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In Escalating War Of Words, Saudi Crown Prince Calls Iran’s Ayatollah “New Hitler Of The Middle East

In Escalating War Of Words, Saudi Crown Prince Calls Iran’s Ayatollah “New Hitler Of The Middle East

Godwin’s law states that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1.” Saudi Arabia’s powerful, and controversial, 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – who in just a few months has made more local (and foreign) enemies than most of his predecessors accumulated over a lifetime, decided he does not need to wait that long, and in a glowing interview with the New York Times‘ Thomas Friedman, which touched on everything from the accommodations of the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton, to the recent power grab anti-corruption campaign, to Donald Trump, to the Saudi social and religious revolution, called the Supreme Leader of Iran “the new Hitler of the Middle East”, escalating the war of words between the arch-rivals. For his part, Khamenei has referred to the House of Saud as an “accursed tree”, and Iranian officials have accused the kingdom of spreading terrorism.

MbS, as he is also known, and who after the recent purge is also Saudi defense minister, also slapped down the ISIS card and suggested the Islamic Republic’s alleged expansion under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei needed to be confronted.

“But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East,” the paper quoted him as saying.

As reported previously, tensions between Iran and the Saudi Kingdom soared once again this month when Lebanon’s Saudi-allied Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in a television broadcast from Riyadh, citing the influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon and risks to his life. Hezbollah called the move an act of war engineered by Saudi authorities, an accusation they denied.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China Deleveraging Hits Corporate Bonds As Cascade Effect Begins

China Deleveraging Hits Corporate Bonds As Cascade Effect Begins

Following the market lockdown during October’s Party Congress, many commentators were disturbed by the continued rise in Chinese government bond yields as we returned to “business as usual”, with the 10-year rising to 4%. At the beginning of this month, we discussed the sell-off (see “China: Shadow Bank Inflows Are Critical To Sustain The Ponzi…But They’re Falling”) and noted a useful insight from the Wall Street Journal.

An important anomaly to note about the bond rout: as government bonds sold off, yields on less-liquid, unsecured Chinese corporate bonds barely moved.

That is atypical in an environment of rising rates – usually, bond investors shed their less-liquid holdings and hold on to assets that are more easily tradable, like government debt.

The question was…why had corporate bond yields barely moved? The answer, according to the WSJ, was that China’s deleveraging policy led to redemptions in the shadow banking sector, e.g. in the notorious $4 trillion Wealth Management Products (WMP) sector. Faced with redemptions, shadow banks had to sell something…quickly…and highly liquid government bonds were the “easiest option”. Furthermore…and this is potentially significant…the WSJ noted.

Meanwhile, the nonbanks have held on to their higher-yielding corporate bonds, which at least have the benefit of helping them to maintain high returns.

Not any more (see below).

We agreed with the WSJ’s explanation at the time, but noted that the government bond sell-off was actually a sign of the unravelling of the WMP Ponzi scheme. The Chinese authorities are wise to the Ponzi which is why they announced the overhaul of shadow banking and WMPs last Friday (see “A ‘New Era’ In Chinese Regulation Means Turmoil For $15 Trillion In China’s ‘Shadows”). However, the new regulations don’t kick in until mid-2019, a sign to us that when they looked “under the bonnet”, they didn’t like what they saw.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

JFK Files Reveal Bobby Kennedy And CIA Plotted False Flag War With USSR

JFK Files Reveal Bobby Kennedy And CIA Plotted False Flag War With USSR

False flag conspiracy theories have arisen from thousands of global tragedies ever since pirates allegedly spawned the term by flying the flag of the home country they were preparing to attack.  Of course, these “conspiracy theories” would be far easier to discredit if they’d stop coming true…

Alas, a recently revealed document from the so-called ‘JFK Files’ will only serve to stoke the flames of conspiracy theorists as it very clearly confirms a plot crafted by then Attorney General Robert Kennedy and the CIA to carry out a false attack that could be pinned on the USSR and serve as a basis for a U.S. “counterattack”.

According to a formerly “Top Secret” document summarizing a meeting from March 22, 1962, officials from JFK administration secretly strategized on the best way to “manufacture or acquire Soviet aircraft,” including a MIG 17 or MIG 19.  Per the following except, plans ranged from building aircraft that could stand up “distant observation” or “close observation” and ranged in cost from $3.5 million to $22 million.

