Sunday, August 20, 2017


News Links, August 21, 2017

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
Paradise for Oligarchs: Poverty, Inequality Soar as Wealth Rises (Mexico)
Remember what happened to Hanjin Shipping? When the global financial system collapses, everything will instantly come to a standstill. -- RF
After Fake Promises of Transparency, NAFTA Negotiations Start in Secrecy. And Lobbying is Heating Up
Americans aren't allowed to know what's being negotiated at their expense.
That's bad enough, but here's the kicker: Governments are going nuts over trade agreements because they believe (or rather hope) that trade is going to live up to its reputation as "an engine of growth" and save the flagging global economy. But all countries must contend with net energy decline, and trade isn't going to change that. -- RF
When the Lights Go Out, Bitcoin Goes Too

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
US Allies Trust Vladimir Putin More Than Donald Trump, Says Pew Survey
Venezuela's new chief prosecutor vows to jail protest leaders
Erdogan wades into German election, Berlin hits back
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Friday urged ethnic Turks in Germany to reject its main parties in upcoming elections, prompting a sharp warning from Berlin to stop the "unprecedented" meddling.
Assad Advisor: Syrian War Effectively Over
Saudis in talks over alliance to rebuild Iraq and 'return it to the Arab fold'
President Trump to present new Afghanistan, Asia strategy Monday night
Israel's Quiet Reaction to US Neo-Nazis
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to call the tune for U.S. policy in the Middle East, going so far as to avoid criticizing U.S. neo-Nazis to not offend President Trump.

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Colleges brace for more violence amid rash of hate on campus
Batteries Impose Hidden Environmental Costs for Wind and Solar Power
Renewable power advocates tout next-generation batteries as a path to making wind and solar power economically competitive with conventional power. The environmental impacts of battery production and disposal, however, are substantial and may overwhelm any environmental benefits of zero-emission wind and solar power.
But the plug for nuclear is misguided at best. The writer should have stuck to pointing out the problems with renewables. -- RF
Indonesia's Ailing Oil Sector Needs Urgent Overhaul
Indonesia's oil industry is languishing, it's fields are depleting and it desperately needs investment, but unlike another up-and-coming oil major—Argentina—it's not willing to do what is necessary to lure in big foreign money.

Are Profit and Healthcare Incompatible?
As I have been noting for a decade, the broken U.S. healthcare system will bankrupt the nation all by itself. We all know the basic facts: the system delivers uneven results in terms of improving health and life expectancy while costing two or three times more per person compared to our advanced-economy global competitors.
Los Angeles tests cooling pavement paint to beat heat
UK and US play 'crucial role' in creating conditions for spread of cholera in Yemen, say researchers
Synthetic opioid crisis in US serves as warning for the world, says UN
Fentanyl, which is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, was recently tied to the deaths of 60 people in the UK – and a growing number of deaths in Australia

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
U.S. digital rights group slams tech firms for barring neo-Nazis
Obviously, if we allow one group to be singled out and denied the right to free speech, the door has been opened to giving any other group the same treatment. Besides, in public debate it is easy to refute the crackpot ideas of racists and their ilk using logic, science, and facts. -- RF
How A Pop Song Could "Watch" You Through Your TV
Your phone, TV, or connected device could become a sonar spy, as white hat hackers at the University of Washington give new meaning to bad music.
Like airport security, these protections create another drag on the socioeconomic system. -- RF
Our Minds Have Been Hijacked by Our Phones

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Azerbaijan freezes bank accounts of sole independent news agency
Russia-gate's Evidentiary Void
A cyber-warfare expert sees no technical evidence linking Russia to the Democratic email releases, but The New York Times presses ahead with a new hope that Ukraine can fill the void.
Academic Journal Acquiesces to Chinese Government Demands to Censor Articles
Cambridge University Press, the world's oldest publishing house, made 300 articles from the website of the China Quarterly inaccessible inside China, at the request of Chinese authorities.

