Wednesday, January 21, 2015

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - The Canadian Dollar Is Going Crazy After The Bank Of Canada Cut Interest Rates!

January 21, 2015 - CANADA
- Canada just joined the easing party — and now the Canadian dollar is going crazy.

The Bank of Canada just announced that it cut its main interest rate to 0.75% from 1%, joining the trend of central banks around the world trending toward easier monetary policy.

Following the announcement, the Canadian dollar, also known as the loonie, weakened sharply against the US dollar, to nearly 1.24 against the dollar. Earlier on Wednesday, the loonie was at around 1.206 against the dollar.

In its announcement, the Bank of Canada said the move to cut rates followed the sharp drop in the price of oil.

Here's the chart of the loonie's rapid fall against the dollar.

Crazy movement for the loonie after the Bank of Canada cuts rates.

Canada's announcement comes ahead of Thursday's European Central Bank meeting, at which the ECB is expected to announce a quantitative-easing program to fight deflation in the eurozone.

Reports on Wednesday morning from The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg said the ECB is expected to announce a bond-buying program of €50 billion per month.

In an email following the Bank of Canada's decision, Sebastian Galy, currency strategist at Societe Generale, said he's targeting a level of 1.25 against the dollar for the loonie, "with a possible overshoot to 1.28."

So it looks like things could get crazier for the Canadian dollar, as it appears that for the second time in one week, a central bank took the market by surprise.

Here's the full statement from the Bank of Canada:
The Bank of Canada today announced that it is lowering its target for the overnight rate by one-quarter of one percentage point to 3/4 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/2 per cent. This decision is in response to the recent sharp drop in oil prices, which will be negative for growth and underlying inflation in Canada.

Inflation has remained close to the 2 per cent target in recent quarters. Core inflation has been temporarily boosted by sector-specific factors and the pass-through effects of the lower Canadian dollar, which are offsetting disinflationary pressures from slack in the economy and competition in the retail sector. Total CPI inflation is starting to reflect the fall in oil prices.

Oil’s sharp decline in the past six months is expected to boost global economic growth, especially in the United States, while widening the divergences among economies. Persistent headwinds from deleveraging and lingering uncertainty will influence the extent to which some oil-importing countries benefit from lower prices. The Bank’s base-case projection assumes oil prices around US$60 per barrel. Prices are currently lower but our belief is that prices over the medium term are likely to be higher.

The oil price shock is occurring against a backdrop of solid and more broadly-based growth in Canada in recent quarters. Outside the energy sector, we are beginning to see the anticipated sequence of increased foreign demand, stronger exports, improved business confidence and investment, and employment growth. However, there is considerable uncertainty about the speed with which this sequence will evolve and how it will be affected by the drop in oil prices.

Business investment in the energy-producing sector will decline. Canada’s weaker terms of trade will have an adverse impact on incomes and wealth, reducing domestic demand growth.

Although there is considerable uncertainty around the outlook, the Bank is projecting real GDP growth will slow to about 1 1/2 per cent and the output gap to widen in the first half of 2015.

The negative impact of lower oil prices will gradually be mitigated by a stronger U.S. economy, a weaker Canadian dollar, and the Bank’s monetary policy response. The Bank expects Canada’s economy to gradually strengthen in the second half of this year, with real GDP growth averaging 2.1 per cent in 2015 and 2.4 per cent in 2016. The economy is expected to return to full capacity around the end of 2016, a little later than was expected in October.

Weaker oil prices will pull down the inflation profile. Total CPI inflation is projected to be temporarily below the inflation-control range during 2015, moving back up to target the following year. Underlying inflation will ease in the near term but then return gradually to 2 per cent over the projection horizon.

The oil price shock increases both downside risks to the inflation profile and financial stability risks. The Bank’s policy action is intended to provide insurance against these risks, support the sectoral adjustment needed to strengthen investment and growth, and bring the Canadian economy back to full capacity and inflation to target within the projection horizon.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: The Ebola Outbreak - ONE-THIRD Of The World's Great Apes Wiped Out By The Deadly Virus!

By one estimate, Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world's ape population since 1990. Photo: Getty Images

January 21, 2015 - WEST AFRICA
- Ebola poses the greatest threat to the survival of our nearest cousins — gorillas and chimps, a third of which have died from the deadly virus since the 1990s.

The disease is even deadlier for the great apes than it is for humans, according to the report in The Conversation, a nonprofit media outlet.

Mortality rates for gorillas are about 95 percent and 77 percent for chimpanzees. For humans, it is about 50 percent.

Meera Inglis, a doctoral candidate in conservation policy at the University of Sheffield, wrote that as with humans, deaths among the apes come in epidemics.

An outbreak in 1995 killed more than 90 percent of gorillas in a park in Gabon. In 2002-03, another outbreak killed about 5,000 gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

There are only about 100,000 gorillas left in the wild, Inglis reported.

The great apes also are decimated by illegal trading in wildlife, deforestation, wars and other infectious diseases.

“The world’s remaining wild apes are being increasingly forced into isolated pockets of forest, which impedes their ability to forage, breed and to hide from hunters,” she wrote.

“If we do not act fast, these may prove to be the last decades in which apes can continue to live in their natural habitat,” she added. “Unfortunately, there appears to be a lack of political will to implement policies which would bring viable solutions into effect.”

A safe and effective vaccine has already been developed for apes, she wrote, but “trials have not involved ‘challenging’ the vaccinated chimps with the live virus.”

“Across much of Europe, medical research on great apes is either banned or highly restricted because of their cognitive similarity to humans,” she wrote. “The question is whether or not we should make an exception in this case.” - NY Post.

Tracking the EBOLA Virus Outbreak

PARADIGM SHIFT: Precursors To The End Of The Petrodollar - China And Switzerland To Launch Yuan Trading In Zurich!

Reuters / Arnd Wiegmann

January 21, 2015 - DAVOS, SWITZERLAND
- The central banks of China and Switzerland are planning to establish a yuan trading center in Zurich. The deal is expected to increase the number of European transactions in yuan.

The agreement will be signed during the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Xinhua news agency reports.

“A memorandum of understanding will be signed between the central banks of the two countries during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Switzerland. It is an important step in the internationalization of the yuan, especially in Europe,”
said a government official.

According to the agreement, Switzerland will receive a quota of about $8 billion (50 billion Yuan).

This step comes under the framework of the QFII (Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor) program that allows foreign investment in Chinese securities using foreign currencies. Similar centers already exist in Hong Kong and London.

In July 2014, the central banks of China and Switzerland signed an agreement on a $24 billion (150 billion yuan) currency swap to boost bilateral trade and economic relations.

China, the world’s second largest economy, has been pushing the yuan as a rival to the dollar in the global financial system since 2010. In November 2014, the Bank of China started to operate European yuan clearing in Frankfurt.

The Chinese yuan is traded directly against the dollar, euro, the Japanese yen and Russian ruble among other currencies. Settlement worldwide in yuan reached $485 billion (3.01 trillion yuan) in 2013 compared to $330 billion (2.06 trillion yuan) in 2012. - RT.

EXTREME WEATHER: Russia Sounds Alarm As Lake Baikal's Water Levels Drop To Record Low - The World's Largest Freshwater Lake Has Been Hit By Severe Dry Weather And Overuse By Local Industry!

A ship moves in Russia's Lake Baikal on July 29, 2008 (AFP Photo/Dmitry Kostyukov)

January 21, 2015 - RUSSIA
- Russia sounded the alarm Tuesday as water levels in Lake Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake, dropped to record lows, with environmentalists blaming dry weather and overuse by local industry.

The regional emergency ministry in Buryatia region on the lake's shores announced a state of high alert as villages surrounding the lake were reportedly hit by water shortages.

The water level in the lake is just eight centimetres (3 inches) above the minimum 456 metres (1496 feet) above sea level allowed by the Russian government. The lake has been at its lowest levels in 60 years, according to Buryatia natural resources minister Yury Safyanov.