So what were these replica planes to be used for?  Well, it turns out those details were laid out with some level of specificity as well…that is, if you can get beyond the brilliant efforts at redaction in the excerpt below…

“There is a possibility that such aircraft could be used in a deception operation designed to confuse enemy planes in the air, to launch a surprise attack against enemy installation or in a provocation operation in which Soviet aircraft would appear to attack U.S. or friendly installations in order to provide an excuse for U.S. intervention. If the planes were to be used in such covert operations, it would seem preferable to manufacture them in the United States.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Lebanese Army On “Full Combat Readiness” At Southern Border To Counter “Israeli Enemy”

Lebanese Army On “Full Combat Readiness” At Southern Border To Counter “Israeli Enemy”

Two days after Israel provided the first ever official confirmation of covert ties with Saudi Arabia, a step many analysts see as a precursor to future conflict in the Middle East involving adversaries Iran and Lebanon, on Tuesday the head of the Lebanese Army told the military to be at “full combat readiness” to face “the Israeli enemy” at the country’s southern border. The announcement comes as Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, vow to tighten their grip on Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia.

The army needs to be prepared to “confront the threats and violations of the Israeli enemy and its hostile intentions against Lebanon,” Joseph Aoun said on Tuesday, while urging the army to cooperate with United Nations forces in Lebanon under UN Security Council Resolution 1701, adopted to resolve the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. The statement came after Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that “Israeli targeting still continues and it is the right of the Lebanese to resist it and foil its plans by all available means,” according to Reuters.


 قائد الجيش للعسكريين: أدعوكم إلى الجهوزية التامة على الحدود الجنوبية لمواجهة تهديدات العدو الإسرائيلي وخروقاته، وما يبيّته من نيّات عدوانية ضد لبنان وشعبه وجيشه، كما إلى السهر الدائم على حسن تنفي
President Aoun’s remarks were echoed by Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who also cautioned Tel Aviv against sparking a war, according to RT. Lebanon is ready to act, but will do its utmost to prevent Israel from an invasion, he told RT last week. “We should restrain Israel from starting a war exactly because Lebanon is sure to win it,” he said.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BofA’s Apocalyptic Forecast: Stocks Flash Crash, Bond Bubble Bursts In H1 2018, War May Follow

BofA’s Apocalyptic Forecast: Stocks Flash Crash, Bond Bubble Bursts In H1 2018, War May Follow

Having predicted back in July that the “most dangerous moment for markets will come in 3 or 4 months“, i.e., now, BofA’s Michael Hartnett was – in retrospect – wrong (unless of course the S&P plunges in the next few days). However, having stuck to his underlying logic – which was as sound then as it is now – Hartnett has not given up on his “bad cop” forecast (not to be mistaken with the S&P target to be unveiled shortly by BofA’s equity team and which will probably be around 2,800), and in a note released overnight, the Chief Investment Strategist not only once again dares to time his market peak forecast, which he now thinks will take place in the first half of 2018, but goes so far as to predict that there will be a flash crash “a la 1987/1994/1998” in just a few months.

Contrasting his preview of 2018 with the almost concluded 2017, Hartnett sets the sour mood with his very first words, stating that he believes “2018 risk asset catalysts are much less bullish than in 2017” for the simple reason that the bearish positioning going into 2017 has been completely flipped: “positioning now long, not short; profit expectations high, not low; policy close to max stimulus; peak positioning, peak profits, peak policy stimulus means peak asset returns in 2018.”  He also goes on to point out that the historical omens are poor:

  • Bull market in S&P500 would become the longest ever on August 22, 2018 (and the second biggest ever at 2863 on S&P500).
  • Equities have only outperformed bonds for seven consecutive years on three occasions in the past 220 years (the last time was 1928 – Chart 1).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Big Brother Is Here: Twitter Will Monitor Users Behavior ‘Off Platform

Big Brother Is Here: Twitter Will Monitor Users Behavior ‘Off Platform 

In perhaps the most intrusive move of social media platforms’ efforts signal as much virtue as possible and appease their potentially-regulating government overlords, Twitter has announced that it is cracking down on what it defines at hate-speech and not just by looking at its own site.

In what amounts to a major shift in Twitter policy, Mashable’s Kerry Flynn reports that the company announced on Friday that it will be monitoring user’s behavior “on and off the platform” and will suspend a user’s account if they affiliate with violent organizations, according to an update to Twitter’s Help Center on Friday.

Abusive Behavior

We believe in freedom of expression and open dialogue, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we prohibit behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.

Context matters when evaluating for abusive behavior and determining appropriate enforcement actions. Factors we may take into consideration include, but are not limited to whether:

  • the behavior is targeted at an individual or group of people;
  • the report has been filed by the target of the abuse or a bystander;
  • the behavior is newsworthy and in the legitimate public interest.

Violence: You may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people. This includes, but is not limited to, threatening or promoting terrorism.

