Wednesday, January 20, 2016

WEATHER PHENOMENON: The Effects Of Magnetic Polar Migration - Unusual Cold Air Waterspouts Seen Off Lake Michigan?!

A cold air funnel spotted off the Lake Michigan shoreline.

January 20, 2016 - LAKE MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES - Lake-effect snow and arctic air have both made their presence known during the last several days but another, more unique weather phenomenon was also witnessed.

Viewer Debbie Maglothin snapped a few pictures of cold air waterspouts spinning not too far from the Ludington State Park beach.

Funnels of any kind are hard enough to spot in west Michigan, but cold air funnels are even more unique.

How does a cold air waterspout form?

- A drastic temperature difference between the air an water is required. In the most recent event, water temperatures were near 32 degrees while air temperatures were closer to 10 degrees.

- A steady breeze needs to be present to jump-start the process of evaporation.

- In most cases, this is also how lake-effect snow is produced but in some unique situations, a slight twisting motion will occur in the steam above the water. If it is maintained long enough, eventually weak funnels will develop.

WATCH: Cold air funnels spotted on Lake Michigan.

- Detroit Free Press.

GLOBAL COASTAL EVENT: Magnetic Polar Migration And Weather Anomalies - "Extremely Rare" Monster Waves Flood Havana, Cuba [PHOTOS + VIDEO]


January 20, 2016 - HAVANA, CUBA - The ocean was so furious that giant waves flooded the Malecon in Havana on January 17, 2016.

Although in the middle of the ocean, such extreme weather is extremely rare in Cuba.

The storm was so strong that the stone parapet could not hold back the assault of giant waves.








As a result, parts of Havana, the capital of Cuba and some coastal districts were flooded.

Here a first video of these Havana's waves:

WATCH: Huge waves hit Cuba.

However, some of the local residents took the storm as an adventure and started to photograph the wave standing right in the water.

Such an extreme sea has not been seen since at least a decade.

The power of nature and the power of the ocean is devastating and beautiful at the same time. - Strange Sounds.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Major Seismic Uptick - Strong Earthquake Frequency Dramatically Increasing For January In Oklahoma!

January 20, 2016 - OKLAHOMA, UNITED STATES - It has been no secret that the occurrence of earthquakes have increased over the last few years in Oklahoma.

In 2015, the state recorded 857 quakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater, it was 585 in 2014 and 106 in 2013.

Recently, strong earthquakes that are known to cause damage are increasing dramatically.

The occurrence of damaging 4.0 or greater quakes is now seeing a dramatic uptick.

Through the first 19 days of January, the state has recorded eight quakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater.

Eight quakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater is now the new state record for a single month.

The previous record for quakes of this magnitude was seven occurrences in November, 2015.

Oklahoma recorded 30 earthquakes of 4.0 or greater in 2015, 15 in 2014, only 3 in 2013.

Six of the eight quakes this month have occurred in Woods County in northern Oklahoma. - KOCO.

Tectonic Summary - Earthquakes in the Stable Continental Region

Natural Occurring Earthquake Activity
Most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains has infrequent earthquakes. Here and there earthquakes are more numerous, for example in the New Madrid seismic zone centered on southeastern Missouri, in the Charlevoix-Kamouraska seismic zone of eastern Quebec, in New England, in the New York - Philadelphia - Wilmington urban corridor, and elsewhere. However, most of the enormous region from the Rockies to the Atlantic can go years without an earthquake large enough to be felt, and several U.S. states have never reported a damaging earthquake.

Earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains, although less frequent than in the West, are typically felt over a much broader region than earthquakes of similar magnitude in the west. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area more than ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast. It would not be unusual for a magnitude 4.0 earthquake in eastern or central North America to be felt by a significant percentage of the population in many communities more than 100 km (60 mi) from its source. A magnitude 5.5 earthquake in eastern or central North America might be felt by much of the population out to more than 500 km (300 mi) from its source. Earthquakes east of the Rockies that are centered in populated areas and large enough to cause damage are, similarly, likely to cause damage out to greater distances than earthquakes of the same magnitude centered in western North America.

Most earthquakes in North America east of the Rockies occur as faulting within bedrock, usually miles deep. Few earthquakes east of the Rockies, however, have been definitely linked to mapped geologic faults, in contrast to the situation at plate boundaries such as California's San Andreas fault system, where scientists can commonly use geologic evidence to identify a fault that has produced a large earthquake and that is likely to produce large future earthquakes. Scientists who study eastern and central North America earthquakes often work from the hypothesis that modern earthquakes occur as the result of slip on preexisting faults that were formed in earlier geologic eras and that have been reactivated under the current stress conditions. The bedrock of Eastern North America is, however, laced with faults that were active in earlier geologic eras, and few of these faults are known to have been active in the current geologic era. In most areas east of the Rockies, the likelihood of future damaging earthquakes is currently estimated from the frequencies and sizes of instrumentally recorded earthquakes or earthquakes documented in historical records.

Induced Seismicity
As is the case elsewhere in the world, there is evidence that some central and eastern North America earthquakes have been triggered or caused by human activities that have altered the stress conditions in earth's crust sufficiently to induce faulting. Activities that have induced felt earthquakes in some geologic environments have included impoundment of water behind dams, injection of fluid into the earth's crust, extraction of fluid or gas, and removal of rock in mining or quarrying operations. In much of eastern and central North America, the number of earthquakes suspected of having been induced is much smaller than the number of natural earthquakes, but in some regions, such as the south-central states of the U.S., a significant majority of recent earthquakes are thought by many seismologists to have been human-induced.

Even within areas with many human-induced earthquakes, however, the activity that seems to induce seismicity at one location may be taking place at many other locations without inducing felt earthquakes. In addition, regions with frequent induced earthquakes may also be subject to damaging earthquakes that would have occurred independently of human activity. Making a strong scientific case for a causative link between a particular human activity and a particular sequence of earthquakes typically involves special studies devoted specifically to the question. Such investigations usually address the process by which the suspected triggering activity might have significantly altered stresses in the bedrock at the earthquake source, and they commonly address the ways in which the characteristics of the suspected human-triggered earthquakes differ from the characteristics of natural earthquakes in the region.


DELUGE: Heavy Rainfall Swamps Ecuador - Widespread Flooding In Manabi And Guayas; Flood Water Up To 5 Feet Deep In The Streets; Chaos On The Roads; Several Buildings Collapse In The Flor de Bastion Area! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

Flooding in Ecuador. © Xavier Castro

January 20, 2016 - ECUADOR - Heavy rain that began on 19 January 2016 has caused flooding in the Manabí and Guayas provinces of Ecuador.