Environmentalists, fishermen and industry that relies on hydroelectric power stations fed by Baikal haggle over the lake year after year.

The Irkutsk hydroelectric power station on the Angara River flowing from Lake Baikal serves the large city of Irkutsk with electricity and water. It also feeds an enormous aluminium plant in the region with electricity. There are several other hydroelectric power plants on the Angara.

Lake Baikal -- one of Russia's most striking landmarks which contains around one-fifth of the Earth's fresh water -- is also a bone of contention between big industry and local populations thirsty for its water.

In Buryatia, a region that borders Lake Baikal and Mongolia, the governor Vyacheslav Nagovitsyn said there were already reports of underground springs drying up, fish disappearing and wild fires increasing.

"Every year, energy workers want to lower the level of Baikal to produce more power," said Alexander Kolotov, a coordinator for Rivers Without Boundaries, a coalition of environmentalists in Russia, China, Mongolia and the United States.

"But that is detrimental to the ecosystem," he told AFP.

A special meeting of the Russian government will decide next week whether to allow Baikal to drop below the current legal minimum level to feed the hydroelectric power plants, he said.

Last spring Baikal's levels were lowered as everyone expected a rainy year, but the year turned out to be dry and the lake's level stayed low, said Arkady Ivanov of Greenpeace's Baikal programme.

"Now the energy industry wants to drop it even further -- the more the level drops the more money is made," Ivanov said, cautioning that lower levels disrupt fish spawning and increase algae growth. - Yahoo.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: "Oil Has Made It Into The River" - Breached Pipeline Spills Up To 50,000 Gallons Of Oil Onto Yellowstone River; Oil Reported As Far As 25 MILES Downstream! UPDATE: Cancer Causing Agent Found After Oil Spill In Yellowstone River!

Up to 50,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Yellowstone River

January 21, 2015 - MONTANA, UNITED STATES
- A breached oil pipeline in Montana has spilled as many as 50,000 gallons of crude oil in and around the Yellowstone River, according to the state. Bridger Pipeline LLC has yet to determine the cause, but has claimed the public is in no immediate danger.

Cleanup crews were at work on Monday to address the mess, which emanated from a break in the Poplar Pipeline system about 9 miles upstream from Glendive in eastern Montana.

Bridger Pipeline said the rupture in the 12-inch steel pipe occurred early Saturday and lasted for one hour, dispensing no more than 1,200 barrels, or about 50,000 gallons, of crude oil.

Oil has been reported as far as 25 miles downstream from Glendive, according to company spokesman Bill Salvin. Some of the crude is trapped under ice.

"Oil has made it into the river," Salvin said, according to AP. "We do not know how much at this point."

While Bridger has claimed no immediate danger to the public, others are not so sure.

"I am not saying the water is unsafe. I am not saying it is safe. We are waiting for officials to arrive who can make that decision," said Mary Jo Gehnert, coordinator of the Dawson County Disaster and Emergency Services, according to KRTV.

The Montana Standard, meanwhile, reported that some local Glendive residents said there water could smell and taste oil in their drinking water.

Bridger initially estimated on Sunday that 300 to 1,200 barrels of oil spilled before the company shut down the pipeline.

“Our primary concern is to minimize the environmental impact of the release and keep our responders safe as we clean up from this unfortunate incident,” said Tad True, vice president of Bridger.

State officials said the impact of oil in the Yellowstone River may be reduced given much of the water in the spill area is frozen over.

“We think it was caught pretty quick, and it was shut down,” said Dave Parker, a spokesman for Gov. Steve Bullock. “The governor is committed to making sure the river is cleaned up.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Quality have responded to the area, Parker said.

Bridger Pipeline, a subsidiary of True Cos., based in Casper, Wyoming, said it was testing the water for contamination, according to AP.

The Poplar Pipeline runs from Canada to Baker, Montana, carrying crude from the Bakken oil region in Montana and North Dakota. The pipeline was last inspected in 2012, according to Salvin, and rests at least eight feet below the Yellowstone River at Glendive.

Bridger Pipeline also owns the Four Bears Pipeline System in North Dakota as well as the Parshall Gathering System and the Powder River System in Wyoming.

In July 2011, a pipeline operated by ExxonMobil Corp. released 63,000 gallons of oil along the Yellowstone River. The company is now facing state and federal fines of up to $3.4 million based on damages from the spill.

The company has said it has already spent $135 million on cleanup and related work, and it expects to pay out more money based on damages to natural resources in the area.

The spill comes amid the high-profile fight over the Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,179-mile project that would transport tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

The controversial pipeline, owned by energy giant TransCanada Corp., is expected to receive a vote soon in the US Senate, while the US State Department announced Friday that it is giving eight pertinent federal agencies two weeks “to provide their views on the national interest with regard to the Keystone XL Pipeline permit application,” a department official told CNN over the weekend.

Pipeline breach spills oil into Yellowstone River

The State Department is ultimately responsible for reviewing the pipeline’s permit application.

President Barack Obama has stated his opinion several times about the project, saying it would “not even have a nominal benefit” to American consumers.

“We’re going to let the process play itself out,” he told reporters at a December conference. “And the determination will be made in the first instance by the Secretary of State. But I won’t hide my opinion about this, which is that one major determinant of whether we should approve a pipeline shipping Canadian oil to world markets, not to the United States, is: does it contribute to the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change?”

His concerns echo those of other opponents, who say the pipeline would not result in much long-term job growth or energy security within the US while putting communities at risk for oil spills and other hazards to human and environmental health.

Supporters, including Republicans in Congress, claim the Keystone XL would provide an economic boost while adding to America’s energy independence.

Pending action in Washington follows a Nebraska Supreme Court decision earlier this month that overturned an earlier ruling that had held up construction of the Keystone XL.

The state’s highest court reversed a lower court’s 2012 ruling that had previously determined that Gov. Dave Heineman's decision to approve a path for the pipeline had violated Nebraska’s constitution. The latest decision in Nebraska means official approval has been granted in all states included in the pipeline’s path. - RT.

UPDATE: Cancer Causing Agent Found After Oil Spill in Yellowstone River

Traces of cancer-causing agent have been found in Montana’s drinking water.

Days after a pipeline owned by Bridger Pipeline Co. broke and spilled around 50,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Mont., elevated levels of benzene showed up in samples taken from a water treatment plant that serves about 6,000 residents.

Dawson County, Mont., in a statement on its website said, "While the elevated levels are above the level for long-term consumption, the scientists who reviewed the data at the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] have told the Unified Command that they do not see that domestic use of this water poses a short term public health hazard."

After being warned not to drink or cook with tap water, Eastern Montana residents stocked up on bottled water.

Residents line up to receive drinking water from a distribution center, Tuesday, January 20, 2015, in Glendive, Mont. A cancer-causing component of oil has
been detected in the Glendive drinking water supply, just downstream from a crude oil spill that entered the Yellowstone River.   © AP Photo/ Matthew Brown

A warning sign shows the location of a 12-inch oil pipeline owned by Bridger Pipeline Co. that spilled up to 50,000 gallons
of crude along the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Mont., Monday, Jan. 19, 2015.  © AP Photo/ Matthew Brown

Officials don’t know how long the situation will last.  They have not been able to come up with an effective way to recover the crude, which they say appears to be trapped beneath the ice-covered Yellowstone River.

The pipeline is part of the 42,000 barrel-per-day Poplar pipeline system that carries crude oil from producers in eastern Montana and North Dakota. The spill occurred about 5 miles upstream from Glendive.

Saturday's spill is the second involving the Yellowstone River since 2011. An ExxonMobil pipeline broke in July 2011, sending 63,000 gallons of oil into the river.

Company and city officials are working on decontaminating the water.

Meanwhile, Bridger Pipeline Co. will provide 10,000 gallons of drinking water to Glendive until the water is safe to drink again. - Sputnik.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Latest Report Of Volcanic Eruptions, Activity, Unrest And Awakenings – January 21, 2015!

