Daily Digest

Daily Digest - January 3

Sunday, January 3, 2010, 10:48 AM
  • 2010 Full of Uncertainty But Economic Knowledge Can Help
  • Gold Brings A Smile To World's Central Bankers
  • Lessons Of The Lost Decade: Gold Bugs Were Right
  • Offshore Banking Secrets Swiss Bankers Never Tell
  • Life In America In 2025: A Look Into The Future
  • Don't Miss Out On These Tax Deductions
  • Data Explosion Remakes Retailing
  • Investors Betting OnTech Boom
  • How Misleading Economic Data Increase Investor Risks
  • Cyber Threats To Expect In 2010
  • Why The Health-Care Bills Are Unconstitutional
  • Mainstream Media Wakes Up About Loan Modifications
  • To Avoid Raising Taxes, States Racking Up Fees
  • The Big Apple's Big Problem
  • Showtime In Detroit
  • Living On Nothing But Food Stamps
  • Government Warns Britain Must Produce More Food
  • 2010 - Time to Arrest the Oil Extortionists?
  • Concern as China clamps down on rare earth exports
  • Keeping Urban Chickens
  • We're Losing The Riches Of The World

Economy

2010 Full of Uncertainty But Economic Knowledge Can Help (hucklejohn)

We have been informed by our contacts in Washington that debt failure, the bankrupt or near bankrupt conditions at lenders and the lack of loans available for the past couple of years suit the administration just fine.

Gold Brings A Smile To World's Central Bankers (M.W.)

World Gold Council data reveals that $28 billion of bullion was bought by central banks in 2009, based on an average price of $978 an ounce. The biggest buyers have been the emerging economies of China, Russia and India, but smaller countries such as the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka and Mexico have also been shifting their reserves into gold.

Lessons Of The Lost Decade: Gold Bugs Were Right (M.W.)

If they call stocks ending the year lower than 10 years ago a “banner year” I’d hate to see what they call a bad year. Gold is more than insurance against inflation and currency depreciation. It is a lens through which shifts in the political economy, as they affect sovereign default risk and currency values, can be viewed. If we watch carefully and without bias, changes in the gold price reveal profound forces of structural change that started in 2001, and accelerated in 2004.

Offshore Banking Secrets Swiss Bankers Never Tell (M.W.)

Switzerland's largest bank has given authorities formerly sacrosanct info on its U.S. customers because of tips provided by a whistleblower, who tells Steve Kroft the secrets Swiss bankers never tell.

Life In America In 2025: A Look Into The Future (M.W.)

Looking 15 years into the future is a daunting task. We studied reams of reports, convened two panels of experts on everything from shopping to energy policy, and we found unanimity on only one point: In 2025, the haves will have more. The have-nots won't. As for everything else, we reached enough consensus to spin out two separate, fictional scenarios of life in 2025 from the perspective of two families, one thriving and the other struggling.

Don't Miss Out On These Tax Deductions (M.W.)

About 46 million of us itemize on our 1040s, claiming nearly $1 trillion worth of deductions. Another 85 million claim more than a half-trillion dollars' worth of standard deductions, and some of you who do probably shortchange yourselves. Here are some money-savers not to miss.

Data Explosion Remakes Retailing (M.W.)

Retailing is emerging as a real-world incubator for testing how computer firepower and smart software can be applied to social science — in this case, how variables like household economics and human behavior affect shopping.

Investors Betting OnTech Boom (M.W.)

As technology companies make their annual trek to Las Vegas to unveil their coolest gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, investors are laying bets on another good year for the industry.

How Misleading Economic Data Increase Investor Risks (M.W.)

The heavily globalized $14 trillion U.S. economy has a lot of moving parts, and no collection system can track every one of them. But the inability to truly reflect imported goods and worker productivity overstates GDP, which sets up a misleading confidence in a mirage of rising GDP and worker productivity.The gap between the data and reality arises from the U.S.'s classification of "tangible" investments and "intangible" investments.

Cyber Threats To Expect In 2010 (M.W.)

Not only has the volume of threats escalated dramatically, but the delivery methods have become more sophisticated.

Why The Health-Care Bills Are Unconstitutional (M.W.)

President Obama's health-care bill is now moving toward final passage. The policy issues may be coming to an end, but the legal issues are certain to continue because key provisions of this dangerous legislation are unconstitutional. Legally speaking, this legislation creates a target-rich environment. We will focus on three of its more glaring constitutional defects.

