Daily Digest

Daily Digest 9/7 - China Halts Rare Earth Production At 3 Mines, Italy To Impose Wealth Tax, Greek Bailout In Doubt

Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 9:42 AM
  • China halts rare earth production at three mines
  • Deadline looms for millions of unemployed Floridians
  • Many feel repercussions of long-term unemployment
  • Italian, Spanish unions mobilise against cuts
  • Franc Plunges Most Ever Versus Euro as Central Bank Draws Line
  • Cities have trouble selling fixed-up foreclosures
  • How Florida Schools Are Coping With Budget Cuts
  • Italy to impose wealth tax, raise VAT
  • Budget woes may worsen for LAUSD schools
  • Swiss May Spend 200 Billion Euros on Peg, BMO Says
  • Greek Bailout, Merkel's Majority In Doubt
  • Savers get burned by Fed’s zero interest rate policy
  • More restaurants are targeting customers who use food stamps
  • Anthem Requests 12.9 Percent Increase; No Public Hearing Is Required

Our 'What Should I Do?' guide has steps to cook, see & stay warm in times of power outage

Economy

China halts rare earth production at three mines

Ganzhou produces almost 40 percent of China's ionic rare earths, the newspaper said, minerals used to manufacture high-tech products such as electric batteries, wind turbines and electronics. China, which produces about 97 percent of the world's supplies of the 17 minerals, has cited resource depletion and environmental degradation concerns as reasons for a nationwide crackdown on its rare earths sector.

It has capped production at 93,800 tonnes and exports at 30,184 tonnes, saying it cannot sustain the sort of output levels demanded by foreign customers. Demand for rare earths is expected to double in the next five years, but Chinese output growth is likely to be much slower, and major importing countries have toyed with the idea of taking legal action.

Deadline looms for millions of unemployed Floridians

Taking their name from the 99-week limit on state and federal unemployment benefits, 99ers made up about 14 percent of the 14.4 million people who were jobless at the end of July, the most recent month for which figures are available, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The recession may have officially ended last year, but for Turner and millions of others the dark economic cloud has yet to lift. They rely on unemployment checks, food stamps, Medicaid and other government programs -- programs that are being cut or retooled by state and national leaders.

This summer's debt-ceiling deal between Obama and congressional Republicans failed to extend unemployment benefits beyond the end of this year. Come January, millions more people in Florida and beyond could see their benefits dry up, a change that will take billions of dollars out of local economies.

Many feel repercussions of long-term unemployment

In Michigan, where unemployment benefits currently last an unprecedented 99 weeks, half a million residents are expected to exhaust these benefits between June 2011 and June 2012, according to the state's Unemployment Insurance Agency. That's on top of the nearly 174,000 who ran out of these benefits from 2008 through the end of May.

"This is like nothing we've seen since the Great Depression - by far," said Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank focused on issues important to low- and middle-income workers. She noted that in the early '80s, the long-term jobless made up 26 percent of all unemployed workers. Today, they account for more than 40 percent.

Italian, Spanish unions mobilise against cuts

Parts of Italy's public transport network ground to a halt and major attractions such as the Colosseum in Rome were closed by the strike as tens of thousands of workers took to the streets across the country.

"This is a plan the country doesn't deserve," said Susanna Camusso, head of the largest CGIL union, as she led the main march in Rome. And in Spain, whose jobless rate is the highest in the industrialised world at nearly 21 percent, unions were taking to the streets in a show of force against a constitutional amendment to ensure that budgets are balanced.

Franc Plunges Most Ever Versus Euro as Central Bank Draws Line

The franc tumbled, dropping the most ever against the euro, after the Swiss central bank imposed a ceiling on the currency's exchange rate and said it will defend the target with the "utmost determination."

The franc depreciated at least 7.8 percent against all 16 of the most-active currencies monitored by Bloomberg, with the biggest decline versus the Norwegian krone.

