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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The NYPD is essentially refusing to do its job and yet New York hasn't collapsed into chaos


© Flickr

New York, NY - The NYPD has basically stopped doing its job since the murder of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu earlier this month, according to reports in the New York Post and New York Daily News, and yet the city hasn't descended into total chaos.

The reported that arrests were down 66% in the week following the deaths of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, compared to the same period in 2013.

For certain offenses, the arrest levels are staggeringly low, according to the numbers put out by the .

Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587, during that time frame.

Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also plunged 94 percent - from 4,831 to 300.

Even parking violations are way down, dropping by 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241.

Drug arrests by cops assigned to the NYPD's Organized Crime Control Bureau - which are part of the overall number - dropped by 84 percent, from 382 to 63.

It's not a slowdown - it's a virtual work stoppage, reported the yesterday.

The says these numbers were obtained hours after revealing that cops were turning a blind eye to some minor crimes and making arrests only "when they have to" since the execution-style shootings of Ramos and Liu.

Some of the reason for the drop off in police activity is that there are some safety concerns. However, one of the 's sources says that yes it's partly out of safety concerns and partly a continuation of the childish and embarrassing protest against Mayor de Blasio's response to the non-indictment of Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who killed Eric Garner last summer.

From the :

"The call last week from the PBA is what started it, but this has been simmering for a long time," one source said.

"This is not a slowdown for slowdown's sake. Cops are concerned, after the reaction from City Hall on the Garner case, about de Blasio not backing them."

A recently retired cop who attended the funeral also noted that police from around the country joined in the stunning display of resentment toward de Blasio.

"It's a national protest against the mayor of New York," the ex-cop said.

After the police union blamed the mayor for the subsequent murder of two officers, the made the case that rank-and-file officers deserve better from their union reps.

"Mr. de Blasio isn't going to say it, but somebody has to: With these acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by their union, are squandering the department's credibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earned respect," it says in an editorial. "They have taken the most grave and solemn of civic moments - a funeral of a fallen colleague - and hijacked it for their own petty look-at-us gesture."

"I think it's probably a rift that is going to go on for a while longer, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said as he predicted a long, cold war between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD's rank and file Sunday, while admitting that morale among cops was so low, the problem could no longer be denied.

The time for petty threats and antagonism is over. It is now time we talk solutions.

Mayor de Blasio is to meet face-to-face with the heads of five police unions today. If there is one thing that we can rest assured will not be brought up at this meeting, it is that this sharp drop in the enforcement of certain offenses has not created the Mad Max scenario that so many people predict would happen if police loosen their grip.

Drug offenses, parking violations, traffic citations; these are not so much crimes as they are streams of revenue for the city. They are also the reason for the majority of police harassment within certain communities.

Without the war on drugs and without police shaking down every young person who they suspect is carrying an illegal plant, the quality of life for so many people would instantly increase, as it likely already has.

Ending prohibition would also effectively and drastically reduce the amount of crime in communities derived from the black market sale of drugs and the gang-related monopolies which arise from making certain substances illegal.

These are real solutions to real problems and we have an opportunity now to show how many of these laws are based in irrational fear or simply designed for revenue generation.

Sure, if police start refusing to arrest murderers and rapists, things will probably get really bad, especially since most of the residents in New York City have been disarmed. But this lawlessness would likely be a temporary reality. As we've seen with the economic collapse in Detroit and the subsequent lack of government policing, solutions like the Threat Management Center arise, which provide a more efficient and much more peaceful means of societal security.

As 's Scott Shackford said, presumably, next year, after this all dies down, the NYPD may note a big drop of crime in December entirely because they stopped finding reasons to charge people with crimes.

Police unions could use the experience to decry all the petty, unnecessary reasons they're ordered to cite and arrest people in the first place, but that's not going to happen because they the drug war and the money that comes into the departments from fighting it.

The psychopathic police state: War on Black America

Civil rights activists say the US has a long history of police brutality against African-Americans.

© Unknown

Black Americans are in the eye of the storm. Militarized cops target them nationwide.

According to Operation Ghetto Storm, police, security guards, and other self-appointed enforcers kill black youths and adults on average every 28 hours.

"(S)tate-sanctioned killings." Casualties of war. Ongoing daily against black Americans. Compounded by other systemic abuses.

Including judicial unfairness. Get tough on crime policies. Mandatory minimum sentences. Guilty unless proved innocent. Three strikes and you're out.

Racist drug laws. Stop-and-frisk. Driving while black. Filling the world's largest gulag. Mostly with people of color.

A 17-year-old civil rights demonstrator being attacked by a police dog during protests


One in every eight black males is incarcerated on any given day. According to Law Professor Michelle Alexander:

"More black men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850 before the Civil War began."

Mostly because of the racist war on drugs. Waged "almost exclusively in poor communities of color."

In some inner-city ones, around 80% of Black youths can expect criminal injustice prosecutions one or more times in their lifetimes.

Around 70% return to prison within two years of release. If we returned to pre-1980 prison levels, "(m)ore than a million people working in the system would see their jobs disappear," said Alexander.

Billions of dollars are at stake. America's prison/industrial complex is by far the world's largest. Bigger than China's with four times the population.

Over 60% of black men born in 1965 or later without high school degrees have prison records. Marking them for life.

Vulnerable to re-arrest. Targeted by militarized cops. Arrested for any reason or none at all. Murdered by police unaccountably.

In big cities. Small ones. Urban areas. Rural ones. Militarized cops make their own rules. Operating extrajudicially. Killing with impunity.

On December 20, two police officers patrolling Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant community were shot and killed in their car.

NYPD deputy chief Kim Royster said Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were struck in their upper bodies.

The assailant fled to a nearby subway station. Identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley. Dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo condemned "this deplorable act of violence." Ordered flags on all state government buildings lowered to half staff. Honoring Liu and Ramos. Saying:

"I join with all New Yorkers in mourning the loss of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos."

"Like all law enforcement personnel, Officers Liu and Ramos put their lives on the line in order to serve their communities, and it is with great sadness that we mourn their passing after a senseless and deplorable act of violence."

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of these two brave men. We will remember their service with pride and endless gratitude."

"Tonight, we all come together to mourn the loss of these brave souls."

On Saturday, thousands from New York and elsewhere gathered in and around Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens. Attending Ramos' funeral. Honoring the slain men.

Including police and mourners. The Washington Post reported "a sea of police officers watch(ing) on big screens set up for the ceremony."

Mayor Bill de Blasio attended. So did Governor Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden. "At the end of the day, we are one," said Cuomo.

"One people, one state, one community, one family. Somos uno. Somos uno. Somos uno." We are one in Spanish.

"Our hearts ache for you," Biden told Ramos' family. "Your husband, and his partner, they were a part of New York's finest, and that's not an idle phrase."

"When an assassin's bullet targeted two officers, it targeted this city and it touched the soul of an entire nation."

Mayor de Blasio called the shootings "a particularly despicable act."

"When a police officer is murdered, it tears at the foundation of our society. It is an attack on all of us."

"It is an attack on everything we hold dear. We depend on our police to protect us against forces of criminality and evil."

Obama issued a statement on the day of the killings, saying:

"I unconditionally condemn today's murder of two police officers in New York City."

"Two brave men won't be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification."

The New York Times headlined "Long Line of Blue, Mourning the First of Two Slain Comrades."

Reporting "an overwhelming display of solidarity and sorrow." Saying "tens of thousands of police officers from across the country joined with (their New York comrades) to pay their respects..."

Who mourns for killer cop victims? For Trayvon Martin. Unarmed. Threatening no one. Murdered by Sanford, FL neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman.

A killer cop equivalent by any standard. An earlier article discussing his acquittal asked when is killing a non-threatening unarmed teenager not murder?

When civil rights don't matter. When Jim Crow justice prevails.

When victims are black. When mostly or entirely white jurors call cold-blooded murder self-defense.

When a jury of peers representing both sides fairly is verboten. When killing black males in America is OK when whites do it.

When a culture of violence prevails. When institutionalized racism is longstanding. When conventional wisdom says black males aren't victims. They're prone to violence.

When equity and justice are four-letter words. When human life has no value. When society doesn't give a damn if a black male dies. When lawlessness is part of the national culture.

Cold-blooded murders is considered self-defense when killer cops are involved.

Who mourned for 18-year-old Michael Brown. Murdered by police officer Darren Wilson. Exonerated despite killing an unarmed youth. Posing no threat. With no criminal record.

An independent autopsy revealing six bullet wounds showed Wilson wanted him to die.

Who mourned for 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Playing in a park. With his sister and friend. Gunned down by Cleveland police.

What about Eric Garner. Father of six. Called a "neighborhood peacemaker." A generous, congenial person.

Threatening no one. Deserving to live. Murdered by police officer Daniel Pantaleo's chokehold. "I can't breathe" cries for help were ignored.

What about Oscar Grant. Unarmed. Threatening no one. Oakland, CA transit officer Johannes Mehserle thrust him face-down on the ground.

Claiming he resisted arrest. Despite having committed no crime. Shot in the back. Murdered in cold blood. Five bystanders witnessed it. Videotape on at least four cameras confirmed it.

Convicted of involuntary manslaughter. A rarity. Sentenced to two years in prison. Reduced to 292 days. For time served in jail. Free since June 2011.

Grant's family, relatives and friends were outraged. Demanded first-degree murder. His mother Wanda said "Oscar was murdered and the law has not held the officer accountable." Jurors didn't comment.

What about Amadou Diallo. New York cops fired 41 shots. Struck him 19 times. Killing him while standing unarmed in his apartment building vestibule.

What about Sean Bell. New York cops murdered him in cold blood. Celebrating the eve of his wedding. Struck dozens of times. As he emerged from a nightclub unarmed. Unthreatening. Prosecutions didn't follow.

NYPD cops illegally entered unarmed Ramarley Graham's home. With no search warrant or probable cause. Murdering him in his kitchen.

