US Oil Rigs Are Shutting Down Like Crazy (Source Business Insider) The number of US oil rigs in operation keeps tumbling. The latest Baker Hughes rig count data showed that the total number of US rigs in operation — which includes both oil and gas rigs — fell by 35 last week, to 1,840 from 1,875. This report is usually released on Friday afternoons, but was released on Monday due to last week’s Christmas holiday. This is down from 1,920 for the week ended December 5. Oil rigs in use fell by 37 last week, while gas rigs actually rose by 2. For the week ending December 12, the number of oil rigs in use fell by 27, which at that time was the single biggest weekly decline in two years. The following week, the number of rigs in use fell by 18. The drop in oil rigs on Monday also comes alongside two discouraging pieces of news for the oil industry. The price of West Texas Intermediate oil is crashing again, touching $53 a barrel for the first time since May 2009 and declining more than 3% on the day. Additionally, manufacturing data from the Dallas Fed showed that business leaders in Texas are growing concerned about the drop in the price of oil. As one Texas business executive said, the drop in crude oil prices was, “going to make things ugly … quickly.” And according to Monday’s report, Texas saw 16 rigs shut down last week.
Russians Rage Against America (Source observer.com) Today, according to the respected Moscow ‘Levada Center,’ which measures political sentiment in Russian society, 74% of Russians have negative feelings towards the USA. It hasn’t always been like this; in the 1990s, 80% had positive attitude toward America. Currently, 76% of Russians hate Obama personally and only a meager 2% like him. In 2009 only 12% of Russians had extremely negative feelings towards Obama. These are the maximum peaks of anti-American feelings in Russia in years but the sociologists believe they could go even higher in the near future. American sentiment has been growing slowly in Russia since the war in former Yugoslavia. But the sharp recent increase happened as a result of the US-led sanctions that were imposed on Russia after the ‘Russian annexation of Crimea.’ For example, just last week Visa and MasterCard completely stopped their operations in Crimea, leaving more than 2 million people there without access to their money. 75% of Russians do not believe that their country is responsible for the events in Ukraine. On the contrary, they blame the US. When the sanctions began, many Russian businesses responded by putting up ‘Obama Is Sanctioned Here’ signs on their doors and windows. The owners of the Moscow supermarket “Electronics on Presnya” are using American flag doormats so the customers could wipe their dirty feet off, according to the British tabloid Daily Mail. “Customers have been filmed wiping their feet on the fabled stars and stripes as they enter and exit stores across Moscow, as struggling retailers take a hopeless swipe at their Cold War adversaries,” reports the newspaper. According to the Moskovky Komsomolets Moscow newspaper, the nation’s business owners decided to put the US flag under the Russians’ feet because of the strained relations between the two countries. “New doormats with the American flag were put at every exit so that America would not think that she is allowed to everything,” they say. Major Russian TV channel Vesti eagerly reported that fact. They also added that some Moscow stores were selling the toilet paper with American flag imprinted on it. The price tag was $1 per roll.
Russia Gains Chechnya’s Military Support Against West; US Accused of ‘Planning War’ Against Russia (Source au.ibtimes.com) Chechnya’s President Ramzan Kadyrov has declared support for Russia and ordered the creation of a special military regiment from his country’s armed forces. He said Chechnya is willing to defend Russia and its interests from Western “aggression.” The Putin supporter declared Chechnya can serve as Mr Putin’s infantry and he was willing to let the world know that. Mr Kadyrov made the announcement of support after proposing that the Chechen army recruits may serve in the Russian naval base in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula. Russia has been beefing up its defences with Mr Putin signing the revised version of the country’s military doctrine. The new changes promote the use of Russia’s conventional weapons as part of its defences against major threats to security. Among to the new threats identified by planners are the armed conflict in Ukraine and the crisis in the Middle East. BBC News reported that Russian forces are believed to be conducting a covert operation in eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, Konstantin Sivkov, President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, believes that the ultimate goal of the U.S. is to “destroy Russia.” In an interview withPravda.Ru, Sivkov said the U.S. is already considering plans to neutralise Russia’s nuclear potential with the first plan meant to strike a blow that would “behead” the country. The next U.S. plan would be to destroy it. Sivkov accused American politicians of committing several crimes including the deaths of 1,200,000 people in Iraq. He believes the American elite will not be held accountable for its actions unless military forces are destroyed. He predicted that U.S. society will decline some day and reminded everyone that it was the West who started the first cold war. Sivkov told Pravda that the reports of the U.S. reportedly preparing for a serious war against Russia using cruise missiles could be “absolutely realizable.” He said that the U.S. had launched a thousand missiles against military conflicts in Yugoslavia and Iraq. He then went on to predict how the U.S. could neutralise Russia’s nuclear potential. The U.S. could destroy Russia’s command centres first since it is there were orders come out. Another way would be to destroy the missile launchers so the military would be incapacitated. He said Russia is entering a “catastrophic situation” and extraordinary measures should be taken. Sivkov warned that if caution is not taken, Russia will be defeated quickly. He believes the only thing holding back a Western attack is the country’s nuclear capability.
