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Spain’s economy minister sees ‘significant’ job creation in 2014 | Business | Reuters

Spain’s economy minister sees ‘significant’ job creation in 2014 | Business | Reuters.

Spain's Economy Minister Luis de Guindos arrives at the Parliament to attend the weekly government control session in Madrid October 30, 2013. REUTERS/Juan Medina
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MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s Economy Minister said on Wednesday that job creation in 2014 would be “significant” as a tentative economic recovery kicks in, but a poll showed most Spaniards do not expect any clear improvement until 2015.

“2014 will see the net creation of jobs, higher even than we predicted in September in the budget, and the jobless rate will fall,” Luis de Guindos told Cadena Ser national radio, declining to put a number on expected jobs created.

Spain exited a recession in the third quarter of last year but the economy is still sickly and with unemployment officially predicted at 25.9 percent in 2014, roughly where it is now, there is little perception of a real recovery on the streets.

Separately on Wednesday, a poll of 1,000 people published in newspaper El Mundo showed that 71 percent of Spaniards believe the recovery and the end of the crisis will start in 2015 at the earliest.

The country is still reeling from a decade-long housing bubble which burst more than five years ago, forcing a 41-billion euro ($56 billion) bailout of the country’s banks, which were glutted with property debt.

The center-right government decreed a labor market reform in late December to encourage employers to take on more part-time workers and to simplify contracting in hopes of fuelling job creation.

“We believe the labor reform will make the market more dynamic … in 2014,” Guindos said in the interview recorded a few days ago.

However one think tank has said the changes fail to tackle Spain’s notoriously two-tiered labor market, with security for long-term fixed contracts and practically none for shorter-term ones.

Guindos added that the economic recovery would take root thanks to an expected tax reform which would look to reverse a personal income tax rise implemented when the government came to power in 2011, and cut

 

Is America About To Reach A Breaking Point? Anger Grows As Unemployment Benefits Get Cut

Is America About To Reach A Breaking Point? Anger Grows As Unemployment Benefits Get Cut.

Breaking PointIn America today, there are close to 50 million people living in poverty and there are more than 100 million people that get money from the federal government every month.  As the middle class disintegrates, poverty is climbing tounprecedented levels.  Even though the stock market has been setting record high after record high, the amount of anger and frustration boiling just under the surface in our nation grows with each passing day.  And now extended unemployment benefits have been cut off for 1.3 millionunemployed Americans, and it is being projected that a total of 5 million unemployed Americans will lose their benefits by the end of 2014.  In addition, as I have written about previously, 47 million Americans recently had their food stamp benefits reduced.  The conditions for a “perfect storm” are certainly being created.  So how much longer will it be until we see all of this anger and frustration boil over in the streets of our major cities?  Is America about to reach a breaking point?

If you think that the title of this article is “alarmist”, you probably have not been paying attention to what has been happening over the past few weeks.  For example, a 600 person brawl broke out at at movie theater in Jacksonville, Florida just the other day…

Five teenagers were arrested when a 600-person brawl broke out in a Florida movie theater’s parking lot on Christmas night.

Described by police as a “melee,” the fight occurred around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday outside the Hollywood River City 14 movie theater in Jacksonville when a group tried to storm the theater’s doors without purchasing tickets, police said. Several had rushed an off-duty police officer working as a security guard.

The officer “administered pepper spray to disperse the group, locked the doors and called for backup, following protocol,” said Lauri-Ellen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Soon after the pepper spray was used, “upward of 600 people moving throughout a parking lot about the size of a football field began fighting, disrupting and jumping on cars,” she said.

And a “flash mob” of “400 crazed teens” was so violent that it forced a mall in Brooklyn to shut down just a few days ago

A wild flash mob stormed and trashed a Brooklyn mall, causing so much chaos that the shopping center was forced to close during post-Christmas sales, sources said Friday.

More than 400 crazed teens — who mistakenly thought the rapper Fabolous would perform — erupted into brawls all over Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Mill Basin on Thursday at 5 p.m., sources said.

The troublemakers looted and ransacked several stores as panicked shoppers ran for the exits and clerks scrambled to pull down metal gates.