Manabí Province

In the province of Manabí, the heavy rain began yesterday, 19 January, 2016. Some of the worst affected areas are in the north of the province, in particular the town of Chone, where flood water in the town's streets is up to 1.5 metres (5 feet) deep. Houses and other buildings have been flooded and schools have been closed as a result.

The rain caused surface flooding within a few hours in the town of Chone.

Local media say that since then the Garrapata river, a tributary of the Chone river, has overflowed, affecting farm land in rural areas

© Xavier Castro

© Xavier Castro

© Xavier Castro

© Xavier Castro

Surface flooding has also been reported in the provincial capital, Portoviejo.

Elsewhere in the province, the cantons of El Carmen, Flavio Alfaro, Bolívar, Junín, Tosagua, San Vicente, Sucre, Jama and Pedernales have also been badly affected.

Guayas ProvinceHeavy rain also caused flooding in Guayaquil, the country's largest and the most populous city with around 2.69 million people.

During a 24 hour period between 19 and 20 January 2016, 50.9 mm of rain was recorded in the city, according to figures from Instituto Nacional Meteorologia e Hidrologia (INAMHI).

The heavy rain coincided with the high tide of the Guayas River, according to the Instituto Oceanográfico de la Armada (Inocar).

WATCH: Flooding in Ecuador.

Flooding has caused chaos on the busy roads of the city and caused damage to buildings.

Ecuador's risk management secretariat, Secretaría de Gestión de Riesgos del Ecuador (SGR), reported via Twitter that several buildings have collapsed in the Flor de Bastión area of the city.

The period of heavy rain in Ecuador comes in what has been a fairly dry January in the country.

According to figures from INOCAR, accumulated rainfall levels for January are below normal. - Floodlist.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Heavy Snowfall Wreaks Havoc In Odessa, Ukraine! [VIDEO]

January 20, 2016 - ODESSA, UKRAINE - Heavy snowfall is wreaking havoc in Ukraine's port city of Odessa.

At least two homeless people have died after a snowstorm hit the southern city.

Three others are in the hospital after suffering from hypothermia and frostbite.

WATCH: Snowfall wreaks havoc in Ukraine.

Local authorities are now deploying tents that provide heating for the homeless and those caught up in the snowstorms.

The freezing weather saw heavy snowfall forcing the international airport to cancel over a dozen flights this week.

- Ukraine Today.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Shallow And Strong 5.9 Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Northwest China - USGS! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location.

January 20, 2016 - CHINA - A shallow 5.9-magnitude earthquake jolted China's northwestern Qinghai province Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said, with no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The quake hit at 1:13 a.m. local time at a depth of just 10 kilometers (6 miles), USGS said.

Its epicenter was in Menyuan county, around 100 kilometers from the city of Jinchang, according to state media and USGS.

China's Earthquake Networks Center put the magnitude higher at 6.4, according to state news agency Xinhua.

USGS shakemap intensity.

China is regularly hit by earthquakes, but more regularly in its southwestern provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan.

In October 2014, hundreds of people were injured and more than 100,000 displaced after a shallow 6.0 magnitude tremor hit Yunnan province, close to China's borders with Myanmar and Laos.

An injured woman is rescued after a quake in Yushu County, northwest China’s Qinghai Province.

In May 2008, a 7.9 magnitude quake rocked Sichuan, killing more than 80,000 people and flattening swathes of the province in China's worst earthquake for more than three decades. - Daily Star.

Seismotectonics of the Himalaya and Vicinity

Seismicity in the Himalaya dominantly results from the continental collision of the India and Eurasia plates, which are converging at a relative rate of 40-50 mm/yr. Northward underthrusting of India beneath Eurasia generates numerous earthquakes and consequently makes this area one of the most seismically hazardous regions on Earth. The surface expression of the plate boundary is marked by the foothills of the north-south trending Sulaiman Range in the west, the Indo-Burmese Arc in the east and the east-west trending Himalaya Front in the north of India.

The India-Eurasia plate boundary is a diffuse boundary, which in the region near the north of India, lies within the limits of the Indus-Tsangpo (also called the Yarlung-Zangbo) Suture to the north and the Main Frontal Thrust to the south. The Indus-Tsangpo Suture Zone is located roughly 200 km north of the Himalaya Front and is defined by an exposed ophiolite chain along its southern margin. The narrow (less than 200km) Himalaya Front includes numerous east-west trending, parallel structures. This region has the highest rates of seismicity and largest earthquakes in the Himalaya region, caused mainly by movement on thrust faults. Examples of significant earthquakes, in this densely populated region, caused by reverse slip movement include the 1934 M8.1 Bihar, the 1905 M7.5 Kangra and the 2005 M7.6 Kashmir earthquakes. The latter two resulted in the highest death tolls for Himalaya earthquakes seen to date, together killing over 100,000 people and leaving millions homeless. The largest instrumentally recorded Himalaya earthquake occurred on 15th August 1950 in Assam, eastern India. This M8.6 right-lateral, strike-slip, earthquake was widely felt over a broad area of central Asia, causing extensive damage to villages in the epicentral region.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

The Tibetan Plateau is situated north of the Himalaya, stretching approximately 1000km north-south and 2500km east-west, and is geologically and tectonically complex with several sutures which are hundreds of kilometer-long and generally trend east-west. The Tibetan Plateau is cut by a number of large (greater than 1000km) east-west trending, left-lateral, strike-slip faults, including the long Kunlun, Haiyuan, and the Altyn Tagh. Right-lateral, strike-slip faults (comparable in size to the left-lateral faults), in this region include the Karakorum, Red River, and Sagaing. Secondary north-south trending normal faults also cut the Tibetan Plateau. Thrust faults are found towards the north and south of the Tibetan Plateau. Collectively, these faults accommodate crustal shortening associated with the ongoing collision of the India and Eurasia plates, with thrust faults accommodating north south compression, and normal and strike-slip accommodating east-west extension.

Along the western margin of the Tibetan Plateau, in the vicinity of south-eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, the India plate translates obliquely relative to the Eurasia plate, resulting in a complex fold-and-thrust belt known as the Sulaiman Range. Faulting in this region includes strike-slip, reverse-slip and oblique-slip motion and often results in shallow, destructive earthquakes. The active, left-lateral, strike-slip Chaman fault is the fastest moving fault in the region. In 1505, a segment of the Chaman fault near Kabul, Afghanistan, ruptured causing widespread destruction. In the same region the more recent 30 May 1935, M7.6 Quetta earthquake, which occurred in the Sulaiman Range in Pakistan, killed between 30,000 and 60,000 people.