Cities have trouble selling fixed-up foreclosures (Florida)

They've got the homes. They just need buyers. Local communities have been using millions of federal dollars to fix up and resell foreclosed homes in an effort to battle blight and to protect surrounding property values, but those neighborhood revivals are being hampered by rehabbed homes that cities can't unload.

How Florida Schools Are Coping With Budget Cuts

School districts have been forced to make painful budget choices as state property values decline and the economy continues to sputter. More than $2.1 billion has been cut from state education spending since 2008, according to the state education department. This year districts are facing an eight percent cut, or $542 per student. Every district has coped differently.

Italy to impose wealth tax, raise VAT

A wealth tax of 3% on revenues above €500,000 was put back into the package today, after a tax of 5% had been cut last week under pressure by Berlusconi.

The VAT sales tax will go up one point to 21%, according to statement issued after the ruling coalition meeting. The retirement age for women in the private sector, now at 60, is to rise to 65 years as it is for men beginning in 2014, instead of 2016 as had been planned previously.

Budget woes may worsen for LAUSD schools (Los Angeles)

"I am very, very concerned about our budget next year," Deasy said. "There is no room in our budget for any cuts." When the state budget was approved by the Legislature in July, it seemed to bring good news for schools because it promised no further cuts to education. That financial plan, however, relied on $4 billion in increased state revenues that so far have failed to materialize. If year-end revenue falls short, schools could face cuts of up to $2.5 billion in the spring. State officials have asked districts to delay teacher layoffs and have suggested shortening the school year by up to seven days instead.

Swiss May Spend 200 Billion Euros on Peg, BMO Says

Andrew Busch, a global currency strategist in Chicago at Bank of Montreal, spoke in a conference call today with investors about the Swiss National Bank’s decision to peg the franc to 1.20 or weaker per euro.

On the peg:

“I would assume the Swiss National Bank is going to absorb around 200 billion euros ($279.8 billion) in a relatively short period of time, perhaps within the first two months, to make a point and prove the worthiness of having this peg hold.”

Greek Bailout, Merkel's Majority In Doubt

Defeat in that vote would indirectly, but effectively, spell the end for the euro zone's existing bailout strategy, compromising the support of Europe's largest and strongest economy for the ranks of the crisis-struck: Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

It could also spell disaster for Italy and Spain, by removing a key prop from their bond markets, and allowing speculation against them to rage unchecked. The European Central Bank has signaled that it only intends to fill the role of lender of last resort temporarily, until the European Financial Stability Facility--the euro-zone rescue mechanism--can take over.

Savers get burned by Fed’s zero interest rate policy

Then, at its early August meeting, the Fed vowed to keep rates this low at least through mid-2013. Two more years of scant income for those who’ve lost work and had to turn to their savings unexpectedly. Two more years of pressure to take on more risk for little reward that can be passed on to the newest generation. Two more years to worry whether gasoline or food prices will finally outstrip fixed incomes in retirement.

“It certainly is hurting anybody who was responsible, that saved. And it’s certainly hurting seniors who may be relying more on the interest to live on than me,” said Dave Wininger, a business owner who has staked his retirement plan on savings.

More restaurants are targeting customers who use food stamps

Between 2005 and 2010, the number of businesses certified in the SNAP program went from about 156,000 to nearly 209,000, according to USDA data.

There is big money at stake. USDA records show food stamp benefits swelled from $28.5 billion to $64.7billion in that period.

Anthem Requests 12.9 Percent Increase; No Public Hearing Is Required (Connecticut)

The state’s largest insurer submitted its 12.9 percent request to hike premiums for more than half, or about 25,000, of its individual health insurance customers on Aug. 31. In its filing with the Insurance Department it said it needs to increase premiums because of increasing claims, state and federal mandates, and increased utilization of services.

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13 Comments

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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derekrawson's picture
derekrawson
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Japanese breakthrough will make wind power cheaper than nuclear

...such a breakthrough has been made, and it's called the "wind lens."


