Daily Digest

Daily Digest 2/19 -Both Parties Unrealistic On Budget, House Votes To Cut $60Bn, Scientists Call For New Element Sources

Saturday, February 19, 2011, 10:54 AM
  • Sachs Says Democrats, GOP Both 'Unrealistic' on Budget
  • The Days of Silver Manipulation Seem Numbered
  • House Votes to Cut $60 Billion, Setting Up Budget Clash
  • Significant 2011-2012 deficit projected for VBPS – Board may need to cut as much as $5,000,000
  • The West Bloomfield Teacher 'Sick Out'
  • Scientists Call for New Sources of Critical Elements
  • Local, Organic Milk; Nice Idea, But Try Making A Profit

Crash Course DVDThe 3-disc DVD with presenter’s pack offers helpful guidance for sharing the 3E message with your community. (NTSC or PAL)


Sachs Says Democrats, GOP Both 'Unrealistic' on Budget (kelvinator)

Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University, discusses President Barack Obama's proposed $3.7 trillion budget for fiscal 2012 and the outlook for the global economy. Sachs, speaking with Carol Massar and Matt Miller on Bloomberg Television's "Street Smart," is the author of the book "The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time."

The Days of Silver Manipulation Seem Numbered (Claire H.)

If someone wants to purchase physical silver through the Comex, they must first buy a future or option contract for a "delivery" month. The current delivery contract is the March11. Before the close of trading on 2/28, any holders of March contracts must sell their positions or be forced to take delivery. Those unwilling to take delivery typically "roll" their position into the next month, which is May. If an investor does intend to take delivery, that person must, by the close on the 28th, show in their account enough money to pay for their acquisition.

House Votes to Cut $60 Billion, Setting Up Budget Clash (jdargis)

The House early Saturday approved a huge package of spending cuts, slashing more than $60 billion from domestic programs, foreign aid, and even some military projects, as the new Republican majority made good on its pledge to turn the grassroots fervor of the November elections into legislative action to shrink the size and scope of government.

Significant 2011-2012 deficit projected for VBPS – Board may need to cut as much as $5,000,000 (Phil H.)

Mr. Dixon explained the key factors driving the projected deficit. On the revenue side, an estimated drop in students from 5,582 to 5,518 would decrease revenue by $371,840. The loss of federal funding (from ARRA and Edujobs federal sources) is projected to total $1,774,213 in decreased revenue compared to the current school year.

The West Bloomfield Teacher 'Sick Out' (Phil H.)

About 40 percent of the West Bloomfield High School teachers didn’t show up for work on Feb. 15 in the midst of bitter contract negotiations.

Superintendent JoAnn Andrees said that 41 high school teachers didn’t show up and that 36 of those teachers were not within a normal “pattern” of absences. Andrees said as many as a dozen teachers could be out on a typical day. The Michigan Department of Education said there are about 100 teachers at the high school as of 2009-10.


Scientists Call for New Sources of Critical Elements (jdargis)

The study’s release follows the recent introduction of a Senate bill, consistent with the report’s recommendations, meant to ensure that the United States can globally compete in emerging energy industries. That bill, by Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, also calls for federal money to train people to work in the advanced materials field.


Local, Organic Milk; Nice Idea, But Try Making A Profit (jdargis)

Ever since its milk began hitting shelves in January 2010, the company has barely managed to stay afloat, relying on a mix of investor money, grants, charitable donations and the kindness of neighbors buying half-gallons in solidarity.

“Our boat is made of duct tape and we’ve almost sunk a few times, but we’re paddling along,” said Mr. Bell, 33.

Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to [email protected]. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the "3 Es."


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Re: Daily Digest 2/19 -Both Parties Unrealistic On Budget, ...

Regarding silver, Friday, 2/18 was even more interesting.  From Along the Watchtower:


And this from Zero Hedge:


Are we seeing a failure in the gold & silver price supression scheme?

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Re: Daily Digest 2/19 -Both Parties Unrealistic On Budget, ...

Hey Suziegruber-

   That was a really interesting article from Along the Watchtower.  I am not well versed in the futures (precious metals) markets, but if I get the gist of what he is saying correctly, the large number of silver contracts still open, going into the 2/24 due date for delivery, is a big deal.  I will be very interested to see what more I can learn about this, as it sounds like a potential turning point in the pricing (and suppression of pricing) of precious metals.  Thanks for the link!

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what would happen to oil supplies if SA fell like Egypt?