Similar incidents occur often. Killer cops are absolved. Occasionally, disciplinary reprimands follow. Cops lie.

Claiming self-defense. Deadly force used only when threatened, they say. Hundreds of cases annually show indiscriminate violence.

Black lives don't matter. Cold-blooded murder is called justifiable homicide. Nearly one black victim daily proves otherwise.

Who mourns for society's most vulnerable? Nameless, faceless victims. Blacks most often. Justice in America remains denied.

Thousands of fish, animals dying in Turkey Creek, Florida

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Palm Bay - Thousands of fish and animals are dying in a local waterway, and longtime residents say it's not just an ordinary fish kill.

Turkey Creek in Palm Bay is known for its clean, fresh water. It flows into the Indian River Lagoon downstream, and it's there in the lagoon where most fish kills happen, not in the creek.

Chris Jones grew up along Turkey Creek.

"You can get out and be in old Florida, natural Florida, the way it was hundreds of years ago before people were here," said Jones.

But now, catfish have been dying for weeks.

People have reported dead animals including an alligator and some raccoons and turtles. They've taken pictures of a film on the water.

"I've never seen catfish or any fish die off to this extent," said Jones.

Dead alligator

© Screen Capture/YouTube

Dead alligator.

"It's quite upsetting because I've been here since '73, and the waters were much better," said John Mongioi.

Palm Bay Public Works employees checked the water for dissolved oxygen but said so far levels look normal.

The city sewage plant spilled effluent into the creek in September. It seems unlikely that could still be having an effect. It's an unnerving mystery.

"I don't know if I'm going to get sick from it. I don't know if I'm going to get something from just dealing with the fish in the water," said Jones.

State biologists have taken samples and they're doing a lot of analysis, hoping to find the answer.

U.S. student loan debt exceeds $800 billion for 2014

From November 2013 through November 2014, the aggregate balance in the federal direct student loan program--as reported by the Monthly Treasury Statement--rose from $687,149,000,000 to $806,561,000,000, a one-year jump of $119,412,000,000.

The balance on all student loans, including those from private sources, exceeded a trillion dollars as of the end of the third quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

"Outstanding student loan balances reported on credit reports increased to $1.13 trillion (an increase of $8 billion) as of September 30, 2014, representing about $100 billion increase from one year ago," the bank said in its latest report on household debt and credit.

Seven years ago, in November 2007, the aggregate balance in the federal direct student loan program was only $98,529,000,000. Since then, it has grown by $708,032,000,000.

This is money that young Americans owe the federal Treasury--and that gives the federal government leverage over their lives.

"Under the DL program, the federal government essentially serves as the banker - it provides the loans to students and their families using federal capital (i.e., funds from the U.S. Treasury), and it owns the loans," explains the Congressional Research Service.

In fact, the program is a government-funded redistribution of wealth to colleges and universities. The question is: Who will ultimately pay for that wealth transfer?

In 2013, the National Center for Educational Statistics published a study of student aid in the 2011-2012 school year. It showed that 40.2 percent of students attending a postsecondary school had a federal student loan.

The percentages were higher for full-time students and those who attended four-year colleges. Fifty-five percent of students attending college full-time had a federal loan, 58.1 percent of those attending a four-year doctorate-granting institution had a federal loan, and 61.4 percent of those attending a four-year non-doctorate granting institution had a federal loan.

The average amount of a federal student loan during that school year was $6,500.

In 2012, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers, the University of Texas System had an endowment of $18,263,850,000 - the largest of any state university system. In 2013, that endowment grew 12 percent - or $2,184,463,000 - to hit $20,448,313,000.

Yet, according to the College Board, an in-state student attending the University of Texas at Austin during this school year will pay $26,324 in total costs (including $9,798 in tuition; $11,456 in room and board; $760 for books; $2,280 in personal expenses; and $1,490 in transportation expenses).

The "average indebtedness at graduation" of a University of Texas student is $25,300, says the College Board. This is "the typical amount of loan money a student who attended this college must pay back." (The College Board does not specify how much of that indebtedness is owed to the federal government.)

In 2012, according to NACUBO, Harvard had an endowment of $30,435,375,000 - the largest of any American university.

In 2013, that endowment grew 6.2 percent - or $1,898,918,000 - to $32,334,293,000.

Yet, according to the College Board, the cost of attending Harvard this year is $62,250 (including $43,938 in tuition, $14,669 in room and board, $1,000 for books and supplies and $2,643 in personal expenses). The "average indebtedness at graduation" of a Harvard student is $12,560.

By doling out a net average of about $100 billion per year in student loans, the federal government allows even the nation's wealthiest universities to charge students more than they and their families can pay without going into debt.

That makes colleges richer and students poorer.

The federal government already has programs in place to forgive or payoff the student loans of Americans who engage in government-approved activities, or who do not do well enough financially in their after-college years to pay off their own loans.

"Loan forgiveness and loan repayment programs," says the Congressional Research Service, "typically are intended to support one or more of the following goals: Provide a financial incentive to encourage individuals to enter public service. Provide a financial incentive to encourage individuals to enter a particular profession, occupation, or occupational specialty. Provide a financial incentive to encourage individuals to remain employed in a high-need profession or occupation - often in certain locations or at certain facilities. Provide debt relief to borrowers who, after repaying their student loans as a proportion of their income for an extended period of time, have not completely repaid their entire student loan debt."

"Currently, over 50 loan forgiveness and loan repayment programs are authorized, and at least 30 of which were operational as of October 1, 2013," says CRS.

When the government forgives or repays a student loan, it becomes a redistribution of wealth from taxpayers to a person who attended college.

Dumb move: Georgia not happy Kiev appointed Georgian fugitives to govt positions


© AP/ Markus Schreiber

Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili

The appointment to the Ukrainian government of fugitives from Georgia, searched by Interpol, could harm relations between the two countries, said Saturday Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili.

He said he personally informed the President Piotr Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk that this practice would affect relations between Tbilisi and Kiev.

"I cannot explain to the people of Georgia why Zurab Adeishvili [former Justice Minister] who is the subject of an Interpol Red Notice could be appointed to a position in the Ukrainian government with which we have friendly relationship. It was one of the main representatives of the criminal regime that sentenced 300,000 people. This also applies to Eka Zgouladze, assistant of Vano Merabishvili [Minister of the Interior from 2005 to 2012], which has worked over many years to exonerate the regime in power in Georgia," said Irakli Garibashvili.

Zurab Adeishvili is the subject of an international search warrant issued by Interpol at the request of the Georgian authorities who accuse him of abuse of power, abuse of detainees in Georgian prisons and falsifying evidence.

According to Ukrainian media, the authorities of the country are considering him to fill the position as chairman of the Ukrainian Council for the fight against corruption.

The Oceania Saker

Former Ukrainian ambassador to US: Ukraine is "prelude to WWIII"


Departing Ukrainian Ambassador Yuri Shcherbak (left) confers with Mikhail Umanets, Ukraine's First Deputy Minister of Energy, at a reception hosted by the Ambassador at the Ukrainian Embassy.

"This [U.S-Russian conflict that's being carried out in Ukraine] is a prelude to World War III. A lot of people know this." So says Yuri Shcherbak, who was Ukraine's Ambassador in Washington during 1994-1998.

Dr. Shcherbak was one of Ukraine's few progressives ever to become an official of the Ukrainian Government. He now is speaking out publicly for the first time to express his concern about the movement toward a nuclear conflict between the United States and Russia, and about Ukraine's dangerous current role in helping to bring that about.

In 1998, he authored a book , published by Harvard University Press; so, this is a subject that he knows a lot about.

On Monday, December 29th, he spoke on Ukraine's Channel 5 television, to warn his country about the direction of their newly installed Government, one which had come to power in a violent coup on February 22nd and has spent its time since then bombing the area of Ukraine that had voted 90% for the democratically elected Ukrainian President who was overthrown in the coup that brought this new Government to power.

Dr. Shcherbak is especially concerned about the issue because of his intensive knowledge of "the strategic role of Ukraine," and also because of his having served in Washington as Ukraine's Ambassador. Dr. Shcherbak also speaks here as being a rare person in his country's recent political history: an anti-communist who also is anti-fascist.

In fact, unlike virtually all major current Ukrainian politicians, Dr. Shcherbak was never a communist, and he was also opposed to the nazism that is represented especially by Ukraine's Right Sector Party, and by Ukraine's Svoboda (or 'Freedom') Party that had called itself "The Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine" until the U.S. CIA advised them to change their name to "Svoboda." (Ukraine's political culture has still not gotten much beyond the two Ukrainian political polar viewpoints: that Hitler-was-good-and-Stalin-was-bad, versus Stalin-was-good-and-Hitler-was-bad; and almost all of the exceptions to that polarity, the supporters of democracy and opponents of any sort of totalitarianism, are in the region that is currently being bombed. The CIA has always supported the pro-Hitler Ukrainians.)

Shcherbak ( his coming from Ukraine's ultra-conservative northwestern half) is an authentic Ukrainian champion of democracy. As such, he also is a respected international expert on the topic of U.S-Russian relations and of Ukraine's role in that. He's not just another person who has an opinion on the matter.

His full statement on this issue, as quoted Monday at the influential Ukrainian website politnavigator.net, was:

"This is a prelude to World War III. A lot of people know this. For example, [consider] Zaporizhia nuclear power plant just 160 kilometers away from the [current] fighting. Can you imagine what a disaster might happen if it gets hit by a shell? Do we have an alternative to the Minsk talks [between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the leaders in the rebelling area]? Can we declare war against Moscow and conduct it by means of merely a swift operation? No. Because in this case the cruise missiles will fly from Russia tomorrow against Kiev."