Imagine: no more dirty coal power, no more mining deaths, no more nuclear disasters, no more polluted aquifers as a result of fracking. Our entire society powered by the quiet "woosh" of a wind turbine. Kyushu University's wind lens turbine is one example of the many innovations happening right now that could in the near future make this utopian vision a reality.
http://www.zeitnews.org/energy/japanese-breakthrough-will-make-wind-power-cheaper-than-nuclear.html
derekrawson's picture
derekrawson
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Illuminating Copper futures

Cables made of carbon nanotubes are inching toward electrical conductivities seen in metal wires, and that may light up interest among a range of industries, according to Rice University researchersA Rice lab made such a cable from double-walled carbon nanotubes and powered a fluorescent light bulb at standard line voltage -- a true test of the novel material's ability to stake a claim in energy systems of the future.

http://www.zeitnews.org/nanotechnology/nanocables-light-way-to-the-futur...

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derekrawson
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New material shows promise for trapping pollutants

 So much good technology news at www.zeitnews.org today!

SailAway's picture
SailAway
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Re: Japanese breakthrough will make wind power cheaper than nucl

Did you read this on The Oil Drum a couple of days ago:

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8322

Abstract:


This paper is focused on a new methodology for the global assessment of wind power potential. Most of the previous works on the global assessment of the technological potential of wind power have used bottom-up methodologies (e.g. Archer and Jacobson, 2005, Capps and Zender, 2010, Lu et. al., 2009). Economic, ecological and other assessments have been developed, based on these technological capacities. However, this paper tries to show that the reported regional and global technological potential are flawed because they do not conserve the energetic balance on Earth, violating the first principle of energy conservation (Gans et al., 2010). We propose a top-down approach, such as that in Miller et al., 2010, to evaluate the physical-geographical potential and, for the first time, to evaluate the global technological wind power potential, while acknowledging energy conservation. The results give roughly 1TW for the top limit of the future electrical potential of wind energy. This value is much lower than previous estimates and even lower than economic and realizable potentials published for the mid-century (e.g. DeVries et al., 2007, EEA, 2009, Zerta et al., 2008).

And then the conclusion:

This limit poses important limitations to the expansion of this energy. Since the present exergy consumption of all energies is ~17 TW, it implies that no more than 6% of today’s primary energy can be obtained from the wind.

 

derekrawson's picture
derekrawson
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Global Wind Power Potential

Thanks SailAway, interesting but mostly over my head.

Intuitively it seems like it can't be true and it appears there are plenty of more intelligent heads than mine willing to challenge the workings behind the conclusion. Let's stay posted.

Thankfully there is plenty of good work going on in laboratories everywhere and more and more good news appearing about breakthroughs in renewable power generation.

Technology may save us yet.

ao's picture
ao
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"cleaning" technology
derekrawson wrote:

 So much good technology news at www.zeitnews.org today!

Nature beat them to it.  For example, humus does a great job cleaning soil, cattails clean water, and spider plants clean air.  There are undoubtedly hundreds if not thousands of other examples.  Nature seems to trump tech every time with far fewer unintended consequences.

Question: How many incarnations can one have on CM.com?;-)

resfam's picture
resfam
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Job Insecurity

Re "Many feel repercussions of long term unemployment"  

"'This is like nothing we've seen since the Great Depression - by far,' said Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank focused on issues important to low- and middle-income workers.

If you look at ShadowStats alternate unemployment figures, it is ALREADY as bad as the Great Depression.  Unfortunately, we'll get the same tired centralized solutions when we hear the President's jobs plan this evening.

As I suggest here, there is no more job security, and we'd all be advised to prepare for a decentralized future where (as Kunstler says) "vocations, trades, casual labor, and crafts" take the place of a comfy corporate job.

 

heffe's picture
heffe
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Ideological attachemts
ao wrote:
derekrawson wrote:

 So much good technology news at www.zeitnews.org today!

Nature beat them to it.  For example, humus does a great job cleaning soil, cattails clean water, and spider plants clean air.  There are undoubtedly hundreds if not thousands of other examples.  Nature seems to trump tech every time with far fewer unintended consequences.