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
States That Are Falling Apart (US)
What Would A U.S. Civil War Look Like?
Here again, the joke is on America because Trump is just a symbol of what the nation has become, a symptom of the disease. In this case, he symbolizes the tsunami of illiteracy swamping the US. If you don't believe me, read the comments sections below news articles on the web. -- RF

The motorcycle becoming thing of the past
Plunging popularity, tighter regulations force makers to kill off models
How China is helping Malaysia's military narrow the gap with Singapore, Indonesia
Chinese weapons present a tempting target for Prime Minister Najib Razak's cash-strapped government and could add a new dimension to the fast-growing economic links between the two countries
Imported pork from leading supermarkets may cause hepatitis
Sausages and ham sold at a leading supermarket may have infected British shoppers with a virus that can cause liver failure and death

## US ##
Deep Subprime Auto Loan Delinquencies Reach 2007 Levels: The Next Big Short?

Thursday, August 17, 2017


News Links, August 18, 2017

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
India Bans Gold Exports "Without a Valid Reason"
The new rule is not a crackdown on gold exports, it's a crackdown on gold period. India wants to punish those who trade in gold.

## War on cash/cashless society ##

The Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat
There are many reasons to despise flying, from delays, to fees, to overzealous TSA staff. But shrinking seats and the pain, claustrophobia, and rage they can trigger are arguably the biggest justification for airline loathing. The modern seat, with its power to pack more customers onto any given plane, is at the very heart of the industry's 21st century economics.
Carrier admits performance unlikely to improve as HK$2.05b first-half loss is blamed on stiff competition and weak revenue from ticket sales

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
A Ukraine Link to North Korea's Missiles?
By orchestrating the 2014 "regime change" in Ukraine, U.S. neocons may have indirectly contributed to a desperate Ukrainian factory selling advanced rocket engines to North Korea and endangering America.
The Story of Charlottesville was Written in Blood in the Ukraine
Some of the neo-Nazis President Obama helped put in power in Ukraine carried Confederate flags. U.S. society has been moving rightward for decades -- and pulling much of Europe with it.
Refusing to Learn Lessons from Libya
Official Washington never likes to admit a mistake no matter how grave or obvious. Too many Important People would look bad. So, the rationalizations never stop as with the Libyan fiasco.
Report: Saudis Increasing Yemen Airstrikes, Killing More Civilians

## Migrants/refugees ##
The Agony of 'Regime Change' Refugees
There are positive signs of Syrians returning to Aleppo after the ouster of Al Qaeda's militants. But the legacy of Western "regime change" wars continues to plague Europe and inflict human suffering.

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
White nationalists reportedly planning a rally in Lexington to oppose removal of statues

## Energy/resources ##
Will Solar Power Be at Fault for the Next Environmental Crisis?
Solar panel waste will become a major issue in the coming decades as old solar panels reach the ends of their useful lifespans and require disposal.
With nuclear power, there will supposedly be plenty of money to pay for "decommissioning services," which are expected to develop into a major industry. Similarly, there are expectations that services to "manage" end-of-life PV panels will become big business. Not to mention scrapped wind turbines. But I predict that there will be precious little money to engage such services. Net energy decline and the increasing use of renewables — which have a far lower power density than fossil fuels — are driving a downward economic spiral which guarantees that the post-industrial landscape will be littered with exploding nuke plants, burned-out solar farms, and the rusting hulks of junked wind turbines. -- RF
Taiwanese minister resigns after error at power plant plunges 668,000 homes into darkness
Four-hour electricity outage leaves people trapped in lifts, traffic at a standstill across major cities
Apple suppliers in Taiwan voice concerns following mass blackout
President Tsai Ing-wen wants green energy, but stable power supply remains an issue
The Australian Energy Conundrum
The Continent of Australia is one of the most energy rich countries in the world. And yet the state of South Australia has become blackout capital of the OECD.
Missouri regulators reject massive Midwest wind power line
Missouri utility regulators on Wednesday rejected a proposed high-voltage power line to carry wind power across the Midwest to eastern states, delivering a significant setback to developers of one of the nation's longest transmission lines.
At last, a bit of realistic thinking about the grossly overblown expectations for "vegetable factories." If people want to keep eating, they'll need soil and sound ecosystems, not hydroponic towers that will become useless when the power outages come. -- RF

