicopters? Electric boats and cranes? And how will the boats and helicopters be made? For that matter, how will turbines be made? -- RF
Lifetime extension of nuclear plants is big problem for EU power sector
Fewer nuclear reactors are being built worldwide but more and more nuclear power plants run for longer periods than originally planned. It is therefore high time that those term extensions become a European issue, Claus Mayr of the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union told EURACTIV Germany in an interview.
Fuhgeddaboudit: Going off-grid in the UK
In my recent post featuring a residence in Tucson, Arizona (latitude 32 north) I found that no reasonable number of Tesla Powerwalls would allow the homeowner to go off-grid using a combination of solar and battery storage. In this post I review a residence in UK (latitude 52 north) and find, unsurprisingly, that its prospects for going off-grid with solar and Powerwalls are likewise non-existent.

Why You Won't Live Forever: The Human Body Already Peaked, Scientists Warn
Although people have made great biological strides in recent centuries, including increasing lifespans, there has been a great slowdown of those improvements, a group of experts wrote in an article for the journal Frontiers in Physiology. They say that's because our species has reached its peak and will only trend downward from here. And climate change may help drive that dive.

Russia-gate's Reach into Journalism
The investigation to somehow blame Russia for Donald Trump's election has now merged with another establishment goal of isolating and intimidating whistleblowers and other dissidents.

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
The Tangled Threads of Russia-gate
A curious feature about the Russia-gate "scandal" is that its proponents ignore the growing number of moments when their evidence undercuts their narrative. Instead, they press ahead toward a predetermined destination in much the way that true-believing conspiracy theorists are known to do.
Russia: Our New (and Old) Official Enemy

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Will the Navy go out with a whimper instead of a bang?
A world-girdling navy is of course unsustainable, but tell that to the admirals. -- RF
Upgrade of India's Mirage fighter fleet in jeopardy as maintenance contracts lapse
The upgrade of India's Mirage 2000-H fleet could face a roadblock, after the maintenance warranty from original equipment manufacturers Dassault Aviation and Thales of France expired with nobody willing to continue footing the bill.
An innovative look at the phenomenon. The "networked system" concept is also central to the work of Gail Tverberg at Our Finite World. And note this statement: "Decline of conventional oil production since it peaked in 2005 has led to desperate harvesting of unconventional oils pushed through by means of political deceit, fraudulent market misrepresentations and financial/economic distortions." Sharp readers will instantly notice that this is in effect what I've been saying about fracking for shale oil and mining oil sand: They are billed as technological marvels that "unlock" new sources of energy and save the day, but in reality the exploitation of such junk energy is a sign of desperation. Rough ride ahead, so strap yourselves in. -- RF

More laughable claptrap on human population decline. The mistaken and dangerous controlling ideology at work here is that human populations must be kept at current grossly inflated levels to prop up the moribund perpetual-growth economy, maintain insolvent Ponzi pension schemes, and accomplish other impossible tasks. What growth advocates don't understand is energy. The global human population (to the detriment of non-human populations) has ballooned to its current multi-billions because of the fossil fuel energy bonanza which humanity has been exploiting over the past few centuries. And the reason that populations are now falling is none other than net energy decline, i.e., the net energy of the global economy is no longer high enough to sustain current populations. Hence populations are falling around the world because people can't afford so many children (people see this as a problem of money, but it's actually energy). Economists and policymakers need to see that their analysis of the problem is wrong, and that their efforts to maintain the human population are futile. Finally, even if for illustrative purposes, the idea that ultimately there will be only 300 Japanese left because of current demographic trends is preposterous. The population of any country or region will stabilize at a level which is commensurate with available energy (this also holds for non-human populations). Japan's population in the Edo period is estimated to have been fairly stable at about 30 million. Keep in mind that Japan at that time was closed to the outside world and was therefore totally self-sufficient. As such, even without fossil fuels, electricity, or any of the other trappings of modern civilization, this small archipelago can support tens of millions. Do not lend your years to the maniacal ravings of brain-dead growth advocates. Following their dictates can only end in disaster and tears. -- RF
China U-turns on coal ban amid growing outcry over numbers left freezing in winter cold
Northern officials told that keeping people warm is 'number one' priority as dash for gas fails to ensure adequate power supplies

## UK ##
Medical issues affect British army readiness
One in five soldiers -- about 18,000 -- is unable to participate in full combat situations.
The Tax Bill is a Big Win for U.S. Oil And Gas
Renewable energy could get hit hard.

And finally...

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