Question: How many incarnations can one have on CM.com?;-)

The argument against technology resonates of emotional attachement to your personal beliefs. Technology has been responsible for everything that humans enjoy, and of course, can be used to destroy humans as well. However, consider the former, would you rather be foraging for berries, wearing animal hide and shitting in the forest? Or would you rather have access to technologies that provide clean food, safe and efficient travel around the world, and provide clean energies?  You're using the internet right now, would you prefer not to use it for isolation in your locality? 

Not to mention, there is a movement in technological advancements to copy organic systems, since life is essentially self-replicating machines of carbon and water. Solar arrays that mimic the process in which mitochondria transmit electromagnetic radiation to power. Bioplastics derived from hemp that biodegrade and provide nutrients for the soil. Technology is great as long as you aren't holding on to almost religious attachemnets of prior beliefs.

Lastly, what are you implying with the last statement? There are over half a million members of the Zeitgeist Movement worldwide, is it too much for you to handle that a few are here promoting this direction? I hope you aren't too adhered to your precious beliefs.

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
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heffe wrote: The argument
heffe wrote:

The argument against technology resonates of emotional attachement to your personal beliefs. Technology has been responsible for everything that humans enjoy, and of course, can be used to destroy humans as well.

Not correct.....  What we have done is learn to convert excess cheap and abundant fossil fuels INTO TECHNOLOGY.  This laptop I am now typing on requires some 400 pounds of fossil fuels to manufacture.....

heffe wrote:

However, consider the former, would you rather be foraging for berries, wearing animal hide and shitting in the forest? Or would you rather have access to technologies that provide clean food, safe and efficient travel around the world, and provide clean energies?  You're using the internet right now, would you prefer not to use it for isolation in your locality? 

I consider the internet to be the climax of human ingenuity (but it will one day all end), and there's absolutely nothing wrong with forraging for berries!  Nor shitting in the forest for that matter, except that of course there are now way too many of us and it could become errr..  embarassing.  I consider sewerage to be a huge mistake, and without cheap and abundant fossil fuels, the sewers WILL back up.  There are very low tech solutions that are far far better than hi-tech sewerage.

Travelling around the world is hardly necessary, and I grow clean food (in fact far better food than you can buy in supermarkets!) without any technology bar a hoe, a shovel and a rubber hose.....

heffe wrote:

Not to mention, there is a movement in technological advancements to copy organic systems, since life is essentially self-replicating machines of carbon and water. Solar arrays that mimic the process in which mitochondria transmit electromagnetic radiation to power. Bioplastics derived from hemp that biodegrade and provide nutrients for the soil. Technology is great as long as you aren't holding on to almost religious attachemnets of prior beliefs.

It will never happen......  We built the current infrastructure one brick at a time, as and when it was needed and when fossil fuels were incredibly cheap and seemingly impossible to deplete.  Now we have to replace the entire lot when all energy sources are much dearer, less and less plentiful, and when we have ever more things to power up.

The collapse is already underway, there is no stopping it now, we should have reacted in 1972 when the Club of Rome warned us about Limits to Growth, but we did nothing, money, as usual, ruled the world, and greed won out.

I know it must be very very hard for a young person like you who has known nothing else but technology in his life to come to grips with this, but we don't need to wear furs you know, my wife and daughter how to spin wool and knit.  We were doing this for thousands of years before we invented polyester made from OIL!  The next 20 years will be nothing like the last...

Mike

 

Ready's picture
Ready
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Posts: 917
derekrawson wrote: Thanks
derekrawson wrote:

Thanks SailAway, interesting but mostly over my head.

Intuitively it seems like it can't be true and it appears there are plenty of more intelligent heads than mine willing to challenge the workings behind the conclusion. Let's stay posted.

Thankfully there is plenty of good work going on in laboratories everywhere and more and more good news appearing about breakthroughs in renewable power generation.

Technology may save us yet.

 

It seems very easy for you to dismiss this data presented without the slightest bit of pause.