Mainstream Media Wakes Up About Loan Modifications (M.W.)

The reason for the loan modification program is not to protect homeowners. It is to prevent banks from having to recognize punishing losses that they should have to recognize due to their own idiotic lending practices. Treasury knows that their entire TARP recapitalization was a sham intended to pump confidence so that these institutions could issue stock into the market and try to rebuild their balance sheets.

To Avoid Raising Taxes, States Racking Up Fees (M.W.)

Few ideas are more unpopular during a recession than increasing taxes. So, how can states, counties and municipalities that are struggling financially raise more money? For many, the answer is fees.

The Big Apple's Big Problem (M.W.)

'If New York City is a business, it isn't Wal-Mart,' Mayor Bloomberg once sneered. Maybe it should be. The city cannot simply rely on inertia and the disbursements of Wall Street megabonuses to save its economy.

Showtime In Detroit (M.W.)

As the beleaguered industry breaks into a "Medium Six," auto makers are set to unveil 700 new cars at the Detroit auto show while trying to prove they have promising futures.

Living On Nothing But Food Stamps (M.W.)

The number of Americans reporting food stamps as their only income has soared by 50% over the past two years. With millions of jobs lost, America’s array of government aid — including unemployment insurance, food stamps and cash welfare — is being tested as never before. This series examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades.

Energy

Government Warns Britain Must Produce More Food (SolidSwede)

Britain must produce more food to avoid going hungry in the future, the Government will warn this week. A soaring global population, climate change, diminishing energy sources and depleted fish stocks mean that society can no longer be complacent about its ability to feed itself. It will also warn that the food industry needs to prepare for "sudden shocks" such as natural disasters, disruption to fuel supplies or transport networks, and commodity price spikes.

2010 - Time to Arrest the Oil Extortionists? (Ilene)

Perhaps there is not much we can do to stop the criminal cartel known as OPEC from withholding the supply of oil (they have cut production by 5M barrels a day globally in the past 18 months) or the US Energy cartel that has taken 32.4% of the US rigs off-line in the past 12 months, even though oil prices are UP 100% over the same time period.

Concern as China clamps down on rare earth exports (Samuel A.)

Britain and other Western countries risk running out of supplies of certain highly sought-after rare metals that are vital to a host of green technologies, amid growing evidence that China, which has a monopoly on global production, is set to choke off exports of valuable compounds.

Environment

Keeping Urban Chickens (Video) (M.W.)

Green living expert Lucy Siegle is shown how to keep chickens in a city garden to collect up to 12 organic, free-range eggs a week.

We're Losing The Riches Of The World (M.W.)

Species are now going extinct at between 1,000 and 10,000 times the natural rate: by some estimates, half of the 13 million forms of life on the planet will disappear by the end of the century. That would be the greatest extinction since the death of the dinosaurs.

9 Comments

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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Re: Daily Digest - January 3

"It’s said that misery loves company, as long as it doesn’t stay too long in the guest room.

If so, then Washington state can take comfort because when it convenes a 60-day legislative session Jan. 11, it will be one of 36 states facing another round of budget cuts. Added together, these states face $28.2 billion in budget gaps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

That total is on top of $146 billion in budget cuts made by the states when they first adopted their current budgets.

Washington’s share is to blame for $2.6 billion of that $28.2 billion total. California, which is six times more populous, added $6 billion. New York, which has three times the population of Washington, has a $3.2 billion deficit,

The cause is the same – a deep recession that is technically over but lives on in the hearts and wallets of consumers. Add that to a continuing inability of state economists to forecast how bad it will get and you have repeated budget gaps to fill."

"Wisconsin posted its second consecutive year of record foreclosure filings in 2009 as job cuts made it difficult for more homeowners to keep up with their monthly mortgage payments.

Preliminary figures show there were 30,624 foreclosure filings in the state last year, up almost 20% from a record 25,541 in 2008, Madison-based ForeclosureAlarm.com, which tracks foreclosures through court documents, reported Saturday."

"During a year of layoffs, one of the few places hiring in Washington in 2009 was the state's unemployment offices.

The state Employment Security office more than doubled the size of its unemployment-claims staff this past year and still managed to clock 65,000 hours of overtime to handle the increased work load.

The extra people were needed to help 410,000 job seekers with employment counseling.