NATO, West Is The Biggest Threat Of Our Existence, Says Russia; Ready to Use Precision Weapons Versus US, Allies (au.ibtimes.com) In a 29-page document that he signed on Friday, Russia’s been given the authority to use precision weapons “as part of strategic deterrent measures.” The document was an updated version of the 2010 document, which said that Russia could employ nuclear weapons in the event a country and its allies hurls the same against it. The latest document did not detail how and when Russia will get to use the precision weapons, which could include ground-to-ground missiles, air- and submarine-launched cruise missiles, guided bombs and artillery shells, among others. “A build-up of NATO military potential and its empowerment with global functions implemented is in violation of international law, as well as the expansion of NATO’s military infrastructure to the Russian borders,” the document said. It added the deployment and installation of foreign military forces on the territory of Russia’s neighbours could be used for “political and military pressure.” Observers believed Moscow modified the document in response to the U.S.’ Prompt Global Strike program, which enables it to launch deadly precision weapons to just about any target in the world in as little as an hour. But Alexander Konovalov, a Moscow-based independent military expert, believed Moscow could be already building new weapons when it mentioned using precision conventional weapons as a “strategic deterrent.” Mr Putin also maintained in the document that Russia’s interests in the Arctic must be strongly protected. Competition for the region’s massive natural resources have also been escalating as the Arctic ice continues to melt due to global warming. The region is bounded by Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the U.S. It holds 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas, 20 percent its liquefied natural gas, along with 15 percent of oil, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Keep Watching Europe! (Source thetrumpet.com) The glue that will hold Europe’s unwieldy parts together will be the binding force of the religion of Rome. Revelation 17:12-13 reveal this will create a singular political-economic-military mindset among the final combine of 10 leading European nations soon to yield their power to the decree of one overarching political leader. With three Jesuit-trained men in key positions within today’s EU—Herman van Rompuy as president of the European Council, Mario Monti as prime minister of Italy, and Mario Draghi as president of the European Central Bank—one could wonder if Revelation 17 is already being fulfilled, with a woman (a church) riding a beast (economic, political and military power). Most commentators, of course, scoff at the thought of this. In their minds, a powerful church-state combine could never form in Europe. They simply cannot imagine a secular Europe, the way they see it, ever coming under the seductive influence and overriding power of the Roman church. But Bible prophecy assures us that a great false church will steer the 10-nation beast now rising in Europe. And for those who have eyes to see, the formation of this astounding union of church and state is already well under way! Watch Europe, and particularly those who seem destined to be the leaders of church and state. Look for the Vatican to settle into its prophesied role as the woman riding atop the scarlet-colored beast (Revelation 17:3). It is coming.
With a Friend Like China, Who Needs the IMF? (Source thetrumpet.com) Pariah nations facing economic turmoil no longer need to bow to Western demands to access loans and capital markets—they can turn to China. Recent currency-swap deals between China and economically isolated nations like Russia, Argentina and Venezuela demonstrate how China is presenting itself as a redemptive alternative to the West and the Western-controlled International Monetary Fund. China is proving to be a global economic power to be reckoned with. On December 20, Chinese authorities announced their willingness to expand a $24 billion, three-year currency-swap deal that China signed with Russia in October. The deal allows Russia to borrow the Chinese yen as well as lend its faltering ruble. The announcement comes as Russia endures crippling sanctions from Western nations over its annexation of Crimea and involvement in Ukraine. Those sanctions have cut off Russia from most of the world’s capital markets. The recent drop in oil and gas prices have exacerbated Russia’s economic fortunes. Russia’s ruble performed the worst of any currency in the world over the last six months, as Bloomberg reported on December 22. Prior to the December 20 announcement, Russia’s currency had lost 41 percent of its value this year. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi assured over the weekend that Russia possessed “the capability and the wisdom to overcome the existing hardship in the economic situation.” He added, “If the Russian side needs, we will provide necessary assistance within our capacity.” “Many Chinese people still view Russia as the big brother, and the two countries are strategically important to each other.” That is the primary reason China has stepped in to help Russia.