In addition, the release of new Air Jordan sneakers caused mini-riots and brawls to break out all over the country just before Christmas.

So why is all of this happening?

Of course people will come up with all sorts of theories to explain these outbreaks of violence, but what pretty much everyone should be able to agree on is that we are seeing levels of anger and frustration rise to very dangerous levels in this country.

Right now, there are approximately 6 million Americans in the 16 to 24-year-old age group that are not in school and that are not working either.  What that means is that we have an alarmingly high number of very frustrated young people that do not have anything better to do than to cause trouble.

In some of our largest cities this has become a massive problem.  In fact, quite a few major U.S. cities actually have more than 100,000 “idle youth” living in them…

Just look at some of the nation’s largest cities. Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Riverside, Calif., all have more than 100,000 idle youth, the Opportunity Nation report found.

But the Obama administration says that this should not be a problem.  In fact, the Obama administration tells us that the unemployment rate has been steadily “declining” and that there are plenty of opportunities for everyone.

Of course that is a giant lie.  Just before the last recession, about 63 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  During the recession that number fell below 59 percent and it has stayed there ever since

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

So the notion that we are experiencing an “employment recovery” is absolutely laughable.

But most of our politicians appear to believe this lie, and it is being used as justification to cut off extended unemployment benefits.

And the funny thing is that by cutting off these benefits, it is going to make it appear as though unemployment has gone down even more.  Millions of unemployed workers that are being forced into the streets will now be counted as having “left the labor force”, and it is being projected that the unemployment rate could decline by as much as half a percentage point as a result.

What a joke.

A lot of the people that are having their benefits cut off are really hurting.  For instance, consider the case of 63-year-old paralegal Laura Walker

“Not all of us have savings and a lot of us have to take care of family because of what happened in the economy,” said Walker, of Santa Clarita, who said she has applied for at least three jobs a week and shares an apartment with her unemployed son, his wife and two children. “It’s going to put my family and me out on the streets.”

So what is she going to do?

Well, at this point she appears to be down to just one option…

“I just don’t know what to do, except pray.”

And of course the unemployed are not the only ones that have had their benefits cut.  As I mentioned above, all 47 million Americans that are currently on food stamps recently had their benefits reduced.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Mac Slavo

Earlier this year government benefits for nutritional assistance were reduced after the expiration of emergency legislation that was enacted following the 2008 financial collapse. Nearly all of the 48 million people receiving food stamp distributions were affected. The move led to warnings from food pantries and recipients around the country who said that the $40 billion in cuts would leave many American families without the ability to put food on dinner tables across America. According to Feed America, the roughly $29 per family that would no longer appear on their EBT cards will amount to about1.5 billion meals in 2014.

The fact that government dependence has soared to all-time highs even in the midst of this so-called “economic recovery” is just another sign that the middle class is dying.  For years, middle class families have tried strategy after strategy in an attempt to survive, but now it has become apparent that the middle class is rapidly approaching a breaking point

Rising income inequality is starting to hit home for many American households as they run short of places to reach for a few extra bucks.

As the gap between the rich and poor widened over the last three decades, families at the bottom found ways to deal with the squeeze on earnings. Housewives joined the workforce. Husbands took second jobs and labored longer hours. Homeowners tapped into the rising value of their properties to borrow money to spend.

Those strategies finally may have run their course as women’s participation in the labor force has peaked and the bursting of the house-price bubble has left many Americans underwater on their mortgages.

And even though the Obama administration and the mainstream media have tried to convince us over and over that the economy is “getting better”, most Americans are not buying it.  In fact, according to a newCNN poll, 70 percent of all Americans believe that “the economy is generally in poor shape”.

As the economy continues to decline, not all Americans will respond to their desperate situations by getting violent.  Many suffer quietly, hoping that things will eventually turn around for them.  Unfortunately, the ranks of the suffering grow with each passing year.  For example, a recentCNN article discussed the continued growth of “tent cities” all over America…

The total number of homeless people residing in tents and makeshift homes is unknown. Many of these communities are small and hidden from public view, while others claim hundreds of residents and are sprinkled through major urban areas.