Channel 5 TV was owned by today's Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko until he became elected by the voters (in the non-rebelling region) to become the President (over all of Ukraine) on May 25th. This channel, where Poroshenko had hired the producers, is generally regarded as still representing his viewpoints. Poroshenko is now being strenuously attacked by other Ukrainian oligarchs, especially by the U.S. White House's friend Ihor Kolomoysky (a big financial backer himself of the extermination-campaign) , as being insufficiently aggressive in exterminating the residents in Ukraine's rebelling region. Dr. Shcherbak is saying, basically, that exterminating those people with increased intensity would be dangerous for all Ukrainians, not only for the ones in the southeast, whom the Government has been bombing.

When the European Union, immediately after the February 22nd coup, sent an investigator to Kiev to find out who was behind the massive bloodshed that had brought about the downfall of Ukraine's democratically elected then-President Viktor Yanukovych and the installation of the new pro-'Western' regime which was replacing Yanukovych, the investigator found that even Petro Poroshenko himself privately admitted then to him that the masked gunmen were from their side, not from Yanukovych's, and so the idea (being spread in Washington and Kiev) that Yanukovych was behind it was just a story for the public, not the actual truth of the matter. The EU's Foreign Affairs Minister was shocked to learn this, then immediately changed the subject (since the EU is basically controlled from Washington).

Poroshenko is now trying to satisfy Washington and the American oligarchs who control it, at the same time as he is satisfying the oligarchs in Ukraine itself (of which he is one). Thus, for Dr. Ambassador Shcherbak now to appear on Poroshenko's former TV station, when Poroshenko is quite possibly about to be replaced by a politician who wants to bomb the rejectionist region even more than Poroshenko has already been doing, might possibly reflect this intensifying political split among Ukraine's oligarchs, regarding whether they really do want a nuclear attack by Washington against Russia - an attack from which Ukraine would be perhaps the major staging-area, and likely to suffer far more than America's oligarchs. So, a split is opening within the international aristocratic order, as events proceed closer toward a nuclear attack.

The ultimate decision will be made by Barack Obama - or, perhaps (if after 2016), by whomever succeeds him. In any case, he has built the foundation for such an attack.

Calf rescued from sinkhole in Alachua County, Florida

© John Haven, UF College of Veterinary Medicine

An Alachua County firefighter descends into a sinkhole to rescue a 2-day-old calf that fell in.

A mama cow's mournful lowing for her lost newborn ceased and was replaced with a joyful gallop after a team of Alachua County firefighters and staff at the University of Florida veterinary college rescued a 2-day-old calf from a sinkhole Saturday.

The technical rescue team members put training to the test when the calf slid into a newly formed sinkhole about 15 feet deep and 15 feet wide at a Newberry farm.

"If you could have seen the cow, the mother, come running past when we turned that calf loose," Alachua County Fire Rescue District Chief Jeff Harpe said. "She just goes running by like she was being chased by cowboys. As soon as we turned the calf loose, it looks around like, are you my mama? And then wanders off. Then here comes the galloping of the mother."

The ACFR technical rescue team is trained to rescue people from hazardous situations with rope, ladders, harnesses and other equipment. It also works with UF College of Veterinary Medicine Director John Haven and his team to rescue animals.

Haven had been training with the ACFR team Saturday in Newberry. They had wrapped up and were at the Fort Clarke Boulevard station when the call came in about the stranded calf.

ACFR went immediately to the scene, while Haven got a UF team member and then went to the farm.

A plan was developed to lower firefighter Brian Ferguson into the sinkhole. The calf was not injured in the fall and did not kick up any fuss at all as Ferguson attached a harness so it could be hoisted out of the sink.

2014: The pedophilia scandals that swallowed Britain whole

dolphin square

In 2014, a series of often seemingly intertwining child sex abuse stories have engulfed the UK in what has become the biggest scandal of modern times. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the whole country feels duped, dirtied, and, worse, connected in some way. Culprits and alleged culprits have included celebrities, the social services and police (whose systemic failures resulted in an estimated 1,400 children being sexually exploited in the town of Rotherham between 1997 and 2013), politicians (the evidence of a pedophile ring operating within the corridors of Westminster during the 1980s is now incontrovertible after London´s Metropolitan Police described allegations from an anonymous survivor as "credible and true" this month), and even employees of the Royal Family (British tabloid the Sunday People recently revealed that the House of Windsor was also implicated in abuses centered around accusations from a 16-year-old boy).

The town of Rochdale lies at the center of two of these recent child sex scandals. In 2012, nine Pakistani men were convicted of running a "grooming" operation that targeted young girls there, and it was also home of the late Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) Cyril Smith, a 400-pound giant of a man who reportedly terrorized the local Knowl View Residential School.

Though Smith's penchant for the abuse and rape of young boys had been gossiped about for decades (at least two regional newspaper editors had D notices slapped on them, meaning that no story could be published about Smith's behavior), the politician wasn't publicly accused of child abuse until 2012, when the police admitted that they should have pursued charges against him. Simon Danczuk, the current Labour MP for Rochdale, is responsible for exposing Smith in Parliament, and has since co-written a book detailing his predecessor's alleged misdeeds.

"I do wonder whether the fact that people in the community in Rochdale were well aware of the rumor and gossip about Smith, the abuse that he meted out to his victims - did that provide some sort of acceptance that this type of abuse?" asks Danczuk today. "Did it normalize it, did it make it more acceptable, did it make it more likely to be ignored?"

The exposure of the town's pedophiliac Pakistani gang was perhaps an even bigger scandal, but for different reasons. In 2012, the nationalist English Defence League (EDL) rallied in Rochdale; for those right-wingers, the affair was more proof that the multiculturalist experiment had failed. Unfortunately it's an attractive theory in Britain at the moment: that immigration has brought with it misogynistic Muslim gangs who rape children with impunity.

This line of thought conveniently ignores the fact that child rapists have found niches in all levels of society: at the BBC's various broadcasting premises, in hospitals, in care homes, on government property, in Westminster, even within the Royal palaces. It seems to happen wherever there is an imbalance of power.

William Vahey, an American teacher employed at Southbank International School in central London, serves as a useful example. He decidedly took advantage of the power he had over his pupils - but as often seems to be the case, the real scandal is how the system seems to have accommodated an abuser, or at least ignored crimes that should have been made visible. After receiving complaints about Vahey, who has been since found to have drugged and abused 60 teenage boys at the school from 2009 to 2013, headmaster Terry Hedger did little more than reassure the teacher that he would protect his "fine reputation and standing" and that he believed Vahey was the victim of pressure "from vindictive parents." Vahey killed himself in March after his computer was found to contain hundreds of images of child rape.

Vahey's crimes seem to be mirrored on a society-wide scale. In 2012, allegations against the late TV host and bizarre British icon Jimmy Savile surfaced; the list of potential victims stretches into the hundreds, and other well-known BBC names have since been convicted of similar crimes. Last month John Allen, a care home proprietor who has been convicted of 33 sex offenses against children in his charge, was accused of providing boys to sex parties frequented by political figures, and the late former MI6 deputy Sir Peter Hayman has been accused of attending such parties. Just last week John Mann, a Labour MP, handed a dossier to Scotland Yard with 22 names of individuals, including former MPs from the country's two major parties, who he thinks should be questioned over alleged child abuse in the 1970s and 80s. Mann even suggested that two would-be whistleblowers may have been murdered.

The Westminster story became headline news the way a dam breaks - first through almost unnoticeable cracks in the façade, then with a sudden flood. One of the first cracks was when a whistleblower from the social work world passed a tip off to Labour MP Tom Watson, who in 2012 asked Prime Minister David Cameron if an evidence file linked to the conviction of pedophile Peter Righton - who advised the government on child care policy in the 1970s - could be looked at again. That file, which was initially sent to home secretary Leon Brittan by campaigning Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens in 1983, supposedly linked senior cabinet members in the Thatcher administration, as well as Smith, to a pedophile ring. In July it was revealed that the dossier was among 114 files relating to child sex abuse that had disappeared from 1979 to 1999. Brittan himself was questioned by police that same month over allegations of rape - the victim was over the age of 18, but the event just added to public suspicion, stoked by the suggestion of Lord Norman Tebbit that there "may well have been" an establishment cover-up under Brittan´s watch.

After that, both the press and the police began investigating these claims more carefully. The publications most involved in pushing the Westminster pedophile scandal out to the public have been the Sunday People and the investigative website Exaro.

The further the media and the cops went down the rabbit hole, the more they found. "A key turning point was we ran a story on two abuse survivors who talked about being sexually abused as boys by MPs and other VIPs at Dolphin Square [a luxury apartment complex] and other locations," says Mark Watts, the editor of Exaro. "That led the police again to contact us and ask to speak to these two survivors and again we passed on the request."

The police in turn created Operation Midland, which investigated an alleged pedophile ring that operated at Dolphin Square between 1974 and 1984. It is in one of the apartments there that an anonymous source known in the media as "Nick" alleges he saw a boy get strangled to death by a Conservative MP during a dark sex game.

In July, before the Westminster story gained momentum, Home Secretary Theresa May announced an inquiry into organized child sex abuse dating back to the 1970s. But the two people she appointed to chair the inquiry were both found to have conflicts of interest, and panel members have reportedly sent abusive emails to alleged survivors. The (still chair-less) inquiry is now on the verge of collapse, though many see even that flawed effort as a step in the right direction.

"I think the home secretary is very much in favor of getting to the bottom of what's gone wrong - that's why she's helped initiate the overarching enquiry," says Danczuck. "But I do also think there is a division in cabinet in terms of people wanting to get to the bottom of this. Theresa May is on the side that does. My interpretation is that the Prime Minister is less enthusiastic." The Labour MP suspects there are many in the Conservative Party keen on keeping a lid on any possible revelations. In any case, this story has gone far, far beyond "a few bad apples" territory.

"I think we have come across the biggest political scandal in Britain's postwar history," says Watts. "It goes way beyond Jimmy Savile. We're talking about people in positions of real power in Britain and the ensuing cover-up. Because of the sheer gravity of what went on, it does rather explain why so much effort has gone into covering it up."

