Australia is the driest, flattest and least inhabited continent (except Antarctica). Drought, Fire and Flood are part of the Australian experience and indeed mould the National Character. It also is expressed in ‘mateship’ a rough corollary of civic cooperation and good neighbourliness, in an unforgiving environment where standing alone results in destruction. Australia has endured drought for the 50,000 years of its human habitation. People survive drought by relying on each other in times of need. Not so much in the early 21st. Century however, it seems.
Western Queensland and New South Wales and the Eastern parts of South Australia and the Northern Territory have been locked in drought for over a decade. Not a normal drought. Australian farmers can handle those. No this is a once in a 1,000 year drought. In places in Western Queensland there has been NO RAIN AT ALL for over 3 years. The sheep flocks have long ago been sold off and now the cattle herds are starving. Even the most drought resistant resident of the Australian Outback are dying as well. The Red Kangaroos are dying in their tens of thousands. What is to be done?
The Russian government is requesting that state-owned gas giant Gazprom provide discounted gas to the struggling government in Ukraine.
The deal seems weird because Russia is also supporting an armed insurgency inside Ukraine, consisting of pro-Moscow rebels. The conflict has decimated the Ukraine economy. So why is Russia suddenly offering to help the country it has spent the last few months undermining?
Last week the European Commission sent a letter to the Russian government asking it to consider granting Kiev a discount on its gas exports to the country, such as abolishing the export duty which currently costs $US100 per thousand cubic metres of gas.
The Russian response — requesting Gazprom lower its Ukraine prices — hints that Russia is seeking to cool tensions in the region in order to wriggle out of international sanctions as it attempts to pull itself out a deep economic downturn.
Gas deals between the two countries have long been a major source of friction. Ukraine imported 58% of the gas needed for its domestic market from Russia in 2013, while Moscow has repeatedly used its gas bounty to exact major political concessions from Kiev.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addressed Greece’s parliament late on Monday, but gave little new indication on a deal. Greece tentatively agreed to extend its current bailout back in February, but a lack of technical detail means its creditors still haven’t paid up, while the country is fast running out of money.
So what happens if it doesn’t get the cash?
Here’s what Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s researchers call “the ugly scenario”:
About 3 percent of the gold ever refined in the entire history of mankind sits in the vaults of the United States Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, equaling about 5,000 metric tons of gold.
At least this is what the government of the United States says, and has maintained for decades. But in light of recent activities and revelations that the federal government routinely lies to the public, it is unclear if there is even any gold at all within the high-tech and heavily guarded vaults.
The last time Fort Knox was audited was in 1953, immediately after President Eisenhower was inaugurated. However, no outside experts were allowed in during the audit, and only about 5% of the gold was actually tested.
The first anti-government rally in Athens turned ugly as anti-authoritarian protesters started to smash the windows of a pastry shop and two jewelry shops and put two vehicles and several garbage bins on fire.
The first anti-government protest has been launched in Athens on Thursday afternoon. A month after the left-wing/nationalist SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition took office, a week after the Eurogroup agreement in Brussels.