Some, like those tucked under roadways, are temporary and relocate frequently. Their conditions are vile, unsanitary and fail to provide refuge from storms and winds. Then there are communities, such as Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon, that have a more sustained presence. The 13-year-old “ecovillage” set up by homeless people is hygienic and self-sufficient.

Preliminary findings by The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty show that tent cities have been documented in almost every state, and they’re growing.

So how do we solve these problems?

Are there any solutions that could get us out of this mess?

Of course there are.  But don’t hold your breath waiting for any of them to be adopted.  In fact, the American people continue to express great support for the very people that got us into this mess in the first place.  For example, according to a Gallup survey that was just released, Barack Obama is the most admired man in America by a very wide margin and Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America by a very wide margin.

And the mainstream media will continue to tell all of us that “leaders” like Obama, Clinton, Reid, Boehner, McConnell and Pelosi can be trusted to get us out of this mess.

If you believe that, there is a bridge that I would like to sell you.

The American people need to stop having blind faith in the relentless propaganda that is being spewed at them through their televisions screens.  The pretty faces that you see “reporting the news” do not care about you and they are not watching out for your best interests.  Thecorporate-controlled news is highly scripted and it is pretty much the same whatever channel you turn to.  If you have any doubt that “the news” is scripted, just check out this video

The Stock Market Has Officially Entered Crazytown Territory

The Stock Market Has Officially Entered Crazytown Territory.

Looney Tunes - Photo by Ramon F VelasquezIt is time to crank up the Looney Tunes theme song because Wall Street has officially entered crazytown territory.  Stocks just keep going higher and higher, and at this point what is happening in the stock market does not bear any resemblance to what is going on in the overall economy whatsoever.  So how long can this irrational state of affairs possibly continue?  Stocks seem to go up no matter what happens.  If there is good news, stocks go up.  If there is bad news, stocks go up.  If there is no news, stocks go up.  On Thursday, the day after Christmas, the Dow was up another 122 points to another new all-time record high.  In fact, the Dow has had an astonishing 50 record high closes this year.  This reminds me of the kind of euphoria that we witnessed during the peak of the housing bubble.  At the time, housing prices just kept going higher and higher and everyone rushed to buy before they were “priced out of the market”.  But we all know how that ended, and this stock market bubble is headed for a similar ending.

It is almost as if Wall Street has not learned any lessons from the last two major stock market crashes at all.  Just look at Twitter.  At the current price, Twitter is supposedly worth 40.7 BILLION dollars.  But Twitter is not profitable.  It is a seven-year-old company that has never made a single dollar of profit.

Not one single dollar.

In fact, Twitter actually lost 64.6 million dollars last quarter alone.  And Twitter is expected to continue losing money for all of 2015 as well.

But Twitter stock is up 82 percent over the last 30 days, and nobody can really give a rational reason for why this is happening.

Overall, the Dow is up more than 25 percent so far this year.  Unless something really weird happens over the next few days, it will be the best year for the Dow since 1996.

It has been a wonderful run for Wall Street.  Unfortunately, there are a whole host of signs that we have entered very dangerous territory.

The median price-to-earnings ratio on the S&P 500 has reached an all-time record high, and margin debt at the New York Stock Exchange has reached a level that we have never seen before.  In other words, stocks are massively overpriced and people have been borrowing huge amounts of money to buy stocks.  These are behaviors that we also saw just before the last two stock market bubbles burst.

And of course the most troubling sign is that even as the stock market soars to unprecedented heights, the state of the overall U.S. economy is actually getting worse…

-During the last full week before Christmas, U.S. store visits were 21 percent lower than a year earlier and retail sales were 3.1 percentlower than a year earlier.

-The number of mortgage applications just hit a new 13 year low.

-The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries just hit 3 percent.

For many more signs like this, please see my previous article entitled “37 Reasons Why ‘The Economic Recovery Of 2013’ Is A Giant Lie“.