On the north-western side of the Tibetan Plateau, beneath the Pamir-Hindu Kush Mountains of northern Afghanistan, earthquakes occur at depths as great as 200 km as a result of remnant lithospheric subduction. The curved arc of deep earthquakes found in the Hindu Kush Pamir region indicates the presence of a lithospheric body at depth, thought to be remnants of a subducting slab. Cross-sections through the Hindu Kush region suggest a near vertical northerly-dipping subducting slab, whereas cross-sections through the nearby Pamir region to the east indicate a much shallower dipping, southerly subducting slab. Some models suggest the presence of two subduction zones; with the Indian plate being subducted beneath the Hindu Kush region and the Eurasian plate being subducted beneath the Pamir region. However, other models suggest that just one of the two plates is being subducted and that the slab has become contorted and overturned in places.

Shallow crustal earthquakes also occur in this region near the Main Pamir Thrust and other active Quaternary faults. The Main Pamir Thrust, north of the Pamir Mountains, is an active shortening structure. The northern portion of the Main Pamir Thrust produces many shallow earthquakes, whereas its western and eastern borders display a combination of thrust and strike-slip mechanisms. On the 18 February 1911, the M7.4 Sarez earthquake ruptured in the Central Pamir Mountains, killing numerous people and triggering a landside, which blocked the Murghab River.

Further north, the Tian Shan is a seismically active intra-continental mountain belt, which extends 2500 km in an ENE-WNW orientation north of the Tarim Basin. This belt is defined by numerous east-west trending thrust faults, creating a compressional basin and range landscape. It is generally thought that regional stresses associated with the collision of the India and Eurasia plates are responsible for faulting in the region. The region has had three major earthquakes (greater than M7.6) at the start of the 20th Century, including the 1902 Atushi earthquake, which killed an estimated 5,000 people. The range is cut through in the west by the 700-km-long, northwest-southeast striking, Talas-Ferghana active right-lateral, strike-slip fault system. Though the system has produced no major earthquakes in the last 250 years, paleo-seismic studies indicate that it has the potential to produce M7.0+ earthquakes and it is thought to represent a significant hazard.

The northern portion of the Tibetan Plateau itself is largely dominated by the motion on three large left-lateral, strike-slip fault systems; the Altyn Tagh, Kunlun and Haiyuan. The Altyn Tagh fault is the longest of these strike slip faults and it is thought to accommodate a significant portion of plate convergence. However, this system has not experienced significant historical earthquakes, though paleoseismic studies show evidence of prehistoric M7.0-8.0 events. Thrust faults link with the Altyn Tagh at its eastern and western termini. The Kunlun Fault, south of the Altyn Tagh, is seismically active, producing large earthquakes such as the 8th November 1997, M7.6 Manyi earthquake and the 14th November 2001, M7.8 Kokoxili earthquake. The Haiyuan Fault, in the far north-east, generated the 16 December 1920, M7.8 earthquake that killed approximately 200,000 people and the 22 May 1927 M7.6 earthquake that killed 40,912.

The Longmen Shan thrust belt, along the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, is an important structural feature and forms a transitional zone between the complexly deformed Songpan-Garze Fold Belt and the relatively undeformed Sichuan Basin. On 12 May 2008, the thrust belt produced the reverse slip, M7.9 Wenchuan earthquake, killing over 87,000 people and causing billions of US dollars in damages and landslides which dammed several rivers and lakes.

Southeast of the Tibetan Plateau are the right-lateral, strike-slip Red River and the left-lateral, strike-slip Xiangshuihe-Xiaojiang fault systems. The Red River Fault experienced large scale, left-lateral ductile shear during the Tertiary period before changing to its present day right-lateral slip rate of approximately 5 mm/yr. This fault has produced several earthquakes greater than M6.0 including the 4 January 1970, M7.5 earthquake in Tonghai which killed over 10,000 people. Since the start of the 20th century, the Xiangshuihe-Xiaojiang Fault system has generated several M7.0+ earthquakes including the M7.5 Luhuo earthquake which ruptured on the 22 April 1973. Some studies suggest that due to the high slip rate on this fault, future large earthquakes are highly possible along the 65km stretch between Daofu and Qianning and the 135km stretch that runs through Kangding.

Shallow earthquakes within the Indo-Burmese Arc, predominantly occur on a combination of strike-slip and reverse faults, including the Sagaing, Kabaw and Dauki faults. Between 1930 and 1956, six M7.0+ earthquakes occurred near the right-lateral Sagaing Fault, resulting in severe damage in Myanmar including the generation of landslides, liquefaction and the loss of 610 lives. Deep earthquakes (200km) have also been known to occur in this region, these are thought to be due to the subduction of the eastwards dipping, India plate, though whether subduction is currently active is debated. Within the pre-instrumental period, the large Shillong earthquake occurred on the 12 June 1897, causing widespread destruction. - USGS.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Scientists Find Evidence For Ninth Planet In Our Solar System, Revives Speculation Of Planet X - Dwarf Planet Adds To Mounting Evidence Of A Dark Super Earth At The Boundary Of Our Solar System! [VIDEO]

January 20, 2016 - SPACE - A planet larger than Earth could be hiding in the cold, dark depths of the solar system. The presence of the planet, which would lie far beyond Pluto, is betrayed by the curious orbits of a handful of distant icy worlds.

As described Wednesday in the Astronomical Journal, the gravitational signature of a large, lurking planet is written into the peculiar orbits of these farflung worlds. Called extreme Kuiper Belt Objects, the misbehaving bodies trace odd circles around the sun that have puzzled scientists for years.

It’s tantalizing evidence that a ninth large planet might live in the solar system, though the world hasn’t been detected yet.

“If there’s going to be another planet in the solar system, I think this is it,” says Greg Laughlin of the University of California, Santa Cruz. “It would be quite extraordinary if we had one. Fingers crossed. It would be amazing.”

The team calculated that the planet, if it’s there, would be about 10 times as massive as Earth, or roughly three times larger. That makes it a super-Earth or mini-Neptune—a type of planet the galaxy is incredibly efficient at assembling, but which has been conspicuously absent from our own neighborhood.

And it’s really far away. Simulations suggest that the planet’s closest approach to the sun would be roughly 200 to 300 times farther out than Earth’s. Its most distant point? That’s way out in the hinterlands, between 600 and 1,200 times farther than Earth.

“This thing is on an exceptionally frigid, long-period orbit, and probably takes on the order of 20,000 years to make one full revolution around the sun,” says Caltech’s Konstantin Batygin, who is one half of the planet-sleuthing team..