There's no one explanation for why so many cases of sex abuse have been ignored for so long. Blame can be laid on a lack of funding for welfare programs which might have helped victims; you can also point to an odd form of liberal guilt - the media may have resisted running with the Rochdale story, for example, because they didn't want to get lumped in with the racists in the EDL. More simply, it was easier to be ignorant. But following the Met Police's confirmation of its investigation into the murder of three boys in conjunction with activities at Dolphin Square and other locations, it is now impossible for anyone paying attention to describe pedophilia as exclusively the domain of immigrant gangs and perverted celebrities.

All this publicity surrounding pedophilia has had mixed effects, says the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's Jon Brown. "There is a huge amount of anger out there," he says, but adds that the high-profile cases shouldn't obscure the fact that around 80 percent of child abuse happens in the care of loved ones. For example, it is often the abusive father who introduces his child to a sex ring that will put them at risk of abuses from others.

"While people are talking about abuse that happened many years ago that doesn't mean it's not happening now," says Brown. "Day in day out there is an awful grind of inter-family abuse, and so much of that never gets disclosed as it's difficult for children to talk about."

It's difficult for anyone to talk about, and that's why so many of the people involved in this scandal were able to hide in plain sight. A few years ago I visited Keith Harding's World of Mechanical Music with my wife and her family. The Gloucestershire museum was filled with automata, a charming collection obsessively amassed by Harding, who greeted us at the desk and seemed a sweet, if eccentric, bloke. In November Harding, now dead, was connected to Jimmy Savile - he appeared on his popular show Jim'll Fix It - and exposed as a vocal member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, a fringe group that existed between 1974 and '84. "A child is able to recognize a pleasurable experience," PIE claimed in its campaign for the recognition of the "responsible, caring pedophile."

It's an all-too-common phenomenon that has long been a cliché: the odd, flamboyant outsider who, on closer examination, contains a monstrous amount of skeletons in his closet. Looking at much of the detail of the Savile case it seems like looking back on some kind of strange group hallucination. How could he have been given the keys to Broadmoor Hospital? How could he have worked as a porter at Leeds hospital without the proper checks? If Savile embodies the whole recent series of scandals in the UK it is because he shimmied between classes so effectively, because he infiltrated the upper echelons without anyone wondering at his "eccentricities."

The self image of the United Kingdom is one of tolerance and discretion - it is a trait that its citizens are often commended for, but it also makes it easy for the powerful to hide behind the veil of sensibility and deference. The curiously claustrophobic nature of British society - neatly represented by the seemingly impenetrable gray 1930s apartment block of Dolphin Square - does lead one to wonder exactly how entwined these separate cases of depravity were. Savile did spend 11 consecutive New Years Eves celebrating with Margaret Thatcher, after all. Connections that have long been deemed the ludicrous preserve of conspiracy theorists are now ordained as possibilities, some even plausibilities. The unthinkable is now eminently thinkable.

The secrets and cover-ups don't make for pretty reading, but now that there have been efforts to get them out in the open, the healing process is happening in earnest, not least in Rochdale. "I helped reveal what Cyril Smith did because I thought it would benefit the community," says Danczuk. "They've carried this burden, this knowledge, for decades. I think it is better to get it out in the open than to keep it a dirty secret."

This culmination of child abuse revelations might not be what people in the UK want to hear as they look forward to toasting the end of another year. But its shocking prevalence in headlines and conversations offers an opportunity for hope for justice in 2015, not least for the survivors.

"I think in many respects this subject's time had come," adds Danczuk. "Finally people can talk about it. Thousands of individuals have been carrying this burden - and still do, and still don't reveal it. But the more who do, I think it is better for them. I've had people who were abused by Smith, who hadn't told a soul before they came to me. A man who hadn't told his wife who he'd been married to for 30-odd, 40 years, explaining to me that I was the first person he had told that he had been abused by someone. You see a 60-odd-year-old man breaking down and crying because of what happened to him, I think it is positive that he can finally come to terms with it."

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Large sinkhole appears on street in Bangor, Maine

© News Center

A 12 to 15-foot sinkhole that's 30 feet deep in the middle of Bangor's Hammond Street downtown.

Drivers are avoiding one big pot-hole on Hammond Street Tuesday

Public Works says a sinkhole developed overnight.

They say it's about 8 to 9 feet deep, 30 feet long, 15 feet wide and it's still growing.

No one was driving on the road when part of it collapsed around 1 A.M.

Public Works believes old infrastructure is to blame.

Public Works says to seek an alternate route going in and out of downtown.

Hammond Street will be shut down today while crews work to fix it.

Horse rescued from a sinkhole in Oxford, Florida field

Bizarre scene: Owner Maryann Marsh tries to comfort Nate the horse after he was found in a sinkhole in his pasture in Oxford, Florida

There was no time for horsing around at a stable in Florida last Friday after a sinkhole nearly swallowed up one of the equines.

Nate, a 30-year-old nag living at TMMA Farms in the rural community of Oxford, was found with his head poking out of a grassy pasture while the rest of his body lay trapped below ground.

It took a team of around ten people - including fire personnel - more than two hours to haul the large animal to safety.

Video footage of the rescue shows how workers dug earth out around Nate's body in a bid to free him.

They then put harnesses around his torso to lift him to ground level.

After lots of pulling and pushing, Nate finally gets one hoof up and is able to crane his other legs out of the pit.

He appears to be stunned by the ordeal, standing still with his nostrils flared.

Firefighters apparently placed an oxygen mask on Nate's face to help him breathe until he was able to walk on his own.

Maryann Marsh, co-owner of TMMA Farms, said she had never seen anything like it before.

She told ABC News that Nate was in a 'retirement pasture' and it's thought that the 'ground just collapsed underneath him' during the afternoon.

'He was lucky enough to almost be in a sitting position in the hole, which is why he didn't break any legs,' she added.

Marsh recruited neighbors to help pull Nate free but when their efforts failed, she called 911.

With the additional manpower they were able to get the animal out of the sinkhole.

Nate is one of three horses on TMMA Farm, which specializes in alpaca breeding.

Marsh says Nate is doing 'very well' and only suffered a swollen back leg.

A post on the farm's Facebook page noted: 'We will still watch him closely over the next few days but for over 30, he is our tough old guy!'

22-day old baby found starved to death in Florida; parents charged with murder

© Mirrror.co.uk

Betsey Kee Stephens

The parents of a 22-day-old baby found starved to death in Florida have been charged with first-degree murder, police said on Tuesday, accusing them of neglecting the suffering infant.

Ruby Stephens, 23, and Roy Stephens, 48, of Indiana were visiting relatives in central Florida on Dec. 23 when they called for emergency help after discovering the baby was unresponsive in their car, according to Lakeland Police.

Betsey Kee Stephens was declared dead at the hospital.

"She suffered tremendously over the 22 days that she was alive," Mike Link, assistant chief of Lakeland Police, told a news conference.

He called photographs of the baby "absolutely horrible."

A medical examiner later determined the death was a homicide resulting from "starvation due to neglect," according to an arrest report.

An autopsy found the infant weighed four pounds and one ounce (1.8 kg) at death, having lost about 2-1/2 pounds (1.13 kg) since her birth. Normal weight for her age was about eight pounds (3.6 kg), the medical examiner's office noted.

The baby was dehydrated and appeared not to have been fed for six to seven hours prior to her death, according to the report.

The mother initially told police that she had been breast-feeding the baby every few hours. But after police told her about the autopsy's findings, she acknowledged that the baby likely had not been fed for much of their day-long road trip, with highway traffic making it difficult to exit to feed her.

© WPTV/Polk County Sheriff's Office

Roy Stephens, Ruby Stephens

The mother later told police that the infant had shown signs of health issues, but she had missed an appointment to have her weight checked before the Florida trip.

Roy Stephens was not the biological father, the mother told authorities, and had not paid much attention to her from birth.

Police said the couple from Tennyson, Indiana, were traveling with two other children, ages 1 and 2. Both appeared healthy and have been taken into protective custody.

The mother told authorities that after arriving at a hotel earlier on Dec. 23, she had checked the baby's feet and covered them with a blanket because they were cold.

The family went to a restaurant to eat with relatives. When the mother went to take the baby out of a car seat, according to the arrest report, she noticed the baby was "completely unresponsive and cold to the touch."

See WPTV news coverage here.

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Dead humpback whale washes up on Little Cranberry Island, Maine

© Erin Fernald

Triomphe, a humpback whale born off the Dominican Republic, was found dead recently on a Little Cranberry Island beach.

Scientists from the College of the Atlantic have identified the carcass of a 36-foot humpback whale that washed ashore on Little Cranberry Island on Christmas Day as Triomphe, a nearly 7-year-old male.

"The pigmentation on the flukes was sufficient to identify the individual," said Rosemary Seton, research associate and Marine Mammals Stranding Coordinator at the college's Allied Whale Program. "He was in our catalog, born in 2008 to a female humpback named Spar."

The whale was discovered on the afternoon of Dec. 25 and showed some signs that it had been entangled in fishing gear, Harbormaster Bruce Fernald said.

"There were some entanglement signs, but nothing I saw that was deep," he said. "You could just see a little groove in about two or three places on its tail - it was nothing that I would think would kill a whale, but I don't know."

Seton said it might be impossible to determine a cause of death.

"Even when you do necropsies, and can see things inside, finding the cause of death is not always easy," she said.

In this case, tissue samples were collected but a full necropsy will not be performed because of the scale of such an undertaking.

Seton said researchers at the Bar Harbor-based college on average deal with one dead humpback whale a year, but one year saw three.

"Last year, one was seen by one of our volunteers in Cutler," she said. "It was floating in the harbor and ended up on Great Spruce Island."