Putin is winning the oil war: Katusa (Source Yahoo) The ruble has fallen sharply in the past few weeks and there are current stories coming out of Russia about potential bank runs. Last week the ruble became the world’s worst performing currency. This week, however, the Russian currency does appear to be stabilizing– it’s back up by 30%. So have sanctions and falling oil prices sunk Russia? Not really says Marin Katusa, author of “The Colder War,” and chief energy investment strategist at Casey Research. Katusa believes that falling oil prices will eventually give Russia the upper hand and deeply injure the U.S. energy industry. The falling ruble makes Russian oil less expensive and more desirable to other countries—Russia also produces oil quite cheaply while the American shale industry has a larger cost of operation. Russia is more than able to weather the current storm, Katusa says. “They have a $200 billion a year trade surplus. They have over $400 billion in reserve currency. They’ve increased their gold reserve. They have much lower debt to their GDP than America. The Ukrainian Parliament voted to drop its “non-aligned” status and begin work towards a NATO membership. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this “unproductive” move would only increase tension between Russia and Ukraine. Katusa believes that this is the beginning of another cold war.
New Russian military doctrine says NATO top threat (Source AP) Russia identified NATO as the nation’s No. 1 military threat and raised the possibility of a broader use of precision conventional weapons to deter foreign aggression under a new military doctrine signed by President Vladimir Putin. The new doctrine, which comes amid tensions over Ukraine, reflected the Kremlin’s readiness to take a stronger posture in response to what it sees as U.S.-led efforts to isolate and weaken Russia.
Russia says NATO turning Ukraine into ‘frontline of confrontation (Source Reuters) Russia said on Wednesday NATO was turning Ukraine into a “frontline of confrontation” and threatened to sever remaining ties with the Atlantic military alliance if Ukraine’s hopes of joining it were realized. The Kiev parliament’s renunciation of Ukraine’s neutral status on Tuesday in pursuit of NATO membership has outraged Moscow and deepened the worst confrontation between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War. “NATO countries pushed Kiev to this counterproductive decision, trying to turn Ukraine into a front line of confrontation with Russia,” Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov told the Russian news agency Interfax. “If this decision in the future takes on a military character (accession to NATO), then we will respond appropriately. Then there will be a complete severing of ties with NATO, which will be practically impossible to repair,” Antonov said. Russia has made clear it would see the NATO membership of such a strategic former Soviet republic with a long common border as a direct military threat. NATO has already boosted its military presence in eastern Europe this year, saying it has evidence that Russia orchestrated and armed a pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine that followed the overthrow of a Kremlin-backed president in Kiev.
Moscow denies supporting the rebellion, and is currently trying, along with Kiev and the rebels, to renew efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine. A so-called “contact group” is expected to meet in Minsk to try to reinforce a shaky ceasefire and de-escalate the conflict, in which more than 4,700 people have been killed. A truce agreed in September has been regularly flouted by both sides, but violence has lessened significantly in December.
We Spoke To A North Korean Defector Who Trained With Its Hackers — What He Said Is Pretty Scary (Source Business Insider) Whether North Korea was responsible for the Sony hack or not, the consensus is that North Korea has some of the best hackers in the world. There have been some reports recently about North Korea’s special cyber warfare unit, known as Bureau 121. The North Korean government has made grooming its “cyber warriors” a top priority for decades, and has given first class treatment to its hackers. Mirim University produces most of the hackers that get placed in Bureau 121. It’s a highly competitive program, with each class accepting only about 100 students out of 5,000 applicants. They take six 90-minute classes every day, learning different coding languages and operating systems, from C to Linux. The core principle is to develop its own hacking programs and computer viruses without having to rely on programs already built in the outside world. Jang Se-yul, a North Korean defector, says he believes North Korean hackers are as good as the top programmers at Google or CIA, if not already better. “Especially in terms of coding, I’m confident they’re better because they’ve invested in it for so long. They’re all very sophisticated professional hackers, with almost nine years of intense training by the time they get hired. They’re split into different focus groups based on countries to attack, like the US, South Korea, and Japan. Once they’re placed in their respective groups, they spend nearly two years traveling to their assigned country, learning the language and culture. The ability to travel outside of North Korea and make US dollars is part of the reason so many North Koreans want this job. Jang estimates there are about 1,800 cyber warriors in Bureau 121. Their living conditions are much better than most North Koreans’: they receive high salaries, a free apartment over 2,000 sq ft in downtown Pyongyang, and their family can move to Pyongyang as well, which is a big privilege. They’re among the top 1% who are happy with their lives in North Korea. North Korea realizes they have no chance fighting their enemies in conventional warfare. But in cyber space, they can create chaos with relatively few resources. It’s why the North Korean government has spent so much effort in this area since the 1980s. They call it the “Secret War.” Jang says the ultimate goal is to attack the central IT infrastructure of enemy countries, primarily the government, and steal as much information as possible while also causing social pandemonium.