In 2009, state unemployment peaked at a seasonally adjusted 9.3 percent. The state paid out about $4 billion in jobless benefits in 2009, more than triple the previous year's total."

"The Citizens Committee on Community Priorities is scheduled to meet Jan. 7 to make final recommendations on how best to fill this year's $60.7 million deficit, which is projected to reach $108.7 million in the next budget year."

"The report said $180,000 in average wages and benefits for firefighters is "outrageous." The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Thursday that the average compensation rose in 2008 to more than $199,000. "

"State and local government pensions nationwide are underfunded by about $1 trillion, Orin S. Kramer, chairman of the New Jersey Investment Council, which oversees the state’s pension fund, estimated in November. That doesn’t include other retirement benefits, such as health care, which Standard & Poor’s earlier this year pegged at about $500 billion for the states alone. The state of public pensions is a real problem."

"Amid demands by federal judges to ease overcrowding, California plans to reduce its prison population by 27, 000."

"“Japan’s fiscal conditions are close to a melting point,” said Takeshi Fujimaki, a former adviser to billionaire investor George Soros and now president of Fujimaki Japan, an investment advising company in Tokyo. “My biggest concern is whether the Japanese government will be able to sell all the bonds at auctions,” he said, adding that such failures might send 10- year note yields climbing through 2.4 percent."

"Weinberg responds that the Bank of Japan isn’t capable of creating the money supply needed to pay off the debt without sparking “hyperinflation” -- or increases in consumer prices so large that they destabilize the economy, such as occurred in Argentina in the 1980s."

 

....Thanks for the comment calledoutin08. This should be an interesting year.

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Re: Daily Digest - January 3

saxplayer just wanted you to know your work is appreciated!

 

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Re: Daily Digest - January 3

Thanks to all the folks here who make the DD a great resource!  Thought this was a good Op piece on forgetting the mission:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704152804574628522483219740.html

Aloha, Steve.

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Corrected URL for "Banking a Crack in the Swiss Vault"

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/12/30/60minutes/main6038169.shtml?ta...

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Re: Daily Digest - January 3

 

A bit repetitive, but the conclusions need to be widely publicised.
 
The US and China: One Side is Losing, the Other is Winning

By James Petras

January 03, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- Asian capitalism, notably China and South Korea are competing with the US for global power.  Asian global power is driven by dynamic economic growth, while the US pursues a strategy of military-driven empire building.

One Day's Read of the Financial Times

Even a cursory read of a single issue of the Financial Times (December 28, 2009) illustrates the divergent strategies toward empire building.  On page one, the lead article on the US is on its expanding military conflicts and its 'war on terror', entitled "Obama Demands Review of Terror List".  In contrast, there are two page-one articles on China, which describe China's launching of the world's fastest long-distance passenger train service and China's decision to maintain its currency pegged to the US dollar as a mechanism to promote its robust export sector.  While Obama turns the US focus on a fourth battle front (Yemen) in the 'war on terror' (after Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan), the Financial Times reports on the same page that a South Korean consortium has won a $20.4 billion dollar contract to develop civilian nuclear power plants for the United Arab Emirates, beating its US and European competitors.

On page two of the FT there is a longer article elaborating on the new Chinese rail system, highlighting its superiority over the US rail service:  The Chinese ultra-modern train takes passengers between two major cities, 1,100 kilometers, in less than 3 hours whereas the US Amtrack 'Express' takes 3 ½ hours to cover 300 kilometers between Boston and New York.  While the US passenger rail system deteriorates from lack of investment and maintenance, China has spent $17 billion dollars constructing its express line.  China plans to construct 18,000 kilometers of new track for its ultra-modern system by 2012, while the US will spend an equivalent amount in financing its  'military surge' in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as opening a new war front in Yemen.

China builds a transport system linking producers and labor markets from the interior provinces with the manufacturing centers and ports on the coast, while on page 4 the Financial Times describes how the US is welded to its policy of confronting the 'Islamist threat' with an endless 'war on terror'.  The decades-long wars and occupations of Moslem countries have diverted hundreds of billions of dollars of public funds to a militarist policy with no benefit to the US, while China modernizes its civilian economy.  While the White House and Congress subsidize and pander to the militarist-colonial state of Israel with its insignificant resource base and market, alienating 1.5 billion Moslems (Financial Times - page 7), China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 10 fold over the past 26 years (FT - page 9).  While the US allocated over $1.4 trillion dollars to Wall Street and the military, increasing the fiscal and current account deficits, doubling unemployment and perpetuating the recession (FT - page 12), the Chinese government releases a stimulus package directed at its domestic manufacturing and construction sectors, leading to an 8% growth in GDP, a significant reduction of unemployment and 're-igniting linked economies' in Asia, Latin America and Africa (also on page 12).

