World News Digest – Issue 8

With the fast pace of today’s news cycle it can be hard to know what to pay attention to, and information overload is often the inevitable result. Listed under the categories of Economy, Energy, Environment, Geopolitics and Culture, our selected news highlights bypass celebrity gossip and partisan politics, cutting through the crap to shine the spotlight on the world affairs that affect us most strongly.

The SHIFT team has trawled through hundreds of news sources and stories, turning up our bullshit filter to maximum volume, to bring you February’s and March’s global affairs highlights…

Economy

Get Ready for another Global Crash

As global debt rises, with no way out of the Ponzi debt crisis mass-defaults loom. The global financial crisis was brought on by debt, and now private debt is at its highest in recorded history, experts warn. By ignoring the debt crisis and focusing on the banks analysts warn that we are headed for another crash.

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Australia Entering Recession?

It’s not looking good for Australia as the mining boom turns to bust, unemployment is on the rise, and purchasing power flatlines. Whole towns are reeling from job losses, and the knock-on effects are hitting all sectors as spending slows.

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Oil Price Plunge Impacts

While write-downs and job layoffs are some of the more immediately obvious impacts of the oil price plunge, not everyone is suffering. Some of the major producers in the oil industry are profiting from the slump thanks to their additional interests in commodities trading. Production stockpiles are already fetching high prices based on future speculation, despite current cheap prices – the ‘Contango’ situation.

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Greek Debt Crisis hints at ‘Grexit’ from Euro

Since Syriza’s historic Greek election win in January the newly formed government has been working to restructure the country’s flailing economy and renegotiate the terms of its debt.  Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has described predatory lending to the bankrupt state as a “crime against humanity.” Speculation continues that the Euro could collapse if Greece does exit the Eurozone (a ‘Grexit’).

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Podemos: Spain’s Radical Leftist Threat to Post-Franco Economic Elite

Spain’s newest, and second largest, political party, Podemos, appears to be gaining the initiative in the run-up to the Spanish elections. The political and economic elite that rose to power after the death of dictator Francisco Franco 40 years ago, seem to be losing their grip on power.

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Energy

Oil Stockpiles Threaten Price Crash

Stockpiles of oil are reaching maximum capacity as global demand stagnates threatening a price crash if storage space runs out. Companies may be forced to halt production if prices don’t climb soon.

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Declining Energy Availability set to Force Adaptation to Lower Energy Future

Over the coming decades fossil fuel use is likely to fall due to at least three possible factors, depletion, affordability and the need to respond to climate change. Neither nuclear nor renewable energy is capable of replacing fossil fuels as an energy source. We will need to adapt to a lower energy future.

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Shell Calls for climate action: motive?

Ben van Beurden, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, has argued that big energy companies have not been assertive enough in the global warming debate and that they must advocate more strongly for climate action in the lead-up to the Paris Climate conference later this year. Shell’s motives have come under scrutiny due to pointing the finger of blame at coal producers.

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Environment

Welcome to the Anthropocene

A new study in the journal Nature has shed light on when the Anthropocene epoch – the era of human global domination – began. The study suggests nine possible points at which humanity changed the world forever. Meanwhile, scientists claim that we have breached four of the nine planetary boundaries that most remain intact if we are to have a sustainable future.

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Health of Oceans under Increased Threat from Plastic Pollution

According to the first rigorous global estimate, around 8 million metric tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans each year. At this rate we are on track to be putting enough plastic in the ocean to cover 5% of the earth’s surface in plastic each year.

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UK Nuclear Plant like ‘Chernobyl on Steroids’

A planned nuclear facility in the UK contains design flaws that make it vulnerable to leaks, according to nuclear engineer Arnie Gunderson. Any leak from the facility would be far worse than the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, and even worse than the 2011 Fukushima disaster, says Gunderson.

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Earthquakes in Holland and Alberta Connected with Fracking

Dutch church bells that for centuries have tolled to warn of floods across the low-lying countryside are sounding the alarm for a new threat: earthquakes linked to Europe’s largest natural gas field. Meanwhile, a flurry of record-breaking tremors hit Alberta, threatening litigation against fracking companies operating in the region.

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Climate Chaos Update

As the climate crisis pushes on, we are facing a potential surge in warming within the next five years, and vast dustbowls threaten food security for millions. Mitigation strategies continue to suffer setbacks from political deadlock and common-sense advice results in industry backlash.

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Climate Consequences on the Geopolitical Stage

Climate change has been identified as a key cause of the protracted Syrian conflict, and the world is set to see more such regional instability. Analysts predict fresh water shortages will likely spark the next global crisis, and São Paulo, one of Brazil’s overpopulated megacities, is already reeling from the effects of drought as municipal water supplies run dry.

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Geopolitics

Ukraine Crisis Update

While Russian President Vladimir Putin says war with Ukraine is unlikely, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel works to restore diplomacy and advance a solution, the US deploys 3,000 troops in the Baltics to take part in military exercises with Nato partners. US military equipment will remain in the region to “deter Russian aggression.”

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CIA Torturers Must Face the Law, says Chelsea Manning

Following the US Senate Torture Report which revealed CIA and Department of Defense authorization of torture, Chelsea Manning calls for those responsible to be held accountable. Authorized at the highest levels of government and carried out on foreign soil to avoid domestic detection, the evidence suggests a premeditated and intentional conspiracy to violate US law, says Chelsea Manning.

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Surveillance Overreach and its Implications for Privacy

Edward Snowden’s revelations of NSA surveillance show that no electronic communication device – from hard disks to sim cards – can guarantee user privacy.

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Disclaimer: SHIFT magazine does not take responsibility for the content of any of the articles linked to in our World News Digest. Selection for the Digest does not imply endorsement of any of the positions expressed in any given article.

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