Predicting Planet Nine

Batygin and his Caltech colleague Mike Brown didnt set out to find evidence for a new planetary neighbor—that happened by accident. In 2014, a different team had discovered an object called 2012VP113. Known colloquially as “Biden,” the new world’s orbit was enigmatic and similar to that of Sedna, another world discovered beyond Pluto.

Both Sedna and Biden took somewhat cattywampus paths around the sun, suggesting to scientists that a distant object’s gravity might be sculpting their peculiar orbits, as well as those of a handful of other distant worlds.

Brown and Batygin took a close look at six of these worlds and determined that their orbits clustered in a way that could not occur simply by chance. (“That probability clocks in at a whopping 0.007 percent,” Batygin says.) Then they simulated the outer solar system and tried to figure out how to generate the observed patterns.

Soon, Batygin and Brown could rule out gravitational effects intrinsic to the Kuiper Belt itself, meaning that they were looking for a single, cosmic sculptor.

They added a ninth large planet to the fray, and tweaked its orbit and mass. A ten-Earth-mass planet on an egg-shaped orbit easily explained mysterious features of Sedna’s and Biden’s orbits, as well as the paths taken by other extreme Kuiper Belt worlds.

It also explained a bizarre population of worlds that orbit the sun perpendicularly to the plane of the solar system. "We sort of stopped laughing at our own calculations at that point," Batygin says.

He and Brown suspect the planet formed much closer to the sun and was launched outward when the solar system was very young. Back then, he says, the sun was still snuggled into its native stellar cluster, and the surrounding stars would have helped corral the flying planet and kept it from escaping the clutches of the sun’s gravity. It’s a compelling tale, but not everyone is convinced it’s likely.

“I tend to be very suspicious of claims of an extra planet in the solar system,” says Hal Levison of the Southwest Research Institute. “I have seen many, many such claims in my career and all of them have been wrong.”

Finding Planet Nine

If this ninth large planet is out there, it’s so distant and so dim that it isn’t surprising the world hasn’t been detected yet. “This thing will be faint. Like, crazy faint,” says Laughlin, who calculated that Pluto could be as much as 10,000 times brighter than the new planet.

At such extreme distances, even a relatively large planet wouldn’t have a heat signature detectable by current surveys, and it wouldn’t reflect much sunlight. That means astronomers searching for it not only need to use incredibly powerful telescopes, they need to know where to look. In other words, it’s like looking for a single, moving speck of light in a vast and nearly impenetrable sea of stars.

“We don’t know exactly where it is, or else we’d just point the telescope at it tomorrow and it would be right there. But the sky is really big and this thing might be pretty faint, depending on how far out it is,” says Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, who discovered Biden.

But that doesn’t mean scientists won’t try. Among others, the Subaru telescope in Hawaii is up to the task, and Batygin and Brown are already on the hunt. Trujillo says he and his colleagues plan to begin searching along the predicted orbit next month.

The Original Planet X
It’s not the first time scientists have suggested the presence of a large, faraway planet. Indeed, such predictions stretch back more than a century, though none has ever turned out to be right.

Perhaps the best known was that of Percival Lowell, who insisted that a world he called Planet X was waiting to be discovered beyond the orbit of Neptune. Lowell’s convictions triggered a decades-long race to find Planet X, and resulted in the discovery of Pluto in 1930.

But Pluto was too small to explain what Lowell believed were telltale oddities in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune; those turned out to be the result of inaccurate measurements, rather than the invisible tugs of a ninth large world. In the intervening 86 years, many more such predictions have been made. And failed.

Perhaps this one won’t fade into the cosmos.

“I consider that the Batygin and Brown paper is the first to convincingly show the existence of this planet and constrain fairly well its orbit,” says Alessandro Morbidelli of the Observatoire de la Cote d’ Azur.

“It’s a very solid argument.”

WATCH: Evidence of Planet X.

- National Geographic.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Health Crisis In Denmark - Refugees Bring Back Diphtheria, Tuberculosis And Malaria!

January 20, 2016 - DENMARK - Danish authorities have warned hospitals over possible outbreak of infectious diseases as several cases of diphtheria, tuberculosis and malaria carried by the refugees have already been registered.

“The infection can be very dangerous if one isn’t vaccinated against it. The dangerous type is very rare and we last saw it in Denmark in 1998,” Kurt Fuursted, spokesperson for the Danish State Serum Institute (SSI) told Metroxpress referring to the potential return of diphtheria. This disease was last diagnosed in Denmark about 20 years ago.

“There is no doubt that infectious diseases are coming in with the refugees that we aren’t used to. There have been discussions on whether all refugees who come to Denmark should be screened," he added.

At present Denmark doesn’t follow the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation to vaccinate incoming migrants, unlike some other European countries.

“Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants should be vaccinated without unnecessary delay according to the immunization schedule of the country in which they intend to stay for more than a week,” reads a joint WHO-UNHCR-UNICEF guidance on general principles of vaccination of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in Europe, published on November 23 last year. It urges countries to provide migrants access to the “full vaccination schedule.”

The immigration officials and the Danish Health and Medicines Authority, a supreme healthcare authority in Denmark, are expected to review screening policy, according to Health Minister Sophie Lunde.

In recent months, Denmark has begun to tighten the screws in an effort to curb the refugee influx. On Thursday the Danish Parliament is set to vote on a bill proposing to strip refugees of valuables, including cash and jewelry, to cover the costs the country bears in connection with their stay. It would allow authorities to claim individual items valued at more than 10,000 kroner (US$1,450).

In the Danish cities of Thisted, Sonderborg and Haderslev, local club owners have started to introduce ‘language controls’, turning people away if they don’t speak Danish, English or German.

In 2015, some 18,000 refugees sought asylum in Denmark according to the migration agency, a far cry from almost 163,000 refugees in the neighboring Sweden. - RT.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Global Stock Markets Dive Amid Oil Rout; IMF CUTS Global Growth Outlook; World Faces "WAVE OF EPIC DEBT DEFAULTS"; Russia Ruble Hits ALL-TIME LOW!

January 20, 2016 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - Stock markets worldwide have tumbled with investors unsettled by the continued slide in oil prices and fears about the impact on global growth.

Global stock markets fall amid oil rout

On Wall Street the Dow Jones and S&P 500 were 2% lower in early trading, while the Nasdaq fell 2.3%.

The FTSE 100, Germany's Dax and the Cac 40 in Paris are all trading about 2.5% lower - resuming the year's sell-off.

Many markets are now in so-called bear market territory - a fall of 20% or more from their most recent peak.

The falls in Europe and the US came after Asian stocks closed sharply lower.

Markets in Dubai closed at a 28-month low, while in Japan shares fell to their lowest level since October 2014.

Top emerging market shares and currencies were also caught up in the turmoil, with the Russian rouble hitting a new record low of 80.295 against the dollar.