University of Washington students can hack smart devices, track body movement
Computer science students at the University of Washington have found a way to remotely hack into people's personal devices, such as cell phones and smart TV's, to track individual movement, raising serious security questions, the university announced Wednesday.
Apple Pay, PayPal cut off sites linked to white supremacists

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Market Will Fall By 50-75% As Petrodollar & Energy Sector Break Down
Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity.

## Japan ##
Japan's Kyokuyo readies fully farmed tuna for market

## China ##
So When Will China's Debt Bubble Finally Blow Up?
Corporate debt in China has soared to $18 trillion, or 169% of GDP, the largest pile of corporate debt in the world, according to the worried Bank for International Settlements.
Chinese enterprises write Communist Party's role into charters
Hundreds of Chinese companies have revised their corporate charters to allow a deeper management role for the Communist Party, a sign the ruling party is tightening its control over the private sector.
In her latest report, Chu estimates that bad debt in China's financial system will reach as much as Rmb51 trillion , or $7.6 trillion, by the end of this year, more than five times the value of bank loans officially classified as either non-performing or one notch above." That estimate implies a bad-debt ratio of 34%, orders of magnitude above the official 5.3% ratio for those two categories at the end of June.

## UK ##

## US ##
The only good thing about Trump's victory is that we were delivered from this warmongering battleaxe. -- RF
Defiant Trump insists anew: Blame both sides for violence
[Trump] showed sympathy for the fringe groups' efforts to preserve Confederate monuments.
Surely Trump knows that putting something on a pedestal glorifies it. -- RF
President Trump's 'White Blindness'
By defending "beautiful" Confederate statues, President Trump shows how little he understands about the evils of slavery and the cruelty on lynchings and segregation, but he is by no means alone.
Here's how much you save when you don't have kids
Your friends may tell you having kids has made them happier. They're probably lying. Research shows that parenthood leads to a happiness gap. Maybe that's because the pleasures of parenthood are outweighed by all the extra responsibilities, housework and, of course, the costs.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


News Links, August 16, 2017

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
Aramco IPO Value May Be Much Lower Than Expected

## Airline death spiral ##
Drunk air passenger arrests up 50%
Arrests of passengers suspected of being drunk at UK airports and on flights have risen by 50% in a year, a BBC Panorama investigation suggests.
Thailand passport control crisis prompts widespread criticism
Airport queues of up to five hours, negligent authorities scorched by all media

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
US, China vie for anti-terror influence in the Philippines
Trump refuses to take call from Venezuela's Maduro
He won't take calls from Venezuela until democracy is restored there. So what's his excuse for taking calls from China? Does he think it's a democracy? And speaking of "democracy," what about America's China-style one-party system? -- RF
Iran President Hassan Rouhani threatens to restart nuclear program
NYT Shocking Report: US "Ally" Ukraine Is Source Of North Korean Missile Engines
Since 2010, we've paid £328m to wind farms not to generate – mostly to onshore Scottish wind farms, though England's offshore farms have also started to get into the act. Last year, the total was £82m. This year, it's already reached £50m.
The problem here is that proponents never realized what they were trying to do. It never occurred to them that in making biofuels, humans have to do the work that nature did for us over millions of years in making fossil fuels. -- RF
Coal expansion plans up in smoke as Europe realises mistake
Substantial coal power expansion in Europe has been significantly scaled back over the last decade after utility companies realised they bet on the wrong horse, according to a new study by the University of Oxford.
Considering the low energy return on biofuels and the vast amount of land commandeered for monoculture oil palm plantations, it's hard to be impressed. -- RF
But severe pollution, rising costs, and intense competition for shoreline real estate mean that production in these areas cannot expand indefinitely. Wild fishery catches, meanwhile, have mostly plateaued or are in decline.
Too many humans. -- RF
Too many humans. -- RF

