Even the banks can't afford the houses anymore...

This bodes ill and is infuriating. There should be pitchforks and marchings and I'm not ruling out the guillotine.

"City officials and housing advocates here (South Bend, Ind.) and in cities as varied as Buffalo, Kansas City, Mo., and Jacksonville, Fla., say they are seeing an unsettling development: Banks are quietly declining to take possession of properties at the end of the foreclosure process, most often because the cost of the ordeal — from legal fees to maintenance — exceeds the diminishing value of the real estate.

The so-called bank walkaways rarely mean relief for the property owners, caught unaware months after the fact, and often mean additional financial burdens and bureaucratic headaches. Technically, they still owe on the mortgage, but as a practicality, rarely would a mortgage holder receive any more payments on the loan. The way mortgages are bundled and resold, it can be enormously time-consuming just trying to determine what company holds the loan on a property thought to be in foreclosure.

In Ms. James’s case, the company that was most recently servicing her loan is now defunct. Its parent company filed for bankruptcy and dissolved. And the original bank that sold her the loan said it could not find a record of it.

“It is what some of us think is the next wave of the crisis,” said Kermit Lind, a clinical professor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and an expert on foreclosure law.
...“Nobody has any idea who owns what or who’s responsible,” said Judy Fox, Ms. James’s lawyer at the Notre Dame Legal Aid Clinic. “It’s a very common story.”"


Cali quake storm - hmmm.

"A "swarm", or series, of earthquakes, most of them small, has taken place this late March in Southern California along the infamous San Andreas Fault Zone. While none has been severe, the earthquake swarm raises interesting questions in a region that is always bracing for the "big one"; that is, a catastrophic shake effecting lives and property of millions.
A swarm of earthquakes has been defined as "a series of minor earthquakes, none of which may be identified as the mainshock, occurring in a limited area and time. ". This swarm began on March 21st, 2009, beneath the floor of the Salton Sea off Bombay Beach, California. The swarm continued through at least March 24. Strongest of the tremors was a Magnitude 4.8 shake that happened on the 23d with an epicenter about two and one-half miles south of Bombay Beach. While the M4.8 quake was widely felt, by far most of the quakes had magnitudes below M2.0 meaning that they were unlikely to be felt by most (if not all) people. Focal depth, which represents the starting point within the earth of the rupture triggering the shaking, was mostly between 2 and 5 miles underground. "

And another sign of hideous economic depression. Damn, this makes stewing up a possum sound likely, soon.

"Many bargain hunters these days are trading supermarket aisles for the auction circuit in search of deep discounts on everything from cereal to spare ribs. Past the sell-by date? Bidders are happy to ignore that detail if they're getting a good deal.
...The economic downturn, paired with the worst food inflation in nearly 20 years (grocery prices spiked in 2008 before easing in January and February), has caused a "seismic shift" in consumer behavior, said Brian Todd, president of The Food Institute, an industry information service.
...Marvin Mason, who runs grocery auctions in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, said the percentage of shoppers who use credit cards and food stamps instead of cash has increased, indicating more people are showing up out of necessity."

Frak. We're so effing stupid.

Unbelievable. WTF, mate? From Discover-

"In preparation for future oil shale mining projects near the Rocky Mountains, six oil companies have gained rights to billions of gallons of water in the American West, potentially jeopardizing water supplies throughout the region, according to a new report by Western Resource Advocates [pdf], an environmental group. It is still preliminary to speculate on the implications of the findings, but many are concerned that if the companies put their rights to use, water will be shifted away from agriculture and community use.
Using public records, the report examines more than 200 water rights held by six energy companies, including Shell and ExxonMobil, which, it is estimated, are collectively entitled to divert at least 6.5 billion gallons of water from rivers in western Colorado, as well as almost 2 million acre-feet of water from the state’s reservoirs, which is enough to supply the Denver metro area for six years. Shale oil production is a water-intensive process: up to five barrels of water are consumed for every barrel of oil produced. This means that projects producing 1.55 million barrels of oil per day would require 378,000 acre-feet of water each year, compared to the Denver metro area’s consumption, which is less than 300,000 acre feet. Should oil shale production hit full stride in the next 15 to 20 years — something the White House under President George W. Bush tried to accelerate by opening up 2 million acres controlled by the Bureau of Land Management to leasing and approving royalty rates and leasing rules — there will be a major political battle over water rights."

LINK to Discover blog, which has further links in it. Amazingly good coverage of this shit.