And most Americans don’t realize this, but the U.S. financial system and the overall U.S. economy are now in much weaker condition than they were the last time we had a major financial crash back in 2008.  Employment is at a much lower level than it was back then and our banking system is much more vulnerable than it was back then.  Just before the last financial crash, the U.S. national debt was sitting atabout 10 trillion dollars, but today it has risen to more than 17.2 trillion dollars.  The following excerpt from a recent article posted on thedailycrux.com contains even more facts and figures which show how our “balance sheet numbers” continue to get even worse…

Since the fourth quarter of 2009, the U.S. current account deficit has been more than $100 billion per quarter. As a result, foreigners now own $4.2 trillion more U.S. investment assets than we own abroad. That’s $1.7 trillion more than when Buffett first warned about this huge problem in 2003. Said another way, the problem is 68% bigger now.

And here’s a number no one else will tell you – not even Buffett. Foreigners now own $25 trillion in U.S. assets. And yet… we continue to consume far more than we produce, and we borrow massively to finance our deficits.

Since 2007, the total government debt in the U.S. (federal, state, and local) has doubled from around $10 trillion to $20 trillion.

Meanwhile, the size of Fannie and Freddie’s mortgage book declined slightly since 2007, falling from $4.9 trillion to $4.6 trillion. That’s some good news, right?

Nope. The excesses just moved to a new agency. The “other” federal mortgage bank, the Federal Housing Administration, now is originating 20% of all mortgages in the U.S., up from less than 5% in 2007.

Student debt, also spurred on by government guarantees, has also boomed, doubling since 2007 to more than $1 trillion. Altogether, total debt in our economy has grown from around $50 trillion to more than $60 trillion since 2007.

So don’t be fooled by this irrational stock market bubble.

Just because a bunch of half-crazed investors are going into massive amounts of debt in a desperate attempt to make a quick buck does not mean that the overall economy is in good shape.

In fact, much of the country is in such rough shape that “reverse shopping” has become a huge trend.  Even big corporations such as McDonald’s are urging their employees to return their Christmas gifts in order to bring in some much needed money…

In a stark reminder of how tough things still are for low-income families in America, McDonalds has advised workers to dig themselves “out of holiday debt” by cashing in their Christmas haul.

“You may want to consider returning some of your unopened purchases that may not seem as appealing as they did,” said a website set up for employees.

“Selling some of your unwanted possessions on eBay or Craigslist could bring in some quick cash.”

This irrational stock market bubble is not going to last for too much longer.  And a lot of top financial experts are now warning their clients to prepare for the worst.  For example, David John Marotta of Marotta Wealth Management recently told his clients that they should all have a“bug-out bag” that contains food, a gun and some ammunition…

A top financial advisor, worried that Obamacare, theNSA spying scandal and spiraling national debt is increasing the chances for a fiscal and social disaster, is recommending that Americans prepare a “bug-out bag” that includes food, a gun and ammo to help them stay alive.

David John Marotta, a Wall Street expert and financial advisor and Forbes contributor, said in a note to investors, “Firearms are the last item on the list, but they are on the list. There are some terrible people in this world. And you are safer when your trusted neighbors have firearms.”

His memo is part of a series addressing the potential for a “financial apocalypse.” His view, however, is that the problems plaguing the country won’t result in armageddon. “There is the possibility of a precipitous decline, although a long and drawn out malaise is much more likely,” said the Charlottesville, Va.-based president of Marotta Wealth Management.

So what do you think is coming in 2014?

 

Peak Trash | Zero Hedge

Peak Trash | Zero Hedge.

The end of the year is peak trash season across America as the Environmental Protection Agency estimates Americans produce around 25% more waste around the holidays than other periods. As the WSJ notes, Christmas isn’t so pretty on the back end. The additional garbage—which adds up to over one million tons of waste—includes food scraps, cutlery, wine bottles, wrapping paper and Christmas trees; but Online sales add a thickening layer of refuse. In recent years, as more consumers have taken to buying online, the volume of corrugated cardboard boxes, air-filled plastic pockets and Styrofoam pellets in trash has grown. The rise is unprecedented as corrugated cardboard boxes account for as much as 50% of the paper product waste from some nearby towns, versus less than 20% a decade ago.