German elites split, forced to betray long-time Russian partners

CIA spy in Germany

© Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

CIA spy in Germany

Few countries have invested more heavily in Russia than Germany has, rushing in to exploit new trade opportunities that opened up after the Cold War ended. More than 6,000 German companies set up operations there, and Russia became a major customer for German cars, pharmaceuticals and machinery.

But now the rush is going in reverse. The announcement last week by the German chemical giant BASF that it had canceled a planned deal with Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, involving natural gas extraction and distribution, was the latest example of how German companies are delaying projects and investment.

Opel, the car-making unit of G.M. based in Germany, has laid off workers at its plant in St. Petersburg; Volkswagen shut down an auto plant in Kaluga intermittently because of poor demand; and Fresenius, a health care company, canceled a joint venture with Russian partners.

More than a third of German companies with operations in Russia are likely to cancel investment projects, though only a small number of German companies have abandoned Russia completely, according to a survey this month by the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce.

The conflict in Ukraine has rattled Germany's leaders as perhaps no others outside Russia. It is not just business that has been put on hold: Countless forums for partnership like major political gatherings have been trimmed back or put on ice. Although Germany's politicians continue to lead diplomatic attempts to ease the Ukraine crisis, trust in Moscow has evaporated. Everyone knows that it will take a long time to repair a rift that has revived fears of a new division of Europe - roughly, pitting Russia against the European Union - and markedly reduced commerce once considered a reliable source of growth.

The impact on Russia is broader, because it is much more dependent on German goods and investment than vice versa. Russia is hobbled by economic sanctions for its intervention in Ukraine, the devalued ruble and a severe drop in the price of oil, its main export. Russia is expected to suffer a steep recession next year, while Germany is forecast to grow 1 percent.

But Russia's problems have helped slow Germany's momentum. Exports to Russia fell 22 percent through October compared with the same period a year earlier. Ten percent of all German companies export to Russia, and the lost sales are another setback at a time when Germany is struggling to improve economic growth.

The uncertainty hanging over Germany's strong business ties with Russia, which are more than double the value of Russian trade with the United States, is in marked contrast to the optimism and relative stability of recent years. And it has been reflected in increasingly acrimonious exchanges in Germany's political, diplomatic and intellectual elite over how to shape relations with Moscow.

Last weekend, the two most prominent Social Democrats in Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand coalition government of center right and center left - the party leader, Sigmar Gabriel, and the foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier - voiced concern that sanctions might hobble the stricken Russian economy, and they opposed tightening them.

Ms. Merkel, clearly frustrated with the behavior of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, has so far taken a harder line. But the potential for conflict within Ms. Merkel's government complicates her efforts to use Germany's close ties with Russia as leverage to fashion a solution to the crisis in Ukraine.

Business groups, normally strong backers of Ms. Merkel's Christian Democrats, have agreed with the Social Democrats on Russia and warned against using economic means to put pressure on Mr. Putin.

"Sanctions are not the proper means to resolve this political crisis," Eckhard Cordes, a former Daimler executive who is chairman of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, which represents companies doing business in the former Soviet bloc, said in an email.

"The West cannot have an interest in destabilizing the Russian economy or Russian politics."

The number of German companies abandoning Russia remains small, about 3 percent of the total, according to the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce.

Most companies hope that the Ukraine crisis will blow over, and they will be able to return to business as usual.

The economic fallout has had political repercussions in Germany, where memories linger of the carnage that the Nazis and Soviets inflicted on each other during World War II. Fear of renewed tension or even conflict is palpable, and understanding for Mr. Putin is greater than in the United States.

Political tensions are likely to intensify as sanctions against Russia come up for renewal in March, a year after Moscow annexed Crimea.

"Anyone who believes that forcing Russia economically to its knees will lead to more security in Europe is wrong," Mr. Steinmeier, the foreign minister, told the weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel. Having Russia's economy in chaos "cannot be in our interest," he added.

Mr. Gabriel, the leader of the Social Democrats, said pointedly that calls for intensifying sanctions were wrong.

Gerhard Schröder, Ms. Merkel's predecessor as chancellor and an avowed friend of Mr. Putin, was among 60 prominent signatories of an appeal entitled, "Again War in Europe?/Not in Our Name."

That appeal drew a blistering response from Bert Hoppe, a writer from former East Germany, who accused the signatories of paying scant attention to Ukraine's desire for independence and acknowledging only Russia as the architect of Nazi defeat and later reconciliation with Germany.

These are well-worn arguments. That they have resurfaced will not make it easier to re-establish the close ties that many Germans and Russians had taken for granted in the 25 years since the Berlin Wall fell.

Saudi King Abdullah hospitalized, oil suddenly paying attention

Earlier today, Saudi Arabia's stock market fell sharply with the Tadawul All Share Index plunging following a Saudi state TV report that King Abdullah had been admitted to hospital for tests. As shown in the chart report, the index tumbled as much as 6% in the minutes after the Saudi Press Agency report which quoted a brief royal court statement.

But while the ill king of the King, aged 90, is hardly news to the discounting stock market, a few more nuanced interpretation of not just what happens if and when the King passes away but what Saudi succession looks like, is much more relevant for oil - especially now that Saudi Arabia has unilaterally decided to tear apart OPEC in its push to put US shale producers out of business.


The Saudi market collapsed 6.5% today on Saudi Press Agency reports that King Abdullah was admitted to hospital for medical tests.

Ordinarily this shouldn't be a big deal and is nothing new, with King Abdullah having had back surgery in 2012 and spent an extended period in convalescence in Morocco in the last year. However, having led the Kingdom for almost 19 years (as of Friday) and at the official age of 90 years old, this report raises the question of eventual succession once more.

Unlike Oman, where Sultan Qaboos has been unwell in Germany and his heir unknown, we know that King Abdullah's heir will be Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud (79), who succeeded Prince Nayef as Crown Prince in 2012 having been Minister of Defence and Governor of Riyadh previously. Next in line is Prince Muqrin (69), the youngest of that generation of Princes, meaning a likely generational jump thereafter.

While any process of succession should be smooth with the next two leaders defined (and some strong probabilities as to who follows after), there is significant uncertainty as to what path Saudi Arabia may take going forward.

This is particularly pertinent in the case of Prince Salman, who is one of the "Sudairi Seven" brothers, children of Hassa al Sudairi and King Abdulaziz. This group, the eldest of whom was the previous King Fahd, is extremely powerful politically and economically in Saudi Arabia. This presents a contrast to King Abdullah, who had no full-brothers and has balanced various groups in Saudi Arabia with great skill.

Given the almost plenipotentiary powers of the King (see article 44 of the Basic Law), Prince Salman could realistically decide to do almost anything he wants if he deems it in the best interests of Saudi Arabia.

This includes matters of spending, where significant sums are likely to be spent on succession to ensure it goes smoothly and the social contract in Saudi Arabia is maintained and, more pertinently for global markets, on oil.

In the oil market Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali al-Naimi has in recent weeks, with the support of King Abdullah, emphasized a shift in Saudi Arabian policy to not cut production and allow the market to determine where the oil price should go, even if it means oil falling further from here.

In our opinion, this is not another step in Saudi Arabia "flooding the market" for political reasons as a look at collapsing Saudi exports and premium seasonal differential prices shows, but rather them captalising on a scenario caused by structural factors causing the oil price to fall to try to take out significant amounts of oil investment and ensure a higher price in the future as other producers can no longer rely on a "Saudi put" to stabilize oil prices on the downside.

They have significant flexibility in their budget should they choose as we outlined here: http://ift.tt/1rzyb2o and there are a number of measures they could take (eliminating subsidies, raising short-term debt for more independent monetary policy) to weather the storm and improve the economy long-term.

However, oil prices are now at levels that cause real concern on the streets of Saudi Arabia, with the prospect of succession the icing on top that has caused retail investors to take the market down another leg.

This policy may not make it through a succession period, where public support and good will is essential, particularly as it has nearly been 20 years since the last change.

The new regent could decide to keep existing policy, change it completely or anything he decides. Similarly he has free reign to realign Saudi Arabia's foreign policy as he wishes, which is a discussion for another time and place, but could have significant regional impacts.

This uncertainty should normally increase oil prices, but instead we see them down again today, just as Libyan civil war over resource control (as discussed here: http://bit.ly/ecstrat4, p 13) where production looks to be back at year lows of 200kbpd versus the 900kbpd that apparently kicked off this rout, actually saw prices fall again.

It seems that we are in a complete capitulation period now in oil, as the sharp decrease in CTFC in the last report shows and with producers scrambling to try to make up for revenue shortfalls by selling any stock they can now they feel they can no longer rely on the GCC, increasing flow to the market and keeping the curve in backwardation. Consumer demand is elastic, but not instantaneous (they don't keep spare tankers for storage being mostly just in time), leading to a perilous period of dead space.

Given the lack of availability of credit for anything oil related unless you're BP, this may continue for a period, but the lack of investment and potential shifts in the Middle East over the next year, coupled with the recent rise in long-dated oil back towards $80 augur for higher prices into 2016 unless we see a significant slowdown in China next year as JP expects, in which case the path will be more painful (JP sees $60 as the new normal for oil, a level he predicted a few years ago)

The Saudi Tadawul stock exchange is likely to stay under pressure, but we have previously seen intervention in the market if it falls too far, something that is likely to be repeated.

With a likely opening to foreign investors in April, the focus must be on "value" stocks above all else, with oil names providing the beta despite their curious earnings profile as unlike global energy names their feedstock is heavily subsidized, so it's mostly a question of how much profit they will make versus swings from losses to profits.

And then there is a different angle, one that perhaps not all is as it seems, courtesy of some tweets on the ground:

Radioactive leak detected at Ukraine's Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant

© www.seogan.ru

Zaporozhskaya Nuclear Plant

A radioactive leak has been detected at Ukraine's Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, the largest in Europe, a media report says, citing the country's emergency services. Ukrainian officials have denied the report.