Unrest Encircles Saudis, Stoking Sense of Unease

Published: February 19, 2011

WASHINGTON — As pro-democracy uprisings spread across the Middle East, the rulers of Saudi Arabia — the region’s great bulwark of religious and political conservatism — are feeling increasingly isolated and concerned that the United States may no longer be a reliable backer, officials and diplomats say.

Saudi Arabia is far less vulnerable to democracy movements than other countries in the region, thanks to its vast oil wealth, its powerful religious establishment and the popularity of its king.

But the country’s rulers were shaken by the forced departure of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, a close and valued ally. They are anxiously monitoring the continuing protests in neighboring Bahrain and in Yemen, with which Saudi Arabia shares a porous 1,100-mile border. Those concerns come on top of long-festering worries about the situation in Iraq, where the toppling of Saddam Hussein has empowered Iran, Saudi Arabia’s great rival and nemesis.

The recent illness of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, 87, who is expected to return to the kingdom this week after an absence of more than three months for treatment in the United States and Morocco, has reinforced the sense of insecurity.

“The Saudis are completely encircled by the problem, from Jordan to Iraq to Bahrain to Yemen,” said one Arab diplomat, voicing a view that is common in the halls of power in Riyadh, the capital. “Saudi Arabia is the last heavyweight U.S. ally in the region facing Iran.” He spoke on the condition of anonymity in line with diplomatic protocol.

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Belgium cash points run dry

Belgium Cash points run dry following collapse of Brinks security service


Interesting and shows the fragility of the cash service

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Belgium cost of living


Insurance rising due to poor state of the roads

100,000 households on social electricity supply (and in a country of 5 million incl all the NATO, EU and NGO personnel)! 


Anyone ahve similar ariticles from other parts of Europe??

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What does the Arab world do when its water runs out?


Water usage in north Africa and the Middle East is unsustainable and shortages are likely to lead to further instability – unless governments take action to solve the impending crisis

Camel drinking, Jordan, Petra. A camel takes a drink in Jordan. The Middle East faces conflict if its water shortage is not tackled. Photograph: Neal Clark/Robert Harding Collection

Poverty, repression, decades of injustice and mass unemployment have all been cited as causes of the political convulsions in the Middle East and north Africa these last weeks. But a less recognised reason for the turmoil in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Yemen, Jordan and now Iran has been rising food prices, directly linked to a growing regional water crisis.

The diverse states that make up the Arab world, stretching from the Atlantic coast to Iraq, have some of the world's greatest oil reserves, but this disguises the fact that they mostly occupy hyper-arid places. Rivers are few, water demand is increasing as populations grow, underground reserves are shrinking and nearly all depend on imported staple foods that are now trading at record prices.

For a region that expects populations to double to more than 600 million within 40 years, and climate change to raise temperatures, these structural problems are political dynamite and already destabilising countries, say the World Bank, the UN and many independent studies.

In recent reports they separately warn that the riots and demonstrations after the three major food-price rises of the last five years in north Africa and the Middle East might be just a taste of greater troubles to come unless countries start to share their natural resources, and reduce their profligate energy and water use.

"In the future the main geopolitical resource in the Middle East will be water rather than oil. The situation is alarming," said Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey last week, as she launched a Swiss and Swedish government-funded report for the EU.

The Blue Peace report examined long-term prospects for seven countries, including Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel. Five already suffer major structural shortages, it said, and the amount of water being taken from dwindling sources across the region cannot continue much longer.

"Unless there is a technological breakthrough or a miraculous discovery, the Middle East will not escape a serious [water] shortage," said Sundeep Waslekar, a researcher from the Strategic Foresight Group who wrote the report.

Autocratic, oil-rich rulers have been able to control their people by controlling nature and have kept the lid on political turmoil at home by heavily subsidising "virtual" or "embedded" water in the form of staple grains imported from the US and elsewhere.

But, says Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East programme at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic Studies, existing political relationships are liable to break down when, as now, the price of food hits record levels and the demand for water and energy soars.

"Water is a fundamental part of the social contract in Middle Eastern countries. Along with subsidised food and fuel, governments provide cheap or even free water to ensure the consent of the governed. But when subsidised commodities have been cut, instability has often followed.

"Water's own role in prompting unrest has so far been relatively limited, but that is unlikely to hold. Future water scarcity will be much more permanent than past shortages, and the techniques governments have used in responding to past disturbances may not be enough," he says.

"The problem will only get worse. Arab countries depend on other countries for their food security – they're as sensitive to floods in Australia and big freezes in Canada as on the yield in Algeria or Egypt itself," says political analyst and Middle East author Vicken Cheterian.