Via WSJ,

 the holidays also produce an ever growing pile of trash, one that is getting bigger as Americans shift more of their shopping to the Web.

David Menke, a sanitation worker in Ohio, sees it firsthand driving a garbage truck and collecting trash on the outskirts of Cincinnati. “You can tell people are buying more things online, as there are already a lot of Amazon and FedEx boxes,” said the 34-year-old.

Americans produce around 25% more waste around the holidays than other periods, estimates the Environmental Protection Agency.

Online sales in the U.S. this year are forecast to grow 15% to $78 billion, according to technology researcher Forrester Research Inc….The U.S. Postal Service expects to ship a record 420 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, an increase of 12% from last year.

At Atlantic Coast Fibers LLC, a New Jersey recycling company, corrugated cardboard boxes account for as much as 50% of the paper product waste from some nearby towns, versus less than 20% a decade ago.

“A lot of that is the result of e-commerce,”said Allan Zozzaro, who runs a materials-processing division of Atlantic Coast. And after buying online, people get more catalogs in the mail from retailers, adding to the waste, he said.

Some retailers in recent years have tried to cut down on box sizes and materials to reduce waste. Amazon now sells some toys and consumer products in what it calls “frustration-free packaging,” which enables some items to be delivered in their own packaging without an additional shipping box. Still, shoppers say boxes they receive are sometimes too large or have a lot of filler material.

“There are lots of plastic bags filled up with air, and sometimes giant boxes,” Ms. Skeuse said.“It’s a lot of waste.”

 

 

European countries reel from deadly storms – Europe – Al Jazeera English

European countries reel from deadly storms – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

Deadly hurricane-force winds and torrential rain have brought havoc to transport networks Britain and France.The death toll rose to at least six people on Tuesday, as winds of up to 145kph hit both sides of the Channel with heavy downpours causing flooding, traffic jams, and cancellations of rail, flight and ferry services.

Aidan McGivern, a meteorologist, told Al Jazeera people were preparing themselves for more bad weather.

Analysts expect the storms to hurt retailers eager to cash in on the traditional Christmas rush [EPA]

In Britain, the number of people killed in two days of storms rose to at least five after a man died trying to rescue his dog from fast-flowing waters in Devon, southwest England.

A teenager died in France on Monday after a wall collapsed on him.

Airports in southern England were disrupted, with some flights from Britain’s busiest airport, Heathrow, cancelled or delayed.

Britain’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, said one terminal had been hit by a major power outage on Tuesday and storm damage had temporarily cut all trains to the airport.

Several hundred passengers were stranded at the airport and airport police had to be called in to help deal with angry passengers.

British train operators cancelled hundreds of services on Tuesday morning, by which time the storm had abated, leaving hundreds of thousands of people scrambling to get on to later services in and out of London.

Thousands without power

Brittany and Normandy were among the regions worst hit in France, where 240,000 homes lost electricity, while in southern England, 150,000 homes were cut off from the power grid, the Energy Networks Association said.

Energy company Southern Electric said that some customers would be without power on Christmas Day.

McGivern told Al Jazeera another storm was expected to strike on Friday.

“That is expected to bring another spell of wet and windy weather,” he said.

IHS analyst Howard Archer said the weather was expected to hurt British retailers, eager to cash in on the traditional pre Christmas rush.

“Given retailers’ hopes that the last couple of days before Christmas would see a final strong surge in sales, the awful weather could not have come at a worse time,” Archer said.

 

On This Day In History, Gas Prices Have Never Been Higher | Zero Hedge

On This Day In History, Gas Prices Have Never Been Higher | Zero Hedge.

It seems not a day goes by when the mainstream media (or your local friendly asset gatherer) proclaims the drop in gas prices from a Middle-East-turmoiling Summer as “great news” and very positive and an implicit tax cut… as they try to juice hopes and dreams of a better-than-expected holiday spending season. The sad truth – something unusual in this new normal – is that regular gas prices (at $3.258) have never been higher on Christmas Eve. It seems context does matter…

Yesterday, we inched out 2012’s $3.247 and moved to $3.258 per gallon…

This is the first time since March that gas prices have been at seasonally-comparable record highs.