LifeNews published what it claims is a leaked report by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, which denies an earlier assessment by the plant's authorities that the radiation at the facility is equal to the natural background following an incident on Sunday.

RT is trying to verify the report.

Ukrainian authorities have denied the Russian media report that a radioactive leak had taken place at the plant, Reuters reported.

"The plant works normally, there have been no accidents," an energy ministry official told the news agency. No official comment on whether the leaked documents are authentic has been provided.

Two documents released by LifeNews appear to show that the plant's officials put deliberately misleading information on their website. The documents - both addressed to the head of the regional emergency services - state that radiation levels at the plant on Sunday and Monday were 16.8 times higher than the legally permitted norm.

By Monday, the levels had slightly increased - growing from 16.3 to 16.8 times higher, and Unit 6 was still shut down, the report said, contradicting the plant's statements that the problem had been fixed and that the plant was operating normally.

On Sunday, one reactor at the plant was automatically shut down after a glitch, becoming the second halt in operations in recent weeks. The reactor was running at 40 percent of nominal power, the plant's official website said, adding that radiation at the facility being at the level of 8-12 microroentgens an hour.

The error was later announced to have been corrected, and the troubled unit - Power Block # 6 - was plugged back into the network.

On November 28, Zaporozhye's Unit 3 was switched off for almost a week. The shutdown, which was reportedly caused by a short circuit, was made public five days later, when Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk revealed it during the first meeting of his new Cabinet. Regarding the November incident, Ukrainian authorities have contacted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The agency was informed that "a reactor at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant remained safely shut down following a short circuit in the plant's transformer yard last week," its December 3 statement said.

Ukraine's State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate has said no radioactive materials were released because of the shutdown, the IAEA added. The incident was preliminarily estimated to be a level 0-rated event on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, which ranges from 0 to 7.

Zaporozhye nuclear power plant is one of the four nuclear power plants in the country, which together supply a large part of Ukraine's energy needs. The Zaporozhye plant alone, Europe's largest, supplies at least one-fifth of the country's power needs. It is the world's fifth-largest nuclear power plant.

In the meantime US nuclear power-plant builder Westinghouse Electric Co. has reached a deal with Ukraine's Energoatom in Brussels to provide fuel to Ukraine to lower Kiev's dependency for supplies from Russia.

The US company says it will "significantly" increase fuel deliveries to Ukrainian nuclear power plants through 2020, according to a statement released Tuesday.

"This increased cooperation between Westinghouse and Energoatom will bring diversification and security of nuclear fuel supplies for Ukraine's reactor fleet," the statement reads.

Westinghouse, which has been operating in Ukraine since 2003, says that under terms of the contract, the US firm will employ its global supply chain to "manufacture the fuel and components making use of its facilities in the US and Europe." No other details were provided.

"Westinghouse looks forward to providing a full range of products and services to Ukraine and the global VVER market with proven experience in digital controls, fuel, refueling, inspection services and plant upgrades and refurbishments," said Yves Brachet, Westinghouse president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

About 44 percent of power in Ukraine is generated from nuclear facilities, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Earlier this year, Kiev has agreed to extend Westinghouse existing cooperation agreement until 2020.

Is it dangerous?

The media report indicated that on December 29 the radiation level at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant was estimated at 0.00505 mSv/yr. According to the World Nuclear Association a typical range of dose rates from medical sources of radiation is 0.3-0.6 mSv/yr. In order to develop radiation sickness, a one-time dose of at least 1,000 to 2,000 mSv would be enough. Meanwhile, between 2,000 and 10,000 mSv in a short-term dose would cause severe radiation sickness with increasing likelihood that this would be fatal.

SOTT FOCUS: Connecting the Dots: 2014 - Year in Review

© SOTT.net

"So, we made it through 2012 and now, we've got another year notched on our belt in addition: we made it through 2013 and the world still hasn't ended. Or has it?

I would propose that the World As We Knew It ended on 11 September 2001, over 12 years ago. We don't live in the same reality anymore (in case you haven't noticed)."

~ Laura Knight-Jadczyk, 'Happy New Year 2014?'

2014 has been quite a year! The elites have pulled out all the stops on the drive to determine who will be (or continue to be) the "king of the hill" on the Big Blue Marble. We here at Sott.net have taken great pleasure in bringing you a breakdown of the daily intrigue, but now we'd like to take a moment to reflect on the massive changes that have occurred throughout the year.

Overall many of the trends that we've seen played out this year slide right along with what Laura Knight-Jadczyk predicted in December of 2013:

  • Pandemics

  • Social upheaval

  • Financial meltdown

  • Climate chaos

And as we look back over the year we see that many things stayed the same: Israel butchered Palestinians, NATO armed terrorist groups and financed their enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the West continued to disintegrate. Israel and NATO combined to put the lives of 15 million children in terrible jeopardy. But overall the trend towards the emergence of a new economic order seemed to arch over all of these developments "on the ground".

In concert with the political chaos, social chaos continued this year with dozens of popular anti-austerity and anti-establishment protests around the world, including major protests in the US against the pervasive police brutality that afflicts that nation.

The earth continued to groan and shake, and each of us has faced difficult decisions that have shaped our futures. In this article we'll remind you of major events in our cosmic and planetary environment, in the global geopolitical sphere and the effects it may be having on the human level. Hold on for a wild ride through the year of 2014!

Syria and ISIS

After the US' unsuccessful war for Syria was thwarted by Putin's diplomacy in 2013, it regrouped and let loose its ISISTM frankenstein creation. According to Lebanese billionaire Saad Hariri, the green light for the use of ISIS brigades to carve up Iraq, widen the Syria conflict into a greater Middle East war and to throw Iran off-balance was given behind closed doors at a meeting in Turkey of the Washington-based Atlantic Council in November 2013. Along with the United States, ISIS receives support from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, NATO member states including Turkey, France and UK - the same countries that later formed a coalition proclaiming to fight ISIS, all in an attempt to hide their support of this terrorist-proxy group. Clever, huh? For more see Seymour Hersh's article: Subverting Syria: How CIA Contra Gangs and NGO's Manufacture, Mislabel and Market Mass Murder

'Winter' wildfires

California smashed its previous record year for wildfires (2013) by JULY of 2014, with a spate of 'fire-nados' breaking out around San Diego in May. These came to an end when the so-called 'Pineapple Express' brought non-stop rain late in the year. Floods are no use to Californians, however. In the midst of a "worst in 1,200 years" drought, it's estimated they need to find about 11 trillion gallons of freshwater from somewhere to sustain current needs.

A 'fire-nado' in San Diego, May 2014

While wildfires are generally associated with hot, dry conditions, an astonishing number of wildfires in 2014 occurred in Arctic regions or cold mountain ranges - Canada, Alaska, Siberia, Tibet and Norway - during Winter and early Spring. Wildfires in the dead of winter were burning next to frozen creeks in Washington state, and in rain-soaked Wales. Three feet of snow hit Denver in the Fall, despite massive wildfires breaking out elsewhere in the Rockies. How could this happen?

A key factor seems to be methane outgassing, which is being recorded all over the place but is especially prevalent at the planet's polar regions. The discovery of hundreds of new methane plumes off the Northeastern U.S. coast coincided with researchers reporting a major increase in methane outgassing in the Arctic. Another key factor is something to 'spark' these fires. Arson is typically blamed, but the culprit

is more likely to be lightning, which Global Warmists 'predict will increase' but which is apparently already increasing.

Libya, Boko Haram and beyond

A reworked protest sign for Michelle Obama

Libya entered into a state of free fall collapse and this year saw the heaviest fighting since NATO's destruction of Libya and murder of Gaddafi in 2011. The current government is only known in name and warring factions push the country towards disintegration as civil wars envelope the oil rich region and beyond. The Western-sponsored terrorists who did the dirty work in 2011 overtook much of the country this year, and now CIA asset General Kalifer Hafter has been charged with supposedly reclaiming Libya for NATO.

While the events in Libya received little to no attention from Western media, readers will likely remember the overwhelming coverage given to Boko Haram. Who is responsible for the crimes of Boko Haram? Who is responsible for the murders and kidnappings? They could not be carried out without organization and money. In the article "Clinton, Obama and Boko Haram - Yup we armed them and let them run wild" we find an abundance of evidence that the US/NATO/Israel are responsible for their crimes. Boko Haram had been attacking and killing students and local villagers with NATO's funding and approval for several years, with nearly 800 murdered in 2012 alone, and 10,000 dead since 2009. The central government of Nigeria worked as the glove for the Empire of Chaos' hand, murdering civilians and keeping the region divided and conquered for the oil-hungry NATO.

Thus it sadly came as no real surprise when it turned out that the April kidnapping of 300 girls from a school in the Nigerian town of Chibok was known in advance by the Nigerian military. Likely under orders, they just chose not to do anything about it. The military continued to bumble any sort of rescue attempt, leaving Nigerians furious yet with little means to do anything themselves.

Serious Sinkholes

Major sinkholes are still opening up around the world, but in 2014 they progressed from swallowing cars and individuals to swallowing whole streets and settlements in Brazil, Baltimore and Bosnia. As strong storms receded, a spate of sinkholes opened up across the UK early 2014. In addition to incidents where the ground suddenly gave way, a number of holes 'exploded' into being. Remember those 'crater-holes' in Siberia? Something similar appeared in Utah in August, and witnesses reported a 100-feet-wide sinkhole in Florida "exploding up into the air" in July.

'Dude, where's my car?' A sinkhole swallows several cars in Chicago, April 2014

Zionist Mass Murder

© Desconocido

Early in 2014 plans were in place for a Palestinian unity government. When that government was sworn in in June, Netanyahu warned/threatened the whole world against recognizing it because, he claimed, it 'opened the door to terrorism'. In reality Netanyahu was concerned that a united Palestinian front committed to achieving Palestinian rights through peaceful processes would make it much more difficult for the Israelis to justify their Apartheid state. It might also lead to Israel losing all that Palestinian gas.