While the US was spending time, resources and personnel in running 'elections' for its corrupt clients in Afghanistan and Iraq, and participating in pointless mediations between its intransigent Israeli partner and its impotent Palestinian client, the South Korean government backed a consortium headed by the Korea Electric Power Corporation in its successful bid on the $20.4 billion dollar nuclear power deal, opening the way for other billion-dollar contracts in the region (FT - page 13).

While the US was spending over $60 billion dollars on internal policing and multiplying the number and size of its 'homeland' security agencies in pursuit of potential 'terrorists', China was investing $25 billion dollars in 'cementing its energy trading relations' with Russia (FT - page 3).

The story told by the articles and headlines in a single day's issue of the Financial Times reflects a deeper reality, one that illustrates the great divide in the world today.  The Asian countries, led by China, are reaching world power status on the basis of their massive domestic and foreign investments in manufacturing, transportation, technology and mining and mineral processing.  In contrast, the US is a declining world power with a deteriorating society resulting from its military-driven empire building and its financial-speculative centered economy:

1.      Washington pursues minor military clients in Asia; while China expands its trading and investment agreements with major economic partners - Russia, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere.

2.      Washington drains the domestic economy to finance overseas wars.  China extracts minerals and energy resources to create its domestic job market in manufacturing.

3.      The US invests in military technology to target local insurgents challenging US client regimes; China invests in civilian technology to create competitive exports.

4.      China begins to restructure its economy toward developing the country's interior and allocates greater social spending to redress its gross imbalances and inequalities while the US rescues and reinforces the parasitical financial sector, which plundered industries (strips assets via mergers and acquisitions) and speculates on financial objectives with no impact on employment, productivity or competitiveness.

5.      The US multiplies wars and troop build-ups in the Middle East, South Asia, the Horn of Africa and Caribbean; China provides investments and loans of over $25 billion dollars in building infrastructure, mineral extraction, energy production and assembly plants in Africa.

6.      China signs multi-billion dollar trade and investment agreements with Iran, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Bolivia, securing access to strategic energy, mineral and agricultural resources; Washington provides $6 billion in military aid to Colombia, secures seven military bases from President Uribe (to threaten Venezuela), backs a military coup in tiny Honduras and denounces Brazil and Bolivia for diversifying its economic ties with Iran.

7.      China increases economic relations with dynamic Latin American economies, incorporating over 80% of the continent's population; the US partners with the failed state of Mexico, which has the worst economic performance in the hemisphere and where powerful drug cartels control wide regions and penetrate deep into the state apparatus.

Conclusion

China is not an exceptional capitalist country. Under Chinese capitalism, labor is exploited; inequalities in wealth and access to services are rampant; peasant-farmers are displaced by mega-dam projects and Chinese companies recklessly extract minerals and other natural resources in the Third World.  However, China has created scores of millions of manufacturing jobs, reduced poverty faster and for more people in the shortest time span in history.  Its banks mostly finance production.  China doesn't bomb, invade or ravage other countries.  In contrast, US capitalism has been harnessed to a monstrous global military machine that drains the domestic economy and lowers the domestic standard of living in order to fund its never-ending foreign wars.  Finance, real estate and commercial capital undermine the manufacturing sector, drawing profits from speculation and cheap imports.

China invests in petroleum-rich countries; the US attacks them.  China sells plates and bowls for Afghan wedding feasts; US drone aircraft bomb the celebrations.  China invests in extractive industries, but, unlike European colonialists, it builds railroads, ports, airfields and provides easy credit.  China does not finance and arm ethnic wars and 'color rebellions' like the US CIA.  China self-finances its own growth, trade and transportation system; the US sinks under a multi trillion dollar debt to finance its endless wars, bail out its Wall Street banks and prop up other non-productive sectors while many millions remain without jobs.

China will grow and exercise power through the market; the US will engage in endless wars on its road to bankruptcy and internal decay.  China's diversified growth is linked to dynamic economic partners; US militarism has tied itself to narco-states, warlord regimes, the overseers of banana republics and the last and worst bona fide racist colonial regime, Israel.