I thought this might be fitting:

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” - William Arthur Ward

 

You may want to take a peek here, especially #3:

http://www.peakprosperity.com/martensonreport/six-stages-awareness

 

 I am really not trying to belittle your position, just offering an outsider's look at what might be going on with you, or maybe not. I can tell you from my experience, when I falter off the acceptance stage, it is always to fall to #3, which is, in a nutshell, technology will save us. I don't dispute the role or value of technology, but underneath technology is science and math. If the math is against us that wind will save us, don't you think we should listen and perhaps sharpen the pencil on something truely actionable? If we don't want to take the time to understand the math, that is pure optimisim, and prevents us from adjusting our sails.

R

ao's picture
ao
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 2220
that's so sad
heffe wrote:
ao wrote:
derekrawson wrote:

 So much good technology news at www.zeitnews.org today!

Nature beat them to it.  For example, humus does a great job cleaning soil, cattails clean water, and spider plants clean air.  There are undoubtedly hundreds if not thousands of other examples.  Nature seems to trump tech every time with far fewer unintended consequences.

Question: How many incarnations can one have on CM.com?;-)

The argument against technology resonates of emotional attachement to your personal beliefs. Technology has been responsible for everything that humans enjoy, and of course, can be used to destroy humans as well. However, consider the former, would you rather be foraging for berries, wearing animal hide and shitting in the forest? Or would you rather have access to technologies that provide clean food, safe and efficient travel around the world, and provide clean energies?  You're using the internet right now, would you prefer not to use it for isolation in your locality? 

Not to mention, there is a movement in technological advancements to copy organic systems, since life is essentially self-replicating machines of carbon and water. Solar arrays that mimic the process in which mitochondria transmit electromagnetic radiation to power. Bioplastics derived from hemp that biodegrade and provide nutrients for the soil. Technology is great as long as you aren't holding on to almost religious attachemnets of prior beliefs.

Lastly, what are you implying with the last statement? There are over half a million members of the Zeitgeist Movement worldwide, is it too much for you to handle that a few are here promoting this direction? I hope you aren't too adhered to your precious beliefs.

I don't recall arguing against technology, just that nature tends to trump technology.  I think you may be projecting your emotional attachment to zeitgeist concepts on to me.  It's a common psychological defense mechanism.

As an example of nature trumping technology, nature uses nuclear fusion to produce our most important energy source.  Man hasn't been able to do that yet but aspires to it and hopes to emulate nature (and one day should, for this particular item).  Your statement below confirms that emulating nature often produces a technology superior to a technology that man tries to develop on his own.  

"Not to mention, there is a movement in technological advancements to copy organic systems, since life is essentially self-replicating machines of carbon and water. Solar arrays that mimic the process in which mitochondria transmit electromagnetic radiation to power. Bioplastics derived from hemp that biodegrade and provide nutrients for the soil. Technology is great as long as you aren't holding on to almost religious attachemnets of prior beliefs."

Technology always seems to work best working with nature rather than against it.  And it's good as long as you don't look at it with a religious fervor as the solution to all mankind's problems.  It never has been and never will be. 

P.S. I don't know the kind of things you enjoy but I enjoy a woman and as far as I know, technology has never provided us with a good substitute for the opposite sex.  I also enjoy observing and interacting with animals.  Technology hasn't created any completely new life form.  I like plants.  Technology hasn't created a synthetic fruit or vegetable superior to the real thing or a tree for that matter.  I like looking at the stars and the moon.  Technology hasn't created any.  A warm, soft breeze bringing the smell of fresh flowers, grass, and earth to one's nose is something technology doesn't provide.  A spectacular vista of a mountain range has never been created by technology.  Technology is wonderful but it's not everything.  If only technology has brought you the things you enjoy, I feel great sorrow for you.

ao's picture
ao
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 2220
Anthem (AKA Robber Slime) requests 12.9% increase

It's interest that Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield has requested (and will probably get) a 12.9% increase in premiums charged to its customers because of increased costs yet it has raised its executive compensation to its CEO, Angel Braly, by millions of dollars AND cut its reimbursement to providers.  Oh yeah ... Braly spends over $280,000 per year on her security.  I can't imagine why she needs that.

 

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