 

Ice Storm 2013: Hundreds Of Thousands Still Without Power On Monday

Ice Storm 2013: Hundreds Of Thousands Still Without Power On Monday.

Hundreds of thousands of people are still waiting for their power to be restored after a weekend ice storm wreaked havoc from southwestern Ontario to the Atlantic Coast.

Across Ontario about 350,000 people remained without power early Monday morning, and hydro officials were advising that it could take until Wednesday to get everyone reconnected.

In hardest hit Toronto where the ice splintered a huge number of trees, and turned roads and sidewalks into skating rinks, nearly 250,000 hydro customers were still in the dark by 3 a.m. At a press conference a few hours later, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said crews had brought that number down to 200,000 customers. Some in the city may be in the dark through Christmas, The Toronto Star reported.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne told a Sunday afternoon news conference that the province would provide support to municipal emergency crews as they scramble to do their jobs.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford called it one of the worst storms in the city’s history, but said he was not yet ready to declare a state of emergency.

The Toronto Transit Commission warned to expect delays on all surface routes and shuttle buses were put into use between some subway stations. The Sheppard Line and Scarborough RT Line were both closed due to bad weather and buses are in service instead.

Buses were also operating betweenWoodbine Station and Kennedy Station Monday morning. Subway trains were also bypassing Yorkdale Station and North York Centre Station due to power outages.

GO Trains were operating on an adjusted schedule to cope with the bad weather.

Air travellers, however, were still being frustrated by numerous flight cancellations and delays at Pearson International Airport. The airport is advising travellers to check with their airline about flight status in advance and to give themselves lots of time.

You can reach Air Canada’s automated flight system at 1-888-422-7533.Travellers flying with WestJet can call 1-888-937-8538.

Flying with Porter? You can find out more about your flight at 1-888-619-8622.

The storm system also coated much of southern Quebec in ice, and continues to produce freezing drizzle in parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Some 50,000 customers in Quebec and about 6,000 more in New Brunswick were still without power as of late Sunday night.

________________________

A few local photos:

IMG_1990IMG_1987 IMG_1985

 

IMG_1996 IMG_2024 IMG_2006 IMG_2004 IMG_2003 IMG_1997

Toxic E-Waste Dumped in Poor Nations, Says United Nations – Our World

Toxic E-Waste Dumped in Poor Nations, Says United Nations – Our World.

e-waste

Millions of mobile phones, laptops, tablets, toys, digital cameras and other electronic devices bought this Christmas are destined to create a flood of dangerous “e-waste” that is being dumped illegally in developing countries, the UN has warned.

The global volume of electronic waste is expected to grow by 33 percent in the next four years, when it will weigh the equivalent of eight of the great Egyptian pyramids, according to the United Nations StEP initiative, which was set up to tackle the world’s growing e-waste crisis. Last year nearly 50 million tonnes of e-waste were generated worldwide — or about seven kilograms for every person on the planet. These are electronic goods made up of hundreds of different materials and containing toxic substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and flame retardants. An old-style CRT computer screen can contain up to three kilograms of lead, for example.

Once in a landfill, these toxic materials seep out into the environment, contaminating land, water and the air. In addition, devices are often dismantled in primitive conditions. Those who work at these sites suffer frequent bouts of illness.

An indication of the level of e-waste being shipped to the developing world was revealed by Interpol last week. It said almost one in three containers leaving the EU that were checked by its agents contained illegal e-waste. Criminal investigations were launched against 40 companies. “Christmas will see a surge in sales and waste around the world,” saysRuediger Kuehr, Executive Secretary of StEP. “The explosion is happening because there’s so much technical innovation. TVs, mobile phones and computers are all being replaced more and more quickly. The lifetime of products is also shortening.”

According to the StEP report, e-waste — which extends from old fridges to toys and even motorized toothbrushes — is now the world’s fastest growing waste stream. China generated 11.1 million tonnes last year, followed by the US with 10 million tonnes, though there was significant difference per capita. For example, on average each American generated 29.5 kilograms, compared to less than five kilograms per person in China.