Some observers think that many markets were riding for a fall. Asset prices were pumped up by ultra-low interest rates in the developed world and also by the central banks that have engaged in quantitative easing, buying financial assets with newly created money.

That happened with shares, with bonds and with commodities. For commodities the boom is well and truly over, partly due to the slowdown in China and in the case of oil mainly due to plentiful supplies.

European Photopress Agency.

Clearly there are some troublesome developments and the IMF has a warning: "If these key challenges are not successfully managed, global growth could be derailed."

That at bottom is what the markets are worried about.

"Investors have decided the world is a riskier place," said Laura Lambie, senior investment director at Investec Wealth Investment.

She says that concerns over growth in China, the prospect of rising US interest rates and the possibility that low oil prices might force some oil companies out of business are the main concerns for investors.

"There's been a short-term change in sentiment," she said.

Oil slide continues

The downwards move came after oil prices continued to slide, with the price of international benchmark Brent Crude down 2.4% at $28.08 a barrel, around a 12-year low.

The oil price has plummeted 75% since mid-2014 as oversupply, mainly due to US shale oil flooding the market, has driven down the cost of the commodity.

At the same time, demand has fallen because of a slowdown in economic growth in China and Europe.

The world's energy watchdog warned on Tuesday that the market could "drown in oversupply".

The International Energy Agency, which advises countries on energy policy, said it expected the global glut to last until at least late 2016.

The International Monetary Fund's decision on Tuesday to downgrade its global growth forecast for this year and issue a warning about the outlook added to the dark mood among investors.

World stocks are now at their lowest levels since 2013, with the MSCI world equity index down 9.9% in January, its biggest drop since 2009.

Analysts said they expected the volatility to continue.

"I am quite pessimistic about the equity markets for the next two to three months. I do not see a 2008-style scenario, but I do see a bear market coming," said Andreas Clenow, hedge fund trader and principal at ACIES Asset Management. - BBC.

World faces wave of epic debt defaults, fears central bank veteran

The global financial system has become dangerously unstable and faces an avalanche of bankruptcies that will test social and political stability, a leading monetary theorist has warned.

"The situation is worse than it was in 2007. Our macroeconomic ammunition to fight downturns is essentially all used up," said William White, the Swiss-based chairman of the OECD's review committee and former chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

"Debts have continued to build up over the last eight years and they have reached such levels in every part of the world that they have become a potent cause for mischief," he said.

"It will become obvious in the next recession that many of these debts will never be serviced or repaid, and this will be uncomfortable for a lot of people who think they own assets that are worth something," he told The Telegraph on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"The only question is whether we are able to look reality in the eye and face what is coming in an orderly fashion, or whether it will be disorderly. Debt jubilees have been going on for 5,000 years, as far back as the Sumerians."

The next task awaiting the global authorities is how to manage debt write-offs - and therefore a massive reordering of winners and losers in society - without setting off a political storm.

Mr White said Europe's creditors are likely to face some of the biggest haircuts. European banks have already admitted to $1 trillion of non-performing loans: they are heavily exposed to emerging markets and are almost certainly rolling over further bad debts that have never been disclosed.

The next task awaiting the global authorities is how to manage debt write-offs without setting off a political storm. Photo: Rex

The European banking system may have to be recapitalized on a scale yet unimagined, and new "bail-in" rules mean that any deposit holder above the guarantee of €100,000 will have to help pay for it.

The warnings have special resonance since Mr White was one of the very few voices in the central banking fraternity who stated loudly and clearly between 2005 and 2008 that Western finance was riding for a fall, and that the global economy was susceptible to a violent crisis.

Mr White said stimulus from quantitative easing and zero rates by the big central banks after the Lehman crisis leaked out across east Asia and emerging markets, stoking credit bubbles and a surge in dollar borrowing that was hard to control in a world of free capital flows.

The result is that these countries have now been drawn into the morass as well. Combined public and private debt has surged to all-time highs to 185pc of GDP in emerging markets and to 265pc of GDP in the OECD club, both up by 35 percentage points since the top of the last credit cycle in 2007.

"Emerging markets were part of the solution after the Lehman crisis. Now they are part of the problem too," Mr White said.

Mr White, who also chief author of G30's recent report on the post-crisis future of central banking, said it is impossible know what the trigger will be for the next crisis since the global system has lost its anchor and is inherently prone to breakdown.

A Chinese devaluation clearly has the potential to metastasize. "Every major country is engaged in currency wars even though they insist that QE has nothing to do with competitive depreciation. They have all been playing the game except for China - so far - and it is a zero-sum game. China could really up the ante."

Mr White said QE and easy money policies by the US Federal Reserve and its peers have had the effect of bringing spending forward from the future in what is known as "inter-temporal smoothing". It becomes a toxic addiction over time and ultimately loses traction. In the end, the future catches up with you. "By definition, this means you cannot spend the money tomorrow," he said.

A reflex of "asymmetry" began when the Fed injected too much stimulus to prevent a purge after the 1987 crash. The authorities have since allowed each boom to run its course - thinking they could safely clean up later - while responding to each shock with alacrity. The BIS critique is that this has led to a perpetual easing bias, with interest rates falling ever further below their "Wicksellian natural rate" with each credit cycle.

The error was compounded in the 1990s when China and eastern Europe suddenly joined the global economy, flooding the world with cheap exports in a "positive supply shock". Falling prices of manufactured goods masked the rampant asset inflation that was building up. "Policy makers were seduced into inaction by a set of comforting beliefs, all of which we now see were false. They believed that if inflation was under control, all was well," he said.

In retrospect, central banks should have let the benign deflation of this (temporary) phase of globalisation run its course. By stoking debt bubbles, they have instead incubated what may prove to be a more malign variant, a classic 1930s-style "Fisherite" debt-deflation.

Mr White said the Fed is now in a horrible quandary as it tries to extract itself from QE and right the ship again. "It is a debt trap. Things are so bad that there is no right answer. If they raise rates it'll be nasty. If they don't raise rates, it just makes matters worse," he said.

There is no easy way out of this tangle. But Mr White said it would be a good start for governments to stop depending on central banks to do their dirty work. They should return to fiscal primacy - call it Keynesian, if you wish - and launch an investment blitz on infrastructure that pays for itself through higher growth.

"It was always dangerous to rely on central banks to sort out a solvency problem when all they can do is tackle liquidity problems. It is a recipe for disorder, and now we are hitting the limit," he said. - Telegraph.

IMF cuts global growth outlook for 2016

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has downgraded its forecast for this year’s global economic growth to 3.4 percent which is 0.2 percent lower than its October outlook.

