Daily Digest

Daily Digest 4/9 - China Under Pressure Over Saudi Rise, Japan Struck By Anxiety, Experts To Meet Over Nuke Crisis

Saturday, April 9, 2011, 9:41 AM
  • China Under Pressure Over Saudi Rise
  • The Devolution of the Consumer Economy, Part II: Rising Costs, Declining Wages
  • JP Morgan head Jamie Dimon pockets 51% pay rise
  • Japan Struck By New Wave Of Anxiety
  • Update From INET
  • Experts From Korea, Japan To Meet Over Nuke Crisis
  • Lack of Data Heightens Japan’s Nuclear Crisis
  • Russia Ready To Dispatch Radiation Processing Vessel To Japan

Follow our steps to prepare for a world after peak oil, such as how to store & filter water


China under pressure over Saudi rise (pinecarr)

There are bigger forces afoot in the region, and China is caught between them. As the various popular revolutions stagger toward their equivocal denouements, China has to deal with the fallout: the Arab counter-revolution and the league of conservative states led by Saudi Arabia that has adopted anti-Iranism as its organizing principle.

While the West focuses on the tragicomic spectacle of the Libyan intervention, the two great powers in the region, Iran and Saudi Arabia are moving towards confrontation.

The Devolution of the Consumer Economy, Part II: Rising Costs, Declining Wages (pinecarr)

The widening gap between declining incomes and higher costs has been filled with borrowed money. Now that borrowing has reached its limit, and the consumer economy is devolving.

JP Morgan head Jamie Dimon pockets 51% pay rise (pinecarr)

Jamie Dimon, the head of JP Morgan Chase, received a pay rise of about 51% last year including a $5m (£3m) cash bonus, a move that angered campaigners for a levy on the banking industry.

Japan Struck By New Wave Of Anxiety (pinecarr)

Shoppers emptied store shelves, traffic snarled with stoplights knocked out and drivers waited in long lines to buy gasoline in a new wave of anxiety yesterday after a 7.1-magnitude aftershock struck disaster-weary northeastern Japan.

Update From INET (PM)

From the paper: “…Once upon a time, there was room for only one international currency, the dollar. But now, because switching and interchangeability costs have fallen, there is room for several international currencies. We are heading, in other words, toward a world in which several currencies will share the international stage. I want to suggest that this change is to be welcomed, not feared.”


Experts From Korea, Japan To Meet Over Nuke Crisis (pinecarr)

Japan proposed the meeting first, the official said, speaking under the customary condition of anonymity.

The proposal came after South Korea expressed uneasiness earlier in the week over Japan’s failure to notify its neighbor before it announced it would begin releasing radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean to make room for storage of runoff measuring higher radiation.

Lack of Data Heightens Japan’s Nuclear Crisis (jdargis)

The paucity of data and the conflicting estimates of what the available information really means have prompted a series of confusing analyses and a rift between officials in Japan and those overseas — and even between one member of Congress and the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Russia Ready To Dispatch Radiation Processing Vessel To Japan (pinecarr)

As Japan continues to be shaken by a series of aftershocks following the powerful earthquake that hit the country on March 11, Russia announced that a special factory to process liquid radioactive waste, the “Landysh”, is ready to deploy to Japan at any moment. The factory is used in Russia to service Russian Pacific Fleet submarines and in 10 years of work it has processed over 5,000 tons of radioactive waste. It was constructed as part of a nuclear disarmament partnership program between Russia and Japan using Japanese budget money.

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nyt article 4/8/11

"But some of the radiation readings at Reactors Nos. 1 and 3 over the last week were nearly as high as or higher than the 3,300 rems per hour that the commission said it was trying to explain, so it would appear that the speculation would apply to them as well. At No. 2, extremely radioactive material continues to ooze out of the reactor pressure vessel, and the leak is likely to widen with time, a western nuclear executive asserted.

“It’s a little like pulling a thread out of your tie,” said the executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect business connections in Japan. “Any breach gets bigger.”

Flashes of extremely intense radioactivity have become a serious problem, he said. Tokyo Electric’s difficulties in providing accurate information on radiation are not a result of software problems, as some Japanese officials have suggested, but stem from damage to measurement instruments caused by radiation, the executive said.

Broken pieces of fuel rods have been found outside of Reactor No. 2, and are now being covered with bulldozers, he said. The pieces may be from rods in the spent-fuel pools that were flung out by hydrogen explosions."


apologies if this is a duplication

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Joe Stiglitz
Stiglitz Speaks Truth to Power
Nobel prize winning economist Jospeph Stiglitz has been speaking out on this same theme this week.
As Linda Keenan and Janine R. Wedel note:
Stiglitz describes well the intertwining of state and private power [quoting Stiglitz] :

The personal and the political are today in perfect alignment. Virtually all U.S. senators, and most...[House] representatives...are members of the top 1 percent....are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office. By and large, the key executive-branch policymakers on trade and economic policy also come from the top 1 percent. When pharmaceutical companies receive a trillion-dollar gift--through legislation prohibiting the government...from bargaining over price--it should not come as cause for wonder....Given the power of the top 1 percent, this is the way you would expect the system to work.

Stiglitz points out that a system gamed to benefit only that 1 percent is destined to sink us all, eventually, because it means America is squandering its productivity, efficiency, and much-needed infrastructure dollars. We would go a step further and say that this system, of, by, and for the 1 percent, is what paved the way for some of the greatest disasters of the new century. The BP-Transocean Oil Spill and the Wall Street collapse might never have happened without the promotion by shadow lobbyists of loose regulation and/or weak enforcement that benefited themselves and their elite brethen. Japan might not be facing a nuclear crisis, were it not for the fact that the very old reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant got an extension to keep operating despite safety concerns. That decision was a byproduct, critics say, of Japan's own gamed system known as amakudari, or "descent from heaven", a longstanding, widespread practice in which Japanese senior bureaucrats retire to high-profile positions in the private and public sectors.

A string of smaller, but still terrible disasters can be traced to weak regulation and/or spotty enforcement: the half-billion eggs that had to be recalled last year; a 2009 plane crash that killed 50 people, which Frontline traced back to the "cozy" relationship between the FAA and carriers, allowing some of them to operate flights despite safety violations; and several mine disasters that have killed dozens in recent years. A Washington Postanalysis found that more than 200 former congressional staffers, regulators and retired lawmakers work for the mining industry as lobbyists, senior executives, or consultants. Those last two roles make it possible for top power brokers to shadow lobby - they go unregistered simply by evading formal registration and refusing the accept the title of lobbyist, even if lobbying is essentially what they are doing.
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Jamie Dimon

You can form a better impression of Jamie Dimon here.

Dont tell my boss, but I dont deserve half my salary too. A Bangaladeshi could do it for $1 a day.

So what is to be done? I eat beans, make sauerkraut and ride a bicycle. Is that pennance enough?

To me the answer is to lose the guilts, expand our energy use and excape from this gravity well. Either that or crash and burn.

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Arthur Robey
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Hans Rosling on energy

Hans Rosling is his usual charming self in this TED talk about energy use and demographics.



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