January 21, 2015 - EARTH - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Colima (Western Mexico): A strong vulcanian-type explosion occurred this morning at 09:15 from the volcano's summit. An ash column rose more than 4 km above the summit, reaching eventually estimated approx. 29,000 ft (9 km) altitude and drifting NE.

Initial stage of the eruption at Colima this morning (photo: Sunao (Tom) Tobaru ‏@coloneltobaru / twitter)

A small pyroclastic flow that descended the steep slope of the volcano was generated during the explosion.

Ash fall occurred in Tuxpan, Zapotiltic and Ciudad Guzmán in the Jalisco district.

Hunga Ha'apai (Tonga):
A volcanic eruption taking place in the Pacific archipelago of Tonga has created a new island, though scientists say it could soon sink back into the ocean.

The volcano has been erupting for approximately a month in the ocean, 65 kilometers northwest of Tonga’s capital, Nukualofa, located on the main island of Tongatapu.

The island, which has not yet been named, is around 1.8 kilometers by 1.5 kilometers and rises around 100 meters above the sea.

FILE PHOTO: Smoke is seen after an underwater volcano erupted in Hunga Ha'apai, Tonga March 18, 2009.(Reuters / Matangi Tonga)

Better update your maps, Tonga now has 177 islands, thanks to volcano.

Amazing photos of an eruption that's spawned a new island in Tonga.

The Tongan volcano has created a substantial new island since it began erupting in December.

A volcano has created a new island in Tongo.

“It's quite an exciting site, you get to see the birth of an island. Visually it was quite spectacular, but there was no big sound coming with it, no boom. It was a bit eerie,”
said Nico Fournier, a New Zealand volcanologist, reported AP.

When the volcano stops erupting, the ocean will likely erode the Island in just a few months, as it is made mainly of loose scoria and not lava, which is much more durable. The ocean around the new island is fairly shallow, up to 200 meters deep.

Fournier added that the volcano was mainly emitting steam and that the small amount of ash it was emitting was rising only around 2 kilometers into the air.

As a result of the ash, flights in the vicinity of the Pacific archipelago were halted for several days last week.

Kliuchevskoi (Kamchatka): The eruption at the volcano has intensified during the past 24 hours.

Glow from Klyuchevskoy's eruption, note the lava flow on the upper flank

A sustained ash plume, generated by near-continuous strombolian explosions or lava fountains, is rising 1.5-2 km from the volcano's summit, reaching approx. 24,000 ft (7.2 km) altitude, and drifting WSW.

A lava flow is descending on the upper western flank now.

Aso (Kyushu): Ash-rich strombolian activity continues from the Nakadake crater with little changes over the past weeks.

Ash plume from a strombolian explosion in Aso's Nakadake crater this morning

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): The volcano remains in a comparably active phase (compared to most of past year), producing 1-5 vulcanian explosions per day.

Ash column from an eruption at Sakurajima yesterday

Ash plumes have been reaching 8-11,000 ft (2.4-3.3 km) altitude, i.e. 1-2.5 km above the crater.

Karymsky (Kamchatka): More explosions have occurred at the volcano. Tokyo VAAC reported ash plumes to 7-12,000 ft (2.1-3.6 km) elevation drifting SE.

Modis / Aqua satellite view over Kamchatka this morning

Zhupanovsky (Kamchatka, Russia): Mild ash emissions are visible on latest satellite images.

Today's clear weather over Kamchatka allowed MODIS satellites to take a shot with all 4 currently active volcanoes: Zhupanovsky, Karymsky (ash emissions from explosions), Klyuchevskoy (lava flow and ash plumes), and Shiveluch north of the latter, also with ash emissions.

Suwanose-jima (Ryukyu Islands): Intermittent, probably strombolian activity persists at the On-take crater. JMA reported a small explosion from the volcano yesterday, but bad weather conditions don't allow clear webcam images.

Bagana (Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea): A volcanic ash plume to estimated 12,000 ft extending 20 nautical miles to the NE was detected by Darwin VAAC this morning.

Soputan (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): The eruption of the volcano continues. The new lava flow seems to have descended almost to the base of the summit cone, accompanied by abundant glowing rockfalls. Intermittent explosions, although decreasing in intensity during the past 2 days, still produce ash emissions that reach 3-4 km altitude.

Soputan's activity yesterday (?) (Photo: Ist / Manado Express)

The volcano remains at level 3 (out of 4, "Siaga") and the Aviation Color Code at Red.

So far, the impact of the eruption has been limited to light ash fall in some nearby villages, mainly Silian and Lobu. No evacuations have been ordered.

Dukono (Halmahera)
Abundant ash emissions occur from the volcano. A plume stretching 50 km to the SW was seen on MTSAT imagery by Darwin VAAC this morning.

- Volcano Discovery | RT.

DISASTER PRECURSORS: Omen – The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior, Mass Animal Die-Offs, Appearance Of Rare Creatures And Warnings From Mother Nature!

January 21, 2015 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

Hundreds of dead mackerel found in Bras d'Or Lake, Canada

Dozens of dead mackerel were visible from the home of Annette Coffin, Monday morning. A week ago hundreds could be seen. 
© TC Media - Cape Breton Post

The discovery of hundreds of dead mackerel in the Bras d'Or Lake has area residents wondering what caused the fish to die.

Annette Coffin, a resident of Ben Eoin, first discovered dead fish in the water in front of her home a week ago.

"Last Monday morning, there were dead fish everywhere, on the shore and in the water," she said. "They were sort of under the ice - there was a light coating of ice, and there were tons of them on the beach, and when I came out and had a look they were everywhere."

Coffin said there were at least 200 dead mackerel visible from her waterfront home, which is located across from Ski Ben Eoin. On Monday, a week after Coffin made the initial discovery, there were still dozens of dead mackerel in the water near the shore, with seagulls and other birds circling the area as they have been for days.

Having just become a year-round resident of the area in the last few years, Coffin checked with some of her neighbours who also spotted lots of dead mackerel in the waters in front of their homes.

Coffin, who has since heard reports that the dead mackerel stretch at least as far as Big Pond, said everyone was surprised by the discovery.

"It was new to me but it was also new to some of the longtime neighbours," she said. "We have some people who think that with the change in the weather - the mild November - that they didn't make it to the ocean and that they were without oxygen and just basically froze to death when the cold weather hit. That's one theory."

Coffin said she contacted various fisheries officials to report the situation.

"I'm pretty sure they died of natural causes but we would like to be sure because this is a protected waterway," she said.

Coffin said it's her understanding an official came to the site last week and took a couple of the dead fish and water samples for testing.

An official with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans directed the Cape Breton Post to Environment Canada. No one from Environment Canada responded to calls for comment Monday.

According to the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture website, Atlantic mackerel are found in open ocean during the winter months where water temperatures are at or above 7 C, with the optimum temperature range for adults being from 9 C to 12 C. In the spring, as the water warms, schools of mackerel begin their migration to inshore waters, like the Bras d'Or Lake. - Cape Breton Post.

Weird fish with 'rodent-like teeth' found dead on Woolacombe beach, UK

A peculiar creature with 'rodent-like teeth' has washed up on a North Devon beach.

Delphine Sutherland found the dead fish while walking at Woolacombe and posted a photo of it on Facebook to try to find out what it was.

Ilfracombe Aquarium director Lawrence Raybone said it looked like a trigger fish, typically found around the coasts of Spain and France.

He said: "It's more commonly found by sea anglers during the summer months while this shoaling animal is heading north on its migration route.

"It has a powerful set of jaws with rodent-like teeth which it uses to great effect breaking the shells of crab and urchins."

The trigger fish owes its name to its long frontal spine to the dorsal fin locking in an upright position a bit like the safety-catch of a trigger.

This mechanism is used to wedge itself into rock crevices for safety and to express aggression or interest in a mate. - North Devon Journal.