Right on time, Israeli teenagers were conveniently abducted and killed by persons unknown, and the finger pointed at Hamas.

Israel unleashed Operation Protective Edge on the people of Gaza, destroying entire cities, devastating Palestinian industry, agricultural and fishing sectors, crippling water supplies, and bombing hospitals and UN-designated refugee centers at schools. The UN reported that by the end of the 50-day onslaught, 2131 Palestinians were killed, 11,100 were wounded and an estimated 485,000 displaced.

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The devastation was unspeakable, yet Israelis responded to the slaughter with psychopathic glee:

Scene from Sderot in July 2014. Israelis cheer and clap from lawn chairs as they witness the slaughter and ethnic cleancing of Palestinians.

Clearly, Israelis were not threatened by Hamas' bottle rockets. An excellent video surfaced that provides evidence that the "rockets" intercepted by the Iron Dome missile shield, so "dangerous" to Israel's "security", were simply fireworks. The entire "rocket attack" scenario was made up out of thin air:

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As thousands worldwide protested Zionist atrocities, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine, providing a useful distraction for the Israeli government.

Extra Earthquakes

EQ-related? This 1km-long/8meter-deep fissure opened near Costa de Hermosillo, Sonora State, Mexico on August 15th, 2014.

The upwards trend in earthquakes continued in 2014, with April seeing the highest number of strong earthquakes recorded globally for one month. As South Africa was hit by its strongest quake in 45 years, Californians moved one step closer to 'the big one'; the state had its strongest earthquake in 25 years. But it's the hundreds of swarms of small quakes in locations that don't generally experience them that is really making people sit up and take notice. Fracking is probably partly responsible for this in the U.S., but keep in mind that the increasing rate of earthquakes is a global phenomenon.

Violent Volcanoes

The Ontake volcanic eruption in Japan claimed the lives of dozens of climbers

2013 saw a record number of volcanic eruptions, globally, for the modern era. 2014's eruptions have yet to be tabulated, but it's looking like it might set a new record. Colima Volcano in Mexico, and Pavlof in Alaska, each sending ash plumes several kilometers high, while lava flows from Hawaii's Kilauea and Cape Verde's Fire Island destroyed homes. There were a number of spectacular volcanic eruptions, notably Tavurvur Volcano in Papua New Guinea and Ontake Volcano in Japan, which took dozens of climbers' lives. Meanwhile, Costa Rica's Turrialba Volcano erupted for the first time in 150 years and Bardarbunga Volcano in Iceland has given the country its biggest continuous eruption since 1784.

It's not just volcanoes coming to life; mountains too appear to be shaking and quaking. At least two horrifying rockfalls in China blocked highways; landslides buried whole villages in Afghanistan, China, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia; dislodged boulders knocked trains off tracks in France and Switzerland; and an avalanche in the Himalayas took trekkers by surprise, claiming 43 lives - a record number of fatalities from one event - and requiring the rescue of over 500 people.

Poverty increases in the 'affluent' West

In France the unemployment rate rose nearly 6% since 2013, totaling nearly 3 million individuals without work. Italy saw an increase in unemployment as well, putting it at a record high. In the UK one million more Britons were plunged into poverty in 2014, due to high costs of living and low wages.

In America approximately 80% of the population were near or below the poverty line, with 50 million below it. The number of children living in poverty reached a record high, with some states like Missouri seeing 31% of the children living in poverty. With nearly 500,000 homeless children in the state of California alone, the number of homeless children in America rose 50% in under 10 years.

Greece, Lavtia, Croatia, Ireland and Iceland witnessed child poverty increase by more than 50 percent. There wasn't any more social mobility in America than in Medieval England. The system broke, and it couldn't be fixed.

This year it was estimated that up to 150,000 children had been abducted into the sex trade in America. In the UK 60% of girls aged 13 to 21 reported having been sexually harassed, with 20% reporting unwanted touching. At the University of San Diego fraternity activities were shut down following the 7th rape allegation. One fraternity went so far as to and throw eggs and wave sex toys at students protesting sexual assault. One in five, or 20%, of women reported being sexually assaulted while in college. In the past 3 years the number of reported sexual assaults rose by 50%.

Yet America continued to blame rape victims, as in the case of the UVA rape of "Jackie" - and they did it with smug satisfaction.

'Monsoon season', everywhere

Downtown Genoa following a flash-flood in 2014

A succession of hurricane-force storms drenched the UK and Western Europe with giant waves and record flooding throughout January and February. England hadn't seen the level of flooding that hit it in January and February 2014 since the reign of 'Mad' King George III, in 1795. The UK's wettest year on record was the year 2000. Its second-wettest was 2012. In fact, four out of the five wettest years in Britain - which has pretty reliable record-keeping going back several hundred years - have occurred in last 12 years.

The most active Pacific Hurricane season since 1992 saw Mexico and the southwestern U.S. pounded by near-constant 'monsoons' during the Fall, wiping away highways from New Mexico to Nevada and devastating the holiday resort of Los Cabos in Baja California. Up to 13 inches of rain fell from coast to coast throughout the Summer and fall months. Latin America also experienced widespread flooding, while Malaysia saw "its worst flooding in decades." In May, the Balkans suffered its worst flooding "since record-keeping began", while scenes of cars piled 15 high in famous city squares is becoming all too common across Europe.

The Ukrainian 'Crisis'

In February, Russia was in the spotlight hosting its first ever Winter Olympics but Western nations and their media chose to focus more on bashing Russia over its so called 'anti-gay law'. The truth is that the bill in question does not even mention homosexuality and the 'Russian threat' to gay rights is wholly a foreign invention. For a complete breakdown of the law see Russian Federation Anti-Gay Laws: An Analysis & Deconstruction.

Crimeans celebrate joining the Russian Federation

It was no coincidence that while the Sochi Olymics ran from February 7th to February 23rd, the Euromaidan protests in Kiev turned violent from February 18th to February 23rd, forcing the ouster of President Yanukovych and the installation of a Ukrainian government that was hand-picked by US State Department officials. Evidence suggests that the 'Maidan' protests, which began in November 2013, were largely the work of US-based NGOs, and that the shootings on February 19th and 20th, that killed both protestors and policemen, were also the work of a single group of Western agent provocateurs.

In response to this open NATO aggression against legitimate Russian interests in Ukraine, President Putin moved quickly to secure Crimea and with its majority Russian population and Russian Black Sea fleet. A referendum was held that returned a 97% 'yes' vote for Crimea to join the Russian Federation. Russian speaking citizens in the Eastern Ukraine Donbass and Luhansk Oblasts viewed the developments in Kiev with alarm, particularly the fact that the the new NATO-aligned Kiev regime was virulently anti-Russian and infused with Nazi elements. Donbass and Luhansk residents held their own referendums and declared independence. A civil war began with the Kiev regime committing many atrocities against the civilian population. To date, at least 4,000 civilians have been killed in Eastern Ukraine by NATO's new proxy forces from Kiev.

Extreme Cold

Frozen over: Chicago from the air in February 2014

Early in 2014, cold temperature and century-old snowfall records were broken across the U.S. as a 'polar vortex' gripped the entire Eastern half of the nation in ice age conditions. The Great Lakes almost completely froze over. While the Global Warmists claim that 2014 was "the warmest year ever", their research vessels became frozen in record-breaking Antarctic sea ice and a 'polar vortex' hung over North America for pretty much the entire year. Even July in 2014 was the coldest ever for many central U.S. states.

Winter returned with record early cold temperatures and by mid-November so much snow had fallen that the Northern Hemisphere recorded its greatest snow cover extent since the beginning of the satellite age. Monster snowstorms dumped entire annual snowfall averages in many parts of the U.S., not least the city of Buffalo, New York, which was buried under 7 feet (2.25 meters) of snow. Most of Russia east of Moscow and northern China saw no different.

USA Police Brutality

2014 was the year that US police forces notched up more murders of American citizens than were killed in Iraq. A few notable incidents include:

'Hands up, don't shoot'

In July, Eric Garner was strangled to death by a NY cop. Despite that the murder was recorded on video camera, the cop in question walked free.

On August 9th, police officer Darren Wilson shot an unarmed Michael Brown and left him in the street for hours in Ferguson, Missouri. Wilson and fellow officers then broke standard police procedures in the aftermath of a shooting, and just simply cleaned up and left. Wilson lied to the Grand Jury and the prosecutor also manipulated the jury into believing that Missouri police officers can legally shoot and kill a suspect simply because they are running way.

Protesters took to the streets. The Pentagon fully militarized the police while the media spun it into a racial issue. Agent provocateurs, called "looters" by the media, soon gave police and the National Guard the excuse to turn Ferguson into a warzone. The farcical "trial" and clearing of Wilson ignited a series of protests against police brutality across the USA that continued into December.


No that's not Kansas, that's Algeria

While the total number of tornadoes in the U.S. this year was below average, the phrase 'tornado season' is now meaningless - they are occurring all year round. Most remarkable about tornadoes these days is that they're appearing in places they wouldn't normally. France had a record year for them. Istanbul, Turkey saw 3 waterspouts in 3 successive months. Outbreaks of waterspouts off Genoa, Italy and Malaga, Spain saw one or two cause damage onshore.

And twisters aren't just affecting warm coastal regions. Destructive tornadoes hit inland South Africa, Algeria, and Argentina. There were several in Malaysia, a monster twister in Mongolia, another in Vietnam, a "first ever" in Korea, at least 3 in The Netherlands, up to 10 in Italy, a couple in Germany, and several off the coast of Sweden and Norway. NORWAY, for goodness' sake!

MH17 Shoot down

On July 17th, during one of the many ceasefires in East Ukraine, MH17 was allegedly shot down by "Russian-backed separatists" (via the modern miracle of Western lies) using a BUK system that was in the hands of the Ukrainian military at the time. Western media immediately jumped to blame Russia, calling Putin a murderer and comparing Russia to Hitler's Germany. Meanwhile Kiev concealed critical information - especially the air traffic controller's record.