By 2017, Kuehr expects the volume of end-of-life TVs, phones, computers, monitors, e-toys and other products to be enough to fill a 15,000-mile line of 40-tonne lorries. In Europe, Germany discards the most e-waste in total, but Norway and Liechtenstein throw away more per person. Britain is now the world’s seventh most prolific producer, discarding 1.37 million tonnes, or about 21 kilograms per person. No figures are available from government or industry on how much is exported.

Although it is legal to export discarded goods to poor countries if they can be reused or refurbished, much is being sent to Africa or Asia under false pretences, says Interpol. “Much is falsely classified as ‘used goods’ although in reality it is non-functional. It is often diverted to the black market and disguised as used goods to avoid the costs associated with legitimate recycling,” said a spokesman. “A substantial proportion of e-waste exports go to countries outside Europe, including west African countries. Treatment in these countries usually occurs in the informal sector, causing significant environmental pollution and health risks for local populations,” he said.

Few countries understand the scale of the problem, because no track is kept of all e-waste, says the European Environment Agency, which estimates between 250,000 tonnes and 1.3 million tonnes of used electrical products are shipped out of the EU every year, mostly to west Africa and Asia. “These goods may subsequently be processed in dangerous and inefficient conditions, harming the health of local people and damaging the environment,” said a spokesman.

new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that the US discarded 258.2 million computers, monitors, TVs and mobile phones in 2010, of which only 66 percent was recycled. Nearly 120 million mobile phones were collected, most of which were shipped to Hong Kong, Latin America and the Caribbean. The shelf life of a mobile phone is now less than two years, but the EU, US and Japanese governments say many hundreds of millions are thrown away each year or are left in drawers. In the US, only 12 million mobile phones were collected for recycling in 2011 even though 120 million were bought. Meanwhile, newer phone models are racing on to the market leaving old ones likely to end up in landfills. Most phones contain precious metals. The circuit board can contain copper, gold, zinc, beryllium, and tantalum, the coatings are typically made of lead and phone makers are now increasingly using lithium batteries. Yet fewer than 10 percent percent of mobile phones are dismantled and reused. Part of the problem is that computers, phones and other devices are becoming increasingly complex and made of smaller and smaller components.

The failure to recycle is also leading to shortages of rare-earth minerals to make future generations of electronic equipment.

 

Idle No More flash mobs in 9 cities this weekend – Aboriginal – CBC

Idle No More flash mobs in 9 cities this weekend – Aboriginal – CBC.

A year ago today flash mob round dances took place across the country, and thousands of people danced and marched from Victoria Island to Parliament Hill, in Ottawa.

“It was an impressively massive show of cultural and solidarity” said CBC’s Waubgeshig Rice, “and although I was covering it for CBC, I found it impossible not to be moved.”

While some have wondered whether Idle No More is still a growing movement, the flashmob Round Dances taking place across the country this weekend are in indication that there is still a lot of momentum.

So far this weekend flash mob round dances have taken place in Winnipeg, Toronto, Sudbury, Saskatoon, and Lethbridge. There are plans in place for Fredricton, Surrey, and Montreal. And there is a ‘treaty information check stop in Delaronde, SK.

Flash mob round dances in 9 cities this weekend

While some have wondered whether Idle No More is still a vibrant movement, the flash mob round dances taking place across the country this weekend are an indication that there is still a lot of momentum.