"In 2008/9, Arab countries' food imports cost $30bn. Then, rising prices caused waves of rioting and left the unemployed and impoverished millions in Arab countries even more exposed. The paradox of Arab economies is that they depend on oil prices, while increased energy prices make their food more expensive," says Cheterian.

The region's most food- and water-insecure country is Yemen, the poorest in the Arab world, which gets less than 200 cubic metres of water per person a year – well below the international water poverty line of 1,000m3 – and must import 80-90% o f its food.

According to Mahmoud Shidiwah, chair of the Yemeni water and environment protection agency, 19 of the country's 21 main aquifers are no longer being replenished and the government has considered moving Sana'a, the capital city, with around two million people, which is expected to run dry within six years.

"Water shortages have increased political tensions between groups. We have a very big problem," he says.

Two internal conflicts are already raging in Yemen and the capital has been rocked by riots this month. "There is an obvious link between high food prices and unrest [in the region]. Drought, population and water scarcity are aggravating factors. The pressure on natural resources is increasing, and the pressure on the land is great," said Giancarlo Cirri, the UN World Food Programme representative in Yemen.

"If you look at the recent Small Arms Survey [in Yemen], they try to document the increase in what they call social violence due to this pressure on water and land. This social violence is increasing, and related deaths and casualties are pretty high. The death tolls in the northern conflict and the southern conflict are a result of these pressures," said Cirri.

Other Arab countries are not faring much better. Jordan, which expects water demand to double in the next 20 years, faces massive shortages because of population growth and a longstanding water dispute with Israel. Its per capita water supply will fall from the current 200m3 per person to 91m3 within 30 years, says the World Bank. Palestine and Israel fiercely dispute fragile water resources.

Algeria and Tunisia, along with the seven emirates in the UAE, Morocco, Iraq and Iran are all in "water deficit" – using far more than they receive in rain or snowfall. Only Turkey has a major surplus, but it is unwilling to share. Abu Dhabi, the world's most profligate water user, says it will run out of its ancient fossil water reserves in 40 years; Libya has spent $20bn pumping unreplenishable water from deep wells in the desert but has no idea how long the resource will last; Saudi Arabian water demand has increased by 500% in 25 years and is expected to double again in 20 years – as power demand surges as much as 10% a year.

The Blue Peace report highlights the rapid decline in many of the region's major water sources. The water level in the Dead Sea has dropped by nearly 150ft since the 1960s. The marshlands in Iraq have shrunk by 90% and the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) is at risk of becoming irreversibly salinised by salt water springs below it.

Meanwhile, says the UN, farm land is becoming unusable as irrigation schemes and intensive farming lead to waterlogging and desalination.

Some oil-rich Arab countries are belatedly beginning to address the problem. Having drained underground aquifers to grow inappropriate crops for many years, they have turned en masse to desalination. More than 1,500 massive plants now line the Gulf and the Mediterranean and provide much of north Africa and the Middle East's drinking water – and two-thirds of the world's desalinated water.

The plants take salty or brackish water, and either warm it, vaporise it and separate off the salts and impurities, or pass it through filters. According to the WWF, it's an "expensive, energy intensive and greenhouse gas-emitting way to get fresh water", but costs are falling and the industry is booming.

Solar-powered plants are being built for small communities but no way has been found to avoid the concentrated salt stream that the plants produce. The impurities extracted from the water mostly end up back in the sea or in aquifers and kill marine life.

Only now are countries starting to see the downsides of desalination. Salt levels in the Arabian Gulf are eight times higher in some places than they should be, as power-hungry water plants return salt to an already saline sea. The higher salinity of the seawater intake reduces the plant's efficiency and, in some areas, marine life is suffering badly, affecting coral and fishing catches.

Desalination has allowed dictators and elites to continue to waste water on a massive scale. Nearly 20% of all Saudi oil money in the 1970s and 80s was used to provide clean water to grow wheat and other crops in regions that would not naturally be able to do so. Parks, golf courses, roadside verges and household gardens are all still watered with expensively produced clean drinking water. The energy – and therefore water – needed to keep barely insulated buildings super-cold in Gulf states is astonishing.

A few Arab leaders recognise that water and energy profligacy must be curbed if ecological disaster is to be avoided. In Abu Dhabi, which is building Masdar, the $20bn futuristic city to be run on renewable energy, the environment agency is spearheading a massive drive to reduce water use. Concrete is replacing water-hungry grass verges and new laws demand water-saving devices in all buildings.