Coyotes moving into downtown Chicago

Heidi Garbe, left, Associate Research Scientist at the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, checks the health of one of two coyote puppies found Tuesday, May 7,
2013 in a northwest suburban forest preserve near Chicago as Andy Burmesch, right, wildlife research technician, records data. 
© Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Coyotes usually try to avoid human contact.

Yet animal experts say an increasing number of coyotes are setting up shop in one of most dense urban labyrinths: downtown Chicago.

The seemingly incongruous marriage between coyotes and a people-packed habitat has occurred naturally, according to Stan Gehrt, an Ohio State University professor who specializes in coyote research in Cook County, which includes Chicago.

Gehrt said he and his team know of no deliberate efforts to release coyotes into the downtown area.

"They're all homegrown coyotes, all born and bred in Chicago," Gehrt said.

Gehrt, who runs the Urban Coyote Research program, said the coyote population swelled tenfold during the 1990s. Coyotes are very territorial and only will tolerate so many living in a certain area.

So some animals simply were pushed out of the suburbs and had no option but to live in the city, without the benefits of the wooded areas and semihidden corridors they favor.

Gehrt estimates that around 2,000 coyotes call downtown Chicago home, but it's likely more than that. He says they are thriving in what was considered a less-than-ideal living situation.

"Once they got there, they experienced higher reproduction, more food, and so now they have no reason to leave," he said. "People think animals living in that habitat are less fit or sick, and the opposite is actually true."

Part of the reason for their success in the city is innate: Coyotes are very adaptable animals. Recent research funded by a National Geographic committee allowed Gehrt and his team to outfit six coyotes with cameras and observe their behavior.

The footage revealed coyotes astutely waiting on passing cars so they could safely cross streets, using sidewalks and other walkways, and even raising a litter of coyote pups in the top of a parking deck.

Not that residents typically would see the creatures, similar in size to dogs. Coyotes are nocturnal and likely would be seen only when moving around to catch food, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

But by being out of the suburbs and rural areas, coyotes are safe from two major threats: trapping and hunting.

"As long as they don't get hit by a car, they actually can live for a pretty long time," Gehrt said.

So far, Gehrt says, the risk of coyotes living close to so many humans is minimal. But he and his researchers want to monitor their behavior in coming years to see whether these ultraversatile animals ever get a little too comfortable being around people.

They also are examining whether aggressive or shy coyotes are better at surviving downtown - the idea of natural selection.

In the meantime, experts say there is one easy way to keep coyotes at bay.

"Don't feed them, especially if you don't want them to be living in your area," Gehrt said. "If you have people feeding coyotes, that could accelerate any behavioral changes." - Chicago Tribune.

18-month-old boy killed by family dogs in Brooksville, Florida

An 18-month-old boy was killed by the family's two dogs Monday morning, according to Hernando County deputies.  © Laurie Davison

An 18-month-old boy was killed by the family's two dogs Monday morning, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies responded to the 16000 block of Cherokee Road in Brooksville at 10:58 a.m. regarding a dog bite to a small child. Hernando County Fire Rescue also responded to the scene.

"It is a terrible, terrible event," said Sheriff Al Nienhuis. "Obviously even those of us who work with death and dying and serious injuries every day, the firefighters on scene I talked to earlier, they were heartbroken and the deputies, as well."

Deputies said Declan Moss was playing on the porch with his grandfather watching him.

For some reason, the dogs attacked him and he died from those injuries.

The dogs are described as medium-sized, mixed breeds.

Neighbors said they always appeared to be friendly.

"The child's been out in the yard playing with the dogs before and when the grandfather told me what happened, I was shocked. The dogs normally got along with kids," said Charles Shorey, who lives next door.

Deputies said the child's grandfather, Gregory Moss, tried to pull the dogs off him but it was too late.

The family told authorities they've never had any problems with the dogs before and they have no idea what sparked the attack.

"I talked to the mother earlier and she was obviously devastated she wasn't here when it occurred but she was defending the dogs and said it's not necessarily the breed of dog," said Sheriff Nienhuis.

Shorey called the situation "heartbreaking."

"He was a beautiful kid. I feel so sorry for the mother," he said.

The sheriff's office said the dogs have been taken to the animal shelter. They aren't sure yet what will happen to them.

The investigation continues but so far no charges have been filed. - Bay News 9.

Vancouver Island man encounters cougar in Ucluelet living room

Ted Benson and his cat, Mushka, survived a close encounter with a cougar that followed the eight-year-old cat into Benson’s Ucluelet home. 
© Andrew Bailey, Western News

Ted Benson stares down wild animal that entered his home in pursuit of his pet cat

Ted Benson was getting ready for bed Tuesday night when his cat walked in, followed closely by a cougar.

"It was weird, there was no sound, no nothing, it was eerily quiet and just all of a sudden I see my cat squirt in and, next thing you know, all I hear is claws trotting across concrete," Benson said.

"My cat wasn't sprinting at super-human top-speed and neither was the cougar; it was like slow motion: 'Oh, there's my cat,' and then, 'Oh, there's a big cat trying to eat it."

The 37-year-old had opened the front door of his Norah Street home to air it out after having the wood stove burning all evening.

He went into his bedroom around 10:45 p.m. to plug in his cellphone and was walking back into the living room to close the door when he saw his house cat come in from outside.

"Then, all of a sudden, I heard claws on the cement floor and saw a big head lunging to eat my cat," he said. "I thought it was a dog originally; a cougar would be the last thing I'd expect."

Benson lunged at the animal to scare it away before discovering he was not dealing with a dog at all.

"As soon as I realized it was a cougar I just charged it and got as big as I could and tried to make loud bear sounds to scare it away," he said.

He said the situation unfolded too fast to think and his survival instincts took over.

"It was just instantaneous. I don't know what happened, I just automatically tried to charge it and acted big because it's in my domain, it's in my house, I've got to get this thing out of here," he said.

"If I had of thought about it I probably would have been attacked because I would have been scared ... it was already in predator mode going after my cat so if I had backed up it probably would have pounced." After his initial scare tactics failed to scare the cougar off, Benson upped his intimidation level.

"I got louder and tried to act more aggressive. ... I was just basically lunging at it; it was one or two feet away at most," he said.

"You can't act scared, you've got to definitely fight for your life. If you show you're bigger than them and shout and try to intimidate them, they don't want to get hurt. ... They want the easiest way to get a meal and not have to risk their lives." Remembering a tip he had heard from loggers, Benson kept constant eye contact with the animal.

"I remembered loggers saying that they used to have eyes painted on the back of their logger helmets ... a cougar won't attack if you're staring at it; I've heard many a logger say that."

The cougar eventually sauntered off and, as it walked away, Benson got a good look at its impressive stature.

"He kind of smoothly turned around, not in a hurry, and just trotted out," Benson said.

"As it was walking away I'm like, 'Holy, that's a big cat.' You could almost feel the physical muscle vibrations from the thing twitching with each step it's taking as it's leaving the house."

Once the cat was outside, Benson rushed to slam his door shut and saw Lesley Poirier of Ucluelet Taxi honking her taxi's horn in his driveway.

"Lesley stopping in the cab and honking probably helped a lot because that added a lot more noise and commotion where the cat was probably like 'OK, I've got to get out of here, this could be dangerous,'" Benson said.

He watched the departing cougar walk toward a second cougar that was sitting in his driveway. He believes the two cougars had been hunting together when they spotted his house cat.

The experience was so foreign to Benson that he had a hard time accepting it had actually happened until he heard Poirier's account of watching the cougar walk into his house. - The Vancouver Sun.

Deep sea prehistoric frilled shark caught by fishermen in Victoria, Australia

The two-metre long fish - known as a frilled shark - was captured near Lakes Entrance in Victoria

A terrifying prehistoric shark which has 300 razor sharp teeth has been caught by a group of fishermen in Australia.