  1. A year ago today Idle No More flash mobs took place across the country.
  2. Women Hand Drummers called to the front – #IdleNoMore #INMMarch to Parliament Hill, Ottawa ON, Dec. 21, 2012pic.twitter.com/YJzWxUxOUk
  3. Here are some snapshots of round dances happening across the country this weekend.
  4. Drumming, Singing from inside Yonge-Dundas Intersection#RoundDance#IdleNoMore #cdnpoli #TOpoli  http://twitpic.com/dph9wh 
  5. First Nation Voices echoing throughout Yonge-Dundas Intersection.#RoundDance #IdleNoMore #Toronto  http://twitpic.com/dpha6a 
  6. …Hand in Hand in Hand in Hand goes The Yonge+Dundas#RoundDance#cdnpoli #TOpoli #Toronto  http://twitpic.com/dphaqz 
  7. Downtown Sudbury Ontario we are idle no more!! 1yr later we are still strong!!!!! #nationbuilding pic.twitter.com/aWBuqhehEF
  8. This one is a re-share of Aaron Pierre’s Instagram photo at Winnipeg’s Friday flash mob:
  9. To change it up, Idle No More in Treaty 6 Territory held an treaty information check-stop by Delaronde Lake in memory of those who lost their lives defending the land.
  10. It’s cold out here, Treaty Information Check Stop still ON#IdleNoMore pic.twitter.com/mLLxGpWoZs
  11. Treaty Information Check Stop in ON! #IdleNoMore …it’s pretty cold though 🙂 pic.twitter.com/vniklyHEGe

 

The Snapback | KUNSTLER

The Snapback | KUNSTLER. (source)

Well, at least the poobahs cleared a path to the annual orgy of Christmas, which, along with the S & P 500, have become proxies for the American economy. Lately, the Christmas season starts directly after Halloween, so, the whole fourth quarter of the year becomes a circus of ceremonial distractions. In the background, though, the nation grinds toward anguish, measured in soiled Justin Bieber dolls deposited in the landfills.

Historians who look back on these strange years of suspended consequence will marvel at how this empire of grift kept its wheels turning after its engine died. Being on the downhill slope is often enough to keep anything going. One might think the young people of this land would be seething at the eclipse of their futures, but it seems they have been successfully lobotomized with cell phones — when the endorphin hits lag between text messages, they can watch sitcoms, or porn.

You can be sure there will be a snapback from all this drift and anomie, and when it comes, the snap will be savage. Like the US economy, the Republican Party is dead but hasn’t gotten the news. It killed itself just as the Whigs did in the years before the Civil War, by splitting up into factions — one faction of “know-nothings” preoccupied with scape-goats opposed to a faction of sclerotic parasitical fat-cats too timid and greedy to engage in the emergencies of the day.

The Tea Party faction should change its name to the Cracker Party because it represents the interests of white southerners who are too dumb to know what these emergencies amount to. They are really more comfortable with the supernatural, hence their fondness for religions based on snake-handling, visitations of the dead, and motor sports. Personally, I believe they will eventually contrive to form their own break-away Cracker Republic and attempt to re-enact the Civil War. They will fail, and starve, and find themselves back in an even worse long-term depression than Dixieland experienced from 1860 to 1960, in a de-suburbanized wasteland of bare subsistence farming. Their highest art will be soup-making.

The non-Tea Party Republicans will just shrivel and vanish out of sheer irrelevance. This leaves the Democrats to become the focus of intense ire as they attempt to ‘splain why the nation’s affairs went to shit on their watch. A lot of them will end up being executed and plundered by the new kid on the block, the Savior Party, led by some charismatic character willing to ignore procedural protocols to clear away the debris left by his-or-her predecessors. Alas, the juice will not be there to permit the Savior to really control a territory as large as the continental USA. By juice, I mean money and oil. Thus, the nation enters its new dark age.

Who knows when that will get underway in earnest, though I think the folks who say 2014 are onto something. If you believe in cycles, which I tend to, then it rhymes nicely with 1814 and 1914, two watersheds when one epoch ended and another truly began. 2014 would logically be the year that China tells America to go piss up a rope. The message would be sent on the back of the envelope containing $2.7 trillion in official American debt paper. As Ole Blue Eyes used to say, this could be the start of something big.

Sentient observers of the current scene are clearly frustrated by the remarkable homeostasis that seems to rule the scene, these horse-latitudes of history where the air is still and nothing moves and the mind is exhausted by watchful waiting. Things will get lively, soon enough, so enjoy the holiday quarter of the year which is so soon upon us. Gorge on candy corn. When you recover from that, roast a turkey. Then make a nice figgy pudding. Then pop some bubbly and salute your loved ones. Then gird your loins for the new age of consequence.

 

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