For 2017, the IMF projects 3.6 percent growth.

"Risks to the global outlook remain tilted to the downside and relate to ongoing adjustments in the global economy," the IMF's World Economic Outlook report said, adding “if key challenges are not successfully managed, global growth could be derailed.”

The slowdown and rebalancing of the Chinese economy, lower commodity prices, and strains in some large emerging market economies will continue to weigh on growth prospects in 2016–2017, said the IMF.

According to the report, a modest and uneven recovery is expected to continue in advanced economies. The picture for “emerging market and developing economies is diverse but in many cases challenging.”

The US, the UK and Spain are expected to beat two percent growth this year.

Growth in China is expected to slow to 6.3 percent in 2016 and 6.0 percent in 2017, primarily reflecting weaker investment growth as the economy continues to rebalance.

“Russia, which continues to adjust to low oil prices and Western sanctions, is expected to remain in recession in 2016,” according to the report. It added that in 2017 growth in Russia will resume.

The IMF projected higher growth for the Middle East, adding that lower oil prices, and in some cases geopolitical tension and domestic strife would continue to weigh on the outlook.

The fund downgraded the prospects for global trade growth for 2016 and 2017, saying it would reflect developments in China as well as distressed economies. - RT.

Russia's ruble hits all-time low against the dollar

The ruble hit a historic low on Wednesday as the dollar climbed past the 80.1 rubles level for the first time, exceeding the levels seen during the shock plunge of the Russian currency in December 2014.

After a day of relative calm, the ruble resumed its downward spiral, breaking through the previous record low it hit on December 16, 2014, as oil prices, key to Russia's economy, test 12-year lows.

The ruble was also trading at 87.6 against the euro as Asian and European markets suffered another rout.

Gas and oil account for more than a half of the Russian budget revenues.

"The market will be generally driven by global economic sentiment, which does not exactly look hopeful at the moment," Alfa Bank said in a note to clients on Wednesday.

In December 2014, the Russian currency crashed to unprecedented lows, trading at over 80 rubles to the dollar and 100 to the euro.

The ruble hit a historic low against the dollar (AFP Photo/Alexander Nemenov)

Western sanctions over the Kremlin's support for the separatist insurgency in Ukraine have all but closed access to foreign borrowing for Russia and exacerbated the crisis.

The worsening economic outlook amid falling oil prices presents a serious challenge for President Vladimir Putin, whose pact with voters has been based on years of economic stability and relative prosperity.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday downgraded its forecast for Russia, predicting that the country's economy would contract by 1 percent this year.

The IMF warned that slower Chinese growth, a stronger US dollar, the collapse in oil prices and political turmoil could all wreak further havoc in struggling economies like Russia's.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said that while the government will seek to honour its social obligations, it will have to "considerably cut" spending.

Igor Nikolayev, director of the FBK Grant Thornton Institute of Strategic Analysis, said the plunge in the ruble did not bode well for the economy as it exacerbated financial risk, leading to lower investment.

"Even an ordinary person already understands -- if the ruble falls, prices will grow and life will become harder." - Yahoo.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Concerns Over Zika Virus Outbreak Growing In The United States - New Cases In 4 States, Including A Baby Born With A Birth Defect!

January 20, 2016 - UNITED STATES - U.S. health officials are reporting new cases of a mosquito-borne virus linked to birth defects.

Three cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in Florida, and two pregnant women tested positive in Illinois. Texas and Hawaii also have confirmed cases, including a baby born with a birth defect.

The growing cases at home are traced back to overseas, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel alert over the virus, warning pregnant women to avoid some of the most popular American vacation destinations, reports Elaine Quijano of CBS News' digital network, CBSN.

In the handful of confirmed cases in the U.S., those infected traveled outside of the country and tested positive once they got home. The Zika virus is caused by the Aedes mosquito. It's been determined women can pass the virus to their babies, causing birth defects.

The CDC's warning to pregnant women is clear: If you have the symptoms, see a doctor and get tested for an infection.

All of the Zika cases in the U.S. involve foreign travel. The Florida victims traveled to Colombia and Venezuela and the two pregnant women in Illinois visited Central America and the Caribbean. A Texas man was also diagnosed after he returned from El Salvador in November.

"The two cases that we have in Illinois are in individuals who traveled and came back and were diagnosed," said Nirav Shaw of the Illinois Department of Public Safety. "Because the mosquito that transmits it is not one that we have here in Illinois, we believe the risk to Illinoisans is virtually zero."

The CDC has named 14 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Mexico and Haiti and are advising pregnant women to avoid travel there.

Brazil is claiming thousands of babies have been born with brain injuries. Officials there are urging women - who can wait - to hold off on becoming pregnant until the crisis is under control.

In less than 200 days, Brazil is set to host millions for the 2016 Olympics. There is no vaccine and no course of treatment for the Zika virus.

A British biotech firm is trying to crack the virus by genetically modifying the insect. - CBS News.

SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Civilization Unraveling - Islamic Militants Attack Bacha Khan University In Pakistan; At Least 22 Dead; Dozens Wounded!

The Pakistani Taliban reportedly scaled walls and attacked students in their dormitories at Bacha Khan University, but were killed before they could detonate suicide
vests. The death toll is expected to rise in the deadly attack, which takes place under two years after the Pakistani Taliban killed 145 people in another school attack.

January 20, 2016 - PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - At least 22 people were killed and many more wounded when militants attacked a university campus in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, a police official said.

A leader of the Pakistani Taliban said the group claimed responsibility for the attack, among the most brazen in a long insurgency it has waged against the authorities here that has targeted educational institutions in particular.

The site of Wednesday’s assault, Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, was just 25 miles from a school in Peshawar where the Pakistani Taliban killed 145 people, most of them children, in 2014. Two years earlier, the group shot Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist for girls’ rights and future Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The Taliban have been weakened recently in Pakistan after the military launched an offensive in their main haven of North Waziristan, but the attack and a suicide bombing on Tuesday that killed 11 people together showed that they were still a dangerous force.

Under a heavy fog on Wednesday, gunmen scaled the rear walls of the university around 9 a.m., firing into the air, witnesses said.

Security forces killed the attackers before they could detonate suicide vests, said Saeed Wazir, the Charsadda police chief.

The dead included students, a senior faculty member and four guards, said Fakhr-i-Alam, a senior government official. At least 19 people were wounded. A Pakistani military spokesman, Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, said that at least four attackers had been killed in exchanges of fire with the security forces.

Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, condemned the attack. “We are determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland,” he said in a statement from Switzerland, where he was attending the World Economic Forum. “The countless sacrifices made by our countrymen will not go in vain, inshallah.”