"We cannot go on giving free water and energy. It's not benefiting anyone. We have to change and we will change. We know we must find common solutions," says Razan Khalifa al-Mubarak, assistant head of the environment agency.

"Allah does not like those who waste," says Talib al-Shehhi, director of preaching at the ministry of Islamic affairs. "Safeguarding resources and water especially is central to religion. The Qu'ran says water is a pillar of life and consequently orders us to save [it], and Muhammad instructs us to do so."

Water awareness is definitely growing, says Kala Krishnan, member of an eco club at the large Indian school in Abu Dhabi. "People were amazed when we showed them how much they use in a day. We stacked up 550 one-litre bottles and they refused to believe it. Now schools are competing with each other to reduce water wastage."

More than 2,000 mosques in Abu Dhabi have been fitted with water-saving devices, which is saving millions of gallons of water a year when people wash before prayer. Other UAE states are expected to follow.

The more drastic response to the crisis is to shift farming elsewhere and to build reserves. Saudi Arabia said in 2008 it would cut domestic wheat output by 12.5% a year to save its water supplies. It is now subsidising traders to buy land in Africa. Since the troubles in Egypt and north Africa, it has said it aims to double its wheat reserves to 1.4m tonnes, enough to satisfy demand for a year.

Countries now recognise how vulnerable they are to conflict. The UAE, which includes Abu Dhabi and Dubai, has started to build the world's largest underground reservoir, with 26,000,000m3 of desalinated water. It will store enough water for 90 days when completed. The reasoning is that the UAE is now wholly dependent on desalination to survive.

"Wars can erupt because of water," said Mohammed Khalfan al-Rumaithi, director general of the UAE's National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority last week. "Using groundwater for agriculture is risky. If it doesn't harm us it will harm other generations," he told the Federal National Council.

"We suffer from a shortage of water and we should think about solutions to preserve it rather than using it for agriculture," he said.

Water shortages, concludes the Blue Peace report, are now so alarming that in a few years opposing camps will have little choice but to co-operate and share resources, or face ruinous conflict. That way, it says, instead of a potential accelerator of conflict, the water crisis can become an opportunity for a new form of peace where any two countries with access to adequate, clean and sustainable water resources do not feel motivated to engage in a military conflict. It sounds optimistic, but the wind of change blowing through the region suggests everything is possible.

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Robert Newman's "History of Oil"

The best 45 minutes you can spend this weekend....   I found this on an ITulip link... a great video with a lot of good history and Peak Oil/Peak Population starting at about the 35 minute mark.  A sharp and funny guy....



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ZH: internet postings calling for Chinese protests Sunday

ZH has an article this morning about internet postings calling for coordinated Chinese protests on Sunday, in response to the "Jasmine Revolution" occurring in Africa and the Middle East..  The article, "Will The Great Firewall Of China Prevent Tomorrow's Beijing "Jasmine Revolution"?" is at http://www.zerohedge.com/article/will-great-firewall-china-prevent-tomorrows-beijing-jasmine-revolution .

What could possibly be the most important unreported news from the weekend comes out of China, where quietly Internet postings have circulated, calling for disgruntled Chinese to gather on Sunday in public places in 13 major cities to mark the "Jasmine Revolution" spreading through the Middle East. The postings, many of which appeared to have originated on overseas websites run by exiled Chinese political activists, called for protests in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and 10 other major Chinese cities. And while there has been some speculation this latest "social network" protest is nothing more than performance art, the Chinese authorities sure are taking it seriously: "The calls have apparently led the Chinese government to censor postings containing the word "jasmine" in an attempt to quell any potential unrest. "We welcome... laid off workers and victims of forced evictions to participate in demonstrations, shout slogans and seek freedom, democracy and political reform to end 'one party rule'," one posting said." Just like surging prices (which however are either forcefully adjusted to not be reflected or eliminated entirely from the data stream) caused virtually all prior Chinese social revolts, will they succeed again? And more importantly, will China demonstrate to the US that the only way to prevent a 'twitter revolution' is to wrest control of the internet entirely? If so, how many days before Big Brother is actively scouring through every single 100Base TX for daily keywords of choice with HBGary patiently waiting in the corridors to unleash a destructive DDOS at a moment's notice?

 ZH concludes the article with the following heads-up:

Keep an eye out on Sino news tomorrow. If Chinese protests commence in earnest, then not even Bernie Bernanke will be able to find many new LPs willing to invest in the ponzi at this late hour...

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