The bizarre-looking creature was captured by the bemused fishermen near Lakes Entrance in Victoria.

The dark brown two-metre long fish is a frilled shark, which is also known as the 'living fossil'.
 Its origin dates back 80 million years and is only one of two species still alive. It is also believed to be the first time a human has seen the fish alive.

The shark has 300 razor sharp teeth and can grow up to 2 metres long. © Setfia

The fishermen had no idea what they had captured

Simon Boag, from the South East Trawl Fishing Association (SETFA) said the group of fishermen had not idea what they had caught.

Speaking to ABC News, he said: "It has 300 teeth over 25 rows, so once you're in that mouth, you're not coming out.

"Good for dentists, but it is a freaky thing. I don't think you would want to show it to little children before they went to bed."

The shark captured in 700 metres deep of water, which is unusual because they normally are found at 1,500 metres.

It is now believed the shark has been sold. - Daily Mirror.

Herd of deer take over a road after escaping from wildlife park in Japan

Herd of animals take over a road in Japan

Drivers in Japan had their daily commute interrupted - when a herd of deer took over the road.

The group of animals, who had escaped from the nearby wildlife park, decided to bed down for the night in the middle of a busy street.

Taking over one lane of the road, as well as the pavement and some patches of grass in the area, the deer seem unconcerned as the traffic advances towards them, and firmly stand (or lie on) their ground.

But for road users in this area, it isn't a particularly odd phenomenon, because the animals take over this section of the highway every year.

WATCH: Video shows herd of deer take over a road after escaping from wildlife park.

According to the YouTube user, who uploaded the six and a half minute clip, the deer make the annual trip out of the Nara Wildlife Park because it is cooler to rest by the roadside.

The rogue animals can often be seen stalling traffic in late July, when temperatures in the city of Nara have been known to reach 35 degrees celsius. - Daily Mirror.

Hundreds of dead fish appear in a canal in San Justo, Argentina

Hundreds of fish found dead in the San Carlos Canal.
Courtesy www.
Deep surprise caused the emergence of hundreds of dead fish in the Canal channel overflowed San Antonio, which captures the waters of a wide basin department San Justo, province of Santa Fe.

The cause of death is unclear but estimates could be affiliated with the presence of toxic substances in the watercourse.

On the origin of that element is speculated that could be related to the application of some chemical into productive fields surrounding the mighty drain, it would have been "washed" of the rain.

Another hypothesis is the heating of the water body by the effect of the intense sunshine of recent days, which would have altered the living conditions of the medium affects the metabolism of fish caused his death.

The San Antonio Canal is overwhelmed by the large volume of water received in the last days of abundant rains in the region, particularly on the southern fringe of the department San Justo.

For the natural slope of the land, the water recedes into the wide canyon that occupies much of the interprovincial boundary between Córdoba and Santa Fe.

The channel has two parallel arms whose capacity was overcome by the volume of water that entered, invading the fields on the sides of your track. As reported portal during the last weekend residents of El Fortin who frequent the area near the major regional drainage area warned the appearance of dead fish in cuentones running to the side of Route Province 13.

Moreover, the Municipal Water Varillenses detected in an area near the park Alvarez Luque an outcrop of groundwater that revealed subsurface saturation after rainfall of over 200 mm that fell last week.

As a palliative to this situation it is planned to place a breast pump to depress the web and minimize the effects that could lead to the healthiness, especially affect the operation of septic tanks in urban areas.

For a couple of decades in the Rods are used this mechanism to control the level of the web, gigantic problem now by the unusual amount of rainfall in recent times.

School isolated

The "José Hernández" Cologne Malbertina School again suffers the effects of flooding since the mass of water from the central and western department of San Justo flows into the rural area of ​​the town of Devoto, where is located the educational establishment.

Last year was due alter this cause the routine of classes for nearly two months
. - La Manana. [Translated]

Massive fish kill along a Canal in Fort Myers, Florida, United States

A massive fish kill along the Ten Mile canal in Fort Myers.

Fishermen are reporting they've seen hundreds of dead fish floating belly up along the water way.

The highest concentration of dead fish appear to be between Landing View Road by Page Field Airport and all the way to the north of Hanson Street.

The water may be a dark murky green, but clearly something is wrong along the Ten Mile Linear Canal.

Hunter Biggs like to go fishing along the canal just about every day.

"The smell is just really terrible and I'm really sorry about these fish," says Biggs.

He and his friends considered this canal one of the best kept secrets for fishermen.

Michael Rodgers is a fisherman who is a fan of the area, too.

'So if you go up there with the right bait your going to hook up in no time. We got snook, tarpon all kinds of good fish up in these canals that get stuck there," says Rodgers.

But today, the fish are no longer thriving. They are dying.

WATCH: Mysterious fish kill in Fort Myers.

Bikers and joggers point out the trail along the canal is less than desirable right now.

"I'm jogging up and down the linear park and all i can see is dead fish in the water and the vultures are everywhere. It's pretty disgusting," Boeckman says.

With giant fish piling up along the shore line, people who treasure this canal are concerned.

Rodgers says, "I'd like to find out what caused this, whether it is nature or industrial. This is just not right. We need someone to take a look at it."

Local fishermen sent an alert to Florida Fish and Wildlife and are even taking a sample of the water to give to wildlife officials.

Fort Myers public works office could not comment because the office was closed for the holiday. - FOX4.

Great white shark attacks Florida fisherman's boat 3 times

A shark attack was a near-miss for a fisherman in his boat while in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In a video that's buzzing on Facebook, a great white shark is seen circling a fisherman's boat and striking it three times.

My Panhandle reports that the incident happened Monday morning when Captain Scott Fitzgerald of Madfish Charters in Panama City, Florida was about eight miles out in the gulf when he felt a large bump on his boat.

The FWC has confirmed that the close call shark attack was caused by a great white. It bit down on the boat's trolling motor and Fitzgerald jumped up to pull the motor out of the shark's jaws. The drama wasn't over after that. The fisherman noticed the shark circling his boat and took a video of it with his cell phone. After the shark struck the boat three times, Fitzgerald decided it was time to vacate the area.

WATCH: Great White Shark Encounter

"He had the entire trolling motor in his mouth, and was moving it side to side, and it was shaking the boat," Fitzgerald says.

According to the report, the FWC is investigating what prompted the shark to attack the boat in the manner it did.

In Australia, a great white shark attacked a boat that contained two fisherman in it. The incident occurred about an hour from Blacksmiths Beach, Yahoo News reports.

The shark circled and swam underneath the fisherman's small boat before its fin hit the bottom of it. One of the fishermen said if the boat had been any smaller, it would have taken in more water after the apparent shark attack on the boat. - Inquisitr.

Mysterious Goo Blamed in San Francisco Bay Area Bird Deaths

The death of 100 birds in the San Francisco Bay Area has baffled wildlife officials who say the creatures' feathers were coated with a mysterious substance that looks and feels like rubber cement.

The birds began turning up on a beach Friday. Necropsies and lab tests will be done Tuesday, but results may not be known until later this week, California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan said.

"We've never seen anything quite like it," Hughan said. "So it's a mystery for the moment."

Volunteers were slogging through mud and bog in the foggy, cold weather looking for dead surf scoters, buffleheads and horned grebes. The birds each weigh about 4 pounds and are roughly the size of a duck.

Dead birds have turned up on shorelines, beaches and trails in the suburbs of San Leandro, Alameda and Hayward.

"Volunteers are combing every inch of shoreline with their eyes and binoculars, running down the beach with a 20-foot pole with a net attached to it trying to save a bird," Hughan said.

International Bird Rescue Interim Executive Director Barbara Callahan said she has never seen anything like the sticky gray goo in 20 years in the business.

"The goo appears to be light gray in color and to me looks like rubber cement that's been played with all day and is sort of dirty," she said. "It has very little smell."