Raza Mohammed Khan, deputy superintendent of the police in Charsadda, said that all four attackers had been killed and that no more militants remained inside the university.

 Coffins holding the bodies of victims at a hospital after an attack at Bacha Khan University, in Charsadda, Pakistan, on Wednesday.
Credit Bilawal Arbab/European Pressphoto Agency

 An injured man at a hospital after a university in Charsadda, Pakistan, was attacked on Wednesday. Credit Hasham Ahmed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 Army soldiers outside Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan, on Wednesday. Credit Fayaz Aziz/Reuters

 Students leaving the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan, after an attack by militants on Wednesday.
Credit A Majeed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Bomb disposal people are on the spot defusing suicide vests,” Mr. Fakhr-i-Alam said. “The operation is over; clearance and search is on.”

Khalifa Umar Mansoor, a Pakistani Taliban leader, called reporters in Peshawar to claim responsibility for the attack and to say that four of their men were involved. He said the assault was in response for the execution in December of four men convicted of aiding the 2014 Peshawar school attackers.

An official at Bacha Khan University said that when she and her colleagues realized they were under attack, they locked the door of their office, turned off the lights and lay on the floor. “The university has its own security staff, but it’s not adequate enough to face the well-armed and -trained Taliban,” said the official, Salma Khan.She said many of the students were killed in their dormitories. “Our resolve of educating our children cannot be shaken by such cowardly acts,” she said.Sajjad Ahmed, a professor of sociology and gender studies, said he saw the attackers shoot a dozen students. “I will not forget this terrible scene for rest of my life,” he said. “Students were falling like someone was cutting down newly blossomed flowers.”Kasib Jan, a student, told ARY TV that he had seen four or five gunmen with black turbans shouting “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great.”“They were firing all around,” he said. “University security guards first engaged them, but it was beyond their capacities. We hid behind the benches in the classrooms. We heard them walking around, but they moved away. We came out and ran away to safety.”He said that Wednesday was an exam day and that a peace concert had also been scheduled, so the campus was filled with students. Officials said 2,500 students and staff members were at the school during the attack.

Bacha Khan University was founded in 2012 and named after Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Pashtun activist who advocated nonviolent means to resist British rule in South Asia. Wednesday was the 28th anniversary of the death of Mr. Ghaffar Khan, who was described as “the frontier Gandhi.”

A graduate student at a local hospital, being treated for a gunshot wound, told ARY TV that he could not see much of the attack because of the fog.

Peshawar and the surrounding region have faced repeated attacks in recent years. The December 2014 attack by seven Pakistani Taliban gunmen on a military-run school in Peshawar was the deadliest in Pakistan’s history and provoked a broad crackdown on militants in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province.

A Taliban attack on a Pakistani Air Force base near Peshawar killed 30 people in September. In the assault on Tuesday, a Taliban suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed 11 people at a police checkpoint in Peshawar. - NY Times.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - President Francois Hollande Declares France Is In A "STATE OF ECONOMIC EMERGENCY" And Throws £1.5 BILLION At Reducing Unemployment!

January 20, 2016 - FRANCE - French President Francois Hollande has declared France is in a 'state of economic emergency' and has promised to spend £1.5billion to try and reduce the country's high unemployment rates.

Mr Hollande today pledged huge spending on a package of measures to fight the stubbornly high unemployment that has dogged his four years in power.

Labelling the country in 'a state of economic emergency' and requiring urgent new measures, the socialist also promised the spending would not come from tax rises.

In a speech to business leaders, he said: 'These two billion euros will not be financed through extra taxes of any kind. They will be financed by savings.'

One billion euros will be spent on training schemes for unemployed people.

Joblessness, which stands at around 10 percent or 3.57 million people in the eurozone's second-largest economy, was the 'only issue which ranks above security for the French people', he claimed.

Mr Hollande said France needed to 'increase the pace of reforms' and innovation was 'key' to getting people back to work.

Mr Hollande today pledged huge spending on a package of measures to fight stubbornly high unemployment

'France must also increase training, education and the level of qualifications of its workers,' he said.

After several years of sluggish growth, the French economy took another blow with the jihadist attacks in November that killed 130 people, which slowed activity in the fourth quarter.

Under the new measures to stimulate recruitment, companies employing fewer than 250 people will receive a 2,000-euro bonus for each new employee with a contract of more than six months, under certain conditions.

Hollande dismissed suggestions that he was trying to 'artificially' reduce unemployment as he prepares for a bid to secure re-election in the 2017 presidential election.

Despite this, the new measures were greeted with scorn by the opposition.

'What planet are Francois Hollande and his government living on if they think it is enough to pay a company that takes someone on a cheque of 1,000 or 2,000 euros?' said Guillaume Larrive, of the right-wing Republicans led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy. - Daily Mail.

EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT: Professor Stephen Hawking - "We Must Spread Out Into Space To Avoid Cataclysmic Disaster On Earth"!

January 20, 2016 - EARTH - Humanity is at risk from a series of dangers of our own making, according to Prof Stephen Hawking.

Nuclear war, global warming and genetically-engineered viruses are among the scenarios he singles out.

And he says that further progress in science and technology will create "new ways things can go wrong".

Prof Hawking is giving this year's BBC Reith Lectures, which explore research into black holes, and his warning came in answer to audience questions.

He says that assuming humanity eventually establishes colonies on other worlds, it will be able to survive.

"Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years.

"By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race.

"However, we will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period."

It is ironic that such a prominent figure in science identifies scientific progress itself as the major source of new threats.

On previous occasions, he has highlighted the potential risks of artificial intelligence (AI) becoming powerful enough to cause the extinction of the human race.

 Prof Hawking said humans are creating "new ways things can go wrong"
But he insists that ways will be found to cope.

"We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we have to recognise the dangers and control them. I'm an optimist, and I believe we can."

Asked for advice for young scientists, Prof Hawking said they should retain a sense of wonder about "our vast and complex" Universe.

"From my own perspective, it has been a glorious time to be alive and doing research in theoretical physics. There is nothing like the Eureka moment of discovering something that no one knew before."

But he also said that future generations of researchers should be aware of how scientific and technological progress is changing the world, and to help the wider public understand it.

"It's important to ensure that these changes are heading in the right directions. In a democratic society, this means that everyone needs to have a basic understanding of science to make informed decisions about the future.

"So communicate plainly what you are trying to do in science, and who knows, you might even end up understanding it yourself."

Since his diagnosis with motor neurone disease, Prof Hawking's determination to overcome the immense physical challenges of his disability has been a source of worldwide admiration and fascination.

 Prof Hawking thinks we will eventually establish colonies in space, but not for another few hundred years  

His daughter Lucy, a journalist and writer, who has co-written children's science books with Prof Hawking, was asked to explain his drive.