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Google Moves Into the Business of Thought Control

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
World GDP in current US dollars seems to have peaked; this is a problem
The findings highlight how six decades of industrial dumping, farming pollution, and water plant and distribution pipe deterioration have taken a toll on local water systems.

## Japan ##
Family-friendly bank pays $18,000 for fourth child
An individual who has had a second child immediately receives a lump-sum of 200,000 yen. A third child makes them eligible for a total of 1 million yen paid over five years, while two million yen will be paid over five years to anyone who has a fourth or more.
In a world so obscenely overpopulated with humans, this is self-destructive. It always astonishes me how out of touch with reality some people can be. -- RF
Domestic demand replaces exports as Japan's growth driver
Economists doubt momentum will continue as population declines, market shrinks
Although fracking and other means of pursuing unconventional oil are always presented as a technological tour de force, they are actually acts of desperation. The article also makes no mention of the very high danger of inducing earthquakes in a country which already has plenty of them. -- RF
Michael Moore is an idiot. Of course Trump is aggravating the situation, but the seeds of collapse were sown long ago, and indeed, industrial society itself is unsustainable from the get-go. If Moore can't see that, he's no smarter than Trump. -- RF

And finally...

Sunday, August 13, 2017


News Links, August 14, 2017

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
What the Mainstream Doesn't Get about Bitcoin
The real demand for bitcoin will not be known until a global financial crisis guts confidence in central banks and politicized capital controls.
The real value of bitcoin will be known when the internet and power grids go down. -- RF
HNA Finalizes Purchase of Money-Losing German Airport

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Countries With the Largest Nuclear Stockpiles
US Military Presence Overseas Mushrooming: Here, There and Everywhere
Around 200,000 US troops are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world. The forces use several hundred bases, more than 1,000 if the figure includes overseas warehouse and installations.
Rocket experts: North Korean Missile Claims Are 'a Hoax'
A New Korean War Would Quickly Escalate

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Nigerian Protesters Storm Shell Crude Oil Flow Station
Massive rally against US base relocation (Japan)

## Energy/resources ##

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Mozilla Joins George Soros's Efforts In Launching A Strike Against "Fake News"
Education or Brainwashing?
Inculcating youngsters with national myths is a key way for societies to control their populations – as is clear in how Israel defines acceptable history – in defiance of educational ideals.

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Don't blame addicts for America's opioid crisis. Here are the real culprits
America's opioid crisis was caused by rapacious pharma companies, politicians who colluded with them and regulators who approved one opioid pill after another
Nobody Knows What Lies Beneath New York City
New Orleans braces for new flooding as it copes with power outages, failed pumping system
Officials said this week that at least 14 of 120 drainage pumps located throughout the city were out of service during last weekend's storm because of power shortages and because of a lack of basic maintenance.
If Pence Shapes Trump's Infrastructure Plan, Who Would Profit? Who Would Pay?
Net energy decline is the main reason for infrastructure problems, so gimmicks aren't going to solve them. -- RF

## US ##
In Debt We Trust for U.S. Consumers With $12.7 Trillion Burden
To put the borrowing in perspective, it's more than the size of China's economy or almost four times that of Germany's.
Russia-gate's Fatally Flawed Logic
By pushing the Russia-gate "scandal" and neutering President Trump's ability to conduct diplomacy, Democrats and Congress have encouraged his war-making side on North Korea.
Are We Already in Recession?
If we stop counting zombies, we're already in recession.
But keep in mind also that in a world of net energy decline, each "recession" is actually another leg down in the degeneration of industrial society. -- RF

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