World View: Half of China's Rivers Have Disappeared

This morning's key headlines from

  • Half of China's rivers have disappeared
  • Germans may be removing their savings from banks
  • Suspicions grow that the Cyprus bailout numbers don't make sense
  • Jordan and Palestine agree to jointly defend Jerusalem from Israel

Half of China's rivers have disappeared

Dead pigs along the riverbank near Shanghai (AP)
Dead pigs along the riverbank near Shanghai (AP)

From a country of 1.3 billion people and fraught with water shortages, comes a startling new census report that over half the nation's rivers have disappeared. According to the Ministry of Water Resources, China currently has 22,909 rivers, some 28,000 fewer than in the 1990s. The drastic drop is blamed on faulty maps, severe overexploitation of groundwater in 400 cities in China, and severe pollution.

This comes just after a series of "animal apocalypse" stories, one after another. First, over 16,000 pig carcasses were found in one of the rivers supplying the water supply of Shanghai, China's financial hub, starting last month. Then more than 1,000 dead ducks were found in a river in southwest China. And what's just as amazing is that Chinese authorities are offering no explanation for these carcasses, except to say that they're "investigating."

And now a new story is coming out of Anhui province in eastern China, about a scenic pond inhabited by a bevy of beautiful black swans for the the last decade. All of a sudden, five of the black swans were found dead on Wednesday morning. Once again, there's no official explanation, but a reporter found that the water had an oily quality to it, and quite a lot of garbage could be seen on the surface. Many people often used the pond to rinse cloths, mops, mats and other items containing various chemicals. Global Times and Shanghaiist and Danwei

Germans may be removing their savings from banks

Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is insisting that bank savings deposits are safe in all eurozone countries besides Cyprus are safe:

"Cyprus is and will remain a special one-off case. The savings accounts in Europe are safe.

Cyprus’s economy will now go through a long and painful period of adjustment. But then it will pay back the loan when it is on a solid economic foundation. ...

[You] could see [the strength of the euro] during the Cyprus crisis. The entire turbulence did not have any impact on the other countries in southern Europe. The financial markets have seen: we are better prepared now. We’ve accomplished quite a bit.

What is more important is that we are strong enough to keep everyone in the boat.

I believe that we will one day read in the history books about this period that the crisis brought Europe even closer together."

He added that the continent was currently enjoying "a very fortunate era."

Schäuble was trying to reassure the wider European public, many of whom fear the power of the Germans, and see them as imposing the German culture on the rest of Europe by force. The Germans are deeply angered by portrayals in Cyprus of Chancellor Angela Merkel with a Hitler moustache.

At the same time, Schäuble was addressing the domestic German audience, which is headed for federal elections in September. The Germans are relieved, comforted and pleased with themselves, because the Germans didn't have pay to bail out the Russian oligarchs.

That's why few people really believe that Schäuble was telling the truth. Everybody knows that Greece is headed for another crisis, as are Spain, Portugal and Italy. What will happen then? Will Germany really be willing to bear the brunt of another bailout, without taking advantage of "the Cyprus solution" -- taxing the depositors' savings accounts? If you believe that, then I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Even most Germans don't believe that their savings are necessarily safe, with one in three saying they'd like to return to the deutschmark. And there's growing anecdotal evidence that some Germans have begun removing their savings from banks, and that others have opened new accounts to spread their savings around and avoid getting caught like Cypriot depositors with more than 100,000 euros. Spreading savings around several banks may not be a bad idea for large American savers, as well.

As I've been saying for years, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, both Europe and America are in a deflationary spiral, and a major financial panic and crisis, worse than 1929, is coming with mathematical certainty. VOA and Kathimerini and Guardian (London)

Suspicions grow that the Cyprus bailout numbers don't make sense

Various bloggers are digging into the math behind the Cyprus bailout, and are finding that the figures don't make sense. It was originally reported that Russian oligarchs had over 35 billion euros in Cyprus banks, but it now appears that it's really more like 10 billion. We've been told that the immediate cause of the problem was all the foreign money in the banking system, but that explanation now appears to be wrong. Forbes

Jordan and Palestine agree to jointly defend Jerusalem from Israel

On Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah signed an agreement on "the defense of Jerusalem and the holy sites."

According to the agreement:

  • Jordan and Palestine will exert all efforts to protect Jerusalem and its Holy Sites from Israeli escalatory Judaisation.
  • Jordan and Palestine agree to the common goal of defending Jerusalem together.
  • The status of East Jerusalem as Palestinian sovereign occupied territory is reaffirmed. According to the agreement, all post-1967 occupation practices or aggressions against Jerusalem are not recognised by any international or legal entity.
Jerusalem Post and Petra (Jordan)

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