Officials were investigating whether the substance could be polyisobutylene, which is sticky, odorless, largely colorless, and killed thousands of seabirds in the United Kingdom in 2013.

"While on its face, this substance seems very similar to reports from the U.K. two years ago, we won't know definitively until lab tests are completed," Callahan said.

Officials believe the culprit substance was dumped into the San Francisco Bay and is not a public health or safety risk to humans. Callahan said it's likely a man-made product, meaning a pipeline might have burst or someone intentionally dumped the substance.

The International Bird Rescue center in Fairfield has received 280 birds and 242 are alive and receiving medical care and stabilization, cleaning and reconditioning. Baking soda and vinegar is used to loosen the sticky substance before washing it off with dish soap,The cost of the bird rescue is running between $7,000 and $8,000 each day with the use of full-time staff members and about 40 volunteers. - ABC News.

PARADIGM SHIFT: Relationship Crisis - Russia And United States Nuclear Material Security Cooperation Discontinued!

Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin

January 21, 2015 - UNITED STATES / RUSSIA
- Moscow and Washington have officially ceased 20 years of co-operation over securing storage of nuclear material in Russia, US media reports. Russia’s Rosatom warned that no new contracts with the US were expected in 2015.

The declaration on stopping co-operation in the nuclear material protection sphere was signed on December 16, The Boston Globe reported on Monday. The newspaper obtained a three-page document that draws a line under 21 years of fruitful cooperation between the two nations’ nuclear agencies.

The decisive talks took place in Moscow over a month ago, but the outcome remained secret until early this week.

The meeting was attended by reportedly well over 40 experts from both sides, representing various industries dealing with the use of fission material. According to the Globe, the American delegation consisted of officials from the US State Department, Department of Energy, the Pentagon and its nuclear weapons labs. The Russian host party was made up of officials representing dismantling entities that varied from arms control to outgoing nuclear submarines’ disposal.

Russia ends US nuclear security alliance that worked to keep stockpiles secure 

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US assisted Russia in securing its huge stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium, as well as financing dismantling nuclear weapons.

Over the two decades of the Cooperative Threat Reduction programs, the US reportedly spent $2 billion, with $100 million allocated for 2015 and plans to continue the programs until at least 2018. The money was spent on creating a computerized record keeping system, personnel training, inventory of fission materials, and withdrawal of fission materials from former Soviet republics.

Starting from January 1, joint security operations at Russia’s 18 civilian facilities with weapons-grade nuclear material have been discontinued, as well as further security upgrades in 7 ‘closed nuclear cities’ hosting military and civilian nuclear laboratories, institutes and nuclear research centers.

Russian authorities scotched America’s plans to install radiation sensors in the country’s airports, seaports and border crossings that would monitor Russia’s fission material circulation to “catch potential nuclear smugglers,” according to the official version.

Russia also stopped work on diluting its weapons-grade plutonium and uranium stock into a “less dangerous” form, previously conducted at two facilities.

Installation of high-tech surveillance systems at 13 nuclear material storage buildings in Russia has also been called off.

An employee looks at equipment in a new facility at a nuclear waste disposal plant in the town of Fokino in Russia's far-eastern Primorsky region
(Reuters / Yuri Maltsev)

“They need continuous attention and international cooperation,” said Siegfried S. Hecker, a former head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who has traveled to Russia more than 40 times since 1992. “You cannot afford to isolate your country, your own nuclear complex, from the rest of the world,” Hecker stressed, as cited by BG.

Former Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who has fostered and monitored Russia-US fission material control programs over the years, questioned Russia’s expertise in keeping track of its vast reserves of nuclear material.

“The housekeeping by the Russians has not been comprehensive,” Lugar said in an interview. “There had been work done [with the US] hunting down nuclear materials. This is now terminated.”

At the same time, David Huizenga, nonproliferation expert at the National Nuclear Security Administration, who led the US delegation to Moscow in December, said: “We are encouraged that they stated multiple times that they (Russians) intend to finish this work.”

The crisis in Russia–US relations over developments in Ukraine has been deepening throughout 2014, and has finally affected the business of international control over radioactive materials.

The first signs of discord were visible months ago, in August, when BG headlined: ‘US-Russia work on nuclear materials in jeopardy’.

The head of Russia’s state nuclear monopoly Rosatom, Sergey Kirienko, warned in November that no new contracts with the US are planned for 2015. A month later, Kirienko reported that international sanctions on Russia had failed to disrupt any Rosatom contracts planned as far ahead as 2040.

“None of our partners abandoned the realization of signed contract and deals,” Kirienko said, stressing that all decisions made in the nuclear energy sphere are long-term and lie outside politics and political cycles. - RT.

CYBER WARS: "Your Home Is The Battlefield" - The NSA's Future Cyber Warfare Will Use Internet Connected Devices As WEAPONS PLATFORM!

World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.”
– Marshall McLuhan, Culture is Our Business, 1970

January 21, 2015 - TECHNOLOGY
- New Snowden documents recently revealed that the NSA is getting ready for future digital wars as the agency postures itself in an aggressive manner towards the world. “The Five Eyes Alliance,” a cooperation between United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, is working hard to develop these weapons of Cyber Warfare.

So called “D” weapons, as reported by Der Spiegel, will paralyze computer networks and infrastructure that they monitor. Water supplies, factories, airports, as well as the flow of money are all potential targets.

The Der Spiegel report does not mention the wider issue of the expanding network of everyday objects and appliances that are connected to the Internet. According to CIA chief David Petraeusthe Internet of Things will have a monumental impact on “clandestine tradecraft.” Richard Adhikariwrites for Tech News World that the Internet of Things is “…ripe for exploitation by the NSA.”

Consumer appliances are now becoming activated and “smart.” RFID chips and wireless Internet connections enable devices like televisions, refrigerators, printers, and computers to communicate with each other and generally make life easier for us. This comes at a price, however. Your privacy is eliminated.

The NSA’s Cyber Weapons program will undoubtedly exploit these devices, which include household appliances, and, frighteningly, medical devices that can be hacked. Pacemakers can be remotely stopped, and insulin pumps can be made to deliver a lethal dose of insulin. With the advent of implantable devices that communicate via Wifi, the potential for manipulation and hacking is growing exponentially.

If the developers of these Internet-connected devices don’t willingly work with the NSA to place back-doors in the technology, the agency is hard at work trying to find and exploit them.

The NSA's mass surveillance is just the beginning. Documents from Edward Snowden show that the
intelligence agency is arming America for future digital wars.

Insurance companies, now following the command-and-control structure of Obamacare, are already anticipating this surveillance infrastructure as a means to monitor individuals’ behavior. Spying on eating habits will be easy with RFID-enabled refrigerators.

Think the idea of your appliances spying on you is crazy? According to Samsung’s new privacy policy, their smart TV can monitor your conversation. The policy states, “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

More revelations are made every day regarding government surveillance, and the fact that it is unable to stop terror attacks. As time goes on it will be readily apparent to the masses that the monumental surveillance architecture that will catalog and track the population is nothing more than an attempt at full spectrum domination.  - Global Research.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Gerald Celente Declares That A Worldwide Panic Is Beginning And "There Is No Recovery"; Central Bank Prophet Fears QE Warfare Pushing Financial System Out Of Control; Saxo Bank Warns "This Is The Endgame For Central Banks"; After Shock Announcement, More Surprises To Come From Swiss National Bank; More Job Losses At BP, Schlumberger And Baker Hughes!

January 21, 2015 - GLOBAL ECONOMY
- The screenshot above from the Facebook page of Trends Forecaster Gerald Celente tells us what the mainstream media won't tell us, the looks on the faces of the business traders in the linked King World News story tells us the rest; the shocking move by the Swiss National Bank is only the BEGINNING of a much larger global meltdown; there is no recovery; we're heading towards a global economic collapse. In the video below featuring Gerald Celente with Rick Wiles on TruNews, Celente gives us his full analysis for the year 2015 beginning at the 14 minute mark.

