Space oddities


Source: NASA space data supports citizens’ observations: Meteor fireballs are increasing exponentially


The West is dying, literally


Death by Teodors Ūders (1868 – 1915)


Something startling is happening to middle-aged white Americans. Unlike every other age group, unlike every other racial and ethnic group, unlike their counterparts in other rich countries, death rates in this group have been rising, not falling…An epidemic of suicides and afflictions stemming from substance abuse: alcoholic liver disease and overdoses of heroin and prescription opioids.

“A marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013. This change reversed decades of progress in mortality


French winter mortality has exceeded by 19% the expected figure, calculated from the previous eight years…This figure, which includes the excess mortality from all causes and not only the flu, has set a new record since the mid-2000s. It is notably higher than the level seen during winters 2008-2009 and 2012-2013, with about 10,000 additional deaths.


This is an increase of no less than 68,000 units which appear to be largely concentrated in the female component (+ 41 thousand)…This figure is astonishing. But what makes it quite unusual is the fact that to find a similar surge in mortality, with comparable orders of magnitude, you have to go back to 1943 and, prior to that, to the years between 1915 and 1918: two periods marked by wars that largely explain the dynamics of this type. Conversely, in our peaceful and relatively affluent present…how do we account for such a sizable increase in mortality?

China not worried about the future of its artificial islands in the South China Sea


[In China], an astounding 155 planned projects received a permit this year [2015] alone, with total capacity equal to nearly 40 percent of operational coal power plants in the United States.

China has been consuming as much as 17 percent more coal each year than reported, according to the new government figures. By some initial estimates, that could translate to almost a billion more tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere annually in recent years, more than all of Germany emits from fossil fuels.

More than 2,400 coal-fired power stations are under construction or being planned around the world, a study has revealed two weeks after Britain pledged to stop burning coal.

The new plants will emit 6.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and undermine the efforts at the Paris climate conference to limit global warming to 2C. China is building 368 plants and planning a further 803, according to the study by four climate change research bodies, including Ecofys and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. India is building 297 and planning 149.

For more in-depth analysis:

US economic indicators show day of reckoning is near

brookings-resizedSay you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%.
Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, The Big Lie, 5.6% unemployment, 3 February 2015

There are more job openings available in America today than at any point since the Bureau of Labor Statistics first started tracking vacancy data back in December 2000. Yet the percentage of adult Americans working or actively looking for a job stands at 62.6 percent, the lowest level in nearly four decades…Americans are actually trickling out of work at an alarming rate…Unemployed individuals who haven’t actively looked for a job in the last four weeks, for any number of reasons, actually slip away from the Labor Department’s unemployment calculations. So although the unemployment rate ticked down to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent in June, that number didn’t do justice to the 640,000 individuals who exited the labor market last month and the nearly 94 million people who were neither employed nor looking for work.

The decline is without precedent,” Bob Funk, chief executive of global staffing company Express Employment Professionals, told CBS MoneyWatch. Government tracking of employment statistics go back to 1948, he said, “and a decline like this has never happened since then.” Funk notes that some portion of the unemployed either don’t want to work or don’t think they can find a job. His company commissioned a poll of the unemployed in May, he said, and found that 47 percent have completely given up looking for work. “That’s a real problem,” he said.

The labor force participation rate was around 66 percent of the population in 2007 before falling to 62.7 percent

The number of people living in high-poverty areas—defined as census tracts where 40 percent or more of families have income levels below the federal poverty threshold—nearly doubled between 2000 and 2013, to 13.8 million from 7.2 million…That’s the highest number… ever recorded.

With grocery bills priced as high as $1,300 per month as of late, some American workers simply cannot afford all of their groceries on top of everything else they already have to buy. This is why the government offers food stamps.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service reports that as of September 2014, there were around 46.5 million individual food stamp recipients (22.7 million households) receiving an average benefit of $123.74 each (around $257 per household).

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday the trade gap increased 7.1 percent to $43.8 billion, which also reflected a second straight monthly drop in exports.

The total volume of student debt exceeds US$1 trillion… Even those paying off their student debts in full take on average almost two decades to do so… The United States is currently trapped in a cycle of low economic growth, low wages, low revenues and low state-support for higher education on the one side, and rising tuition costs, greater student debt and restricted access to high quality university education on the other.