You also may not affiliate with organizations that – whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform – use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Arab League Holds Emergency Session: Iran And “Terrorist” Hezbollah Must Be Stopped

Arab League Holds Emergency Session: Iran And “Terrorist” Hezbollah Must Be Stopped 

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, in opening remarks to the Arab League today, declared that the kingdom “will not hesitate to defend its national security to keep its people safe” while requesting that joint action be taken to stop Iranian “aggression” and attacks on Arab states. 

Last weekend Saudi Arabia called an emergency session of the Arab League to address what it labeled “Iranian interference” after the bizarre series of events related to MBS’ aggressive internal purge, which included the detention of Lebanese ex-PM Hariri, left the kingdom in an unprecedented state of strife and uncertainty.  The destabilizing events were precipitated by a November 4 attack claimed by Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen, which the Saudis called a “violation” committed by Iran, though Iran denied that it had anything to do with the rare ballistic missile launch out of Yemen.


Arab League meeting in Cairo on Sunday. Image source: AFP

The extraordinary session was also urged by close allies among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait – all of which also backed the Saudi diplomatic and economic war against Qatar which erupted early last summer. Among the many Saudi charges against Qatar is included supposed Iranian infiltration of the tiny oil-rich nation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Draghi Speech: Everything Is Awesome In Europe, No Signs Of Systemic Risks

Draghi Speech: Everything Is Awesome In Europe, No Signs Of Systemic Risks

Mario Draghi gave the keynote speech at the Frankfurt European Banking Congress this morning in which he focused on the strong outlook for the Eurozone economy and how his monetary policy is playing a vital role. The speech was peppered with upbeat phrases and adjectives like solid, robust, unabated, endogenous propagation, resilient, remarkable and ongoing. According to Draghi.

The euro area is in the midst of a solid economic expansion. GDP has risen for 18 straight quarters, with the latest data and surveys pointing to unabated growth momentum in the period ahead. From the ECB’s perspective, we have increasing confidence that the recovery is robust and that this momentum will continue going forward.

Draghi is confident that future growth will be unabated for three reasons.

  • Previous headwinds have dissipated;
  • Drivers of growth are increasingly endogenous rather than exogenous; and
  • The Eurozone economy is more resilient to new shocks.

In terms of previous headwinds, Draghi notes that global growth and trade have recovered, while the eurozone has de-leveraged.

For some years global growth and world trade have been a drag on the recovery. Now, we are seeing signs of a sustained expansion. Global PMIs remain strong. The share of countries in which growth has been improving relative to the previous three years has risen from 20% in mid-2016 to 60% today. And this has fed through into a rebound in world trade, which is growing at its strongest annual rate in six years, and may well become a tailwind going forward.

Domestically, a key headwind in the past has been the necessary deleveraging by firms and households. But this is also now diminishing as debt returns to more sustainable levels.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Saudi Arabia Offers Arrested Royals A Deal: Your Freedom For Lots Of Cash

Saudi Arabia Offers Arrested Royals A Deal: Your Freedom For Lots Of Cash

Saudi Arabia just introduced a 70% wealth tax. It did so in a most original way…

As we noted shortly after the Crown Prince’s purge of potential rivals within Saudi Arabia’s sprawling ruling family, while the dozens of arrests were made under the pretext of an “anti-corruption crackdown”, Mohammed bin Salman’s ulterior motive was something else entirely: Replenishing the Kingdom’s depleted foreign reserves, which have been hammered for the past three years by low oil prices, with some estimating that the current purge could potentially bring in up to $800 billion in proceeds.

Furthermore, the geopolitical turmoil unleashed by the unprecedented crackdown helped push oil prices higher, creating an ancillary benefit for both the kingdom’s rulers and the upcoming IPO of Aramco.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

And, in the latest confirmation that the crackdown was all about cash, the Financial Times reports today that the Saudi government has offered the new occupants of the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton a way out…. and it’s going to cost them: In some cases, as much as 70% of their net worth.

Saudi authorities are negotiating settlements with princes and businessmen held over allegations of corruption, offering deals for the detainees to pay for their freedom, people briefed on the discussions say.

In some cases the government is seeking to appropriate as much as 70 per cent of suspects’ wealth, two of the people said, in a bid to channel hundreds of billions of dollars into depleted state coffers.

The arrangements, which have already seen some assets and funds handed over to the state, provide an insight into the strategy behind Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s dramatic corruption purge.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Venezuela, PDVSA CDS Triggered: ISDA Says Credit Event Has Occured

Venezuela, PDVSA CDS Triggered: ISDA Says Credit Event Has Occured

In a long overdue, and not exactly surprising decision, moments ago the ISDA Determination Committee decided, after punting for three days in a row, that a Failure to Pay Credit Event has occured with respect to both the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as well as Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.