Gerald Celente: 'Worldwide Panic Beginning - There Is No Recovery"

Rick begins the program by warning that the wheels are beginning to come off the cart with the Swiss Bank decision, saying that traders were totally unprepared for what was coming: "Complete carnage" one trader said. Sharing that it's not every day that a country's central bank pulls the rug out from under so many feet, "clearly people are worried that there's something bigger afoot."

Warning us that what we're watching now is only the beginning of the coming 'economic tsunami', we're also asked why the mainstream media is putting out stories about economic recovery while one of Bloomberg's lead stories is called "Mayhem Erupts On Trading Floors After Swiss Central Banks Remove Cap On Franc."

From Celente at King World News:
So the worst is yet to come and there is no way out.  And I would suggest to people as they look around the world at the geopolitical problems that are going on and how so many countries are becoming police states — under the guise of terrorism — that they ask themselves:  Are these countries really afraid of terrorism or are they afraid of their own populations that are losing everything and will take to the streets?  Because that’s what we see coming.  We see a global collapse.  There’s no recovery — it’s been a coverup.”

LISTEN: Celente's analysis of 2015.

- All News Pipeline.

Central bank prophet fears QE warfare pushing world financial system out of control

The warnings come just as the European Central Bank prepares a blitz of bond purchases at a crucial meeting on Thursday Photo: AP

The economic prophet who foresaw the Lehman crisis with uncanny accuracy is even more worried about the world's financial system going into 2015.

Beggar-thy-neighbour devaluations are spreading to every region. All the major central banks are stoking asset bubbles deliberately to put off the day of reckoning. This time emerging markets have been drawn into the quagmire as well, corrupted by the leakage from quantitative easing (QE) in the West.

"We are in a world that is dangerously unanchored," said William White, the Swiss-based chairman of the OECD's Review Committee. "We're seeing true currency wars and everybody is doing it, and I have no idea where this is going to end."

Mr White is a former chief economist to the Bank for International Settlements - the bank of central banks - and currently an advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He said the global elastic has been stretched even further than it was in 2008 on the eve of the Great Recession. The excesses have reached almost every corner of the globe, and combined public/private debt is 20pc of GDP higher today. "We are holding a tiger by the tail," he said.

He warned that QE in Europe is doomed to failure at this late stage and may instead draw the region into deeper difficulties. "Sovereign bond yields haven't been so low since the 'Black Plague': how much more bang can you get for your buck?" he told The Telegraph before the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"QE is not going to help at all. Europe has far greater reliance than the US on small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and they get their money from banks, not from the bond market," he said.

"Even after the stress tests the banks are still in 'hunkering down mode'. They are not lending to small firms for a variety of reasons. The interest rate differential is still going up," he said.

The warnings come just as the European Central Bank prepares a blitz of bond purchases at a crucial meeting on Thursday. Most ECB-watchers expect QE of around €500bn now that the eurozone is already in deflation. Even the Bundesbank is struggling to come with fresh reasons to oppose it.

The psychological potency of this largesse will depend on whether the ECB opts for shock-and-awe concentration or trickles out the stimulus slowly. It also depends on the exact mechanism used to conduct QE, a loose term at best.

ECB president Mario Draghi hopes that bond purchases will push money out into the broader economy through a "wealth effect", but critics fear this will be worse than useless if it leads to an asset bubble without gaining traction on the real economy. Classic moneratists say the ECB may end up spinning its wheels should it merely try to expand the money base.

Mr White said QE is a disguised form of competitive devaluation. "The Japanese are now doing it as well but nobody can complain because the US started it," he said.

"There is a significant risk that this is going to end badly because the Bank of Japan is funding 40pc of all government spending. This could end in high inflation, perhaps even hyperinflation.

"The emerging markets got on the bandwagon by resisting upward pressure on their currencies and building up enormous foreign exchange reserves. The wrinkle this time is that corporations in these countries - especially in Asia and Latin America - have borrowed $6 trillion in US dollars, often through offshore centres. That is going to create a huge currency mismatch problem as US rates rise and the dollar goes back up."

Mr White's warnings are ominous. He acquired great authority in his long years at the BIS arguing that global central banks were falling into a trap by holding real rates too low in the 1990s, effectively stealing growth from the future through "intertemporal" effects.

He argues that this created a treacherous dynamic. The authorities kept having to push rates lower with the trough of each cycle, building up ever greater imbalances, in an ineluctable descent to the "zero bound", where monetary levers stop working properly.

Under his guidance, the BIS annual reports over the three years before the Lehman crisis were a rising crescendo of alarm calls at a time when other global watchdogs were asleep. His legendary report in June 2008 openly discussed whether the world was on the cusp of events that might prove as dangerous and intractable as the Great Depression, as it indeed it was.

Mr White said central banks have been put in an invidious position, compelled to respond to a deep economic disorder that is beyond their power. The latest victim is the Swiss National Bank, which was effectively crushed last week by greater global forces as it tried to repel safe-haven flows into the franc. The SNB was damned whatever it tried to do. "The only choice they had was to take a blow to the left cheek, or to the right cheek," he said.

He deplores the rush to QE as an "unthinking fashion". Those who argue that the US and the UK are growing faster than Europe because they carried out QE early are confusing "correlation with causality". The Anglo-Saxon pioneers have yet to pay the price. "It ain't over until the fat lady sings. There are serious side-effects building up and we don't know what will happen when they try to reverse what they have done."

The painful irony is that central banks may have brought about exactly what they most feared by trying to keep growth buoyant at all costs, he argues, and not allowing productivity gains to drive down prices gently as occurred in episodes of the 19th century. "They have created so much debt that they may have turned a good deflation into a bad deflation after all." - Telegraph.

Saxo Bank Warns "This Is The Endgame For Central Banks"

The Swiss National Bank's removal of the franc's peg to the euro last week had far-reaching consequences because we were all taken by surprise. The fact that it would (and should) happen eventually was not lost on the market, but the SNB was as late as last week end talking tough and telling the market that the floor was an integral part of Swiss monetary policy – until it suddenly wasn't any more.

I fully understand the rationale for the move (Jakobsen: SNB move is rationality itself) but like most of the market I'm extremely disappointed in the SNB’s communication and handling of the issue, but that’s the bigger lesson: Why is it most people trust or bother to listen to central banks?

Major central banks claim to be independent, but they are totally under the control of politicians.
Many developed countries have tried to anchor an independent central bank to offset pressure from politicians and that’s all well and good in principle until the economy spins out of control – at zero-bound growth and rates central banks and politicians becomes one in a survival mode where rules are broken and bent to fit an agenda of buying more time.

Just looks to the Eurozone crisis over the past eight years – if not in the letter of law, then in spirit, every single criterion of the EU treaty has been violated by the need to “keep the show on the road”. No, the conclusion has to be that there are no independent central banks anywhere! There are some who pretend to be, but not a single one operates in true independence.

That’s the reality of the moment. I would not be surprised to find that the Swiss Government overruled the SNB last week and the interesting question for this week is of course if the German government will overrule the Bundesbank on quantitative easing to save face for the Eurozone? Probably….

The new dimension of central banking is the “communications policy” which is not only the poorest policy but also only really a front for “talking the market into believing our dream” without any further action.

Look at the Federal Reserve forward-looking guidance:
They are constantly over-optimistic on growth and inflation. Constantly. The joke doing the rounds is that to get the proper GDP and inflation forecast you merely take the Fed's own forecasts and deduct 100-150 bps from both growth and inflation targets and voila! You have best track record over time.

Studies shows that the business cycle was less volatile before the Federal Reserves was born.
The birth of the Fed meant leverage (gearing) which of course has resulted in bigger and bigger collapses of the economy, but with a trend of major crashes increasing in frequency: 1987 stock crash, 1992 ERM crisis, 1993 Mexico “Tequila crisis”, 1998 Asian crisis and the Russian default, 2000 NASDAQ bubble, 2008 stock market crash, and now 2015 SNB, ECB QE, Russia and China and what's the next crisis?