Good luck, Fargo. You betcha.

"More rainfall combined with melting snow has increased the risk of severe flooding in North Dakota, with the city of Fargo bracing for what could be a local disaster of historic proportions.
The fear is that the river could overtake all previous records. As of Tuesday evening, the Red River ran at about 32 feet -- 14 feet above flood stage. A record level of 41.1 feet was set back 1897. One hundred years later a flood sent the river to 39.57 feet, in 1997.
The record level of the river set in the April 1897 flood could be surpassed Friday, said Cecily Fong of the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.
City officials said the difference between this year and 1997 is the amount of time given to prepare. In 1997, the city had about three weeks to get ready for the coming flood. This year, because of unforeseen warmer, wetter weather that moved things up dramatically, and residents have had half that time.
"We're concerned about the rise of the river and how fast it's coming up, so our concern is that we're going to hit 41 feet," Mahoney said, adding that the way the levees are currently set up, they would protect against overflow only up to 38 feet."


"Growing world population will cause a "perfect storm" of food, energy and water shortages by 2030, the UK government chief scientist has warned.
By 2030 the demand for resources will create a crisis with dire consequences, Prof John Beddington said.
Demand for food and energy will jump 50% by 2030 and for fresh water by 30%, as the population tops 8.3 billion, he told a conference in London."

Water scarcity = DOOM

"Humanity is facing "water bankruptcy" as a result of a crisis even greater than the financial meltdown now destabilising the global economy, two authoritative new reports show. They add that it is already beginning to take effect, and there will be no way of bailing the earth out of water scarcity.
The two reports – one by the world's foremost international economic forum and the other by 24 United Nations agencies – presage the opening tomorrow of the most important conference on the looming crisis for three years. The World Water Forum, which will be attended by 20,000 people in Istanbul, will hear stark warnings of how half the world's population will be affected by water shortages in just 20 years' time, with millions dying and increasing conflicts over dwindling resources. "
LINK to article

Sea level rise to be much worse than predicted. Everybody go surfing now?

"The global sea level looks set to rise far higher than forecast because of changes in the polar ice-sheets, a team of researchers has suggested.
Scientists at a climate change summit in Copenhagen said earlier UN estimates were too low and that sea levels could rise by a metre or more by 2100.
The projections did not include the potential impact of polar melting and ice breaking off, they added.
The implications for millions of people would be "severe", they warned.
Ten per cent of the world's population - about 600 million people - live in low-lying areas. "

250,000,000 environmental refugees by 2050 looking likely.

"A growing body of evidence, including analyses from military experts in the United States and Europe, supports the estimate that by midcentury, climate change will make vast parts of Africa and Asia uninhabitable. Analysts say it could trigger a migration the size of which the world has never before seen.

Some of the big questions remain unanswered: How many people will really move? Where will they go? How will they go? Will they return?

But experts estimate that as many as 250 million people -- a population almost that of the entire United States -- could be on the move by 2050. They will go because temperatures are rising and desertification has set in where rainfall is needed most. They will go because more potent monsoons are making flood-prone areas worse. They will go because of other water events caused by melting glaciers, rising seas and the slow and deadly seepage of saline water into their wells and fields.

The worst migration cases will be nations like the Maldives and small islands in the Pacific. Their inhabitants will go because their homelands will likely sink beneath the rising sea.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a minimum of 207 million people in Latin America, Asia and Africa will not have enough water inside a decade. In Asia, an extra 130 million people will be at risk of hunger by the middle of the century. By 2100, crop revenues in Africa will drop 90 percent. And scientists see Bangladesh as ground zero."


"Economy has fallen off a cliff", says Buffet.

" March 9 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. posted its worst results ever in 2008, said the economy “has fallen off a cliff” and that efforts to stimulate recovery may lead to inflation higher than the 1970s. "

Wildly depressing economic news.

"In one of the bleakest assessments yet, economists at the World Bank predicted on Sunday that the global economy and the volume of global trade would both shrink this year for the first time since World War II.

The World Bank said in a new report that the crisis that began with junk mortgages in the United States was causing havoc for poorer countries that had nothing to do with the original problem.

...Even extremely pessimistic forecasters have predicted that the global economy would eke out a tiny expansion, on continuing if slowed growth outside the United States and Europe. In late January, the International Monetary Fund reduced its estimate for global growth this year to just 0.5 percent, the lowest level in more than 60 years."