Specifically, in today’s determination, in response to the question whether a “Failure to Pay Credit Event occurred with respect to Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.?” ISDA said that the Determinations Committee voted 15 to 0 that a failure to pay credit event had occurred with respect to PDVSA.

ISDA said the DC also voted 15 to 0 that date of credit event was Nov. 13 and that the potential failure to pay occurred on Oct. 12. ISDA also announced that the DC agreed to reconvene Nov. 20 to continue talks regarding the CDS auction, now that the Credit Default Swaps have been triggered.

Over the past week, all three rating agencies, with Fitch Ratings most recently, declared PDVSA in default, citing the state oil company’s repeated payment delays. The oil company failed to pay yet another $80 million in interest that was due in mid-October on bonds maturing in 2027, and whose buffer period expired over the weekend. Venezuela was declared in default by S&P Global ratings for a similar issue. According to Bloomberg, Fitch said that it expects PDVSA’s creditors to recover as little as 31 percent on their investment.

The panel will now meet next week to discuss whether to hold an auction to set the rate at which the CDS will pay out. When credit swaps are triggered, buyers of the contracts have their losses covered by the counterparties that sold them the insurance-like derivatives.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russia Names The 9 US News Outlets It Will Retaliate Against

Russia Names The 9 US News Outlets It Will Retaliate Against

After hinting that retaliation was imminent, Russian lawmakers in the Duma – Russia’s lower house of Parliament – have approved a law that would require nine US news outlets to be labeled “foreign agents” in response to Washington’s decision to require Russia Today to register as a foreign agent last week, a decision that Moscow has slammed as hypocritical and infringing on free speech.

Reuters reports that Russia’s lower house of Parliament has approved the law – which allows Moscow to force foreign media to brand news they provide to Russians as the work of “foreign agents” and to disclose the source of their funding.

The law must now pass the upper house, which is likely to happen next week. Once President Vladimir Putin signs it, it will become law. The path to passage looks relatively straightforward, and it’s likely the bill will become a law.

The Russian Justice Ministry on Thursday published a list of the news outlets that it said could be affected by the law.

Meanwhile, the outlets are the US-government-sponsored Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe (RFE), otherwise known as Radio Liberty, radio channels, along with seven separate Russian or local-language news outlets run by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

One of the seven outlets provides news on Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, one on Siberia, and one on the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region. Another covers provincial Russia, one is an online TV station, another covers the mostly Muslim region of Tatarstan, and the other is a news portal that fact-checks the statements of Russian officials.

Russia’s attack on US-funded media is part of the fallout from allegations that the Kremlin interfered in the US presidential election last year in favor of Donald Trump, Reuters noted.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fed Hints During Next Recession It Will Roll Out Income Targeting, NIRP

Fed Hints During Next Recession It Will Roll Out Income Targeting, NIRP

In a moment of rare insight, two weeks ago in response to a question “Why is establishment media romanticizing communism? Authoritarianism, poverty, starvation, secret police, murder, mass incarceration? WTF?”, we said that this was simply a “prelude to central bank funded universal income”, or in other words, Fed-funded and guaranteed cash for everyone.


Why is establishment media romanticizing communism? Authoritarianism, poverty, starvation, secret police, murder, mass incarceration? WTF?

prelude to central bank funded universal income


On Thursday afternoon, in a stark warning of what’s to come, San Francisco Fed President John Williams confirmed our suspicions when he said that to fight the next recession, global central bankers will be forced to come up with a whole new toolkit of “solutions”, as simply cutting interest rates won’t well, cut it anymore, and in addition to more QE and forward guidance – both of which were used widely in the last recession – the Fed may have to use negative interest rates, as well as untried tools including so-called price-level targeting or nominal-income targeting.

The bolded is a tacit admission that as a result of the aging workforce and the dramatic slack which still remains in the labor force, the US central bank will have to take drastic steps to preserve social order and cohesion.