I don’t know, but clearly the world of finance and the flow of money is increasing its velocity meaning considerably more “volatility”.
By the way, the only guarantee I issued at the end of 2014 looking into 2015 was:

Where does this all bring me?
The SNB's action was really the culmination of bigger and bigger moves at the end of a low volatility paradigm. I have been trading currencies for more than 30 years, Thursday’s move was single biggest move I have experienced in one market. But let’s look at other remarkable moves this year:

Oil has dropped more than 50%
Source: Bloomberg

Russian ruble falls off a USD cliff
Source: Bloomberg

EURNOK had it biggest move in many, many years (15% in space of a few days)

Source: Bloomberg

EURCHF move in comparison:
Source: Bloomberg

Even overnight, the Shanghai index dropped more than 7% – the biggest move in years on margin calls:

Source: Bloomberg

The lesson is clearly that the market has been trying to tell us for a long time that volatility was a function of an economic model of suspending the business cycle. When you suspend an economic system such as the world markets for an extended period you ultimately release more energy when the business cycle starts anew.

We started the year with Maximum Dislocation of the market in a model of planned economies.
We have bond and credit spreads at historic lows, currencies at extremes, equities and real estate in bubble-like valuations, and a geopolitical risk which keeps rising as seen this year in Paris, last year in Ukraine and also the rise of ISIS.

The US dollar is putting pressure not only on US itself but also the world.
A journalist asked me last week: Who benefits from a stronger US dollar?  I still owe him an answer because very few benefit. In fact the world has two growth engines: The US and emerging markets. Both are pretty much US dollar economies. Debt (US dollar funding) in EM has exploded to an extent that many including the World Bank now call a for risk of “Perfect Storm in EM”. Both US and EM became credit junkies over the QE-to-infinity era in the US. The law of unintended consequences.

Another unintended consequence was that energy was the trigger for the crisis in 2008 as rising energy prices took five trillion US dollars out of the economy – which became the catalyst for the Eurozone crisis and US banking bailout. Now eight year later the drop in energy has broad spillover effects as the wealth is transferred from sovereign wealth funds in resource countries to consumers. 

That’s good for Main Street and bad for Wall Street as the “bid” in the assets disappear as these sovereign buyers needs to draw down on their wealth instead of buying overseas assets. Similarly, will a direct impact from SNB not having a floor be less NASDAQ buying which famously SNB had in its portfolio?

Meanwhile the fact that volatility is rising, the fact that we see early signs of the business cycle being activated, is good for the real economy. It’s a sign of money flowing from the 20% QE induced overvalued listed companies to the 80% SMEs (the real economy) as increase in volatility will make expected return less in “paper money” and more attractive in tangible assets and good business.

The world should be concerned when volatility is too low, it’s a sign of the market not allocating money correctly. The one lesson everyone needs to learn is that for a market based economy to function you need to allocate capital to the highest marginal real return of capital. Not to the most politically connected.

When history of 2015 is written I have no doubt that the Paris terror act and SNB's removal of the floor will stand out – both happened less than two weeks into 2015, although that is random, what is not random is that market volatility has been rising directly and indirectly through a misallocation of capital directed by the central bank system.

Many central banks will envy the SNB for its move last week, as it at least tries to regain some control of its future, but the conclusion remains: central banks have as a group lost credibility and when the ECB starts QE this week the beginning of the end for central banks is completed. They are running out of time – that’s the real real bottom line: the SNB ran out of time, the ECB will runout of time this week, and the Fed, Bank of Japan and the Bank of England ran out of time in 2014.

What comes now is a new reality
– the SNB move was a true paradigm shift – we can no longer look at central banks, the markets and extend-and-pretend in the same light as we did last Wednesday (the day before the SNB pounced).

The king is dead, long live the King.
- Zero Hedge.

The Swiss National Bank Decision Was A Shock, And There Are More Surprises Ahead

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Last week, the Swiss National Bank shocked markets by announcing that it would abandon its currency peg of 1.2 Swiss francs to 1 euro.

Following that move, the franc rapidly appreciated in value, gaining as much as 41% against the euro at one point, and put entities ranging from currency brokers to hedge funds under major duress.

In a weekly strategy report on Tuesday, however, Oppenheimer's John Stoltzfus writes that while the SNB's decision was a shock, it would not be the last surprise investors face in the market.

"We believe the SNB's action last week will ultimately be seen in the rearview mirror of market history as simply part of a process that came ahead of the launch of 'QE ECB style,'" Stoltzfus writes. "For now, we believe investors should remain focused on their goals and objectives, not losing sight of them even as more surprises likely lie ahead." 

The market is still digesting both the implications of the SNB's decision and the reasoning behind it.

On Monday, Business Insider's Tomas Hirst took a look at what may have been motivating the SNB's decision, namely that as the euro has weakened ahead of an anticipated quantitative easing bond-buying program, the SNB's peg became more and more expensive to defend.

Stoltzfus adds that the market seems to be taking the SNB's decision as "increasing the likelihood" that the ECB will announce a QE program at its policy meeting on Thursday, a program Stoltzfus writes "could well lead to a positive outcome and a sustainable economic recovery in the eurozone parallel to that of the US's process of recovery into expansion."

And so as tends to happen in markets, the primary focus has already moved away from the SNB and toward the ECB meeting this week — or whatever surprises the future holds. - Yahoo.

First Schlumberger Fires 9,000; Now Baker Hughes Unleashes 7,000 More Layoffs

Another day, another unambiguously bad announcement from America's bettered energy sector which are bolting down ahead of the crude storm, and firing thousands. Last week it was Schlumberger which announced it would fire 9000, today it is Baker Hughes which just warned it too will hand out about 7000 pink slips in the first quarter. And as a reminder, when it comes to comp: each Baker Hughes job is equivalent to about 10 waiter and bartender jobs, which have been the basis of this "recovery."
What happens next? If indeed confused, then please reread "Houston, You Have A Problem" - Texas Is Headed For A Recession Due To Oil Crash, and promptly thereafter "Which States Stand To Lose The Most From The Crude Collapse."

- Zero Hedge.

BP cuts 1,000 jobs at refinery

BP announced today it was cutting around 1,000 jobs at a huge oil refinery.

The company said the decision followed a 10-week review of the Grangemouth refinery and petrochemical complex in Scotland.

The news was also blamed on the depressed chemicals market and "a series of operational problems".

The company said in a statement: "The move is part of a series of initiatives and investments to radically improve the plant's ability to compete in a increasingly difficult international refining and chemicals environment."

It said the reorganisation would streamline Grangemouth's three main businesses - refining, petrochemicals and the Forties pipeline terminal - into a single organisation and was "designed to simplify site operations while increasing liability and efficiency".

As part of the plan the company will also shut down an older polyethylene production unit, Rigidex 2, within the chemicals plant, and the oldest and smallest of the three crude distillation units, CDU 1, in the refinery.

The company also said it would make "every effort to relocate people with the appropriate skills to other BP locations, or to provide retraining, jobs search assistance and severance packages".

Colin Maclean, director of the complex near Falkirk, said: "This is a very difficult time for everyone working at Grangemouth and we are committed to handling it as openly and sensitively as possible.

"However, we have no choice but to move ahead with this transformation if we are to ensure that Grangemouth remains safe, modern and equipped to prosper in an increasingly competitive global market place so that we can safeguard its long term future."

The company said it was in discussion with Falkirk Council and Scottish Enterprise (Forth Valley) "to address actions in support of people and in support of broadening and enhancing the local economy".

BP has also held initial discussions with the Health and Safety Executive and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) about the planned changes at Grangemouth.

The company statement went on: "The restructuring is fully consistent with the recommendations of the special BP taskforce that carried out a major safety review of the site's assets and operations following a series of incidents last year." - Daily Mail.