A collection of the actual evidence strongly suggests that MH17 was deliberately shot down by a jet of unknown origin, specifically for the purpose of demonizing Russia and attempting to 'shame' it into backing off on its support for the East Ukrainian people.

Monster Hail

Increased hail seems to be one direct result of increased precipitation (due in part to the oceans warming from below) meeting a cooling atmosphere. From tropical Sao Paulo to sunny Spain, temperate Tokyo to balmy Brisbane, baseball-sized hail was measured in feet as countless devastating hailstorms hit every continent in every season. Skyscraper windows were smashed in Bulgaria, mounds of ice made roads impassable in Mexico City, 'ice-rivers' flowed through Florence in September.

Kids play in mounds of hail in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Mexican Mass Murder

Protests in Mexico against the mass execution of students

43 students on their way to protest the Mexican town of Iguala's political leadership disappeared on September 26th. The bodies of all 43 students were eventually discovered and the Guerreros Unidos gang was accused of murdering theml. As people continued to search, they continued to find more mass graves of people completely unrelated to the students' disappearance.

Mexico's Attorney General publicly naming Iguala's mayor's wife as the "'principal operator' of the Guerreros Unidos, and said that she, together with her husband, ran the group's illegal activities right out of Iguala's city hall." The mayor fled, and was later apprehended while two more mayors followed back to back, attempting to calm the public while the psychos figured out what to do. Amnesty International published a report accusing Mexico's Attorney General of minimizing the mass murder and pointing out that this was state crime.

Space weather

The rate of increase in meteor fireball events over the U.S. slowed down in 2014 (3,628 fireball events) relative to their explosive rise in 2013 (3,563 fireball events). The following chart is based on data from the American Meteor Society's Fireball Logs:

© SOTT.net

After American Meteor Society Fireball Logs

A relatively calm spell from May to September was rudely awoken in September when large meteor fireball events lit up the night skies across swathes of the U.S., Latin America, Russia, Europe and Asia. A couple such events - in Brazil and Russia - appeared to 'set the sky on fire'.

Increasing 'mystery booms', meanwhile, continue to confound 'the experts'. Most 'booms' - incorrectly attributed to earthquakes (although seismometers can pick up the resulting tremors) or military jets breaking the sound barrier - are probably incoming space rocks exploding in the atmosphere. Some of these booms, however, appear to be related to seismic activity, occurring either before, during or after earthquakes.


Changes measured by the Swarm satellite over the first 6 months of 2014 shows Earth's magnetic field strength changing. Shades of red show areas where it is strengthening, and shades of blue show areas that are weakening.

In July it was announced that the planet's EM field is "dropping 10 times faster than previously thought", especially over North America. For all the excitement generated by observers of NASA solar flares footage, the Sun remains eerily quiet given that we're currently at Solar Maximum in Sunspot Cycle 24.

Following comet impacts on Jupiter in recent years, astronomers watched with some trepidation as Comet Siding-Spring swung by Mars in a "once-in-a-million-years" event in October. There was no direct impact, but the comet's tail brushed the Red Planet, generating thousands of meteors and causing the atmosphere to 'glow'. Methane outgassing was also observed on Mars for the first time, suggesting our neighbor too is rocking and rolling.

"Extreme storms" erupted on Uranus this year. There was also increased volcanic activity on Jupiter's Io moon. Saturn's Mimas moon began wobbling unexpectedly, and the major increase in asteroid activity has seen MIT astronomers upgrade the solar system from "stable" to "dynamic".

Canadian "ISIS" attack

On October 21st-22nd, two terrorist-proxy plots designed to garner public support for Canadian military involvement in bombing Iraq and Syria went live when Martin Couture-Rouleau hit two Canadian soldiers with his car in Quebec. The following day Michael Zehaf-Bibeau went on a shooting spree in Ottawa. The event was like something scripted in a Hollywood studio, going so far as to include the triumphant (and unlikely) back-to-back shoot-out between police and suspect. One major problem with the narrative however was that the "bullet holes" in an alcove wall in the Canadian parliament building that were offered as evidence of the shoot out can be seen on google maps from at least one year earlier. Oops. But the goal was accomplished, and Canadians lost more of their civil rights.

The Great Dying

Dead whale washes ashore on Smith Point Beach in Suffolk County, New York, October 9, 2014.

There was some truly weird animal behaviour in 2014, notably atypical attacks on humans by a wide variety of creatures, both wild and captive. Attacks were carried out by diverse species (some usually wary of man), including elephant, dolphin, camel, seal, sea lion, jackal, hyena, wildebeest, wild boar, musk ox, wolf, leopard, fisher, camel, kangaroo, koala, otter, beaver, lynx, bobcat, cougar, coyote, chimpanzee, baboon, monkey, owl, cow, dog, rat and anteater (among others). Our dedicated Animal topic page hosts a collection of relevant reports into 'animals gone berserk'.

All year long we've seen report after report of pods of deepwater whales seeking shallow waters, multiple whale species washing up dead on every continent, and huge numbers of dead wildlife being found in freshwater locations and along coasts. The scale of it is harrowing. What else can it point to but that another Great Dying is underway?

USA - Torture Inc.

The American Way

2014 was the year that the US government officially admitted that its agents had tortured many people, and many of them innocent. Obama summed it up by saying "we tortured some folks."

Despite the fact that the CIA's torture included children being raped in front of their mothers and others being raped by dogs, according to poll, almost 60% of American citizens approved of such treatment of innocent people.

Rigged Referendums

In September, Scots went to the polls to vote for independence from the United Kingdom and to massively increase their own wealth through the nationalization of Scottish oil fields. While it appeared that a vast majority of Scots were planning to vote 'Yes' to freedom from the pedophiles in power in London, a shock result returned 53% against. Evidence soon emerged of a Westminster plot to rig the vote, which was hardly surprising.

Rise of an alternative world order

The BRICS nations constitute "some 45% of the world population and close to 30% of global GDP." So when, in July of 2014, the BRICS nations created their own anti-dollar bank the "Neo-Con World Order" lunatics must have been having seizures. Called the New Development Bank, it's certainly not a replacement for the Western predator model yet, with only $100 billion in reserve at the time of its creation, but its creation signaled another step in the revolution. In tandem China and India created the new Asia Infrastructure Bank, which would rival the IMF.

Russia and China signed another mega gas deal for 30 billion cubic meters per year and the game was on for Russia and China to ink a trillion dollar pipeline deal.

The US reacted to these developments by waging economic war on Russia and its allies - sanctioning individuals close to Putin and significantly decreasing the price in oil. Though the US put their own fracking industry at risk by the huge drop in oil prices, they also managed to hurt the ruble and the Russian economy, causing an artificial collapse. China pledged to step in if needed, committing themselves more deeply to their Russian partnership and fully aware that this collapse was an act of economic terrorism.

The Russian populace would not flinch, and neither would Russian leadership. The BRICS nations were reaching the tipping point, and as we near the end of 2014 we can see the engine of chaos fueling their evolution while leading to NATO's. All the while the US Congress continued to squeal like a bunch of pigs on the way to the slaughter:


As geopolitical chaos continued to grow the worst outbreak of Ebola in recorded history emerged and shocked the world. March 22nd saw 50 deaths confirmed as Ebola in Guinea - two cases in Sierra Leone were suspected of it, but were not confirmed until the 26th. From there chaos began to ensue, with mobs attacking clinics and terror gripping the local population. By late June 350 deaths had been recorded, the outbreak was declared "unprecedented," and massive resources were called for. The US responded by sending troops, never letting a crisis go to waste to advance its imperial agenda.

By the end of the year, nearly 8,000 had been declared dead. The survival rate was, officially, approximately 47%, although it could have been as high as 84%.

High Strangeness: UFOs and missing planes

2014 saw an increase in reports of UFO sightings, not just in the U.S. but globally. In the latter part of 2014, news broadcasts inadvertently caught UFOs on several occasions, at least some of which cannot be chalked down to lens artefacts, flocks of birds, Chinese lanterns or aircraft, even though media outlets alternately explain them away or affirm their 'ET reality' without going into the possible implications. Here is some memorable footage of an apparent UFO filmed at the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on September 30th 2014, and a couple of startling UFO videos from France. Finally, an extraordinary display over Houston, Texas during an electrical storm in August.

The most incredible High Strangeness event of the year, however, must be set aside for Flight MH370. The Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight apparently vanished into thin air on March 8th, 2014. When a commercial jet carrying over 200 people vanishes without a trace, especially in this age of hi-tech, you're really left with little option but to file it with the Weird Desk. One of the largest international search and rescue operations ever mounted has yielded not one solid clue as to where the Malaysian Airlines Boeing is, nor what happened to it.


Psychopaths don't let go of their food source without a fight, so expect 2015 to be a wild ride. But there is reason to hope. To the reader this might seem strange after so many years of having their "hope" manipulated and juiced. After all, those individuals with the curiosity and bravery to spurn the lies of the psychopathic elite have found themselves faced with a hopeless situation. The war machine seemed unstoppable, the economy was built to grind people into dust, torture was rampant, and society was so apathetic and depraved that little to nothing could be done about it. Hope was for fools.

But throughout 2014 the peoples of the earth who suffered terribly under the psychopathic Western system continued to show that they'd learned the lesson of dealing with the machine. Whether in Latin America, South America, Russia, or China, the strategy of a patient escape began to bare fruit. And, aware of the machinations of the psychopaths in power, BRICS continued to show that they knew the game and could play it better than the psychos who thought they'd already won.

Therefore, in 2015, there is reason to allow ourselves a glimmer of hope. Even if, especially if, there is a collapse of the Western system, there is a chance for justice after all. And to all those truth seekers out there, what else have we been hoping for all along?

Happy New Year to you!

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