"I think he's enormously stubborn and has a very enviable wish to keep going and the ability to summon all his reserves, all his energy, all his mental focus and press them all into that goal of keeping going," she said.

"But not just to keep going for the purposes of survival, but to transcend this by producing extraordinary work, writing books, giving lectures, inspiring other people with neurodegenerative and other disabilities, and being a family man, a friend and a colleague to so many people and keeping up with friends across the world." - BBC.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Former Barbados PM Owen Arthur Calls On Caribbean Governments To Move Swiftly To Avert What Observers Say Is An Emerging Banking Crisis Over Correspondent Banks!

January 20, 2016 - CARIBBEAN - Former Barbados prime minister Owen Arthur Tuesday said Caribbean countries need to have in place mechanisms that can allow them to respond to issues on Correspondent Banking.

He said these measures must be “in a coherent and sustained manner, rather than in a spasmodic way, to the challenges which will continuously come our way from having to function as the world’s smallest and most vulnerable economy in a turbulent and unforgiving global economic arena”.

Arthur, addressing a round table discussion on “Correspondence Banking” said that the Caribbean countries now find themselves in a more vulnerable condition than they have ever been in their post-independent existence.

Arthur said regional countries are constantly having to make adjustments to accommodate far reaching changes in the environment within which their development takes place.

“This has placed on them the responsibility of having to manage more complex transitions and transformations than any other group of nations. They have had, and will continue to have to institute new arrangements by which to order their domestic affairs, central to which is the sustained and coherent implementation of fiscal consolidation programmes to restore order to their public finances.”

But Arthur, an economist, said the challenges for Caribbean countries surrounding the management of their fiscal consolidation programmes are modest relative to the difficult new circumstances that have, over the past two decades, affected their ability to successfully carry out cross border transactions.

“To begin with, all Caribbean societies have been significantly and adversely affected by changes in International Trade Law, which have stripped them of the means by which they have traditionally protected domestic enterprises, and have required them to enter new reciprocal trade arrangements even with developed economies. The toll taken on traditional industries in agriculture and manufacturing has been severe.”

He said in addition, the “sunrise industries” which have been designated to be the engines to generate a substantial part of the growth for the future have themselves had to operate in an atmosphere of uncertainty by having to respond to extra regional initiatives such as the OECD Harmful Tax Competition Initiative, and more recently, the provisions contained in the USA Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, and the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project.

Arthur said that a 2014 World Bank report revealed that in respect of every critical determinant of trade performance, the Caribbean reflects the worst indices of any region in the world.

Owen Arthur
“In addition, the region’s circumstances have not been assisted by the fact that in an era when so much of global economic activity is being driven by the provisions in bilateral trade pacts, the Caribbean had entered the fewest of any group of nations.”

He said that the region also stands, for the future, to be overwhelmed by new trade arrangements, such as the Trans Pacific Trade Pact, and new global supply and value chain arrangements by global enterprises that are bypassing the Caribbean.

“For the Caribbean to attain and stay on a viable path to growth and development, a concerted effort has to be made to transform its economies from being trade-preference dependent economies which they have been traditionally, and debt-propelled economies which they have recently become, to being investment-driven economies, marked by a very high component of private foreign capital, and eventually, genuine export-propelled economies.

“Indeed, over the immediate future, to create the conditions to generate strong growth, the Caribbean has to increase the ratio of private capital inflows to GDP (gross domestic product), and to use such resource flows to help build new productive capacity which is capable of being competitive in a liberalized global economy.”

Arthur said as such, any new measure that stands in the way of enabling the Caribbean to significantly improve its cross border economic and financial transactions must be deemed to be a serious threat to the development of the region.

“It is in such a context that the Corresponding Banking Challenge looms as the most recent, but perhaps the potentially most devastating threat to the stable and successful development of the region. It is therefore important that the Caribbean does not allow itself to become the real but unintended victim of a global effort to reduce financial crimes, to fight against terrorism by reducing its sources of finance, and quite frankly, the efforts of major banking enterprises to enhance their profitability.”

“o begin with, unaddressed, the derisking that is at the centre of the Correspondent Banking issue, could serve to delink Caribbean economies from access to global finance at a juncture where they need to increase the ratio of capital inflows to GDP,” Arthur warned, noting that it can also increase the cost of access to such finance or force economic agents in the region to resort to illicit means, further damaging the image of the region.

“It can also do untold damage to the financial sector in the Caribbean. For it has been well observed that the Caribbean financial sector is characterized by features such as shallow banking systems, undeveloped and highly concentrated financial markets and domestic currencies that are not internationally traded,” the former Barbados prime minister added.

He said that there is much therefore that the Caribbean can and must do to fend off this existential threat. “First the Correspondent Banking crisis is one that does not apply only nor uniquely to the Caribbean but is one that has far flung implications for many countries across the globe. There is therefore no requirement for the Caribbean to feel that it must fight this on its own.”

He said the Caribbean must form strategic alliances and commit the resources to join the other many countries and institutions which have embraced this as being a legitimate cause to be fought for in every conceivable forum.

He said it was also important for the region to strain every sinew to ensure that its own rules, standards and enforcement mechanisms consistently meet global requirements in the fight against financial crimes and the fight against terrorism.

Arthur said ideally, this ought to be a well co-ordinated regional effort and that it can be made to be such if the Caribbean revisits and reenergizes its own efforts to integrate the regional economy.

“In this regard, the creation of a single regional market, involving the removal of barriers to the movement within the region of the flow of goods, services, capital and labour, and the creation of new rights for the establishment of enterprise, was intended to be but the first phase of the CSME (CARICOM Single Market and Economy).”

He said the second, involving the creation of a virtual single economy, as set out in the Girvan Plan of 2007, envisioned harmonized and coordinated regional actions and programmes, including regulatory and supervisory systems, that could significantly enhance the region’s ability to strengthen the economic and financial infrastructure on which its economy rests.

“Indeed, the Plan to move to a Single Economy called for the putting in place, for example, of a Regional Financial Services Agreement and a Regional Investment Code, which, if brought into existence, would have been designed to govern and bring order to the operation of the regional financial sector, and set out clear guidelines concerning that sector’s relationship with the global economy.

“The issue now being grappled with concerning Correspondent Banking surely must accentuate the need for the Caribbean to have in place mechanisms that can allow it to respond on this matter, as on all others in a coherent and sustained manner, rather than in a spasmodic way, to the challenges which will continuously come our way from having to function as the world’s smallest and most vulnerable economy in a turbulent and unforgiving global economic arena.” - The Montserrat Reporter.