China entices the world's consumers.  US global wars provoke terrorists here and abroad.

China may encounter crises and even workers rebellions, but it has the economic resources to accommodate them.  The US is in crisis and may face domestic rebellion, but it has depleted its credit and its factories are all abroad and its overseas bases and military installations are liabilities, not assets.  There are fewer factories in the US to re-employ its desperate workers: A social upheaval could see the American workers occupying the empty shells of its former factories.

To become a 'normal state' we have to start all over: Close all investment banks and military bases abroad and return to America.  We have to begin the long march toward rebuilding industry to serve our domestic needs, to living within our own natural environment and forsake empire building in favor of constructing a democratic socialist republic.

When will we pick up the Financial Times or any other daily and read about our own high-speed rail line carrying American passengers from New York to Boston in less than one hour?  When will our own factories supply our hardware stores?  When will we build wind, solar and ocean-based energy generators?  When will we abandon our military bases and let the world's warlords, drug traffickers and terrorists face the justice of their own people?

Will we ever read about these in the Financial Times?

In China, it all started with a revolution...

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Re: Daily Digest - January 3
In preparation for all out war ?
 
Dave
 
Alert forces UK to close Yemen embassy
 
 Sunday 3 January 2010 21.11 GMT
 
Britain and the US closed their embassies in Yemen because of fears of an imminent terror attack by the local wing of al-Qaida blamed for the failed attempt to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day.

Officials in London and Washington said the decision to close the missions was a result of specific intelligence. John Brennan, the US counterterrorism chief, said the American embassy, which was attacked twice in 2008, was shut because of "indications al-Qaida is planning to carry out an attack against a target inside of Sana'a [the capital] – possibly our embassy.We're not going to take any chances with the lives of embassy personnel," he said.

Referring to al-Qaida, he said the US would do "everything to hold these individuals accountable". Asked whether that meant possible military action in Yemen, he replied: "Everything is possible."

The Foreign Office said a decision on whether to reopen the British mission would be made tomorrow morning. Spain also said it was restricting access to its Sana'a embassy.

The embassy closure came a day after the top US commander for the Middle East, General David Petraeus, visited Yemen to pledge support from Barack Obama for the government's campaign against al-Qaida and a doubling of America's $67m (£41.5m) counterterrorism assistance.

Gordon Brown told the BBC today that "we've got to do more" to combat terrorism in Yemen, and called for a conference in London at the end of the month to discuss what more the international community could do to contain the growing al-Qaida threat from there.

Brown also said Britain would step up its own support for counter-terrorist units and Yemeni coastguard operations, but Downing Street later said the money would be allocated from within the existing Yemen aid budget.

The US has been training Yemeni counterterrorist forces for several years, and Petraeus said that support would be doubled.

But experts on the region said without more help Yemen risked becoming a failed state, similar to Somalia. Ginny Hill, a specialist on Yemen at the Chatham House [MI6] thinktank, said the attacks were "a symptom of a much deeper underlying problem, the collapse of the state system".

She said Yemen was reliant on oil revenues which are expected to dwindle to nothing over the next decade.

"It's not as if you're starting at a static position, you're working on a downward trajectory," she said.

Over the weekend, Barack Obama named al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula as the group behind the Christmas Day attempt to bomb a commercial airliner landing in Detroit, by a 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Claiming responsibility last week, the al-Qaida affiliate urged Muslims to "killing every crusader who works at their embassies or other places".

Amid the heightened al-Qaida threat against western targets, several international aid and development agencies working in Yemen have begun to restrict their operations and tighten security.

Naseem ur-Rahman, a spokesman for UNICEF, the UN children's fund which is providing aid to tens of thousands of impoverished families displaced by the war against the northern Huthi rebels, said the agency had been working with a reduced staff in San'a since the heightened security threats last month.

"All our frontline UN staff are still in place and we will not move any until we receive a signal from the government," said Rahman. "But we are working with a reduced staff in Sanaa because of the latest security concerns."

Andrew Moore, British director of Save the Children in Yemen, said his agency had pulled out all foreign staff from their office in Abyan, scene of a US-backed air strike on 17 December aimed at al-Qaida leaders, but which local sources said killed as many as 50 people, including women and children.