According to Williams’, Reuters reports, central bankers should take this moment of “relative economic calm” to rethink their approach to monetary policy. Others have echoed Williams’ implicit admission that as a result of 9 years of Fed attempts to stimulate the economy – yet merely ending up with the biggest asset bubble in history – the US finds itself in a dead economic end, such as Chicago Fed Bank President Charles Evans, who recently urged a strategy review at the Fed, but Williams’ call for a worldwide review is considerably more ambitious.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Keystone XL Pipeline Shut Down After 5,000-Barrel Spill In South Dakota

Keystone XL Pipeline Shut Down After 5,000-Barrel Spill In South Dakota

Well this is awkward.  After months/years of protests targeting the Keystone XL pipeline from environmentalists worried about oil spills, TransCanada has now been forced to shut down the pipeline following…drum roll please…a 5,000 barrel oil spill in South Dakota.  According to The Hill, the pipeline was taken offline at 6am this morning following a leak that was discovered about 35 miles south of a pumping station in Marshall County, South Dakota.

Workers took the Keystone oil pipeline offline on Thursday after it spilled 5,000 barrels of oil in rural South Dakota,officials said.

A TransCanada crew shut down the pipeline at 6 a.m. Thursday morning after detecting an oil leak along the line, the company said. The leak was detected along a stretch of the pipeline about 35 miles south of a pumping station in Marshall County, South Dakota.

TransCanada estimates the pipeline leaked 5,000 barrels of oil, or about 210,000 gallons, before going offline. The company said it’s working with state regulators and the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to assess the situation.

The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources heard about the leak at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday, ABC affiliate KSFY reported.

For those who aren’t familiar with the project, the 1,179 mile Keystone XL pipeline links Canada’s Alberta oil sands to U.S. refineries.  While a portion of the pipeline has been operating, part of it has still not been approved by state regulators.

Here is the statement on the incident posted by TransCanada earlier this morning:

At approximately 6 a.m. CST (5 a.m. MST) today, we safely shut down the Keystone pipeline after we detected a pressure drop in our operating system resulting from an oil leak that is under investigation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Venezuela Signs $3.2 Billion Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia

Venezuela Signs $3.2 Billion Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia

As Venezuela teeters right on the brink of complete financial collapse, Bloomberg reports that Russia has agreed to restructure roughly $3.2 billion in outstanding obligations.  While details of the restructuring agreement are scarce, both sides reported that the deal spreads payments out over 10 years with minimal cash service required over the next six years.

Russia signed an agreement to restructure $3.15 billion of debt owed by Venezuela, throwing a lifeline to a crisis-wracked ally that’s struggling to repay creditors.

The deal spreads the loan payments out over a decade, with “minimal” payments over the first six years, the Russian Finance Ministry said in a statement. The pact doesn’t cover obligations of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA to its Russian counterpart Rosneft PJSC, however.

“The terms are flexible and very favorable for our country,” Wilmar Castro Soteldo, Venezuela’s economic vice president, told reporters in Moscow after the signing. “We will be able to return to the level of commercial relations with Russia that we had before,” he added, noting that a deal to buy Russian wheat will be signed next week.

This is the second time Russia has agreed to reschedule Venezuela’s debt payments after agreeing to an extension last year. Still, Caracas failed to make payments amid an economic crisis triggered by low prices for oil. Rosneft has also provided several billion dollars in advance payments for Venezuelan crude supplies.

The rescheduling pact is a “demonstration of the desire to maintain ties with the current Venezuelan leadership,” Viktor Kheifets, an expert in Venezuela at St. Petersburg State University, said by phone. “Russia isn’t happy with everything that the government there is doing but Venezuela is an ally where Russia has economic interests and Moscow is firmly against a forcible change of regime there.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada Builds $300 Million Highway To Nowhere, But Is There A Hidden Agenda?

Canada Builds $300 Million Highway To Nowhere, But Is There A Hidden Agenda?

A new $300-million first of its kind ‘permanent’ highway will officially open in the Northwest Territories of Canada on Wednesday.

This will be the first time in Canada’s history that the national highway system will be linked to all coasts. The completion of the four-year project is said to connect the tiny Arctic coastal town of Tuktoyaktuk with the rest of the communities to provide better transportation for residents.

We think there could be another reason why Canada would build a highway to nowhere.

As explained by one citizen in the video below, the new route is called ‘road to resources’, it’s where major reserves of oil and gas reside, and at one time inaccessible due to poor infrastructure. 

The all-season 137-kilometer highway is the first of its kind that connects Inuvik to Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk. The traditional route to Tuktoyaktuk involved ice roads in the winter, but as the seasons changed those roads were inaccessible. In the summer, the only way to travel north was by plane, which made it difficult to transport goods. The new road will be a game changer and its size indicates heavy machinery can be transported north, such as oil and gas platforms.

Darrel Nasogaluak, mayor of the Northwest Territories hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, said the permanent road is “something that’s been on the community’s want list for 40 years.” Nasogaluak might want to take back that statement in a few years, as what we expect the Canadian government could flood the region with oil and gas exploration teams.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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