Moore said staff were avoiding high profile restaurants and hotels in San'a, were traveling in unmarked cars and had recently hired am international security consultant to travel to Yemen to oversee their operation.

"There's quite a lot of anger in Abyan and this is a nervous time," said Moore. "The expectation is that al-Qaida will try and do something big in revenge [for the Yemeni attacks]. The big question is will they try hit a soft targetBoth American and British embassies have been targeted in recent years. In 2008, 19 people were killed by a bomb attack on the US embassy while an al-Qaida plot to bomb the British mission was foiled three years earlier.

Since then, security has been stepped up dramatically. Perched on a hill in northern San'a, the British embassy is surrounded by blast walls, security cameras and razor wire, while its main buildings are dug deep into the hillside, meaning key offices are underground.

A few miles away, the US embassy is also heavily guarded, set back from the main road and surrounded by heavily fortified checkpoints with blast walls, ramps and several layers of heavily armed security.  [ They obviously have the support of the locals ! ]

Yemen deployed several hundred extra soldiers to two mountainous eastern provinces todaythat are al-Qaida's main strongholds in the country. But Ali Seif Hassan, director of the Political Development Forum thinktank in San'a, said a military approach alone would fail to defeat al-Qaida.

"This is a war that will be won on intelligence gathered in co-ordination with the international community," he said.

He said the stakes for the Yemeni authorities in their war against al-Qaida could not be higher, but warned against the deployment of international troops to the country. "Yemen will win this war. There is no other option, or we lose the state as in Somalia. But the difference between winning and losing the war will be the presence of foreign soldiers. If foreign troops are deployed in an actual and visible way all the tribes and people will fight against them," he said.

Gregory Johnsen, an expert on Yemen at Princeton University, said American involvement could extend to carrying out military strikes itself. But he warned "Al-Qaida in Yemen is far too entrenched and strong for a military miracle to work". Even the targets would be problematic - there is no postal address for an al-Qaida headquarters as al-Qaida lives among the Yemeni people."

Johnsen added that "airstrikes that lead to a large number of civilian deaths would act as a powerful recruiting ground for al-Qaida."

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Re: Daily Digest - January 3

I'm starting to log onto this page just for Saxplayer's very interesting articles.  Keep up the great work.  

 

I was a tenor sax guy myself at one time . . .

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Re January 3. #5 Damnthemartix.

An excellent post.

The penultimate paragraph echos much of what Gerald Celente says -

  "... Close all investment banks and military bases abroad and return to America.  ... serve our domestic needs, to living within our own natural environment and forsake empire building..."

Groucho

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Re: Daily Digest - January 3

<http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/03/european-unites-renewable-ene\
rgy-supergrid
>

Sun, wind and wave-powered: Europe unites to build renewable energy 'supergrid'

• North Sea countries plan vast clean energy project
• €30bn scheme could offer weather-proof supply

* Alok Jha <http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/alokjha>
* guardian.co.uk <http://www.guardian.co.uk>, Sunday 3 January 2010
22.30 GMT

It would connect turbines off the wind-lashed north coast of Scotland with Germany's vast arrays of solar panels, and join the power of waves crashing on to the Belgian and Danish coasts with the hydro-electric dams nestled in Norway's fjords: Europe's first electricity grid dedicated to renewable power will become a political reality this month,
as nine countries formally draw up plans to link their clean energy <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/energy> projects around the North Sea.

The network, made up of thousands of kilometres of highly efficient undersea cables that could cost up to €30bn (£26.5bn), would solve one of the biggest criticisms faced by renewable power – that unpredictable weather means it is unreliable.

==>>> Green technology correspondent Alok Jha on the supergrid plans Link to this audio
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/audio/2010/jan/04/1>

With a renewables supergrid, electricity can be supplied across the continent from wherever the wind is blowing, the sun is shining or the waves are crashing.

Connected to Norway's many hydro-electric power stations, it could act as a giant 30GW battery for Europe's clean energy, storing electricity when demand is low and be a major step towards a continent-wide supergrid that could link into the vast potential of solar power <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/solarpower> farms in North Africa.

[NOTE - 30GW is only 1.3% of the total EU generation capacity.  DTM]

By autumn, the nine governments involved – Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland and the UK – hope to have a plan to begin building a high-voltage direct current network within the next decade. It will be an important step in achieving the European Union <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/eu>'s pledge that, by 2020, 20% of its energy will come from renewable sources.

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